Actually, I've hardly paid attention to the elections this week, but people are making a fuss about them, so I guess I will too.
So there's this guy Rand Paul, political neophyte son of Republican Congressman Ron Paul -- no relation to RuPaul, who won a Republican Senatorial primary race. Calm down Kentucky teabaggers. It's a primary race. He's not a Senator yet!
But, no doubt, Rand is the man of the teabaggers: "I have a message. A message from the Tea Party. A message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We have come to take our government back."
Hey Rand, it's really not a brain teaser. Most of this country agrees that it should be illegal for a business to discriminate based on race, gender, religion, or disability. Rand tried to compare it to a business owner discriminating against those who openly carry a gun. Well, I think the man doesn't know real discrimination. You can choose whether to carry a gun or not. You can choose what day you want to carry a gun. You don't get to choose your race, color or disability, and though you can change your gender and religion, it's certainly not something you do flippantly.
Rand tried to say that the civil rights issues that Rachel Maddow brought up were "red herrings." Well if Rand ever makes it to the Senate floor, then his positions on the Civil Rights Act and the 20-year-old American's with Disabilities Act are not inconsequential footnotes. As a Senator, his beliefs get translated into laws! That's the way it works!
Nobody wants to re-fight the civil rights battles of the last century... except apparently Rand Paul and the teabaggers. As a person with a disability, I do feel threatened every time some politician feels more empathetic toward the "free speech" of a business owner versus the basic rights of the disabled. I know it's hard for libertarians to understand, but in 1990, a federal law increased my rights.
The small government types don't comprehend this. Government had to write the rules to protect my rights. Free markets can't, won't, and aren't designed to do such things. Bob Cesca explained the flaws of libertarianism better than I can:
Libertarianism, which both Ron and Rand Paul famously embrace, suggests the free market is a significant and vital component of liberty. Private businesses are capable of accomplishing everything, and government can't interfere or regulate those businesses in any way. The free market will police itself. Just leave it be.And really, after witnessing what has happened with the banks in the last year, and the BP blowout last month, we should all realize that businesses need to be regulated diligently. Leaving them to run amok is dangerous!
Private industry can pave roads, educate children, put out fires and protect our streets from drunk drivers. It can shuttle our kids to corporate schools and back, it can provide clean water to our homes and they can guarantee our meat and vegetables aren't contaminated with diseases. And by the way, in a nation that's 70 percent white, private businesses can choose to do all of these things for white people only. Private businesses can provide everything we need, but only offer those services to white people.
And these businesses, according to libertarian ideology, can form monopolies if they want to. As we're all painfully aware from the health care debate, monopolies occur even in our current government-regulated system. Imagine what would happen in a totally unregulated free market.
Ezra Klein has a few more questions for Rand Paul:
Can the federal government set the private sector's minimum wage? Can it tell private businesses not to hire illegal immigrants? Can it tell oil companies what safety systems to build into an offshore drilling platform? Can it tell toy companies to test for lead? Can it tell liquor stores not to sell to minors?Hmm... wouldn't want the nasty government telling businesses not to hire illegal immigrants, would we teabaggers? Now there's a conundrum for Rand.