The Hypocrisy Of Ayn Rand

I never got around to reading Atlas Shrugged…and I don’t think I ever will, but I have read Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. It was required reading back in my architecture school days. The lead character in Rand’s novel is Howard Roark, a young independent-minded architect who refuses to compromise in his work and designs his buildings in his unique style of modern architecture. He blows up one of his buildings rather than see it altered in any way.  It is classic Rand in her depiction of individualism over collectivism.

Well here’s bit of interesting info which has been floating around for a few days now.  It involves Ayn Rand and her actions after discovering she had lung cancer.

An interview with Evva Pryror, a social worker and consultant to Miss Rand’s law firm of Ernst, Cane, Gitlin and Winick verified that on Miss Rand’s behalf she secured Rand’s Social Security and Medicare payments which Ayn received under the name of Ann O’Connor (husband Frank O’Connor).

As Pryor said, “Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out” without the aid of these two government programs. Ayn took the bail out even though Ayn “despised government interference and felt that people should and could live independently… She didn’t feel that an individual should take help.”

But alas she did and said it was wrong for everyone else to do so. Apart from the strong implication that those who take the help are morally weak, it is also a philosophic point that such help dulls the will to work, to save and government assistance is said to dull the entrepreneurial spirit.

In the end, Miss Rand was a hypocrite but she could never be faulted for failing to act in her own self-interest.

So Ayn Rand was a welfare mooch…well, kind of.  The point here is that Rand was vocal in her opposition of government programs like Social Security and Medicare.  Yet when the time came when she could benefit from these same programs, she did so…in secrecy.

In the end, the queen of individual rights and limited government and staunch opponent of the welfare state, turned out to be nothing more than your common, everyday hypocrite.

“There can be no compromise on basic principles. There can be no compromise on moral issues. There can be no compromise on matters of knowledge, of truth, of rational conviction­.” ~Ayn Rand

…unless your name is Ayn Rand…err, Ann O’Connor.


14 thoughts on “The Hypocrisy Of Ayn Rand

  1. Someone once gave me a copy of “Atlas Shrugged” for a birthday present when I was a young man. They also knew I liked science fiction. One of my best decisions in my life was when I threw that book into the trash without finishing it. I had more interesting stuff to read and more productive ways to spend my time. I remember thinking “who does she think she’s kidding with this stuff?”.

  2. I would have to say, and I’m quoting, “let s/he who is without sin, cast the first stone”. We are all hypocrites at some time in our lives. It does not make a great achievement any less so.

    “The Fountainhead” was perhaps the most moving book I’ve ever read. Conversely, I had to give up on “Atlas Shrugged” after about 800 pages !

    Ayn rand will remain one of my hero’s despite any hypocrisy she may have committed.

    There’s a lot to be said for …..forgiveness !

  3. It puts one in mind of today’s congress with the best health insurance plan money can buy and the uber-rich with their subsidized oil and farm bills and corporations with tax breaks that preclude their paying taxes while they find it so easy to tell the poor and working class to stand on their own and stop expecting help from government. Ayn Rand is the darling of the conservatives in this country, you know.

  4. @ steven kennedy, we’re supposed to forgive the UN-forgiving? Even open discussion of the subject is wrong?

    You sound like all of the Rush Limbaugh apologists, for years and years of Rush ‘screamed from the mountaintops’ that ANYONE abusing drugs should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, EXCEPT of course if it happened to be HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. He blows up one of his buildings rather than see it altered in any way.

    seeing a lot of evidence of the Right Wing and tea party’s love of Rand in that respect these days, in regard to the nation itself.

  6. Why am I not surprised? Oh let me count the ways, Joe “the Plumber” – a welfare queen, too,. Joe Miller’s “unconstitutional federal aid” unemployment insurance for his wife, and every single Senator and Representative who rails against government health care while signing up on the dotted line to get their own taxpayer subsidized plan – if they’re not running off to Walter Reed or Bethesda Naval Hospital like Cheney did – who never served a day in his life in the military.

    And then, of course, you could add all the gay bashers who ended up coming out of their own closet.

