I'm on friendly terms with quite a few of the fine folks at Reason magazine, and we share similar opinions on the importance of civil liberties. This morning Tim Cavanaugh, a Reason columnist and Hit & Run contributor wrote a good response to my post on Friday (which was basically a link, excerpt, and some added snark to Michael Ford's post over at HuffPost).
Unless it's revealed that Rand didn't pay income tax or Social Security "investments" during her working life, I'm not seeing the hypocrisy here. You don't have the legal right to opt out of income tax. You also can't avoid paying into the Social Security pyramid unless you are a government worker (a piece of hypocrisy that is far more widespread and of much greater moment than the hijinx of an old lady three decades dead). Some commenters are making the case that Rand used her married name "Ann O'Connor" and thus must have been up to something sneaky, since she was using an assumed name. But wasn't "Ayn Rand" the assumed name? Presumably the O'Connor name was the one under which taxes and FICA were taken from her in the first place. It would be a scandal for more than libertarians if that were not the case, but details of Rand's life are as opaque to outsiders as the circumstances of L. Ron Hubbard's death.
Stephens notes that the other two founding broads of libertarianism – Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel Paterson – went to considerable lengths to avoid taking charity from Uncle Sam. (It's harder to turn down Social Security than you think.) I'd be happy if this dustup resulted in a boost for either of those two over Rand, whose unquestioning dittoheads I can never get along with: A while back I ran into some Ayn Rand Institute folks, and our conversation – no exaggeration – began with my saying Anthem was a pretty shady book and within three minutes had reached the inevitable conclusion that I would propagandize for the Nazis if the pay was right because my life has no meaning. They really are like that!
Here's something that I haven't been able to find out. Did Ayn Rand take her social welfare payments under the name of Ann O'Connor (as stated in the HuffPost piece I linked to, and which one person told me is her legal name) or Ayn O'Connor (as it appears on her grave marker)? What was her legal name? If that could be cleared up, then we'd know whether or not she was trying to hide the fact that she was getting Social Security and Medicare payments.
By the way, Cavanaugh says he finds Rand to be "quite charming, in an eccentric-maiden-aunt kind of way," and points to this 1979 Phil Donahue interview: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5.)