Wait, Wasn't Ayn Rand Opposed to Government Regulation?

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It's not much of a shocker to learn that New York Gov. David Paterson went before Congress this week in search of some bailout money for the state. It is, however, a surprise to see him enlisting Ayn Rand in the cause of government intervention:

The great novelist Ayn Rand advised us in the Fountainhead that our country, the greatest country in the world, was founded on the basis of individuals, where people were encouraged to adventure, not to be complacent; to be daring, not dormant; to prosper, not to plunder. But, unfortunately, an infection of greed and mismanagement combined with a lack of transparency and government regulation have brought us to the point where our nation faces a downturn in its economy only rivaled by the Great Depression.

Maybe that's what Alan Greenspan meant.

(Via Gothamist)

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  1. I’m not sure he saw her point.

  2. Maybe he thinks we should individually ask for money from the taxpayers.

  3. I’m drawing a blank as to what the first sdentence has to do with the last.

  4. our nation faces a downturn in its economy only rivaled by the Great Depression.

    Solution: enact the policies that made the Depression 7 years longer!

    Or we could nationalize Reardon Metal Fabricating, or something. They even have a web listing:

    http://www.macraesbluebook.com/Search/company.cfm?company=816126

  5. Great novelist.

    I chuckled out loud for that one.

  6. Somebody hook up magnets to Rand’s corpse. She’s got to be spinning like a turbine right now.

  7. But, unfortunately, an infection of greed and mismanagement combined with a lack of transparency and government regulation have brought us to the point where our nation faces a downturn in its economy only rivaled by the Great Depression.

    Kind of makes you miss Eliot Spitzer.

  8. Some douchebag slipped that line into Gov. Patterson’s braille notes. Not fair pranking the visually impaired like that.

  9. This is some speechwriter’s brilliant joke. Whether its a Randian playing a joke on his lefty friends or a lefty playing a joke on his Randian friends, I don’t know.

  10. Kind of makes you miss Eliot Spitzer.

    Not even close. Gov. Paterson has so far proven himself to be 100X as effective and 100X more tolerable than Spitzer.

    Maybe the brail version of the Fountainhead is different somehow.

  11. Everyone knows that Ayn Rand wrote “Gimme that handout, bitches!”

  12. Sounds like Gov. Paterson is sort of pulling a GEN Clark. Like when he was quioting The Communist Manifesto as founding American values.

  13. That was from her novel “Mr. Government Man gives Everyone a Magic Unicorn.” It wasn’t as popular as “Atlas” but has its admirers.

  14. Paterson is a total lightweight, which is exactly what you want in a politician.

  15. Wait, the State of California needs a bailout, too. Can we allocate the funds by holding a death match between Paterson and Schwarzenegger? The Gubernator would total kick his sorry New York ass!

  16. Why not quote her, if record spending on regulation can be called “deregulation” and NOBODY except me questions it (AFAIK) anything’s possible!!

  17. Paterson is a total lightweight, which is exactly what you want in a politician.

    Thing is – Just about everyone I know likes the guy somewhat. The things they are upset at him for are for things like cutting the budget and cutting university funding, which of course are things that make me smile.

  18. Ya know, Sen. Biden is not going to like this guy very much for stealing his next misstatement.

  19. A is Government Handout.

  20. As silly as that quote is, I am slightly motivated by the increase in Rand references lately, what with Glenn and Helen pushing ‘going John Galt’ and all that. Why, oh why, can’t we cut NCLB and use the money to put Atlas in all those kids hands?

  21. an infection of greed and mismanagement

    “C’mon, Middle America! I’ve got 10,000 public teachers waiting to retire at 50 with six-figure pensions. That’s not gonna pay for itself, y’know.”

  22. I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, but I’d welcome his money.

  23. Why, oh why, can’t we cut NCLB and use the money to put Atlas in all those kids hands?

    This is the time to try to slip that one by Sen. Kennedy. Better strike fast before he heals up.

  24. I can’t even see what the second sentence in the Paterson quote has to do with the first. It’s like they’re taken from different speeches by different people on different topics.

  25. Why, oh why, can’t we cut NCLB and use the money to put Atlas in all those kids hands?

    Suffering through that’s probably better than suffering through Moby Dick or Johnny Tremaine, I suppose.

