The Radical Agenda of Ayn Rand & Paul Ryan. ~ Jeff Fulmer

Via elephant journal
on Sep 4, 2012
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I will admit it, when I read Atlas Shrugged several years ago, I got caught up in the scrawling epic with bigger than life characters.

Apparently, Paul Ryan enjoyed it too; so much so that in 2005, at a banquet honoring the author, he said,

“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.”

While he has since tried to walk back from those remarks, it’s clear that the vice-presidential candidate’s political ideology has been heavily influenced by Alisa Rosenbaum, the Russian immigrant otherwise known as Ayn Rand.

What I initially missed in Atlas Shrugged was the underlying themes of superiority of the successful and a disdain for the less fortunate. In Ms. Rand’s novels, the poor are basically lazy dullards who deserve their lot in life. Actually, they deserve worse, if only the government would get out of the way and stop propping them up with hand-outs. The Paul Ryan budget proposal, which propelled him to national prominence, reflects the same basic belief system. If the Ryan plan were passed, it would deny eight million people food stamps, 30 million people access to healthcare, and send two million kids into poverty—all the while giving even more tax cuts to the wealthiest in society.

Behind Mr. Ryan’s budget is the “Ayn Randian” notion that taxes and regulations reduce the incentive for the best and brightest in our society. What we have actually seen is that reduced tax rates on the upper end of the economic scale have only created wider “wealth chasms.” We got a tiny taste of laissez faire capitalism when an under-regulated financial industry nearly took down the whole economy. And post-Katrina New Orleans gave us a glimpse of life without government intervention. While the notion of carving out our destiny without government interference may sound rugged and romantic, in the real world, it would be a pretty chaotic place.

Even more difficult to defend than the economic feasibility of Paul Ryan’s budget is its morality, or lack thereof. When Mr. Ryan (a Catholic) spoke at Georgetown University, 90 Georgetown professors wrote a letter protesting his

“continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few.”

Mr. Ryan responded by saying,

“I do not believe that the preferential option for the poor means a preferential option for big government.”

That begs the follow up question, if not from the government, from where will the needed assistance come?

That question, at least in part, is what prompted four nuns, who have devoted their lives to working with the poor, to get on a bus and take their message to the heartland of America. It was outside of Ryan’s office in Wisconsin that Sister Simone Campbell told her audiences that if every church and synagogue and faith community in the nation were to try to do what federal programs now do, it would cost them each an additional $50,000 a year for the next 10 years. While Ryan would not want to admit it, the only logical conclusion to his plan is that millions of struggling Americans will slip through the cracks.

Ayn Rand was much more open and honest about her belief system: publicly condemning the notion of ethical altruism, preferring her own “virtue of selfishness.” A self-described atheist, she accepted this was contrary to Christ’s teachings to “take care of the least of these.” Her religion was capitalism, and she unabashedly wrote that the individual “should exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others, nor sacrificing others to himself.” Of course, Jesus did not “shrug” off the world like the heroes of Atlas Shrugged. Instead, he became the ultimate sacrifice by giving his life for everyone. That’s a very different message than the one you will find in Ayn Rand’s books or Paul Ryan’s budget.


Jeff Fulmer lives in Brentwood Tennessee and is the author of the book Hometown Prophet.   For a free copy of his new e-book, “As a Christian, Why the GOP Doesn’t Speak for Me,” simply subscribe to the Hometown Prophet Newsletter at



Editor: Seychelles Pitton


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9 Responses to “The Radical Agenda of Ayn Rand & Paul Ryan. ~ Jeff Fulmer”

  1. @karlerbsf says:

    An important discussion, well said.

  2. West Anson says:

    Yes, Ayn Rand was very radical. She was…
    1. Pro-Individual rights
    2. Pro-choice
    3. Pro-immigration
    4. Pro-Feminism
    5. Anti-religion and despised the Conservative Wing of the Republican Party.

    Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the current crop of Tea Party Republicans have very little in common with Ayn Rand. Even their Economic Philosophy is antithetical to Objectivist Philosophy as they want the Government to “actively support” Corporations.

  3. Mark Ledbetter says:

    No, economics is not yoga (actually maybe it is, but that's another story) but here at this yoga site we get lots of political solutions with little knowledge of how those solutions play out in the economy. So I'll jump in with a mini-economics lecture.

    Ryan and the Republicans are right on one thing. Spending has to be cut drastically to avoid a national financial collapse much greater than the recent banking sector collapse. But it can't be done without deep cuts to military spending, which they refuse to consider in their devotion to war and the military-industrial complex. Numbers don't lie. The bill is coming due. And the big three in over-promising and over-spending (soc sec, medicare-medicaid, military) WILL be attacked ruthlessly either by radical cuts, high inflation, or government default. There's no way around that economic reality and any of these three solutions (the only possible solutions) will inevitably hurt the poor. Neither party is actually willing to make significant cuts to soc.sec-medi-military (despite what Ryan says) or likely to default so a vote for either party is a vote for rising debt and high – maybe hyper – inflation. Inflation, btw, is a more damaging equivalent to radical cuts. It will cut the value of your money and push you into higher tax brackets even as it stifles the economy and kills jobs.

    Second point, the recent banking sector collapse was called a failure of lack of regulation and too much laissez faire by the mainstream press, and that charge gets repeated here. But in fact, the ONLY school of thought that consistently warned us of the impending collapse was the free market Austrian school. They knew it was coming, they knew why, and it wasn't because of too much free market. It was a clear and direct result of government interference in the market. Govt made loans easy by guaranteeing them and pushing interest rates low. They did that ostensibly to help the poor buy a house but in fact to help their cronies on Wall Street and in the banks, and themselves get reelected. Easy borrowing sent both debt and housing prices through the roof, a classic boom which, according to Austrian economics, always precedes the bust. When the bust came, everyone was surprised except the free market "Austrians." Boom and busts are not the creation of free markets. They are the result of malinvestments which arise when market signals are distorted by massive govt. intervention.

  4. Neil says:

    To support those who don't support themselves will to cost somebody sometime. The government borrows (prints) it and charges it to the people to be paid for in the future – $16 trillion and counting. It has to, and will, stop sooner or later.

  5. Everyman says:

    Atlas Shrugged Part 2 will be in theaters October 12th, 2012.

  6. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Scary number! But I've recently read, that number doesn't include unfunded mandates, ie, money promised to us in the future (soc sec, medicare-caid etc) but not covered by any kind of funding. Depending on who's counting, it's something between 60 and 220 trillion! Makes the 16 look like chicken feed. Meanwhile, both parties keep promising more and promising we won't have to pay.

  7. @fuguewriter says:

    The author is completely in error in statements like these: "the poor are basically lazy dullards who deserve their lot in life. " This is nonsense! Her ultimate villain is a corporate President (and worthless heir) and her ultimate hero is a minimum-wage guy from the heartland. She respected hard working people on all levels of ability and wanted everyone free. She didn't believe in classes or passively accepting fate. She has some very lovingly-drawn lower-class guys. Please read her with fresh eyes.

    "Actually, they deserve worse, if only the government would get out of the way and stop propping them up with hand-outs." Absolutely false. She said they deserved better than the government destroying the economy and causing mass misery and (toward the end of "Atlas") starvation. She depicts the poor suffering – which she witnessed herself in the USSR, when she was utterly destitute and starving.

  8. sam says:

    Your exactly right, the author is coming from the standpoint that government has to support the poor or else they will not survive. Which is obviously totally false.

  9. […] Obama: Well, you’d have to ask Paul Ryan what that means to him. Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d […]