Book: Ayn Rand Was a Welfare Queen

rand-bkAn explosive book by former Ayn Rand intimate Barbara Branden says the founder of the ultra free-market philosophy of objectivism was actually a heavy user of federal assistance and regularly sought meetings with federal officials to squelch competition to her free-market manifestos Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

“No one was more enthralled with the brilliance and charisma of Ayn Rand than I and my husband, Nathaniel Branden, were, but in the end, the great seer of free-market economics was no different than anyone else, taking government handouts whenever she could and using the coercive power of the federal government to make life miserable for true free-marketers whose work posed a threat to her bestselling books,” writes Branden in her book, Ayn Rand: Welfare Queen, just released from Pythagoras Publications.

Rand, who passed away in 1982, has been enjoying something of a rebirth in recent years as conservative and libertarian politicians in the United States point to her work as a model for their vision of America. Paul Ryan, the vice presidential candidate who ran with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in 2012, has cited Rand as a key influence in his beliefs, as has Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the son of former libertarian hero Ron Paul, who is widely believed to be looking at a 2016 presidential run.

47422005@N04/5425907494But according to Branden, who along with her husband Nathaniel was one of Rand’s most intimate associates in the 1950s and 1960s, Rand was scarcely the free-market purist she claimed to be. Instead, she met several times with the U.S. Department of Justice to try to persuade officials to crack down on what she called “fabricated philosophies designed only to ruin the success of my books.”

All of these attempts failed, however, as Justice officials repeatedly refused to go after authors whose books Rand cited as trying to stem free competition, according to Branden.

Rand also freely tapped federal rental subsidies, called Sec. 8, to help cover her costs while she rented an apartment in New York City while writing her first landmark work, The Fountainhead. “Through an entity that her husband controlled, Rand applied for and received thousands of dollars in rental assistance to reduce the costs of her living in New York City,” the book says.

What’s more, Rand used the same system for obtaining and using food stamps to lower her grocery bills each month. “The bottom line is, she was a cheap, manipulative conniver who used to always say things were better in the U.S.S.R. and how much she missed those bread lines that used to snake around the block when she was a little girl. Of course, that didn’t jive with her self-styled image as a free-market guru, so only those of us closest to her saw that side of her personality,” said Branden.’s book has generated a firestorm of criticism, with die-hard Rand followers saying Branden is just selling rumors and innuendo to generate sales. “She’s desperate,” says Edward Lee, who says he was part of Rand’s inner circle the same time that the Brandens were. “The fact is, she’s bitter over the way Rand treated her, and of course over the way Rand used her husband.”

Lee said that Rand’s widely acknowledged affair with Nathanial Branden still rankles Barbara Branden, and that probably has a lot to do with the nasty tone of her book. “You can’t really blame her, if you think about it,” said Lee. “I mean, Rand essentially took Barbara’s husband into her bed with no attempt to hide it, basically saying, ‘What’s yours is mine, but what’s mine isn’t necessarily yours,’ and Barbara has never forgiven her for that. I wouldn’t either, to be frank. But that doesn’t justify these lies that she’s peddling.”

So, was Rand never a user of rental and food assistance, along the other subsides Branden alleges she received? “Well, she did receive those subsidies, yes, but only because she qalified for them,” said Lee. “She didn’t seek them out. That’s the whole problem with the federal government. It just flings money at you whether you want it or not. She obviously didn’t want it, but she was no fool. Given that the money was being offered to her, she took it, as anyone would have.”

Ayn Rand: Welfare Queen was the No. 1 New York Times bestselling book the first week it was out.

This is a work of satire. It is a fictional article not meant to be taken seriously. Images: dh, st  (Creative Commons) Not necessarily an endorsed use of images.

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