In the Footsteps of Ayn Rand, the Self-Loathing Welfare Recipient

Yvonne Owens, PhD
7 min readJun 23, 2017


Oliver Wasow, ‘Sen. Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House of Representatives,’ Manipulated Digital Photograph, 2017.

Possibly the best critique of Ayn Rand’s ‘contribution’ ever penned discusses the crippling self-loathing that is its lineage and legacy: “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” (John Rogers, ‘Ephemera,’ Kung Fu Monkey, 2009.)

The top toxic Republican administrations of my lifetime are those of Nixon, Bush Sr., Reagan, Bush Jr., and Trump. The criminals who sailed to power and legislative ability on their wings include Kissinger, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bannon, Miller, Kushner, DeVos, Ryan, Sessions, Tillerson, McConnell …. Actually, the current admin’s miscreants are too great in number to adequately list here. Their collective legacies have been war, financial loss and instability, international upheaval and massive failures of the social contract both domestically and internationally. Almost to a man and woman, their shared ‘Alt-Right’ ideology can be put down to failed novelist and Right-Wing/fascist pedant Ayn Rand. Steve Bannon imported some exotic foreign (Russian and French) nutcase fascist White Supremacist nihilists and advocates of mass genocide into the mix via Brietbart, his involvment with the formation of the Alt-Right and the Tea Party, but, by and large, the current cadre are Rand disciples. And, like their racist, classist, elitist. consummately Alpha-male-identified guru, some of the most keen are closet former welfare recipients.

Paul Ryan is the self-hating child of a single-parent, working mother household, with a sick grandmother in his sole care, who survived on social welfare. This is not because he was from a working class family. He came from a privileged background, his father having inherited wealth, but when he was 16, Ryan found his 55-year-old father lying dead in bed of a heart attack. Following the death of his father, Ryan’s wealthy grandmother moved in with the family, and because she had Alzheimer’s, Ryan helped care for her while his mother commuted to college in Madison, Wisconsin. She set up a trust for her grandson, but he would not be able to benefit from it until he attained the age of 30. It seems she was trying to teach young Ryan a lesson about hardship, which he interpreted as a humiliating and coercive form of emotional blackmail. Because of these experiences, it seems, Ryan is not only self-loathing and poor-loathing, but disabled-loathing and elderly-loathing also.

From the time of his father’s death until his 18th birthday, Ryan received Social Security survivors’ benefits, which were saved for his college education. He worships Ayn Rand, who was herself a self-hating, long-term welfare recipient, who talked a brutish game about the ‘theft’ perpetrated by the recipients of social welfare benefits, but who, with her amphetamines addiction (which explains a LOT as to her literary failures and paucity of logic and human feeling — like a coke addict trying to think about things in context) and old-age illnesses, wouldn’t have survived without receiving welfare and Medicaid. For both Rand and Ryan, a viciously decompensating denial, writ large as possible and inflicted upon the world by any means at their disposal, was its own addiction.

He fired the Senate Chaplain in April 2018, because the Catholic cleric had led a prayer on the Senate floor admonishing senators voting for Ryan’s tax-cut-for-the-rich-at-the-expense-of-the-poor bill to give a care, or possibly two, for the poor, as Our Lord Jesus Christ said to do. This stunt, apparently, was unforgivable, and not something the Trump-supporting Mega Church Evangelicals would ever have done in ass-kissing the 1% on their knees like the Republican worshipping sycophants they are. The priest had to be turfed.

Like Ayn Rand, Ryan has produced nothing of merit or substance, and is nothing like the glorious Ubermensch (actually the warmed-over, Romantic Nietzschean ‘Superman’) they fetishize. It has been said that, if Rand’s ‘superman’ was to be considered as derivative of Nietzsche’s Ubermensch, Nietzsche would have considered her philosophy completely laughable and unworthy of any real critical response, and that only lightweight political minds like Paul Ryan’s and excitable teenagers find her thinking worthwhile. Fortunately, with this administration, such minds have been elevated far beyond their abilities, to the extent that they actually CAN’T draft a Bill that can be ratified, as any real attempt at writing legislation is so flawed, uninformed, poorly structured and fundamentally unconstitutional as to be un-passable.

