Ayn Rand, welfare queen

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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69 Responses

  1. MFarmer says:

    The only thing amusing about it is how far some people will go to destroy Ayn Rand’s work and influence. This seems petty. For one thing, if you had read Rand’s work, you’d know she stated it’s not immoral when you are in a system which forces some realities to which you have to adhere — if her world had existed, there would likely be something much different to assist a person in old age and sickness than Medicare and SS. The sad thing, even if it could be proved that this story is true, is that brave people like Rand, who fought for her ideas in the face of vicious resistance, are forced by a statist system to act against their values. Plus, I’m sure she paid more in taxes than the people who are trying to destroy her with this type of stuff. Not saying you are trying to destroy her legacy, but many are, although you might want to read her before believing a lot of what you read about her, or making something out of it that might be unfair.Report

    • Bo in reply to MFarmer says:

      Rand, who fought for her ideas in the face of vicious resistance, are forced by a statist system to act against their values

      And, in the end, aren’t libertarian authors who can’t get rich enough to afford private cancer treatment the real victims here?Report

  2. Sam MacDonald says:

    I am not sure why this is amusing. The easiest reposne would be, well, maybe she would have had enough money to pay for doctors if she hadn’t been paying all those taxes. But… who knows?

    More interesting to me is this: Is it absolutely knee-slapping hilarious to learn that someone like Ezra Klein is accepting health benefits through his employer? Hypocrisy! He’s AGAINST that system, so to participate in it is proof of his evilness or silliness! He must refuse to participate in a system which he considers immoral and ineffective until it is changed to something he likes!

    Or… no. I don’t think Randall O’Toole has to apologize for riding the DC Metro, if he ever does. And I don’t think Matt Yglesias should be ashamed of riding in a car or getting his hair cut at a certified barber.

    Lots of people here are critics of farm subsidies. Does that mean I have to stop eating rice? I was dead-set against public funding of the pro-sports stadia in my area. Is it going to be news 50 years from now when someone reveals that I watched the Super Bowl.

    I am not sure why it’s always libertarians who are held to this standard. How come nobody is lambasting progressives in Ohio for using electricity? all those coal fired plants. Hypocrisy!

    Of course Ayn Rand participated in social security. Of course Ezra Klein participates in a health system that he believes leads to the needless deaths of countless thousands of people every year. What else are they supposed to do?

    I get that Ayn Rand rubs people the wrong way. I think she’s overrated in some quarters as a writer and a thinker. 9Underrated in other circles.) Either way, as someone involved in these debates, it seems odd to me that you have chosen not to engage with the texts, even to criticize them. That seems like just as much of a posturing maneuver as the 19-year-old kid who won’t stop talking about her. it would seem that she’d be required reading in your line of work.Report

    • Right, because Ezra Klein looks with derision on everyone who uses employer-provided benefits.Report

    • Honestly, I have no qualms with people who critique a system and then participate in it for lack of alternative choices. But Rand’s critique – which, as I understand it, is quite a great deal more extreme than many alternative libertarian critiques – makes her participation more hypocritical. I understand why she did it; but it would be nice if she had understood why other people did it. Her critique was not simply that these systems were wrong, but that those who relied on them were lesser people. Unless I am utterly misunderstanding objectivism and Randian thought. Which I don’t think I am.Report

      • trumwill in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        “It is obvious, in such cases, that a man receives his own money which was taken from him by force, directly and specifically, without his consent, against his own choice. Those who advocated such laws are morally guilty, since they assumed the “right” to force employers and unwilling co-workers. But the victims, who opposed such laws, have a clear right to any refund of their own money—and they would not advance the cause of freedom if they left their money, unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-state administration.” -Ayn Rand, 1966Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Every idealist is a hypocrite in his own way. I secretly grin every time I hear the word “hypocrite”. It is a word used by those who have no intention of being good of others who are trying to be good.

        Much as I detest Objectivism, how different was it from its exact inverse, Classical Marxism? The world cannot be simply divided into Proles and Bourgeois: all this nonsense about Class Consciousness from the Marxists is not a bit different than Objectivism’s view of the Individual, turned on its head, espousing the same heroic notions and fundamental motivations.

