Why Universal Health Care is NOT Slavery

This post is from May 2011.

[TW for extreme violence and dehumanization]

UPDATED: Here’s video of Paul making his remarks and watching it just makes me livid.  What a privileged, selfish never-been-thirsty-or-hungry-one-day-in-his-life jerk:

Listening to him, it makes me to want to say this, too:

If the government creates universal health care, it’s not enslaving the janitor or the person who cleans the hospital.  It’s ensuring that they have both jobs and health care.


Here is what Rand Paul, asshole extraordinaire, said about how universal health care and slavery are the same:

With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to health care, you have realize what that implies.  It’s not an abstraction. I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me.

It means you believe in slavery.

It means that you’re going to enslave not only me, but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses.

Basically, once you imply a belief in a right to someone’s services — do you have a right to plumbing? Do you have a right to water? Do you have right to food? — you’re basically saying you believe in slavery.

I’m a physician in your community and you say you have a right to health care. You have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you? That’s ultimately what the right to free health care would be.

So, let’s break this down.

First, NO, Rand Paul.  There is no fucking law anywhere that says a damn thing about breaking down doors to force or conscript physicians to treat people.  You made that up.  It’s a lie.

Second, believing someone has a right to food and water is not slavery.  I don’t actually know how to imagine them as related so that I can take down that bullshit.  That literally makes no sense to me.

Third, let’s talk about what slavery actually was/is.

Orlando Patterson, author of Slavery and Social Death, says that one is a slave if their condition is permanent, they were and are continually violently dominated, they are alienated from the people and places who make up their family and community, and they are part of an institutionalized system that perpetuates this social death over and over again as new enslaved peoples are brought into it. [There are plenty of other theories about why slavery is a unique position and what differentiates it from other positions of almost no power.  This is simply one.]

In real life, slavery meant [TRIGGER WARNING for terrible, disgusting violence]:

[Thomas] Thistlewood [a white overseer in Jamaica in the 18th century] whipped slaves; rubbed salt, lemon juice, and urine into their wounds; made a slave defecate into the mouth of another slave and then gagged the unfortunate recipient of this gift; and chained slaves overnight in ‘bilboes’ or stocks.

From Trevor Burnard’s Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire (pp. 149 – 150)

There’s also this:

I speak advisedly when I say this,–that killing a slave, or any colored person, in Talbot county, Maryland, is not treated as a crime, either by the courts or the community. Mr. Thomas Lanman, of St. Michael’s, killed two slaves, one of whom he killed with a hatchet, by knocking his brains out. He used to boast of the commission of the awful and bloody deed. I have heard him do so laughingly, saying, among other things, that he was the only benefactor of his country in the company, and that when others would do as much as he had done, we should be relieved of “the d—-d niggers.”

Frederick Douglass wrote that in his autobiography.

So, until the Affordable Care Act is modified to include a situation where physicians in this country are removed from their families by violent force, denied the rights of personhood, are forced to swallow someone else’s shit, and can be killed without anyone paying any attention, Rand Paul needs to shut the fuck up right now.

Why white, rich, politically powerful men want to constantly imagine themselves as enslaved is beyond me.

Rand Paul, there is absolutely nothing about your life that resembles anything to do with slavery.  Being an eye doctor who sees people whose insurance is covered by the government is not slavery.

If you feel the only way to defeat the notion that health care is a right is by saying that the right to health care will cause doctors to be enslaved, then you are losing your argument.  If that is the length to which you must go to justify to yourselves and your constituents why you don’t like something, you need to rethink your position.

Also, finally, Rand Paul – if you hate your job so much because the government is helping people afford your services, quit your job.  You, sir, have that luxury.  Not just because you aren’t a slave and, in fact, are lawfully considered by the state to be a person, but because you have a rich daddy and so much privilege that you sweat it out of your white man pores.

Finally, p.s., maybe you should ask YOUR ophthalmologist if they feel enslaved since, you know, you have your health care paid for by the government.  Your doctor probably does hate it when you knock on their door at 2am asking for an eye appointment and then they must get really pissed when the police force them to do it at gunpoint right then and there.  Amiright?

Anyhoo, I’m glad that I could help clear up this confusion.  ‘Till next time…


7 thoughts on “Why Universal Health Care is NOT Slavery

  1. A hint for Mr. Paul…

    If you are afraid you might be a slave, try this test:

    Stand up, yell “F*ck You, I Quit!” and walk away from where you are.
    If you aren’t assaulted by authority figures, you are NOT a slave.

    You know, the last time I had to explain this, it was to a guy who was proud to be a Marxist, and his complaint was that the military paying better than burger-flipping amounts to a draft and slavery.

    Ever notice how when Libertarians get on a roll, they end up sounding the same as Communists? I think it has to do with absolute theoretical thinking that ignore the messy realities of dealing with human beings.

  2. I think I get what Rand Paul’s point is. If there is an absolute right to health care, then in theory anybody interfering with that right – including a health care professional who just doesn’t want to do his or her thing right now for free – is in trouble.

    That kind of absolute right would enslave health care providers.

    Nobody is proposing that kind of right. To anything. Our most absolute rights are in the First Amendment, and we have managed to avoid enslaving priests and press-operators and television station owners.

  3. I still don’t see how an absolute right to health care in this case could “enslave” anyone. No one anywhere said a health care provider would be working for free. How we even get from everyone has a right to access health care to slavery is completely nonsensical.

  4. I agree with uptomyhips on this one.

    I don’t think an absolute right to health care means that doctors must provide health care from their homes at any hour of the day and do it for free. Not only would that right then directly infringe on the rights of others but it would mean the government would force people to continue doctoring even when they don’t want to.

    If anything, the right to health care ensures that doctors have patients, not that patients have doctors. Even if the government does provide for every citizen to have health care, you aren’t forced to use that resource.

    And no matter. An enslaved person is someone who is controlled by violence or the threat of violence to do labor that is not repaid and who doesn’t have a say in leaving that enslaved state for their entire lives. NOTHING like that is being proposed anywhere at anytime for doctors (of all people!). I don’t even understand how we could end up enslaving doctors in a way that they would be, by definition, enslaved.

  5. Yes, it is nonsense. Complete, utter, stupid nonsense.

    The only possible way it makes any sense at all is if a health care provider not doing his or her thing right now for free is considered a violation of somebody else’s rights. And nobody has proposed anything even vaguely along those lines.

    I should have been more explicit in my analogy: in the theory as I understand it, a press operator who doesn’t drop what he’s doing to publish your screed right now is violating your right to free expression. In the real world, rights balance. Balancing the rights of those who want a service with those who provide it is not that hard in the real world, other than economic problems. A right to free expression doesn’t, in the real world, enslave press operators.

    Rand Paul is going all theoretical and absolute. In the theoretical and absolute world, writer Fred’s absolute right to free expression means that press operator Bob is forced to publish right now whether Fred is going to pay or not.

    That’s nonsense. Complete BS. There are no rights that work that way. And even if there were, it STILL wouldn’t be slavery.

  6. Also doctors chose to become doctors. They chose careers that will sometimes interrupt their lives. Slaves dont, you know, CHOSE slavery. Ergo, his whole argument is completely stupid.

  7. “Basically, once you imply a belief in a right to someone’s services” This isn’t about slavery its about money. HIS money. Do you have a right to water, food, sanitation, health care? Only if you can afford it. Don’t raise my taxes to pay for your basic human needs, is what he is saying. Don’t expect Rand Paul to give you a sip of water if your dying of thirst, that would be his “slavery” and he wants no part of it. He and his republican friends have all the gold, and their keeping it, oops just 90%.

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