I was reading my twitter stream today, and @triggur linked to an interesting article - Ayn Rand Received Social Security, Medicare. I thought I might make a few comments on it.
The article states that Ayn was persuaded into taking Medicare and social security for two reasons:
- She’d paid in and was entitled to get the money.
- Her medical bills were too high to pay off using the profits of her books.
The first reason is fair enough. But I also have to take into account that she claimed under a pseudonym, indicating that she had no good argument for going counter to her published philosophy.
The second part is a marvellous underlining of her entire philosophy – It’s all very well to write fiction about Captains of Industry who are hard working, ruthless people who having sucked down the benefits of civilization and society, immediately declare that they are absolutely independent of it (Apart form the money and goods and workforce and other infrastructure) – But if you think about it, then the entire scheme is a pyramid.
You have one person at the apex frantically beating away everyone below themselves to prevent them from taking the top spot, and so on down to a huge workforce who have to be kept at the bottom, paid the least amount for the most work, lest the entire edifice of short sighted greed tipple over.
And where into this screaming nightmare of clawing and biting do we find our author?
Actually, she’s not in it.
Ayn Rand was born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum. She wanted to be a screen-writer, a job she had almost no real success with, and so turned to writing, cranking out books which we now would refer to as Mary Sue writing – Basing her novels on her life and having a damn good whine about the Communists taking away her father’s work.
Which is fair enough until you change your viewpoint and realise that Ayn was complaining about the money an lifestyle she’d lost which wasn’t her money, it was her father’s money. The lifestyle she enjoyed was provided by someone else – She had effectively contributed nothing to it. A point she carefully ignored for her entire life.
In fact, her book profits were in the end not enough to live on and she ended up having to take government aid for her self inflicted lung cancer – she smoked two packs a day.
If she’d had the conviction of her stated beliefs, she’d have simply allowed herself to die when she couldn’t afford treatment, but she decided mirablis visu that this welfare thing was just dandy when she needed it.
This is a point that should be recalled and brought up any time the discussion of Universal Healthcare is brought to table, especially when it’s argued against on the grounds of being against Randian philosophy.