I never pictured John Galt wearing a baseball cap, did you?
Far-right ideologue, Ayn Rand wrote of moral absolutism: “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.” Yup, but wouldn’t you know it, Rand, who spent her life deploring the New Deal, Social Security, the Great Society and every other form of government aid to the poor and elderly ended up taking *GASP* government “handouts” herself in the form of Social Security and almost certainly Medicare, too.
The Right should be commended politically for their ability to develop and stick to a unified message. But close inspection of this unified message reveals a disappointing secret identified by a student of the Godfather of Neo-conservatism,—- the University of Chicago’s Leo Strauss. The student, Anne Norton (Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire) identified what she called “VIP-DIP” meaning Venerated in Public, Disdained in Private. “Do as I say, not as I do.” The list of vip-dipers on the Right runs from Harold Bloom to Newt Gingrich, but certainly not Ayn Rand. Right?
Say it ain’t so Alisa Zinovievna Rosenbaum.
A heavy smoker who refused to believe that smoking causes cancer brings to mind those today who are equally certain there is no such thing as global warming. Unfortunately, Miss Rand was a fatal victim of lung cancer.
However, it was revealed in the recent 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand by Scott McConnell (founder of the media department at the Ayn Rand Institute) that in the end Ayn was a vip-dipper as well. 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.”
Although FOI requests have confirmed that Rand got Social Security payments under her married name from December 1974 until her death in 1982, one researcher’s recent FOI request for her Medicare records turned up nothing. Even if true believer Randroids would fail to take Evva Pryror at her word, certain things might be assumed, like an elderly author, even a successful one, being wiped out financially by a catastrophic illness. Lung cancer treatment isn’t cheap—it’s the kind of thing that could put someone out in the street—but Rand, a notoriously heavy cigarette smoker, must’ve been grateful for the virtues of altruism (and the benevolence of her fellow American taxpayers) when presumably no bill came for her cancer treatment in the mid-70s
Does this make Rand no better than the “looters” and “moochers” of the welfare state she decried for her entire career? Not necessarily, but it would make her a hypocrite.