        The world is more complex than the Idealists would have it. The heroes of Marxism are the villains of Objectivism. Men are not angels, nor are they devils. Christopher Hitchens now lays out the case for his own atheism, frankly admitting he might say something contrary to his current positions in the agony of dying. If Ayn Rand reached out for financial assistance from a society whose values she opposed, we ought to forgive her, not point fingers and scoff. If she was eventually reduced to hypocrisy, she knew it at the time, and applied under another name: Ayn Rand could never do such a thing.

        Timor mortis conturbat me.Report

      • Sam MacDonald in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        You don’t think you are misunderstanding it? How would you know? This smells of epistemic closure.

        If you dont like the Klein example, how about Yglesias? All the talk of willfully killing Bangladeshis through global warming, yet at the moment he is vacationing on some tropical island.

        I honestly don’t think it’s “amusing” when his ideological opponents point to this and holler “Hypocricy!” Any more than I find it high-larious when a reform-minded pol is caught with an expensive SUV or a community rights activist is caught hiring an illegal immigrant. All the less amusing when it’s 50 years later.

        I would think that Rand would be an important enough figure–and one open to enough abuse–that you might take the time to read at least one of the canonical texts. I recommend the Fountainhead, as I think it’s a more interesting story. At least it’s less preposterous.

        I don’t recommend it because I think you’ll become an Objectivist. I certainly didn’t. But if you are at all interested in understanding various strains of conservative/livertarian thought, it would make sense to check it out. Especially if you are going to get giggly over her alleged improprieties.Report

        • greginak in reply to Sam MacDonald says:

          Well i don’t think somebody who believes global warming is a problem, like Yglesis, has ever said nobody should ever ever travel by plane. Its a common lame argument to take persons ideas to a ridiculous extent then mock them. Really is pretty lame.

          But Rand took her own stuff to a ridicuous extent, so its fair enough to mock her actual ideas.

          Why didn’t she just ask/beg her little clan of acolytes for money? Yeah that would likely be demeaning and embarrassing. But whats a little shame between Galtian superheros.Report

          • Sam MacDonald in reply to greginak says:

            But as Trumwill has demonstrated with an actual quote from Rand, she did not believe in what you say she believed. This is where actually reading somebody’s work comes in handy, rather than relying on second-hand impressions from people who have an ax to grind.

            Yglesias says global warming is tantamount to kiling millions of bangladeshis, and that, together, we should not do this. But he does not live in that world, he cannot create it, at least not yet, so he contributes massively more to global warming than he needs to.

            Ayb Rand said we should not tax people to pay for health care and other benefits. She thought it amounted to theft. But have been subject to that taxation, she accepted some of the benefits, and thereby made the situation that much worse, however marginally.

            Perhaps Yglesias would have been willing to pay what it cost to fly to the tropics had there been a huge carbon tax on jet fuel. And perhaps Rand would have been willing and able to save her tax dollars and buy rock-solid health insurance with the money.

            We don’t know in either case.

            But for some reason yglesias gets a pass? How so? heated rhetoric? He accuses people who are against massive interventions to reduce carbon emissions of KILLING MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. Ayn Rand bitched about taxes. But Rand is the ridiculous one?Report

            • greginak in reply to Sam MacDonald says:

              Well i bet Yglesias would have been willing to pay a carbon tax, so would i. Of course it helps that i don’t believe the scare stories about the carbon taxs being gargantuan, but whatever.

              Why do you think Rand wasn’t open about this? And again, why didn’t she just beg from her rich friends?Report

              • Sam MacDonald in reply to greginak says:

                How was she not open about it? I don;t really understand that part of the story. If any of the names she used was assumed, it was “Ayn Rand.” I am not enough of a groupie to know her born name, but legend holds she took “Rand” from a typewriter. I have no idea what “Ayn” is, but I don’t think that was her given name.

                As for taking SS benefits, she didn’t go under Haywood Jablomie. She was married to a guy named Frank O’Connor. And accepted benefits under “O’Connor.” It’s not exactly deep cover, KGB level obfuscation.

