Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rand Paul is Right

Rand Paul has been in the news this week with some controversial remarks. I think both of the remarks the media is talking about were correct. As a matter of a disclaimer, I don't claim to be a Rand Paul supporter. I am not a fan of his father, Ron Paul, and before Rand won the primary, I really didn't know much about him. However, when you're right, you're right.

Private businesses should be able to serve who they want.

The first comment that got him in trouble involved a discussion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rand Paul has said a number of times that he would not support overturning the Civil Rights Act, and that he would have voted for it. However, he said he had some concerns when the act is applied to private businesses. The quote that got him in trouble, as reported by the New York Times was:

Asked by Ms. Maddow if a private business had the right to refuse to serve black people, Mr. Paul replied, “Yes.”

I agree with him. I believe a private business should be able to serve or cater to whoever they want. If a bar, diner, golf course, or electronics store wants to "not serve" blacks, Hispanics, whites, or any other group, they should be able to. However, I also believe they shouldn't complain when a large number of people don't shop there because of that policy. I would never personally shop at a store that excluded any specific racial group, but I would fight to allow them that right.

The Obama Administration is Un-American.

If there is anything that drives liberals crazier than insisting on personal rights and accountability, it's stating that a liberal icon is un-American. This is exactly what Rand Paul did when he was trying to clarify his remarks about the Civil Rights Act. Once again, citing the New York Times:

“What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,’ ” Mr. Paul said, referring to a remark by Interior Secretary Ken Salazaar about the oil company. “I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I’ve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it’s part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it’s always got to be someone’s fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.”

Again, I think Mr. Paul is correct. Ken Salazaar was the first to say it, but Robert Gibbs has repeated it so many times in press briefings that this has become the tag line for the President's handling of the BP oil spill. Ignore your personal feelings for President Obama, do you really think it sounds Presidential, or American, to say that your administration will keep,"...a boot heel to the throat..." of a private company? Then your administration repeats it over and over? Is that the picture we want to paint of our government? It sounds like something you would expect out of a politician who was so far removed from the average American that he doesn't even realize what he is saying is cause for concern.

I think the media is attempting to use the comments to paint Mr. Paul as a fire breathing racist and anti-government zealot. Truthfully, they should look at his comments and consider what he actually said. If the media was really concerned with racism and the civil rights act, they would bring Senator Robert Byrd on to discuss why he voted against the law in 1964. They haven't, and probably won't. They are much more interested in looking at a stereotype than at what was actually said. Now who sounds like the racist?

How Republicans are getting this wrong.

Finally, a number of Republicans, both elected and not, are trying to distance themselves from this discussion. I think they are wrong to do that, and wrong to criticize Rand Paul for answering a direct question. First, how many times have we as voters complained that we can't get an honest answer from a politician? Well, you may not like the answer, but Mr. Paul has given you one. Secondly, avoiding this discussion gives strength to Eric Holder's comments that Americans are cowards about race. Let's have the personal rights versus politically correct discussion. Lets be honest about it, and let's examine where we may have gone wrong in the past.


the anonymous guy said...

Andy writes: "If a bar, diner, golf course, or electronics store wants to "not serve" blacks, Hispanics, whites, or any other group, they should be able to."

And with that, I remove myself from discussions on this blog.

Andy D said...

Bill Frezza at Real Clear Politics writes:

Tea Party candidate Rand Paul generated all sorts of media consternation when he implied that while government agencies shouldn't be allowed to discriminate based on race, color, creed, or national origin private organizations and businesses should be allowed to enjoy freedom of association, as wrongheaded as their choices might be. You could just hear the delighted "gotchas" as Rand danced on the third rail. Yet where was the outrage when the Los Angeles city council voted to deny civil rights to Arizonians based solely on their place of origin? Is this the same dysfunctional city that is frantically seeking a bailout for its spendthrift ways? Do you think they will refuse to take federal money if it's tainted with taxes collected in Arizona?

If you wish to leave the debate, I will miss your opinion, and you will show Eric Holder correct on whether we have the strength to debate race in the U.S. or not. There are a number of places that discriminate based on race and sex already. Men are not allowed in sororities (though I tried). Women are not allowed in fraternities. There are a number of "black" sororities and fraternities that will not accept white people in. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are only one sex organizations. I think all of these groups should be able to legally restrict their membership.

Let's not pretend this isn't going on today. Instead, lets be open and honest about the debate.

pack04 said...

