Rand Paul’s Free Market Fundamentalism

So “libertarian” or Tea Party darling Rand Paul has won the Republican Senate nomination in Kentucky in a “Randslide.”

Libertarianism or free-market fundamentalism is a uniquely American philosophy with little grounding in 21st century reality. Where in the world has it been successfully tried? To my knowledge, no where beyond countries that end up in tin-horn dictatorships where unregulated wealth is accumulated and concentrated in a few extremely wealthy families. Certainly not in America where public-private investment and partnerships have been an integral part of American economic history since the Louisiana Purchase and the growth of the railroad.

One can understand the frustration of Americans who’ve yet to see much evidence of economic recovery or reduction in the unemployment rate despite the bailout of banks and auto companies, along with the federal economic stimulus package, anxiety over the new health care law and growing deficit. But Paul and the “Tea Party Movement” represent an extreme reaction. My guess is that by November, with greater evidence of an economic recovery, more voters will come to their senses.

For years on this blog, I’ve debated free market fundamentalism with Ron Moore, who argued (among other things) that segregationist bigots had a right to discriminate at hotels, eating establishments or other businesses that they owned. Paul has made the same argument, saying the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was too broad and should not apply to private businesses. He has been rightly criticized for, in the words of a NYT editorial, “not understanding the nature of racial progress in this country.” What libertarian-Republicans and free market fundamentalists refuse to understand is that “the freedom of a few people to discriminate meant generations of less freedom for large groups of others.” If elected, free market fundamentalists like Paul would apply their own flawed reasoning and moral blindness to a wide range of issues, from health care to financial services.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he’s “not comfortable” with Paul’s views on civil rights. After the firestorm erupted over Paul’s civil rights’ views, to get elected he abandoned his libertarian principle on this issue and reversed himself, first saying he would not seek to repeal the Civil Rights Act then saying he would, ah, er, um, support the CRA. But he defends the corporate irresponsibility of BP, making the outrageous statement that it’s “un-American” for President Obama to hold British Petroleum accountable for the spill in the Gulf. He wants to abolish the income tax, and opposes the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Let’s see if Paul, an ophthalmologist, wins election to the Senate against Democrat Jack Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general. He has blasted Paul for his “cold and callous world view.”


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