The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

What’s Rand Paul Smoking?

To be more specific, what’s Rand Paul smoking these days?

His musings that America was a better, freer place when African Americans had no civil rights protection, and no one was looking out for the safety of American workers (at least no one who didn’t have one eye on the bottom line), were both amusing and disturbing. But his latest riff on unemployment — that helping the unemployed would increase drug use — is a shocker, even from him.

It’s not a stretch to ask whether Paul thinks the best solution to the drug problem is leaving the rich alone to do their thing. From the interview:

"I personally think we’ve been trying the government solution, and maybe there are some good aspects to it. But we’re still failing, and we’re not getting rid of the drug problem," Paul said.
Paul says reinvesting money in the local economy will help ease the unemployment, which he says leads to more drug use.
"You want rich people because that’s what creates jobs. If you punish people, they won’t expand or create jobs," Paul said.

It’s unclear what Paul meant by warning against "punishing" the rich. But given his past statements, which have depicted Federal action against the private sector as punitive, he is presumably saying high taxation and regulation "punish" the rich and discourage them from investing in the local economy. This keeps unemployment high, which in turn keeps drug use rampant.

Huh? Tula Connell explains:

Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul has already told miners across Kentucky that “accidents happen” and so the federal government shouldn’t be involved in regulating health and safety on the job. Now he shares how helping jobless workers would create drug abuse. …This, from an interview today with WYMT-TV:

So, it’s not clear what Paul means in those last couple of sentences, but presumably he’s saying high taxation and regulation “punish” the rich and discourage them from investing in the local economy. This keeps unemployment high, which in turn keeps drug use rampant. I guess in his mind then it kind of makes sense that the rich will magically solve the unemployment issue….

But this does raise some questions: Is he saying it’s not the government’s role to create jobs? Would he have voted against extending unemployment benefits? Would he have voted against state aid to keep teachers and firefighters from being fired? Do we really not want him elected as senator so we don’t have to find out?

At least part of this is easy to rebut. America’s wealthiest citizens have enjoyed immense tax cuts for more than eight years, that made them richer and the rest of us poorer.

The result was zero job growth.


For most of the past 70 years, the U.S. economy has grown at a steady clip, generating perpetually higher incomes and wealth for American households. But since 2000, the story is starkly different.
The past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times, a sharp reversal from a long period of prosperity that is leading economists and policymakers to fundamentally rethink the underpinnings of the nation’s growth.
It was, according to a wide range of data from the Pax 2, a lost decade for American workers. The decade began in a moment of triumphalism — there was a current of thought among economists in 1999 that recessions were a thing of the past. By the end, there were two, bookends to a debt-driven expansion that was neither robust nor sustainable.
There has been zero net job creation since December 1999. No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent. Economic output rose at its slowest rate of any decade since the 1930s as well.

Whatever they did with that windfall, they obviously didn’t invest it in job creation back home. At least some of it probably wound up in offshore tax shelters subsidized by the very small businesses that create jobs for local economies.

These days, the local businesses in your neighborhood probably pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than U.S. Fortune 500 companies.
Over the last two decades, multinational companies have taken advantage of huge tax loopholes, moving income and assets between foreign subsidiaries to dodge taxes. Responsible Main Street businesses and individual taxpayers are stuck with the tab, paying the taxes that contribute to a healthy business climate and economy.
…One way that U.S. companies avoid taxes is by creating subsidiaries in a tax-haven country such as Bermuda, Luxembourg or the Republic of Mauritius. In the Grand Cayman Islands, more than 19,000 of these subsidiaries have set up legal addresses in one building.
These companies shift earnings and assets among these subsidiaries so that profits appear to be generated overseas, while losses are deducted from U.S. taxes. Because of the lack of transparency it’s hard to assess just how much tax revenue is lost, but estimates range from $43 billion to $123 billion per year.
Over the last two decades, multinational companies have taken advantage of huge tax loopholes, moving income and assets between foreign subsidiaries to dodge taxes. Responsible Main Street businesses and individual taxpayers are stuck with the tab, paying the taxes that contribute to a healthy business climate and economy.

Depending on who you ask, we’ve been "punishing" Main Street America for decades now. Asking the top 1% to pay a fair share to support the "public infrastructure of transportation, energy and education institution" isn’t "punishing" them any more than, say, holding a multinational corporation responsible for its mess is "a tragedy of the first order."

How doing something to reduce unemployment leads to increased drug use is something I guess only Rand Paul can explain. (His campaign’s statement standing by his previous statement doesn’t explain much.)

But I’m willing to bet that helping the unemployed would do a lot to address the spike in suicides among the jobless.

There is no saying how many suicides the recession has caused.
During the Great Depression, the suicide rate increased about 20 percent, from 14 to 17 per 100,000 people. The Asian economic crisis in 1997 led to an estimated 10,400 additional suicides in Japan, Hong Kong and Korea, with suicides spiking more than 40 percent among some demographic groups. But such statistics can mislead, social scientists say. Joblessness does not cause suicide. Rather, it correlates: Depressed persons tend to lose their jobs due to poor work performance, and a few also commit suicide. Jobless people tend to turn to alcohol, worsening their depression, and increasing the chances that they harm themselves. Still, academic studies show that suicide rates tend to move with the unemployment rate. Researchers in New Zealand found that the unemployed were up to three times as likely to commit suicide, with middle-aged men the most likely.
So how many suicides are associated with the recession? Nobody knows, not yet. The statistics lag about three years, so the official Center for Disease Control numbers still predate the financial crisis. Right now, therefore, the reports remain anecdotal.
But looking at individual counties’ or cities’ data, there are ominous signs of a real spike. Some counties show no change. Others show dramatic climbs. In rural Elkhart County, Ind., where the unemployment rate is 13.7 percent, there were nearly 40 percent more suicides in 2009 than in a normal year. In Macomb County, Mich., where the unemployment rate is also 13.7 percent, an average of 81 people per year committed suicide between 1979 and 2006. That climbed to 104 in 2008 and to more than 180 in 2009.
The suicide prevention hotlines also show signs of stress. In Jan. 2007, as the recession started, there were 13,423 calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a nationwide toll-free hotline. A year later, there were 39,467. In Aug. 2009, the call volume peaked at 57,625. Last year, the government granted the group an extra $1 million to increase programs in places with high unemployment rates.

It might even put some of his fellow teabaggers back to work.

As for what Rand Paul is smoking, it’s moot question. He wouldn’t share it anyway. On principle, of course.

2 Comments

  1. I´m afraid you get an F in reading comprehension.
    Rand Paul clearly states that reducing unemployment is an important way to REDUCE drug abuse.

  2. Honestly, it’s not entirely clear what he’s saying. But it sounds like he’s saying that government efforts to help the unemployed have either not solve the drug abuse problem or led to more drug abuse, and the solution is … um … more tax cuts, I assume, so the rich can finally get around to investing in job creation, which they’ve been waiting more than eight years to do.

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