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Rand Paul Equates Food Stamps with Slavery

RandpaulRand Paul, the Republican senator from Kentucky, is no stranger to Towleroad, given some of the comments he's made in the past. The bombastic senator has previously linked marriage equality to "polygamy" and "non-human marriage", and also encouraged anti-equality advocates to do everything they can to delay marriage equality at the state level. Paul is making even more headlines today, thanks to a profile of the senator's opthalmology practice in National Review Online, in which he compared social safety net programs, such as food stamps, to forced slavery. 

According to ThinkProgress, this isn't the first time Paul has falsely linked the two phenomena:

"The comments are an echo of his 2011 claim that accepting a human right to health care 'means you believe in slavery,' but the Senator’s new variation on the theme is notable because it puts the reasoning behind the crazy in stark relief."

The quote in question ironically comes from a portion of the profile that claims that Paul "loves people":

"As humans, yeah, we do have an obligation to give people water, to give people food, to give people health care, but it’s not a right because once you conscript people and say, ‘Oh, it’s a right,’ then really you’re in charge, it’s servitude, you’re in charge of me and I’m supposed to do whatever you tell me to do."

Rand Paul LiesIronically, he has compared food stamps to slavery in two aspects. The first is the statement you see above: providing someone with food, water, and shelter automatically makes them indebted and subservient to you. He has also made the logical leap that providing people with food stamps means the forcible seizure of food, the by-product of workers such as farmers and manufacturers. ThinkProgress thankfully pointed out several flaws in Paul's logic. First, most academics have accepted the fact that this country currently produces enough food to feed everyone in it. Also:

"A moderately bright high school student could spot the leap of logic here: no one’s forcing anyone to farm against their will. In a democratic-capitalist economy, people have a right to choose their career... A socially-accepted “right to food” merely means the government should pay for the provision of food to those who can’t afford it. No stealing, and definitely no slavery...

"So an influential Senator, a much-ballyhooed candidate for his party’s nomination for the presidency, has been consistently espousing a worldview, reflected in his budget, that logically implies virtually all major government programs are slavery. And we live in times where that’s acceptable enough that it’s buried in the middle of a piece about volunteer ophthalmology."

Of course, the fact that quote comes from a piece about volunteer opthalmology makes it sort of doubly ironic. According to the piece, Paul performs approximately 10 to 15 pro bono eye surgeries a year. He says that “I’ve always done some since I’ve been in practice, because I wanted to be able to give back to the community." Would that sort of admission constitute a slavery of Paul by his less fortunate patients? Precisely what difference is there between slavery, by his standards, and "giving back to the community"? 

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  1. Does anyone know who they want was the Republican nominee in 2016 yet? Do you want Rick Santorum? Ted (I'm not a natural born citizen) Cruz? Chris Crispy Creme Christie?

    Posted by: anon | Aug 27, 2013 9:37:43 AM

  2. How ironic that the opthamologist can't see. Doctor heal thyself.

    Posted by: woodroad34d | Aug 27, 2013 9:40:38 AM

  3. Apparently, then, the natural interdependence of humans in society, in families, in churches, and in work places and schools, is further slavery. Sure, Rand, let's take this metaphor all the way and look where your slippery slope takes us: every man for himself, rampant disregard for all social conventions, and interpersonal chaos.

    He's another empty talking head who only wants to promote his Tea-bagger delusions. AynRand Paul should go plagiarize some books and leave politics alone.

    Posted by: Chuck Mielke | Aug 27, 2013 9:44:14 AM

  4. "Precisely what difference is there between slavery, by his standards, and "giving back to the community"?"

    You're thinking logically, which is never appropriate when discussing the rantings of the wing nut fringe. The singular purpose of their movement is to destroy the Federal government, to shut it down, to de-fund it, cripple it in every way, make it as ineffective as possible. The only portion of the government which they want to remain is the military and the system which supports military contractors, and those laws and regulations which allow the wealthy to remain fully in control of American society. Nothing they say or do is ever intended to aid or expand the rights of ordinary citizens, rather, they are trying everything in their power to be certain we know our place and stay quietly in it.

    Posted by: RWG | Aug 27, 2013 9:48:29 AM

  5. He of course means getting hooked on things like food stamps, welfare,etc., is a form of bondage. It is not a bad thing to desire and help people to be as independent as possible. I do understand some ideologies and philosophies believe getting people hooked on their government [and others] for their daily needs is an excellent way to exert enormous control over such people, I personally find it offensive. People who are genuinely in need of course should be helped and they should take whatever is available to them to hopefully get them on the right track. Disabled and children of course are a different story.

    The best way people can be helped is to have a healthy economy, which we don't have.

    And I don't approve of 'corporate welfare', either.


    Government is not the same as family or church, or some private organization. It takes money essentially by force from one person/group, to distribute to another [whether it be an individual on welfare or a corporation].

