Skip to main content

Much has been made of Paul Ryan's previous self-identified subscription to Ayn Rand's ideology during this election cycle. Many have considered it scandalous given that Rand was an unapologetic, even belligerent, atheist and Ryan says he is a strict Catholic.

But what about the rest of Rand's ideology? The aspects Ryan is praising above.

Ayn Rand never had more power and influence than when one of her acolytes became one of Washington's most powerful policymakers - the ascension of Alan Greenspan to Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Greenspan was a true believer, as Ryan once claimed to be. But unlike Ryan his power never required an election.

(From left to right: President Ford, Alan Greenspan, and Ayn Rand at the White House)

In the Randian worldview the individual is not only paramount but anyone discussing the common (collective) good is immoral because man is an end in himself and markets are the great decider of value and merit. So those that gain wealth in a "free market" should keep it all for themselves. Or as is popularly put "taxation is theft."

Therefore lowly workers deserve as little pay as possible, whatever the Great Man is willing to pay. Demanding higher wages or forming collective organizations (read unions) is also immoral. Anything that puts demands on capital is immoral, tyrannical, and socialistic (evil).

So the task for Alan Greenspan was how to make sure the rich (great) men got richer and the poor (moochers) got poorer. And by god he found a way.


Greenspan's greatest achievement was - at least for a short time - solving the most irritating problem a Randian has with regulated capitalism; too much equality. Why are the moochers getting so much or rather why are the moochers getting anything?

Greenspan ensured the moochers got properly screwed as Randian reason dictated by using his position as Federal Reserve chair to throw more non-rich/mooching Americans into debt and poverty while pumping the rich/great men's holdings to the moon.

To put it another way, Greenspan was able to achieve asset inflation while holding down wage inflation. A difficult task only achievable with concerted effort and, as discovered in 2008, not sustainable over time. Woops.

You see the problem with massive inequality is - it's very unstable. Rich people, no matter how great they are, have limited consumption capacity. They can only buy so many cars (elevators not withstanding), eat so many meals, and buy so many toys.

Hence, cutting taxes on higher incomes has little to no stimulative effect for goods and services (GDP). What it actually does is stimulate something else.

Because the rich meet their consumption limits they take their excess capital and buy assets. Stocks, bonds... real estate. And that asset buying combined with other factors (here's where Greenspan comes in) leads to asset inflation aka bubbles. Buying begets buying and the bubble goes higher - until it pops. Something Greenspan believed, due to his philosophical convictions, would not happen.

ALAN GREENSPAN: Well, remember that what an ideology is, is a conceptual framework with the way people deal with reality. Everyone has one. You have to -- to exist, you need an ideology. The question is whether it is accurate or not.

And what I'm saying to you is, yes, I found a flaw. I don't know how significant or permanent it is, but I've been very distressed by that fact.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN: You found a flaw in the reality...

ALAN GREENSPAN: Flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.

Translation: Ayn Rand was wrong.

But lets move past the consequences of inequality for the rich and look at Greenspan's Randian policies for the non-rich/moochers.

Love & Debt

Creating asset inflation as Greenspan did is relatively easy for a Federal Reserve Chairman - keep interest rates ridiculously low. Chairman Bernanke has even gone farther by allowing banks to front run the Fed's treasury bill purchases aka "quantitative easing" transferring billions to Too Big To Fail Banks' balance sheet. Talk about welfare queens!

By keeping interest rates at zero Greenspan showed he really loved those great men Ayn Rand praised in her novels. One of which was based on a serial killer, but whatever.

OK, asset inflation - rich getting richer, check. What about the moochers? How to keep wages down? Lower wages means more profit!

This is where Greenspan innovated, his solution? Debt. The noose of debt would strangle workers, denying them enough blood flow to fight back, weakening them into submission. Debt combined with a volatile economy would lead to "worker insecurity" helping those great men keep the moochers in line.

