Economy & Budget

Ron Paul’s godless goddess of greed: Ayn Rand

I will give Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) the respect of treating him as the
serious presidential candidate he is. One of the commenters on my
previous Ron Paul Pundit Blog responded to me suggesting that sometimes I
agree with Dr. Paul, and often I don’t, by fairly asking me on what
matters I disagree with him. I gave a partial answer then, a longer
answer here, and welcome a respectful discussion.

Dr. Paul has said he is a great admirer of Ayn Rand. So has Rep. Paul
Ryan (R-Wis.), whose attempt to destroy Medicare might cost Republicans
30 House seats. So has former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, whose
monetary policies, not unrelated to his admiration for Ayn Rand, did as
much as anyone to cause the financial crash.

Ayn Rand, like Karl Marx, was a strong disbeliever in the values of organized religion, and Jesus Christ in particular. Ayn Rand, a fierce and aggressive critic of President Kennedy, was a strong disbeliever in the concept of patriotism that involves sacrifice for others.

At some point there will be a fierce debate on the right between the proud atheism of Ayn Rand and the proud faith of the religious right, and all of the policy differences these views create.

Ayn Rand believed in a Darwinian view of the world, in a supremely selfish notion of citizenship in which we are not our brother’s keeper, in which her greatest good involves the most selfish ends.

To be fair, she also attacked parasites in business. It would be interesting to know what she would think about Wall Street bonuses to bailed-out bankers. I suspect she would not have liked them, but I also know that many of her devotees today have no objection to them. Why have the Tea Party leaders been so (hypocritically) silent about the Wall Street bonuses for bailed-out firms?

Where I disagree with Dr. Paul is this: If money-center banks all raise credit card interest rates to levels once considered usury, this is not capitalism, it is not libertarianism, it is greed. I would challenge this practice. Dr. Paul, Rep. Ryan and Chairman Greenspan would not.

I believe the great political divide today is not left versus right, but those who believe we are in this together versus those who believe in the selfish grabbing of as much as they can for themselves. America is not a nation of the superior versus the inferior; America is not a nation of elites who are elite because they are superior to the rest of us (though by Ayn Rand’s standards I qualify as one of the superior elites, a view I totally reject).

I agree with Dr. Paul that Fed secrecy is very wrong. I disagree with Dr. Paul when he opposes Fed action to stimulate the economy. The problem with the Fed is that the Fed has pursued gigantic bailout policies that were entirely top-down, bailing out bankers at the top and not helping small businesses, homeowners and American workers.

If a homeowner was cheated on a mortgage, that homeowner is not inferior. The mortgage issuer who cheated him or her is not superior, but is a crook. The role of government is to protect the honest from the crooks. To say otherwise is not libertarian, it is supporting the crooks.

The core of Ayn Rand’s view, incorporated into many of the policies of Dr. Paul and certain (but not all) Tea Party believers, is that the poor are poor because they are inferior, that workers are jobless because they are inferior (how many times have Ayn Rand believers opposed jobless benefits, falsely believing the jobless would rather have the benefits than the jobs?).

It is no coincidence that Ayn Rand disciple Alan Greenspan pursued monetary policies that heaped huge monies to the top of the Wall Street pyramid without any meaningful limits or regulation of abuses by those who received those monies. It is no coincidence that Rep. Ryan wants to turn Medicare into a private insurance company, as though private insurers (his superior player) will best look out for the healthcare needs of the elderly.

I can respect and in many ways admire Dr. Paul, and have always tried to treat him fairly in my columns, but where is his concern for the poor? Where is his protection of consumers from abuse? Where is Dr. Paul’s concern for American workers whose jobs are being exported to low-wage nations?

In Ayn Rand’s view, in Dr. Paul’s view, the magic of a marketplace that in many regards is mythical, will let the superior prosper and let those they consider inferior suffer, even if their suffering is from corruption of others.

I agree with President Kennedy, who asked what we could do for our country, and disagree with Ayn Rand, who asks what we can do only for ourselves and compared John F. Kennedy’s call to patriotism to, in her words, “fascism.”

Personally I stand with the Sermon on the Mount, the Golden Rule and John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address and deplore the politics of greed and self-interest and me-ism that Ayn Rand, and her disciples, represent.

I can greatly respect Dr. Paul, but on these matters where he follows in the footsteps of the godless goddess of greed and selfishness I disagree with Dr. Paul, with Ayn Rand, with Rep. Ryan, with Chairman Greenspan and with the other modern disciples whose religion is selfishness and whose America is not what our Founding Fathers intended.


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