Animating Ayn Rand’s Rotting Corpse

Young Alan Greenspan posing for Atlas Shrugged in Ayn Rand’s apartment

Digby explores the Bizzaroworld economic logic and the psychology of greed that inflicts the wingnut universe, rooted as it is in Ayn Rand‘s classic 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged here and here.

Ronald Reagan,  a key enabler of the Bush Depression, implicitly adopted Rand’s disdain for government’s role in fostering economic security, procaliming in his first inaugural address:

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

Tell that to the legion of victims of the last 3 failed Republican administrations beginning with  Reagan,  given a boost by “Poppy” Bush, and finally administered the coup de grace by his unbelievably incompetent son, Dubya.

(Let’s not leave out Dubya’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, who in addition to helping bankroll Hitler’s industrial comeback, sponsored a young unknown politician named Richard Nixon to begin the rollback of Depression era regulations on the banking industry. This following Prescott’s failure to convince three time medal of honor award winner General Smedley Butler to launch a military coup against FDR, the president who had instituted them.)

Even Rand’s dutiful acolyte, Alan Greenspan, who is said to have visited her often in her New York city apartment, was forced to admit that the logic behind unregulated capitalism sucked eggs. As he told a Congressional panel in a No-Shit-Sherlock moment a few weeks ago:

I found a flaw in the model that I perceived as the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works.

Sorta like NASA administrators telling the Challenger astronauts that they had found a flaw in the booster rocket design and that’s why their shuttle was breaking up over the Atlantic. Sorry ’bout that, guys.

The basis for Greenspan’s subsequent policies as head of the Federal Reserve can be found in a 1963 essay he wrote for Rand’s magazine, The Objectivist, cited in a recent Bloomberg article that begins thusly:

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) — Why did Alan Greenspan fail to act while the roots of the subprime-mortgage crisis spread? Here’s one possible explanation: The Ayn Rand disciple held fast to his unwavering laissez-faire beliefs. […]

Protection of the consumer against `dishonest and unscrupulous business practices’ has become a cardinal ingredient of welfare statism,” Greenspan began his essay, which Rand included in her 1967 book, “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.”

“Left to their own devices, it is alleged, businessmen would attempt to sell unsafe food and drugs, fraudulent securities, and shoddy buildings. Thus, it is argued, the Pure Food and Drug Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the numerous building regulatory agencies are indispensible if the consumer is to be protected from the `greed’ of the businessman.

“But it is precisely the `greed’ of the businessman or, more appropriately, his profit-seeking, which is the unexcelled protector of the consumer.”

There you have it. The rationale behind Brian Gecko‘s famous line in Oliver Stone’s movie Wall Street— “Greed is good.”

Hardworking consumers– have no fear. Unregulated capitalism is your best friend. Turn over your 401ks and social security retirement accounts to Rand’s Libertarian Wall Street disciples and live happily ever after.

If you believe that, have I got a deal on some derivatives for you.


  1. Pingback: Ayn Rand and the Fountainheads « A Rain of Frogs

  2. Indeed, M. Hart, a mighty rebalancing could occur should that day come to pass. Sad to say, we may have to settle for a greater awareness of the inequity that truly rules this sphere.

    Propagandee: Ah, Poppy – The spider at the center of the web. I have always found it curious how America managed to overlook its own Constitution (specifically Article 3, section 3, in addition to 18 U.S.C. § 2381) and allow that man to pardon himself, in effect, by pardoning his convicted associates.

    Silly little people – we all thought providing aid and comfort to rogue nations so as to bypass laws unanimously passed by Congress and enable a dirty covert war that helped dump narcotics onto American streets was a rather large set of felonies – but all the time, we were merely ‘criminalizing policy differences’. Ah, the naivete of youth.


  3. Propagandee

    Darkblack: Thanks for that peek at the Bush Crime Family album.

    Poppy’s records are under lock and key at his library at Texas A&M SMU (along with W’s gubernatorial records, as I recall). Probably makes interesting reading, especially given that Poppy was, as Reagan’s VP, running that whole selling weapons to Iran to fund the Contras thingy.

    The keymaster is the university chancellor. Don’t know who the present one is but the guy that had the gig previously left his job to become– what was the position, again? Oh yeah– Secretary of Defense, a man by the name of Robert Gates who was also neck deep in the Iran-Contra.

    Sure glad he’ll be leaving next week. Oh, wait…

  4. Michael Hart

    Hey DB,
    Teh House of Bush it turns out was always made of clubs, and as they collapse Dubya has dealt the fam a hand that only a merciful historical account would find the shrub enjoying retirement outside of a penal colony fashioning brush instead of inside making gravel.

    I can usually reconcile that there may not be real justice on this planet; the kind worthy of the Bush Family crimes, by remembering that there is justice in the universe, where judgment is vested in those who know the antecedents of all wrongdoing, as well as its motivation. Still, what a lesson in world justice could be learned if Dub and company had their day in World Court.

  5. Michael Hart

    Hey Prop,
    It’s pretty clear young Greenspan was carrying a big load even back then. But if there’s a window for real change opening up, how much can fly in four, eight years? Could Obama find the where-with-all to expose and transcend the delusional nature of national sovereignty, and begin to demonstrate a progressive “foreign” policy capable of creating the essential nucleus of super-national power, which could serve as the beginning of the real sovereignty of all mankind?

  6. “But it is precisely the `greed’ of the businessman or, more appropriately, his profit-seeking, which is the unexcelled protector of the consumer.”

    Indeed, and that winsome strategy is working out very well for China at the moment.


    Bush’s malapropism, ‘They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we’ stands as an inadvertent avowal of the family mission statement, when viewed through his genealogical history going back to his great-grandfather, Samuel P. Bush – the first in the line to pursue politics for profit, in his case assisting a cozy bit of arms dealing known by the quaint rubric, World War 1.

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