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Ayn Rand’s Resurgence

Republican deficit hawk Rep. Paul Ryan loves novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand. We’ll look at what it mans to have “Atlas Shrugged” in the middle of the budget debate.

Ayn Rand, Russian-born American novelist, in New York City, 1962. (AP)

Ayn Rand, Russian-born American novelist, in New York City, 1962. (AP)

The American budget battle so far is really a battle of ideals. And at the back of a vocal chorus on the Republican/Tea Party right sits the philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand.

Rand was the refugee from communist Russia who wrote novels celebrating hyper-individualism, egoism, even selfishness — unregulated capitalism and masters of the universe — in “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”

Now Republican budget maven Rep. Paul Ryan, Rep. Ron Paul and a forest of Tea Party placards call out her name.

This hour On Point: Ayn Rand, back in the thick of American politics.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Jonathan Chait, senior editor at The New Republic.

Anne C. Heller, journalist and author of “Ayn Rand and the World She Made.”

Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks.

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  • Gina M

    Ayn Rand and Bernie Madoff on the same day – how fitting! I’ll bet he’s a big fan of hers.

  • JP

    It means Rebublicans are clueless about what it means and what it takes to live in a decent society, that’s what it means.

    It took hundreds of years of deaths, battles, riots, protests, and hard fought politics to carefully determine the myriad ways in which Americans NEED government in order to ensure SOME DEGREE of safety, fairness, equality, justice, and opportunity in our society, yet Republicans would mindlessly discard all the hard-learned lessons of American history to pursue a rash, ill-reasoned, terribly naive, and selfish ideology.

    If Republicans succeed in pushing their agenda on Americans, we will end up among the rampant crime and misery that attends mass poverty, with innocent people getting mugged, burglarized, or worse, just so the hungry and desperate can feed themselves and their families.
    This WILL happen to a degree never before seen in our country, perhaps akin to crime in the Brazilian favelas, but with the wealth of a decaying middle-class to feed on- a resource not to be had in Brazil and one which will enrage the starving as the inequities of our society will be evident before their eyes, in their own cities and neighborhoods, driving past them as they beg on the streets.

    … and amid the rampant crime, fewer and fewer civil servants to help in any way, as Republicans will have assured that what little government revenues are left are being spent in all the wrong ways, protecting the interests, of course, of only the wealthiest in our society.

    An ugly, bitter, desperate future and living environment for all.

    Think it can’t happen? Think again!!!!

    • Mill

      Why do you think the Democrats are not a party to the scenario you describe? Does Obama not have friends on Wall St.? Has he dismantled the Military-Industrial complex? Has he stopped all warmongering after winning his Nobel Peace prize? Does his administration – or Clinton’s administration – not have a revolving door policy with corporations when it comes to appointing watch-dogs? Has he got rid of all lobbyists as he promised to do in 2008? Did Clinton appoint someone else to replace Rand fan-boy Greenspan?

      I don’t disagree with your point but you are being very disingenuous by blaming it all on one party when both parties are complicit in the game to some degree or another. Sure, it’s rare to find Democrats who would publicly admit to venerating Rand, but that’s beside the point, since actions speak louder than words.

      • JP

        What’s disingenuous is Republicans always drawing this false equivalence.

        I don’t see Dems regularly scrambling to give tax breaks to the wealthiest while finding ways to undermine services to the most needy in our society. Likewise, the VAST MAJORITY of corporate welfare is fought for on the Republican side… the equivalence isn’t even close.
        …and to the extent that any Dems do the same, at least a third can be explained by Dems being forced to play the same rotten politics for their very survival, considering the lobbying game played by K-Street- a Republican created institution which resulted in a geometric increase in the number of lobbyists on Capitol Hill.

        • Steve

          So those who support Republicans are…
          “disingenouus” evil, stupid, duped…..

          and you are enlightened?

        • Mill

          What makes you ASSume that I’m a Republican?

          • JP

            I didn’t call you a Republican… I said “what’s disingenuous is Republicans always drawing this false equivalence,” which they do quite frequently.

            You ASSumed I was insinuating that YOU are one of the Republicans I was talking about.

            Obviously, some independents draw the same false equivalency.

            … and personally, I wouldn’t call Dems the lesser of two evils. History has shown that when in power, Dems have been quite good for this country and repeatedly reversed harm done by Republicans… I can provide various proofs if you wish.

          • JP

            …still, I liked Valkyrie’s clever statement below- it’s pointedly funny.

      • Anonymous

        Sure, they are both evil. But choosing the lesser of two evils has one distinct benefit: LESS EVIL.

        • Mill

          Less evil is still evil. By supporting “less evil” – whatever that means – you are shutting out those voices/politicians/parties who do not belong to the evil duopoly.

        • Mill

          Hmmm….I thought you voted for “Hope and Change” and not “lesser evil.” So what’s the point of using “Hope and Change”? To deceive yourself? I mean, no English dictionary would describe “Hope and Change” to be the same as – or nowhere close to – “lesser evil.” And why are you selling yourself so short and settling for diminishing returns?

    • LL

      Does anybody bother to read the juvenile, hate-filled rants of JP?

    • Steve

      Your weakness is in thinking your opponents “clueless”.

      They are quite clear in their desires and that is the danger.

      • Anonymous

        You are correct in that “clueless” is the wrong word; there are (at least) two groups of Rand idea supporters:

        1) Those that have selected the particular Rand ideas that have that “nugget of truth” that works with historical American myths. These people certainly are clear in their desires (their own profit) and are definitely dangerous for the future of this country. Think of the Roman elites who partied while Rome burned.

        2) Those that have not learned how to analyze arguments to detect the basic underlying assumptions especially when they tend to agree with them but they, and no one else, can show that those assumptions are based on facts. When certain facts are presented in a certain way, these, let’s call them shallow thinkers, although it is not from a lack of intelligence) don’t look for other, more basic reasons for those facts, which would tell a quite different story from the one they are receiving and supporting.

        Bible fundamentalists believe every word is from God, but just suffer cognitive dissonance and wave away the incongruities of the Bible, just as the Ayn Rand supporters do her inconsistencies. Fanatics all! Which means that they have given up the greatest of God’s gifts, the power of the human mind to reason from actual facts to a reasonable and effective policy to provide a better economy for ALL Americans instead of just the elite of the elite.

        This does not require communism (note the similar source of revulsion of ANY government between Rand and the father of the Koch brothers of Koch Industries) to realize that when a small group controls the majority of the wealth, THEY control ALL the rest of the people in ways that those people cannot fight as they can against a government.

        When the richest people (CEOs, etc.) can in practice set their salary and other perks (they select the members of the compensation board) so that their compensation has risen from 50 or so times the average person’s income to hundreds of times and even thousands of times that value. If you believe that the average CEO adds that much MORE value to the company, I have some bridges you will want to buy. Since this extraction of more than their worth by the richest exists, why is a little redistribution BACK to those who deserve it not valid? Also, the WHOLE economy grows better when EVERYONE is participating. Not providing education and health care greatly reduces the participation of the denied segments of the population.

