Saturday, April 14, 2012


David Frum points out something that shouldn't have to be pointed out:

Ayn Rand wrote fantasy novels, not economic treatises.
My problem with this defense is that Rand was not an economist, but a fiction writer, a fact that is often lost on her admirers. Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead are inspiring to some, but the idea that the economics which those stories portray has any resemblance to reality is ludicrous. Howard Roark's career as an architect in The Fountainhead in written entirely in service to the story's narrative arc and the business tycoons in Atlas Shrugged don't behave like actual businessmen. To put it another way, Hayek and Friedman had to justify their free market positions with math and facts, unlike Rand who used just tautological assertions about what is "rational".
Hence his eminently reasonable question:

So when talking about the economics profession and how best to set up free markets, can Rand's peculiar and fictional views about human nature be left out of the canon?
Sure, I can live with that.

Also, here's reliable Republican stalwart Orin Hatch commenting on a Tea Party-inspired attempt to take him down:
"These people are not conservatives. They're not Republicans," Hatch angrily responds. "They're radical libertarians and I'm doggone offended by it."

Then Hatch, a former boxer, turns combative. "I despise these people, and I'm not the guy you come in and dump on without getting punched in the mouth."
Now obviously Hatch has a dog in this fight, but I do like how he didn't just call them libertarians or radicals, but used both words in conjunction: radical libertarians.

As if there were any other kind...

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