Here in Oklahoma City the daily paper, which is just a shade to the right of Ronald Reagan's ghost, has for the past week or so been running op-ed pieces and political cartoons that portray republican vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan as somewhere between Thomas Jefferson, a boy scout, and Christ Jesus Himself. Indeed, according to The Oklahoman Ryan is pure good pitched against the evil demagoguery of Barak Obama. The editors of The Oklahoman are so utterly enthralled with him they seem to think anyone speaking ill of congressman Ryan is in effect martyring a saint.
Well they should probably refrain from reading "The Street" online because their boy isn't faring too well there. In an opinion piece that was posted on August 13th, Gary Weiss has a somewhat different view of Mr. Ryan. As noted here before, Paul Ryan used to brag that his political philosophy was formed by and based on the writings of Ayn Rand. She is most famous for her novels "The Fountain Head" and "Atlas Shrugged." Her vision of America was that of a nation with a near non-existent government, one ruled by an untaxed super elite of industrialists, bankers, and real estate barons. She was also a wildly enthusiastic atheist. Lately, Ryan has claimed to have rejected her philosophy. Weiss, who is not a fan of either Rand, or Ryan, says outright that the Wisconsin congressman is lying. No, not flipping on the issue, not simply distancing himself from some youthful dalliance, but flat out lying.
According to Weiss, Ryan was quoted in the National Review as saying, "These Rand slams are part of effort on the left to paint me as a cold blooded objectivist." He goes on to tell the Review that, "You know you have arrived in politics when you have an urban legend about yourself and this one is mine."
Weiss then quotes Ryan who spoke to a gathering of Rand groupies back in 2005 known as The Atlas Society. Among other things Ryan said this, "I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are and what my beliefs are. It inspired me so much that is required reading in my office for all my interns and staff."
Weiss then points out that Ryan's proposed budget plan beats the lower and middle classes over the head with a rather large club while the rich get out of making any sort of contribution at all, which is, of course, the very essence of Randism.
In an August 14th post, The Street lays out some brutally cold figures to support Weiss' view. It notes that under the Ryan proposals any American with enough money in investments, or cash in existing accounts who can live off those dividends, or interest wouldn't pay any taxes at all. That is because Ryan wants to eliminate capital gains taxes, estate taxes and all taxes on dividends and interest. Not bad work if you can get it, unfortunately roughly 99% of us can't.
In fact, The Street uses this example. If Ryan's budget had been in place two years ago, Mitt Romney would have paid $177,650 in taxes on an income of $21,661,344. In the mean time any earnings his $200,000,000 in stocks, bonds and whatever made would be tax free. The Street then compared this to a first year heart surgeon with the income of $710,600, but saddled with $600,000 in student and medical school loan debt. The surgeon's tax bill? Why $176,650, the exact same as Uncle Mitt's.
What this means is that while you and I pay anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of our income on taxes, the dudes in the boardrooms can work for a buck a year while the rest their salaries come in stock options that earn them millions in nontaxable income.
The Street estimates this little Randonian exercise will increase the national debt for the next three decades. That would be the same debt Ryan claims he wants to get rid of.
No wonder the people who own The Oklahoman love this guy. With his budget they win the lottery. Or to paraphrase a line from a very old and obscure movie, "They get the uranium mine and we get the shaft."
There are reasons there are democrats. Paul Ryan is one of them. Ayn Rand is another. Although to be honest, I'm going to have to go with Gary Weiss here, they are both starting to look to be one in the same to me.