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"? 


  1. anon says

    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?

  2. Chuck Mielke says

    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.

  3. RWG says

    “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.

  4. ratbastard says

    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].

  5. Geoff says

    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.

  6. ratbastard says


    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.

  7. ratbastard says

    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.

  8. Polyboy says

    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.

  9. Hey Darlin' says

    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.

  10. ratbastard says


    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.

  11. Rowan says

    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.

  12. ratbastard says


    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.

  13. northalabama says

    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.

  14. Moz's says

    & 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 )

  15. ratbastard says


    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.

  16. ratbastard says


    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.

  17. says

    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.

  18. Zeta says

    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: http://www.towleroad.com/#ixzz2dBJ2KAPh

  19. ratbastard says

    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.

  20. Zeta says

    “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.

  21. Polyboy says

    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.

  22. ratbastard says

    @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


    NO IT’S NOT,JAMAL; maybe you’re PROJECTING?

  23. sean says

    I’m so sick of seeing the stupid comment “most people on welfare are white.”

    Look at the OVERALL PERCENTAGE, and it’s not even close.

    Just like how African Americans represent 13% of the US population, yet they commit 51% of all homicides. Percentages are a funny thing when you pay attention to them!

  24. says

    Welfare for people so they don’t starve = BAD

    Welfare for corporations with CEOs that make billions of dollars a year = GOOD

    It’s obvious that Rand Paul totally has the best interests of America in mind…the top 1% of America, that is.

  25. NYCer says

    It’s a shame how many able-bodied people live on welfare and foodstamps for their whole lives.

    It’s one thing to have it temporarily when you’re having bad luck and can’t find a job. But SO many people live on it forever and EXPECT that government to give them cheap/free housing, cheap/free food, cell phones, and other things. In their mind, they are “victims” and this is “owed to them.”

    Cheers to people who believe in a solid work ethic and creating their own destiny, not depending on Uncle Sam for a handout.

  26. Joseph Wilson says

    Sen. Rand Paul shows his lack of intelligence by equating food stamps with slavery. A better case could be made for the GOP’s refusal to support the Dream Act and failure to raise the minimum wage in line with inflation.

  27. rochestergov'tcheesefactory says

    I understand what Rand is trying to say, as an advocate of a free market economy. I voted for Obama his first-term, Bush-prior. Policy-speaking…different sides of the same coin when it comes to foreign policy, ecomomic policy…although Pres. Obama is really pulling a hard-left on some social issues, there’s really no difference. Rochester, NY has some of the highest rates of those on welfare, poor city schools. Its not an excuse as many abuse the intent of temporary assistance like Food Stamps, and just live on them, getting paid more sitting at home collecting the gov’t cheese, then they would making an effort to live. On the other hand, there are those in a position like me..who has a family- works 40hr week job, studying at night for an IT certification to a better paying job. We have cut back, d/c our cable, phone service, not reparing our old van, no extravegance- no vacations, no Iphones, etc. But we are applying for Food Stamps because we are sinking under financially…until I get back on my feet again. But yes, I see Rand’s point- those who give in to abuse, and live off the gov’t are so well taken care of, why would those people want to get a job..and make less? My wife went to apply for WIC, people sitting in their, new nails done, Iphones, new cars, designer clothes…thats fine, but whats the incentive to do better? I’ve seen this for myself..in the grocery store line, people in front of us using the EBT Food Stamp card to buy steaks, bags of crab legs, Red Bull (I wish I was kidding about that), then buy cigarettes..those are expensive..where’s that cash come from? I see how this type of life acceptance leads generations living on welfare. There’s the slavery- its mental. They are slaves to the gov’t by depending soley on it like life support. It costs all of us to pull that dead-weight around in taxes. Where does that money for fed programs come from? Next question- Howe does the Feds get that money? One has to backtrack to find the source. Unfortunately- neither party has provided solutions to this, they give away gov’t “candy” to get votes, and pacify the public, but they never really try to solve the central problems..the core which is destroying America little-by-little, incrementally. I think Rand bucks a lot of this, and has some great ideas which address a correction to get our nation back on track, his dad sure did have good ideas, but was marginalized by the media and its bedfellow the parties in power to make him look crazy, but much of what Ron Paul warned Congress about around 2002, all of it has pretty much come true. I think he would have really helped our nation, perhaps his son may make it, even though he is playing the political game better than his dad. At this point, I see nothing encouraging in this administration full of scandal in its second term, with the brink of war in Syria which will dominate the headlines, deflecting from our ailing nation’s real problems get ignored again. A long comment, but its been a rough last 6-7 years since my layoff at Verizon in 2008 due to a number of circumstances, some of which were my fault. But some are problems created by our own public officials and greedy power-hungry corporations. Not those who are trying to make a fair profit, those who twist politicians ears until they get the policy they want. Oh yes, and don’t forget the supreme enabler- the Federal Reserve. What a mess we are in! But- I’m still going, trying to earn a better income…and perhaps when I get there….not only have served in our military, but try to discover the truth admist all the mainstream media mudscreen, can one really just trust their reports? Look at the front page of their websites- real news is only a small part- the majority of the page are TMZ type reports..to pacify the America mind away from the real problems. Keep Americans fed a diet of Hollywood buzz, they won’t take time to really dig in and learn whats going on.

