Don't Rain On Their Parade -- Randism and the new radical chic

Don't Rain On Their Parade

by digby

Alex Pareene reports that the aristocrats have decided that they've just about had enough of all this whining from the lower order:

At the Atlantic Magazine's "Aspen Ideas Festival," the idle rich go to a ski resort town and pay the Atlantic Media Co. a great deal of money to listen to rich people with intellectual credentials of some kind talk at each other for a while. It may surprise you to learn that these wealthy elites think the biggest problem facing America today is that the wealthy elite have to pay taxes, while the poor and unemployed sit around collecting "Social Security" and "food stamps" and "unemployment benefits."

Real estate tycoon Mort Zuckerman -- an intellectual nonentity who buys newspapers and magazines for the express purpose of pretending at being a Serious Public Thinker -- and historian Niall Ferguson -- a neo-imperialist who excuses or whitewashes atrocities done by empires in the name of market liberalization and who parlayed his scholarly expertise into a gig as an idiotic right-wing (occasionally blatantly racist) columnist -- apparently successfully convinced Barbra Streisand and James Brolin that our current economic woes have been caused by Obama's hatred of business and that the only solution is to "remove the incentives for idleness."

Oh Barbra.

Appropriately, the gossip columnist Lloyd Grove is covering the conclave and reported what they were all so excited about:

[Niall] Ferguson called for what he called “radical” measures. “I can’t emphasize strongly enough the need for radical fiscal reform to restore the incentives for work and remove the incentives for idleness.” He praised “really radical reform of the sort that, for example, Paul Ryan [the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee] has outlined in his wonderful ‘Roadmap’ for radical, root-and-branch reform not only of the tax system but of the entitlement system” and “unleash entrepreneurial innovation.” Otherwise, Ferguson warned: “Do you want to be a kind of implicit part of the European Union? I’d advise you against it.”

Seriously, he's quoting Paul Ryan, the infantile, crackpot Randian to a bunch of wealthy socialites, Hollywood liberals and self-interested tycoons. And these people actually seem to be gaining traction:

Rand developed the objectivist philosophy, which values the self, capitalism and laissez-faire economics. Ryan, the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, reportedly requires staffers and interns to read her opus, Atlas Shrugged, and gives out copies as gifts.

In his keynote address to CPAC last year, Ryan said Obama's policies sound "like something right out of an Ayn Rand novel."

Fearing political suicide, Republican leaders have tried to distance themselves from Ryan's "roadmap" budget proposal, which calls for privatizing Social Security. But Ryan is upfront about it.

At a 2005 celebration of what would have been Rand's 100th birthday, Ryan called for reforming the "collectivist system" of Social Security by changing it to individual savings accounts.

"If we actually accomplish this goal of personalizing Social Security, 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," Ryan said at the 2005 event, according to a profile written last year in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

In interviews, he has said Republicans should frame the choice between "collectivism" and capitalism as a moral choice.

"We have an opportunity to make a choice clearly once and for all in the next two elections, and we owe it to the American people to give them a clear choice: Do you want a collectivist welfare state or do you want to get back to being a free market? We need to make a moral, not just practical or statistical, case," he told Reason, a libertarian magazine, in December.

In last year's CPAC address, he claimed the White House had blamed the free market for the financial crisis, then used the crisis as an "excuse to impose a more intrusive state."

And despite GOP attempts to frame these entitlement reforms as something other than privatization, Ryan has been clear on the point.

"Rather than depending on government for your retirement and health security, I propose to empower people to become much more self-dependent for such things in life," he said in a speech to the Hudson Institute last June.

It looks like Randism may be the latest incarnation of radical chic. It figures.