  • Brett

    I suppose Ayn Rand held some fascination for some high schoolers and college sophomores in the ’60′s and ’70′s…enduring novelist? Hardly. Philosopher? Maybe in the junkyard sense.

    • LL

      Your cockeyed rants are almost as intellectually deficient as JP’s.

      • Cory

        Is any opinion you disagree with categorized as a rant? How do you differentiate between juvenile, hate filled and cockeyed rants? Thanks!

  • Michael

    “Ayn Rand’s Resurgence”

    Yikes I hope not,

    Jonathan Chait, senior editor at The New Republic.
    Anne C. Heller, journalist and author of “Ayn Rand and the World She Made.”
    Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks.

    I hope Tom warns listeners to bring a shovels since while be in for a load of Bull_. How many times you think Socalist, Communist and obama will come up?

    Besides Rand couldn’t even practice what she preached affairs and all.

  • Roger Runnalls

    Too bad Sir Alan Greenspan’s fascination with Ayn Rand wasn’t as widely known during his tenure as Fed Reserve Chairman as it is now. Another Clinton failure to keep the fox out of the hen house.

    Let’s see if today’s guests shed any light on William Hickman, the cold blooded child murderer, whom Ayn Rand idolized and used as her model for “The Fountainhead’s” Howard Roark and “Atlas Shrugged’s” John Galt.

    Sick twisted psychopaths, both Ayn Rand and William Hickman, heroes to the GOP. How could it be otherwise?

  • Michael

    No Mark Williams in the line up? Was it due to his racist statement about obama or the NAACP or the one how slaves were pissed at Lincoln for freeing them?

    Rand talked about objectivism while at the same time having a secret love affair. I guess it explain why conservatives gravitate to her since she full of it and is proud to spread the b.s.

    The Rand-Branden business partnership lasted till May 1968. Rand announced in the The Objectivist, Branden would no longer be her intellectual heir and ordered all future printings of Atlas Shrugged not to carry his name in the dedication page. At the time, Rand did not reveal she was having a secret love affair with Branden who was twenty four years her junior and he was leaving her for a younger woman who was also an attractive model whom Branden would eventually marry. However, Branden divulged this information in his book, Judgment Day: my years with Ayn Rand.[2]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathaniel_Branden

    http://michaelprescott.net/hickman.htm

    Romancing the Stone-Cold Killer: Ayn Rand and William Hickman by Michael Prescott — Criticizes positive comments Rand made about Hickman, a kidnapper and murderer, in her personal journals when she was 23. Prescott say Rand’s comments “make me question not only her judgment, but her sanity” and show that she was “a psychological and moral mess.”

    http://home.ca.inter.net/~grantsky/re-evaluating.html

    by Grant Schuyler — Accuses Rand of “rude and deeply inappropriate behaviour” in her handling of philosophical disputes, and warns that “Her life shows the danger of becoming an isolated figure, especially one surrounded by a quasi-cult of insiders.”

    http://www.oocities.org/athens/olympus/4612/lp-obj.html

    Unraveling Libertarianism and Objectivism by Nigel Maywood — Essay that describes Objectivism as “a brilliant philosophy,” but denigrates “Randroids,” who the author says believe “that Ayn Rand has never done anything wrong and every idea which spawned from her head, no matter how mundane the issue, is gospel.”

    http://www.ariwatch.com/
    ARI Watch (author anonymous) — Multiple essays criticizing the Ayn Rand Institute and persons associated with it for “advocating the expedient suspension of the U.S. Constitution, self-sacrifice, and torture” since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

  • LinP

    Ayn Rand’s world view is not very compatible with the teachings of the Bible. How do the holy-roller Republicans jibe that? Oh that’s right, particular teachings are trotted out as is convenient to support the punitive, destructive, selfish society they are intent on creating.

  • Yar

    We have a impending crisis that is searching for a philosophy instead of a solution. For most citizens bubbles are bad. We have a bubble of population that has grown on cheap energy. In the US we have a bubble reaching retirement, 10,000 boomers each day for the next 20 years. We are willing to change anything, as long as it changes nothing now. I believe both shows today cover the same subject, from the perspective of different parties. Ponzi could not see the flaw in his own logic. Neither does Madoff or Paul Ryan. My state elected Rand Paul, named after Ayn Rand, a state that is insolvent without inflow of federal program money. Rand’s philosophy is interpreted like verses of the bible, short statements to justify what an individual is already doing. A rule book for others combined with self justification.
    I am looking for On Point to do a show on the paradox of freedom from responsibility and civil society. No philosophy can replace actions of doing the right thing. We need to quit searching for a philosophy de-jour and start building our nation for our citizens. The work will do us good. Change now instead of making laws that shift changes to the future. This means raising taxes, and keeping the promises to our citizens. Retirement and healthcare are implicit in those promises.

    • Zeno

      Yar, You beat me to it.

      The need to find an ideology, or group of ideologies, or a collection of disparate supporting ideas from multiple ideologies, is an act of desperation to support false beliefs that conflict with empirical reality.

      Governance based on ideology is no governance at all, but is simply a contrived religion. The Rand followers are like Scientology’s acolytes, they have the need to find a belief that will justify behaviors that are in fact aberrant and sociopathic.

      There is one system of governance that supplies fundamental morality, justice, and no need for beliefs. The founding fathers understood the difference between belief, and reality, and constructed a form of governance that worked pretty well for 100 years by separating faith from rational governance.

      The way out of this nations problems is not a ever more convoluted and backward looking religions, but to become re-enlightened to the facts. There are empirical solutions to most of the nations problems that require no belief.

      I don’t want to drive over a bridge that was constructed on beliefs, and I don’t want to live in a nation that is governed by beliefs in support of ignorance either.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GES3um1HYcM

  • Mark S.

    Not only are Rand’s absurd, anti-social ideas incompatible with the maintenance of a civilized society, but she is a hypocrite. Tom, I would like you and your guests to comment on the fact that Rand partook of those evil, socialist, anti-objectivist programs called Medicare and Social Security late in her life. How does that jibe with her “devil-take-the-hindmost” philosophizing?

  • Cory

    Rand’s “philosophy” is great if you lean towards the belief we are simply animals and would benefit most by following the law of the jungle and the principles of natural selection. If you think we are more than animals, objectivism may not be for you. Rand’s ideas are neither civilized, nor christian.

  • NICK

    Hey, Tom,

    How about asking some hard questions on this show today…

  • Guest from up north

    OFF TOPIC… BUT…. I’ve suggested a guest for you on the Canadian Elections — big changes there. I’ve e-mail you details to your general e-mail with a subject line: Canadian Election: Suggestion of Guest to discuss BIG CHANGES in Canada.

  • Brett

    When I think of Ayn Rand, I think of intellectualism…pseudo-intellectualism and intellectual bully, that is!

    • John

      “Sophistry” is the word, I believe.

