"It is impossible to summarize these statements without sounding like a breathless conspiracy theorist. Here’s what Ryan says... Read the transcript. Don’t trust my transcript, listen to the audio on the Atlas Society site." -- Vincent Miller, America, the blog of the National Catholic Weekly, September 19, 2012Yesterday, America, the blog of the National Catholic Weekly, exposed the "secret" transcript, from a 2005 speech that was widely publicized this year after Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as a running mate. But, it seems, almost no one in the media bothered to listen to Ryan's full speech, or to the question and answer session that followed.
In his speech, given February 2, 2005, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Ayn Rand's birthday, Paul Ryan declared his fealty to the ideas and principles of Ayn Rand and told his audience that Rand was the reason Ryan went into politics. Media covered that.
But media missed Ryan's explicit description of how he was implementing his Randian principles in Congress, through his 2005 efforts to pass legislation privatizing Social Security and Medicare.
And media missed this too: during his speech, Paul Ryan and Atlas Society Director of Advocacy Ed Hudgins can be heard laughing together about Ryan's plan to "personalize" social security. They laugh at the word, "personalize", as if it's a joke, and in effect it is; because later on, Hudgins got to the heart of the issue: destroying (privatizing) Social Security, just as was done in Chile, after the violent CIA-led 1973 coup.
During a question and answer session following the Ryan speech, Hudgins gave a tribute to post-Chilean coup libertarian guru José Piñera, who privatized Chile's pension system under the vicious dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet [Paul Ryan chimed in with enthusiastic assent during Hudgins' tribute to Piñera.] During Pinochet's regime of terror thousands of Chileans were killed and tens of thousands, including women and children, were brutally tortured.
Ryan's 2005 efforts to privatize Social Security supported a privatization push from the George W. Bush Administration. A 2005 March/April issue Mother Jones story from Barbara T. Dreyfuss, described the genesis of the Bush Administration push,
"José Piñera, once the labor minister for Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet, told another passenger—a close friend of Bush's—how he had taken Chile's equivalent of Social Security private. Two months later, Piñera got an invitation to the Texas governor's mansion, where he dined with Bush and Ed Crane, founder and president of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington, D.C. Afterward, says Crane, they retired to the library for further discussion about privatization."At 15:05 into the session, Atlas Society Director of Advocacy Ed Hudgins took over the Q&A from Paul Ryan, to interject,
"By the way, I just want to add real quickly, and I know the Congressman has I’m sure said this. [General Augusto Pinochet’s Secretary of Labor and Social Security] José Piñera, who helped privatize Social Security in Chile, who also was by the way an Ayn Rand fan--José points out the moral revolution that occurs with privatization, that is, people in Chile, you know, who thought of themselves as Marxist suddenly feel that they are owners of property [Ryan “Yeah”] and, you know, they literally get up and they start reading the Chilean equivalent of the Wall Street Journal [Ryan interjects, “That’s right”]."Hudgins failed to note that the alleged "moral revolution" he referred to was accompanied by some of the most horrific "faith-based" government atrocities (Gen. Augusto Pinochet described himself as guided by "the spiritual force of God as a believer") to be documented in Latin America during the 20th Century.
As described in Barbara Dreyfuss' Mother Jones story, Piñera's privatization "miracle" -- trumpeted so loudly for years from the libertarian right it's hard to get past the pages and pages of pro-privatization search results you'll get in a Google search on the subject, to find any critical assessment of the effort -- the Piñera privatization plan was paid for by selling off whole chunks of Chile's public sector and with heavy subsequent government subsidies.
By 2006, as described in a New York Times story, Chile's privatized pension scheme was in such big trouble that Piñera's own brother was calling for government intervention to save the troubled system.
In essence, Paul Ryan was, back in 2005, trying to sell Americans on a failed privatization scheme that was initiated under a bloodthirsty anti-democratic Latin American dictatorship. And, he still is.
So without further ado, here is the "secret" transcript. You can listen to the full audio of the February 2, 2005 Atlas Society event here (scroll to the bottom of the page).
