Friday, December 13, 2013

Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them


In yesterday's post, "6 Reasons There's No Such Thing As Compassionate Conservatism," the author asked, "Who is Ayn Rand, and what is the philosophy of this person Ryan calls a 'thinker?' Ayn Rand’s philosophy actually says it is not only bad for society, but morally wrong to help other people because it makes them 'dependent.' Rand’s philosophy says that altruism is evil, and that democracy (which they call 'collectivism') is the ultimate expression of this evil because it brings about a society in which government works to make people’s lives better. Rand’s, Ryan’s and current Republican philosophy says that 'individualism' — looking out for oneself only—is the moral principle that should rule society, not democracy. Randians envision a 'utopia of greed.' (I suppose they can claim it’s compassionate greed.)"

The author also noted, "Another part of Rand’s philosophy is that that there are a few 'producers' or 'makers,' and the rest of us are 'parasites' or 'takers' who live off of the producers. Collectivism, or democracy, is bad because the many undeserving takers can vote to do things like make the producers pay taxes so regular people can live better. So let’s see if we can find a few ways Paul Ryan and the Republicans can form a philosophy of 'compassionate conservatism' out of their core belief that altruism and democracy are not just wrong for people and society, but are actually evil."

The quotes are important because of the well-known disciples of the Libertarian icon: Paul Ryan, Ron Paul, and Alan Greenspan (http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1877351_1877350_1877331,00.html), and as the piece noted: ""Ryan 'has been quietly visiting inner-city neighborhoods … to talk to ex-convicts and recovering addicts about the means of their salvation.' But Ryan and Republicans need some salvation of their own. Just one look at their ideology will tell you why. Ryan has said, '[T]he reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.'"


And imbedded in the article was the following link to a short article with a long title by Joshua Holland at Alternet.org, "Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them," subtitled, "At least she put up a fight before succumbing to the imperatives of the real world."


The piece is almost two years old, but bears repeating - over and over again:

"Ayn Rand was not only a schlock novelist, she was also the progenitor of a sweeping 'moral philosophy' that justifies the privilege of the wealthy and demonizes not only the slothful, undeserving poor but the lackluster middle-classes as well.

"Her books provided wide-ranging parables of 'parasites,' 'looters' and 'moochers' using the levers of government to steal the fruits of her heroes' labor. In the real world, however, Rand herself received Social Security payments and Medicare benefits under the name of Ann O'Connor (her husband was Frank O'Connor).

"As Michael Ford of Xavier University's Center for the Study of the American Dream wrote, 'In the end, Miss Rand was a hypocrite but she could never be faulted for failing to act in her own self-interest.'


"Her ideas about government intervention in some idealized pristine marketplace serve as the basis for so much of the conservative rhetoric we see today. 'The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,' said Paul Ryan, the GOP's young budget star at a D.C. event honoring the author. On another occasion, he proclaimed, 'Rand makes the best case for the morality of democratic capitalism.'

"'Morally and economically,' wrote Rand in a 1972 newsletter, 'the welfare state creates an ever accelerating downward pull.'

"Journalist Patia Stephens wrote of Rand:
"'[She] called altruism a "basic evil" and referred to those who perpetuate the system of taxation and redistribution as "looters" and "moochers." She wrote in her book The Virtue of Selfishness that accepting any government controls is "'delivering oneself into gradual enslavement.'
"Rand also believed that the scientific consensus on the dangers of tobacco was a hoax. By 1974, the two-pack-a-day smoker, then 69, required surgery for lung cancer. And it was at that moment of vulnerability that she succumbed to the lure of collectivism.

"Evva Joan Pryor, who had been a social worker in New York in the 1970s, was interviewed in 1998 by Scott McConnell, who was then the director of communications for the Ayn Rand Institute. In his book, 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand , McConnell basically portrays Rand as first standing on principle, but then being mugged by reality. Stephens points to this exchange between McConnell and Pryor.
"'She was coming to a point in her life where she was going to receive the very thing she didn’t like, which was Medicare and Social Security,' Pryor told McConnell. 'I remember telling her that this was going to be difficult. For me to do my job she had to recognize that there were exceptions to her theory. So that started our political discussions. From there on – with gusto – we argued all the time.' 
"'The initial argument was on greed,' Pryor continued. 'She had to see that there was such a thing as greed in this world. Doctors could cost an awful lot more money than books earn, and she could be totally wiped out by medical bills if she didn’t watch it. Since she had worked her entire life, and had paid into Social Security, she had a right to it. She didn’t feel that an individual should take help.'
"Rand had paid into the system, so why not take the benefits? It's true, but according to Stephens, some of Rand's fellow travelers remained true to their principles.
"'Rand is one of three women the Cato Institute calls founders of American libertarianism. The other two, Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel "Pat" Paterson, both rejected Social Security benefits on principle. Lane, with whom Rand corresponded for several years, once quit an editorial job in order to avoid paying Social Security taxes. The Cato Institute says Lane considered Social Security a "Ponzi fraud" and "told friends that it would be immoral of her to take part in a system that would predictably collapse so catastrophically." Lane died in 1968.'"

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Like his mentor, Paul Ryan was also a hypocrite, as the article by Kase Wickman at Rawstory.com, "Paul Ryan already benefited from the Social Security fund he now wants to gut," tells us.

The link to the piece on Alan Greenspan in the third paragraph notes that his, "...long-standing disdain for regulation are now held up as leading causes of the mortgage crisis. The maestro admitted in an October congressional hearing that he had 'made a mistake in presuming' that financial firms could regulate themselves," and our next piece will show how worshipping Ms. Rand is not only a political mistake, but a bad model for business.

As the article noted, "In the end, Miss Rand was a hypocrite but she could never be faulted for failing to act in her own self-interest," and although Libertarians differentiate themselves from the common Conservative, they will be included in the ban when Conservatism is outlawed.  Democracy is aimed towards the common interest of the People, not individual interests.



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“Democrats work to help people who need help. That other party, they work for
people who don’t need help. That’s all there is to it.”

Harry S. Truman.


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