People and Property: What Rand Really Wants

Rand Paul did more back flips than Greg Louganis on Rachel Maddow, but his bottom line was clear. According to his libertarian philosophy, private businesses have the right to discriminate based on race, gender, or any reason they see fit.

I'm going to avoid smacking my lips at what this means for Rand Paul's Senate campaign. Suffice to say I'm praying that there are enough people in Kentucky who have made it sufficiently far along since 1964 to find his stance retrogressive and appalling.

I at least appreciate Dr. Paul's willingness to come out of the closet on this kind of conservative thinking, which is basically a fundamental belief in the primacy of the individual over the group. A society which prizes the accomplishments of the individual should therefore accord him a greater share of the wealth. For them, private property has moral agency, its accumulation represents deservedness. "Because I am better, I have more."

I understand Ayn Rand. She arrived at her philosophy as a reaction to the nightmare of Stalinist Russia in which she believed the will of the individual was always subverted to the will of the state. Fair objection, but it had nothing to do with the Soviet Union, in which the will of all individuals was completely subverted to will of one individual -- Josef Stalin. In a democracy such as we have, the power is diffused among millions of people. You may call that collectivist, but it's hardly monolithic or dictatorial (unlike, for example,a corporation in which all power flows downward from a politburo-like regime made up of the CEO, CFO and Board of Directors.)

The Rand (Paul or Ayn) philosophy, by putting private property rights at the same level of human rights, equates the status of things with the status of human beings. If property is considered equal to human beings, then it's not a very big leap to considering human beings as property. I believe this country is already familiar with this philosophy, manifested 150 years ago as slavery.

Similarly, we have Rush Limbaugh considering a toxic but profitable natural resource like oil as having the same level of importance as the Gulf of Mexico and the eco-systems it supports. He even blames the Sierra Club for the oil spill, which would be pretty funny if millions weren't taking his word as the gospel truth.

People are more important than things; oceans are more important than oil. And when a juvenile commits robbery, even armed, (but not murder) there is no conceivable justification for him to be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. He stole money, but it is money. He is a human being.

People who put property rights on the level of human rights need to spend some time picking cotton or weaving carpets 12 hours a day, in a dark-skinned body, being paid subsistence wages by a warlord or factory owner who screams that he has a right to run his business as he sees fit. A few years should do it.

MCO 2010