The Detroit News today reprinted an updated version of Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia’s column,What Ayn Rand Got Wrong, in the wake of a flurry of attacks on Ryan’s association with Rand. Notes Dalmia:
Paul Ryan must be ruing the day he declared his admiration for Ayn Rand and credited her passionate moral defense of capitalism as the reason he got into "public service." No sooner did Mitt Romney pick him as his running mate last week than both detractors and devotees of Rand began attacking Ryan.
Detractors claim that Ryan's avowed affinity with Rand proves that he is a wild-eyed radical in moderate's clothing who will dismantle their beloved entitlement state piece by piece — even if that means throwing grandma off a cliff to prevent her from using Medicare. But this is a pretty idiotic accusation to lob against someone who voted for the biggest Medicare expansion in history — prescription drug benefits for seniors.
The criticism coming from Rand's devotees is more to the point. They argue that the whole notion of public service is antithetical to Rand's philosophy of enlightened selfishness. Moreover, Ryan's decision to abandon his principles and vote in favor of Big Government programs such as senior prescription drug benefits, No Child Left Behind and TARP just to be a team player make him more like a Randian villain than a hero.
Ryan certainly needs to square his past voting record with his new-fangled concern for out-of-control government spending. But failing the Rand purity test does not a villain make. The problem is with the test itself — or as Rand would say, her "premises" — which are fundamentally flawed.
Read the whole thing here.