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Friday, August 24, 2012

Paul Krugman: Galt, Gold and God

Paul Ryan appears to have mooched his economic ideas from Ayn Rand:

Galt, Gold and God, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: ...Paul Ryan, the presumptive Republican nominee for vice president,... is a man of many ideas, which would ordinarily be a good thing.
In his case, however, most of those ideas appear to come from works of fiction, specifically Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged.” ... True, in recent years, he has tried to downplay his Randism, calling it an “urban legend.” It’s not hard to see why: Rand’s fervent atheism — not to mention her declaration that “abortion is a moral right” — isn’t what the GOP base wants to hear.
But Mr. Ryan is being disingenuous. In 2005, he told the Atlas Society ... that she inspired his political career: “If I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.” He also declared that Rand’s work was required reading for his staff and interns.
And the Ryan fiscal program clearly reflects Randian notions..., he is deadly serious about cutting taxes on the rich and slashing aid to the poor, very much in line with Rand’s worship of the successful and contempt for “moochers.” ... He’s... quite explicitly trying to make life harder for the poor — for their own good. In March, explaining his cuts..., he declared, “We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people into lives of dependency and complacency...”
Somehow, I doubt that Americans forced to rely on unemployment benefits and food stamps in a depressed economy feel that they’re living in a comfortable hammock.
But wait, there’s more: “Atlas Shrugged” apparently shaped Mr. Ryan’s views on monetary policy,... he declared that he always goes back to “Francisco d’Anconia’s speech on money” when thinking about monetary policy. Who? Never mind. That speech ... is a case of hard-money obsession gone ballistic. Not only does the character in question, a Galt sidekick, call for a return to the gold standard, he denounces the notion of paper money and demands a return to gold coins. ...
Does any of this matter? Well, if the Republican ticket wins, Mr. Ryan will surely be an influential force in the next administration — and... he would, as the cliché goes, be a heartbeat away from the presidency. So it should worry us that Mr. Ryan holds monetary views that would, if put into practice, go a long way toward recreating the Great Depression.
And, beyond that, consider the fact that Mr. Ryan is considered the modern GOP’s big thinker. What does it say about the party when its intellectual leader evidently gets his ideas largely from deeply unrealistic fantasy novels?

    Posted by on Friday, August 24, 2012 at 12:33 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (112)


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