Rand Paul: Universal Healthcare is Slavery

Perhaps Rand Paul should consider the opinion of the 19th century Swiss philosopher Henri Frederic Amiel who said, “In health there is freedom. Health is the first of all liberties.”

by Lawrence Davidson

dr Rand Paul - Universal healthcare slavery

At a 11 May 2011 hearing held by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, a short debate over healthcare delivery took place between Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Sanders, who is chair of the subcommittee, is one of the Senate’s few independents and is a socialist at heart. Paul, who is an MD (an ophthalmologist), is a “Tea Party” Republican and a libertarian at heart.

The subcommittee meeting was held to investigate the use of emergency rooms as primary care centers by the poor and uninsured. Many people in the United States, who find themselves without access to proper health care facilities, end up using hospital emergency rooms for their everyday health needs. This turns out to be very expensive. It creates a financial hardship for the hospitals which must either supply uncompensated services or turn sick folks away. If such patients could be redirected to less expensive facilities it could result in savings of $6 and 40 billion a year according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Sanders, who has taken the position that access to health care is a “fundamental right,” believes the answer to this problem is to expand the use of government subsidized community health centers, which would cost much less in the long run and supply just the sort of broad spectrum primary care people need. Indeed, a program in his own state of Vermont has demonstrated that he is correct.

Rand Paul, however, has a sharp ideological objection to this solution. Here is some of what the Senator from Kentucky said:

1. “With regard to the idea whether or not you have a right to health care you have to realize what that implies. I am a physician. You have the right to come to my house and conscript me.”

Now that is a bit of a leap. But Paul persisted,

2. “It means you believe in slavery. You are going to enslave not only me but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants, the nurses…You are basically saying you believe in slavery.”

From this we can draw many conclusions. An immediate one is that being a trained ophthalmologist is no guarantee against seeing the world in an exaggerated and illogical way. No one was saying that Paul, or his hospital’s janitor, must work in a community clinic. As importantly, this ideologically driven interpretation of access to health care demonstrates that Rand Paul is one of about 18% of adults in the United States who place more value on a near anarchistic (and, in practice, quite impossible) level of personal “freedom” than on the notion of common sense responsibility between citizen and society. To put it another way, Paul has gotten it into his head that his personal freedom as a doctor will somehow be infringed if any government program offers the poor decent healthcare. The government will come and “conscript” him–force him to provide this service. This assertion is completely unfounded but nonetheless he is staking out his position that his individual freedom is the paramount value here. To defend that position Paul appeals to the alleged intent of the nation’s founders. Thus, he goes on,

3. “Our founding documents said you have a right to pursue happiness, but there is no guarantee about physical comfort. When you say you have a ‘right’ to something there is an implication of force…”

Actually, I am pretty sure that the majority of the “founding fathers” would agree that “the pursuit of happiness” entails the pursuit of a modicum of “physical comfort.” As far as I know none of them were among the relative few who derive happiness from of the pursuit of uncomfortable activities (other than making revolution). Of course, the founding documents of the country don’t spell it out explicitly for Senator Paul. In fact, they say nothing substantive about health care, but that does not mean much.. The resources and the technology having to do with medicine were very limited at the end of the 18th century. Making decent health care available to everyone was therefore an issue that did simply did not come up. However, let’s take an analogous situation. In 1787, when the US Constitution was drafted, the resources necessary to provide public education to all citizens was not there either, and no where in the Constitution does it say publically subsidized education is a basic right. Yet, by the end of the 19th century the resources were becoming available and education was deemed economically and socially necessary to the US’s position as a strong and competitive nation. Pretty soon education was not only a right, but, as Paul laments, children were being coerced into school (that is where the profession of Truant Officer came from). Now it is quite possible that, if he had the power to do so, Rand Paul would do away with compulsory public education. Such an act would certainly be consistent with his ideology. But what would that do to the United States? Quite frankly, you could kiss national strength and competitiveness goodbye. So, whether it entails the “implication of force” or not, the right (to be forced) to be educated by the state is here to stay.

You can make the case for health care the same way. You want the USA to be strong and competitive? You better keep people healthy. And health is not necessarily something that is just individual. There is a field called public health and it works from the premise that people living in close quarters have an influence on each other’s state of physical well being. You say that you should be free to decide whether or not to vaccinate your children. Well, deciding not to runs the risk of promoting diseases that can impact the rest of society. Thus the government can, and in some places in the US does, compel you to vaccinate. Certainly, at the first sign of the return of something like polio, one’s individual freedom from vaccination will be rapidly replaced with your right (to be forced) to be disease free. So you see, health care for all can be seen as both a right and as a social necessity–like education.

Where does all of this leave Rand Paul and his “freedom” loving 18% of the population? It leaves them in the position of a bunch of radicals out of touch with reality. It would seem that the man and his supporters have foresworn a core concept of community. If you live in a community, in society, you cannot have freedom without responsibility. That sort of freedom is enjoyed only by hermits. Responsibility, in turn, implies a minimum level of coercion. You have a responsibility to go to school for a certain minimum number of years. You have the responsibility to pay taxes. And, now (perhaps, in part, as an extension of the paying of taxes) we are moving in the direction of having a responsibility to provide health care to all. Maybe Paul is really worrying about the enslavement of his tax dollars to the cause of healthcare. Too bad. I have been protesting the enslavement of my tax dollars to foolish wars for years. The IRS is unsympathetic. If Rand Paul wants to escape this sort of “coercion” let him go live in what little is left of our deep woods. Otherwise, he should accept the importance of responsibility to social life.

