Ayn Rand took government assistance while decrying others who did the same

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286 Responses to “Ayn Rand took government assistance while decrying others who did the same”

  1. Daddyology says:

    “Where there is an important problem, there is an opportunity to profit by finding a solution. Some examples are the invention of barb wire, Consumer Report, Underwriter Labs, second-hand car warranties, etc.”
    –Julien Couvreur

    Um … Consumer Reports and UL are both non-profits.

    Please try again.

    • Julien Couvreur says:

      “Um … Consumer Reports and UL are both non-profits.”

      Non-profit in this context is a tax term, not an economic term. All human action seeks profit. You should not limit your view to monetary profits.

      A good illustration of this is open source: if a bunch of people get together to solve a problem that they perceive, that is proof that they profit, although they may not profit monetarily.
      In comparison, if politicians tax people to fund an open-source project, wealth has been lost and citizens harmed. Politicians and special interests do profit in such action, but at the expense of other people which should not be forgotten.

      • Ugly Canuck says:

        Ah, “profit” is monetary, usually – and specifically denotes a return on an investment of labour and/or capital: better IMO to use the word “benefit”, which is broad enough in meaning to capture those both the monetary and non-monetary objects of human enterprise.

        People seek some benefit by a or from all their actions; and sometimes the benefit sought takes the form of money. And at least as often, IMHO more often, they do not.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          Nor do those benefits need to be self-regarding: some of us do things for the benefit of others.

        • HereNow says:

          “And at least as often, IMHO more often, they do not.”

          Why didn’t you say simply, “more often they do not”? Why the “at least as often” if you’re just going to change it two words later?

          And regardless, why is only one of them qualified as your opinion?

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            I was actually thinking of the benefits of sleep, as contrasted to monetary benefits.

            I suppose that I realized while I was half-way through writing the sentence that some things may be both a benefit or object in themselves, as well as being at the same time an instrumentality to be used in pursuit of a further, purely monetary, benefit.

            Hence my difficulty in apportioning the time one spends pursuing the benefits of monetary gain, versus those spent pursuing other benefits, say of health, or of aesthetic or cultural appreciation – for some would say the latter activities and their attendant benefits are, for them, but a means to their attainment of their ultimate goal, the earning of money. To be healthy for work; or, to keep up with their work colleagues and associates, perhaps.

            I had at first thought that a crude apportioning of time, that spent earning money, versus the time spent not doing so, say eating or sleeping, would be sufficient: then I realized that how that time spent eating and sleeping is characterized must be a matter of opinion, one that depends upon the goal or benefit sought by the person being considered.

            Hence the inept and clumsy formulation.

            An example of a half-baked thought.

  2. erg79 says:

    Get government out of my Medicare and Social Security!

  3. tas121790 says:

    How are people rationalizing this? She paid into these programs just as much as everyone else who uses them yet everyone else was a leach and weak human.

  4. Julien Couvreur says:

    I’m not big on Rand, but this argument doesn’t hold water. It is a classic attack on libertarians: they use roads and sidewalks, benefit from the fire and police departments, they use government currency, etc.

    Some claim that morally superiority for libertarians would be to not use the provided services, all the while being forced to pay for said services. I think not.
    It is also worth pointing out that libertarians are well aware of that question and I suspect it is a moral dilemma for many.

    In addition to the double cost, this ignores that government services shunt if not outright prevent comparable private services. Healthcare costs a lot more than it should due to government intervention. Private currency and banking is highly constrained and regulated (legal tender laws). And so on.

    The root of the dilemma is in government coercion, not Rand’s supposed moral failures (and I’m sure she had some, as any human being).

    Government intervention is a trap which builds dependency (by destroying the proper functioning of the market). That libertarians are victims of that trap is hardly reprehensible, because it is virtually impossible not to with the current scope of government.

    • tas121790 says:

      That’s the problem with these fundamentalist and illogical views of the world.
      Ayn Rand was nothing more than a dictator with out a country.

      Worth a read: THE UNLIKELIEST CULT IN HISTORY by Michael Shermer http://www.2think.org/02_2_she.shtml

    • Nadreck says:

      Healthcare costs a lot more than it should due to government intervention.

      Then why are all of the government run health systems around the world cheaper than the American privatised one? The cost per patient in a completely private system is always off the scale as it is with any other necessary-to-stay-alive commodity that isn’t regulated by the government and which can be reasonably centralised. OHIP here in Ontario has it’s share of hideous problems but no one would trade them for those of the American system.

      And in fact many, doubtless Libertarian, Americans agreed and (in one of the aforementioned hideous problems) flock to OHIP with forged identities to avoid things like the third-world neonatal care in the States. A forged OHIP card goes for about $300 in Detroit and a lot of the people in the maternity ward in Windsor don’t understand the local colourful currency denominations.

      How does that fit in with the “the current society is different than the one I imagined in my head so I’ll rip it off” apologies for Rand when they’re ripping off societies they’re not even a part of?

    • Neon Tooth says:

      Also way to reinforce the argument that self proclaimed “Libertarians” have issues with narcissism and delusional notions of gradiosity.

    • noen says:

      Julien Couvreur said:
      I’m not big on Rand, but this argument doesn’t hold water. It is a classic attack on libertarians: they use roads and sidewalks, benefit from the fire and police departments, they use government currency, etc.”

      Uh… yeah, charges of hypocrisy are an effective counter to Libertarian wankery.

      “Healthcare costs a lot more than it should due to government intervention”

      This is completely delusional and cost isn’t the only factor. Access for everyone and fairness in services is a legitimate role of the state.

      But do please tell me how government regulation harms the banking sector and that if only we removed all regulations the magic hand of the free market will lead us financial bliss.

      I like hearing children’s stories.

    • bklynchris says:

      I got a good riddle for you

      Q: What is the difference between a libertarian and, you know….everybody else?
      A: One 911 phone call.

      Did I say riddle? I meant, JOKE.

    • Anonymous says:

      The curious thing is that if the market truly functions as well as they say, it must take only a tiny bit of government intervention to prevent it from doing so, since the freest markets of the world are apparently not free enough to make the benefits obvious.

  5. fnc says:

    I wonder if the fact that the compensation gained from her work could not pay to keep her alive would be considered the result of market forces.

    Ultimately though, I’m glad there was a system in place that valued her worth as a human being enough to treat her condition.

  6. Mark Frauenfelder says:

    Rand’s ideas are convenient. Only believers in her faith ought to enjoy the benefits of social programs established for the good of all by her enemies.

  7. HereNow says:

    what is the Randian analysis of the morality of copyright; that is, of authors and artists benefiting, from a government granted monopoly, contrary to a state of nature?

    Let me guess: you are entitled to the benefits of copyright, so long as you express public opposition to it “on principle”.

    You’re really confused about a lot of things. Given this, it’s pretty bizarre that you continue to opine so confidently about them.

    Ayn Rand was not an anarchist. She did not advocate a stateless society, or a “state of nature.”

    She was, among other things, a minarchist. She advocated a limited government whose role was to protect individual rights.

    Among these rights was a human’s “right to the product of his mind,” as she put it. Thus she viewed the protection of intellectual property rights to be properly within the government’s purview. She wrote: “The government does not ‘grant’ a patent or copyright, in the sense of a gift, privilege, or favor; the government merely secures it.”

    Once again: You’re free to argue with her assessment, contest her premises, disagree with her conclusions. What you don’t get to do is falsely attribute certain ideas to her, then use this false attribution to accuse her of hypocrisy.

    It’s a pointless way to “argue,” and ultimately it’s a waste of everyone’s time, including yours. It doesn’t advance ideas, it doesn’t get us any closer to truth, and it’s an inefficient method of debate.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Rand is in the same league as Hubbard, both as a hack author, and as a leader of a quack cult. That she was a hypocrite and liar too is hardly a surprise to me.

  9. Gwenny says:

    She used a fake name. She was either ashamed or trying to hide. Everything else is irrelevant.

  10. Avram / Moderator says:

    Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn

    I’m actually pretty surprised by this. Weren’t Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead massive best-sellers? Didn’t she have a career as a speaker in the ’60s and ’70s? Did private health insurance not exist at the time? From what I’ve been able to find on Google, she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1974, and had surgery that same year. Did she just manage her money badly? Was she funneling it into the Nathaniel Branden Institute?

    • Daddyology says:

      From my experience as a writer, it would depend on how the contract was written with her publisher.

      She may have only received an advance and nothing else, perhaps an unusually-small royalty percentage, or even royalties that expired after a certain time frame. It just depends.

      Of course, there’s a chance she just managed her money poorly, endowed some “think” tank or other group to the point of absurdity, had a family member take it …

      **shrugs**

      On another note, I do have to give folks here incredible props. Lots of disagreements floating around, but very little venom being spat.

      It’s why I see this community as the best on the ‘net (though YMMV). :-)

      • paul beard says:

        So she didn’t make a lot of money from her writing, didn’t make any other plans (speaking engagements? seminars? consulting or otherwise engaging with the problems she found so disastrous?), fell on hard times, and found a government safety net. Huh. Good idea she wasn’t more influential.

        Or to put it another way, an artist (loosely defined) moved to a progressive society from a repressive one, was able to pursue their vision full-time, despite their dismal earnings, and when they needed a hand, that progressive society had anticipated that need and provided one.

        Sorry, I had a hard time taking her anti-social attitudes seriously before the drug abuse and serial killer worship came out but to rail against social services and then take them under an assumed name is too rich. She had no wealthy anti-social plutocrat friends who could find a way to help, in a non-compassionate or otherwise objectivist way?

        • Daddyology says:

          I must not have made myself clear. I in no way approve of Rand, and find her ideology morally reprehensible and abhorrent on numerous levels. (For me, her beliefs — and those of libertarians and an increasing number of mainstream conservatives — boil down to: “I’ve got mine, so screw you!”)

          I was just trying to throw out why, despite solid book sales, she apparently didn’t make enough off of them to pay her medical bills.

          That was it. Sorry for any confusion.

          “… her view [was] that Social Security and welfare/mediacare are morally wrong and the programs ought not to be imposed by the government, but that taking back what you you paid into it, is morally correct.”

          So … according to Rand (I don’t want to assume you agree) those types of programs were “morally wrong” — but only up until those great Galtians need them. Then they’re dandy.

          It’s strange, then, that she spent so much time (and way, way too many words) claiming that those who use those services were leeches to the system who did nothing for society, and unfairly held back those poor, oppressed wealth producers.

          Situational ideology: It’s what’s for dinner!

          (Again, none of this is aimed at you, Zizkov. Just general thoughts toward Rand and her beliefs.)

        • grimc says:

          She had no wealthy anti-social plutocrat friends who could find a way to help, in a non-compassionate or otherwise objectivist way?

          It’s interesting that it was around the time of her lung cancer surgery that she and many of her circle began parting ways. There are a number of reasons that happened, but now I can’t help but wonder if her needing financial assistance had anything to do with it. Must’ve been very awkward for all those “creators” to discover the founder of their movement was turning into a “parasite” in her old age.

  11. skeelow212 says:

    I dont think that any individual with even the slightest understanding of econonmics would argue AGAINST the practice of government regulation in a nation’s economy. I think that the issue that polarizes us is the question: What is the appropriate level of government regulation within a nation’s economy? The differing answers to this question seem to define what economical and political philosophy we, as individuals, promote as our “ideal”. Even the purest capitalist system, realistically, must have some level of government interference and regulation. But what is the effect upon our personal liberty from allowing further increases in the government’s involvement with our economy?

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      “But what is the effect upon our personal liberty from allowing further increases in the government’s involvement with our economy?”

      But what is the effect upon our personal well-being from allowing further increases in the government’s involvement with our economy?

      See the difference?

      Is there a difference?

      What if it is a little bit less A (or “liberty”), for a whole lot more B ( or “well-being”)?

  12. Neon Tooth says:

    Yet another immigrant coming over to leech off our social programs!

  13. scarshapedstar says:

    Not only did she take welfare, but she was an illegal immigrant, having overstayed her visa. Google it.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      An drug-using illegal immigrant on welfare who became the intellectual darling of both the very wealthy and the pathologically independent?

      I’m starting to warm up to Ayn Rand as a personality. Still not big on her as a thinker though.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The argument goes that it would be cheaper if people had to pay themselves, as they’d shop more carefully and doctors would need to charge what people can afford to have customers.

    How can you shop carefully for a doctor when you’ve been hit by a car and unconscious on a stretcher? Do you tell the ambulance driver “Wait, don’t go to Ellis Hospital, go to Albany Med, I understand they’re more reasonably priced.”

    The profit motive and the healing arts have no business in bed together. Enough is enough.

    • Anonymous says:

      How can you shop carefully for a doctor when you’ve been hit by a car and unconscious on a stretcher? Do you tell the ambulance driver “Wait, don’t go to Ellis Hospital, go to Albany Med, I understand they’re more reasonably priced.”

      Wait, wait, wait. Have you made sure that you’re getting the best value?

      You’ve got to shop around for the most economical and highest quality ambulance driver to come and scrape you up off the street.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I hate to say it but, as a former Objectivist and former Libertarian, I know Ayn Rand philosophy very well and I need to set this straight. She told followers and students that if they are paying money into “the system”, there is no shame in using the system. They paid for it through taxation, etc. Her goal was to change the system itself.

    • Anonymous says:

      well, unless you’re keeping very careful records, this is an invitation to fraud, at least in a moral sense. social security will pay out more than you put in though, sure.