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 27, 2013 9:55:15 AM

  6. Has anyone figured out what's clinging to the top of his head, yet? It's some kind of deceased animal or, perhaps, an aggressive mildew or mold. Any way, the poison has thoroughly seeped through to the cortex...and caused utter destruction.

    Posted by: Geoff | Aug 27, 2013 10:00:19 AM

  7. Question:

    Have you ever had to interact with a public [government] official at the local, state, federal level? Have you ever for example had to interact with government employees at your state department of motor vehicles or whatever it's called in your state? How about a city hall clerk? Someone at one of many huge federal government departments for this or that? Is it a pleasant or reasonable experience on average? Did you experience hostility, indifference, sloth, rage [on your part]? Do you want such people and institutions to gain even more power and influence over your life?

    Our society and daily existence would be far better served with less mega huge monolithic institutions like what I described above. It would also be far better served if various industries were properly regulated, and anti-trust laws were enforced or re-enacted where applicable, because the power and influence of monolithic monopolistic corporations and various industry oligarchies is also strangling everyday people and society as a whole.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 27, 2013 10:04:43 AM

  8. Interesting that he is fine with taking health care for himself and his family from the government.

    Posted by: Alex | Aug 27, 2013 10:05:11 AM

  9. We have basically today two classes of people:

    A working class and a welfare [collecting/non-working] class, for example 'disabled' people [disabled can be construed to mean all kinds of things such as a myriad of 'mental' disorders, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc.], 'poor' women with children, the elderly [ a POWERFUL voting block, and on average the most financially well off demographic in the country], and so-on. This welfare class will be more than happy to take every last cent they can get out of the [shrinking] working class. It's a sad part of human nature. Once that welfare class has the upper hand, or becomes the majority dominate class, said society will collapse.

    When a society has large and substantial social services and 'welfare' to assist people into regaining their footing and becoming self sustaining again, but this class of people just grows and grows and grows, while the working class shrinks and shrinks, something is seriously effed up with The System. It is a form of slavery and similar o being down on the plantation.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 27, 2013 10:14:56 AM

  10. It's nothing like being on a plantation Ratbastard.

    And considering the actual demographics of people on public assistance, all of the plantation references are even more poorly misplaced.

    Posted by: Polyboy | Aug 27, 2013 10:19:28 AM

  11. Bigotry has no bounds. Even the poor are fair game in his fight. Once a person decides they are "above" others it usually includes ALL others. Not a good political candidate much less a presidential candidate.

    Posted by: Hey Darlin' | Aug 27, 2013 10:29:59 AM

  12. @polyboy,

    please. Living in a public housing project, collecting welfare and every other 'program', especially if you're a women 'with child/children', and the only way you can actually get any assistance is if you have young children or have a 'disability,. is very much like a modern day version of a plantation.

    As for the other part of your comment: duh. No sh*t Sherlock. That's part of the point. And no, it's not offensive, it's the truth.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 27, 2013 10:33:07 AM

  13. That's all well and good Rat, but the reason why general welfare was started on a large country based level was because many local govt, were not treating the lesser people right-took away their rights or made it impossible for them to succeed.

    I won't even talk about race; especially when in areas like the South not only did they not want to outlaw slavery but they also did not want to give the blacks or natives any rights at all.

    Lets talk about the simple and very everyday process of helping your own-familial nepotism. From families who started companies only to give senior jobs of implementation to their relatives to families who are able due to $$ to own most of a town or city, thus only making it possible for relatives to gain employment in the senior roles in local govt via connections. I imagine when Welfare was first introduced back then, this was a way of moving away the power from these families who did as they pleased in these local areas-it meant the rich stayed rich and the poor stayed poor. So general welfare was introduced to create a fair playing field-give the lesser opportunities to at least start from above the poverty line.

    Of course what has happened is as times have changed drastically, it appears the welfare system has not adapted to the changing times, so you still have hand outs, instead of incentives-education to mental health support included in that package.

    When you have a crabs in a barrel mentality that is rife when people are in the gutter, trying to get them to disown the handout mentality is impossible. Cutting or getting rid of that welfare is also not an option because they will just turn to crime or begging.

    Rand's ideology is not only selfish and narrow minded but also irrational.

    I was talking at work-I worked with homeless groups-and we were discussing this. One of the reasons we found for this growth, was that these 'families' that were never going to work, were getting larger and having more children. With that the mentality grew and spread.

    Welfare does help; it's helped me in the past and I feel I have contributed helpfully to society not only via paying my taxes but of course with a flawed system, there is room for corruption.

    Posted by: Rowan | Aug 27, 2013 10:33:13 AM

  14. @Rowan,

    The welfare class if it's doing it's job should be SHRINKING, not expanding. It was not supposed to be a substitute for gainful employment.

    In the U.S., Democrats and Republicans [the party insiders and elite] are both responsible for this situation.