                Maybe there is more to it than that, but it would seem that if the wife of Frank O’Connor were really, truly interested in hiding her identity, she might at least change it to O’Malley or something.

                as for why she didn’t beg it from her rich friends, we have been over that. She had the money taken from her to pay for exigencies later in life. She had such an experience and accepted the benefits she was forced to buy.

                I am pretty libertarian. I would argue AGAINST a government program in which each and every person were forced to purchase volcano insurance. I would call it stupid and terrible, even more so if the money for the program were taken directly out of my paycheck.

                Are you seriously arguing that if, against all odds, my house were destroyed by a volcano, I would be a hypocrite for accepting the insurance payments I was FORCED to pay for? I mean, I did pay for it. Unwillingly. But I paid for it.

                Rand addressed this point directly, almost a decade before the incident in question.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Well i bet Yglesias would have been willing to pay a carbon tax, so would i.

                You’re in luck! You have the option of sending half of the money you’d be willing to pay in a carbon tax to the Sierra Club, Audubon, National Resources Defense Council, Friends of the Earth, or the National Geographic Society and using the other half to buy indulgences/carbon credits from carbonfund.org!Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                hell i’m even luckier, i can vote for candidates for public office to enact my policy preferences, especially those that deal with important externalities the private sector or charities can’t solve. I feel like its X-Mas.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Except the foolish, short-sighted, selfish American People voted for Republicans in the House thus burning our dreams of a carbon-neutral country like so many sequestered carbon-holding thingies.

                Luckily, you can still do the thing that you want to force everybody to do.

                You can pretend that you’re Kant!Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                and if GW is not really a problem then everything is sweet. If it really is a problem then i ‘m sure, no matter what, many libertarians will never ever admit their ideas don’t have all the answers in the world.Report

              • Pat Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well, I’m highly unconvinced that carbon credits are going to work.

                But, that said, I am highly convinced that we are on a freight train to a much warmer climate.

                Are you not, Jaybird?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Are you not, Jaybird?

                I’m pleased to be able to say that I don’t know what the future holds.

                I will say that the number one thing that I worry about is not global warming but a solar flare similar to the ones in 1859 that set telegraph offices on fire.

                As for the warming issue… Maribou and I bought a new house with excellent insulation, I do my best to keep the thermostat around 62 degrees in winter (Maribou, being a woman, is a fan of 66), we buy the “green” electricity from the power company (it’s, like, 4 bucks more per megawatt or some dumb crap like that), we’re a one-car family, and we don’t have any kids (that would, of course, grow up to USE OUR PRECIOUS RESOURCES).

                Oh, and we recycle.

                I’m doing my part to help out mother earth. I dare say that I’m doing a damn sight more than most. As such, most of the proposed solutions involve such things as everybody standing around and agreeing how oh-so-very important Global Warming is to all of us before we hop in our SUVs and get something from Jamba Juice.

                It seems like it’s much more important to communicate that one is a member of the group than that one actually do anything.

                That’s my take on the global warming issue.Report

              • tom van dyke in reply to Jaybird says:

                But we must do something about global warming, even if it’ll do no good!

                Don’t you see? Fascist.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                A few years back, I got into an argument with a Global Warming Credulist who argued that I needed to do more. I made the list above and asked how many cars (and what kind) his household drove.

                He explained to me that winters in his part of the country were exceptionally bad and if I thought that I could make him feel bad for wanting to keep his significant other safe in an SUV, I was not only mistaken but immoral.

                I’m sure you can hear the tone of voice if you try.

                Anyway, I know that his circumstances were extraordinary. *EVERYBODY’S* circumstances are extraordinary.

                But when people lecture me on being green and they can’t even do the simple crap that Maribou and I manage to do without a gun being held to their head, I question whether they really believe the things that they say they believe.

                One knows a tree by its fruit, after all.Report

              • Sam MacDonald in reply to greginak says:

                “Well i bet Yglesias would have been willing to pay a carbon tax, so would i.”

                Then you better propose a gargantuan one. Or else you just made an argument against carbon taxes. The whole idea is to change peoples’ behavior. Make the use of carbon more expensive, and people will choose something less carbon intensive. Instead of the tropics, you vacation in the Shenandoah.

