Recently we were introduced to a 2005 recording of Paul Ryan addressing the Atlas Society, apparently a fan club for Ayn Rand. In it he outlines his belief that Social Security should be privatized and turned over to Wall Street. The amazing part of his comments was that he claimed that whenever he had a legislative issue that, he would return to Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged and re-read all 64 pages of John Galt’s radio address. Do you find it as amazing as I do that a U.S. Congressman uses a 1957 novel as a basis for deciding national policy. Excuse me, was Ayn Rand one of the founding fathers? Was she a participant at the constitutional conventions? Apparently unable to think for himself, Paul channels Rand as an intellectual crutch.
I too have read Atlas Shrugged; years before Paul Ryan was born. I was not as impressionable as the young Mr. Ryan. While he claims to have read John Galt’s monologue many times, I found it , after five pages, rather overdone and began to wonder how long the speech was going to last. After thumbing through 60 more pages to find the end (it was indented and easy to see) I felt no need to be further bludgeoned by Galt’s rhetoric. Five pages was already more than I needed to understand Galt’s philosophy (Rand’s) of objectivism , so I just skipped the rest of the speech and finished the book. Unfortunately for us (and U.S.) the 12-year-old Paul Ryan was more impressionable and naïve than I, a 26-year-old military officer when I read the book. Another difference between us is that Ryan was born into wealth while I was born into poverty during the last days of the great depression. Those different socio-economic environments and my own personal struggle to improve my lot probably allowed me to see through the charade of Ayn Rand whereas a coddled plutocrat like Ryan has a myopic view of the world and an idyllic view of a woman with a very flawed view of life.
Were I to have a novel be the roadmap for my life, I think I would be more likely to embrace James Michener than Ayn Rand. He was much more talented and versatile.
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