I run across a lot of people who love
Rand. People who don't, don't tend to mention her much except in response to comments from people who do.
I've read Atlas Shrugged and some bits of her essays. I don't think I'll be converting over to her ways of thinking any time in my life if I haven't already been convinced she's right.
Apparently she couldn't even completely convince herself of her own philosophy (see link above to discussion of her accepting SS).
I certainly don't think Rand is perfect - not even close. I just think she has a point of view that has a lot more merit than most of her detractors make the intellectual effort to make a reasonable argument (or rant) against.
If you are going to say someone's life work is invalidated by some decision, mistake, or change of mind when they're old, you're pretty much going to invalidate everyone. Pretty unreasonable in my book.
1). Einstein and quantum theory -- just because he threw up his hands on that and said (roughly) "God doesn't play dice" certainly doesn't invalidate his incredible contributions to physics.
2). Martin Luther King is reputed to have gotten discouraged and said some less than savory things about certain aspects of humanity in his latter years. Does this make all his contributions toward racial equality and human dignity worthless?
3). Ayn Rand took Social Security, which (in her words) she paid taxes for "at the point of a gun" (i.e. under government coercion). So why shouldn't she take the income from this, which she had a right to, under the system of redistribution you so adore? If she had gotten out of paying her SS taxes and then taken SS, that would be another matter.
4). Ayn Rand, who repeatedly said that romantic love should be freely given, and never by coercion. Yet, she chased and threatened Nathaniel Branden (another philosopher and writer) in later years when he spurned her. Pretty much the opposite of what she espoused in her major novels. Embarrassing for her. Guess what? She's human.
Pointing out that someone is a human being, complete with flaws, mocking those flaws, and then trying to pretend like THAT is a valid argument against an intellectual's life work or ideas is so low and silly that it should be embarrassing to those who try that game.