As a college sophomore, I was very taken with Ayn Rand‘s books. At the time, I did not notice the incongruity of espousing her “each person take care of her/himself” philosophy while my parents were paying my way through college.
A few years later, after more in depth study and bit more life experience, I could no longer accept her view of the world. Her extreme individualism rejected any government safety net programs and called people who relied upon them “leeches” for not having prepared for their own eventualities.
This is certainly contrary to a Christian view, in which our theology meshes with lived reality: we are all part of the whole, and the health of the whole is best when all of its members are strong. This does not tell us exactly which policies to pursue – whether to help people by teaching them a trade or by giving them money – but it does set forth the principle and the value of watching out for each other’s well-being. In the book of Genesis, Cain asks God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We have discovered that the answer is, “yes.”
I was surprised to read about Ayn Rand’s old age at Gruntled Center. In the face of the cost of treatments for lung cancer, she signed up for Social Security and Medicare using her legal name, Ann O’Connor.
This would not bother me in the least, had she written or said anything to retract her condemnation of those programs. But – in spite of her many tirades against hypocrisy – she quietly accepted government funding while continuing to condemn both the programs and the people who accepted the funding.
Ayn Rand has become something of a Tea Party favorite – even though many aspects of her philosophy are at odds with the Tea Party’s platform. They say they admire her “pure capitalism.” Perhaps the discovery that her philosophy faltered in the face of the common problems of the human condition might be a reason to rethink their positions as well.
- Ayn Rand took government assistance while decrying others who did the same (politics.ie)
- Hypocrisy, Ayn Rand and the Tea Party (themoderatevoice.com)
- Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them (alternet.org)
- Tea Party Patron Saint Ayn Rand Applied for Social Security, Medicare Benefits (firedoglake.com)
- Ayn Rand Fanboy Paul Ryan Used Social Security “Hammock” to Put Himself Through College (firedoglake.com)