      • Brett

        If you look in the dictionary under “sophistry,” beside the word there is a picture of Ayn Rand! ;-)

  • Believer in the big picture

    I read in Newsweek a line that sums up Ayn Rand’s philosophy very well, “Rand viewed the capitalists, not the workers, as the producers of all wealth, and the workers, not the capitalists, as useless parasites.” I believe that this philosophy is not in agreement with the goals of the constitution.
    The budget debate is about attacking trees in the forest and not realizing that the forest is on fire. Not until we as a country address the structural approach to government will we make any significant progress.

  • Newton Whale

    “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://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/23/im-ellsworth-toohey/

    • Brett

      Comment winner of the day! Cory, buy this person an ale or lager of his choosing, please.

      • Anonymous

        I’ll chip in for the second round.

      • Chris B

        A round of Miruvor for the house!

    • Dan

      That’s outstanding.

    • Michael Fairbank

      Amen! I was going to post this very quote.

    • Cory

      In addition to an ale or lager of your choosing, I shall throw in a “boo-yah” and a “boom shakalaka” free of charge!

  • jpf

    Ayn Rand called Christianity “the Kindergarten of Communism”. How many of her new followers are familiar with this anti-christian aspect of her philosophy.

    • Steve

      Many.

      Rand is the “romantic” jumping off point for many as described by Ellen above.

      Libertarians, anarchists…Greenspan…ect.

      The spirits must be tested.
      Let truth stand.

  • Alan

    Ayn Rand’s view of the world ignores one half of the equation: We are individuals surely but just as surely are social animals. Human society gets into its greatest troubles when it ignores one or the other of these; when it assumes that all individual needs can be absorbed in a collective or that only individual needs have value. To believe in either one to the exclusion of the other puts one in the camp of extremists.

    • http://twitter.com/Thinknaboutit Derobos Wontonyhw

      Her view applies perfectly to hermits though. And people in solitary confinement perhaps? Maybe that’s her target audience?

  • Serudji

    Why do we continue to use the divisive ‘Religion’ card. It is self defeating.

    • Dan

      How does this apply to Ayn Rand?

  • Dan

    Ohmigod yes…thank you, Tom, and welcome back!

    -dan
    Boston, MA

  • Harry

    I take issue with Rand followers on the notion that greed is the prime motivator of constructive human action. The Fountainhead protagonist Howard Roark, in my view, didn’t care very much about money. He wanted to design and build buildings. Likewise, I believe that for the most part, the creative people who move our society forward aren’t motivated by money – yes, they deserve a decent living and need some level of freedom – but the notion that wealth is highest and holiest reward is silly. Money motivates pathology as much as anything else.

  • Kathy

    Why is Mr. Ryan being described as a deficit hawk when his tax cuts actually increase the deficit? He is best described as an anti-government fanatic.

  • Dan

    I’ve never taken longer to read a book than the year and a half it took me to plow through “The Fountainhead.” I tried to put it down multiple times, but I kept hoping for a payoff. Of course, that payoff was “Everyone who is not Howard Roark must be destroyed!”

    I fail to understand how a writer who introduces symbols with the subtlety of a foghorn, who can’t seem to make her point in fewer than 700 pages, and whose female characters are thinly veiled versions of herself (rape scene and all…) came to be respected as either an author or a philosopher.

    When I finished the book, I was overtaken by a vision of soaking my copy in kerosene, lighting it on fire, and throwing it into a library that contained nothing but thousands upon thousands of other copies of “The Fountainhead.” That “novel” is vile trash of the first order, and it’s the rare work that actually offended me. It’s a distillation of everything that is base and foul in human nature masquerading as virtue.

    To anyone who thinks Rand is a genius, go ahead and go Galt—let us know how that works out for you. To anyone who thinks Rand is a good writer, I would submit that you haven’t read many novels. Or essays. Or anything with words, really.

    -dan
    Boston, MA

  • Ellen Dibble

    She was born in Russia in 1905 and came here in 1926. Went to the University of Petrograd. American citizen. Died 1982. From Wikipedia: “She supported rational egoism and rejected ethical altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral and opposed all forms of collectivism and statism, instead supporting laissez-faire capitalism, which she believed was the only social system that protected individual rights. She promoted romantic realism in art. She was sharply critical of most other philosophers and philosophical traditions.”

    Also: “In her philosophy of Objectivism, Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected all forms of faith and religion.”
    So. She was strictly Party-line (Communist Party line) in her abjuring faith and religion. But rather than “worshipping” the People, the Common Communal Well-being of the Communist Party, she saw a better way. Not surprising that she was a romantic. I put romantics in the same heap with religious extremists. The tinge of idealism it suggests is downright infectious. Oh, to be 16 again and see the world as your oyster. But she was a capitalist romantic.
    I think she had the kind of allergy to being “forced” (“force as immoral” from the quote above) to be “considerate,” the underlying Communist ideology of all for one and one for all. Kindness and cooperation have to come from romanticism and spunk, not from being preached at about nobody will ever “win,” everybody is kind and cooperative.
    I’d be allergic to that as well. Oh, let me be a contriving manipulative egotistical maniac, at least in the privacy of my head.

  • http://twitter.com/Thinknaboutit Derobos Wontonyhw

    I would like to know how the “christian conservatives” are reconciling the fact that the works of this “conservative hero” go against nearly everything I’ve understood the bible to represent?

    With the ongoing attack of the conservatives on medical care for the country, wouldn’t it make more sense for them to promote the writing of Mary Baker Eddy?

    • Geri

      You obviously don’t “understand” the Bible – maybe try reading it someday!

      • http://twitter.com/Thinknaboutit Derobos Wontonyhw

        So explain to me the part in the bible that promotes hyper-individualism, egoism, even selfishness, or as Ayn describes it “Objectivism”.

        • Steve

          SARCASM

      • Steve

        Sorry…

        meant I DO NOT believe….
        or I was testing the waters…..

      • Steve

        Glad to read it with you, online or elsewhere

    • Geri

      You obviously don’t “understand” the Bible – maybe try reading it someday!

    • Steve

      Christians live in a world and come in many stripes.

      I do believe Rand’s principles/beliefs are supported by facts or intellectually honesty. I am Christian and personally conservative.

      Please see Trevor’s comment above; it may be the most poetic and complete summation I have seen on this board in quite a while.

  • Tom

    Rand’s philosophy (Objectivism) is too rigid. Not enough room for free thinkers and hence not my cup of tea. Everything is either black or white with the Randians. However, I will say this. Her philosophy provided intellectual ammunition against communism during the cold war. For that era, it did some good in that battle. But today? Time to move on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tzbauknight Trevor Zion Bauknight

    Atlas Shrugged. Jesus Wept.

  • Jean

    Attention must be given to Kohlberg’s stages of moral development.

  • Jean

    Attention must be given to Kohlberg’s stages of moral development.

  • http://en-gb.facebook.com/onanov Donald Baxter

    Bloody Hell, can’t we just let this woman die?

