Gary Weiss on Ayn Rand
Historic Pete's Tavern may not have been Ayn Rand's cup of tea, but it was a fitting venue to analyze how much the author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead has influenced the Tea Party.

That was the subject of the New York Financial Writers Association's February book night featuring Gary Weiss, author of Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America's Soul, just published by St. Martin's Press.

According to Weiss, a veteran investigative journalist and NYFWA member, the Tea Party seems to have an almost psychic connection to Rand, whom he dubbed the grand old lady of radical capitalism.

Ayn Rand was the very first person on the national political stage to enunciate views that mesh precisely with the ones being bandied about by the Tea Party, Weiss wrote in a February 26th column for Bloomberg, adding that Rand was channeling the Tea Party decades before there even was a Tea Party.

Gary was joined by Vic Sperandeo, a/k/a Trader Vic, a well-known stock market trader, author and dedicated Rander, who flew in from Texas for this event. The event was billed as a cage match, with verbal pyrotechnics, but after rising at 5 a.m. that morning to appear on CNBC's Squawk Box program, the usually feisty Weiss did not spar as much as one might expect given reports that the populist craze for Rand books is being financed by deep-pocketed hedge fund operators.

Here's what the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) says on its Website:

“ARI seeks to spearhead a cultural renaissance that will reverse the anti-reason, anti-individualism, anti-freedom, anti-capitalist trends in today’s culture. The major battleground in this fight for reason and capitalism is the educational institutions—high schools and, above all, the universities, where students learn the ideas that shape their lives…To date, more than 1.4 million copies of these Ayn Rand novels have been donated to 30,000 teachers in 40,000 classrooms across the United States and Canada.

“Based on a projected shelf life of five years per book, we estimate that more than 3 million young people have been introduced to Ayn Rand’s books and ideas as a result of our programs to date…partnerships have been established between ARI and the corporate community to advance Ayn Rand’s ideas in the universities. (Italics added.)

“Through ARI’s assistance, Ayn Rand’s ideas are taught and studied at more than 50 of America’s most influential institutions of higher education, including: Clemson University, Duke University, University of Virginia, University of Texas at Austin, University of Pittsburgh, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brown University, University of Kentucky, University of South Carolina, University of Florida, University of West Virginia and Wake Forest University.”
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