Rand Paul Disqualifies Himself from the Presidency with Dumb Remarks on Income Inequality

Somebody get this man a dunce cap.

Somebody get this man a dunce cap.

Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul, has not been doing a very good job of running for president. First he tried to win over progressives and minorities, then he scared them away by publicly flip-flopping on issues like foreign policy and criminal justice reform. Then he bombed out in the first Republican presidential debate. Then three of his aides were indicted on charges that they allegedly tried to buy an Iowa state senator’s endorsement for Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign. And he’s annoying Republicans in his home state of Kentucky with his calls to change local laws allowing him to simultaneously run for the Senate and the presidency.

But that’s all lead-up to the spectacular foolishness that Paul unleashed on Fox News Sunday. I’m going to separate this out because it’s so stupid that not encasing it in a block quote could possibly infect the rest of this blog with its stupidity:

“The thing is, income inequality is due to some people working harder and selling more things.”

It’s just staggering. We always knew Rand Paul was a libertarian, but this is the single most naive interpretation of income inequality that I’ve ever seen. It’s an Ayn Rand fairy tale, the idea that the market somehow fairly distributes value according to the intrinsic worth of a human being. Are you telling me that the Koch brothers, each of whom earned some $3,000,000 per working hour from investments in 2012, work 827,586 times harder than a janitor who earns the federal minimum wage of $7.25? Because I want to see the math that leads to this kind of conclusion.

Rand Paul wants us to believe that somehow since the late 1970s when income inequality started increasing at astronomical rates, 99 percent of Americans have been working less? It’s simply not true. Our productivity has increased in that time. But the market has somehow “decided” (because libertarians like Paul prefer to imbue the market with sentience, like a capricious fairy godmother) that our value has decreased significantly? I’d like to have words with the market, if so.

Income inequality is a real problem. It’s gotten so bad that Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney have been forced to acknowledge it. For Paul to fall back into some late-80s bullshit about the market being a fair arbiter of who works harder than whom demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of what the economy is. It disqualifies him from the presidency in a very real way.

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Paul Constant
Paul Constant has written about politics, books, and film for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the country.