[Also there's about a five-minute gap in this transcript, from the Q&A, with some important statements from Ryan. If anyone has time to transcribe those bits, and post in the comments, it would be a big help. - Thanks, BruceW]
" (:00) Introduction by Ed Hudgins, director of advocacy for The Atlas Society
Ed Hudgins: Congressman Ryan was born in the community of Janesville, Wisconsin. He is a fourth– fifth generation native of Wisconsin. And he is currently serving his fourth term as a member of the U.S. Congress. He is best known, I’m happy to say, as one of the leaders in the fight to reform Social Security by allowing for the expanded use of individual retirement accounts.
Now I don't know whether you use the privatization word. We here have no problem with that [laughter], but, you know, sometimes you have to do a bit of a soft sell up there because many members of congress are not quite as far thinking as Congressman Ryan.
I actually met Congressman Ryan when he was a staffer, I believe it was Senator Bob Kasten, back some years ago, Senator Kasten’s a former senator from Wisconsin. He was also a speechwriter for vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp and has done many other things, but he’s here today to tell us a few things about, a few thoughts on, Ayn Rand, and so without further ado, Congressman Ryan - by the way, also, thank you for helping us secure this beautiful room, you can see that we have filled it with people who want to celebrate the life of Ayn Rand, and hear some brief remarks from you, so without further ado [Ryan - thank you Ed, I appreciate it].
Paul Ryan: Good morning everybody, nice to have you here. Uh, this looks just like my living room at home, actually [laughter], you know - this is beautiful, isn’t it [my constituents here know otherwise].
(1:45) I just want to speak to you a little bit about Ayn Rand and what she meant to me in my life and [in] the fight we’re engaged here in Congress. I grew up on Ayn Rand, that’s what I tell people. I uh -you know, everybody does their soul-searching, and trying to find out who they are and what they believe, and you learn about yourself.
I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are. It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff. We start with Atlas Shrugged. People tell me I need to start with The Fountainhead then go to Atlas Shrugged [laughter]. There’s a big debate about that. We go to Fountainhead, but then we move on, and we require Mises and Hayek as well.
But 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 vs. collectivism.
And so when you take a look at where we are today, ah, 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 twentieth-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.
It’s so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand’s vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are. I always go back to, you know, Francisco d’Anconia’s speech (at Bill Taggart’s wedding) on money when I think about monetary policy. And then I go to the 64-page John Galt speech, you know, on the radio at the end, and go back to a lot of other things that she did, to try and make sure that I can check my premises so that I know that what I’m believing and doing and advancing are square with the key principles of individualism.
(3:53) But when you look at the fight that we’re in here in Capital Hill, it’s a tough fight. It’s a very important fight. But we need more people on our side to fight this fight. That is why there is no more fight that is more obvious between the differences of these two conflicts than Social Security.
Social Security right now is a collectivist system, it’s a welfare transfer system.
It’s a system where, and I always tell my constituents, and none of them usually believe me, you don’t have an account with your name on it in the Federal Government. There isn’t a box with your cash in it that’s going to come to you when you retire. A lot of people think that.
And what’s important is if we actually accomplish this goal of personalizing social security [Ryan laughs. Ed Hudgins overheard interjecting, “personalizing” and laughs along with Ryan, who repeats] personalizing social security [laughter, applause] think of what we will accomplish.
Every worker, every laborer in America will not only be a laborer but a capitalist. They will be an owner of society, they will be an owner and a participant of our free enterprise system, of our capitalist system.
I would like to have more people on our team who are owners and believers in the individualist capitalist system than on the other side, and if every worker in this country becomes an owner of real wealth, of seeing the fruits of their labor come and materialize for their benefit, then that’s that many more people in America who are not going to listen to likes of Dick Gephardt and Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, the collectivist, class warfare-breathing demagogues.
And so what we have coming now in the beginning of this century is a fight. If you take a look at if we ran government on autopilot—and CBO just came out with a really good report on this—and do nothing, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will grow so fast and consume so much that the government will consume twenty-six percent of our national economy, twenty-six percent of our GDP. Historically speak government in this country runs at about eighteen percent of GDP. We will consume twenty-six percent of GDP if we do nothing.
So you have to understand that all they have to do is stop us from succeeding. Autopilot will get them where they want to go. Autopilot will bring more government, more collectivism, more centralized government. If we do not succeed in switching these programs, in reforming these programs from what some people call a defined benefit system, to a defined contribution system– from switching these programs—and this is where I’m talking about health care, as well—from a third party or socialist based system to an individually owned, individually pre-funded, individually directed system.