                Or is changing behavior for other people? Who?Report

              • greginak in reply to Sam MacDonald says:

                Or being more expensive pushes the free market to look for better and cheaper solutions and leads to us paying for the effects of our travel. But i’m all for hearing other solutions to global warming. But its always more convenient to not believe in GW then anything else. FWIW i don’t think we are going to do anything serious about GW, I’d love for all the science to be wrong because smugly mocking people for being wrong doesn’t sound like a fun retirement in 30 years or so.Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to greginak says:

                …Damn them, Algore is a prophet! GW is real, it really, really is!Report

              • Sam MacDonald in reply to greginak says:

                “Or being more expensive pushes the free market to look for better and cheaper solutions…”

                And the mechanism through which that happens is? The mechanism is that the taxes force peoplel like you and Yglesias to change your behavior. Which forces firms to react.

                But you just said you and Yglesias would NOT, in fact, change your behavior. He wouls still choose to go to the tropic for vacation instead of heading to Lake Anna south of DC. He’d just pay the tax, which is not gargantuan. You said that, not me.

                So how is it that American Airlines will get the signal to switch to a new fueling model? Answer: they won’t. Unless the tax is gargantuan and it changes your behavior.

                You can’t have it both ways. Either the tax will be high enough to sting people into making the choices you prefer, or it won’t. If it won’t, it won’t and t will have no impact on carbon choices.

                So which do you actually prefer? A tax that’s high enough to force you to comply, meaning Matt Yglesias does not go to the tropics? Or a tax that’s so low as to have a minimal if any impact on carbon chices?Report

      • MFarmer in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        “But Rand’s critique – which, as I understand it, is quite a great deal more extreme than many alternative libertarian critiques – makes her participation more hypocritical. ”

        Although you’ve never read a single word she wrote.Report

    • Bo in reply to Sam MacDonald says:

      The interesting part of the whole story is that she (supposedly) signed up and received treatment using a fake identity, or as that’s more commonly known, engaged in fraud. So, she hated the US welfare system, and she actively defrauded it. Sounds perfectly consistent to me.Report

      • Sam MacDonald in reply to Bo says:


        “… Medicare payments which Ayn received under the name of Ann O’Connor (husband Frank O’Connor).”

        So she married a guy named O’Connor. And received benefits as… the wife of the same O’Connor.

        And the fraud is… huh? So when my wife is a widow and receives payments as my wife, that’s fraud how?Report

        • Marko in reply to Sam MacDonald says:

          And therein lies the problem. She was ashamed of the weakness this suggested and perhaps of her failure to earn enough to pay for those bills. (At least this is what the social worker said to the researcher.) So she took them under her less “obvious” legal name.

          If she really stood by that 1966 quote mentioned in this thread, she would have framed it for herself and for others as the “taking back of what was rightfully mine”.

          What gives me schadenfreude is the fact that she must have realized how obnoxious her earlier posturing was, but was too proud to admit it. Must be tough when life teaches you a lesson.

          Ayn, it’s okay to be weak. Luckily for you, the actual society was kinder than the ideal you advocated.Report

  3. Mike Schilling says:

    The only thing amusing about it is how far some people will go to destroy Ayn Rand’s work and influence.

    Some people will go as far as reading the 50-page lecture in Atlas Shrugged. Hard to believe, I know.Report

  4. BlaiseP says:

    There’s something terribly sad and amusing about the Expat-as-Patriot. T.S. Eliot the American boy from St Louis aped the Brrritish Conservative. Ayn Rand, Russian refugee, armed with a little Nietzsche and a boundless hatred for Communism, would live in the world of ideas all her life, her feet never touched the ground. That is not strictly true. Her feet touched the ground, twice.

