Atlas Wanked: From Fiction To Fraud In 52 Years

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Sometimes right-wingers' astonishing dearth of self-awareness is a real source of amusement. Take Stephen Moore's encomium to Ayn Rand in the Wall Street Journal:

Some years ago when I worked at the libertarian Cato Institute, we used to label any new hire who had not yet read "Atlas Shrugged" a "virgin." Being conversant in Ayn Rand's classic novel about the economic carnage caused by big government run amok was practically a job requirement. If only "Atlas" were required reading for every member of Congress and political appointee in the Obama administration. I'm confident that we'd get out of the current financial mess a lot faster.

Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that "Atlas Shrugged" parodied in 1957, when this 1,000-page novel was first published and became an instant hit.

At first I had to check to make sure this wasn't a lame attempt at satire or parody. But no. He really is serious about this.

Moore's solution? Eliminate the income tax.

Seriously, that's what a typical Randian thinks would work.

But what's especially amusing is that the economic wreckage we see before us today is in fact the handiwork of the Randian dimwits who've become endemic to conservative economics.

Exhibit A: Longtime Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, who was a Big Randian from back in the day.

Of course, Greenspan now admits this approach may not have worked out so well. Especially the bit about letting the true economic geniuses/captains of industry have their unfettered way. In fact, it all turned out to be a big fat fraud, didn't it?

Greenspan wasn't alone, of course. George W. Bush's entire approach to governance, especially in the economic sector, was fundamentally Randian: Bush never met a tax cut for the wealthy or deregulation scheme he didn't chase like a fox after a chicken. Even the Democrats who succumbed to the "era of profound irresponsibility" did so because they were harkening to the siren song of the right-wing Randians.

Watching Randians at work trying to convince themselves of their essential rightness in the face of the global wreckage pile of evidence to the contrary would be funny were the consequences of their historical muckup not so devastating and so far-reaching for so many of the ordinary schlubs for whom the Randians have at best a guarded contempt. It all reminds me of a bit of wisdom my granddaddy passed along to me: "Watch out for ideologues. Ideas are more important to them than people."

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