  • http://en-gb.facebook.com/onanov Donald Baxter

    Bloody Hell, can’t we just let this woman die?

  • Anonymous

    Ayn Rand has a few interesting ideas that were separated from reality. Her fiction was more of a treatise than a story. The one thing from her that I am grateful for is the inspiration that the she gave to Neil Peart’s lyric writing.

    Greg Camp
    Springdale, AR
    http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/

  • Anonymous

    Ayn Rand has a few interesting ideas that were separated from reality. Her fiction was more of a treatise than a story. The one thing from her that I am grateful for is the inspiration that the she gave to Neil Peart’s lyric writing.

    Greg Camp
    Springdale, AR
    http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/

  • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/2006/05/road-hell-is-paved-with-true-believers.html ulTRAX

    Having debated numerous hard core Rand devotees over the years, it seems the holes in her epistemology are due to her starting with her reactionary conclusions, then looking for an epistemology to justify them instead of the other way around.

  • Anonymous

    To Geri,

    Just so–Jesus was a pacificist radical, and the early Christians were socialists.

  • Ellen Dibble

    It’s one thing to be self-made, another to vaunt that as a philosophy. It might be good up to a point.
    I suspect she’d be rethinking when she views Donald Trump. Maybe it’s good to be self-made, but then to sit on top of the world and cheer one’s own success? To be elected in order to do that? Is that a philosophy? Is that a government?
    It’s so different from being sent to the Gulag for having an individualist thought.

    • ThresherK

      Donald “Lucky Sperm Club” Trump?

      Let’s not forget how much he inherited. He makes Bush the younger look like Horatio Alger.

  • Anonymous

    It seems that a fair amount of republicans are having trouble with their constituents at town hall meetings. Rep. Paul Ryan is among them.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/26/gop-town-halls-reps-duck-out_n_854157.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/27/gop-medicare-cuts_n_854224.html

  • David134

    Ayn Rand took Social Security and Medicare under a different name when she was old.

    Love that hypocritical libertarian lifestyle.

    • Carolyn

      Yes, typical Republican hypocrisy. And if she truly believed that everyone can compete on their own merits, why did she have to change her name?

  • Bijom

    Tom,
    You’re becoming the new Charlie Rose. Cool it, let your guests do the talking for a change and stop cutting them off in mid-sentence.

    • Anonymous

      What’s wrong with Charlie Rose? He’s one of the best interviewers alive today.

      • Bijom

        They’re both fine interviewers. But they sometimes wind up conducting both sides of the conversation.

  • ThresherK

    Time to play another round of NPR’s favorite panel game, “Where is the Liberal?”

    (And no, Jon Chait doesn’t count.)

  • David

    Ayn Rand loved herself some serial killer. So much so she based her selfish man on him.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Edward_Hickman

  • Markwmeunier

    I’m not surprised by this Any Rand upsurge .There are those that will use it as justification for ( to be diplomatic ) a selfish , greedy streak. If you have that inclination her writing will appeal to your personal and world view.

  • ulTRAX

    I order for Rand to conclude that people, alone, “earn” their money through voluntary transactions in the market, she MUST ignore the reality she claims to champion.

    Consider this: what is a killer idea worth in an impoverished 3ed or 4th world nation without the necessary infrastructure to exploit that idea?

    What infrastructure? How about a literate and educated workforce? A legal system that allows for the existence of limited liability corporations, intellectual patent rights, and contract law? A judicial system to oversee such laws? What about stable monetary and banking systems from which to get credit? What about systems for national defense and law enforcement? What about a system to insure public health… from clean water to vaccination programs? What of publicly financed basic research?

    Without such infrastructures, that killer idea would be worth nothing.

    The simple truth Rand refuses to consider is that no Superman perform any miracles on his or her own nor do those billionaires make their billions on their own. Most new product ideas are built upon a foundation of older ideas and a well developed and well run PUBLIC sector is crucial in making that wealth possible.

  • Anonymous

    There is a kind of radical humanism in her thinking, and that’s not being adolescent. The idea that my own interests and life are worthy is not immature, nor is it childish to say that what I want does not have to be sacrificed for another. The immaturity comes in how those ideas are applied in real life.

  • ThresherK

    Tom, in the intro, “Polestar or nightmare”, I think I heard you ask.

    How about “laughingstock”?

  • Ellen Dibble

    Post Roosevelt’s New Deal, there was a trend I think of the American Edwardian romance, an idea of a natural aristocracy, and it reeks of ideas of preference, not really self-made, but self-entitled. The distinction gets lost once a certain swath of us (or one like her) proclaim oneself (theirselves) Above-it-All. A family sees a child struggling, sends the child to the modern American equivalent of the Gulag and learns the fine art of disengaging. The arguments about preferences for this or that ethnicity run up against the 1960s vision of opportunity for all.
    Is America about opportunity? Or just about opportunity for Ayn Rand?
    This theory of the master-race of self-made gets dappled by the shadows of intergenerational reality.
    Did Ayn Rand have children???

  • Dtate49

    Individualism is a lie and a myth. Humans only survive through an interdependence ON EACH OTHER. Republicans say constantly that we are a “christian” nation. What did Jesus say about taking care of each other? “If you follow me you will always be with the poor.” This woman and her beliefs need to be left on the dust heap of history.

    • Anonymous

      You’re right to point out that Christianity as it was originally stated was fundamentally socialist, but America was founded on the idea of individual liberty as well as public responsibility. Lose the former, and we end up in dictatorship. Lose the latter, and we have anarchy that will lead to dictatorship.

  • Jim Smith

    If these “captains of industry” are so “independent” and “ethically selfish” why do they continue to accept government subsidies (our tax dollars) and fail to pay their fair share of taxes?

  • moose1

    How about the violent rape scene in “The Fountainhead?” Does that make Howard Roark an independent hero?

    Ayn Rand makes my skin crawl. What an unpleasant woman.

  • Jason Buc

    There is a gross neglect of the elderly and children in her novels. These two groups are inherently more dependent than any other. If there is nothing to gain from either demographic should we abandon them?

    • ebw343

      Civilized societies care for their children becasue they are the future of that society and in turn care for their elders so that the children will care for them when they become elders.

      Apparently Galt’s Gulch is okay with dying out after one generation.

  • Chris B

    Paul Ryan just said we’re going to have crony capitalism? Oh, not like what we have now!

  • David

    Paul Ryan is one the best examples of a bought and paid for lacky of crony capitalist thugs we have in congress.

  • ulTRAX

    Thom, PLEASE ask your guests about Rand’s fascination of the serial killers William Hickman whom she used as model for some of her protagonists..

    Her diaries from that time, while she worked as a receptionist and an extra, lay out the Nietzschean mentality that underpins all her later writings. The newspapers were filled for months with stories about serial killer called William Hickman, who kidnapped a 12-year-old girl called Marion Parker from her junior high school, raped her, and dismembered her body, which he sent mockingly to the police in pieces. Rand wrote great stretches of praise for him, saying he represented “the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. … Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should.” She called him “a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy,” shimmering with “immense, explicit egotism.” Rand had only one regret: “A strong man can eventually trample society under its feet. That boy [Hickman] was not strong enough.”

    from: http://www.slate.com/id/2233966/

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Chilling. I’ve always thought of Rand as a “little man with tits” not as an integrated, mature woman. She appeared to envy the power men had and sought to grasp some for herself, shunning other females & children as weaklings all the while.

