2010 was the election year in which superannuated, hard-core winger white people went berserk, fear of a black president and culture shock making them totally loco. And they took that profoundly disturbed mental state straight into the voting booths. Among Republican primary candidates you couldn’t be crazy enough…literally. On any given night in any given state during primary season you could turn the television on and there was a very good chance the Bellevue Debating Society was on the air.
Kentucky got particularly lucky, having a certified blueblood lunatic among its Republican candidates, Dr. Rand Paul, board not certified ophthalmologist, disciple of Ayn Rand, and even named after the homecoming queen of screwball economics by his Objectivist besotted daddy Ron Paul. These guys don’t just drink the Krazy Kool Aid, they manufacture it in their basement.
Of course, if you elect a nut to the senate you are guaranteed to get your nuttery. Rand Paul provided a heavy dose yesterday during a hearing of the subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging. The hearing was supposed to discuss emergency room use, and ways in which community health centers might reduce the burden on emergency rooms. In a remark that probably would not be described as right on point, Dr. Paul observed:
“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 a right to come to my house and conscript me. 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.”
None of the news accounts mentioned men in white coats with butterfly nets rushing the room, so I assume deficit reduction has taken its toll already on mental health support. Welcome my fellow Americans to your new and improved United States Senate.
Going one by one through the logical IED’s in that declaration is not advisable anywhere this side of The Hurt Locker. When you write about, when you attempt to sound the alarm regarding how extreme, how radical, how unprecedented, how manifestly unsound and removed from reality this new crowd that slowly but surely has become the core of the Republican Party is, occasionally it strikes even you as hyperbolic as you are writing it. And then, they open their mouths again.
Still, here are just a few of the ideological, philosophical assumptions embedded in the good doctor’s remark: the government, rather than Americans working for other Americans through the operation of a democratic process is in fact an inimical force, bent on harm; community health centers that receive government support require (“you can come to my house and conscript me”) Dr. Rand Paul to work for them, and apparently, force him to be a doctor as well; a highly compensated physician with the full rights and privileges of an American citizens is the equivalent of an unpaid servant actually in the ownership of another human being, with no citizenships rights, or human rights whatsoever. He then jumps, without bothering to articulate it from community health centers receiving taxpayer support to presumably a single-payer health insurance system, saying, “You are going to enslave not only me but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants, the nurses.” Apparently, the requirement now that in order to practice medicine he must deal with innumerable insurance companies, policies, HMO’s, PPO’s and cascades of paperwork and overlapping insurance company bureaucracies leaves him feeling like the happiest man since the Emancipation Proclamation.
The fact that so many people, relatively speaking, agree with this sort of nonsensical but commonplace cant does not change the reality that it not only fails to meet any basic level of intellectual seriousness or soundness, but is conspicuously unhinged. Again, this is a member of the United States Senate we’re talking about.
One of the buzz phrases the Ayn indoctrinated like to throw around in reference to modern welfare states, which all modern democracies are, is the Nanny State. This is intended to be some sort of humiliating disparagement designed to appease the self-image Americans have of themselves as hearty pioneers and individualists, rather than people punching the clock, cow-towing to the corporate hierarchy, ensconced in the stricture, structure and full paternalism of the military or praying the next medical emergency or economic recession doesn’t drive them into financial penury. There’s a good word that also aptly describes the Nanny State: civilization.
Since humankind crawled out of the slime (or perhaps out of crystal pure waters of a Caribbean isle for all I know) human beings have recognized the inherent struggle, pain, difficulty, risk and burdens a normal life entails, often overwhelmingly so. And they have sought to diminish this suffering and tribulation in every available way, having arrived in the modern era at the sophisticated welfare state, where the potential calamities and infirmities of life can be mitigated by pooling resources and addressing these frailties and vicissitudes as a community. So the use of “nanny” in this particular context runs contrary to human nature, human experience and modernity itself. It reflects no reality-grounded apprehension of the world we are actually living in, only an ideological purism of an extreme, and frankly, bizarre variety.
But our wise sage from the outer boundaries of economics and ideology, Senator Dr. Rand Paul wasn’t finished yet. He added this curio to his prior observation during the subcommittee hearing:
“Our founding documents said you have a right to pursue happiness, but there’s no guarantee about physical comfort.”
Thanks Doc. I’m feeling better already.
I’m beginning to think this man was sent to Kentucky and to the U.S. Senate as some sort of Manchurian Candidate by a fierce underground cabal of anti-satirists, deeply committed to the destruction of all need and opportunity to ply the satirist trade, fully weaponized as he is with statements so silly even the cleverest human minds among us cannot devise commentary sillier or funnier or more uproarious than the original statements. It isn’t fair, and is even perhaps diabolical.
So help me here Dr. Paul. I’m trying to imagine myself lying curled up in a ball on the floor with abdominal pain, wincing as I hobble on a broken leg, violently aspirating my latest meal or all but paralyzed with the Mother of all Migraines while thinking of myself as happy. You and I, Rand, clearly conceptualize happiness in very distinct ways.
We’ll just give the benefit of the doubt absent any verification in history that the Founders, after writing down “the pursuit of happiness,” said to one another, “I hope they don’t think physical comfort is included in this.”
I was going to suggest that maybe physical comfort might be the most basic and fundamental happiness of all, but that’s just me. I only read Atlas Shrugged the one time, so therein perhaps rests the errors of my understanding.