So Paul Ryan Likes Ayn Rand. So What?

Some Americans are taking issue with the late atheist and capitalist evangelist Ayn Rand’s influence over a young Paul Ryan. Like Ms. Rand, Mr. Ryan places a greater emphasis on the individual American’s ability to take care of himself with little if any help from the federal government. His promotion of the use of vouchers to purchase health care is indicative of that position.

Hidden in the intent to enthusiastically reveal Ms. Rand’s influence on Mr. Ryan is the atheist angle. How can a Roman Catholic like Mr. Ryan allow himself to be influenced by the philosophy of someone who believes that man’s focus shouldn’t be on throwing up prayers to an imaginary friend, but instead focus on bettering the human condition via self-reliance?

Mr. Ryan is far from being an atheist and in fairness to him his preference for a non-interventionist role of government and allowance of the free markets to work can easily be separated from Ms. Rand’s atheism. There are plenty of Bible-thumping Christians who believe in rugged individualism and the free markets.

As a libertarian I appreciate Mr. Ryan’s stance on vouchers for health care. Vouchers, if properly funded and defined, offer purchasers of health care services choice, especially for those who could not otherwise afford the average $14,000 a year in health care services. If the Obama Administration and liberal Democrats were really serious about reducing government’s cost for ensuring health care, they would abandon the “changing Medicare as we know it” rhetoric and allow consumers a choice in insurance plans and health care providers.

Then again, maybe liberals enjoy creating “God” in the image of good government so much that maintaining the current Medicare system as is is much more preferable.

About Alton Drew

Alton Drew brings a straight forward and insightful brand of political market intelligence. Alton Drew graduated from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in economics and political science (1984); a Master of Public Administration (1993); and a Juris Doctor (1999). You can also follow Alton Drew on Twitter @altondrew.
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One Response to So Paul Ryan Likes Ayn Rand. So What?

  1. Kenneth Ciszewski says:

    I suspect there are people who are influenced by Ayn Rand’s philosophy, or at least who have beliefs that are congruent with parts of it.

    I don’t care whether or not Rand was an atheist. What I do care about is whether or not her philosophy, and whatever Mr. Romney’s and Mr. Ryan’s philosophy happens to be, is the one for us to follow as a nation when making public policy decisions.

    Now, individual self-reliance is a good thing, and we should promote it as much as possible. I believe everyone should “pull their own weight” as much as possible, work to earn a living and take care of their spouses, children, family members.

    To do that, people need jobs that pay enough to feed, clothe, and house their families. Lately, there have been a lot fewer of those, for many reasons. Also, things need to be affordable. Health care is one of those things whose affordability is beyond the reach of more and more people, either because it costs so much, and/or because they don’t have a job.

    If business isn’t providing jobs on its own, and health care costs are out of sight because providers won’t rein costs, what’s the individual citizen to do? He is at the mercy of those who have more economic power than he does. Only government might have enough power to improve either of these situations.

    There is an editorial in the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper (Sunday 8/19/2012) that explains that, in 1946, the US Congress passed, and President Harry Truman signed, the National School Lunch Act, because Congress had determined that it was a matter of “national security” to protect the health of this country’s children while supporting the nation’s farmers (I believe that US farm surpluses were used as part of this program). Apparently, then, as now, there are a lot of children in this country who don’t have enough to eat. Some Senate candidates, Todd Akin of Missouri in particular, think these kinds of programs should be left to the states, which in the past had a spotty record of providing food for hungry children, which is why Congress acted in 1946.

    Today, of course, such an action would be a “liberal plot” that acts against people being self-reliant. It’s socialist and collectivist in the worst way. We simply can’t have compassion for the less fortunate in this country.

    Interestingly, Mr. Ryan and many other Christians never quote Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, at the end of which Jesus asked, “Who was the neighbor to the man who fell in with the robbers?” (The whole parable was in response to the question “Who is my neighbor?”) The answer was something like, “The one who showed him compassion.” At that point, Jesus admonished his followers to show compassion to others in like ways.

    Jesus also pointed out that his followers should feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick and the elderly. Has Mr. Ryan forgotten about all of this?

    When I bring up things like this, I get interesting responses. One person pointed out that he has seen places (like in Alabama) where there are all kinds of people standing around not working who get welfare checks. By the way, he tells me these people are all African American. Surprisingly, nobody ever mentions “white people” as standing around doing nothing getting welfare checks (there surely are some. I understand that there are in reality quite a few). This suggests there is a racist component to this “rugged individualism” philosophy. In Marilyn Quail’s speech at the GOP convention in 1992 she talked about, as I remember it, “our kind of people”. Welfare recipients were not “her kind of people”, and I believe the racist undercurrent of her speech was more than obvious as I sat there and watched the television broadcast of the convention. I’m guessing Medicare recipients might not be high on her list nowadays, either.

    Mr. Ryan’s approach to “saving Medicare” reminds me a bit of the famous line from the Vietnam War, which, after a particular village was destroyed by the US Army due to alleged Viet Cong presence, went like this: “It was necessary to destroy the village to save it.” Just get the government out of Medicare, give some vouchers out, let the free market with it’s competition take over, and everything will be fine. Of course, costs will likely go up $6000 per year for senior citizens, but, so what, who cares? Will the vouchers cover the cost increase? I doubt it.

    So we have a choice. We can use the power of the Federal Government to help create jobs and provide health care while working to control health care costs, provide money for college education in the form of grants and loans, provide food for children who don’t have enough, in the belief that these actions help citizens have a better life and make our country a better place to be. We can be compassionate as Jesus suggested.

    Or we can throw the elderly, the average citizen, and our children to the wolves.

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