Ayn Rand, parasite

Remember that scene from the first episode of the Sopranos, when Anthony Jr. is told his grandmother can’t make his birthday party? “So what, no f***ing ziti now?” I keep picturing Andrea Mitchell stamping her Pradas and saying, “So what, no austerity now?”

Since Mrs. “You People Need To Embrace Austerity!” Greenspan is so upset that we’re not yet officially throwing people into the streets, maybe this news about hubby’s hero Ayn Rand will help them put things into perspective? Not to mention Rand Paul and Paul Ryan:

Critics of Social Security and Medicare frequently invoke the words and ideals of author and philosopher Ayn Rand, one of the fiercest critics of federal insurance programs. But a little-known fact is that Ayn Rand herself collected Social Security. She may also have received Medicare benefits.

An interview recently surfaced that was conducted in 1998 by the Ayn Rand Institute with a social worker who says she helped Rand and her husband, Frank O’Connor, sign up for Social Security and Medicare in 1974.

Federal records obtained through a Freedom of Information act request confirm the Social Security benefits. A similar FOI request was unable to either prove or disprove the Medicare claim.

Between December 1974 and her death in March 1982, Rand collected a total of $11,002 in monthly Social Security payments. O’Connor received $2,943 between December 1974 and his death in November 1979.

The couple registered for benefits shortly after Rand, a two-pack-a-day smoker, had surgery for lung cancer in the summer of 1974. Medicare had been enacted nine years earlier in the Social Security Act of 1965 to provide health insurance to those age 65 and older.

Rand herself called altruism a “basic evil” and referred to those who perpetuate the system of taxation and redistribution as “looters” and “moochers.” She wrote in her book “The Virtue of Selfishness” that accepting any government controls is “delivering oneself into gradual enslavement.” In a 1972 edition of her newsletter, she said:

Morally and economically, the welfare state creates an ever accelerating downward pull. Morally, the chance to satisfy demands by force spreads the demands wider and wider, with less and less pretense at justification. Economically, the forced demands of one group create hardships for all others, thus producing an inextricable mixture of actual victims and plain parasites. Since need, not achievement, is held as the criterion of rewards, the government necessarily keeps sacrificing the more productive groups to the less productive, gradually chaining the top level of the economy, then the next level, then the next.

Rand often spoke of moral absolutism, saying “There can be no compromise on basic principles,” but the realities of aging and illness seem to have softened her stance. Social Security, and perhaps Medicare, allowed Rand and her husband to maintain their quality of life, remain in their apartment and live out their final years with dignity.

Update: Turns out she collected under her married name, Ann O’Connor.

17 Responses to Ayn Rand, parasite

  1. Jesus B Ochoa January 26, 2011 at 8:41 am #


  2. Gobke January 26, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    Das ist RICH.
    I wish Mrs. Greenspan would get the off my teevee…

  3. Ohio Mom January 26, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    Didn’t she live in NYC? I bet her apartment was rent-controlled.

  4. Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog January 26, 2011 at 10:18 am #


    When she said altruism was a basic evil, she meant it. Altruism: an unselfish concern for the welfare of people who aren’t Ayn Rand. It’s a basic evil and worse, it steals attention from concern for the welfare of people who are Ayn Rand, which rightfully should be everyone’s foremost priority.

    When she characterized the recipients of government benefits as looters, moochers, and parasites, she meant it for everyone who wasn’t Ayn Rand. See “everyone’s foremost priority,” above.

    When she said there could be no compromise on basic principles, she meant it. Basic principles include exempting Ayn Rand from any principles that get in the way of Ayn Rand living comfortably.

    Half of the emphasis in the phrase “Fuck you, I’ve got mine” falls on the word “you.” For a lot of the sociopathic right wing, the “I’ve got mine” part isn’t true, but it gets lost in their deep moral joy at having found a lofty justification for saying FY to the rest of us.

    With kind regards,
    Dog, etc.
    searching for home

  5. PurpleGirl January 26, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    Ohio Mom: Given the time period we’re talking about, yes, she and her husband probably had a rent controlled apartment. So, she/they were sucking on the public teat.

  6. eRobin January 26, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    She looks like Dr. Strangelove.

  7. jesse sublett January 26, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Brilliant and razor sharp. Thanks. Will repost this for sure. Love it.

  8. Molly Ivors January 26, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    I love you. But you knew that.

  9. pragmatic realist January 26, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    As one of the creator class people (a writer of Hollywood movies and bad novels, and the leader of a cult), she deserved anything she could get, including any government money she could get her hands on. It is just that you and I don’t.

    You see if she hadn’t existed to create those things, the world would collapse and we parasites would die.

  10. Carolyn Kay January 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Thank you so much for this, Susie. It’s great rebuttal info.

    Carolyn Kay

  11. Dan Holway January 26, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    You misunderstand both Rand and Social Security. Like all Americans, Rand was forced by law to put money into the Social Security system. There is nothing in her philosophy that says that she or anyone else shouldn’t get that money back if they have the chance to do so.

  12. Carolyn Kay January 27, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    Don’t know what you’re smoking, Dan, but your argument is ridiculous. It’s like the anti-healthcare Republican legislators who sign up for their own federal health program.

    Carolyn Kay

  13. Dan Holway January 27, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    Carolyn, do you really regard Social Security as fundamentally identical to a welfare program like Food Stamps (or whatever they call it these days)? I hope not, because they are quite different. Every person is obligated to regularly hand over a percentage of his or her income to the government (along with matching payments by employers), and, in theory at least, the government holds it for us until we are allowed to get this money back. Don’t you receive those yearly letters that tell you how much Soc. Sec. money you’ve accumulated? Do you, like Susie, regard getting this money back as somehow being on the dole?

  14. susie January 28, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    Apparently you’re uninformed, since the vast majority of recipients use more in benefits than they ever contributed. Your payment is related to the amount of money you put in, but it’s not like a savings accounts, where you can only talk out what you put in.

  15. Carolyn Kay January 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    >>do you really regard Social Security as fundamentally identical to a welfare program

    The Republicans do. Rand lovers all.

    Carolyn Kay

  16. Hypocee January 28, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    Slightly incorrect in that nothing could have allowed Rand to live out any years with dignity.

  17. Brian Gates March 6, 2011 at 2:29 am #

    Collecting Social Security benefits isn’t parasitism, it’s recompensation. Ayn Rand’s position was that government entitelment programs should never have been created. She never held that you’re not entitled to access the programs you’re forced to pay for. Ayn Rand paid vast amounts in taxes throughout her life, and she was contractually entitled to recieve the benefits when she reached retirement age. She had nothing against others doing the same. To cast her as a hypocrite is simply a straw man distortion.

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