I know this will fall on blind eyes because you are gone but the link that you provided brings in a different point, it even talks about it on the page. Those lunch counter sit ins and such were protesting segregation (Jim Crow) laws, ones that were outlawed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I actually just read a good portion of the 10 page law (amazing they could pass a law so monumental in so few pages) and I would have to say that I need some clarification on what Ms. Maddow and Mr. Paul consider private business. As Andy puts it a bar, diner, golf course or electronics store could not, according to law, refuse service based on race. Unless they were a "private club or other establishment not in fact open to the public" (code subsection (e)).
Now I am not a lawyer or a judge so I am not going to be able to figure out what is public or private.
Without further clarification from either of them I cannot judge as to whether Mr. Paul's statement is good or bad. He might not have been stating an opinion but fact based on law.

I do have one major question from this and this might be because I have not been following Kentucky politics but why did Ms. Maddow ask him this question? Did this debate not take place 46 years ago? Or is this the NY Times sending somebody out to ask race based questions to a tea party person to continue on with their belief that the tea party is racist? Or did Mr. Paul just start giving a speech on this?

If Mr. Paul or you Andy are in favor of a local Chili's restaurant or a mom and pop electronics store refusing service based on race because they are private (not government owned or ran) companies, thus overturning an established law, than I am thoroughly disgusted with both of you. If it is open to the public it is open to all of the public.

I think certain sororities and fraternities might be exempt from this law because they could be considered a private club.

Andy D said...

To your first point, I am not sure how the interview got on this topic in the first place. I haven't heard Mr. Paul campaigning on this, and to my knowledge, I don't know that anyone is discussing overturning the Civil Rights Act. Mr. Paul has said specifically he is against that.

I am not in favor of a local Chili's becoming a "black only" or "white only" or "men only" establishment. I do believe they should have that legal right to do so if they decide too. There is a difference between what is legal and what should a person should do. I think if a private business or group is willing to put up with any bad press or lack of money because they want to become a "fill in the blank here" only business, then let them. Like I mentioned earlier, we have a number of such entities today, especially in the academic world. How many scholarships are only open to minorities?

I am also not in favor of repealing the 1964 Civil Rights act. Not because I believe it did any good, but because I think it would be silly to waste the time to look at it. Thomas Sowell, an author I admire very much, and a black man, has made a compelling argument that the 1964 Civil Rights Act may not have been as successful as many would have us believe.

pack04 said...

Honestly I am quite torn on this. I see your point. If it is a private company they should be able to do what they please. If they want to take the loss of customers and people campaigning against them they can do should be allowed to do so.
Where do you draw a line though? If they are a private company should they be allowed to operate a dirty kitchen? Or lie about their financial statements?
I am torn because it is hard to separate myself from this. If I owned a company and it was open to the public, then it would be open to all the public. I just can't understand why or how people could think differently than that. To me in owning a business making money comes above everything else.

Without reading the work by Mr. Sowell I can sort of see his point from what you explained.

I don't think that legislating a moral is always the best way to have a moral society.

pack04 said...

here is a link to a story. Not sure what to think about it. I think there are definitely some signs that show Mr. Holder correct. We are cowards when it comes to race.

Andy D said...

To quote Frederick Bastait in 1850:

Here I encounter the most popular fallacy of our times. It is not considered sufficient that the law should be just; it must be philanthropic. Nor is it sufficient that the law should guarantee to every citizen the free and inoffensive use of his faculties for physical, intellectual, and moral self-improvement. Instead it is demanded that the law should directly extend welfare education, and morality throughout the nation.

As fate would have it, I just wrote about this over at Red State {which is why I had a quote from the 1850's so handy). To answer your question, a private company should not be allowed to operate a dirty kitchen because it becomes a safety hazard to both those who work their and the customers. The government insuring public safety is a legitimate function of government. The government trying to legislate that we all like each other is a very different thing.

In today's world, I think a business that was only open to one particular race would go bankrupt quite quickly. However, I also think the government should allow companies to fail, but that is a different topic.

Andy D said...

I have a definate opinion on this. Standby for more....

Patrick said...

Hey guys-

I wanted to respond to this sooner, but Lost and a newborn baby kept me busy.

I'm glad I took a bit to write this post, b/c I'm going to take emotion out of this conversation to have an honest debate.

I think this question was asked because it's a fair question for someone who demands the most limited government and free market. There comes a point when the term "the greater good" may question the motives of free market purveyors. And I don’t think a business that serves only certain individuals would necessarily fail. For every finger pointing at them, there could patrons saluting. Also, if this company has been in business for a good period of time, and many people are hooked on their product, it would be very hard to go out of business. Americans would find a way to justify why they need the company’s product and probably have a short attention span on the subject anyway.

