Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Congress' Ayn Rand Caucus

As government-hating lawmakers begin work tomorrow, their guiding philosophy will come from a deceased Hollywood scriptwriter whose credo of Selfishness Uber Alles was considered loony half a century ago.

In the House, Ayn Rand acolyte Paul Ryan takes over as chairman of the Budget Committee and Ron Paul will head the Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy as he prepares for another Presidential run next year.

Sen. Mitch McConnell will be joined by Paul's son Rand, another staunch Libertarian he tried to defeat in the Kentucky primary.

When she died almost two decades ago, Ayn Rand was considered a fringe figure whose philosophy was derided by both Left and Right. But in the "Greed is good" era and the ascension of her disciple Alan Greenspan to chairman of the Fed, Rand became an inspiration for those who needed justification for extreme selfishness to look down at the rest of humanity as “looters” and “moochers.” Money, according to the Rand scripture in the turgid 1200-page novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” is the root of all good.

For a time, her influence was limited to Wall Street (of course) and thinkers in Hollywood and the media--Oliver Stone, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck--but now her ghost has migrated to Washington as a prophet for Tea Party members and will hover over the attempted demolition of Obama health care reform and other social measures of the past two years.

Even George W. Bush's "Axis of Evil" speechwriter Michael Gerson is a bit nervous, complaining that "Paul and other libertarians are not merely advocates of limited government; they are anti-government. Their objective is not the correction of error but the cultivation of contempt for government itself."

In 1949, I was almost thrown out of a theater for fits of laughter while watching the drama of an incorruptible architect who blows up a housing project because someone added gingerbread to his design.

The movie was “The Fountainhead,” based on Rand's novel with a script by the author that set new records for pretentious dialogue and pompous self-assertion.

Sixty years later, disciples of this demented woman are trying to blow up the American government, but nobody is laughing now.


Anonymous said...

There's no need for Rand when it comes to developing a public sense of contempt for government. The government manages to achieve that goal all by itself, with no help from Rand fans.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Only anarchists are anti-government. Conservatives are anti-BIG government and believe that limited government is sufficient (indeed, desirable). You know, the government that governs least, governs best. It's a perfectly legitimate worldview.