Novel economics

Posted: 28 September 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Isn’t there something wrong when the vice-presidential candidate for a major political party in the United States gets his economics from a work of fiction?

Don’t get me wrong, I love novels. I read novels all the time. I even think that the everyday economics is represented in novels—and in music, art, children’s books, and so on.

But I don’t get my economic ideas from works of fiction. Unlike Paul Ryan:

(3: 21)  It’s so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand’s vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are. I always go back to, you know, Francisco d’Anconia’s speech (at Bill Taggart’s wedding) on money when I think about monetary policy. And then I go to the 64-page John Galt speech, you know, on the radio at the end, and go back to a lot of other things that she did, to try and make sure that I can check my premises so that I know that what I’m believing and doing and advancing are square with the key principles of individualism…

Is this then the monetary policy Ryan gets from d’Anconia’s speech in Atlas Shrugged?

“Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it becomes, marked: ‘Account overdrawn.'”

I wonder what Ryan’s economics would be today if like the rest of us, instead of Ayn Rand, he’d read Dostoevsky, Pynchon, and Austen when he was young.

  1. joseph says:

    Wouldn’t this BS create a bunch of that policy uncertainty conservative economists complain about? Many they are full of BS as well.

  2. Magpie says:

    Frankly, I wonder whether Ryan really believes in the intellectual worth of Rand’s work or merely uses her name as a convenient justification for his own policies/prejudices.

    Inspired by some references mentioned in Michael Hudson’s “Simon Patten on Public Infrastructure and Economic Rent Capture” [*], I found Gustavus Myers’ “History of the Great American Fortunes (1907–1909)” at the Internet Archive.

    If you peruse Myers’ book (which predates anything written by Rand), you’ll stumble upon much of what Rand says. But in Myers’ book the same ideas are reported as widely held beliefs by some segments of American society. And, I repeat, before Rand wrote any of her literary abominations.

    So much for a “philosopher” who claimed her only influence was Aristotle.

    To me, Rand’s claim to fame seems reduced to compiling a bunch of baloney that was already popular (or had been popular) by the time she learned of it; and give it a pseudo-philosophical foundation.

  3. […] as a source of serious economic ideas. Because major-party vice-presidential candidates (like Paul Ryan) and people who get published in major American publications (such as Forbes) do so, […]

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