Politics & Prejudices
Ayn Rand vs. LBJ
What do their visions mean to Election 2012?
Published: August 22, 2012
Some of these programs were flawed. And they didn't go far enough or have long enough before Vietnam got in the way, and generations of Republicans since have eroded them.
Yet few of us can imagine living without Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, however, can.
Javan Kienzle, whose late husband Bill used to write fiction as compelling as Stephen King's, sent me a fascinating essay that appeared in The Washington Post last week.
Back in 1968, the author, James Roumell was a poor elementary school kid growing up in a broken home in Detroit and eating cereal for dinner. He wrote this essay because Republicans have been attacking President Obama for saying, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that." What the President was really saying was that society and — shudder — the government build the roads and bridges and infrastructure that make any business possible.
Roumell knows all about building something. Today he has an assets management firm worth $300 million. He has worked his fingers to the bone — but says he couldn't have done it on his own.
"My business has been made possible," by government acts allowing a financial services industry to emerge, he wrote.
"I went to college with the help of Pell grants and government loans," he says. "The countries that spend the least on government as a percentage of their economy are countries with little business success." Roumell understands what Obama meant when he said, "If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help."
Like Rand, Ryan and Romney don't understand. Romney had a rich, politically connected dad who paid for him to go to Cranbrook. Ryan has a trust fund, and has had no job except for Congress since he was 28; he was an aide to other politicians before that. They don't understand that we are all in this together, and that government is how you create a civilized society. Roumell, who probably has worked harder than they have, is anchored in reality.
Imagine if the Republicans were smart enough to nominate him.
Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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