  28. rochestergov'tcheesefactory says

    Rand Paul- (a licensed opthamologist)during this August’s recess from Congress was reported to have performed eye surgery for free to needy children.

    His father, Ron Paul (an obstetrician), was known for providing free care as well to those in need at his practice.

  29. rochestergov'tcheesefactory says

    I think people need to step back and look at the mainstrem media from an objective viewpoint. Ever notice how CNN, FOX, etc…post breaking news or report on many social-related issues? Why? They trigger emotional responses. It boosts ratings, pits one against another, divides people apart focusing on their differences. For example, how tragic an event such as Travon Martin case, doesn’t this type crime happen all over, all the time? Why focus for weeks on this particular case? It triggers emotional reactions. It gives media talking heads red meat to feed on and regurgitate back to the listening public. Coming right down to it, it was poor decision making of these individuals, was it not? Why is that suppose to be a reflection of our society, or is it what the media wants…bigger, better ratings. More people blogging, etc. I go to a football game- black players, white players, fans wear both jerseys proudly, sit together, cheer together. Why? They focus on their similarities, not differences. Ever read Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? No matter the color, etc. we all require the same basics. We stop at an accident on the highway, to help whoever is involved. The media GAINS, politicians GAIN, by creating or stirring up new division. Ever think it may be not co-incidental, but rather by design? If Americans are pitted against one another, doesn’t this distract our attention from the other real issues that plague our nation? Poor economy, lack of jobs, poor educational standards? All these type distractions take our eye off the ball. In many cases, I think this only helps those of the most powerful keep their agenda which serves their interests, not ours. If we as Americans came togehter with our common need for better for us, the working class, they risk losing power. The Chinese are coming here, buying up our assets along with other countries who are taking advantage of our slumping dollar..its a fire sale. Go to Kohl’s dept. store, if you have one near you- I challenge anyone to find a “Made in the USA” label. Look at freight trains- import containers- hundreds chugging down the tracks to fill our stores with cheap stuff. Look at our Fed Reserve- borrowing from China to pay for our fed gov’t daily operations? Its time for us to wake up, turn off the CNN, and come together to rebuild our nation. Don’t think for a second other countries wouldn’t love to come here and take more of our pie. While many are pacified with TMZ, Facebook, fantasy sports leagues, arguing about social injustices being shouted by media mouths, our country slowly slips away. Take a walk down your local hospital hallways- who are the doctors? Foreigners. Who are the college professors and many of the top scientists? Foreigners. Perhaps, they are helped by our gov’t in some manner, but they studied and worked hard many of them to get there. Basically, they are shaping our culture, they are our bosses. Nothing reflective negatively. As many of our school-kids are pacified with broken families, cell phones welded to their eyes, a society which has no boundries, anything goes is alright, what direction are they headed? We all need to pull together- all Americans- focus on our commonness to rebuild our nation, let our Congress know we’ve had enough..and don’t vote for the same ones, many times one can’t tell a difference between R & D. Their policies are pretty much the same. I want again to drive down the highway and see new construction of private business, housing developments, new schools, a growing working class, all colors of our nation can benefit. As we can get it better, develop stricter temporary assistance programs, alleviate those who can work, get off the free candy. Let it be for what it was intended- temporary assistance, with a strong economy which truly has opportunity for those to get back to work. Lower taxes, give us breathing room, or as the tax code stands now= starting a small home-based business does have many deductions to encourage new businesses to reinvest. Its new to me, but this might be a good avenue to create side income, as you can write-off many more expenses legitimately than I realized. I’m sure there are some on this blog who know about this much more in depth. Whew- long enough, perhaps too long…I need to get up from this computer for awhile, and do something else. Best to everyone reading this in your lives.

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