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, thirty 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. (more…)