    And by the way: much 'welfare', programs designed to help the 'needy' and 'poor' are really back door $handouts$ and business subsidies to various industries. Which is a big reason why the Republicans [at the national level especially] really don't want to end or reduce subsidies for this or that, either to individuals or industries. It's all become an integral part of many industries business models.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 27, 2013 10:38:24 AM

  15. Sorry, correction:

    Welfare Class in the first sentence should read Welfare System.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 27, 2013 10:39:55 AM

  16. gop, please keep making public comments against the poor, racial minorities, immigration, and glbt folk, every chance you get, over and over.

    no one else will have to say a word, we'll just sit back and watch you evaporate into a distant thought, from what was once a great party with ideas. it's sad to watch, but sometimes you just can't help them when they need it most.

    Posted by: northalabama | Aug 27, 2013 10:41:59 AM

  17. & yet the majority of food stamp recipients are white

    ••36% were white (non-Hispanic), 22% were African American (non-Hispanic) and 10% were Hispanic.

    ••47% of beneficiaries were children under age 18.

    ••8% were age 60 or older.

    ••41% lived in a household with earnings from a job -- the so-called "working poor."

    DEPT of agriculture report that has been consistent throughout all administrations ( sorry r's can't claim obama administration propaganda when bush administration reported same )

    Posted by: Moz's | Aug 27, 2013 10:42:31 AM

  18. @Moz,

    Duh. Whites overall are the majority population. @ 36% they are very under-represented vs their percentage of the overall population.

    @22%, black folks are over-represented vs their percentage of the overall population [13% nationally].

    Hispanics are also under-represented vs their overall percentage of the total population.

    And you're referring to food stamps. I actually don't have a problem with food stamps and do consider it a program that offers needed assistance to those in need, although The System is abused.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 27, 2013 10:47:53 AM

  19. @Moz,

    Duh. Whites overall are the majority population. @ 36% they are very under-represented vs their percentage of the overall population.

    @22%, black folks are over-represented vs their percentage of the overall population [13% nationally].

    Hispanics are also under-represented vs their overall percentage of the total population.

    And you're referring to food stamps. I actually don't have a problem with food stamps and do consider it a program that offers needed assistance to those in need, although The System is abused.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 27, 2013 10:47:53 AM

  20. Don't look for logic from Sen Paul. It's okay for him to volunteer to do pro bono work. His objection would be if he were required to do it. What that has to do with food stamps is beyond me. No one is required to take food stamps. You have to apply for them. And I don't know how getting a benefit is the equivalent of slavery. Slaves worked without being paid and couldn't leave. People are often on public assistance of various kinds for only a brief time until they find a job again and don't need it. That's not slavery. It's a safety net that keeps recessions from being worse. If, for example, I had not qualified for unemployment benefits in the fall of 2001 after you know what (when temp agencies simply put your calls into a dummy voice mail box that no one ever checked) then I would have stopped paying my bills. If enough people did that, businesses would have laid off people who would have stopped paying THEIR bills and the cycle would have continued until it hit bottom. No one benefits from that and the cost of paying the unemployment benefits is less than the loss in tax income if the economy were allowed to bottom out every time there is a downturn. People who aren't idealogical extremists all understand that. That Paul doesn't understand why there's a benefit it not allowing children to starve while their parents are having a hard time shows just how lacking in compassion and empathy people like him truly are.

    Posted by: Houndentenor | Aug 27, 2013 10:55:09 AM

  21. Marriage equality IS linked to polygamy and 'non-human marriage'. If ET came down, and fell in love with Dee Wallace, he really wouldn't be allowed to marry her because... why? Non-human intelligence is still intelligence. As for polygamy, it is the oldest form of relationship in the book; there's no reason for it NOT to be legal. Fears of the breakdown of society because of the accounting involved is preposterous, as preposterous as saying gays shouldn't be allowed to marry because then all the forms would need to be changed.

    Welfare is a form of slavery, in that it can foster dependence instead of encouraging independence; and the restrictions placed on receiving welfare can have detrimental effects on segments of society. For example: it discourages marriage by making it more financially feasible to remain on welfare, than to legally combine households. That kind of thing.

    He's on the right track, but his ends are (as always) suspect.

    Read more:

    Posted by: Zeta | Aug 27, 2013 10:57:33 AM

  22. And Moz,

    What does 'race' have to do with anything? I know I made no mention of 'race' in my posts on this particular subject. The Welfare Class comes in all shapes, sizes and colors.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 27, 2013 11:00:36 AM

  23. "And by the way: much 'welfare', programs designed to help the 'needy' and 'poor' are really back door $handouts$ and business subsidies to various industries. "

    @Ratbastard, pretty much.

    Posted by: Zeta | Aug 27, 2013 11:00:52 AM

  24. Zeta, the issue with polygamy is that is that it is inherently unequal, with only men being able to take multiple wives.

    Polyamory would be more solid legal construct.

    Posted by: Polyboy | Aug 27, 2013 11:39:38 AM

  25. @RATBASTARD you don't need to mention "race". It is always implied in anything you write. It's a given.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Aug 27, 2013 11:39:42 AM

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