On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference. Video of the speech can be found below, and a transcript is available here. While much of his speech was sound from a philosophical libertarian perspective, there were some points of contention. Let us examine these philosophically.
“The message for the President is that no one person gets to decide the law, no one person gets to decide your guilt or innocence.”
The law is a collection of opinions enforced by the guns of the state. As law in a statist society depends upon the initiation of force, law is immoral in a statist society. As for guilt or innocence, it is impossible for any number of people to decide such a thing because truth is independent of belief, whether it is the belief of one person with absolute power, twelve people on a jury, or thousands of people in a lynch mob. A person is guilty or innocent based upon the truth and facts of a case, and anyone trying to determine guilt or innocence for the purpose of punishing criminals is, at best, using the facts which are available to make an educated guess. Thus, it is not just that no one person gets to decide the law and no one person gets to decide guilt or innocence, it is that making such a decision is logically impossible.
“The presidential oath of office states ‘I WILL protect, preserve, and defend the Constitution,’ NOT ‘I intend to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.’ Mr. President, good intentions are not enough. We want to know, will you or won’t you defend the Constitution? ...We prize our Bill of Rights like no other country. Our Bill of Rights is what defines us and makes us exceptional. ...Do we have a Bill of Rights or not? Do we have a Constitution or not and will we defend it? ...The Constitution must be our guide.”
As Lysander Spooner once said, “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.” It is important to remember that our rights do not come from the Constitution. The Constitution merely claims that the government it purports to justify will not infringe upon the natural rights that have always existed for sentient beings. History has proven this claim made by the Constitution false beyond any reasonable doubt.
“If we allow one man to charge Americans as enemy combatants and indefinitely detain or drone them, then what exactly is it our brave young men and women are fighting for?”
This is an important question, but unfortunately Sen. Paul did not give the proper answer to the question. The answer is the same as it has always been; soldiers fight at the command and for the interests of the ruling class. This truth is independent of whatever beliefs the members of the general public or the soldiers themselves may hold concerning any more noble motives.
“Government cannot give us our liberty; our rights come from our Creator.”
An appeal to the divine in a logical context is the refuge of someone who has no rational arguments to make. Rights do not come from a Creator any more than they come from a Constitution. Rights exist because of logical proofs by contradiction. Such a proof assumes that a right does not exist, and uses logic and reason to find a contradiction. A contradiction in a logical argument is a sufficient condition for falsehood. Proving that the nonexistence of an entity is false is equivalent to proving that the existence of that entity is true, therefore rights can be shown to exist through the method of proof by contradiction.
“I’m here to tell you, what we need to do is leave more money in the pockets of those who earned it. ...With my five-year budget, millions of jobs would be created by cutting the corporate income tax in half, by creating a flat personal income tax of 17%...”
All money should be left in the pockets of those who earned it. Taxation is armed robbery, possessing and receiving stolen goods, slavery, trespassing, communicating threats, and conspiracy to commit the aforementioned crimes. No utilitarian argument can make virtue out of this evil.
“I say, not a penny more to countries that burn our flag.”
Because foreign aid is ultimately paid for by taxation, inflation caused by legalized counterfeiting through the Federal Reserve System, or debt enslavement of the unborn, not a penny more should be given to any country, regardless of whether its citizens burn our flag. Again, no utilitarian argument can justify the means employed.
“This month, I will propose a five-year balanced budget.”
Even if one believes in the need for government, and therefore a government budget, why not propose a one-year balanced budget, as proposed by 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson? He did break the record for votes received by a Libertarian presidential candidate, even in an election with a fairly close popular vote. Fiscal conservatives who found Mitt Romney to be unconvincing had something to do with this.
“My budget eliminates the Department of Education, and devolves power and money back to the states where they belong.”
“Our party is encumbered by an inconsistent approach to freedom.”
All statists are encumbered by an inconsistent approach to freedom, not just the members of the Republican Party.
“...God bless America.”
If there is a God, then Sen. Paul has no business telling Him what to do. If there is not a God, then this is a meaningless expression.