If you've wondered, as I have, about the origins of the Tea Party movement and what put the burr of economic extremism under the saddle of Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, look no further than the "objectivist" philosophy of the late Ayn Rand (1905-1982).
A Russian immigrant who wrote a couple of novels illustrating her political and economic views, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, plus numerous other articles and books, Rand founded the cult-like Ayn Rand Institute based on her ideas of economic and extremism.
The reason this self-proclaimed evangelist for selfishness is relevant today is because Mr. Ryan is an enthusiastic fan of Ms. Rand's principles, tenets that are the radical underpinning of the Tea Party. The man who would be the proverbial "heartbeat away" from the Presidency was raised on Rand and he has indicated that her books gave gave him his value system and beliefs. In fact, he felt so strongly about her writings, that he asked interns in his Congressional office to read Rand's books and gave copies of her novel, Atlas Shrugged, as gifts to his staff for Christmas.
Because of Rep. Ryan's current run for VP, I believe it's important for every American to understand the philosophy that apparently guides this candidate in his thinking about the economy and a number of the programs Americans cherish. Here are a some of the principles in Ms. Rand's dogma:
1. Government is reduced to three functions: A) the armed services B) the police and C) the courts. Income taxes would end and so would almost everything this tax paid for.
2. Elimination of child labor laws, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, Federal Reserve Act, the Securities & Exchange Laws and Commission, the Food & Drug Administration, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
3. All regulations that protect the public, such as building codes, should be eliminated and only rely on a contractor's reputation; "buyer beware" would be raised to a whole new level.
4. Ayn Rand found no value in religion. Her "objectivism" is ardently atheistic. She felt that religion was anti-ethical to reason.
Those are only a few areas of Ms. Rand's vision, one that is hateful and repulsive to most Americans and especially to our established religious faiths, including, most recently, the Catholic Church. The Vatican, which strongly embraces the extreme right on a number of issues dealing with control over women, is experiencing a paradoxical challenge. The Roman church is torn between its usual strong support for the Republican presidential ticket and the views of its vice presidential candidate.
The American economist who served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States from 1897 to 2006, is another huge fan of Ms. Rand and her philosophy. Alan Greenspan (now 86) joined the Rand inner circle during the 1950s. Greenspan has long felt that the Securities & Exchange Commission and the Food & Drug Administration are not needed, however, in a Congressional hearing on October 23, 2008, he admitted that his "free-market ideology," shunning certain regulations, was flawed. This was following the U. S. financial collapse of 2007-08.
I just read an excellent book that covers Ayn Rand's philosophical history in a fair and well-documented way. I had originally found the book at the Dr. James Carlson Branch of the Fargo Public Library and liked it so much I purchased it for my Kindle. It entitled Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America's Soul by Gary Weiss, published this year (2012) by St. Martin's Press. This is an easy-to-understand narrative that helped me understand what's behind the Tea Party and where VP candidate Ryan's radical views on Medicare and Social Security came from. Please read it before you vote.
There are many insightful passages in Mr. Weiss's book, but I like his summary of the just how heartless Ms. Rand's philosophy can be: She teaches every alienated teenager it's okay to be a loner. You don't need friends. You don't have to share. It's your toy. You earned it. Keep it. Your little sister can get her own toy.
That's more than pathetic; it's pathological.