Rand Paul, Truth-Teller 2

Government has no place in private transactions.

The name of Dr. Paul, whether the elder or the younger, is like that of Sarah Palin or Margaret Thatcher: prone to generating strong feelings, either of love or of hate, but definitely never neutrality.  Dr. Ron Paul created a near-insurgency in 2008 with his mix of the ideals of the deeply conservative (slash the size of the Federal government and kneecap the Fed) and deeply liberal (bring our troops home from basically everywhere.)  Dr. Rand Paul racked up a landslide victory in the Kentucky Republican Senate primary, but is now the target of leftist screaming fits for his criticism of the long-enshrined Civil Rights Act.

In the first half of this article, we discussed the many virtues of that Act, which Dr. Paul made clear he supports.  Why, then, did he criticize it, and why is that so important?

The Act banned official government discrimination, and it made clear that "common carriers" catering to public commerce cannot discriminate against anyone with the ability to pay for service.  Both of these rules are are not only obviously just, they are traditional rights going back centuries into English common law and even further to Roman times.

Government-Forced Association

The Civil Rights Act did more than that, however.  It required all businesses and vendors, large and small, of anything whatsoever, to deal with anyone whether they wanted to or not, regardless of race, color, creed, and so on.

In other words, federal law forced private individuals and companies to have business dealings with people they did not want to: to sell goods to individuals they'd prefer not to deal with, to rent houses to tenants they'd rather not have, ultimately to hire workers they'd rather not employ.

Let's be perfectly clear: it is morally wrong to refuse to deal with someone just because of the color of their skin.  It's wrong to be bigoted against other races, plain and simple; yet the First Amendment protects the rights of the KKK and neo-Nazis to spew their hatred just as much as it protects the rights of sane people to argue the opposite.

If the KKK has the right to say that black people are inferior, is it logical for the KKK office to be forced to hire a black secretary if that's who applies for the position?  If an individual believes that black people are unusually prone to violence, how is it helpful to force them to rent their spare room to a black if that's who answers the ad?

A little thought reveals that the senselessly bigoted are handicapping themselves.  If someone is willing to hire only white people, they are restricting the pool of available employees; their competitor across the street who'll hire anybody qualified will be able to do so more easily and cheaply, leading to a more profitable operation.  The bigoted landlord's spare room will stand empty while his open-minded neighbor is already collecting rent.

The history of the Jim Crow South shows this to be true.  Many white businesses refused to have dealings with black people - and this unserved market created powerful

...incentives that drove blacks to create multitudes of institutions throughout the segregation period, even before slavery was officially ended. These were institutions such as restaurants, stores, motels and movie theaters. There were banks, insurance companies, newspaper publishers. It is assumed that all blacks were helpless victims, financially crippled drudges, with no resources to pool among themselves. In fact, most of black entrepreneurial success originated in the South, the poorest region and the one of greatest need.

A free market combined with a free people solves problems that our dominant media and cultural forces would have us assume can only be resolved by government meddling and top-down control.

Following that wide path leads inevitably to a government that intrudes into every last aspect of life, including the most private.  The vast majority of people, black equally as much as white, exercise racial bias in their choice of mate: most people are primarily if not exclusively interested only in people the same color as themselves.  What sort of government would dare make people keep a record of the color of all their crushes and dates and extract fines if the totals didn't reflect the population distribution?  Yet that's exactly what the government now requires of employers, a process that began with the Civil Rights Act.

This is the government's
business why exactly?

It's not just restricted to race.  Modern American organizations must now contend with Muslim women who wish to deal with children whilst shrouded in a frightening funereal burkha; restaurants must employ people who cannot speak enough English to communicate with customers; and women's-only gymnasiums sued for excluding transvestites.  What business does the government have to interfere with individual citizens' - or employers' - private choices regarding any of this?

A rare example of common sense appeared ten years ago, when the Hooters restaurant chain prevailed in a lawsuit brought by men whom, shockingly, the chain wasn't willing to hire as Hooters Girls.  Common sense won the day, yes; but only a stunning lack of sense, rationality, or a belief in individual liberty could have allowed such a suit to be brought in the first place.

On another positive note, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts could expel homosexuals from leadership positions.  The NAACP filed a friend of court brief in favor of the Boy Scouts, arguing that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People needed the right to restrict its membership to, well, colored people by excluding whites.  Again, if liberty and freedom mean anything, no other verdict is possible: on what grounds can you be forced to associate with people you wish to avoid?

