The Flinchum File

Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions
Subscribe to the Flinchum File
View Archives

Better In Theory

I have been a fan of Ayn Rand for a half century and think I have read everything she ever published. She is the mother of Libertarians and their philosophy of the rugged, determined individual standing against the forces of conformity in general and government in particular. That is not surprising considering she was a Russian refugee from Stalin’s repressive regime. Her vision of mankind dovetailed nicely with the existential image of every individual is an island, immeasurably alone. I was enamored with her and was not alone in that feeling, because only the Bible has sold more copies than Ayn Rand. She is that important!

Over time, I realized that her philosophy worked better in theory than in practice. A world of individuals trying to be uncooperative is not a world that functions efficiently. Her philosophy become one distant end of a continuum.

So, it is with some concern that I see so many of the President-Elect’s appointees are Ayn Rand disciples. Besides Trump himself, other disciples include the incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the incoming Secretary of Labor Andrew Puzder, and the incoming CIA Director Mike Pompeo. That ignores the existing and powerful Speaker of House Paul Ryan, who gives Ayn Rand books to everybody in his office.

How might the nation look different under Ayn Rand principles, you ask? She didn’t believe in charity. Poor people are poor because they are weak and should not expect job-creators to make them strong. Because we are a strong nation, the world is ours to plunder. She was also a proud atheist, putting church deductions at risk of losing their tax advantage. Regulations might be enforced less vigorously. Nobody knows.

I love Ayn Rand in a philosophy class but not in a political office . . . any political office!