  26. I am slightly motivated by the increase in Rand references lately

    Barry (clearly) referred to Rand on the trail this week as well:

    “John McCain and Sarah Palin they call this socialistic,” Obama continued. “You know I don’t know when, when they decided they wanted to make a virtue out of selfishness.”

    It’s unclear if this was a nod to the Ayn Rand book “The Virtue of Selfishness,” with all that the invocation of Rand implies.

    It would seem to be, given the themes of Rand’s work, what happens when independent achievers are demonized.

    Which would fit with this description of those who want to keep their hard-earned tax dollars as “selfish.”

    Atlas may not be shrugging, but Obama is.

    I’m tempted to send Tapper a muffin basket for including those links.

  27. Wow. Just after 1 p.m. local time, and my head has already exploded.

  28. “Suffering through that’s probably better than suffering through Moby Dick or Johnny Tremaine, I suppose.”

    Whoa. Tremaine I’ll give you, but Moby Dick? It might be the best novel ever written…

  29. Next thing you know he’ll say that screwing Nat Branden causes great depression.

  30. Mike – i’m with you, I read MD again every few years.

  31. That was priceless.

    What a douchebag.

  32. And my copy has the word “eskimo” highlighted…

  33. I wonder how one skips over “the big soliloquy” in braille?

  34. Though I don’t consider myself much of a Rand fan, I’m still like WTF?

    Then again, I guess nothing really means anything. I remember in 2001, when California faced rolling blackouts, and I tried to read a synopsis of the “deregulated” electricity market. At the risk of pulling a “no, we just haven’t seen real capitalism” move, the “deregulated” system seemed more convoluted than the relatively simple, straightforward arrangement of a public monopoly that it had replaced.

    So, if complex systems of regulation can be sold as “deregulation” then why not cite Rand as support for regulation?

  35. Whoa. Tremaine I’ll give you, but Moby Dick? It might be the best novel ever written…

    Well, the first few chapters bored me to tears in 5th grade when I was supposed to read it. Put it down and never picked it up since.

  36. Why, oh why, can’t we cut NCLB and use the money to put Atlas in all those kids hands?

    Because we want them to read, and putting an impenetrable nightmare of hack writing in their hands is a sure way to make them give up on books forever? Atlas is remarkably close to what would have happened if Immanuel Kant had decided that he knew the first thing about how to tell a compelling story.

  37. There’s something strangely Orwellian about this election cycle and economic climate. Up is down, in is out, growth is recession, war is peace, hate is compassion, life is death, crisis is status quo.

  38. rhywun – give it another try. 5th grade reading level it is not… I also didn’t finish it the first time – didn’t try again until after college.

  39. Eskimo… Heather Duke underlined a lot of things in this copy of “Moby Dick,” but I believe the word “Eskimo”, underlined all by itself, is the key to understanding Heather’s pain. On the surface, Heather Duke was the vivacious young lady we all knew her to be… But her soul was in Antarctica!! Freezing with the knowledge of the way fellow teenagers can be cruel, the way that parents can be unresponsive… And, as she writes so eloquently in her suicide note, the way that life can suck!!

    …We’ll all miss Sherwood’s little Eskimo. Let’s just hope she’s rubbing noses with Jesus!

  40. Bill Moyers used the same shopworn tactic in one of his recent sermons (sorry, Journals). Man cannot be trusted with his freedoms. It’s for the smarter people to take over, for the good of the whole. Blah blah blah.

  41. Why, oh why, can’t we cut NCLB and use the money to put Atlas in all those kids hands?

    I think the president of BB&T is giving out grants for Ayn Rand studies already, is that close enough?

  42. Hey God, why’d you have to take such hot snatch?

  43. I think he just likes pissing off Objectivists.

  44. Goddamn that’s stupid. I mean it. It’s really fucking hella stupid. He should get his ass kicked for saying it. Just to be fair, I’ll pay a blind guy to kick his ass.

  45. Bill Moyers used the same shopworn tactic in one of his recent sermons (sorry, Journals). Man cannot be trusted with his freedoms. It’s for the smarter people to take over, for the good of the whole. Blah blah blah.

