In A Nutshell
Ayn Rand was the founder of Objectivism, a far-right libertarian who ruthlessly attacked the State and believed no one should ever go begging the government for money . . . until she got sick, at which point she became the biggest welfare queen around.
The Whole Bushel
We’ve all heard of Ayn Rand. She’s the most divisive figure in politics, loathed by people on the left or in the center and venerated by the far right. Over the course of her life, she spun individualism and anti-government feeling into a popular philosophy known as Objectivism—the central tenets of which include strong self-reliance, the right of the rich to ride roughshod over everyone, and a hatred of those who take government money. You can probably see where this is going.
In 1982, Rand died of cancer brought on by her excessive smoking habit. Although not exactly popular in her lifetime, she became a massive figure in the ’80s and ’90s among the very rich and a certain brand of libertarian. One of the things she was most admired for was the way she stuck to her principles throughout her life . . . or so it seemed. In 2011, it was revealed that Rand had spent the last eight years of her life receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits. At the time of her death, her estate was valued at $500,000 (around $1.2 million in today’s money), suggesting her decision was motivated less by rationality than by the sort of parasitic greed she’d always claimed to despise.
What’s most interesting about all this is how Rand and her followers conspired to keep this fact a secret, even as they preached total self-reliance. Other famous libertarians, like Isabel Paterson, stuck by their guns to the bitter end, dying in poverty rather than take Social Security. But not Rand. When the time came, she betrayed everything she stood for and kept this betrayal quiet for nearly a decade. Perhaps politicians who invoke her name to bash “welfare queens” should do their best to remember this next time.
Show Me The Proof
Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them
How Ayn Rand became the new right’s version of Marx
If Ayn Needed Medicare, How Can We Do Without?