    The first time, she was in the Crimea, teaching illiterate soldiers to read. The second time, as Scott McConnell notes, she was dying. Robert Nozick demolishes her in his interview with Julian Sanchez:

    Evolution plays a large role in my discussion of necessary truths and metaphysical truths, and I ask “why would evolution have endowed us with such powerful cognitive capacities to know about all possibilities?” Maybe evolution just gives us ‘good enough’ theories like Euclidean geometry that are approximately true and able to get us around the world, but when we probe further we discover that they’re not strictly speaking accurate. That question about cognitive capacity connects up with one segment of the libertarian movement: that influenced greatly by Ayn Rand, that has axioms like the law of identity, “A is A” and all that, from which they think conclusions follow that most people, elsewhere in philosophy, don’t think follow from these logical truths. I take evolution very seriously, and think that the capacities we have, including of apprehending a truth, have been strongly shaped, not to mention created, by evolution. So you could ask: “Why, then, do we have such powerful capacities as to give us these necessary truths, rather than truths that hold roughly and approximately at the actual world, and in similar worlds. The followers of Rand, for example, treat “A is A” not just as “everything is identical to itself” but as a kind of statement about essences and the limits of things. “A is A, and it can’t be anything else, and once it’s A today, it can’t change its spots tomorrow.” Now, that doesn’t follow. I mean, from the law of identity, nothing follows about limitations on change. The weather is identical to itself but it’s changing all the time. The use that’s made by people in the Randian tradition of this principle of logic that everything is identical to itself to place limits on what the future behavior of things can be, or on the future nature of current things, is completely unjustified so far as I can see; it’s illegitimate.

    JS: So even if they have good politics, you don’t care much for the Objectivist approach?

    RN: I’m going to alienate a number of your book orderers, if I didn’t already with what I said about Rand, but there was something startling about the attraction to non-initiation of force principles that the Randians had, at the same time that they were diligently acting as thought police. Bold entrepreneurs? Yes. But bold exploration of ideas? No.Report

  5. Jaybird says:

    Rand has a snappy one-liner here or there and is really good at demonstrating an anti-thesis to Marxism/Communism as practiced.

    But I’ve never really understood Rand-worship. For a philosophy dedicated to freedom, it sure isn’t a fan of variance.

    In any case, those of us who laughed at Al Gore’s heating bill for his 10,000 square foot house ought to understand why Rand getting help from the gummint is funny too.Report

    • trumwill in reply to Jaybird says:

      Isn’t the “help from the government” here merely getting back some of the money she put in to social security, though? That is what bugs me about this line of thought. It seems to place a moral obligation on people opposed to government’s largess to simultaneously pay into it and yet never get anything out of it.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      And in one of her most famous scenes people who disagree with her deserve to die in what amounts to a huge gas chamber. What’s not to like?Report

    • Sam MacDonald in reply to Jaybird says:

      I didn’t think Al Gore’s heating bill was hilarious either. Of course he lives in a big house. Does that surprise anyone? It shouldn’t. Or how about when someone discovered (!) that Rosie O’Donnell’s bodyguard carried a gun. Remember that one? Oy.

      I guess it might be entertaining to see someone get their comeuppance, but this example seems like pretty small beer. She paid a lot of money into social security over the years. And then collected it back out. And she did so as the wife of… her husband. To whom she was actually married, as far as I can tell.

      I presume she also used sidewalks and bought cheese inspected by government bureaucrats. Ha ha! Evil AND hypocritical. i hear she also wrote a lot about physical beauty but was not much of a looker herself. A trifecta, a belly-busting riot!

      But you are right. This IS right on par with people who complain about Al Gore’s house or the fact that he goes places in a limo. For better or worse. Mostly worse.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Sam MacDonald says:

        Oh, *I* thought it was funny. 8 bathrooms! Live simply!

        Yeah, yeah. I know that the finger that points to the moon is not the moon… but it’s not that I think that X is a sin. So if someone does X, I don’t think they’re sinning. Even if they give speeches against X, X remains not a sin. EVEN IF THE PREACHER DOES IT.

        It’s just funny, that’s all.Report

        • Sam MacDonald in reply to Jaybird says:

          I guess. And I like it when a preacher gets his. Don’t get me wrong. But this seems like one of the least egregious, least funny examples of comeuppance i have ever seen. And it has nothing to do with any love I have for Rand. I am libertarian enough to have run in some circles with some pretty over-the-top fans. Gah. Nothing grates more.