      Rand was merely another defective human unit with a penchant for wordiness, nothing special, all warts & farts like all the rest of us earthbound “naked savages”.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Chilling. I’ve always thought of Rand as a “little man with tits” not as an integrated, mature woman. She appeared to envy the power men had and sought to grasp some for herself, shunning other females & children as weaklings all the while.

      Rand was merely another defective human unit with a penchant for wordiness, nothing special, all warts & farts like all the rest of us earthbound “naked savages”.

  • Jemimah

    In high school and college I was a HUGE fan of Ayn, and I still believe that some of her ideas or theories are sound. That said, as I’ve been out in the world and come to see that we’re not all “created equal,” I’ve come to understand that her methods need to be taken not at face value, but with consideration for different levels of ability. Opportunity is still a thing that America offers more abundantly than any other country, but we’re not all starting from the same place intellectually, physically, emotionally. Great subject. We could talk about it for days, not just an hour!

    • Anonymous

      As Matt Kibbe mentioned, her ideas get much better development in the lyrics of Neil Peart. She needed a ghost writer.

  • John

    Did he REALLY say “it doesn’t matter who you know in Washington?!!!!!”

  • notafan

    I’ve never read Ayn Rand – her books always seemed poorly written and generally ridiculous to me. Sounds like she was a noxious human being. Somehow I’m not surprised the Tea Party loves her.

  • ThresherK

    I’m sorry. The FreedomWorks prez is tacking against crony capitalism?

    Tom, take this hack to the cleaners. The slightest bit of research and countermanding Kibbe’s would utterly destroy him.

    Laughing myself to the point of vomiting now.

  • moose1

    Wait, Tea Partiers can read?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Some can read fairly well but they don’t want to bother thinking about what they’ve read. They seem to prefer trite, redundant slogans and high decibels to genuine philosophy.

      About Rand: Hate her, hate her, wouldn’t date her. She was an arrogant, self-centered bore in any language.

  • Chris B

    How does any of this insular idea of capitalism explain the financial services industry, which produces absolutely nothing except new ways to slice up the pie created by others yet reaps incredible rewards? These guys are to be looked up to? As opposed to being regarded as the parasites they are?

  • Emptybottle

    Why don’t they all do what John Gault did in Atlas Shrugged and take they’re great inventions and good live in a valley. That way the rest of us can have a little peace and quiet.

  • ebw343

    Not the best writer: the question shouldn’t be “Who is John Galt?” but “When will John Galt shut up?” (full disclosure: not my line but I don’t rmember where I heard the quote)

    Rand Paul bothers me; with his name he should either be somewhere to the left of Barney Frank and Bernie Sanders, or completely apolitical. If Ayn Rand was a rebellious adolescent until her death, Rand Paul apparently still hasn’t even reached that point yet…

  • Scott B, Jamestown, NY

    Her ideas work on paper, as does communism. It will always work when you control all aspects of the conversation. But people are people, and people have their own ideas.

    Ayn glorified the robber barons and plutocrats, the ones that stole, manipulated (if not outright wrote) laws, bought politicians, and killed people.

    Her version of the world is a two caste system of “Haves” and “Have-Nots” (naked savages).

  • John

    Libertarianism is just like Communism – it looks great on paper.

    • Kathy

      Exactly. Ideological philosophies of government and human behavior simply don’t work. Particularly philosophies that you can write on the back of a cocktail napkin. Humans are too complicated than that. It belongs on the scrapheap of history along with communism and naziism.

  • Cooljaz68

    Rand’s philosophy is ideal at best and discounts greed and hubris among the so-called “Capitalists.”

  • Michael Fairbank

    What would Ayn Rand make of the new discoveries of the biological roots of altruism and cooperation.

  • bostoncitizen

    Libertarianism is a failed ideology. Although greedy individuals have succeeded in corrupting the American economic system, there are no positive examples of libertarian governments in the developed world. These people should give up.

    • Kathy

      There’s Somalia, the Libertarian Paradise!

      • bostoncitizen

        LOL…
        right, like I said, “no positive examples”!

  • http://www.facebook.com/NewtonsBob Bob Kavanagh

    No one does things by themself. Railroads are not built by one person. This is nonsense to talk about the individual doing things all by themselves.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Doug-Pratt/1669697071 Doug Pratt

      The Internet came from the government. The GPS came from the government. Google and Garmin couldn’t exist without the benefit of government funding.

  • Anonymous

    Any wise person looks to the life of the philosopher to whom he looks for inspiration or guidance. Look at the life of Ayn Rand. Aside from her cultist success, what did she actually do for the good of humanity? Her relationships, by some accounts, were sado-masochistic. She was noted for being joyless and self-centered, despite her material success. This is the ideal of the new materialists? They are welcome to it. However, they are not welcome to the quality of life of those who value social progress for all the people. This new movement of Ayn Rand groupies does not belong in the government of a democracy. These are oligarch-wannabes.

  • David

    Rest for the individual that is lost today?

    We have no respect for the sociopaths on Wall Street and on the boards of transnationals that are destroying people and the planet for profits.

  • Anonymous

    Her critique of Christianity was correct, but she was borrowing from Nietzsche.

  • Robotcaruso

    If you follow Rand’s logic wouldn’t you have to take the individual’s wealth at the end of life and fund each newborn with an equal amount of capital so that the individual could compete and realize their potential?

  • ThresherK

    “There are really smart people in government that know better than you do”, says Kibbe.

    The problem with Kibbe is that he’s not against this. He wants his friends to be those self-serving people, not Democrats. Not people who don’t have a Rolodex full of K-Street lobbyists. Not even RealAmerica™, but a bunch of well-connected coastal elites who think Rick Santelli is George Freaking Bailey.

    Kibbe is the crony hack he thinks he’s warning us about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Doug-Pratt/1669697071 Doug Pratt

    Where would Ayn Rand stand on the inheritance tax? There’s nothing noble about a rich person’s children having so much money they don’t need to work, let alone achieve greatness.

  • JP

    Here’s something the wealthy OWE the rest:

    Every single dollar earned by the wealthy consumes at least some of the limited resources of this planet, or what one might call “planetary legacy.”

    Whether in paper resources, mineral, energy, rubber, asphalt, petroleum, water, LAND (which is highly limited), food for workers, etc…, resources of some sort are consumed for every dollar earned. Also, some degree of pollution is likely produced.

    Since this is the case and we live on a planet of limited resources, one must question why our society allows the wealthy to use up a disproprtional amount of “planetary legacy” for their own personal benefit.

    In other words, a very few are costing the vast majority of current and future generations quite a bit of their planetary legacy.