People have a right to decent health care if for no other reason than a) with the proper prioritizing of resources, it is possible for them to have it and b) it makes possible both stronger and happier individuals and communities. In other words, at this point in our national history, if we have the right to “pursue happiness” we should have the right to see a doctor. But what about Senator Paul’s insistence that his personal freedom is more important than the health of either individual citizens or the community as a whole? Perhaps he should consider the opinion of the 19th century Swiss philosopher Henri Frederic Amiel who said, “In health there is freedom. Health is the first of all liberties.”

2011 copyright –lawrence davidson

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8 Responses to "Rand Paul: Universal Healthcare is Slavery"

  1. beausoleil  May 19, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Any consideration of socialized or ‘community’ healthcare needs to be tabled until tobacco adulterants are outlawed and the public subsidy of high fructose corn syrup is completely eliminated. And since I’m dreaming of what seems impossible at the moment, let me add to my list the complete elimination of pollution from the chemical industry so that we taxpayers are not saddled with the cost of caring for the people made sick by our own misguided governmental policies and preferences.

  2. B.A. Gilmore  May 15, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I worked in the Dept. of Public Welfare. Medical assistance is the hardest benefit to get. The only deductions you get are for unpaid medical bills or medical expenses paid in the three months before you apply. It doesn’t cover dental unless you’re under 19 years old. The income limit is so low that not many people even qualify. If your income is unearned income, you get a $20 monthly deduction. If you’re single able bodied adult, you have to work at least 15 hours a week for minimum wage. That puts you over the income limit. It was set up that way, because the state and federal government don’t want you to have health care. I also noticed employers only wanted part time workers because they didn’t have to supply health care. It’s all set up to keep people poor and under the gun. The insurance companies and drug companies will not let there be universal healthcare unless they can get a big cut of the profits. As for Rand Paul, he has his medical doesn’t he? It’s paid for by us isn’t it? I guess he’s enslaved.

  3. usmcviet  May 15, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Rand Paul is an idiot…PERIOD !!! Sure, he has the best health coverage anyone could ask for….and it’s on
    our dime. What about all of the lowest, low and middle income citizens who cannot afford ANY healthcare ?
    Is it sorry, too bad and/or SCREW THEM ? I don’t have a clue (or maybe I do…all of the idiots in his state that voted for him !) as to how he got elected in the first place. I can handle his Dad, but this guy is a joke. Obama has a lot of work ahead of him, and it is these idiots (most of the GOP and ALL of the Tea Party idiots) that try to
    block every good thing he has/is trying to do. Dubya didn’t do shit, except get us so deep in to debt that he
    screwed this country for many , many years to come. He spent more time in Crawford, Maine and on the golf course than he ever was deserving of. He cost the lives of ten of thousands of human beings around the
    world…..and I really doubt he ever shed a tear or had a second thought. Heck, he NEVER should have been
    elected in the first place in 2000 (he stole it), and 2004 was pretty shady as well. I still think that he, Cheney,
    Rummy, Rove, Libby and ALL who “served” this idiot should be prosecuted for war crimes. BUSH IS EVIL,
    always will be…..THE END. Semper Fi

  4. Franz  May 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Rand Paul gets worked up about the wrong things.

    Where’s his outrage on the billions we spend on highways to make Wal-Mart richer? Destroying fine towns to create a welter of interstates and malls and fast food pits. But then “slavery” of that sort benefits Paul’s rich donors and just don’t count.

    Rand’s main thrust is ANY sort of taxation that increases the health and efficiency for regular folks is Communism or slavery, but when it benefits corporations it’s a good investment. Inadvertently Paul validates Gore Vidal’s old crack that America has socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.

    Must agree with Duff in the end: Paul needs a boot up his ass. Great bumper-sticker idea.

  5. Subvet416  May 15, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Healing is its own reward. Genuine healers never seek recompense for their services and aways have another means of livelihood. Medical doctors and “health care professionals” seldom receive and feel the joy of healing because they are trained merchants, moving products and services (most of them worthless and frequently even harmful to their customers). If they had genuine concern for the health of others going in to “medical training”, most find they have to go along to get along, leave or spend their careers as “mavericks” and constant targets of their peers and the interests those for whom those peers are pimping.

    Rand Paul is not about to acknowledge the success William H. Bates had with preventing vision problems and restoring visual health without corrective lenses (and now surgery) anymore than the leadership of the American Psychiatric Association is about to acknowledge the prescription drug-free recoveries that Abram Hoffer enabled for thousands of his patients, labeled with “schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and PTSD”.

    For Paul, health for all means slavery for him, because it threatens his business.

  6. paintbrushbright  May 14, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    We deserve -they deserve-we pay-we deserve-they don’t pay they deserve-we work they don’t -we pay-what will change-nothing just care for everyone and you pay the government instead of the doctor or the hospital. The government will take on the role of the middleman and humana will be the same but double the paperwork for new government paper pushers. The cost will not go down and demand will go up with an increase in premiums that will be deducted automatically from your paycheck with your deducted social security and you have witnessed how social security was robbed blind by the same people that will be in charge of health care. Paul only hit on one point out of hundreds of points that are hidden in this new free feel good let me take care of you health care for you peons but not good enough for the democrats that didn’t read it because your not that important anyway. Its all about your dollar and if you don’t have enough intelligence to see that then get in line because it’s going to be a long one.

    • Bill  May 15, 2011 at 7:27 pm

      We already have the most expensive health care system in the world and millions of working poor people who can’t afford health ins wait until they’re almost dead to see a doctor..In this country…Read Deadly Spin by Wendell Potter, former Health Ins Corp PR man, and it will open your eyes..

  7. Gordon Duff  May 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Thanks much for this.
    Paul needs a boot up his ass.
    We are going to see he gets it, in a kind and gentle way of course.
    He is one blind, greedy and hateful cowardly piece of shit, but I digress…..

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