The Unbearable Unbearableness of Rand Paul

Rand PaulSen.-elect Rand Paul (R-Ky.) | Flickr/Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons).

Renowned philosopher and sometime savior of all mankind Jesus Christ said the poor will always be with us. But in the tea party libertarian fantasyland Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-Ky.) inhabits, there are no poor people. There are no rich people either:

We’re all interconnected. There are no rich, there are no middle class, there are no poor. We’re all interconnected in the economy.

Wait, what?

We’re all interconnected. There are no rich, there are no middle class, there are no poor. We’re all interconnected in the economy.

Oh, now I get it! In the Randian paradise, no one suffers in the streets. The difference between someone with an apartment on Park Avenue and a house in Easthampton, and a tire salesman in Lexington doesn’t matter. The guys living on their 500-foot yachts are in the same boat as folks who, well, aren’t in the same boat.

Seriously, if Paul really thinks there are no rich or poor, just the “interconnected,” his assets may as well be divided up among us interconnected people. Actually, forget that Senate salary, too. He won’t miss being rich, because he’s not really rich at all, he’s just like everybody else. 

I asked Dean Baker, an economist at the lefty Center for Economic and Policy Research, what he thought of Paul’s comments. They’re “close to just idiocy,” Baker says. “He seems to be saying it doesn’t really matter who gets the money, since we’re all interconnected. But how many people would be willing to see their neighbour get everything they had? And if it’s all the same, then why why not give money to the poor or the middle class?”

Paul also said this:

We all either work for rich people, or we sell stuff to rich people. So just punishing rich people is as bad for the economy as punishing anyone.

There’s a third option, of course, that goes unmentioned: some of “us” are rich people. TPM commenter ct also had a good response to this:

Yes, after all nobody ever mowed lawns lawns of middle class people all summer. As we all know middle class people never hire anyone.

Likewise, nobody ever got paid because a middle class person hired a plumber, or a poor person shopped at a grocery store. People only work for, and sell stuff to, rich people.

Baker says he thinks Paul is “going to be a good source of amusement for the next six years.” But I’m not sure how much more of this I can take. 

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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