In my youth, I was enamored with Ayn Rand. Her simple moral code and righteousness were an antidote to the hypocrisy I suffered as a youth living at the fringe. My dislocation was self-induced, to be sure. I disdained conformity and believed a gay, poor man (a boy, really) had nothing in common with the middle class. Rand's books, Atlas Shrugged, We the Living, and Anthem were my weapons against the bourgeoisie. I scoffed at the happy, shinning kids whose hardest challenge in college was showing up tp class. They were blind and Ayn Rand helped me see. As a student of architecture, I hung out with my fellow black-clad outsiders and romanticizedThe book:The Fountainhead. Rand's manifesto, whiskey and cigarettes were more important than a T-square and rapidiographs.
Since those dark days I have grown up. I have forgiven the fates for what felt so unfair and thank them instead for what is so excellent about my station. I have come to know that truth rarely comes in the form of a manifesto but rather delicately and quietly, through empathy and compassion. Today I am wiser because I am a humanist.
So I found myself chuckling when I stumbled across the Ayn Rand Institute while researching this month's winning suggestion, The Buy American Challenge. According to their website, our Buy American challenge is misguided. By making an effort to learn where our purchases are made we are shunning our individualism and clinging to the collective under the guise of patriotism.
It’s funny to think that the woman who abhorred committees and anything "collective" lives on by a collective of committees in the form of The Ayn Rand Institute. I smile thinking how Howard and Dominique would navigate an office of webdesigners, mail clerks, writers and IT guys. I imagine office personal arguing that they can’t come to the next team meeting because they can’t afford to sacrifice their individualism. At the Ayn Rand Institute, would the biggest insult be “you’re such a Peter Keating!” All these workers must be so intense: chain-smoking, black-wearing and needing more sleep. As Jerry Seinfeld said, "shouldn't they be on a ledge somewhere?"
So The Ayn Rand Institute tells us that our Buy American Challenge is misguided because, “Americanism means individualism. Individualism holds that one's personal identity, moral worth, and inalienable rights belong to one as an individual, not as a member of a particular race, class, nation, or other collective... International trade is not mortal combat but a form of cooperation, a means of expanding worldwide production.”
This is such crap. Cooperation? Expanding worldwide production? Talk about wolves in sheep’s clothing! Are we really expected to believe that the shareholders of multinational corporations are sitting around discussing ways to cooperate and elevate the living standard of folks around the world through increased worldwide production? What a joke. They are discussing one thing and one thing only - profit. We have learned the hard way that increased profit does not require increased productivity. After all, multinational corporations are enjoying record profits in the wake of a world-wide recession.
It’s important that you know about Ayn Rand and her followers, the libertarians. They are anarchist billionaires and billionaire wanna-bes who beleive all government is bad. They tolerate the middle class and claim the poor are at fault for their poverty.
So why does this matter? Because Ayn Rand's followers, the libertarians, are attacking collective bargining, social security and medicare. The libertarian think tank, the CATO institute, was founded by none other than Charles Koch of Koch Industries and has his flying monkey, Scott Walker, doing the dirty work. The CATO Institute supports Tea Party politicians like Ron Paul, Rand Paul and Paul Ryan (gosh, there most be a whole story about these names!). These CATO folks adore Ayn Rand and list her as one of their philosophical pillars.
But Ayn Rand has a dirty little secret that libertarians hate to admit. After years claiming that cancer-by-smoking-campaigns were a hoax, the two-pack-a-day smoker went broke because of medical expenses...wait for it...to treat lung cancer. Conveniently, she filed for social security and Medicare and spent her last years on the dole. Her handlers will justify this - in very strained logic - by pointing out that as much as she hated paying taxes alas, she did, and the money she paid into the system was hers and well, she needed it.
Well, yes. That’s the point. Social Security and Medicare are in place to keep folks from living under to the nearest bridge should the unexpected happen. Ayn Rand finally understood this but her followers do not...until, well they absolutely have to...then maybe... Amen, sister.
You must understand that politicians who want to eliminate social security and think all government is bad and all public resources should be sold to the highest bidder are motivated by Ayn Rand's ideology and are libertarians. You must remember what is motivating them - Libertarianism is an ideology of self-conceit. It disdains the middle class sense of fair play and does not pity the poor. It is a beleif of one's own exceptionalism over all and that sacrafice is for whimps. It demands that if you have the power you use it - and only to your own advantage. This is not hyperbole, this is straght from Ayn Rand's teachings. This is what libertarians beleive should be our country's guiding principle. This is what the CATO instiute states as a goal. This is the source of Scott Walker's and his libertarian cohorts' money.
So remember that these are the folks we elected to office last November and ask yourself if you want them back in office next time. Is America going to be reformed in Ayn Rand's vision?