January 21, 2020
Last week, we ran Sen. Rand Paul’s essay “If No One Has To Work, No One Will.”
We asked for your thoughts on the subject and boy did we get some feedback… Lots of folks sent us e-mails expressing their disdain for free handouts, like John S. who writes,
The logic of how bad that is has to be so obvious you would think it could never happen in the USA. Many of our problems are that very issue dressed up as “support,” “safety net,” or other such labels. While we have some who truly are disabled, we must roll back the creeping socialist trend to pay for not working. It bankrupts nations and enslaves those who work to produce the economy and its benefits.
And Paul K. had this to say,
Is it obvious that you cannot take from some (productive) and give to others without the productive people stopping to produce. They are truly pushing for an Atlas Shrugged moment.
Jennifer M. offered a different angle,
There may be a few people who would take advantage and decide not to work, so what? There will always be a few people who go a different way. That is not a huge amount of money and anyone who wants a decent or nice life will have to earn more.
Lastly, there was David N.’s e-mail: “Not working? I would then be considered a politician…”
A few years back, our own P.J. O’Rourke sat down with Sen. Paul. Here is an excerpt from that talk…
Notes From a Conversation With Rand Paul
By P.J. O’Rourke
In February 2014, Sen. Rand Paul was considering running for the Republican presidential nomination. I went to interview him for the now (sadly) defunct Weekly Standard. It wasn’t much of an interview in the sense of “asking the hard questions” because it quickly turned into a conversation. Asking the hard questions is fun… as long as you have a low opinion of the person answering them. But conversations are what you have with people you like and admire. Below is a condensed version of that conversation:
“If I try to be a pretty good libertarian, I get attacked by the left, by the right, and by the libertarians,” said Sen. Paul, describing his own political conflictions.
This is the same message Gen. Ferdinand Foch sent to Marshal Joseph Joffre during the First Battle of the Marne: “My center is giving way, my right is retreating, situation excellent, I am attacking” – except the senator said it with a smile and not in French.
As for political principles, Sen. Paul said, “In Washington, principled individuals are in the minority. There’s a good side to this. The majority can be influenced by public opinion.”
And, reversing Lord Acton’s maxim about power corrupting, Sen. Paul actually thinks the lack of it purifies. “As opponents to President Obama, we’re more principled than when we were in power.” [Never mind what happened – unfortunately for purification – when Republicans got back in power.]
“A principled GOP,” said the senator, “could find people on both [the] left and right to cooperate on issues.” He even listed some…
“The inequities of the criminal justice system.
“Fourth Amendment privacy.”
“The economy,” Sen. Paul added. “Although that’s mostly on the right. But some on the left are beginning to realize what’s wrong, sort of.” [Although, six years later, it’s evident that they’re not.]
Sen. Paul said, “Any number of arguments for limited government can be made, but just two are necessary. First is the Thomas Paine natural liberty argument.”
Which is to say that we surrender some of our natural liberties to a government of our own making in return for public safety and order. Government is a necessary evil, and like all evils, however necessary, should be kept as small as possible.
My example would be serving sizes of food… Some varieties of kale grow to a height of six or seven feet. I don’t want that on my dinner plate next to a T-bone steak the size of a Susan B. Anthony dollar.
“Second,” said Sen. Paul, “is the Milton Friedman efficiency argument.”
In Milton Friedman’s 1980 PBS TV series Free to Choose, Friedman drew a simple diagram showing that, mathematically, there are only four ways to spend money…
- Spending your money on yourself is efficient. Tonight’s special, prime rib with a small side dish of kale, looks like a good deal.
- Spending your money on other people is efficient, too. She’ll have the mac and cheese.
- Spending other people’s money on yourself is not so efficient. The Wall Street Hedge-Fund Managers’ Annual Dinner will be at Maxim’s in Paris.
- But, spending other people’s money on other people is the way government spending is done. Free caviar for all Americans! Whether they like caviar or not. And get in line because there’s nothing except caviar, and it will be rationed!
Sen. Paul called himself “libertarian-ish,” willing to vote against planks in the platform of the Libertarian Party, “of which I am not a member.”
“The difficulty,” said Sen. Paul, “is that everyone has his or her opinion, and everyone knows he or she is right.”
Meaning everyone else, including every other libertarian, is wrong. “Isn’t that,” I said, “an odd outcome for a political theory based on the value of each individual?”
The senator smiled and shrugged. “I never really felt like it was a problem explaining libertarian principles in practical politics. Republicans are champions of economic liberty. Democrats are champions of personal liberty. Bring the two back together.”
He continues, “There are different ways to get where we want to go.” And he gave an example of going nowhere. “Nothing good has come out of the war on drugs.”
“What’s a different way?” I asked.
“I like the unenumerated powers.”
Amendment X in the Bill of Rights: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
“In The Federalist Papers,” I said, “Hamilton argued against the Bill of Rights on the grounds that when government even so much as mentions rights like free speech, this implies that government has some power over those rights.”
“But it’s a good thing we did write them down,” the senator said, “otherwise we’d have nothing left.”
Now here are some of the stories we’re reading…
It took a mere 40 days for the Latin American “oasis” — as President Sebastián Piñera called Chile not long ago — to vanish. How a stable and prosperous Chile fell so dramatically in such a short period is a lesson for every Western democracy.
At the start of 2020, more than 20% of Tesla stock was shorted. As of Jan. 15, it’s the single most-shorted stock on the U.S. market. In the first two weeks of 2020 alone, short sellers were down some $2.6 billion.
How we judge accents often comes down to a subjective decision about how important we think authenticity is in any particular instance. What is crucial is that we believe the stories we are watching, and that belief comes from somewhere considerably more inscrutable than what country, region, or state a character sounds like they’re from…
Dog says he has 12 children, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He also says he has had four wives, been convicted of robbery 18 times and captured 10,000 fugitives. And he claims God promised to make him famous.
And let us know what you’re reading at [email protected].
With P.J. O’Rourke and the Editorial Staff
January 21, 2020