Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Rand Paul and Farmers Might Think the U.S. is a Capitalist Country, But Socialism Abounds

Making the rounds of Facebook lately is the following quote attributed to Rand Paul, Republican senator from Kentucky. Paul is a libertarian conservative. Here’s the quote: “Our Founders never intended for Americans to trust their government. Our entire Constitution was predicated on the notion that government was a necessary evil to be restrained and minimized as much as possible.”

Interesting. On the other hand, do you think the Founders considered a future with automatic rifles and machine guns? Or a future with medications that could prevent the dissemination of life-threatening contagious diseases? Or the instant communication of radio, television, cable and the Internet with their potential to undermine freedom? Or the ability to mass produce food and the need to safeguard its production and consumption? Or trains, planes and automobiles and the necessity to regulate their use? Or the depletion and pollution of clean water and air? 

Perhaps the Founders didn’t always get things right. They did, after all, sanction slavery. Rand Paul and his originalist brethren need to realize the Constitution and its amendments are templates for a governing philosophy that requires modifications based on the evolution of mankind’s technical and scientific abilities to do good and evil. 

The Constitution and amendments need to be interpreted in light of changes in reality. As the Bible is. Western society has gone beyond the literal “eye for an eye” doctrine of penalties for actions intended or not. 

So, too, must our unassailable reliance on a late 18th century document. 

A recent New Yorker article on Wisconsin farmers and their loyalty to Donald Trump contained the following from a dairy farmer: “I’m not in favor of any kind of socialism,” he said. “We’re a capitalist farm.”

As much as that farmer professed a disdain for socialism I wonder if he realizes just how much “socialism” he and his fellow sodbusters receive. Based on U.S. Dept. of Agriculture data, the Environmental Working Group computes that from 1995 through April 2019, farmers received $390.9 billion of federal subsidies. Wisconsin farmers pocketed $9.113 billion, ranking the state 16th among those accepting federal support. 

As a nation we don’t have a problem with creeping socialism in this country. Rather, we have a problem with people failing to understand how socialism—how the “means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole”—is embedded in our everyday lives. 

Social Security. Medicare. Medicaid. Food stamps. Public schools. Free and subsidized school food programs. Energy subsidies. Subsidies that pay farmers to limit what crops to plant and how much their acreage should yield. Yada, yada, yada.

We are awash in government giveaways. Some may quibble about individual handout programs. Overall, we are better for them. 

Rand Paul might think government is “a necessary evil,” but he would be wrong. His state of Kentucky, according to WalletHub, is the third most dependent on money from Washington (https://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-least-dependent-on-the-federal-government/2700/). A year ago, WalletHub estimated that for every dollar Kentucky sends to Washington, it receives $2.61. Just imagine how poorly Kentucky would fare if it didn’t receive its share of our “socialist” government.

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