"An Extreme Choice" -- What Two of Wisconsin's Leading Progressive Journalists Think About Mitt Romney's Pick of Paul Ryan
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But he’s always been this kind of policy wonk. He considers himself a genius in economics, but he’s kind of the one-eyed man in the kingdom, because his theory of economics is really absurd. I mean, he blames FDR and FDR’s policies for making the Great Depression worse. Similarly, he blames Obama for making the economy worse in the first two years. I think any economist of any stature would say that FDR certainly helped get us out of the Great Depression by reducing unemployment from 25 percent to 10 percent and that Obama, though his economic revival in the stimulus package wasn’t nearly as big as it should have been, but certainly it created anywhere between one to two-and-a-half million jobs. Even John McCain’s old economist said that. And so, you know, Ryan gets a lot of mileage for understanding, so-called, the budget and economics, but if you look closely, he doesn’t really get it.
AMY GOODMAN: Paul Ryan was heavily influenced by the controversial philosopher, writer, Ayn Rand, known for rejecting collectivism in favor of laissez-faire capitalism, which she believed was the only social system that protected individual rights. As a congressman, Paul Ryan not only tried to get all the interns to read her writing, he also gave copies of her novel Atlas Shrugged to his staff as Christmas presents. I want to turn to a clip of Congressmember Ryan speaking about Rand’s influence on him.
REP. PAUL RYAN: The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here—make no mistake about it—is a fight of individualism versus collectivism. In almost every fight we are involved in here on Capitol Hill, whether it’s an amendment vote that I’ll take later on this afternoon or a big piece of policy we’re putting through our Ways and Means Committee, it is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict: individualism versus collectivism. And so, when you take a look at where we are today, some would say we’re on offense, some would say we’re on defense. I’d say it’s a little bit of both. And when you look at the 20th century experiment with collectivism that Ayn Rand, more than anybody else, did such a good job of articulating the pitfalls of statism and collectivism, you can’t find another thinker or writer who did a better job of describing and laying out the moral case for capitalism than Ayn Rand.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember, now vice-presidential nominee on the Republican ticket, Paul Ryan. John Nichols, talk about the significance, for people who’ve never heard of Ayn Rand, why what he is saying matters.
JOHN NICHOLS: Well, first off, he knows how to pronounce her name. And most people mispronounce it "Ann Rand," A-Y-N. It is in fact Ayn. And Paul Ryan is a deep, deep scholar of and reader of Ayn Rand. She is a—she was a Russian immigrant—family, supposedly dispossessed by the Russian revolution, came to the United States—and throughout her writing career was a militant opponent of what she called collectivism, but really what she meant was government, and beyond that, a critic even of helping your neighbor. She said that selfishness must be the central organizing precept of your life and that the most important thing was to take care of yourself, don’t worry about others.
Now, Paul Ryan started reading Ayn Rand as a very young man, has read all of her books. He has appeared at Ayn Rand celebrations and events. He cut a video in which he said that in these times—this was a video cut about two years ago—one of the most important things people can do is to read Ayn Rand. It’s—he said it was one of the best ways to respond to Obama’s election. So he’s been deeply into this writer.