Unfortunately, the modern liberal obsession with enforced diversity has gone so far that the Washington Post could, with a straight face, publish an editorial arguing that discrimination by appearance should be banned!

Appearance-related bias also exacerbates disadvantages based on gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and class. Prevailing beauty standards penalize people who lack the time and money to invest in their appearance. And weight discrimination, in particular, imposes special costs on people who live in communities with shortages of healthy food options and exercise facilities.  So why not simply ban discrimination based on appearance?

Why not, indeed?  It's a fact that Uglo-Americans make less than hotties; it's a fact that, for most jobs, your appearance has no bearing on your ability to do the work.  So why shouldn't such discrimination by banned?

The ability even to ask this question demonstrates how far we have come from America's original concept of liberty.  If we paid the slightest attention to the Constitution, we'd know that the government cannot simply ask why it shouldn't do something; the government is supposed to prove by what authority it should interfere in private affairs by demonstrating a "compelling public interest" ideally rooted in a Constitutionally delegated power.

And if there is such a compelling public interest that government has the right to tell you who you can or cannot employ, where does it stop?  Even the generally-unhinged blogger Andrew Sullivan is able to see the problem:

By the time you've finished preventing discrimination against the ugly, the short, the skinny, the bald, the knobbly-kneed, the flat-chested, and the stupid, you're living in a totalitarian state.

This is where the regulatory road paved by the Civil Rights Act has led us - tyranny of the government's views of what's right over individual rights.

What has been wrought by the Civil Rights Act and its philosophical offspring?  A trip to the airport is revealing.

On the one hand, we have globally-respected and highly-profitable Singapore Airlines, starring young and eager Singapore Girls to cater to the passengers' every need whether real or imagined.  On the other hand you have the perennially-bankrupt American legacy carries, populated mostly by superannuated harridans who'd as soon brain you as look at you.  Apparently, customers really do prefer to deal with the perky and sprightly, not aged battleaxes from whom the last drop of the milk of human kindness was extracted sometime in the last century.  Instead of a trip through the friendly skies, modern American air travel is a journey through the seventh circle of hell.

The difference?  Singapore Airlines has the right to hire whomever it wishes, on whatever terms the employees freely agree to.  American companies do not have that right, so they pay twice as much for a tenth the quality of service to say nothing of looks.  Customers are willing to pay the American airlines rather less than they'll shell out for Singapore-style courtesy, leaving not much room for profit in between.

The Way Out

Does this mean Scragged supports the repeal of the Civil Rights Act?  Absolutely not, any more than Rand Paul does.  Most of the Act was good and necessary in 1964 and is still good today.  Most of it has stood the test of time.

Most of it, but not all of it.  Uncle Sam has no right to interfere in private business transactions beyond the well-understood realm of the common carrier.  The Federal government has no right to interfere in private employment decisions, assuming the employment doesn't require criminality (like prostitution or hit-men).  Yes, it has taken that authority, but it has no right to do so.

The fact that we've grown used to government intervention in an area where it doesn't belong does not make it proper, it only makes it habit.  As Abraham Lincoln once observed, if you call a tail a leg, a sheep doesn't have five legs; it still only has four, because calling a tail a leg doesn't make it one.

Dr. Rand Paul can stand tall today because he and his father have entered that exclusive realm of the politician willing to tell the truth and call a spade a spade simply because it's right, not because it's convenient.

What's more, he is the only living politician we've ever heard of who so respects the limited government prescribed in the Constitution as to be willing to say, "Here is something which is abhorrent and evil, and which you and I despise - but which the government has no right to interfere with."  Not since the 1800s has a statesman held his oath to the Constitution and its dictates of limited government in such supreme regard!

We are astonished and relieved to see his boldness rewarded by the primary victory; if it's rewarded by victory in the general election too, there may be hope for America yet.  In a temporary bow to reality, Rand Paul has now clammed up on this subject; we look forward to him reopening his mouth wide once he's a sitting Senator.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments
I think it is a shame that the Pauls and others like them will never dominate US politics. The simple reason is that they do not Play The Game.

