Andrew the Illegal Immigrant, like many other people, blogged about the recently-gone-viral letter from Ayn Rand to her niece who wanted a loan, but (being a Rand villain) Andrew described Rand’s missive as “amazingly horrible.”
Andrew Sullivan does get these occasional fits of actual integrity in his blogging, though, and yesterday he passed along this highly effective demurral from one of his readers:
I donâ€™t see what is so â€œhorribleâ€ in what Ayn Rand wrote to her niece. First, the niece didnâ€™t ask for $25 as a gift; she asked to borrow it. If you read the letter, Rand gives TWO examples of where a similar request was made, and the money was NOT used to accomplish the stated goal, nor was it paid back. Second, Rand didnâ€™t insist on charging interest, merely getting the principle back. Third, she simply insisted the niece be honest and A) spend it on what she said, and B) pay the loan back when she had the chance instead of spending on something else.
Or if you donâ€™t want to be horrible like her, I too could use some new clothes to improve my employment opportunities, and a $250 (inflation adjusted from 1949) Amazon gift credit in reply would help. And you shouldnâ€™t be horrible about insisting that I really use it for clothes, or that I pay it back, much less according to some terms. If you did insist, you would be â€œhorribleâ€ just like her.
This is the one thing often missed in Ayn Randâ€™s works: the heroes keep their promises, and pay what they owe â€œto the last dimeâ€, often at great cost.
And another of Andrew’s readers added:
Iâ€™m a bit miffed at how ill treated this letter is in your post. What an invaluable lesson this is about debt! …
Most people in the US think nothing about taking on a new credit card â€“ or a fancy new degree â€“ and the mountain of â€œirresponsiblyâ€ laid down debt literally destroys their lives. It destroys their entrepreneurial spirit; it destroys their educational, relational, and employment opportunities; it destroys their quality of life and entrenches mild- to severe poverty; and it degrades them psychologically and virtually eliminates any taste for risk taking and enterprise, locking them into â€œgetting byâ€ employment to constantly service the debt.
Would that they had someone as wise as Rand cautioning them to think reeeeealy hard before taking on $40,000 for that BS Degree or $10,000 for a late-model car when they could be driving around a reliable beater. Think of the suffering that could have been alleviated if such lessons were taught to the entire generation of then-17 year old millennials who are currently groaning under their debt.
And letâ€™s look at the massive handicap our national debt has on this same generation and their children. Would that anyone in Congress had had an aunt as shrewd as Ms. Rand! Look at the Greek debt or historic Latin American debt. How â€œhorribleâ€ would it have been to have a tut-tutting aunt make people painfully aware of the potential repercussions of their decisions before undertaking them? How much global suffering could have been avoided with a little more tough love from a wiry, stick-in-the-mud Aunty like Ayn Rand?
Read the whole thing.