    Yes. And amazingly enough, they always seem to be referring to themselves as the “smarter people,” don’t they? Funny how that works.

  46. In all fairness, many libertarians regularly hijack socialist icon George Orwell to make their points. It even happened in this thread. Just sayin’.

  47. Rand was remarkably free of self-analysis when it came to praising various notions that would otherwise have been anathema.
    Witness merely her incredly offensive praise the “heroism” of NASA when she was invited to attend a launch.
    Patterson’s nonsense is not too far a stretch for Rand, or her designated successor, the war-supporter and others of his (despicable) ilk.

    no hugs for thugs,
    Shirley Knott

  48. But, unfortunately, an infection of greed and mismanagement combined with a lack of transparency and government regulation have brought us to the point where our nation faces a downturn in its economy only rivaled by the Great Depression.

    He’s absolutely right, but he thinks he’s describing the financial sector, when in reality he’s describing the corrupt political culture that set the table for this.

    Especially if you read the ambiguous phrase “lack of transparency and government regulation” to mean “government regulation and lack of transparency.”

  49. “In all fairness, many libertarians regularly hijack socialist icon George Orwell to make their points.”

    However in Orwell’s case, much of his work was directed squarely at the excesses he saw from his fellow socialists. After all, that’s the party Big Brother came from. It’s similar to the rampage George Will has been on for several years right now, though Orwell’s was of higher literary quality.

    Directing an Orwell quote at socialism when Orwell originally intended it to be directed at socialism doesn’t seem too out of bounds.

  50. In other news, a new energy source has been found:

    Hooking up a generator to Ayn Rand as she spins in her grave.

  51. Voros,
    My point was that Orwell defended, to the end of his life, the socialist idea, and tended to think of socialist/communist excesses as simply a new, faux-socialist, manifestation of similar excesses in capitalism. This is why I don’t generally cite him when making a point.

  52. Shawn Levasseur,
    How do you think John Galt powered his generator? You didn’t actually think it ran on atmospheric static electricity, did you?

  53. The devil can cite Scripture to suit his own purpose.

  54. All of these bailouts and government takeovers are definitely reminding me of Atlas Shrugged. Soon it won’t matter how good your company’s products or managers are, what will matter is how good your company’s lobbyists are.

    There will be a government “Board” for everything, and the economy will never recover.

  55. I agree with mporcius and Ted above. The two sentences in the paragraph have nothing to do with each other. This must be some kind of joke.

  56. I don’t think it’s necessarily true that Ayn Rand would swoon over 21st-century Wall Street, despite her professed love of greed. Do you think John Galt would have spent his life making credit default swaps, or shilling for subprime mortgages? (Similarly, I’ve always wondered who would throw the first punch if Howard Roark met Gordon Gekko at a party…)

    To the extent that the finance market assists the creation of real value, it’s to be praised; to the extent that it’s a bunch of second-handers wanking each other off with flawed models and absurd derivatives, hoping they can cut and run with a buck before anyone realizes what’s going on (and ruining everybody else’s economy while they’re at it)… fuck ’em, straight up.

    Leonard Peikoff might not agree with that, but Hank Reardon would. Whether regulation is the solution, conceptually or practically, is an entirely other matter, but I can imagine that lesson being taken from Rand’s fiction.

    That said: a more plausible reading of the gov’s quote, in my view, is to stress the “but” in the middle, as trying to weigh the tenets of capitalism with some perceived flaws of laissez-faire economy. Like, we Americans believe in individualism like Ayn Rand, but greed and mismanagement have led to blah blah blah…

  57. Why won’t statist bail out proponents step back and let providence punish managers for “greed and mismanagement”? Because, the statists think punishing foolish choices is their job.

  58. I really haven’t read much about Ayn Rand, but i hear that a lot of her ideals have been part of the creation of a game called Bioshock. Really interesting similarities between the two. You should check it out

  59. The nation as a whole really has been hard hit over the past few years and many people have suffered heavy losses economically. Though it may seem rather odd for the author to work in conjunction with the local government to get bail out funds, the reality of the situation is much harder to face than fictional renditions.

  60. Maybe Ayn realized that those ideas are only good in theory and don’t work too well in the real world. Most extreme ideas are set up under very specific circumstances and therefore don’t end up being the most practical solutions.

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