  16. Anonymous says:

    A poster from the link above found the quotes…

    Ayn Rand wrote the following in “The Question of Scholarshi­ps,” The Objectivis­t, June 1966.

    “The recipient of a public scholarshi­p is morally justified only so long as he regards it as restitutio­n and opposes all forms of welfare statism. Those who advocate public scholarshi­ps, have no right to them; those who oppose them, have. If this sounds like a paradox, the fault lies in the moral contradict­ions of welfare statism, not in its victims.

    “The same moral principles and considerat­ions apply to the issue of accepting social security, unemployme­nt insurance or other payments of that kind. It is obvious, in such cases, that a man receives his own money which was taken from him by force, directly and specifical­ly, without his consent, against his own choice. Those who advocated such laws are morally guilty, since they assumed the “right” to force employers and unwilling co-workers­. But the victims, who opposed such laws, have a clear right to any refund of their own money—and they would not advance the cause of freedom if they left their money, unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-st­ate administra­tion.”

    John W. Bales

  17. Anonymous says:

    “…it is obvious, in such cases, that a man receives his own money which was taken from him by force, directly and specifically, without his consent, against his own choice. Those who advocated such laws are morally guilty, since they assumed the “right” to force employers and unwilling co-workers. But the victims, who opposed such laws, have a clear right to any refund of their own money—and they would not advance the cause of freedom if they left their money, unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-state administration.”

    -Ayn Rand

    Source:
    http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/government_grants_and_scholarships.html

  18. thanks but no thanks says:

    Not trying to pick a fight, but I thought I would offer my viewpoint (as it runs counter to the views I have read here). I do not find it hypocritical as I would do the same. In theory, it is my money since I contributed to the programs. But, I would also offer this (really I would): You can keep all of the money I have contributed to Social Security and not pay me out a dime if you promise to stop collecting it. But, if you continue to take it, I will have no issues collecting it back. I do not believe this is hypocritical.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Nobody in the USA is actually talking about abolishing Social Security, are they?

      Isn’t this an argument that ended, oh, fifty or sixty years ago? IIRC, Rand’s “side” lost – and the argument remains lost.

      • thanks but no thanks says:

        So Rand’s “side” lost. I get it. I’m just responding to the charge of hypocrisy. I used Social Security because it involves the same principles. Does that help? Can we keep on topic now?

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          I guess so…if I vocally, publicly and often opposed and denounced the draft, but still reported for duty with alacrity when my number came up, would I be a hypocrite?

          This is the same situation, is it not? A government program which you opposes, yet in which you will yet participate, if you meet the qualifications for participation.

          Hypocrisy is not the word.
          More like pragmatic flexibility: rolling with the punches, so to speak.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            But I cannot help but note that ‘pragmatic flexibility’ is not an idea which I have heard associated with Ms Rand’s thinking. Nor am I aware that she ever stated such to be a virtue, or that she in any way considered it laudable either as a course of conduct or a manner of thought.

            She seems to have considered it to be more like a distasteful necessity.
            Thus, a private matter – no publicity.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      But no, I don’t think you’re hypocritical.

  19. JonStewartMill says:

    She only took the money to prevent it being awarded to someone undeserving of it.

  20. Joseph Hertzlinger says:

    Um … Consumer Reports and UL are both non-profits.

    Organizations independent of government count as honorary profit makers.

    On the other hand, bailout recipients don’t.

  21. Anonymous says:

    “But alas she did and said it was wrong for everyone else to do so. ”

    Not “alas” but “of course”. Jim Kerr, of the band Simple Minds, once said, “you know who casts the first stone? The guiltiest bastard in the crowd.” Ever notice that the most anti-gay Republicans turn out to be gay? When people preach, beware.

    Deceit, including hypocrisy, is the essence of conservatism.

  22. AirPillo says:

    Also a lot of people seem to be missing the point that she took steps to conceal that she was doing this.

    Instead of Rand making the point, like others are, that since she had to pay for it even though she disagreed with it, she might as well take advantage of it… she just kept it a secret that she accepted those benefits, presumably so she could profess that she didn’t.

    This isn’t just assaulting her character for benefiting from something she disagreed with. It’s impeaching her character by showing that seeking personal benefit while hiding it to save face was more important to her than standing up for her most valued beliefs.

    That does say something about a person. Not the accepting of government money, but the deceit inherent in the method.

  23. Anonymous says:

    It’s easy to point out that libertarians benefit from the welfare state they argue against, but this doesn’t imply hypocrisy on their side. It is often impossible not to benefit from goods or services provided, like the police or public roads. Other services could be refused (subsidies, grants, …), but accepting them is not in contradiction with their political position. For as they see it they were forced to pay for it through taxes, so they might as well use it. I even heard some libertarians defend this position as self-defense: they are just getting back the money the state stole from them in the first place.

  24. Anonymous says:

    “Once legalized theft begins, it pays for everyone to participate. Those who don’t will be losers.” -Walter Williams

  25. brad says:

    I have a question for all of you defending Rand by saying if it’s a forced system one might as well take back the money you’re forced to pay in; why did she use a false name?
    If it was well and good and did not pose any conflict with her stated principles why did she feel a need to lie about it?

    And as for the idea that she lacked the funds to pay for her own treatment out of pocket and couldn’t get a wealthy friend to pay for her… wouldn’t that mean, then, that she deserved to die? (In the context of her own value system, of course. I don’t mean to sound psychopathic. As you might guess I am not a Galtian.)

    Btw, for my money, the most comparable writer to Rand I’ve encountered is Erich von Daniken. Same willingness to take the small glimmer of an interesting idea to ludicrous, irrational ends, same pre-adolescent “I’m special and know the REAL truth of the world” arrogance in both writer and fans, same unwillingness to engage anyone who doesn’t come in pre-accepting the central pillars of their metaphysics.

    • zyodei says:

      If I understand correctly, she did not use a false name – it i Ayn Rand that was the assumed name. She used her real name.

  26. Boeotian says:

    You know, I went through 5 years studying philosophy to get my degree, but still after all this time honing my argumentative and linguistic skills, Ayn Rand and her minions are able to stir such loathe in the deepest recesses of my heart and utterly take me out of my game that I see all my rational and expressive capabilities hindered to the point that all I can feebly mutter about Rand is that she is a bloody twit and objectivism is bollocks.

  27. archanoid says:

    Reminds me of another staple of the far right: “The only moral abortion is mine.” (see: http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/anti-tales.html)

    It’s interesting to see the cognitive dissonance in a group of people claiming the government needs to stay out of people’s business while simultaneously advocating government bans on gay marriage and abortions.

  28. jjasper says:

    She was forced to pay into social security.

    Really? She was kept in the US against her will, like Soviet citizens, and prevented from defecting?

    She stayed in the US because she chose to. Ergo, she was NOT FORCED. Get it? Everyone here has a choice. We can either vote to change the laws, or get the hell out. No one if forced to stay in the USA.

    During Rand’s time, citizens of the USSR were, in fact, forced to live under communism. Defecting was prohibited. No one forced anyone to pay into Social Security, because that would mean forcing them to stay in the USA. That never happened. Rand stayed in the US by choice, and chose to take health care paid for by not only her taxes, but the taxes of others.

    She was, in fact, a hypocrite.

    • Anonymous says:

      True hypocrisy or not, Rand shows up as much less impressive than Socrates. I think I’ll go check out his ideas instead.

  29. Nadreck says:

    That Ayn Rand would commit criminal fraud for her personal benefit and then dream up a reason why the (gasp!) imperfection of the world made that OK is not surprising. It’s called abnegation of responsibility and is a common trait of psychopaths. The “Look at what you made me do!” syndrome.

    There also seems to be something along the lines of why all of the worst gay bashers are so far into the closet they’re in Narnia. Show me an “all government is evil” ranter and I’ll show you someone getting a hefty cheque from one.

    • jonw says:

      First of all, full disclosure here. I work for the US government (although I wouldnt call the paycheck “hefty”). I have yet to see a government that is not evil.

      Ayn Rand might have been a hypocrite, but the “all anti-government ranters are hypocrites” rant is a deliberate oversimplification. In the real world the government takes my money, and even if I have come to realize that I don’t like the government, it’s still the best way to make a living. After 18 years military service I know “they” have taken more from me than I’ll ever get from them.

      A gun control advocate can visit a bank that is protected by armed guards, and a pacifist can live in a country whose borders are guarded by armies. An environmentalist can rant about the evil of fossil fuel while living in a climate controlled building and buying food transported by truck. People can imagine an ideal world and work to make it a reality, even while living in the real world. An anarchist has no obligation to refuse “help” from a government that has robbed him all his life.

      • Brainspore says:

        After 18 years military service I know “they” have taken more from me than I’ll ever get from them.

        If you lost a couple of limbs in the service or something that statement makes sense- but monetarily? I find it extremely difficult to believe that you have already paid more in taxes than you’ve gained from 18 years’ worth of gross income (not to mention the lifetime of benefits to come). Unless you were already in an extremely high tax bracket for several years before enlisting I call BS.

  30. Joseph Hertzlinger says:

    When leftists look at typical conservatives, they almost always see people who are mindlessly following leaders—who were presumably chosen for their sterling characters.

    As a result of this erroneous opinion, they repeatedly try the tactic of pointing to hypocrisy (ObSF: The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson) on the part of the alleged leaders of the right wing in the hope that we wingnuts will change our minds. This has never worked.

    We don’t follow people because of their sterling character; we follow people who we think make sense. Bad character on the part of supposed idols is interesting but ultimately irrelevant gossip.

    • seyo says:

      We don’t point out the fact that these people are utter shit and pathetic excuses for humanity in the hopes of changing some wingnut’s mind. The definition of a wingnut is that they are immune to facts and reason.

    • Daddyology says:

      Not sure what your post has to do with Rand, but given how many Tea Partiers do, in fact, hold her up as some sort of idol (nay, an oracle whose wisdom is to never be questioned), act as if the Founding Fathers were godlike and flawless, and worship at the Church of Palin’s Twitter Feed, not sure this is the best thread to make your case.

      Just sayin’ … or typin’, in this case. :-)

  31. Anonymous says:

    If the number of comments on a topic is an indicator for interest it’s quite telling that the topic about an (for the rest of the world) obscure US-politician is generating more posts than the chaos in egypt (and tunisia and jordan).

    Ignorance?

  32. Bergjylt says:

    Not sure if I want to judge her. Most of us is in some way coerced by the society in which we live; that’s how human beings work. Even in a perfect market, the sheer momentum of the majority’s choices limits our options. Without other people, we die, and we are therefore eternally shackled to our fellow human beings, for better or worse. Rand, in her blind rage against authoritarian communism, could not, or would not see that.

    I’m in a similar situation (though I like to imagine can keep a clearer head). I am an anarchist socialist living in a socialist democrat state. That means that things that I consider the self-evident right of every human being, such as food, shelter and clothes, are distributed according to our usefulness to the state or to the private organizations the state favours – corporations. Those services which are provided, such as health care and minimal support when unemployed, are loaded with “incentives” to shape my life to the state’s convenience. My ability to take part in the organization of these services is severely limited; I have to take what the state assigns to me, or submit to the market distribution system, going abroad for certain goods and services. To add insult to injury, many of these services are produced and paid for in ways i consider morally abhorrent; sweatshop labour, arms industry, unethical investments, unsustainable resource use. The services I need to live arrive stained with blood them, and refusing to take part in them for fear of getting my hands all icky would require so much effort that it would be a full time job; I would effectively exclude myself from society. Some people can apparently do that. I know that I can’t, not without going completely batshit insane, or at least becoming a complete stranger to myself.

    Or, for an example close to Rand’s adopted home – the northern american infrastructure is built for cars. Many places, you can’t get anything done without burning some gas. Are you to blame for that, or the generations of civil engineers who carefully cultivated a cultured landscape where there is no space for human beings? If you set out to solve the problem, do you tell people to walk or bike to work trough miles of desert, or do you start reimagining the infrastructure?

    We all make compromises, which is just a nicer way of saying that we are all compromised. We can’t always live the way that we know we should. If a sick old woman should be criticized for that in any way, it can only, and then only barely, be for the failure to understand or admit the way things are.

  33. JonStewartMill says:

    Ayn Rand is a great self-help writer (I’ve known a few losers who’ve been spurred into rethinking their lives by reading her crap), one of the few who actually “work.”

    Wow, how crap does your life have to be if becoming a sociopath improves it?

  34. Neon Tooth says:

    In addition to the double cost, this ignores that government services shunt if not outright prevent comparable private services. Healthcare costs a lot more than it should due to government intervention.

    Must be news to all the giant private medical companies in this country. And yet other countries with socialized medicine spend less than we do. Sorry, but that dog won’t hunt.

  35. nprnncbl says:

    I’m surprised it’s taken until comment #267:

    Christ, what an asshole.

  36. Teller says:

    Lemme re-post my comment to Mr. Frauenfelder:

    “Left out of the above descriptive litany (speed-freak, etc) is “good writer” which she was. Both TF and AS are great reads.”

    Not great philosopher. Not visionary. Not my futurist. Good writer. Take a lude, folks.

    • mgfarrelly says:

      The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are bloody awful books. I’m a librarian and I’d rather read every James Patterson book on the “Best Seller Wall O’ Bollocks” at my library than slog through Rand’s screed-ridden tantrums again.