Like Rand, who spent her life railing against things like Social Security and Medicare but was herself an enormous welfare queen, Ryan (his mother OR his grandmother) would likely not have survived without receiving benefits and he sure as hell wouldn’t have received an education. In a kind of self-loathing, poverty-loathing, denial-based, perverse rejection of (what he must deem) his ‘shameful’ past, he has spent his adult life trying to enact the hypocritical Ayn Rand bullshit that served him as a smokescreen for his roots as a welfare recipient, as it no doubt did for her. This was no doubt Rand’s true motivation for writing such patent bullshit in the first place. Like unto Machiavelli, like Goebbels, like Bannon, in kissing rich and powerful ass and pulling wealthy interests on like protective colouring or a cunning disguise, these elitist toadies manufacture the brutish cant so eagerly lapped up by those who despise their lot in life, or what they fear may BECOME their lot in life, especially if it’s a return trip.

In her 1966 essay, “The Question of Scholarships” (in the book The Voice of Reason), Rand specifically addressed tax-subsidized scholarships, but her seriously flawed ‘reasoning’ (actually a totally knee-jerk, irrational, emotional reaction in response to despisal and loathing for poverty, the impoverished, and — ultimately, obviously — herself) applies to all cases of recouping some of one’s wealth taken for government programs. It is worth noting here that the “victims” are those paying taxes, and the “parasites” are those who receive help, like herself.

“Since there is no such thing as the right of some men to vote away the rights of others, and no such thing as the right of the government to seize the property of some men for the unearned benefit of others — the advocates and supporters of the welfare state are morally guilty of robbing their opponents, and the fact that the robbery is legalized makes it morally worse, not better. The victims [the ‘victims’ being the rich who pay taxes commensurate with their earnings] do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters [social welfare advocates, legislators and jurists] profit doubly, by letting them distribute the money exclusively to the parasites [social welfare recipients] who clamoured for it. Whenever the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution [as in tax breaks], the victims should take it.”

Oliver Wasow, ‘Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader,’Manipulated Digital Photograph, 2017.

Mitch McConnell, the other architect of the brutish Randian Health Care Bill/Tax Cuts-for-the-rich piece of work, had polio as a child and would have been in a wheelchair for his entire life, like some of the people he had forcibly evicted from the hallway outside his office in the Capitol Building yesterday, without public-funded social welfare. “My mother was, of course, like many mothers of young polio victims, perplexed about what to do, anxious about whether I would be disabled for the rest of my life,” McConnell said in 2005. “But we were fortunate. Where my mother was living while my dad was overseas was with her sister in east central Alabama, only about 40 or 50 miles from Warm Springs.”

Warm Springs is best known as the site where President Roosevelt overcame his own paralytic polio affliction. In 1926, Roosevelt purchased the mineral springs community and turned it into a polio rehabilitation center. McConnell’s mother drove her son to the facility for daily treatment. On the 50th anniversary of the polio vaccination, also a Public Health social welfare initiative, he recounted on the Senate floor how close he came to losing the ability to walk. “The senator says his first memory is buying shoes in Georgia after two years of successful physical therapy.” (Tosten Burks, ‘Mitch McConnell overcame polio with the help of the government,’ in News: June 22, 2017.)

McConnell started visiting Warm Springs in 1944. He overcame polio with the help of publicly donated money allocated by the White House through the Roosevelt-sponsored March of Dimes program. “Now he wants to take away government assistance from children who may be suffering from similar conditions.” (Tosten Burks)

Images: Oliver Wasow, ‘Sen. Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House of Representatives’ & ‘Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader,’ Manipulated Digital Photography, 2017.



Yvonne Owens, PhD

I'm a writer/researcher/arts educator on Vancouver Island and all round global citizen who loves humans even though we're such a phenomenal pain-in-the-ass.