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African American Libertarian: Rand's Speech At Howard Was No Defense of Liberty

By Michael McThrow | Taken from the comments at Economic Policy Journal

I am an African-American and have been a libertarian for nearly eight years. Regarding Rand Paul's response to the student's statement about favoring "helpful" government, Rand Paul had the golden opportunity to articulate why "helpful" government is actually harmful and how "helpful" government can lead to the loss of liberties. For extra credit, he could have even explained how "helpful" government is often even immoral per the non-aggression principle. Somebody like Ron Paul, Walter Block, or Walter Williams would have clearly done this.

But Rand Paul blows this opportunity. His reply is in politican-speak instead of in plain English. The only harmful effects of big government programs that he mentioned in his reply is the harm to government budgets. The problem with this answer is that a non-fiscal conservative could always retort with the need for higher taxes or for deficit spending. But what about the problems of taxation to pay for such programs in the first place? Does the federal government have the constitutional authority to run these programs? (The answer is "No".) And even if it did, is it the proper role of government, anyway? What about the actual effects of these programs? Consider the combined effects of the student loan crisis and degree inflation. Consider how easy government funding contributes to rising tuition costs that make it difficult, if not impossible, for college students to work through their college careers like students in previous generations did.

And, as a libertarian, it's very disappointing to hear a "libertarian" politician say things like "it's not like I believe in having no government", or "it's not like I'm against student loans", or "I believe in a government that spends what it takes in". Now, while I don't believe that libertarians have to be anarcho-capitalists, I believe that libertarians should be at least sympathetic to the sentiments expressed by Murray Rothbard and other libertarian and anarcho-capitalist thinkers about the state being a great evil. Rand Paul doesn't seem to think this way at all. Also, just to favor balanced budgets is not enough to be a libertarian. A government that takes in $2.7 trillion and spends more than that is not small government. If the government takes in $2.7 trillion from tax revenues, that's $2.7 trillion that's forcibly extracted out of the economy and diverted to the government sector. Imagine what millions of businesses and 300 million individuals could do with that $2.7 trillion. Compare that to what the feds do with it XD. It's not enough to just favor balanced budgets; small, constitutional government and no income tax should be absolute minimums. And no libertarian politician should defend a federal role in education, period.

All and all, this entire speech not just this question-answer video, seemed more like an advertisement for the Republican Party, complete with politician-speak, and less like an explanation and a defense of libertarianism or even small-government conservatism. While Rand Paul does some good things from time to time, he is turning into a disappointment.


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Yes but the people want their

Yes but the people want their social issues. What I am saying is that our guy should be supportive of states rights with social issues.

Great feedback.

Thank you for the download.



Watch this dry yet astonishing Dr. Robert Beck cancer treatment lecture on Google Video - search "Suppressed Medical Discovery" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkiX0jJJozk

Although I love Ron Paul,

Milton Friedman, Walt Williams, and so on, there is a reason Rand has the opportunity to actually compete for the White House and they don't (or didn't RIP Milt). As others have mentioned, 20 minutes of answering questions to staunch liberals is not nearly enough time to explain the non aggression principle, free market capitalism, and so forth. Some of you guys want your heroes to be martyrs. You want them to say everything you would like to say to a liberal, but you don't realize, that if they do, they immediatly become fringe. Rand is walking the line, and walking it like a damn pro. Of all the people in this movement I admire, Rand it he only one who I trust more than myself to give effective answers to any question thrown at him. If I were up there answering those questions, the next day I'd be so unimportant on the national level, I'd be right back here on the DailyPaul debating all of you instead of giving important speeches nationwide.

Free market capitalism isn't right for America because it works better. It's right because it's free (and it works better).

Good point

When someone asked Milton Friedman, why would not he serve in government (as a staff member in Treasury or advisor), he replied that he would be compelled to liquidate his position and resign.

Friedman did serve in government...

...he is the jackass who stuck us with the withholding tax.

Longtime Internet Poster

I thought

this was the wrong speech for this audience, or, the wrong time. Had it been "Black History Month", maybe it would have worked, because it was a soliloquy of: Look how much this white Republican knows about Black Americans throughout our history! The name dropping, line after line, was embarrassing. And, that's called 'pandering'.

Wouldn't it be nice to see the copious notes the audience took! Maybe that distracted him. He couldn't seem to find his groove.

No, he wasn't at all comfortable. He made me squirm. And that flag incident left him completely flatfooted. It's just a Flag, Rand! You should've let 'em unfurl it and road with it!

Rand, I hope you're reading this, stay true to yourself, that and your message is what got you this far. Leave the pandering to the sociopaths. Don't go there again.

