A reader grumbles:
The reader responses you posted to Ayn Rand’s letter miss the point. I don’t think anyone is arguing against responsibility, maturity, etc. The point is that Rand is the ultimate stick in the mud. She’s the little girl from Miracle on 34th Street who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, except she grows up and never got to the end of the movie. The point the commenters are missing is that her niece asked for twenty five dollars, not a fucking lecture about moral responsibility, the plight of man, or any of the other bullshit that Rand used to fill her intolerable books with.
I guess it’s a hazard of the way we read blogs and links. The comments from your readers who didn’t like the way you presented Ayn Rand’s letter are in fact quite consistent with Mallory Ortberg’s presentation of the letter in her own piece:
This letter so perfectly encapsulates everything I find deeply endearing about this bloviating monster. It is 30% very good advice, 50% unnecessary yelling, and 20% nonsense.
A couple of your readers contextualize Ayn Rand’s apparently stringent conditions for the repayment a loan of $25, but the context widens further still. In old age, when she was already quite rich, Rand accepted both Social Security and Medicare. It cannot be fully excused by saying (as some libertarian apologists have done) that she had paid into them and therefore could feel free to draw benefits as a return on her contribution – like the return, say, of a $25 loan – because she drew much more than she paid in. The Medicare, for example, was for the treatment of lung cancer – and Rand was always a strong proponent of smoking, her heroes did it ceaselessly, and she herself scoffed at reports that it causes lung cancer. Moreover, Rand was one of three female founders of the Cato Institute, and the other two – Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel “Pat” Paterson – both refused to accept Social Security. On principle.