It began, according to a 2005 speech Ryan gave to The Atlas Society, when he was still a student. And it guided his thinking on monetary policy decades later:
"I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are," he told the group. "It's inspired me so much that it's required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff."
Ryan has since denied making his staff read the books.
He continued: "But the reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism."
Rand's literary inner circle was called, ironically perhaps, "The Collective."
Individualism, or objectivism in some cases, provides the philosophical underpinnings for most of Rand's narratives. The novelist and literary critic Harriet Rubin wrote bluntly in the New York Times that "Atlas Shrugged" is a "glorification of the right of individuals to live entirely for their own interest."