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.
So….the Republicans have put out their Pledge to America. Is it any good?
Jeffrey Tucker sums it up pithily by juxtaposing short quotes from it and the Declaration of Independence:
Declaration of Independence (1776): “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…”
A Pledge to America (GOP, 2010): “Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course.”
If this goes on, related fellow TLS blogger Daniel Coleman to me, in another 100 years it will be “Whenever a subpoint of policy within a government agenda becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to organize a committee to change those subpoints of policy and replace them with better subpoints.”
Liberty Central, the Establishment’s attempt to co-opt the Tea Party, has a poll asking us to grade the Pledge. Head on over there and tell them what you think of it. Fellow TLS blogger Jacob Huebert has a couple of good posts on LewRockwell.com about Liberty Central, the Tea Party, the Pledge, and Glenn Beck.
The Liberty Central poll only lets you grade the Pledge as a whole. Here is a quick graded breakdown of important aspects of the Pledge, with short reactions by me in parentheses:
Ronald Bailey, over at Hit & Run, asks, “Should a person who is dying of an incurable illness be allowed to donate his organs before the disease kills him?” This strikes me as a very odd question to ask, especially given who is doing the asking. Hit & Run is the blog for Reason Magazine, a publication I have been led to believe has some libertarian bent. Yet, oddly, it seems they are still mulling over the most fundamental principle of libertarianism: self-ownership.
Once it is recognized that the fellow from the story, Gary Phebus, is a self-owner, the answer to Bailey’s initial question becomes blindingly obvious – a resounding yes. What would it mean to be a self-owner but be unable to use one’s body and its parts as one wished? Surely, any libertarian must recognize the right to commit suicide and the right to donate one’s organs after death, which is all this amounts to. Why the struggle?