Greenspan had reported in 1996:

Today, large numbers of people have become so demonstrably insecure about whether their skills will still be relevant in, say, five years that they fear for their jobs.

This insecurity is evidenced by the fact that they have increasingly forgone wage hikes for job security. As a consequence, the past few years have been a period of extraordinary labor peace. In fact, 1995 had the lowest strike record for a half-century. Moreover, labor contracts, which historically almost never extended beyond 36 months, are now sometimes going out five and six years as people try to lock in job security, often willing to forgo significant wage increases in the process.

But about a year later wages started to creep up. From Greenspan's February 26, 1997 report to Congress:
In 1991, at the bottom of the recession, a survey of workers at large firms by International Survey Research Corporation indicated that 25 percent feared being laid off. In 1996, despite the sharply lower unemployment rate and the tighter labor market, the same survey organization found that 46 percent were fearful of a job layoff.

The reluctance of workers to leave their jobs to seek other employment as the labor market tightened has provided further evidence of such concern, as has the tendency toward longer labor union contracts. For many decades, contracts rarely exceeded three years. Today, one can point to five- and six-year contracts--contracts that are commonly characterized by an emphasis on job security and that involve only modest wage increases. The low level of work stoppages of recent years also attests to concern about job security...

If heightened job insecurity is the most significant explanation of the break with the past in recent years, then it is important to recognize that, as I indicated in last February's Humphrey-Hawkins testimony, suppressed wage cost growth as a consequence of job insecurity can be carried only so far...

In light of the developments I've just discussed affecting wages and prices, we thought inflation might well remain damped, and in any case was unlikely to pick up very rapidly, in part because the economic expansion appeared likely to slow to a more sustainable pace. In the event, inflation has remained quiescent since then.

Given the lags with which monetary policy affects the economy, however, we cannot rule out a situation in which a preemptive policy tightening may become appropriate before any sign of actual higher inflation becomes evident...

... consumer debt burdens are near historical highs, while credit card delinquencies and personal bankruptcies have risen sharply over the past year. These circumstances may make both borrowers and lenders a bit more cautious, damping spending. In fact, we may be seeing both wealth and debt effects already at work for different segments of the population, to an approximately offsetting extent.

Translation: Consumer debt is at historic highs which along with globalized competition makes workers very insecure - which is great because it has lead to peace in the labor market. Oh, and if the small wage gains continue I'm going to crack down on them.

Take that moochers!

Return To Rand

Paul Ryan is now trying to distance himself somewhat from Ayn Rand. His convention speech invoked religious rather than Randian themes.

But when it comes to fiscal and monetary policy where will the Romney-Ryan team turn?

One of the Romney-Ryan team's chief economic advisors is Glenn Hubbard. You may remember him from the academy-award winning documentary Inside Job.

According to the Washington Post, Hubbard may be the next Greenspan.

Besides the conflict-of-interest segment of Inside Job, Glenn Hubbard is well known as the architect for the 2003 Bush Tax Cuts, a policy he still defends. And today continues to advocate supply side economics claiming raising taxes won't work in solving the deficit:

Where President Obama is both disingenuous and feckless even is suggesting that raising marginal rates somehow would have much to do with deficit deduction. The math just doesn't work.
Looks like if Romney-Ryan get in the moochers/vast majority of Americans are in for some tough times. Flaws aside.

Originally posted to DSWright on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:07 AM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street and Income Inequality Kos.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Greenspan was probable one of her chain-smoking... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JML9999, PSzymeczek


    In Aldus Shrugged, I not only tear Ayn's "philosophy" a new one, along with ryan (named), mcconnell, romney, most of the gop, and fox news and their on-air personalities; but I also tear Ayn personally a new one.  Her father's problems with the commies, her own foibles and deranged behavior; even Branden, the married man who was allegedly her true spiritual love, gets the Floyd Blue treatment.  It may not be pretty, but it is very funny, and very cutting, and I believe it is a great positive message of an altruistic Capitalism, whose message needs to propagate!!!