      The sexual juvenalia, the endless monologues, the characters who might as well enter the room shouting “HELLO, I AM A STRAW MAN!”, dreadful, terrible books.

      Popular? Oh yes. But then so is the flu.

  37. Anonymous says:

    “I have a question for all of you defending Rand by saying if it’s a forced system one might as well take back the money you’re forced to pay in; why did she use a false name?”

    She didn’t. O’Connor was her legal (married) name. Her maiden name was Rosenbaum. She chose the name Ayn Rand as a pen name but didn’t legally change her name. (Very few authors make their noms de plume into their legal names.)

    I’m not a Rand fan, by the way. But in this case I don’t see what the problem is.

  38. dballing says:

    I don’t see the hypocrisy. Randian philosophy would say, first and foremost, that the government shouldn’t be taking by force from the individual, and then, likewise, the individual shouldn’t be taking from “others” (as via the government).

    That said, though, so long as the government had already taken-by-force from her, in the form of immoral taxes, etc., etc., and there’s no moral quandary in getting as much of that money as possible.

    • Neon Tooth says:

      For every childishly labeled “coercive” tax she had to pay, she also did not have to pay private fees to use roads, police, courts, water pipes, sewer pipes, fire depts, etc. etc. on to fucking infinity.

    • Anonymous says:

      That said, though, so long as the government had already taken-by-force from her, in the form of immoral taxes, etc., etc., and there’s no moral quandary in getting as much of that money as possible.

      Well, I hope Ayn Rand and most of her followers are consistent enough to consider other beneficiaries of government aid the same way, instead of labeling them parasites. The one’s I’ve met weren’t.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, but did she get only exactly the amount of money out that she put into the system, or did she take as much as she needed to pay for her medical care?

      Medicare is social insurance, meaning that we all pay in, and then we get the benefits we need – those two values don’t have to match up. But in Rand’s case, if we are going to say she is not a hypocrite, then we would need to know that she only took what was taken from her. Otherwise, she was engaging with a system when she was telling her followers it was morally reprehensible to engage with that system. Which makes her a hypocrite.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Ayn Rand was a mentally ill drug addict with bizarre ideas of human excellence– her model for the perfect man was a serial rapist and murderer of young children– who wrote fiction of modest quality and no depth. The fact that Alan Greenspan worshipped at her feet and almost all the economists who had authority to screw up the economy idealized her theories says less about her than it does about the insignificance of strength or frailty of an idea, as compared to its value in rationalizing what one wants to do anyway.

    Because we fail to teach our school children to scrutinize and evaluate their perceptions and conclusions, because critical thinking has been out of favor since about the time of Socrates, this is how decisions affecting our lives will continue to be made.

  40. Modusoperandi says:

    “Objectivist” is generally an acronym for “self-centered asshole”*.

    * It’s not a very good acronym.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Rand spoke out in favor of air pollution. It was a sign that factory owners weren’t having their profits “stolen” by tyrannical government regulators making them buy green technology so that poor people would have free breathable air.

    • zyodei says:

      I’m consider myself an anarcho-libertarian. And Ayn Rand is a crank.

      The basis of libertarianism is individual and property rights, and the non-aggression principle.

      If I pollute your property, I am violating your property. That’s an aggressive violation of your rights. It’s a completely non-libertarian act. A libertarian society would not tolerate it.

      Ayn Rand got some things right. But she didn’t follow through to the logical conclusion of her arguments. She was blinded by ego, hubris, and emotional hatred of those who politically opposed her.

      The objectivists are a joke. They, as an organization, supported the aggressive invasion of Iraq. That’s pretty much all I need to know about them.

      In the modern libertarian movement, the anarchistic Murray Rothbard is a hugely more important and influential figure. The Ron Paul movement, influential internet presences such as Stephan Molyneaux, Lew Rockwell, strike-the-root.com, etc. are all descended from Rothbard, NOT from Ayn Rand. Rand and Rothbard were hardly allies – watch this humorous one act play that Rothbard wrote about Rand’s acolytes, called “Mozart Was a Red”:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIk5C2qsRH8

      So, why do people like to make fun of Ayn Rand decades after her death, while ignoring Rothbard? I think it’s because Rothbard’s ideas were much deeper, more consistent, and less easy to pick apart; also because Rothbard was generally a very positive, humble, and affable human being.

      If you want to know why libertarians feel so strongly about their ideas, forget Ayn Rand, read something by Rothbard, such as “For a New Liberty.” Right or wrong, it’s presents interesting ideas, and a revolutionary new blueprint for how society could function without a state.

      Ayn Rand has simply become the ubiquitous strawman for the left…

  42. st vincent says:

    And what about the tobacco subsidies for all of those cigarettes?

    There can be no compromise in posturing!

  43. HeisenbergUncertainty says:

    >yeah, but she lied about it

    No, the Rand Institute lists Ayn O’Connor as her legal name.

    But for the sake of argument, let’s say that it was a lie. An attack of character is a logical fallacy. Is that your only argument against her political philosophies?

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      …but Rand attacks the character of her opponents!
      And calls THAT an “argument”.
      At least, that is what I took from the Rand quote given by butcherknife, above.

      She calls them “morally guilty”, for cryin’ out loud.

  44. Wally Ballou says:

    Okay, so we have established that anyone who believes in effectively no government is an asshole.

    What about those who believe in somewhat less government than we have today?

    I think most BB’ers would agree with me that we could do without the TSA, and the DHS.

    What about those who agree that we could dispense with the IRS? We managed to survive without it for 130 years without sinking into a Hobbesian state of nature.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think that a part of the problem is that “government” is not genrally fungible. You can’t have “more” or “less” of it, except in the absolute binary sense. How would we define government so that it was fungible? Is government “things voted for?” How about “the body of laws on the books?” Or “the number of named agencies?” In other words, current government – (DHS + TSA) + healthcare is neither more nor less than “current government.”

      What we want are sane policies. Policies that contribute to something we would have to define as “good government.” To take the DHS/TSA example, I don’t think we’d mind if TSA provided, for example, Isreali-style airport security that was unuobtrusive, efficient, and effective, rather than the security theater we have now. We’d rather be safe than unsafe, and free than unfree.

      To treat the IRS example, what we want is not no taxes or no enforcement, but fair taxes and fair enforcement.

      Finally, to butcher a commonly incorrectly attributed quote, “Those who would sacrifice a little liberty to gain a little security are probably mature adults who have a basic understanding of the social nature of human beings and the need to get along, a desire mitigate the worst effects of the vagaries of life on the weakest members of society, and a vision for a brighter future brought about by fostering the common good.”

  45. Anonymous says:

    You would be amazed at the cognitive disconnect when it comes to people taking things for themselves while decrying it for others.
    This is a true story. I used to work at a GYN office that provides abortions. Day in and day out I would listen to the women who were there saying they didn’t believe in abortion, didn’t think people should have them – WHILE WAITING FOR THEIRS. The worst? The woman who said she agreed that abortion doctors deserved to die. SHE SAID THIS WHILE THE DOCTOR WAS IN THE ROOM. He asked her “do you think I deserve to die?” and she said yes. He then asked her to leave.

    People are hypocrites, all of us. Also, fuck Ayn Rand.

  46. Anonymous says:

    I think the proper headline is ‘Ayn Rand was a Welfare Queen’
    Because that brings it home. Want to not be broke after your cancer treatment? Shoulda sold more books! or get a second job!

  47. Anonymous says:

    Rock it Ragnar (Danneskjold) style–retrieve your taxes by any means necessary.

  48. legionabstract says:

    That Ayn Rand would commit criminal fraud for her personal benefit

    Well, just a second. Was it fraud? Or was she just trying to keep her name out of it? I thought it was the latter.

    • Neon Tooth says:

      And yet her defenders here say should have had nothing to be ashamed of………….

      • legionabstract says:

        It wouldn’t be the first time Rand couldn’t live up to her own standards (and may or may not have realized it). I don’t really care; I like her as a writer and I like about 90% of her philosophy and her life was her business. (So to speak.)

  49. Bloodboiler says:

    Its fun when Objectivist –what a moronic name for -isim– faces reality.

    http://www.angryflower.com/atlass.gif

  50. Anonymous says:

    I think the hypocrisy is that she might have received more money back from the government than she put. With normal insurance, people gamble and pay a little bit of money in case they get really sick and need a lot of money to pay the bills. If you get sick, then great for you, if not, you just helped pay for someone else’s health.

    This suggests that Rand was benefiting off of the money that people who didn’t get sick were forced to pay for her own care:

    “Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out.”

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Anon #173: Given a single-source public health insurance scheme, maybe: otherwise, your “unused” coverage may just be going to buy a nicer rig for the Insurance Co. CEO’s yacht.

  51. Zizkov says:

    I’m not a fan of Rand’s, but in less than a minute, I managed to find some fairly clear writing by her (also quoted above by John W. Bales) that posits her view that Social Security and welfare/mediacare are morally wrong and the programs ought not to be imposed by the government, but that taking back what you you paid into it, is morally correct.

    Calling her reciept of SS/medicare hypocritical, in this light, just seems like sloppy work by the original author.

    • paul beard says:

      “Security and welfare/mediacare are morally wrong and the programs ought not to be imposed by the government, but that taking back what you you paid into it, is morally correct.”

      Is there any possibility she said this in anticipation of or perhaps while cashing those checks?

      As noted in #19,

      “There can be no compromise on basic principles. There can be no compromise on moral issues. There can be no compromise on matters of knowledge, of truth, of rational conviction.” – Ayn Rand

  52. Hools Verne says:

    You should read some of the bile she spewed at Branden when he left her flock.

  53. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Randroid Narrative Jostled, Readjusts. Film at 11.

  54. Anonymous says:

    I’m a oncology social worker, and I’m sorry to say that we get sick, uninsured people all the time who are desperately looking for a program (such as Medicaid) to pay for medical care when they’re diagnosed with cancer. And yet they STILL disparage “out-of-control government spending” as they’re asking for a handout. Another recurrent them is “There’s no money for medical care for real Americans because the Mexicans have taken it all,” and “it’s easy for immigrants to get free medical care, but not Texans born and bred.” This is not the case; there are almost no resources for people who are not in this country legally. If I remember the term correctly, I believe this should create “cognitive dissonance,” and yet they rarely seem to notice the inconsistency of their views.

  55. Anonymous says:

    While maybe not liking the system she certainly paid into it and was legally entitled (ooh that word)to it’s benefits. The fact that she used her husband’s last name to collect shows me that she was more interested in preserving the Randian brand more than coming to grips with the fact that what she railed against she now has to ask for.

  56. Anonymous says:

    As an anarcho-capitalist: GOOD.

    Maybe the Randroids will stop the damn hero worship, move on and adopt the principles which Ayn Rand has been highly criticized within our communities for so badly lacking.

  57. Xenu says:

    I just realized the article is from over a month ago. Funny how this is just catching our attention now.

  58. IronyElemental says:

    I am not responsible for this delightful article.

    I really must give all credit to my cousin, HypocrisyElemental.

  59. Neon Tooth says:

    A persons human value is tied to their cash value, yet our hero ends up short on cash. lolz.

  60. MrJM says:

    “My idol’s clay feet are evidence of her brilliant perfection.”

  61. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t this “unethical egoism”?

  62. Anonymous says:

    So the Goddess of the UltraRightWing was herself a hypocrite? Makes sense.

  63. TheEvilGreebo says:

    “You are clearly rationalizing. Rand´s stated philosophy would absolutely forbid her from taking any kind of would she would have called handouts from the government.”

    No – her philosophy would forbid the Government from CREATING the handouts.

    Once wronged by being forced to fund such handouts, one cannot be FURTHER wrong by receiving back what one has been forced to surrender.

    • Bergjylt says:

      Um… in other words, two wrongs make a right?

      • TheEvilGreebo says:

        Only if you think being repaid for that which was taken from you by force is wrong.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          Ah yes all laws effecting property passed in a democracy with which you personally disagree with = “force”.

          What bullshit.

          • TheEvilGreebo says:

            Fail to pay the taxes you are told are due, suffer the consequences, and then suggest that force is not involved.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            What do you expect when you fail to abide by the laws duly passed?

            What are you, a free-riding parasite?

          • TheEvilGreebo says:

            Is it your opinion that using terms like bullshit and making slights against the character of those with whom you disagree lends credit to your arguments?

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            QWorked for ayn erand: sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander.
            Bitch all you want, but pay your taxes.

            Good luck fomenting and starting your armed revolution to overcome the will of the duly elected legislature.

          • TheEvilGreebo says:

            What a tremendous insight you must have, to divine that because I think forced taxation is evil that I must, let us see – evade taxes, am greedy and selfish, and do nothing for others, while supporting the idea of an armed revolution.

            In fact I agree that one cannot morally make money without being of service to others – and so did Ms. Rand.

            I am curious, though, how you feel you are entitled to a slice of the proceeds from the work I do in which I am of service to others, and how you feel you are entitled to a slice of their proceeds as well.

            I and those with whom I engage in trade pay our debts to each other – you demand we also pay you. Which of us, then, is truly the greedy one?

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            I seek precisely nothing from you, not even your agreement or respect.

            But once the deabte is over, it’s over.

            If her philosophy is to encourage people to do good for others, and to pay their just debts, you could complain?

            But that is not her philosophy, is it?

