What does Rand Paul think about the government restricting child labor?

20 05 2010

I watched that Rachel Maddow interview with Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul last night, and was duly shocked by the guy’s extremist views. I was outside digging up grass most of the day, so I’ve only just been reading the reactions of others who share my opinion. The thing is, I wasn’t really shocked by his opposition to the Civil Rights Act. I expect that from libertarians. I was shocked by this:

Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant?

If forced integration is akin to a government take over of a private business, I finally understand why Republicans throw the word “socialism” around like rice at a wedding. Too bad, they don’t understand what the word means. They’re all rights and no responsibilities.

This leads me to wonder if Rand Paul supports any government regulation at all? Ezra Klein (via Andrew Sullivan) has some excellent questions along these lines designed to get an answer out of him:

Can the federal government set the private sector’s minimum wage? Can it tell private businesses not to hire illegal immigrants? Can it tell oil companies what safety systems to build into an offshore drilling platform? Can it tell toy companies to test for lead? Can it tell liquor stores not to sell to minors?

As a historian, I’d be interested in learning whether Paul supports the ban on child labor in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. He mumbled something about a Commerce Clause debate last night which, like the Civil Rights Act, is the Constitutional provision which that ban hangs upon. Certainly, it is a far-reaching use of government power that interferes with the operation of private businesses, just like the Civil Rights Act. The justification for using that power is to protect the rights of children, even if their parents could use the money that the little tykes could earn.

So which is it Mr. Paul, the rights of businesses or the health and welfare of children? Alas, I suspect I already know the answer.



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