“Capitalism is the system of selfishness—of rational selfishness.” Ayn Rand acolytes Brook (Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea, 2010) and Watkins sing the same old hymn, with a slightly different chorus, to the same old choir.
In case you’ve forgotten the Randian message, bundled up here in utterly predictable form, it’s that we all owe each other nothing. Our sole duty is to ourselves, and thus it behooves us to claw and scratch our way through this Darwinian world and amass as much wealth as possible. In the radical right-wing version that’s infecting the dreaded big government in Washington and that pervades this primer, a truly free-market approach would lead to “the ultimate abolition of all entitlement programs including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and public education; abolition of all government controls on business; the privatization of all property, including public lands, utilities, and roads.” Brook and Watkins, executives at the Ayn Rand Institute, play the usual rhetorical games: Barack Obama is Hitler, or maybe Goebbels, but we really didn’t mean to suggest that he was; Mussolini and Hitler were socialists, and so is Obama, but we don’t really mean to cast aspersions; government regulation is evil because it keeps solid citizens from opening restaurants with bathrooms tiled to their individual tastes. Of course, Hitler and Mussolini weren’t socialists, and neither is Obama, and there are reasons good and true to require restaurants to use tiles that plainly reveal when they’re filthy, just as there are reasons to have regulations on food and pharmaceutical safety, seat-belt regulations, speed limits, and all the other things of government that Randians don’t like.
What would Howard Roark do? Maybe find a more persuasive apology for Randian money-grubbism.