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Marx: “I told you so.” Atlas shrugged.

If you’ve never read Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, it’s a fictional (we use the term loosely) account of how government intervention in and control of industry stifled innovation and eventually drove the best and brightest from its throws.  The book also casts social welfare and altruism, in general, in a negative light.  Atlas Shrugged has remained a fairly popular book  since its publication in 1957.

Free market champions frequently cite it as an example of what will happen to America with the expansion of government regulation and social programs. Recently, no group has promoted the philosophies of Rand more than the American Tea Party. Go to any Tea Party rally and you’re guaranteed to see at least one sign referencing Rand or her book.

After all, why should the government be responsible for the general welfare of the indigent and unwell?  Shouldn’t we rely on the private sector to provide support when we find ourselves incapable of self-sufficiency or reach an age when we are no longer able to engage in the level of productivity that once supported us financially?  Not if you’re Ayn Rand.

According to an interview conducted by the Ayn Rand Institute in 1998, Ayn Rand and her husband, Frank O’Connor, signed up for for Social Security and Medicare in 1974. -Associated Press. Atlas stood in line; Atlas signed up for social welfare programs; Atlas was on a “fixed-income;” Atlas shrugged. Even Ayn Rand was not impervious to the perils of aging and the need to make ends meet.

To understand where Rand was coming from, one should know that Rand was born in the former Soviet Union and saw first hand the oppression and corruption brought on by years of government expansion and control.  After being educated in Russia (on the state’s dime), Rand moved to the US and pursued her career as a writer and produced Atlas Shrugged thirty-one years later.

Was Rand wrong? Do we need the government to provide a safety net for the poor, sick and indigent?  Maybe the issue is complex.  Maybe the answer is complicated. Maybe situations change over the course of our lives that make a one-size-fits-all solution impractical.  The fact remains that, given enough time, we will all grow old. Many of us will become ill to the point of not being able to support ourselves financially and many of us will incur medical bills that deplete our life savings leaving our loved ones in a state of despair and insolvency.  The future does not always reward the hard work and fiscal responsibility of an individual.

Maybe the answer lies with Rand.  Ayn Rand did not necessarily ascribe to any particular form of government in spite of what her proponents claim. Instead she promoted reason and action as a extension of reasoning rather than ideology.

“I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.” Rand, Ayn (September 1971). “Brief Summary”. The Objectivist.

If we throw off the armor of ideology and embrace rational thought when it comes to problem solving, then the best solutions will be discovered.  When we put the cart of ideology before the horse of rationality then we end up turning into jackasses.

5 Comments

  1. Pale Frail Male wrote:

    I was unaware of this bill before you brought it to my attention, so I read a little about it on wikipedia. I’m curious why Obama agreed to sign it despite his reservations. Couldn’t someone have just written another bill that excludes it? There must be a lot of pressure to put it through, but from who? Can it be changed later by another president?

    Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink
  2. Pale Frail Male wrote:

    Nice photo of Santorum btw…

    Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Permalink
  3. uncle romulus wrote:

    Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand phallic jokes.

    Friday, January 13, 2012 at 6:04 am | Permalink
  4. uncle romulus wrote:

    The bill had too much Congressional support to veto it, especially, in an election year. Obama also appears to support detaining Americans temporarily without charge if it is under suspicion of terrorism, which is a violation of the 4th amendment. Yes, it can be removed from the next NDAA bill if Congress so chooses. Call your representatives and tell them how you feel about it. Maybe they’ll get it right next time.

    Friday, January 13, 2012 at 6:15 am | Permalink
  5. uncle romulus wrote:

    The bill included a significant amount of funding for military personnel and their families. Yes, the President could have fought to have the provision removed, but I believe it was a “pick your battles” decision. He’s going to have his hands full defending the Affordable Healthcare Act fight and passing a budget. Sorry it took me a year to respond to your comment. For some reason, I never saw it. It is kind of timely though since the President just resigned the NDAA.

    Monday, January 7, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink

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