The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports on the latest manifestation of the influence of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel on contemporary American politics.
U.S. Senate candidates Ron Johnson and U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold clashed sharply Monday night on Ayn Rand’s famous novel “Atlas Shrugged,” about an economy crumbling under the weight of government intrusion and regulations. …
While the two went back and forth on issues such as the economy, Social Security, the health care law and the war in Afghanistan, the most spirited discussion came from a book that was written in 1957 and remains popular among some conservatives and people who espouse limited government.
Rand’s book describes a dystopian America where the leading innovators leave society out of frustration with rules and regulations. It is a book that Johnson says he admires and has been a driving force in his political philosophy.
Asked by a panelist about the book, Johnson said “Atlas” represents the producers of the world, while “Shrugged” represents how overburdened the producers are with rules, regulations and taxes.
“It’s a warning of what could happen to America,” Johnson said. “When you hear people talk about a tipping point, that’s what we’re concerned about.â€‚.â€‚.â€‚. We have more people who are net beneficiaries of government than are actually paying into the system. That’s a very serious thing to think about.”
“I believe in the community,” Feingold responded. “I believe in the community of Wisconsin. .â€‚.â€‚. You believe the producers are a very special group of people. I guess they’re better than the rest of us. When things aren’t going their way, you take the position that people shouldn’t have unemployment compensation because you have the view they don’t want to work.”
Johnson said he wasn’t against the minimum wage and the extension of unemployment benefits. He said the fact that Feingold was talking about that showed that the stimulus bill was a failure.
“The last thing we should be doing is increase taxes on anybody in this recovery,” Johnson said.
After the debate, Feingold said Johnson “had a very narrow view of who actually does the work in society. I think everybody is working hard.”
It sounds a lot like Hank Reardon debating Wesley Mouch.