          Generally, I find very little humor in Rand, which is one of my complaints about her. But I find just as little in her detractors.

          Some evangelist goes out and bangs a hooker? I can see the funny. And people do get in some good shots. Har har! I am right there with them.

          But the fact that some people are trying to “har har” and “tsk tsk” over “hard core small government proponent lives in the system she criticizes and uses spousal connections to gain benefits meant for a spouse, and for which she paid,” seems… not that amusing.

          Jimmy Swaggert? Amusing.Report

        • Robert Cheeks in reply to Jaybird says:

          JB, is THIS what they call ‘irony?’Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

            I don’t even know any more.Report

            • Heidegger in reply to Jaybird says:

              Oh, it was quite funny, Jaybird–actually, hilarious Please don’t temper your very good sense of humor to appease the political correct jackals who are reading your every word!Report

          • Heidegger in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

            Mr. Dr. Comrade Cheeks, I have responded many times to you posts, but you know how that works–they usually get scattered like buckshot around this joint. Just love your comments–I’m still laughing about your packing lead when you went to see a movie. That hit a raw nerve among some local ninnies, and I couldn’t be happier. D.C. has the strictest gun laws in the country, and not surprisingly, also has the highest murder rate. At least they did a few years ago, but clearly, the point is made. In the meantime, Egypt is going up in flames. This is completely opposite from the events in Iran last summer. These crazies want MORE religious intervention–a theocracy–which is just what the world needs–a Taliban type Sharia State that has serious nuclear ambitions and also wants to exterminate all the Jews in Israel. Where have we heard that before….Report

            • Robert Cheeks in reply to Heidegger says:

              Heidegger, I trust all is well. I’m having computer problems, on ocassion, so sometimes I refrain from the comment.
              I have no clue who’s who in the Egyptian embroglio. I’m thinkin’ its the Muslims (Muslim Bro) taking over and quite disappionted because JB told me once our culture hits ’em they’d be desultory degenerates just like us. So, it’s interesting to see. Maybe a civil war?
              Did you see the Detroit Police Hdqrts shooting?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Once? I repeat it like I have a neurogenic language disorder.

                I’m a fan of the people fighting for independence in Egypt. I hope they replace this government with one easier to replace if they decide they don’t like it.Report

              • Heidegger in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Greetings, Comrade Cheeks! All is well, and I’m very impressed with your fluency with Classic Pittsburghese–not and easy language to master. Yes, remember Forbes Field, the GREAT Bobby Clemente, Bob “Gunner” Prince, and Jim “Possum” Woods–best announcer duo in the history of baseball. And of course, yins, chipped ham, lookie, jagoff, “It’s no trip to Kennywood”, blinkers (turn signals), canipshun fits, doohickey, etc….

                Egypt’s toast. Almost in flames, and now, just what we need, another Taliban-type Sharia state. Do Islamic states ever produce anything but corrupt dictators and brutal tyrants? Why, why, why? Hey, if these people want to live in the 7th century, great. From now on, next terrorist attacks should be met with extreme, devastating consequences. No more nation building. We’re not going to waste our blood and treasure on these basket-case states. If they’re foolish enough to pull another one off, them time to dust off the nukes and punish them severely–make sure cameras are there to show the entire world , Mecca, instantly turn into a vaporized glass parking lot. And you’ve got to love Israel. If she’s going down, she’ll take every country in the Mideast down with her–all three hundred million of them. I’m convinced with every passing day, that this does not have a happy or pretty ending. Islamists have absolutely no intention of co-existing with Infidels and non-believers. It’s a Caliphate or nothing. We’re talking 1400 years of non-stop brutality, bloodshed and conquest–time for the restoration of the Crusades! And I’m not talking about these guys.


              • Mike Schilling in reply to Heidegger says:

                If she’s going down, she’ll take every country in the Mideast down with her–all three hundred million of them.

