Teaching American literature, one of the key delights is running into the sort of student who's an acolyte of the selfish and moronic "philosophy" of Ayn Rand. As Dan just pointed out, Randians love to preach about responsibility and individualism, while living large on the fact that the rest of society provides them with all sorts of benefits through those taxes they themselves don't want to pay. The young readers who buy into Rand's nonsense share two features in common: immense narcissism and utter cluelessness. They see themselves as heroic inviolate individuals, owing nothing to anyone, since everything they've achieved is due to their own genius and hard work. When you begin chipping away at this edifice of ego with pesky facts about the inter-relatedness of all people in our society, the many benefits they've gotten from others without realizing or acknowledging it, the response is the same glassy-eyed brain-shut-down that Biblical literalists display when the mutually exclusive and incoherent creation stories in Genesis are pointed out. You say every word of the Bible is literally true—OK, was the human race created as depicted in Genesis 1:27 or Genesis 2:7-24? Did God make man and woman in his own image, or create Adam out of dust, and then 20 verses later, add Eve?

With the Randians, it's more like this: OK, if you think each person is a total individual, owing nothing to anyone else and deserving nothing from anyone else. Cool. Now let's do a thought experiment where you live that way for one single day. Is it possible? No. In the end, you want to be a Randian, go to some desert island and live alone on the fruits of your labor. Of course, someone would have to help you get there, but perhaps it'd be for the best if we just let that little inconsistency slide.