    They have no right to do this, EXCEPT that our society never gave much thought to what the wealthy really cost the rest of the world and future generations.
     
    Yes, entrepreneurship itself creates value, but just how much do all future and current generations on Earth owe a single entrepreneur? Should one entrepreneur be allowed to bleed the planet for tens of thousands, or even millions of times the resource cost of the average individual? Our society lets a single wealthy person do exactly that!

    My contention is thus that the wealthy owe the rest (current and future) due to the very fact that our society allows these few to amass so much unto themselves, for their own private and selfish benefit.

    If they are forced to pay back this debt to society in the form of higher proportional taxes, so be it.

    They SHOULD be forced to pay restitution for the disproportionate amount of limited resources they are allowed to consume, and tax is the easiest, most equitable way for them to do it.

    Even when paying increased taxes, the wealthy in our society are still able to become filthy rich and enjoy the benefits of their wealth beyond the wildest dreams of the vast majority of us.

    They have nothing legitimate to complain about, since our society is more than fair to these individuals, and it’s not like the U.S. will deny them any wealth at all as though we lived in the ex-Soviet Union.

    The wealthy in America will still have the best of all worlds, despite being forced to PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE, as per this simple, logical argument.

  • Jemimah

    Matt Kibbe is a good speaker. Too bad his philosophy is immature and narrow-minded and that he’s actually, making things up. He just said that the government is trying to dictate how much an individual can make. They’re not doing that at all. They’re putting much-needed controls on HOW money can be made and trying to guarantee that people won’t be bamboozled out of the money that they, too, worked hard for.

    • ThresherK

      “A good speaker”? Maybe. But he’s never gonna get tested this way.

      Kibbe is another hothouse hybrid who thinks that in surviving the ordeal of Fox News, Rush (and imitators), Nice Polite Republicans, and the “real-world” of CNBC he’s somehow honed his chops in debating.

      It’s an affliction common to right wingers and Beltway Inbreds.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Matt Kibbe just said that the individual is losing out, is not being respected as much as once. “The individual matters.”
    I think the internet is making the individual matter much much more than a decade ago.
    The worker is learning to count, not as a union or a member, but as a personal thinker and feeling entity.
    The capitalist who “owns the tools of industrial economy,” or however the Marxists phrased it when they nationalized first the schools, then the waterworks, then the factories… Those capitalists as individuals, are they getting squelched by the internet?
    Is that the problem?

  • Smaritimemcmahon

    If so many republicans follow Ayn Rand , why are they so against cutting government subsidies to the oil industry – shouldn’t any government subsidies be anathema ?

  • AnnannaSanders

    I remember watching Ayn Rand and her protege Nathaniel Brandon on Irv Kupcinet’s show, Kup’s. It was all so stagy and so Hollywood. I watched her many times and never had any sense that she connected with everyday people. She was arrogant and icy, more like a character from a Hollywood B movie. Maybe her arrogance was unique for a woman of her time. Possibly that’s why she stood out. Where is Nathaniel Brandon these days?

    • Rnn

      She had a writerly presentation – rehearsed – regardless of the question, she delivered her prepared construct. Most interviewers were simply not ready to counter her illogical aggressiveness.

  • Rex Henry, Washington, DC

    Hey Matt, good job completely avoiding questions you don’t want to answer. Tom asks about religion, you say indiviual. Broken record.

  • Amy

    Ayn Rand did not suggest that we should be greedy. She suggested that each person should be responsible for his or herself and his or her own actions. Embracing this belief leads very naturally to celebrating capitalism as the most moral way to run a society. When I read her books, I’m right there with her. However, she is not around today to see the rampant greed that pervades some (not all) so-called altruistic actions by the wealthiest among us. When real greed is this pervasive, I’m not sure that we are responsible enough to be trusted with capitalism, per her vision.

    • Dan

      “Ayn Rand did not suggest that we should be greedy.”

      That’s objectively and verifiably false. What are you basing this on?

      -dan
      Boston, MA

      • Amy

        Being responsible for one’s self (even if that means putting yourself before others) is not greed. Nor are independently earning your livelihood or striving to be the best at whatever it is you do. Greed is hoarding resources and denying others the chance to earn them as well. I don’t see that kind of greed in her novels. Do you? I’m interested to hear another perspective.

  • Amy

    Ayn Rand did not suggest that we should be greedy. She suggested that each person should be responsible for his or herself and his or her own actions. Embracing this belief leads very naturally to celebrating capitalism as the most moral way to run a society. When I read her books, I’m right there with her. However, she is not around today to see the rampant greed that pervades some (not all) so-called altruistic actions by the wealthiest among us. When real greed is this pervasive, I’m not sure that we are responsible enough to be trusted with capitalism, per her vision.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1125975244 Aaron K. Hallquist

    Conservatives love Ayn Rand and her focus on individual responsibility. However they simultaneously want to gut the very weak financial regulations instituted by Dodd-Frank that would try to keep an eye on the uber-individualist types on wall street who obviously cannot be trusted to police themselves given what we saw in 2008. How do they square this morally? Ayn Rand of course didn’t figure morality into her amoral equation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1125975244 Aaron K. Hallquist

    Conservatives love Ayn Rand and her focus on individual responsibility. However they simultaneously want to gut the very weak financial regulations instituted by Dodd-Frank that would try to keep an eye on the uber-individualist types on wall street who obviously cannot be trusted to police themselves given what we saw in 2008. How do they square this morally? Ayn Rand of course didn’t figure morality into her amoral equation.

  • Paul C

    Tom and Ms. Heller gave the impression that Ayn Rand was a victim of anti-semitism, however her family prospered under the czar. It was the communists that took that all away, and Lenin, Trotsky, Marx, Engels, and their New York contributors (Jacob Schiff), and the majority of red cadre were largely Jewish.

    This impression given by Tom should have been clarified.

    • Rnn

      This was a very sloppy, casual, and uninformed interview. So much, slipped by, unchallenged – this is just the nature of the medium. NPR is becoming like all the other talk radio out there, in style (not content) – its fast food for a smarter audience.

  • Toferburl

    Ayn Rand was a psychologically unbalanced woman whose sole contribution to literature was to produce a few books that, as much as they are mind-candy, are absolutely based in fantasy and falsehood. The conservative utopia she wrote about is based on hypocrisy and lies as well. It could never exist and is merely a smokescreen to hide her anti-social, paranoid personality.

  • Jenn_831

    The Puritans called their new territories commonwealths — not states made up of individuals. Puritans were Christians, and ultimately Christians understand that the Jesus wanted us to share and love one another. Rand believes those sentiments are rubbish as she was an Atheist.

  • notafan

    Of course the wealthy pay the largest amount of tax. As a proportion of their income, however, that’s a tiny amount. They don’t pay nearly as much as a proportion of income as everyone else.

  • SB Conners

    Why does your guest say that Obama is “forcing” the rich to pay more in taxes. Government is us — the collective will of the people. He is not a dictator. It’s ironic that the supposedly religious right have ignored the passage in Luke: “For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required.” — Luke 12:48. That’s all that is being asked.

