On Rand Paul and Slavery

Reason’s Matt Welch criticizes Rand Paul for Paul’s assertion that the right to healthcare implies slavery. While it is true that in minds of many, the term “slavery” specifically refers to chattel slavery as practiced in the United States prior to the end of the American Civil War, the term itself is not so limited. And this is not the first time that a prominent person has used the term in regard to employment restrictions: Curt Flood was well known for saying “A well paid slave is nonetheless, a slave.” The same applies here. Indeed, I have compared modern attitudes and events to slavery myself, more than once. Of course, there are critical differences between Rand and Flood and myself, with melanin levels likely being the most important one. But just as Flood’s comparison in the past was apt, so to is Paul’s comparison in the present an accurate description. It is easy to see that there have been far worse tortures in the past than waterboarding, or even beatings, but I would certainly still call the latter “torture.” So, too, would I call forced labor of any sort “slavery.” Wearing a smock rather than rags does not change the name.

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