Sunday Morning Quotation – Paul Ryan on Ayn Rand

Congressman Paul Ryan on Ayn Rand from today’s LA Times story on the novelist’s influence on the new Veep candidate:

“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. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.” [snip]

“What’s unique about what’s happening today in government, in the world, in America, is that it’s as if we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel right now.  I think Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism, and that morality of capitalism is under assault.”

I think the story is just short of being a smear using guilt by association.  Sure, it is interesting and newsworthy to know the intellectual influences of politicians.  But the LA Times is clearly taking a very small thing among the millions of things Ryan has said and trying to brand him an extremist: “Rand was a nutter, Ryan thought Rand was pretty ok, Ryan must be a nutter too and thus unfit to lead the country (or actually, to be a heartbeat away as the cliché goes).”  If this were true, millions and millions would be unacceptable on this basis alone.

Too bad Ryan has actually governed far more moderately than Ayn and other limited government folks would have liked.  Indeed, one might argue that Ryan is more Reagan than Rand since the Gipper too liked to tap into the classical liberal pantheon and use its language while governing pretty moderately.  So he’s clearly operating within the 40 yard lines of American politics.

See this Reason piece on all the very unRandian things Ryan has supported; here is a juicy quotation from it (though Rand wouldn’t have disapproved of his hawkishness):

Libertarians, meanwhile, should find it easy to reject Ryan. He’s a hawk with a rotten record on civil liberties: bad on the Patriot Act, bad on indefinite detentions, bad on surveillance, bad on the border fence, bad on the drug war. On the economic front, he has backed the bank and auto bailouts, Medicare Part D, even Davis-Bacon. His reputation as a free-market stalwart rests on his exaggerated reputation as a budget hawk and his habit of praising Ayn Rand. The second of those clearly hasn’t meant much when it’s time to vote on legislation . . .

More on the pick later.

9 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Quotation – Paul Ryan on Ayn Rand

  1. I spent a lot of years in the fixed income securities industry. We used to have a crude (forgive me) saying in our business: Action Talks and Bull Shit Walks. You can package Paul Ryan all you like, but he will always be a turd when his actions are measured against fiscal rhetoric. He is a constitutional NO SHOW!

  2. I’m not fully conversant in all of the ins and outs of Objectivism, so can anyone comment on whether public service can be at all squared with that philosophical position? I can imagine it could as long as one was not engaged in wealth extraction and a draf on the productive class. Think security and justice providers – not to mention soldiers and statesmen aimed at protecting a productive, capitalist society against its enemies. Of course, public servants dedicated to those things alone can probably be counted on one’s hands.

  3. Of course, you are right. I don’t know if you were responding to me or if the same thing struck us, but my above comment on public service has more to do with my cynicism than it does with a genuine public service, which I suppose exists somewhere. Three or four instances at least.

  4. Skip is right……Action talks and BS walks. The same with Ronald Reagan. He talked a good game but government grew,taxes overall increased ,the IRS got more power,Social Security numbers became mandatory for every mundane thing,inflation continued,the Debt grew and the promise of dismantling the Dept,of Education never took place. But when you listened to the gipper you felt swept away in a tide of conservative bliss. The same with Paul Ryan. If you look at the record,his actions in the Congress was the same old same old of going along to get along. Paul Ryan,like Mitt Romney are nothing but conservative socialists. If they are elected,nothing substantial will change.Except things will only get worse.They may be the lesser of two evils. But the lesser of two evils is still evil. Too bad, Ron Paul would have made a great President.

  5. Ayn Rand as inspiration is fine and, in my view, as much as we can hope for from a modern politician that has any hope of being elected. In 2012 Rand sycophants need not apply.

  6. In line with Skip and libertarian jerry, don’t forget that Alan Greenspan, who played a huge role in our current fiscal situation, was a devotee of Rand. Maybe the old adage of power corrupting is at play in such cases or even the one about dancing with the devil?

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