"If you want something you've never had before, you have to do something you've never done before." Debra Medina

Good points

People are tired of the same old political speak. I think he would have more impact if he went to Brown as a libertarian instead of a Republican.

Rand is def more republican

Rand is def more republican than libertarian

Oh no, not labels!

I'm a young, straight, white, protestant, Arizona native, libertarian, who is an enjoyer of Cajun food, whiskey, electro, and rainy days!

Quick, everyone start labeling me a collectivist because I used labels to describe myself!

Check out the Laissez-Faire Journal at LFJournal.com

"The State is a gang of thieves writ large." - Murray Rothbard

I disagree

Your 8 years of being Libertarian might trained your mind to receive free-market capitalism and small government as logical. But try to persude your relatives in a brief conversation who were not exposed to Libertarian idea before? I would not be able to persuade mine. But more than that, most of the students, I suspect, have special government grants (not usual federal student loans) and many of their relatives live their life in Section 8 free housing.

It was very smart for Rand Paul to stay away from preaching Austrian Economics and individual liberty at such event.

I agree with you

You cannot go into a place full of students who by one method or another are reliant on or will rely on in the future, some form of government assistance in terms of tuition, jobs, etc.

Rand's focus was on the personal liberty aspects of libertarianism. And he was right to focus on those things because the majority or the students could relate in one way or another to that.

Talking Austrian economics would have made the audience think he was crazy and that he didn't understand the basics of economics that they all take as absolute truth.

What most libertarians fail to see when trying to convince others is that people change their minds in stages not in one big a-ha moment.

Who among us became libertarian over night? I realize now that I was always pretty much a libertarian but it was the Iraq war that lead me to examine what I believe, which lead me to exploring monetary policy, which lead me to the non-aggression principle, etc.

There is such a thing as coming on too strong.

Libertarians in general need to stop bashing people over the head and start making suggestions instead. Focus on common goals and minds will begin to change. I think Rand Paul handled it beautifully.


People who grow in poverty often adopt a life long resolution - "when I grow up, I will fight for the poor, for common man."

I don't see the point

of labeling yourself as 'African' American, were you born in Africa?

"Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike: as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups. By encouraging Americans to adopt a group mentality, the advocates of so-called "diversity" actually perpetuate racism. Their obsession with racial group identity is inherently racist."



are different, and pretending they are not is not the way forward.

Yes, people of clearly AFRICAN ancestry have had and continue to have a different experience in America than others who are not.

Yes, the author is simply an American, but he is also of African ancestry having unique experiences and points of view because of that; you'll never change that by some absolutist ideal. Making up the Supreme Court of 100% Christian "white" men will never fly by simply arguing but we're all just Americans! We're not there yet, and I don't know if we ever will be.

Hey Now,

Clearly the reference to being African American here was contextual. The whole point of this speech was that Rand was on a good will mission to all these "African Americans" who have been ignored and left out of Republican Baby kissing campaigns.

And the author makes great intellectual points which you could address. I happen to agree that Rand doesn't bring to the table enough libertarian philosophy for me to get excited and behind him. So much of our focus constantly falls on Rand, and I can't understand why.

He is dramatically better then any Republican mainstreamer, sure, but that's not saying much is it?

Id rather campion the work of Justin Amash:


Yea, out of the entire post I

Yea, out of the entire post I chose to focus on the the 'labeling', guilty as charged. The issue is a pet peeve of mine. I'm of Mexican heritage, but I am foremost an American.



deacon's picture

and yet,

you labeled yourself an american
it has that nice patriotic ring to it

If we deny truth before your very eyes,then the rest of what we have to say,is of little consequence

Yeah, Rand lost me at the

Yeah, Rand lost me at the "helpful" government too. His dad would've bluntly said that government can't be helpful because it's force. Anything taken from you by force cannot be helpful to someone else. This is something the Randites don't get or conveniently forget because they want to believe in a leader so bad they'll compromise.

You had your chance Amerika. RON Paul Was Right!!!

"It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere".

It's hard not to be a menace to society when half the population is happy on their knees. - unknown

Are U an Anarchsit?

"His dad would've bluntly said that government can't be helpful because it's force."

Where does justice fit into your thinking?

You can either use force to take what you covet or defend yourself from those who would. Now ask yourself again; how could the use of force ever be helpful?

Is Ron Paul an Anarchist and a Pacifist who wants to destroy our country rather than restore the republic and Constitutional government, because when you say 'government can't be helpful because it's force' you're saying there is no purpose to government.

Ron Paul has made it perfectly clear that the only legitimate purpose of government is to defend liberty, and liberty is defended with force. Liberty is taken by collective force, so you'll need to defend it with collective force.