  • Glenn K.

    Government bails out some banks and not others? Well, how did a handful of banks get so big that they hold the keys to the entire economy, and will bring the economy down to rubble if they fail? Did government do that? What about these same banks acting to reduce government regulation such that they could go into the risky investments that later came back to hurt them?
    Matt’s arguments leave out half the story.

  • David

    HALF OF AMERICANS MAKE $502 DOLLARS OR LESS A WEEK!!!!

    That’s if they even have a job. You know, non-producers.

    EAT THE CRIMINAL RICH!!!!

    • Steve

      To tough, but maybe with fave beans and a fine chianti.

  • N.

    Basing a political philosophy and running a country upon a work of *fiction* rather than logic and experience would be anathema to Ayn Rand.

  • Tina

    1) Please tell about her affair with the psychologist. I think maybe she was very vindictive when they broke up?

    2) Somewhere recently (probably NPR, PBS, or the NY Times), I heard that anthropologists are PROVING that we are NOT individualists at all. I can’t speak that language or remember more. Can your guest tell us about any recent scientific studies about our INTER-RELATEDNESS?

    3) Does she bring it all down to MONEY? — i.e., do you have to give your MONEY to the less fortunate. BECAUSE she seems to not even want to give the less fortunate any EMPATHY. Was she clear about the difference between giving money and giving empathy, or does her writing MUDDY IT UP?

    4) The wealthy have so much political power. Would she think that represented well-deserved individualistic achievement — arriving in the halls of power as the result of achievement; or, would she, by now, have considered the wealthy to be their OWN Collective?

    5) When the baby pops out from its mom’s belly and cuts its own umbilical cord, I’ll consider that individualism is possible!

    • Anonymous

      Empathy and $1.25 will get you a Coke. As for individualism, the idea is that as an individual, I have the right to my thoughts and desires and the right to seek to achieve, even if it goes against the norm.

    • Tina

      Oh, with my question #3, I forgot to add: does her writing mention Social Darwinism? I mean, besides her living in countries with the two extremes (Russia/ USA, compared to the Scandinavian countries with their social democracies), S.D. seems the obvious influence, BUT, did she ACTUALLY mention the term or concept?

  • ulTRAX

    I can’t believe I heard Thom buy into this redistribution myth. Raising taxes on the rich is needed because We The People ALREADY SPENT some $13.2 TRILLION on ourselves these past 30 year that WE HAVE NOT PAID FOR. Paying down debt… something the Right refuses to do, is not redistribution.

  • FLowen

    If people think that what is going on in the US today is that the government is taking from the rich and giving to the poor, they are in delusion! But what else is new?

    The government is ALL ABOUT allowing the rich from stealing from the poor!…and getting the poor to believe that that is in their best interest…at least the Tea Partiers.

    We have a criminal reverse Robin Hood system of government. No wonder they want you to believe the opposite.

    Of course, today like everyday is OPPOSITE DAY IN THE USA!

    • Dagny

      I agree. I am really tired of Matt talking about taking from the rich to give to the poor. We are taking from the poor and middle class “rule followers” and giving to the rule breaking rich.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Producers versus nonproducers, says Kibbe. “Nonproducers who think it’s okay to take from others.”
    Oh, that would be the Wall Street types. That would be the parasites at the top, who are kind of hard to unmask. Madoff who made off. That sort of nonproducers.
    I hate to see someone seeming to defend arrogance who comes from the general vicinity of Hollywood. We get to worship glamor and arrogance every time we watch movies. Does that sense of “I’ve got mine” have to become a philosophy?
    Surely the Republicans can do better than that. There are much more solid senses of accomplishment, with or without capitalist heft, that can be found.
    But the grabby nonproducers are not all located on the Democrat side of the aisle.

  • Laura

    I read “The Fountainhead” back in the 80′s. It made the rounds when I was in architecture school. We all wanted insight into Frank Lloyd Wright, whom Howard Roark was reportedly modeled. Also read “Atlas Shrugged” at that time. Aside from the controversial rape scenes meant to titilate us, the rest was a bore! Rand is always the female lead being overpowered by a stronger smarter man (which I think never happened in her real life). As a woman in the field of architecture, I would say that most architects are way too arrogant to begin with, and the idea of a profession as service is one we need to encourage.

  • Eleanore

    To see the results of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of selfishness and individualism, where people don’t have to pay taxes, and only the strong, self-sufficient succeed, look at any failed state like Afghanistan. They don’t have policies and taxes to pay for education, they don’t collect taxes to build roads or support public health.

    • Anonymous

      Hong Kong before the Chinese took it back is a better example of an Objectivist ideal. Afghanistan has failed for a variety of reasons, none of them Randian.

    • Chris B

      Charles Dickens’ London meets Dodge City. A real nice place to raise your kids up!

  • James

    Yawn. Adolescent brained narcissist conservatives go through the ayn rand thing every few years, emotions and hormones running wild when their money and power is threatened.

  • David

    Face it Ayn Rand and her followers are sociopaths.

    • Chris B

      That about sums it up. “I got mine, screw everybody else and the air they breathe. Eat the wounded!”

      I feel like I need to take a bath in interferon after listening to this crap.

  • Robert Eschauzier

    I also read Ayn Rand 50 years ago for the first time. Atlas Shrugged inspired me. I have disdained politics all my life. Given and received volutary help to and from others. never in my life have I accepted directly or indirectly any benefit for which the cost was extracted by (threat of) force.

    • loay

      Okay which neck of the wilds do you live in, in your log cabin. No water, electricity, education, healthcare, roadways, research, are used by you I gather.

    • Rnn

      So, you’ve never attended a school, driven on a road, or otherwise enjoyed any tax supported benefits, included freedom from the mid-20th C. takeover by German, Japanese, or Russian expansionism?

  • Rex

    From an episode of South Park:

    “…Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I read every last word of this garbage, and because of this piece of s**t, I am never reading again.”

  • Cberman

    If Ayn Rand’s radical individualism had been American policy during World War II, as well as during the Cold War, the US would never have been able to to succeed. Rand was opposed to the draft–a policy that was, in effect, the denial of individual freedom to millions of American males in their late teens and 20s–and without the military manpower the draft made possible, victory against the Nazis, and, later, resistance to communist aggression, would have been unthinkable.

  • ulTRAX

    The road to hell is paved with True Believers:

    Perhaps all belief systems, diverse as they may be, fall into two main categories. There are self-correcting modes of thought… such as the scientific method. Granted as we’ve seen in the news often other considerations undermine the intellectual integrity required for honest research. Then there are the self-justifying belief systems. The most compelling are those which seemingly have an explanation for everything. Rand falls into that latter category.

    What makes self-justifying belief systems so insidious is this: once someone accepts the basic tenets of the ideology they deprive themselves of the intellectual tools to disprove the system.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Matt Kibbe says it comes down to respecting property first (meaning the air, the oceans, etc., I guess), and I’m thinking what property did Ayn Rand own?
    Maybe like me she was always at her typewriter and therefore did not spend her time building fences and tending to her roof. Essentially using a time and space, not exactly owning it.