    And yet, sadly, their followers like Kennedy give them a pass and make excuses for them. Would they give that same courtesy to those they see on the streets in need – but no, they just tell them to move on to another neighborhood because “you won’t get a handout here”

    Too bad their followers don’t have the same compassion for those who really need it while they defend those who claim no one (but themselves apparently) deserves help.

  7. Self-interest is the name of the game for everybody. Pretty much everyone of ANY persuasion will violate a their own principles when it comes to a life-or-death situation. This may make them hypocritical, sure–it also makes them just plain human.

    That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold her accountable for her hypocrisy. But does Rand’s hypocrisy automatically invalidate her philosophy? Different people will have different answers–depending on whether or not their looking for a reason…

  8. Of course she did, Eddie – self-preservation is a strong motivator. People do things they would not ordinarily do because they feel it necessary to do so to live,

    I don’t begrudge Ayn Rand that, She is, as you pointed out, human,

    But, not having the courage of her convictions to perhaps die or end up in financial ruin, she chose to hide under her married name in order to receive those government services she railed about, rather than come clean about the fact that she needed them.

    And, that, is what makes her a hypocrite. It has nothing to do with my looking for a reason to call her a hypocrite. It just simply is what it is.

  9. And how much did she pay in SS/Medicare taxes over her lifetime? How dare the hypocrite beg for some of the money taken from her. This is precisely what she railed against. Taxes once taken are then alms to be distributed or not according to the whims of the government. Is it necessary to pay into SS/Medicare then never draw from it in order to legitimately oppose it?

    Turn this type of argument around to viewpoints you support. If you ever drive a car or take a flight then your a hypocrite if you believe in climate change.

  10. I think one could make the argument that she spent her life paying into those systems through taxes, and therefore was justified in receiving those benefits once she retired.

  11. Paul Ryan LOVES Ayn Rand. This is the way all the repubs think. The majority of the tea-baggers are on medicaid and medicare and there are many in congress that take farm subsidies.
    They are cheering the results of the Florida Judge that came out against the Health Care Reform Act.
    They are cheering for the death of thousands.
    I am baffeled.

  12. The difference is that none of us, as far as I know, are the spokespersons for a cult of bootstrap conservatism. Sure she was eligible for the money and had every right to take it, but to do it in secret behind the backs of her many followers makes her a hypocrite, a false prophet so to speak.

  13. John – To answer your question – not much:


    Part A became the premium-free hospitalization coverage and part B became the optional premium-required outpatient coverage. In 1972 Medicare was made available to disabled persons of all ages.

    The first Part B premium, in 1965, was $3 per month. It was intended to finance 50 percent of the program’s cost. The remaining 50 percent was to be covered by general revenues. In 1972 federal legislation limited annual premium increases. Monthly premiums increased roughly 50 cents each year until the early 1980s. By that time premium contribution–$12.20 a month in 1983–accounted for less than 25 percent of the cost. Since that time,

    So for 17 years (Medicare became effective in 1965) she paid $0 for Part A and $3.00 for Part B for 7 years ($252.00) when her premium began increasing by 50 cents per month or $6 per year.

    So it looks to me like she got a great deal from the government that she railed against for so long. And considering she left an estate that was used to create the Ayn Rand Institute – she clearly wasn’t a pauper at the time of her death.

    Yeah, them bad old government programs that make people dependent upon the state. Boooooo!!!!

    She’s a hypocrite – plain and simple.

  14. I have to say that I read The Fountainhead and was really displeased. I also read the first 100 pages or so of Atlas Shrugged literally forcing myself to plod through it because I wanted to understand the mindset of such a self-centered, narcissistic ideology.

    After much effort, I finally took the damn thing back to the library. My mind just couldn’t absorb such simple minded drivel. If I was a hateful, selfish, greedy individual, I might just start a cult to justify it myself. But alas, I’m a human that wishes to progress our species, not annihilate it to promote my own advancement.

    It actually read and reminded me of the Dick and Jane books of the time. Such over-dramatic behavior and bloviating speech making…sort of like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Rielly, and that women we aren’t supposed to mention this month! Hey!

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