            Her philosophy is that any involvement of the Government in “monetary or economic” matters (as if we can slice and dice reality!)
            is MORALLY wrong.

            But it is not so, if it has been consented to by the people, and in a democracy, that is in fact the case.

            The Randians are yet arguing things that were settled long long ago: we active people have more pressing matters to discuss in our politics, than her theories of how people ought to live.

            I would not want your grandmother to not receive adequate medical care, because we have been too busy debating the abstract morality of compassion and taxation.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            “If her philosophy is to encourage people to do good for others, and to pay their just debts, who could complain?”

            There we go, fixed.

  64. Bemopolis says:

    This reminds me — I haven’t finished Bioshock 2 yet.

  65. Anonymous says:

    Ayn Rand was the original Tea Partier.

  66. adonai says:

    Say what you like about Ayn, if it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t have Bioshock. She gets a point for that.

  67. Oceanconcepts says:

    @Julien Couvreur

    Healthcare costs a lot more than it should due to government intervention. Private currency and banking is highly constrained and regulated (legal tender laws).

    Interesting that in countries where healthcare is more controlled by government, either through a single payer insurance scheme or by close regulation of the insurance industry, costs are half to a third of the much less regulated American system, with better health outcomes by any objective measure. And that while ordinary banking is quite regulated (and federally insured), the unregulated private mortgage industry and the unregulated derivatives markets handed us a whopper of a financial crisis.

    Utopian schemes like libertarianism (or communism) fail in the real world. We live in a mixed economy. Health care suffers from many well known economic problems that make it not amenable to radical free market solutions- informational asymmetry and the fact that costs are highly unpredictable for individuals- what Rand encountered- being just two examples.

    Friedrich Hayek, who was pretty suspicious of the State, said this in “The Road to Serfdom:”

    “Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance — where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks — the case for the state’s helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong.”

    • Julien Couvreur says:

      “Interesting that in countries where healthcare is more controlled by government”

      A few commenters made that reply above. I would question how you evaluate “more controlled”. The AMA, FDA, Medicare/Medicaid, government healthcare spending (50% of all spending in the US), patent system, legal system, etc. are pretty deep interventions.

      Now, I agree that all interventions are not equal, and there is unfortunately not numerical measure of “intervention”, as each has numerous un-intended effects and the compounding is very complex.
      This is why understanding fundamental economic analysis is very important.

      As a frenchman, I can tell you that universal healthcare system there is known to be unsustainable since a number of years. The crash is postponed with shifts in the government budget and debt accumulation.
      The health results may be ok (ignoring the wait times and bureaucratic decisions) or maybe even better, but that doesn’t say much. The soviet union impressed the world with its space program, but that offers no evidence in support of that economic system.

      “… the unregulated private mortgage industry and the unregulated derivatives markets …”

      This one is funny given that a central bank sets base interest rates, that the law sets a fractional reserve system, that Freddie/Fannie offer insurance, that the FED offers bailout, etc.

      “… utopian schemes …”

      A crimeless society is also a utopia. But we still strive for less crime, don’t we?

      “well known economic problems (information asymmetry, etc.)”

      Yes, the world is full of problems. The question is whether they are best solved by entrepreneurial ingenuity or central planning.
      The problems do not and cannot magically disappear, but they can be addressed as effectively as economically possible. Where there is an important problem, there is an opportunity to profit by finding a solution. Some examples are the invention of barb wire, Consumer Report, Underwriter Labs, second-hand car warranties, etc.

      Regarding F.A. Hayek, although I admire him and his contribution (especially in the context at the time), I do not regard his every words as golden truth.

      • noen says:

        Julien Couvreur in reply to Oceanconcepts
        “A few commenters made that reply above. I would question how you evaluate “more controlled”.”

        Keep shifting those goalposts there honey.

        “This one is funny given that a central bank sets base interest rates, that the law sets a fractional reserve system, that Freddie/Fannie offer insurance, that the FED offers bailout, etc.”

        Libertarianism can never fail, it can only be failed. The global financial system didn’t collapse due to insufficient regulation, it collapsed because there was too much regulation!

        “A crimeless society is also a utopia. But we still strive for less crime, don’t we?”

        Narcissism is a personality disorder but we still strive for… oh wait…

        “Some examples are the invention of barb wire,”

        Seriously? Someone invented barbed wire therefore government regulation of the health industry is evil? You left out a few steps I think.

        • Julien Couvreur says:

          [Skipping the first three worthless comments.]

          “Seriously? Someone invented barbed wire therefore government regulation of the health industry is evil? You left out a few steps I think.”

          Nice strawman. Repeat and distort my comment, then knock it down with a killer blow.

          Read my whole comment. The point is that there are many real difficulties such as information asymmetry, containment of property, non-enclosed goods (atmosphere), but as my examples illustrate profits will attract solutions. In other words, it does not follow from the existence of such problems that use of government power is a good or a better solution.

  68. BrendanBabbage says:

    Here’s a result of her philosophy…

    I heard through personal connections I won’t divulge about a guy who did operate on himself. He was a college student, and hyper right wing/anti hippie, etc. Yes, a fan of her works… He was just broke and too proud to ask anyone for charity and it was an appendix about to burst so he couldn’t work an extra job to raise it up. This was decades ago.

    So, he raved for them for hours and hours about how he hated how expensive he found them and both translated to today’s dollars and in comparative economy absurd. But, simply put, he was too proud to take out a loan or apply for any charity, and they’d even pointed out they’d refer him to plenty of ‘right wing’ charities so sick of “Steal this book” hippies taking up all the $ who’d love him as a good example.

    More or less to shut him the F*ck up, they “Rented” him a set of tools and a medical book that showed how to remove an appendix. They thought he’d just touch himself with a scalpel, chicken out, and run back to them.

    He came back three days later with a bizarre expression an insane smile. The bloody tools, the book bloody and two reels of film. He’d done it himself. So, in sheer panic they admitted him for free and watched the movie.

    Ever seen “Korgoth of Barbaria”? Where the barbarian clobbers/maims a few people then really tears apart one person…? Hehe look it up on Youtube, “A whole new spectrum of PAIN”…

    Well, it was like that. They watched the film to see what they’d have to do to repair what damage he did to himself. He’d cut himself, scream, then they’d scream watching it. He did amazingly, incredibly well, though of course that goes without saying considering he survived. He fainted with pain, twice…

    Long and short, they gave him a free antibiotic prescription and congratulated him and paid him $ for those reels. They’d never have given him the equipment if they thought he’d do what he did. And they were scared they’d lose their licenses, that’s why they didn’t try to insist he get “Free” mental health care, they wanted NO judge/Board to see that film.

    After they calmed down, they made the money back by showing the film to anyone else who talked about operating on himself. They went from $600 for the operation and anesthetic to “Here’s $700 dope me like a drug fiend!!!’ and had fun betting on how long they could watch the film. Then the 80s rolled around and the accountant/insurance clerk burned the film fearing an ambulance chaser. They even later met the randdroid again, he’d really gotten well-off and had a family and all that. The next time he met them he paid for his operation, out of a bank account (“And to think I complained back then…”) and apologized how he’d behaved…

  69. Anonymous says:

    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

    http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2009/03/ephemera-2009-7.html

  70. Anonymous says:

    The real issue is that these hyper-religious Tea Party members fail to realize that Ayn Rand was an atheist.

  71. mick travis says:

    As Pryor said, “Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out”

    Really? She’s one of the best selling authors in the 20th century even while she was alive, she got money for speaking appearances, rented a nice crib in Manhattan and she couldn’t afford a doctor? I kinda doubt it.

    In other news – Naomi Klein participates in capitalist pig-dog system, likes labels…

    • Sarah Neptune says:

      Agreed. Further, this caught my attention: “could be totally wiped out.” Getting welfare in order to protect your stash is fraud.
      My comment is general, not specific to Rand or her writing as I know and care nothing of her or it.

  72. Ugly Canuck says:

    Yes, here in the Canada, the air is big.

  73. sdmikev says:

    Mark Ames put it PERFECT when it came to libertarians:

    “Anytime anyone says anything libertarian, spit on them. Libertarians are by definition enemies of the state: they are against promoting American citizens’ general welfare and against policies that create a perfect union. Like Communists before them, they are actively subverting the Constitution and the American Dream, and replacing it with a Kleptocratic Nightmare.”

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s sad that popular discourse has shifted the meaning of words so much. I’m a fan of Exiled and Ames, but I find that his repetition of American corporatespeak in ignorance of historical and international usage disturbing.

      Historically both libertarians and communists (they tended to be the same people) were for both the “general welfare” “union[s]“.

      When you think libertarian, think Emma Goldman, not Ron Paul.

      When you think communist, think Kropotkin, not Stalin.

      Just because someone applies a label to themselves does not mean that the label makes logical sense.

      Communism historically meant an economy with as close to perfect equality as possible. Is that what the USSR had? No. Yet equating communism with Stalinism stuck. To paraphrase Chomsky, both the dominant ideological systems during the cold war supported equating communism with the USSR, but for opposite reasons. The military bureaucratic elite in the USSR wanted to be associated with communism because the word meant good and just and egalitarian (like democracy). The West wanted to associate the term communism with the USSR to discredit communism and prevent anti-capitalist movements from taking up it’s banner closer to home.

      The term Libertarian has a similar history. It referred to anti-state socialists (anarchists) for a century before the word was hijacked by pro- laissez-faire capitalist right wingers.

      Anarchism is at it’s core, not so much anti-government (Proudhon’s biting and brilliant “to be governed” aside) but opposed to all coercive forms of hierarchy such as the state, organized religion, capitalism, racism, patriarchy, etc. Anarchists envision and support various forms of non-hierarchical self-governance based on mutual aid and voluntary association such as localized or federated democratic structures (unions, councils, etc).

      From the 1850s to the 1970s the term libertarian referred exclusively to the left (anti-capitalists). It was only in the early 1970s that the USA Libertarian Party hijacked the term. In most of the world libertarian is still refers to anarchists or anarchist leaning political orientations of the left.

      http://www.infoshop.org/page/AnarchistFAQSectionA1#seca13

    • Hools Verne says:

      Rand hated Libertarians.

      • Ugly Canuck says:

        How did she feel about constitutional monarchists?

        • Hools Verne says:

          Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahaha

          My guess is that so long as said constitutional monarchs adhered to her aesthetic and metaphysical theories unquestioningly, she’d be all for them… after spending a week or two rationalizing the fuck out of it to her inner sanctum.

          P.S: I love you.

  74. Anonymous says:

    I think Objectivists will agree that I have a right to whatever I buy. I am also free to go in association with my neighbors and buy something big. If we want to call our association The US Government and use it to buy insurance, we can. What’s the problem?

  75. asbuuu says:

    I can’t make it through all the comments here, but I will still put in my two cents: There’s nothing hypocritical about what she did. Only the simplest reading of her philosophy would suggest that. But oh, the excitement with which people would like to dismiss her. Indeed, she is a polarizer.

  76. TheEvilGreebo says:

    It is a shame that such a great amount of worthy debate has been raised over a straw man article which has falsely put words in Ayn Rands mouth.

    It would do much credit to these would be journalists if they would check their claims about was actually said before posting them. The checking is, after all, easily done.

  77. TheEvilGreebo says:

    I would further add that if having been passed by a democratic system is the sole measure of what constitutes a moral law, then on an island inhabited by three people, two of them can vote to make the third their slave and to do all of the work on their behalf, and such an action would be, by the standards of purely democratic means testing, perfectly moral.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Yeah well I live in a great city, not a desert island: and my particpation in the political process invests me and my family with a stake n this society: and if you evade your taxes, a criminal you are, and ought indeed to be treated as such.

      The debate is long over: man up and pay your taxes, you greedy selfish swine, and join society, the source of all your subsistence and comforts.

      PS Good luck making money and getting by, if you aren’t doing some good for others in some way!

  78. Tom Pringle says:

    Social Security and Medicare are programs which we are forced to pay into. We are entitled to be reimbursed by them.
    That is a huge difference from someone insisting that the government owes them a living including women who have one child after another and expect the taxpayer to pay for it.
    The slothfulness of the welfare class is one of the reasons this economy is in shambles. If you cut off their checks, they would probably and begrudgingly look for a job.

    • Beeks says:

      I agree that there are those who make a living out of welfare and abuse the system but to say that all people who receive welfare are slothful is an unfair generalization.

      I am a single mom and up until a year ago when my health went I was both working and going to school. I continued to work for six months after my health problems began until it became clear I no longer could. Unfortunately, my health is still poor and prevents me from working and from continuing education as well. I exhausted every possible resource and have tried and am still trying to get well again so that I can support myself and my daughter. This however, might not be a possibility. So yes, I accept government assistance so that I can put food on the table and get the healthcare I need and I have no shame in that fact. I am so grateful that these programs are in place because I honestly don’t know what would happen to my daughter or me without that assistance.

      The problem is nor that people on welfare are slothful but in the way the welfare system is run. It keeps people so busy with proving their need for assistance and jumping through ridiculous hoops that it takes up nearly all of their time. If the system remains the way it is, how and when exactly are people receiving assistance supposed to actually get a decent job and/or the training needed for it?

      • Bergjylt says:

        Maybe unnecessary, but felt like pointing out that I agree with you on this, Beeks. I’ve lived in a welfare state all my life, and my experience pretty much confirms what you say. I can’t speak for wherever you live, but here, there is no “welfare class”. There is a number of disabled people who will never be able to work again, pensioners, and people on their way back into employment. The state operates a bit like a giant temp agency, supporting its citizens/employees until their labour can be sold to a customer.