Of course, I believe it should be the right of a private business owner to run their business within the limits of the law. I believe when the Civil Rights Act came to fruition, it was to appeal to the "greater good". (This is one of those times that Americans should realize that we already have some socialistic policies in play.) It was deemed in the greater interest of the Nation for everyone to feel obliged to grab a beer at the closest neighborhood bar without hassle. I mean, really, no one wants to walk in a place only to be harassed and possibly beaten up. We all want to eat, work, and provide for our families without fear of prejudice. I mean we can’t all own businesses to combat racism at another company. Someone’s got to be the consumer.

It's true that you can't legislate the prejudice out of people. But let's think of what has or could happen if there was no Civil Rights Act, or EEO, etc. (This is purely hypothetical.) A private company could build its brand over a 100-year period. During that time, the upper management just happens to not like women, or other certain groups of people. So, they decide not to let those people advance. They consistently meet with other big name private companies (think Fortune 500) who meet often and decide that this type of discrimination would be good for all of their respective growth. (There is no law against this.) Being that these companies began their businesses during the growth of the nation, they pretty much corner the market with distribution and the creation of their products. Now, it's harder for any new companies to compete and continuously go out of business. Over time, these companies have to go public and can’t openly discriminate due to the Civil Rights Act, but still these companies control the majority of the wealth in this industry. Covertly, the traditions of the managers can be passed down.

Now before there is a response to my post, understand that the story was hypothetical, but I wanted to simply illustrate a point that many minorities may feel toward big businesses that have operated for a long time in our great nation. (And I am trying to have an open and honest debate.) Racism didn’t stop in 1965 and it isn’t going to completely stop now. Over time, I hope it dies out with the generations who promoted it.

Now, another question is this. Did the Act do anything to curb discrimination after 1964? Perhaps, but I don’t think you can measure it, especially since more legislation such as Affirmative Action was needed. At least there is something on the books, that given the opportunity, a company could be held accountable in the public light.

Andy D said...


First sorry about Lost. I hear the ending wasn't really what the fans were looking for. Second, the newborn may be keeping you up, but I am sure you are loving it ;).

Thanks for the comment. While I disagree with you on a few points, I think you have a very interesting point. I understand your example was hypothetical, but it is realistic on at least some level.

The Civil Rights Act (and similiar legislation from the 1960's) may not be as successful as we think it was. Quoting Thomas Sowell, from Economic Facts and Fallacies discussing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965:

These major legal landmarks of the civil rights revolution have often been credited with the economic and political advances of the black population. Certainly the Voting Rights Act was responsible for a huge increase in black voting in the South and the subsequent skyrocketing number of black elected officials throughout the region. But history tells a very different story as regards the economic advancement of blacks.

The percentage of black families with incomes below the poverty line fell most sharply from 1940 and 1960, going from 87 percent to 47 percent over that span, before either the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and well before the 1970's, when "affirmative action" evolved into numerical "goals" or "quotas". While the downward trend in poverty continued, the pace of that decline did not accelerate after these legal landmarks but in fact slackened. The poverty rate declined from 47 percent to 30 percent during the decade of the 1960s and then only from 30 percent to 29 percent between 1970 and 1980. However much credit has been claimed for the civil rights laws of the 1960's or the War on Poverty programs of that same decade, the hard facts show that blacks' rise out of poverty was more dramatic before any of these government actions got under way.

Mr. Sowell uses the next paragraph to give a similar analysis of the "...historical trend as regards the rise of blacks into professional, managerial, and other high-level occupations." There were similar results with blacks making significant gains prior to the passage of the 1960s civil rights legislation, and significantly smaller gains afterward.

Does this mean the Civil Rights Act should be repealed? I don't think so. I do believe it represents a lesson we should learn. The government should not be in the business of legislating how people feel about one another, or for "the greater good". When it tries, sometimes, the results are worse than if the government had left everything alone.

Patrick said...


First off, I loved the final episode of Lost. I still don't understand why people are confused about it.

As for your comment, you've got some good points.

The more I thought about it, I didn't consider the correlation to Jim Crow. The Civil Rights Act was supposed to act as a Federal Law to prevent local and state governments from creating or enforcing separate but equal laws within their respective municipalities. Sure, Brown vs. Board took care of school sponsored segregation, but many places were still denied to blacks based on the law. Violators could be punished by State Officials legally in the State.

As for the information on lower levels of poverty, I could agree with you without quotes and figures. There are many examples of high-powered minorities in America. Minorities don't need laws to advance, just the opportunity.