The media tried hard to ignore Ron Paul when it could and make him out to be a clown when it couldn't... And even here, where he is praised, I wonder how the authors of Scragged feel about Ron (and presumably Rand) Paul's idea of cutting all foreign aid to Israel (and other nations too, but the always unspoken "to Israel" was a weighty pair of words)?
June 4, 2010 11:03 AM
We've traditionally tried to stay away from the Israel issue; it's a complex one. I would have no particular problem with ending all cash foreign aid, including to Israel. I do think we should support them diplomatically and via trade, including weapons sales, for quite a few reasons, not the least of which is their being a liberal democracy.

You might find this article to be thought-provoking on the subject.


Generally, I agree with Paul's point that America cannot afford to be the world's policeman at entirely our own expense, but unlike him, I believe that the adequate defense of America (a constitutional and logical obligation) does require a fairly significant global military presence. Our own defense should be our military's primary purpose, and we should use our own forces to defend allies only to the extent that it directly benefits our own national defense. Basically that means England and Japan, with possible long-term future potential in Poland.

Maybe that'll be another article someday...
June 4, 2010 2:44 PM
Petrarch: Thanks for your thoughts on the issue. The foreign policy aspects are where I part with the Paulian libertarians. I think we've gone to too many places militarily with no national defense interest, we still need to be able to protect our interests.
June 4, 2010 3:32 PM

Israel certainly is a complex issue, though mostly in my opinion because it has been allowed to grow into one. The one reason you state for supporting Israel is one that Israel is going to have problems retaining in the future. While it is certainly MORE of a "liberal democracy" than most (maybe even all) of its near neighbors, it has always included uncomfortable elements of theocracy; furthermore, a quick look at its projected population demographics reveals that one day it will have to make a choice between democracy and Jewish identity.

In any event, "supporting Democracy" seems a hollow reason to give for the USA doing much of anything, as it has so clearly TOPPLED Democracies in the past when it appeared to be in its best interest to do so. No, it is the other reasons that are unsaid that I find to be more interesting.

Note that while I believe there is a "Zionist Jewish lobby" in the USA (and think it is rather silly to deny its existence), I personally believe that its real power pales in comparison to that of the "Zionist Christian lobby".

I read the article you linked to long ago. As an American of Acadian descent, I can assure you that a mass deportation of Palestinians would not be something that would simply be forgotten in a generation or two. 250 years after the fact, there are STILL Acadians who feel strongly about the loss of their land, and that justice will not have been done until it is returned to them. They aren't bombing marketplaces, but they haven't forgotten.

I apologize for the digression. And this was a fine pair of articles.
June 4, 2010 4:46 PM

You said:

"...for the USA doing much of anything, as it has so clearly TOPPLED Democracies in the past when it appeared to be in its best interest to do so..."

Really? Which?

We've toppled a few dictatorships. We've responded to physical acts of aggression. But I cannot recall a single instance where we've "toppled a democracy" simply because it was in our interest to do so.

Please be specific with dates, events and how it was in America's interest in your response.
June 4, 2010 6:21 PM


Quoted from http://www.hbci.com/~wenonah/new/war2.htm :

The cases where the United States overthrew democracies look even worse in the aftermaths' the critics say. These are the cases they cite:

* In 1953, the CIA helped overthrow Muhammad Mussadegh, the elected prime minister of Iran; he was replaced by the Shah.

* In 1954, the CIA organized the ouster of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, and his replacement by a military dictator.

* In 1960, the CIA helped undermine Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, the only legitimately elected leader in Congolese history. He was killed the following year. The corrupt and brutal dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko dominated Congo (which he renamed Zaire) for decades.

* In 1973, the CIA conspired against Chilean President Salvador Allende, who committed suicide after being overthrown by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

The coups overthrew leftist but non-communist governments that represented a threat to U.S. economic interests, the critics say. For example, Mussadegh had just nationalized Iran's oil. Arbenz had pushed through a law allowing the Guatemalan government to buy and redistribute land from major landowners - such as U.S.-based United Fruit Co. - whether or not the landowners wanted to sell.

In all four cases, the dictatorships received years of U.S. military or economic aid.
June 4, 2010 7:09 PM

Ha! Yes, I thought that was the direction you were going to go. I've read those websites too.

That you're willing to believe that those were democracies makes the debate pointless.

Just because someone was "elected" doesn't mean a democracy was going on.

June 4, 2010 7:39 PM
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