        The attitude here is that there will always be people who abuse the system, but the benefits, in the form of social stability, the system brings to society as a whole makes the cost of a few leeches utterly irrelevant.

        I’m not sure how much translates. But here, the welfare system is set up to make the situations in which abuse may seem attractive very few. And while it’s easy – ridiculously easy – to swindle the state, getting away with it is bloody hard. You might live rich for a year, two years (in one case, it turned out a woman had been cashing in for imaginary children for a decade) – but the state auditors will catch up, and demand their money back. If you slip trough the cracks this year, there’s another check in six months. All things considered, abuse is usually minor – the kind of wobble in the dance that stops the system from seizing up. Even the big cases are a pittance when compared to the national budget or the GDP, of course, making the conservative-libertarians look like whining Scrooges whenever they try to pipe up about it.

        The big issue here is the ongoing privatization of services and attempts to streamline the welfare system to cut costs. For example: It turned out that every hospital and health service provider which has been transferred from a state-run model to a “business” model has become more inefficient, spends more money on bureaucracy, is less flexible, and provides fewer and poorer quality services for each coin spent by the state, with an additiona problem of the “board of directors” lining their pockets with fat “bonuses” and wage increases. It speaks in the favour of the social democrat system that even in decline, their services are still pretty damn good. If it has a fault, and it is a big fault, it is its vulnerability to infiltration by leeches on the top, not at the grass roots.

        • chgoliz says:

          That was a very useful and informative post, and your summation line

          If it has a fault, and it is a big fault, it is its vulnerability to infiltration by leeches on the top, not at the grass roots.

          was brilliant.

    • Brainspore says:

      Social Security and Medicare are programs which we are forced to pay into. We are entitled to be reimbursed by them.

      When you pay into social security you aren’t paying for your own benefits, you’re paying for the benefits of the previous generation. When you draw social security benefits you’re taking money from the next generation.

      If you think social security is an inherently evil program then the fact that you were robbed by your elders is no excuse for doing the same to future generations. It’s like saying your child abuse is OK because your parents inflicted the same thing on you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Most of them do anyways, if they don’t already have a job that isn’t enough. You can’t assume that eliminating welfare would just happen to create as many economic opportunities people as the people using it need.

  79. Cowcharge says:

    Oh please, that was so slanted I had to jack one side of my desk up to read it (note to self: next time, remove drink before jacking up desk). C’mon, taking her husband’s last name, and not registering with the government under her entirely made-up pen name, was “sneakily” using an “assumed” name, or “criminal fraud” as some commenter put it? The speed was prescribed, unlike say, Hunter Thompson’s. 5 minutes’ research shows that the “killer fangirl” crap is just that, crap. And the author thinks that a 69 year-old woman with lung cancer (a Jewish woman who almost starved as a teenager during the Russian Revolution, graduated from high school at 14 or 15 and taught soldiers to read at 16, and was one of the first group of Russian women allowed into college before emigrating to the US at 21) should choose to die, and opt out of gov’t benefits that she wasn’t allowed to opt out of paying for (benefits that he no doubt regards as universally necessary in civilized society), over a philosophical principle she was prevented by law from living up to? WTH kind of logic is that? That’s just pure spite. And regardless of how we perceive the need for environmental and safety regs etc., I gotta ask, how is so many companies moving overseas to more hospitable countries by the innovators and business leaders, leaving the American economy in ruins, not Atlas shrugging? They just picked China instead of Colorado and used Swiss banks instead of bartering.

  80. ill lich says:

    Whether Rand was a hypocrite or not I ultimately don’t care. I just think Libertarianism is selfish and short-sighted, and the people who espouse it are almost always assholes. That’s proof enough for me that it’s no damn good for anyone.

    Libertarianism is like saying “we can fix all our traffic problems by getting rid of traffic lights and stop signs and speed limits, it’ll work itself out, eventually.”

  81. Cowicide says:

    As I said at DM about this:

    Conserveolibertarians… nobody does hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance better.

  82. Ugly Canuck says:

    How does Ms Rand’s philosophy differ from that of an active and clever criminal?

    Why the disgust and distaste for accommodative politics?

    Compromise is thelife-blood of politics: the extreme events of Mes Rands youth, reflecting the extreme, and extremely bloody, political events of the twentieth century, has IMHO resulted in her adumbrating a philosophy which reflects its genesis.

    It is a philosophy of perpetual conflict: a philosophy to justify and support war.

    A war to preserve and protect all of one’s property solely for one’s exclusive use.

    Fortunately, such a philosophy is not well-designed to scale up into effective group or mass action. Because, afetr all, it posits that all are out for themselves.

    Like Hobbes, but without a Sovereign to over-awe all: a step back from the philosophy of the 1500s and 1600s.

    Too simple to be of any real or practical political use, other than perhaps an amusement or exercise, a kind of ‘thought-experiment”.

    A philosophy for those yet learning, and those not willing to put in the time to patiently observe how people live their actual day-to-day physical lives in our societies.

    A philosophy of the young, the healthy and the independent.
    Thus, a philosophy unsuited for the broad mass of people, that is, for those who are not young, nor healthy, nor independent. For the people who need other people most.

    A pitiless philosophy.
    A heartless philosophy, but an understandable reaction to the cruelties she and her family experienced at the hands of the powerful in her youth.

    Not a useful philosophy for a democracy.

  83. Yamara says:

    Surely if objectivism worked, it would be automatically self-evident? Where’s all that stoic self-sufficiency, Randians? Why all the defensive posturing it its place? Every time I see a satire or critique of Rand, her followers flock to comment, and then I think of only two words:

    Atlas blinked.

  84. Ugly Canuck says:

    Rand had good personal reasons for feeling the way she did about Communists, and their style of brutal, authoritarian and centralized government: but she errs in thinking that her personal experiences can serve as a kind of blueprint for all people, at all times, in all social situations, regardless of the specific technical, environmental or other cultural and social circumstances (for that would be, if I understand Rand correctly, to enter into an “unacceptable moral compromise” of the purity of the principles).

    Rand’s problem, which IMHO she has in common or shares with many fine, vigorous and exceptional intellects, is that she takes her own experiences – and the principles she derives therefrom – as characteristic of all people everywhere.

    But people’s experiences are never so: we are irreducibly and inescapably creatures of our places and times, and are necessarily limited to the knowledge of only our own times, aided by whatever glimpses of the past our incomplete, partial and biased histories may discover to us: and only the truths of mathematics, physics, chemistry and engineering are are true for all people everywhere, always.

    Such ought never to be the claim of political theory – it just is not on.

    Ayn Rand’s time has past.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      First paragraph above is badly stated: my idea is she would seem to be a “principled ideologue”, in that her stated principles as to human nature are held by her to operate regardless of the time or place or technological state of any specific human society.

      They are held as general truths, and to alter or adapt those principles, those truths, by having any such regard would be to “morally compromise” those principles.

      I’m way way too much of a relativist to buy into any sort of absolute truths when it comes to politics.

      Who gives a rat’s ass about the purity of principles?
      Human need is the engine of all society & politics. Not human greed!

  85. zyodei says:

    I think it’s useful to define exactly what a ‘government’ is. A government is the single entity in a geographic area that can use force, coercion, or violence to achieve its ends. That is the single most important distinguishing factor of a government versus other types of social institution.

    Not that these means are often used, of course: but they are always there, and everyone knows they are there.

    What is the difference between a charity and a welfare agency? A charity receives it’s money voluntarily, a welfare agency receives it’s funding through coercive means.

    A great advantage of the second type of organization is that if the contributors feel that the institution is either corrupt or not achieving it’s goals, they can simply cut off the money and force change in some way.

    What is the difference between a sewage utility paid for through taxes and a private sewage company? If you don’t pay your taxes that fund the sewage company, eventually you will have armed sheriff’s deputies at your door forcing you to leave because you no longer legally own your house. The penalty for not paying the sewage company is, well, you’ll have shit all over your floor.

    One of these, it seems to me, is a natural effect of not paying your shit dues – the other isn’t.

    Of course, there are many services that must be provided in society. There is no question about their necessity. Children must be educated, food must be inspected for safety, those incapable of providing for themselves must be helped, the health of people must be maintained, roads must be built, a stable currency must exist, and, yes, shit must be pumped. The question is, how to do it? How many of these very important social functions should we entrust to what is, in practice, a very static and easy to corrupt entity? Do we need to employ the threat of violence to keep the shit running through the pipes? How many, on the other hand, should be taken care of by whoever can demonstrate to the people affected that they can do the job best?

    Besides just the inefficiency and slowness to adapt of the first system, one can’t overstate the danger of unscrupulous players influencing this system to subvert the ‘service’ into the cause of a social harm, often catastrophically greater than any private group could do on their own.

    I strongly believe that the vast majority of humans are basically good, morally guided, and decent people. But, unquestionably, there is a small percentage that is sociopathic.

    If you create one class of humans, and it becomes known that that class can commit violence or use force and coercion without social reprisal, well, over the generations, where do you think all the people in society most prone to using violence to achieve their means will gravitate to? Who seeks political power with a pure heart, and has the stomach to stay in it for the years and decades necessary to get anywhere without being tarnished?

    This problem is multiplied by the fact that all institutions tend to self-select to choose people who fit into the culture of the institution. Over time, it gets to be like a bacterial culture that has eaten all of the food, leaving only the bacteria – until they too starve.

    It’s a very difficult to solve problem. Even if one generation is vigilant to protect against it, there is no guarantee that the next won’t.

    Voluntarily arrangements are much less susceptible to this problem, because once the good people get wise they can simply abandon the group, and leave the rotten core to wither away.

    Manipulative people always prey on the moral sense of the decent people they are trying to exploit, to convince them that disagreeing with them is an immoral action.

    This is why societies composed of decent people can be led to murderous ruin. This is why government is simply to dangerous to be allowed to exist.

    The fundamental rule of society must be that no person is allowed to initiative force or violence, ever. It should be taught to every child at a very young age…

    Thanks for taking the time to read :)

    • Bergjylt says:

      “One of these, it seems to me, is a natural effect of not paying your shit dues – the other isn’t.”

      So you’re a fan of Rosseau – shaping behaviour and thus society trough the “natural” consequences for every act? Can’t see that working – why is someone putting shit all over your floor by blocking your sewage pipe more natural than someone grabbing you by the scruff of your neck and kicking you out of your house?

      I can see the advantages of immediate consequences and short causal sequences when teaching children, but unless we’re going to abandon all faith in the cognitive potential of the human species, the more complicated solution, which incidentally does not result in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to property appears vastly preferable.

      Yeah, yeah, I cut one sentence out of a long and really interesting ramble, and I got all nearsighted on your example. Couldn’t help myself :) Sorry about that, but I’m loosing track of the conversation. Is there a well-designed little politics forum, maybe with some of that delightful threading structure (mmm, threading…) anwyhere we could talk more about this?

    • Anonymous says:

      Everything you said is true. Except: in most of history, when several different people are able to use force or coercion to get their way, it ends up even worse. Cartels of violence are just as prone to abuse and institutional self-selection as monopolies, plus their quarreling gives a little bonus damage to bystanders.

  86. Anonymous says:

    Her real first name was Alisa, not Ann. Fake name.

  87. Modusoperandi says:

    Not completely off-topic, but completely amusing to me:

    “You’re special, Howard Roark. You’re special and you’re strong and people hate you for that. People hate you because you’re special and smart and they want you to fail. They want you to fail because they’re dumb and average and dull and they’re jealous of how special and smart and strong and special you are and they want you to fail, Howard Roark, because you’re special and…” (Enlightenedly self-interestedly stolen from myself)

  88. angryhippo says:

    She obtained these benefits under a different name. Something tells me she didn’t want to disrupt the narrative with reality.

  89. Xenu says:

    I’m sure she also benefited from highways, police, firefighers, etc.

    No man is an island, no matter how selfish they are.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s not the same thing, since one has little choice in those matters, where as she could have easily chosen not to apply for Medicare and Social Security.

    • Anonymous says:

      What a suprise another right winger with feet of clay.

  90. haypenny says:

    I lol’d.

  91. Anonymous says:

    When every card-carrying Republican refuses their social security, as well as any benefits from Obama’s health care reform, then this might mean something.

    This country has never seen a real “Capitalism” system of government, just as it has never seen a real “Socialism” system. When employed in their true forms, each suffers from the same failing: Human integrity. I’ve studied “Objectivism” (Ayn Rand’s philosophy), and while there is much in it that I agree with, its ultimate outcome, pure Capitalism, relies heavily on humans who are are honorable, trustworthy and have the ethical integrity required to make the system work. History has shown time and again that there simply aren’t enough of those types to do the job. On the other end of the spectrum, Socialism in its purer form fails for the identical reason (to be fair, it actually seems to fail more spectacularly than does Capitalism).

    America has a “mixed economy”, and has had since I’ve been alive. This mixes elements of both Capitalism and Socialism, and since everybody seems to claim that it is the best form of government ever devised, then I’d have to say that there is no shame at all in utilizing the subsidies that that same government affords.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Both philosophies are born of the 1840s: and both show their antiquity when one seeks to impose them on present realities and organiaztions.

