SAN FRANCISCO, California – Senator Rand Paul (R) delivered a speech to the ‘conservatarian’ Reboot conference in Silicon Valley today, where hundreds of libertarians and conservatives gathered to discuss technology, politics, and innovation.
Paul kicked off by talking about his disdain for Washington, D.C., claiming that he could not help but think of the Ayn Rand book the Fountainhead whenever he thought about Washington, D.C.
The Senator’s speech was heavily geared towards the small government advocates in the audience, though he was repeatedly cautious enough to say that he didn’t believe in no government at all. His thoughts on education reform were well received. He claimed that politicians can’t deliver better education, “they can barely put their shoes on”.
Rather, he said, “Teaching and education should be like professional football or baseball. There are extraordinary people… but they [couldn’t] be in every classroom. But [thanks to the internet] now they can be in every classroom.”
“We’re going to see a revolution in education where the LeBron James of education is going to have two million people watching him every day teaching calculus or whatever it is”
“Hopefully the marketplace figures out how to give them extraordinary rewards”.
Paul’s comments to the friendly, cell-phone fiddling crowd were based on the long-standing conservative and libertarian idea that the private sector can and does repeatedly outperform the government.
“[Silicon Valley] creates jobs every day out of nothing,” he said.
The Senator’s speech was the last in a line of private appearances in San Francisco, where he dined with policy makers, stakeholders and potential campaign funders. According to many, Paul is the ‘Republican favourite’ for the presidential nomination in 2016, though some argue he would have to balance any ticket with a more establishment figure by his side.
Speaking on employment, Sen Paul joked about a Dilbert cartoon whereby a mother expresses concern over her son being replaced by a robot. Dilbert shoots back, “I’ve met your son, and I’m pretty sure he could be replaced by a hammer”.
Paul used the joke as a segue into serious trepidations over the U.S. education system: “I’m not concerned with the American worker being replaced by a robot, but seriously, by a hammer,” he said, reflecting on the poor education that many Americans are getting from the current schooling system in the country.
Then he pivoted to jobs: “There is something so basic about work and so good about work that everybody should be able to get it,” he said.
“If I had my way there would still be a safety net but everybody would work… if your back hurts and you can’t lift things then you could sit at a desk… everybody should work,” he said, before going on to clarify that there may still be a few people who are unable to do anything.
Paul was careful to not come across as an anarchist or anarcho-capitalist, in what was obviously an attempt to balance any accusations hurled at him over being a hardcore libertarian, out of step with conservative voters in the Republican Party.
“We have to have some government but we have to minimise it… because government isn’t good at anything. Is government inherently stupid? No but its a debatable question.”
Paul channelled the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, stating that government is horrible at spending because it is spending other peoples’ money. Prime Minister Thatcher’s original quotes were somewhat restricted to left-wing governments, though many would argue that the quote should now be applied to government in general. She said at the time, “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.”
Paul closed his comments by issuing a call to Silicon Valley, questioning why tech-conscious types are still supportive of left-wing candidates and ideas: “Obama is not for innovation or freedom, he is for the protectionism crowd who would limit activities [of those in Silicon Valley]”
He commented on how Bitcoin should be backed by something, such as shares in major U.S. companies who create their own Bitcoin products, and claimed that someone should be arrested for the overreach of the NSA. Finally, he said that the “Idiots and Trolls in Washington” can’t outthink the market – a sentiment that resonated heavily with the ‘conservatarian’ audience.