"Freedom, liberty and their common defense."


Yes, I guess I am, sort of. I

Yes, I guess I am, sort of. I like to call myself a market anarchist. I think Ron Paul is too, but knows we can't get there from here.

"It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere".

It's hard not to be a menace to society when half the population is happy on their knees. - unknown

A market Anarchist?

What's that, somebody who doesn't want justice to interfere in the free market?

Do you want to buy slaves or just slave goods? You do understand that people want to be able buy BOTH in the free market.

In the free market people want to get as much as they can for their money, and productive labor is where value comes from. Slavery is the win in a free market without justice.

So you're an Anarchist and you think Ron Paul is too. Don't mince your words because you're afraid people will recognize you for what you are.

"I like to call myself a market anarchist."

I know.. Anarchists call themselves a lot of things, but when you boil them down, what you find somebody who has no idea what threatens people's liberty and condemns the very idea of defending liberty with force.

"His dad would've bluntly said that government can't be helpful because it's force."

I have no problem calling Anarchists what they are, frauds and liars, and I have NO PROBLEM using force to defend liberty. Am I really supposed to believe you don't understand the impact enforcing justice has on the market?

I'm not like the others. I don't assume that you're stupid. I assume that you're smart. Assuming that you're smart leaves me thinking you're a fraud and liar who wants to buy slaves and slave goods in a free market.

I believe the market, people

I believe the market, people dealing amongst themselves can and usually do a whole letter better when you don't have the third partner in on the transaction, the gubermint, who can't do anything right but use force. A WHOLE LOT MORE FORCE than the free market does.

And you only get as much justice in this country as you can afford.

Bet you buy stuff made in China! You're the slave trader if you do!

"It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere".

It's hard not to be a menace to society when half the population is happy on their knees. - unknown

That's the free market trying operate without justice.

"Bet you buy stuff made in China! You're the slave trader if you do!"

That's the free market trying operate without justice.

In Anarchy, the market won't need Chinese imports anymore. We'll use YOU. Anarchists make great slaves, and there's nothing you'll be able do to stop it. Your children would be for sale on aisle 6.

"His dad would've bluntly said that government can't be helpful because it's force."

Good luck with that forced

Good luck with that forced justice and liberty thing!

"It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere".

It's hard not to be a menace to society when half the population is happy on their knees. - unknown

Excellent article! I cringe

Excellent article! I cringe whenever I hear Rand described as a "libertarian." He is a POLITICIAN, unlike his father. And he really screwed when he failed to admit that he showed sympathy for opposition to the CRA. There is video of him on Rachel Maddow admitting that he has issues with the CRA.

Rand's strategy was smart

I think what Rand did was smart. His goal was to open lines of communication. From the comments Nick Gillespie recorded after the speech, it's clear he did that. He opened the dialog and now has his foot in the door to expand the dialog. It's a beautiful start. He has to develop this new audience and lead them to where he wants them to go. Blunt isn't going to do it. Everything at once isn't going to do it.

If Rand had gone into a rant about government over-reach and how it's creating victim mentality in the black community, he would have lost the argument and wasted the opportunity to start a dialog.

We ALL want the dialog to center around our liberties, but let's not drown the baby by pushing him off the board into the deep end.

Engaging in advanced citizenship

Rand was less than truthful

Rand was less than truthful when discussing his support for the CRA.

Rand's vision, not the past

I think that Rand should talk about his vision for the Republican Party...about making it more tolerant and libertarian. I think that would resonate more than trying to persuade them that the Republican Party is currently great for them. He came off as patronizing and it wasn't until the Q&A that they warmed up to him a little because he was talking about what he wants and not the past. His speech reminded me of Paul Ryan telling us libertarians to vote Republican.

Of the whole speech, I think

Of the whole speech, I think that is where Rand failed.

The Republican party of today and of Reagan is definitely not the Republican party of Lincoln.

This was a perfect opportunity to explain how he is trying to return the party to its roots, to the platform that the Republican party claims but doesn't follow through on.

It was a missed opportunity, I assume because he was trying to avoid a battle within the party.


I support Rand but as an objective observer his speech was pretty bad. It was too polarizing (i.e., Republicans are right. Democrats are wrong). He tried to equate the pre-Reagan GOP with the modern GOP which is simply not true. I wish his underlying message was more along the lines of, "I know the Republican Party has lost its way but I'm taking it back in the right direction..." He seemed more concerned about selling the Republican Party than selling the principles this author addresses. I can understand why he needs to do this strategically, but still didn't sit well with me I guess. Definitely some questions he could have knocked out of the park too (which Ron would have).