Happy New Year!

An article has been circulating since shortly after the horrible news of the Christmas earthquake and tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. In this email, the writer summarized a press release from the neo-Fascist Ayn Rand Institute, a libertarianism gone amuck “think tank.”

In the alleged statement, the Ayn Rand disciples, who call themselves “objectivists,” claim that the right-thinking thing to do is to let the poor tsunami-stricken bastards pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. And if those boots have been washed 12 miles out to sea, well it sucks to be them!

At first I thought it was a joke, but of course there is no joke greater than idiots who take themselves seriously. And, Lord have mercy, do the Ayn Randians ever take themselves seriously!

Indeed, it’s not a joke. In a statement entitled “U.S. Should Not Help Tsunami Victims” issued December 30, 2004 by David Holcberg, a spokesperson for the Ayn Rand Institute wrote that U.S. aid to disaster victims is wrong, though private charity, “may be entirely proper, especially considering that most of those affected by this tragedy are suffering through no fault of their own.” (It’s that minority of victims suffering because of self-inflicted tsunami damage that you have to watch out for, apparently!)

In fairness, the Ayn Randians weren’t really saying the tsunami victims shouldn’t be helped. They’re merely saying that American tax dollars shouldn’t be spent to do it. Well, really, their message is that taxation is altogether wrong, so pretty much anything they do with your tax money is wrong. Schools? Wrong! Roads? Wrong! Police? Well… you need police to protect slave owners from rebellions, so that’s ok.

Perhaps the Ayn Rand Institute thought better of Mr. Holcberg’s polemic, which used to be posted on their website on this page, because that article is now nowhere to be found on the ARI website. The URL now points to an article on Islamic fundamentalism… which is, oddly enough, the reason why I believe we so desperately need to take this opportunity to help the tsunami victims.

It turns out that in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar, upwards of 35% of the national populations of those nations are under age 18. I don’t know about you, but I would like those children to remember generous U.S. aid when the fundamentalist Islamic mullahs, who hold so much power in those societies, try to enroll them in anti-American crusades over the next decades. Indonesia is a hot-bed of fundamentalist anti-American Islamic fanaticism, which is sure to take this opportunity to point to any sign of U.S. callousness during this, their time of need. The U.S. is, grudgingly, proposing to send $350 million in aid. I think that if it will engender some goodwill amongst the potential future footsoldiers of al-Qaida, such goodwill is cheap at three times that price!

As James Bill wrote in his excellent book, The Eagle and the Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations, generous U.S. aid during difficult times helped America become widely loved during the early parts of the last century in places like Iran. Yes, Iran! Then, of course, we frittered it away by backing despots.

We’re at a point in the history of our nation where we have historic opportunities to engage the world to redeem our crappy reputation, and our esteemed President has decided to continue the “my way or the highway” attitude that the Republican party, deeply influenced by the libertarian leanings of the neo-conservatives, has adopted over the recent decades. Unfortunately, those chickens have been coming home to roost, some of which hit the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon.

Isolationism and enshrining social Darwinism in public policy are good ways to become hated and to spend your life playing defense. The Ayn Randians are being pennywise and pound foolish, but that’s par for their course.

In a fascinating radio interview — fascinating in the same way that watching a rabid animal chase hallucinations is morbidly fascinating — my dear friend David Lawrence interviewed Edwin Locke from the ARI about the perils of foreign aid.

(Much to my chagrin, David finds himself agreeing with the Ayn Randians too often. But then again, it may also be that he likes good radio. And believe me, once you get somebody like Edwin Locke going, it makes good radio!)

If you’ve never heard the Ayn Randian point of view, give it a listen. As you’ll learn, the root of all evil boils down to Marxists that have taken over in American colleges. Didn’t see that coming, did you?

Luckily, the easiest way to discount Ayn Randians is to keep letting them talk. They more effectively destroy any perceived credibility they have than any counterarguments I can muster. So I’m happy simply to let their statements stand on their own.

For some additional commentary on this crazyness, check out Matthew Rothschild’s comments in The Progressive.