We can do this. We are on offense on a lot of these ideas. I was the principle author of the Health Savings Account law, which was an amendment I brought to the floor and passed in the Medicare bill in the last session of congress. Health Savings Accounts, personal accounts for Social Securities, these are the things that put us on offense, that get the– the individual back in the game and break the back of this collectivist philosophy that really pervades, you know, ninety percent of the thinking around here in this town.
Is this an easy fight? Absolutely not, it’s an easy fight.But if we’re going to actually win this we need to make sure that we’re solid on premises, that our principles are well-defended, and if we want to go and articulately defend these principles and what they mean to our society, what they mean for the trends that we set internationally, we have to go back to Ayn Rand. Because there is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works.
And so that’s what it meant to me and that’s what sort of fuels me as I try and move and stumble in these areas to try and win these fights.
(7:32)I think if we win a few of these right now - moving healthcare to a consumer-based, individualist system, moving social security to an individually pre-owned, pre-funded retirement system--just those two things right there will do so much to change the dynamics in this society, will do so much to bring more people onto the side of demanding for accountability and individualism and transparency in government than anything else we can do.
So we’re trying to focus on the big ticket items to win these things. And the other side knows the stakes are just as high. I wish our side knew the stakes were as high. That’s the fear I have now, which is - our side doesn’t understand these great consequences.
The other side, who are going to do everything they can to defeat and demagogue these efforts - they understand what’s at stake. They understand what is happening here. We need to do a better job of not only understanding it but of articulating it and winning. This is a good chance to win these things, and I just want to say, thank you Ed [Hudgins] for doing this, and thanks for coming. I’d be happy to answer any questions. Thanks for having me [applause].
Ed Hudgins: I’m going to ask the first question, then we’ll go back to you [person in audience who wants to ask a question], I just have a very quick one. What - are there particular Randian arguments that you find really have resonance on Capital Hill, that when you pull them out people go “Oh!” or things like “the sanction of the victim” or particular things that you find effective? Because we’re always trying to discover, what’s the most effective ammunition we have in our quiver - in other words, we know that certain arguments work on certain people, other might work on other people, so we’re always looking for, “where are our strengths that we can go ahead and build on when we make arguments.”
Paul Ryan: I think the victimization argument - I think that the fact that collectivists speak down to people, as victims - and it is not only an arrogant thing to do but it produces poor results. So, backing up this victimization class that collectivists try to produce and showing the folks you’re trying to convince that this is not only in their best interest - its in their worst interest - that it’s not dignifying and it’s arrogant, that seems to work.
We’re trying to recruit a lot of minority legislators to work with us on personal accounts because it’s, of all things, in their best interest. Right now, we’re trying to fight party bosses, on the Democrats, who are really insisting on, you know, everybody toeing the line. And so that’s the biggest fight.
As far as individualism, it’s just the results - I mean, just look at the data, look at the numbers. Look at what we produce. The more liberal your economy is, the more free our economy is, the better we grow and the more we prosper. So we have to use results and we have to use data and evidence - which is clearly on our side to do this, and undergirded by these principles. And so that’s what I do, but I always try to show how victimhood has gotten them nothing.And how freeing people, it produces great results.
(15:05) By the way, I just want to add real quickly, and I know the Congressman has I’m sure said this. [General Augusto Pinochet’s Secretary of Labor and Social Security] José Piñera, who helped privatize Social Security in Chile, who also was by the way an Ayn Rand fan--José points out the moral revolution that occurs with privatization, that is, people in Chile, you know, who thought of themselves as Marxist suddenly feel that they are owners of property [Ryan “Yeah”] and, you know, they literally get up and they start reading the Chilean equivalent of the Wall Street Journal [Ryan interjects, “That’s right”].
I saw this in my own father, who was a teamster, a truck driver, and close to his retirement he started putting money into individual retirement accounts. And so whenever I’d go over and visit him, he’d basically be saying, “Ed, look how my stocks are doing” [Ryan overheard laughing, “That’s great”]. I’d say, “Dad I can’t believe it, you sound like more of a capitalist than I do.” It creates a moral revolution of people who actually own property. And Congressman Ryan knows that. And I think that’s one of the importance of this kind of movement is that we really change not only the economic dynamics but the moral dynamics."