I’ve been thinking more about the insulting remarks Rand Paul made in Kentucky when he suggested that skilled, unemployed folks should just suck it up and settle for whatever lower-paying job they can get. What I wrote here doesn’t fully expose his moral and intellectual poverty.
It’s bad enough that Paul doesn’t seem to know that with 15-20 million people under- and unemployed, hundreds of people will be lining up for a handful of jobs. His condescending "tough love" lecturing is oblivious to the enormity of the jobless problem. It’s even more insulting that he assumes folks at the ends of their hopes are not already doing everything they can to stay afloat.
It is a favorite theme of Republicans of varying stripes that the unemployed and poor are there because they deserve to be; their status proves they’re undeserving. Lecturing them on moral virtues is what conservative Republicans have always done.
But the worst part is the cynical hypocrisy illustrated in the same Blue Grass Politics article, in which Rand Paul was also asked how he felt about taking government Medicaid/Medicare payments for his medical practice.
To understand the full hypocrisy of this common Republican belief, recall that because of obstruction by Republicans and DINOs (Lieberman, Bad Nelson) who think just as Paul does, the Congress has failed to pass a modest jobs bill that would fund youth summer jobs and prevent states from having to lay off hundreds of thousands of teachers and cut Medicaid services, while extending unemployment and COBRA health insurance benefits. Yet our can’t-get-its-priorities-straight Congress and dysfunctional Senate have agreed on a measure to keep Medicare from cutting fees to doctors.
Even though he rants against government spending, Rand Paul hasn’t said boo against Congressional efforts to shield doctors from taking less pay for what they do. Instead, he told the interviewers this:
In another radio interview, with a Bowling Green station on Wednesday, Paul defended his acceptance of Medicare and Medicaid payments as an eye surgeon for the last 17 years. Paul said he wants sweeping cuts in federal spending, but as a doctor, he has little choice but to serve patients covered by the massive federal health-care programs.
“I work hard and I don’t see any other person in this country who’s gonna work hard and not be paid for it,” Paul said.
What Paul is saying is that a doctor works hard and is highly skilled, so it’s only fair that persons performing an essential public service be fairly compensated. I think most would agree with the principle. But when Paul speaks to an unemployed teacher with a Masters Degree in Education, even though the country’s educational system is crying out for skilled, energetic teachers anxious to teach, she should suck it up and consider flipping burgers. It’s tough love for her; subsidies for him.
But in Rand Paul’s world, we shouldn’t apply "tough love" to him, because he’s not one of the undeserving:
Paul declined to say how much money he gets from the programs, but he said approximately 50 percent of his income is Medicare and 5 percent is Medicaid. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Paul has been paid $130,461 over the last five years through Medicaid. If that represents 5 percent of his income, then Paul’s Medicare payments over the same period would be more than $1.3 million or about $260,000 a year.
Rand Paul: tough love is only for the undeserving but not for his privileged class.
One more point: I’d have thought a true libertarian would offer his services, and if he can’t sell them at what people can afford to pay, he would accept the market’s verdict and try another job. But what he essentially says here is he’s entitled to a comfortable living as a doctor. He has "little choice" because he can’t prosper as well as he believes a doctor is entitled to, unless he accepts Medicare/Medicaid patients and government payments. And his patients in turn can only afford his services if government pays him the fees he assumes he’s entitled to.
I think that’s a classic illustration of an entitlement system for doctors. Some libertarian.