From Ayn Rand to the iPod: Chris Lehmann on "Rich People Things"


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What do TARP, Wired Magazine, The New York Times, David Brooks, Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan, Malcolm Gladwell, and libertarianism have in common? They're all "rich people things," according to journalist Chris Lehmann, a veteran of Mother Jones, In These Times, Tikkun, New York magazine, and The Washington Post.

In his engaging new book of essays, drawn from his contributions to The Awl, Lehmann explains why what he calls the "airless dogma" of Rand, the "hollow…comic sociology" of Brooks, and other excresences of wealth suck. Lehmann skewers the iPad: In his view, the hype surrounding Apple products helps the company distract consumers from its practice of outsourcing youth-destroying tasks to Chinese factories staffed by workers living in cockroach-infested dormitories.

Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with Lehmann, who has contributed to Reason, to talk about his collection and to ask how "rich people things" like the Democratic Party and Michelle Obama's vacation fit into his worldview. Among the surprises: Lehmann grants that Ayn Rand's popularity remains an interesting phenomenon, that the left is all but dead, and that libertarianism is a vital force in America today.

Approximately 7.26 minutes. Shot by Jim Epstein and Meredith Bragg. Edited by Josh Swain.

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