    ALL ROYALTIES EARNED on Aldus Shrugged, until October 1, will be donated directly to


    Aldus Shrugged : The Antidote to Ayn Rand. @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:59:19 AM PDT

  •  Greenspan's plan to deal with housing was to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Burn all the foreclosed properties to the ground.

    The 1st Amendment gives you the right to say stupid things, the 1st Amendment doesn't guarantee a paycheck to say stupid things.

    by JML9999 on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 12:28:29 PM PDT

    •  For other readers: That's actually TRUE (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      At a conference in Vancouver, Canada, last summer, a moderator asked apocalyptic analyst Doug Casey what the solution to our economic mess was. "Explosives," he replied. It echoed a theme put forth by former Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon during the Great Depression. "Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate. ... It will purge the rottenness out of the system," Mellon famously said in 1931.

      Casey wasn't alone. In 2008, then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson phoned former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, seeking his input on ways to stabilize the economy. Greenspan "suggested that there was too much housing supply and that the only real way to really fix the problem would be for the government to buy up vacant homes and burn them," according to the book Too Big to Fail.
  •  More of the Glen "L.Ron" Hubbard Math (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Maybe he didn't carry over a minus sign in 2001 which means we'll end up losing 12 Million more jobs if Romney wins

    Romney Economic Advisers Predicted Bush Tax Cuts Would Lead To Huge Job Growth

    Mitt Romney and his economic advisers have spent the week claiming that Romney’s economic plan will create 12 million jobs, as they attempt to change the subject away from a Tax Policy Center report showing that Romney’s tax plan would mean a big tax increase for middle-class families.

    A Center for American Progress Action Fund analysis shows that, far from creating 12 million jobs, Romney’s economic plan would kill 360,000 jobs in 2013 alone. But this discrepancy is perhaps less surprising considering that the same advisers who gave Romney his number — including economists Greg Mankiw and Glenn Hubbard, who both worked for former President George W. Bush — estimated that the Bush tax cuts would lead to massive job growth:


     Back in 2001, as chairman of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, Hubbard predicted that tax cuts slanted disproportionately to Americans in the topmost tier of income and wealth distribution would “quickly deliver a boost to move the economy back toward its long-run growth path,” starting with adding 300,000 more jobs and half a percentage point to the 2002 growth rate.

        Then in early 2003, as President Bush proposed another round of tax cuts, Hubbard predicted these would add another 1.4 million jobs to the U.S. economy, over and above the 3.1 million jobs the economy would create on its own from natural economic growth in that time. Mankiw — who took over for Hubbard as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers later in 2003 — co-signed a letter with Hassett (then-economist at the American Enterprise Institute) to President Bush “enthusiastically” endorsing more tax cuts because “it is fiscally responsible and it will create more employment [and] economic growth.”

        Unfortunately for American workers, these rosy predictions failed to pan out. In fact, total employment in the U.S. economy created only 2.4 million new jobs by the end of 2004, or less than half of what Hubbard predicted. By 2007 the economy was running nearly 8 million jobs short of what Hubbard predicted.

    The 1st Amendment gives you the right to say stupid things, the 1st Amendment doesn't guarantee a paycheck to say stupid things.

    by JML9999 on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 12:34:01 PM PDT

  •  as I recall, Rand (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PSzymeczek, 714day

    spent the last years of her life on welfare.

    Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 01:21:18 PM PDT

    •  As will her loyal peeps when they access (0+ / 0-)

      the Social Security insurance benefits they characterize as part of a "Ponzi scheme, and the (socialist) Medicare payouts that provide for their healthcare (even if they are chain smokers like Rand).
      I've worked for uber-wealthy wingers (unfortunately) who could afford every penny of their healthcare costs by self-pay and a luxurious retirement, to boot; while still delivering a sizable estate to their heirs.
      Not one ever considered refusal of their "entitlements." They are entitled, the rest of us are not, see?

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site