      All political economies have always and ever been “mixed” in the sense which you mean: the question as always and ever remains: who gets the benefits of the monopolies? Who prevents monopolies? Who enforces monopolies?

      Monopolies of coinage, of trade, of border control, of force, of prescription.

      This brings the rather aerial discussions of “socialism” and “capitalism” back down to earth, to the here and now: to our present and specific questions of governance, policy, business, and life.

      The practice of regulation is not going anywhere, nor should it: and it has been standardization, and scientific/technical advancement (N.B. the role that Governments – and war – has played in bringing about both) not capitalism per se, nor “moral purity” (whatever that may consist of), which has brought us (all of us, everywhere) to our present high level of material prosperity.

      • Hools Verne says:

        The practice of regulation is not going anywhere, nor should it: and it has been standardization, and scientific/technical advancement (N.B. the role that Governments – and war – has played in bringing about both) not capitalism per se, nor “moral purity” (whatever that may consist of), which has brought us (all of us, everywhere) to our present high level of material prosperity.

        I hope you would agree that this is a problem.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          Nothing you can do to change the past: and the good (standardization and tech advances including medical advances) things that have come about or arisen from the bad things (war) ought not to be discarded simply because of that origin or initial impetus.

          Valuable and useful knowledge often comes only at a high price: think of how people came to know which specific mushrooms are poisonous, and which edible.

          Keep what is good, discard what is bad, yet remember their relation: is not that the description of the path of all science and knowledge?

          • Hools Verne says:

            I wasn’t advocating that we all become Luddites. Just pointing out that the paradigm remains unchanged whether the people pushing it are honest about it or try and hide it in sentiments like “the will of the market” or “moral superiority”. Our addiction to progress goes hand in hand with our addiction to war and far far far too many people apologize for that. Look at how many people are so head over heals for any advancement in hard A.I. that they turn blind eyes to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the funding comes from DARPA. It’s a tightrope walk.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            “Our addiction to progress goes hand in hand with our addiction to war…”

            Correlation is not causation.

            IMHO, it has now become rather the reverse: war (on our small planet, in our nuclear age) rather than acting as a spur, is becoming instead an impediment to our “addiction to progress”: by which phrase I take it you are referring to our penchant or predilection (IMHO, our wholly natural preference) for physical and mental ease, comfort, and even luxury – and more generally, our desire to be free from the necessity of toil to continue and maintain our life.

            For war generally increases toil, no doubt about that: indeed, that is why people work so hard to devise means by which to lessen toil while war is ongoing, and why we now have the atom bomb.

            War is counter-productive to human progress and happiness.

            Now more than ever.

          • jonw says:

            “War is counterproductive” is an oversimplification. From the Danes sacking London a thousand years ago, to the US “securing oil fields” today, war improves quality of life for the winners, which is why we still do it. I hate invading other nations as much as the next guy, but there’s no escaping the fact that the luxurious life enjoyed in the USA today is the result of winning a long list of wars to acquire land and resources.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            Things changed during the 20th century.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            About “securing oil fields” and “war improving quality of life’:

            In March 2000 oil cost between 22-28 dollars a barrel.

            Today’s price: $89.49 a barrel.

            How’s the quality of life in Iraq? Glad you asked:

            http://warnewstoday.blogspot.com/

            War between States has become counter-productive.

            Alas! If we could only say the same of all violence.

          • zyodei says:

            I don’t think you understand the whole thing. WE didn’t win the Iraq war. The people of America didn’t win the war.

            The winners included the U.S. government, the US military industrial complex, Exxon Mobil, and Halliburton.

            The losers included the people of America and Iraq.

            That is something that must be understood about war, and why I call of an abolition of any standing army (to be replaced with widespread militias) – war is only profitable if you can get someone else to foot the bill. If the aggressors had to pay for all the tanks and guns themselves, they wouldn’t do it.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            I disagree: nobody “won”.
            A deadweight loss.

            War has become counter-productive: it only produces more war – and our weapons are now far far too powerful for that to be considered “productive” or “useful” for anybody.

            If you start a war, you have already lost – with the first shot fired.

          • Hools Verne says:

            When you say “we” are you talking about humanity as a whole or Western hegemonic power? If its the former you have to admit that we don’t have the atom bomb, if its the latter then you have to admit that war is pretty far from an impedance to progress and happiness.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            All of us, everybody who may ever read this.

  92. grimc says:

    Ayn Rand has simply become the ubiquitous strawman for the left…

    It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with all the libertarians pimping Rand, waving signs like the ones in the picture above.

    The People’s Front of Judea may reject Rand, but the Judean People’s Front loves her. It’s not a leftist strawman–it’s a lack of differentiation on on the PFJ’s part.

  93. Daddyology says:

    I really with that all of the people threatening to “Go Galt” would just do so already. You really aren’t that special, and would be replaced in a matter of hours, if not minutes.

    So please leave. Today, if possible.

    And I agree that Rand was a “good writer” — if you compare her to, say, the average high school senior who thinks his suicide story is original.

    Over here in reality, her writing was trite, boring, and five times longer than necessary. Probably because it was based on the notion that selfishness and greed were positive character traits to be exalted, rather than destructive flaws to be corrected.

    The fact so many have based their entire ideology on a poorly-written work of fiction is a sad and pathetic commentary on our species.

  94. Ruben Bolling says:

    No Randians in a foxhole.

  95. Tim says:

    This makes me so happy it should be illegal.

  96. Teller says:

    Left out of the above descriptive litany (speed-freak, etc) is “good writer” which she was. Both TF and AS are great reads.

    • Owen says:

      I’ve only read Anthem, which was insipid. Here’s the formula for it:

      1. Take an obvious thing that everyone understands and that’s integral to human culture. (In Anthem, this is individuality.)
      2. Posit a distant future where everyone has forgotten it.
      3. Have your main character rediscover or reinvent it.

      It’s a novella opposing an idea that no one has suggested and that could not happen. And, as I think the article shows, if you spend all of your time arguing with straw men it saps your ability to make honest arguments.

      • Teller says:

        Insipid is pontificating against books you haven’t read.

        • tas121790 says:

          Pontificating is probably the best word to describe Rand’s books and followers.

          • wrybread says:

            Pontificating is probably the best word to describe Rand’s books and followers.

            “Pontificating” is also a great word to describe her detractors.

            Put me in the camp that holds that The Fountainhead is a great read. Atlas Shrugged a bit less so, for me at least, especially after reading The Fountainhead.

            But come on, just because the battle lines have been drawn in America, and Ayn Rand is claimed by the Tea Party and other wingnuts, doesn’t mean we all have to hate every single thing about her. A little open mindedness and original thought go a long way.

        • Ito Kagehisa says:

          I’ve unfortunately read everything she published. Should I pontificate instead?

        • Owen says:

          “Insipid is pontificating against books you haven’t read.”

          I’m pontificating against one book that I have read. You might disagree, and might find me insipid, but my reasons for believing that Ayn Rand couldn’t write her way out of a wet paper sack are grounded in personal experience.

        • adamski says:

          It seems that most of these posters disagree with you.

          • Teller says:

            That’s okay, brother. I’ll just stand atop my own structure, legs wide, sleeves rolled up, facing the wind, getting dust in my contact lenses.

    • Anonymous says:

      I respectfully disagree. I remember saying while reading The Fountainhead (which I, too, enjoyed) that it was appropriate subject matter for her, because she wrote in big marble slabs. Her writing is certainly worthy as philosophical works, but as literature, I found them rather poor.

    • paul beard says:

      This needed to be repeated why? I’ve never heard anyone who has any other books of substance say her books are good. Which is to say that those who find her books interesting and praiseworthy have as much a connection with humanity as her books do with the human experience.

      I have to wonder what books you put on a par with these two. If you argue that Rand has no peers, we don’t have much in common. Most people who read her books do so in their callow youth, on the hunt for a personal philosophy, but not many find her characters admirable or her understanding of the world believable.

      I’m enjoying the irony of her changing her first and last name (to her husband’s name, as if she were property or subordinate to anyone) in order to help herself to funds she considered stolen.

      And we are all enjoying the fruits of her philosophy in the economic mess shaped by one of her acolytes, Allan Greenspan.

      If only her mom hadn’t taken those toys away or had instilled some sense of generosity or compassion in her, perhaps we would have been spared her scribblings.

      • Teller says:

        “This needed to be repeated why?”
        People thought my acknowledgement of her storytelling chops meant I was an acolyte. TF and AS are fundamentally works of fiction.

        “Which is to say that those who find her books interesting and praiseworthy have as much a connection with humanity as her books do with the human experience.”
        Silly statement. As if I couldn’t understand what the subtext was and form my own opinion about it.

        “I have to wonder what books you put on a par with these two.”
        Off the top my head – The Hobbit, Stranger in Strange Land. Good reads.

    • Anonymous says:

      She was a competent writer. Good is putting a little to fine a point on it. The first time I read her write something like : Suzy didn’t say “I’m a raving leftie,” but that’s what Bob heard — I thought oh hey that’s a cool literary device. Then she did it again, and again and again and….

    • Anonymous says:

      I thought she was a good writer too- when I was 15…..

    • mn_camera says:

      “…good writer” is it?

      I think not.

      Rand expresses repellent ideas, the equivalent of sociopathy – for that, at bottom, is what “objectivist”/Libertarian thinking amounts to – in ludicrously bad prose.

    • mdh says:

      Good writer? I guess few others have so captured what it is to live life with false ethics, so sure, she was good at that.

      I’d say she wrote a couple great cautionary tales, but not about the danger of too much cooperation, rather the dangers of too little.

    • Brainspore says:

      I actually enjoyed reading The Fountainhead, if only because it offered such unconventional views of virtue and I like having my world outlook challenged once in a while. Along with the Book of Genesis it’s one of the few stories I can think of where the “heroes” were pretty much all horrible people.

      But the book also offered a glimpse into the mind of a woman who was (in my opinion) a borderline sociopath and a crazed ideologue. It scared me that people read her fiction and see it as a model for how to live their own lives.

    • Pseudothink says:

      Agreed, Teller. I’m always amazed at the polarty and nearly gleeful vitriol surrounding Rand’s literary works, persona, and Objectivism. It’s a concept, not a rule, eh? It has aspects of truth that merit consideration, no? Like anything else, it can be taken too far. Why all the drama?

  97. OrcOnTheEndOfMyFork says:

    Reminds me of those goofs who are against so-called “Obamacare” while they themselves are on Medicare… Good to see even the greats capable of audaciousness.

  98. Hools Verne says:

    Not at all surprising considering how blatantly and unapologetically hypocritical she was in most other aspects of her life. Still, it does make for some excellent schadenfreude.

  99. amynasir says:

    If this is true, it’s entirely consistent with what Ayn Rand wrote in her Objectivist newsletter in 1966:

    “Many students of Objectivism are troubled by a certain kind of moral dilemma confronting them in today’s society. We are frequently asked the questions: “Is it morally proper to accept scholarships, private or public?” and: “Is it morally proper for an advocate of capitalism to accept a government research grant or a government job?”

    I shall hasten to answer: “Yes”—then proceed to explain and qualify it. There are many confusions on these issues, created by the influence and implications of the altruist morality.

    A different principle and different considerations are involved in the case of public (i.e., governmental) scholarships. The right to accept them rests on the right of the victims to the property (or some part of it) which was taken from them by force.

    The recipient of a public scholarship is morally justified only so long as he regards it as restitution and opposes all forms of welfare statism. Those who advocate public scholarships, have no right to them; those who oppose them, have. If this sounds like a paradox, the fault lies in the moral contradictions of welfare statism, not in its victims.”

    If Mark Frauenfelder had *actually* read her work, he would have avoided looking like such an ignorant douchebag. I mean, really, I easily found this quote online here: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/government_grants_and_scholarships.html

    • Owen says:

      “The recipient of a public scholarship is morally justified only so long as he regards it as restitution and opposes all forms of welfare statism. Those who advocate public scholarships, have no right to them; those who oppose them, have. If this sounds like a paradox, the fault lies in the moral contradictions of welfare statism, not in its victims.” – Ayn Rand, The Nature of Government

      So, she advocated hypocrisy – she said you should only take the aid that you oppose. (I’d say that if you take aid, you by definition support it.) So she said that people ought to be hypocrites, and she was. She was honestly supporting her belief in hypocrisy, which is quite an interesting paradox.

  100. Anonymous says:

    As a philosopher and economist, she was a joke.

    As a writer, she was even worse.

  101. karl_jones says:

    I don’t have much interest in Ayn Rand, for or against.

    But I have noticed that people who do have an interest in Ayn Rand — either for or against — tend to be tiresome blowhards who go on and on and on … mainly about those tiresome blowhards on the other side of the Ayn Rand fence.

    Perhaps some enterprising soul could re-brand Ayn Rand as “The Polarizer”? And why not! It’s a Free Market, baby …!

    • adamski says:

      Maybe the tiresome blowhards are just the ones you hear from most on either side of any issue, mainly because they’re, well… tiresome blowhards. It’s a bit of a leap to say they’re the only people with an interest in Rand or her ideas.

  102. mgfarrelly says:

    As delicious a hypocrisy as this is, I can’t take pleasure in gloating at someone’s financial/medical struggles, even someone as philosophically bent as Rand.

    The real sadness here is her deluded adherents and fans, with their “Going Galt” mantra. Their demands to slash and burn any form of social safety net will leave them, and their children and grandchildren, more vulnerable than Rand herself.