                I pity the kids who have to learn all of their capitals.Report

              • Heidegger in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Heh, heh, heh—Three hundred million Mideast countries, and three hundred million capitals! Goodness, a task only a gifted savant could possible undertake. And I would nominate Daniel Tammet to be the savant to successfully perform such a task. Hey, he learned one of the most difficult languages in the world–Icelandic–in a matter of weeks. Not at all sure such talents would necessarily translate into him being able to memorize 300,000,000 capitals, but it wouldn’t surprise if he could. After all, he was able to he recite from memory Pi to 22,514 decimal places. I start getting stuck in the 21,000 range.Report

              • North in reply to Heidegger says:

                Oh Heidegger, the things you say.Report

              • Heidegger in reply to North says:

                HA! Is it Northie? You atheists are so hard to understand–but very funny, too! Actually North, not sure is you are an atheist. I’m guessing you are. But don’t fret y’all–hope is on the way–a bushel full of Magic Mushrooms! You might even be walking around with a halo around your head after this experience–I think you are a teacher, so I’d strongly recommend wearing a hat till the halo subsides, dies out—some people might get the wrong idea.Report

              • North in reply to Heidegger says:

                Heidegger, while my Father was a teacher I would never consider it having experienced the job second hand. School children are rabid vermin; parents are deludedly insane when they’re not absent and disengaged and administrators are burnt out and indifferent.

                Atheism implies a level of certainty or faith that I do not possess. I’m an agnostic; a skeptical one but agnostic all the same.

                I’m also skeptical that the current fracas has much life threatening potential for me in the mid-west unless the Arabs or the Persians have figured out a way to make prayer explosive. If it turns out that there is a metaphysical hereafter I’m rooting for reincarnation. Most of the monotheisms are pretty definite on a fiery end for me and mine. Reincarnation on the other hand merely suggests a lower state of being. I doubt I’d enjoy a lake of fire but I could make a very thoughtful time of it as a tapir or a sloth.Report

        • Will H. in reply to Jaybird says:

          8 bathrooms.
          I’m trying to wrap my head around that.
          So, if you go to hit the can, and somebody stank the place up by taking a dump last Tuesday, you move on to bathroom #6.
          I’m betting I know which one of those two has the bad gas.Report

  6. greginak says:

    Every absolutist and ideologue runs into some conflict between the real world and their beliefs. Its almost enough to make a person modify their views based on pragmatism and empiricism.Report

  7. GonzoG says:

    The Patron Saint of TeaBaggers and Libertarians got MEDICARE?!?!?!?! Hilarious!!!!!!

    I love the quote:
    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
    ——–John Rogers.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to GonzoG says:

      She’s the patron saint of Objectivists.

      Most Libertarians who have read her call themselves “Libertarians” and not “Objectivists”. Rand hated Libertarians. Libertarians aren’t overly fond of Rand… because if they were overly fond of Rand, they’d be Objectivists.

      As for “teabaggers”, I tend to suspect that they spend their leisure time in pursuits other than reading Ayn Rand. I doubt that most “teabaggers” know who she is. It seems a lot more likely that “teabaggers” are fans of Reagan, Rush, or Beck.

      Not that you’re still here to read this, of course.Report

    • Anconia in reply to GonzoG says:

      You simply don’t get it.
      Ayn Rand was against a government that took, by force, the earnings of one to give to another.

      Taking welfare is NOT the same as advocating it.
      Also, welfare conjures up a notion of something for nothing, while Medicare does not. Medicare is a system that a taxpayer payed into.
      Rand would be a hyprocrite if she advocated a government program that took money from some and gave it to others… she never advocated that.
      she is also not a hypocrite for driving on roads that were paid for using taxpayer funds, nor was she a hypocrite for “seeing” at night on a street lit with taxpayer electricity.

      your logic is flawed (and this is all if this welfare queen allegation is acually true… I have not been able to corroborate it ANYWHERE… it suddenly appeared on Jan 28 in a blog… does that make it so)Report

  8. Bob says:

    Momentarily interested in Ayn, mucking about, I found the quote below. I can’t say who penned it originally, it pops up quite often, but I find it comforting and elemental.

    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”


  9. Jeff H in TX says:

    I doubt that there is any need for books and philosophical essays which reinforce man’s selfishness. I don’t know where you’ve been living for the past few decades but I think it goes without saying that some things simply do not need reinforcement.Report