    But what can you expect from a philosophy founded entirely on selfishness and greed?

  103. chriswight says:

    Wait, human beings are subject to human flaws? Even ones popular with certain groups? Good thing all of US are perfect.

    • cinemajay says:

      Did you say “flaws” or “fraud”, because there’s kind of a big difference.

    • Anonymous says:

      ALL of US aren’t trying to put everyone out in the cold. She was smart enough despite not being wise enough to know better.

  104. Anonymous says:

    A true right-wing libertarian WOULD NEVER pay governments taxes and feed the monster and the ideology. Its a moral imperative.

    A true right-libertarian would move to Somalia.

  105. Anonymous says:

    The Founders would have been proud of Rand’s atheism.

  106. zuludaddy says:

    “The ironing is delicious.”

    Alas, I’m pretty certain this will be under-rug-swept by those who hold Ms. Rand in such high esteem.

    • AirPillo says:

      They don’t even need to sweep it under the rug, really. The ability to compartmentalize and separate thoughts so they can coexist in the same mind despite being sharply in opposition is a common trait.

      A lot of people would simply reply “so what?” and think that it has no bearing at all on the superiority of her philosophy.

  107. retchdog says:

    Ayn Rand is a great self-help writer (I’ve known a few losers who’ve been spurred into rethinking their lives by reading her crap), one of the few who actually “work.” She also was, perhaps ironically, an influential social planner. But she was not a rational philosopher — at the very least this should imply some consistency.

  108. Ugly Canuck says:

    This is what happens when you put Ms Rand’s “truths”into practice:

    http://thinkprogress.org/2011/01/28/tax-cut-debacle/

    Utter cloud-dwellers.

  109. dSmith says:

    She was a minarchist, meaning she favored a governmental role in areas that benefited her.
    Also, if objectivism calls for personal responsibility, why didn’t she quit smoking? Then she wouldn’t have needed that hated government money. She disdained anti-smoking advocates for ideological reasons calling them second raters and enemies of the human spirit. When she developed cancer she was baffled, telling her friends “But I don’t have any contradictions in my thinking!”
    That quote from her about scholarships doesn’t justify her taking government money, it merely shows her capacity for feeble rationalization.

  110. Anonymous says:

    Tu quoque

  111. Lobster says:

    This is hardly a “gotcha.” It’s the same argument you hear again and again and again.

    “My failures were for legitimate reasons beyond my control and this program was set up to give responsible people like me a second chance. Everyone else is just a parasite.”

  112. Anonymous says:

    Newly elected tea party candidate U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin must be shocked. First he finds out his “free market” heroine is an atheist, and now this!

  113. tyger11 says:

    That segment of the population is known for being pretty blind about their heroes (well, honestly, everyone probably is). But their denial about the reality of Ronald Reagan is also pretty severe. Math and history aren’t their strong suits, to be sure.

  114. abulafia says:

    I prefer my ironing bitter-sweet.

  115. dSmith says:

    “There has been precisely ONE valid counterargument offered here(and it’s not even technically an argument, but merely a bit of reasonable speculation): Did she take out more than had been taken from her? Was the amount of her “refund” no more than the amount that had taken “by force”?”
    Medicaid started up in 1965. It’s pretty safe to assume she received more benefits than she put in in taxes

  116. Anonymous says:

    This isn’t surprising – the women got her start by fooling around with Cecile DeMille – not exactly “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” Unless that means something other than what the Tea Party thinks it means.

  117. jonw says:

    In related news, we have discovered that Jesse Ventura has never been personally been attacked by a terrorist. He is shamelessly enjoying the gift of security that the TSA has given him, while hypocritically resisting enhanced security measures.

    • Nadreck says:

      while hypocritically resisting enhanced security measures

      Make that “time-wasting” security measures. There’s no evidence that they improve anyone’s security and a lot of evidence that they decrease it.

  118. Anonymous says:

    You can’t possibly believe this is hypocrisy, really?

    She was forced to pay into social security. She surely received far more money than the $11k she put in given her millions in book income.

    The fact that she was taking money out of social security, is not evidence of her hypocrisy, it’s quite the opposite actually.

    She decried social security for stealing her money against her will. She thought it was immoral. All she was doing was getting a small fraction of it back.

    This isn’t like her collecting welfare when she was wealthy. This was a specific retirement plan that she was forced to participate in. Why on earth would she not take the money back that rightfully belonged to her in the first place?

    • Nickster says:

      Of course it’s hypocrisy. A central tenet of her philosophy is that you don’t accept anything you didn’t earn, and being taxed is not equivalent to purchasing something…except in a collective sense, and we all know how she felt about collectivism!

      • HereNow says:

        Of course it’s hypocrisy.

        This is starting to be stunning.

        How many times does the Rand quote have to be posted here?

        “It is obvious, in such cases, that a man receives his own money which was taken from him by force, directly and specifically, without his consent, against his own choice. Those who advocated such laws are morally guilty, since they assumed the ‘right’ to force employers and unwilling co-workers. But the victims, who opposed such laws, have a clear right to any refund of their own money—and they would not advance the cause of freedom if they left their money, unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-state administration.”

        Now, you can contest this argument all you want. You can hunt for any logical gaps between this and the rest of her philosophy, and expound on them if you find any. You can, if you’re lazy, simply declare, “She’s an idiot.”

        What you don’t get to do is label someone a “hypocrite” when she’s acting exactly as she has advocated that people act.

        You don’t get to invent your own version of Ayn Rand’s philosophy just so you can choreograph a charge of “hypocrisy.”

        I’m not even a Rand acolyte, for God’s sake. But this crap is annoying.

        There has been precisely ONE valid counterargument offered here(and it’s not even technically an argument, but merely a bit of reasonable speculation): Did she take out more than had been taken from her? Was the amount of her “refund” no more than the amount that had taken “by force”?

        We have no way to know, but that’s the only decent point against Rand that’s been offered in this whole infernal, idiotic thread.

  119. skeelow212 says:

    I have read most of Rand’s writings. I am not a “Randian”, or a Libertarian, neither am I a liberal or socialist. I agree with those that say that she is not a “hypocrite” for the simple fact that she, like all of us, (involuntarily) PAID into the healthcare system, thus receiving services that she spent money on, which is in total agreement with her capitalist philosophy. With that being said, Ms. Rand pontificated that “love” was one of the chief enemies of “objectivism”, as it blurred an individual’s ability to make rational decisons and blinded the mind’s eye with the heart’s beat. Yet, after she was jilted by her lover and protege, Nathaniel Braden, she tirelessly spent much of her time working to discredit and destroy Mr. Braden in a fit of childish jealousy. Ms. Rand was no different than most philosophers and idealogues in that she championed a cause/concept that she could not live up to. No human is capable of living up to the standards of “objectivism” that Ayn so cherished, for, to be truly “Objective” is to cease to be human.

    • Owen says:

      ‘I agree with those that say that she is not a “hypocrite” for the simple fact that she, like all of us, (involuntarily) PAID into the healthcare system, thus receiving services that she spent money on, which is in total agreement with her capitalist philosophy.’

      Hypocrisy is a mismatch between words and actions. She said that those who benefited from government aid (including taxpayers) were morally weak. She benefited from government aid. Either she believed that she was morally weak – in which case she should have said so – or she was a hypocrite.

      • mdh says:

        seconded.

        There are no objectivists in foxholes, either.

      • butcherknife says:

        Could you please point to the quote of Ayn Rand saying something similar to…” those who benefited from government aid (including taxpayers) were morally weak”.

        I see people repeatedly stating that she said such…but haven’t seen an actual quote that says it or anything similar.

  120. polama says:

    I don’t agree with Ayn, and doing this under a pseudonym is certainly dishonest, but I wholeheartedly reject the notion that if you disagree with the system in place you can’t participate.

    Ayn clearly believed health-care would be better if the government wasn’t involved. The argument goes that it would be cheaper if people had to pay themselves, as they’d shop more carefully and doctors would need to charge what people can afford to have customers. And that the decline in tax she paid would have been enough to pay this herself. If she was in the upper half of the income scale at the time, that’s almost certainly true: the health-care was paid somehow.

    However, there was no totally free market healthcare system in place, and she had been paying the taxes that supported the current program. Thus although there was an idealized system she preferred, it didn’t exist in the real world. So she was left using the system that did exist. It’s not really hypocritical to exist in the society you’re arguing against, as long as the society you’re arguing for doesn’t yet exist.

    • osmo says:

      Theres several in the world. Northern Somalia has a completely privatized free market health care. No state at all.

    • MossWatson says:

      As much as I despise Rand and her philosophy, I have to agree with you here. Is she a hypocrite? Yes. Does this necessarily disprove her theories? No.
      Attacking the messenger is always popular, and easy, but usually only serves as a distraction from the real argument.

    • Nadreck says:

      doctors would need to charge what people can afford to have customers

      Actually they wouldn’t. What they could do, and have been doing, is charge prices such that those rich enough to afford them will pay enough, whether they can afford it or not as they have to to save their lives, to make the doctors rich. The people who can’t contribute to this income stream, possibly because they’re sick, can just be left for dead.

      the decline in tax she paid would have been enough to pay this herself.

      and if you too poor to pay taxes because you’re sick?

      • polama says:

        Actually they wouldn’t. What they could do, and have been doing, is charge prices such that those rich enough to afford them will pay enough, whether they can afford it or not as they have to to save their lives, to make the doctors rich.

        Also true of food. And granted, there’s a lower barrier to entry to food production, but it does appear that absent coercion and monopoly, markets do tend to follow price curves based on supply and demand. There aren’t enough super rich for every doctor, somebody’s going to make a living providing reasonable healthcare to the middle class.

        and if you too poor to pay taxes because you’re sick?

        I suppose Ayn Rand would say if you’re so sickly at the prime of your life that you can’t work, why does everybody else have to pay to keep you around? In her case (as in most), the illness came later in life, she would have had ample time to save up or not, at her prerogative. In the case of an injury to an otherwise healthy individual, there are always loans.

        Look, I prefer government provided health-care like it sounds you do. But I prefer it because I find it morally preferable to support the poor and sick rather than let them die. But it’s a big leap to say that the free market can’t possibly work here, that only the super rich would have any medical care at all. The rich would have better care, the poor would have access to minimals like antibiotics, the very poor would die. Not my cup of tea, but I don’t at all agree that the middle class would inherently be unable to afford health care in a fully privatized system.

        • Anonymous says:

          “Not my cup of tea, but I don’t at all agree that the middle class would inherently be unable to afford health care in a fully privatized system.”

          But it already exists that way now and we’re not quite fully privatized. You think that if there were less restrictions in place to stop doctors from charging more, then they would voluntarily not charge more anyway? Why do you think the restrictions were needed in the first place?

    • Owen says:

      There’s a distinction that I think you’re glossing over.

      If I say that System A would be better than the current System B, and then participate in System B, I am not a hypocrite.

      However, if I say that participating in System B is morally reprehensible, and then participate in System B, then I am a hypocrite.

      I think that what Ayn Rand did was the latter.

      • polama says:

        It’s all gradations. Is it better to participate in a morally reprehensible system or die? That was apparently Ayn’s choice (forgo taking government dole she paid into via taxes, because she thought it was wrong, or get treated for cancer). While dying would have really shown dedication to her beliefs, it’s beyond me to get indignant that she didn’t just keel over like a good uber-libertarian would. I think America’s military industrial complex is morally reprehensible, but I’m not about to stop paying my taxes and spend a long vacation in the slammer. I guess self preservation is pretty high in my set of values. Apparently that’s also true of everybody else.

        • Cowcharge says:

          Hear, hear!

        • Owen says:

          You don’t like the military-industrial complex, but you pay taxes while arguing for a better system. That, to my mind, is not hypocrisy.

          Imagine, though, that you claimed that everyone who paid taxes was evil, while paying taxes yourself. That’s more akin to what Ayn Rand did, and that would be hypocrisy.

          Rand could have avoided the hypocrisy. She could have died, yeah, but she also could have been honest about what she was doing, and acknowledged that morality is not always cut and dried.

    • Anonymous says:

      yeah, but she lied about it and had her lawyer collect it under a name she didn’t normally use. That’s called being a two-faced hypocrite and two-faced hypocrites lose the right to be all preachy and judgmental, like she was.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are clearly rationalizing. Rand´s stated philosophy would absolutely forbid her from taking any kind of would she would have called handouts from the government.

    • Anonymous says:

      @polama:

      The point isn’t that she disagreed with the system. I know plenty of people who are on foodstamps and yet oppose the idea of foodstamps, because they feel they wouldn’t need them if the government wasn’t as involved. Fine. I can live with that. The problem is that she was saying that _even in our current system_, people shouldn’t accept government assisstance. And then she goes and gets government assisstance. The fact that she used a false name to do it should tip you off that even she couldn’t rationalize it to her beliefs.

      • butcherknife says:

        I cant find a quote from Ayn rand saying that…but there is a quote that states the opposite. From Objectivism:

        “The same moral principles and considerat­ions apply to the issue of accepting social security, unemployme­nt insurance or other payments of that kind. It is obvious, in such cases, that a man receives his own money which was taken from him by force, directly and specifical­ly, without his consent, against his own choice. Those who advocated such laws are morally guilty, since they assumed the “right” to force employers and unwilling co-workers­. But the victims, who opposed such laws, have a clear right to any refund of their own money—and they would not advance the cause of freedom if they left their money, unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-st­ate administra­tion.”

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          That quote simply shows that Ms Rand did not like majority-vote democracy.

          That her opponents are not just wrong as to policy, but are termed “guilty”, makes precious little sense.

          Of what “crime” are they convicted, so that they may be called “morally guilty”? Opposing Ms Rand’s principles?
          And who indeed “voted” for the “laws” (or is it ‘principles’) that she would fain enforce (and upon what arguments were those “laws” or “principles” based in turn?), so that those others are can now be called “morally guilty”?

          Bah. This Rand seems to my mind nothing but an absolute monarchist, a theorist extolling a despotism of the strong and vicious, while wearing the disguise, using the language, of a moralist.

          I prefer free and fair votes.
          And everything is up for discussion. Always.

          • butcherknife says:

            They are guilty of the crime of making laws that steal other peoples money. Literally, your money is taking from you via threat of jail. That doesn’t seem a bit strange to you? Ayn Rand believed in a government that PROTECTED people and there property only…nothing else. She believed if something was worthy of being built or someone needed help(or whatever) that people would voluntarily give money…and forcibly removing peoples money (taxes) is morally wrong. She didn’t accept that taxes are necessary to running a nation or society…most of us do…but why do we accept that?

            A majority vote democracy? No…Ayn Rand doesnt like them and neither do I…You know that the USA government isn’t a majority vote democracy…The USA is a majority vote democracy with protection of individual rights. Hence, you will find that many laws voted into place (by the majority) are removed by the courts on grounds of being unconstitutional. Majority-vote democracies…don’t exist as far as I know…but for sure the USA isn’t one of them.

          • Brainspore says:

            Rand believed in a government that PROTECTED people and there property only…nothing else. [...] She didn’t accept that taxes are necessary to running a nation or society…most of us do…but why do we accept that?

            The very concept of “private property” is a social construct. The deed to your house only has meaning because it was issued by a taxpayer-funded government which, if necessary, will send taxpayer-funded police or soldiers to protect your claim of ownership.

          • butcherknife says:

            That is fine. Ayn Rand just believed that instead of a tax-payer funded government, it would be a government funded by something other than taxes…a government funded by a voluntary payment for services by the people. She had ideas on how the government could be funded without taxes, one of which had to do with contracts (which could be, say…a deed). A person paid money for that deed which included the costs for protection for the property.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            If she – or anyone else – wants to legally change the way that things are done, to better suit her way of thinking, or to simply improve things, she must first persuade a majority of people that it would be wise to vote in such a way that those changes can be put into effect.

            That’s democracy. It is a lot of work.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            Or in the Canada, because the Crown’s strong arm both recognizes and protects those rights.

            But of course it goes without saying that it has not always done so: and that it does so at the present day, is due to the part played by the feisty and impatient-of-authority smallholders of antiquity – or even of today, come to think on it.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            No: the USA is a “super-majority” vote democracy: if enough Americans formally agree, ANY provision in the US Constitution may be amended to say ANYTHNG they see fit for it to say: and apart feom those matters treated of therein, the majority vote DOES rule.

            And anyway, Ms Rand did not see fit to limit her sweeping, absolutist political statements and judgments to the political jurisdiction of the USA – although I do like how American meritocracy seems willing to embrace the political theories advanced by the immigrants to their great nation.

          • butcherknife says:

            There is no opportunity in the USA for enough Americans (individual citizens) to formally agree (vote) to change the US Constitution. Individual citizens in the USA rely on their representatives to do that when the US constitution is in question. Also, any amendment to the US or a state’s constitution can be deemed unconstitutional by the courts…even if 100% of the people voted it in (as for a state’s constitutional amendment) or if 100% of our representatives voted it in (as for a US constitutional amendment)…it can still go to court for a ruling. Which means the majority doesn’t have the final say…the courts do.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            I was unaware that the US Supreme Court ended the Civil War.

          • butcherknife says:

            I don’t know what that means.

          • dballing says:

            An amendment to the US Constitution can’t be declared “unconstitutional”… by definition it *is* part of the Constitution. If there’s a discrepancy, it’s up to SCOTUS to figure it out, but you can bet your bottom dollar the discrepancy will fall in favor of the Amendment, not the pre-existing document (“This is the verbiage they chose to use in order to AMEND the existing constitution”).

          • butcherknife says:

            Doesn’t the US or state supreme court always have the opportunity to determine if the amendment to the constitution (US or state) was amended soundly? Cant the validity of an amendment always be questioned (in court) in reference to the other amendments?

          • Nierd says:

            [quote]Doesn’t the US or state supreme court always have the opportunity to determine if the amendment to the constitution (US or state) was amended soundly? Cant the validity of an amendment always be questioned (in court) in reference to the other amendments?[/quote]

            That’s the wonderful thing about our government – take out the BS rhetoric and you find this:

            1. Executive – the power to veto #2 – the power to execute the laws of the land – i.e. president.

            2. Legislative – the power to write law – the power to overrule a veto if 2/3 of the body vote yes (thus #1 can *not* stop a law that is widely supported) – the power to impeach #1

            3. Judicial – the power to rule on nuance of law. The power to revoke *any* law that does not conform to the constitution. Even if #2 passed through a veto. Appointed by #1 for life.

            And thus you have it – the three party system – but there is a catch!

            States belonging to the Union through a 2/3 popular vote can pass an amendment to the constitution – 2/3 of the states must vote for it.

            But… that bypasses all 3 above and they must follow the amendment.

            Power to the people…

          • sapere_aude says:

            No.

            An amendment to a state constitution cannot be overturned by a state supreme court. (Though it can be overturned by the United States Supreme Court if it violates the U.S. Constitution.)

            But an amendment to the U.S. Constitution cannot be overturned by any court, state or federal. Once the amendment has been ratified by the requisite number of states, it becomes the supreme law of the land, and will remain part of the Constitution unless and until another amendment is passed to repeal it.

            However, the federal courts (and especially the U.S. Supreme Court) can interpret that amendment; and they have lots of flexibility in how they interpret it.

          • sapere_aude says:

            Oops. My apologies. I misread your question.

            If you are asking whether the U.S. Supreme Court can rule on whether or not an amendment was enacted properly, in accordance with the requirements of Article V of the U.S. Constitution, then the answer is yes – in fact, several amendments have been challenged in court on the grounds that they were not enacted properly; though the Supreme Court has never struck down an amendment on those grounds. (The legal history of SCOTUS rulings regarding the validity of constitutional amendments is briefly discussed HERE.)

    • bklynchris says:

      Is there room for one more in your fantasy land? I hate logic, reality, or for that matter the inability to do even the most rudimentary math when considering public finance, too.

      “Shop around” for the best and most affordable doctors to treat lung cancer? You couldn’t even get a back alley abortion for the royalties she was pulling in back then.

    • Anonymous says:

      For women, writing under one’s maiden name and doing “legal” stuff under one’s marriage name is not unusual.

    • tas121790 says:

      “There can be no compromise on basic principles. There can be no compromise on moral issues. There can be no compromise on matters of knowledge, of truth, of rational conviction.” – Ayn Rand

  121. chgoliz says:

    This is exactly why telling only part of a story isn’t “the whole truth” and isn’t real journalism. It’s lying by omission.

    Key factual details like this could actually cause someone to change their mind. Well, we can’t have that.

  122. Anonymous says:

    I think the argument that Rand was morally justified in taking Social Security, based on her own arguments that anyone reclaiming their own money that was taken from them via force, is problematic based on two essential questions:

    1) Wouldn’t this only be the case if you took out EXACTLY as much money as you paid in? If you claimed more in social security or medicare than you paid, then you’d be stealing from other people, not just reclaiming the money that belonged to you.

    To support this argument, someone would need to show not only that Rand only took back no more than she put in, but that she also went to a reasonable effort to track that information–coincidentally not taking more than she deserved doesn’t abnegate the fact that she wasn’t conscientious about it.

    2) Why wouldn’t she use her real name? If she was morally justified, as she claims to have been, why wouldn’t she have just stood up and announced that she’d be seizing back her wrongfully-appropriated tax dollars in order to pay for a medical condition that was her own responsibility?

    Ayn Rand was a fierce advocate for personal responsibility and for the idea that there should never be any compromise on any matter of principle. What would be the purpose of hiding her name?

    This is all tangential to the argument against her moral philosophy that’s based on the fact that she survived in California, before she became a successful writer, on loans from her relatives that she never paid back. While it’s not necessarily required, in the case of political or economic theory, to prove absolute correctness before it’s adopted, I do think that Rand’s arguments for a world of pure personal responsibility are, in fact, undermined by the fact that she couldn’t seem to manage it.

    • HereNow says:

      2) Why wouldn’t she use her real name? If she was morally justified, as she claims to have been, why wouldn’t she have just stood up and announced that she’d be seizing back her wrongfully-appropriated tax dollars in order to pay for a medical condition that was her own responsibility?

      Read the Google Books link provided elsewhere in the thread. People are distorting the hell out of this whole thing. (More accurately: The Huffington Post blogger on whom people are relying distorted the whole thing.)

      She WAS using her real name, which was Ayn O’Connor. She was merely an elderly woman who signed power of attorney to a literary agent (Evva Pryor) to handle health matters and Social Security.

      There was nothing nefarious or underhanded about it. As the quotes cited in this thread show, Rand did not advocate against taxpayers’ taking government money; in fact, she advocated FOR it. What she advocated against was the government’s taking that money in the first place.

      It’s a pretty simple frikking argument. The fact that it seems to have confounded so many people here is depressing if predictable.

      The only valid skepticism toward Rand’s actions here is that raised by you and a couple of others: Did she receive more than she had paid? Did she act to ensure this didn’t happen?

      We don’t know. And without knowing, it’s impossible to render judgment. Speculation is pointless in such an instance.

      • butcherknife says:

        Yup. I don’t know whose words these are…but they are not Ayn’s, “despised government interference and felt that people should and could live independently… She didn’t feel that an individual should take help.”

        Someone is putting words into Ayn’s mouth…someone who doesn’t know what Ayn actually said. As you said, just look at the quotes of Ayn’s posted above in these comments. As you said, they speak to the opposite of what is being said about Ayn in the story above.

  123. Ugly Canuck says:

    Perhaps not utter cloud-dwellers…what is the Randian analysis of the morality of copyright; that is, of authors and artists benefiting, from a government granted monopoly, contrary to a state of nature?

    Let me guess: you are entitled to the benefits of copyright, so long as you express public opposition to it “on principle”.

  124. Pip_R_Lagenta says:

    It is funny that you refer to Ayn Rand as a “kleptoparasite” because I have come to think of her fictional hero, John Galt, as a cryptoparasite.

  125. Anonymous says:

    I like how some commenters here try to make out as though criticising Rand for this is minor nitpicking or glass-house-stone-throwing when the article isn’t even about the kind of government assistance that all glibertarians receive passively, like maintained roads or weather information or national defence; it’s about Rand actively seeking out and receiving public assistance in exact, diametric contradiction to the beliefs which made her into a public figure! Good luck spinning that.

    • HereNow says:

      “it’s about Rand actively seeking out and receiving public assistance in exact, diametric contradiction to the beliefs which made her into a public figure!

      That’s a weird thing to say, considering that one of Rand’s “beliefs” was that people should accept social security money. The quote has already been posted here several times. Do you not even read threads before you post?

      You’re welcome to disagree with Rand or anyone else all you want. What you don’t get to do is describe their “beliefs” as something other than what they are, just so you can level a lame charge of hypocrisy.

  126. Anonymous says:

    she even had a husband who she was deeply in love with

    even though she said in her books that you can’t actually love anyone but yourself.

    this is hilarious

    remember the scene when they all dress up like ninjas and rescue galt from jeopardy in the torture brain dream room?

    buzz —– Who is Dan Brown?

  127. adamrice says:

    If Ayn Rand was collecting social security on the sly, does that make her a crypto-kleptoparasite?

  128. Ugly Canuck says:

    Indeed: what would the Randian position be concerning the disposition, creation or State-assisted enforcement, of ANY species of government-created property , such as licenses, copyrights, patents, etc?

    And how does that comport with her earning a living as a published author and screenwriter, and profiting directly from the her claimed copyright in all her works (AFAIK)?

  129. Tango Charlie says:

    I hope I’m not the only person who noticed the disagreement above (between Owen and Teller) that seems to have reached a very civil resolution. I think I saw the virtual equivalent of a polite handshake. Is this an internet first?
    (This site and its readership are the best, you guys.)

  130. Anonymous says:

    Are you sure that Ayn Rand decried people if they used government assistance?

    I am pretty sure I read in one of her books about how she actually suggested people do take out government assistance…for the simple reason that by doing so the individual is taking their own money back, which was theirs in the first place.

    I.e. the government takes my money from my paycheck, if there is a government program that I qualify for, then I should get my money back if I can. That was the sentiment as I remember it from her book….but I cant remember what book. It was probably one of her nonfiction books about Objectivism.

  131. Prufrock451 says:

    I’d love to see her justification for the filth that built up in Galt’s Gulch after a year or two.

    “Ten million dollars,” said Nord Vidkunson coolly, drawing on his cigarette. “Because you need me.”

    < <>>

    “I’m the best janitor in the world. I’m a genius at it. And I’m also the only person in Galt’s Gulch willing to come over and unplug your toilet.”