    Owning the means of production (which Communists thought should be cooperatively owned — which by the way my city has more cooperatives each year; it is the wave of the future) — is not the same as owning property.
    Property rights first is about those collecting interest and dividends, with an advantage to begin with.

  • Kathy

    It’s a failure of journalism that it’s not being pointed out that this nonsense simply doesn’t work.

    • Ross Donald

      The host was no paying attention to what was being said, letting the most idiotic concepts slip by uncritically. I had to turn it off.

  • Glenn K.

    The tragedy of the commons depends on the size of the community! If it’s small enough, and people dedicate themselves to maintenance of the commons, then it works well! It breaks down when the number of people involved swells too large, and the relationship between each person and the commons becomes impersonal. IN short, size matters! You cannot discuss any political or governmental philosophy without also factoring in how many people are involved. Otherwise, political philosophy discussions are ultimately futile.

    • Steve

      Put the problem in context…size matters.

  • Anonymous

    Tomorrow on On Point, L Ron Hubbard.

    • Anonymous

      Not a bad idea, since his science fiction religion is so influential in certain groups these days.

    • Anonymous

      Not a bad idea, since his science fiction religion is so influential in certain groups these days.

      • Steve

        He wrote science fiction?

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    Property rights? Really? “I own it so I know how to use it best,” or “It’s mine, I’ll do with it what I want.” That’s been dis-proven throughout the centuries, be it courts or mobs marching with torches and pitchforks.

  • David

    I know you are thankful your great grandchildren won’t be able to come back in time and extract their revenge on you for the world you gave them.

  • Screamingpalms

    The Native American Indians didn’t own anything….I don’t recall ever hearing stories about them destroying the environment because nobody “owned” the land.

    • David

      Capitalists can’t understand a continent of people living at one with the land. Where’s the profit in no rape of the land they ask?

      • Anonymous

        Of course, those innocent natives weren’t able to keep the land from a more powerful culture.

    • ohiolibrarian

      Actually, a lot of animals went extinct shortly after human beings came to the Americas. Archeologists believe that they were hunted to excess. Believe the same was true of Australia. Humans are a very competitive species.

  • miro

    Ayn Rand’s deification of the selfish, ruthless individual harbors a Fascist psychology, even if her ideology proclaims itself against the totalitarian state. The closest thing we have to Fascists here in the US today are fanatics like Scott Walker, who will use any means available to wield power to crush any political opposition.

    It’s not individualism per se that is the problem. It is equally possible to envision a cooperative individualism in which both society and individuals matter and empathy and reciprocity prevail over selfishness and domination. This enlighted and compassionate philosophy is obviously not the philosophy animating the vast majority of the conservative movement, the Tea Party, and the Republican party.

    Rand’s narcissistic, selfish supermen die alone, and few mourn their passing.

  • Anonymous

    Try this argument: Rand feared what the collective would do to the individual, but she apparently didn’t notice that one purpose of government is to limit the collective for the benefit of the individual. Again, her ideas are interesting, but have to be confronted with reality.

  • Robert Dente

    Come off it. It’s like saying if I were a dog I want the “freedom” to maintain my habit of chasing cars—no matter what the consequences.

    The fact, is chasing cars dangerous for the dog and the drivers.

    If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like it needs a nail.

    The conservatives are jujitsuing the facts into conforming to their ideology!

    • Robert Dente

      Sorry that should be: The fact is, chasing cars is dangerous for the dog and the drivers.

  • BHA in Vermont

    The top 1% pay 38% of the income tax
    The top 1% have 43% of the financial wealth

    The top 5% pay 59% of the taxes
    The top 5% have 72% of the financial wealth

    Doesn’t sound to ME like they are over paying.

    And no, no matter how many times the Republicans say so, the SMALL businesses that create jobs are NOT in the top 10% of financial earners.

  • http://twitter.com/strathmeyer Eric

    Everyone touts individualism until they hit trouble themselves. Even Ms. Rand survived on Social Security and Medicare as she got older:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-ford/ayn-rand-and-the-vip-dipe_b_792184.html

  • Ellen Dibble

    If the Republicans want to argue against “too much collectivism,” as Ashbrook just put it, they would do better than to promote a writer whose connection to collectivism was the Soviet Union. In the USSR, it was a very few party members who decided what the collective was going to do. Ten-year plan this. Ten-year plan that. It was not a democracy in any sense of the word. One was evaporated for getting in the way. Collective interests meant, to the Reds, the interests of the ruling elite.

  • David

    FreedomWorks guy you know you are using the tea baggers to take away their own Social Security and Medicare.

    You might not be the one that laughs last when they wake up and realize that.

  • Kimdono

    I read Ayn Rand’s Fountain Head, Atlas Shrugged and We the Living in the early 80′s when I was in college. The message I was left with after reading her books was that we are responsible for the outcome of our lives. My mind set became that I had to be independent and selfish with respect to how I made my way through the world. This may seem arrogant and cold but people who hold themselves by these characteristics hold themselves responsible for the outcome of their actions. My interpretion of Ayn Rand’s individualism was simply that if one is driven in this way then by the nature of that philosophy those who think this way understand being held accountable for their actions and therefore feel responsible for the impact that individual’s actions might have on the world.

    • ThresherK

      The message I was left with after reading her books was that we are responsible for the outcome of our lives.

      Not that you’re pretty much alone, but you are statistically insignificant. Randians aren’t all crackpots, but the wide berth they are being given in the press is for crap. I’m curious if there are many of them you wouldn’t associate with.

      (PS That worthy takeaway is imparted to a ton of other folks by a ton of other works that aren’t crazy, misapplied fantasies.)

    • ohiolibrarian

      We can only be grateful that you didn’t read Swift’s A Modest Proposal and take it as seriously.

      Hint: Swift is a satire.

  • David

    FreedomWorks guy you know you are using the tea baggers to take away their own Social Security and Medicare.

    You might not be the one that laughs last when they wake up and realize that.

  • Jemimah

    Hah! Matt just said “if you work hard and PLAY BY THE RULES…” I thought that the tea partyers didn’t want the rules. Aren’t they rugged indivudualists???

  • Jemimah

    Hah! Matt just said “if you work hard and PLAY BY THE RULES…” I thought that the tea partyers didn’t want the rules. Aren’t they rugged indivudualists???

  • Anonymous

    So let me get this straight. Ayn Rand did not believe in the government message about smoking and died of lung cancer. She collected Social Security and used Medicare. Case closed.

    • Anonymous

      That is an ad hominem attack. Whether the person is able to live up to her philosophy or not isn’t an argument against the philosophy itself.

      • Nick

        Precisely. Thank you for articulating this. It is rather disappointing how so few people here are able to separate the person from the philosophy. All those links to the Huffington Post…. So what?

        • Anonymous

          So what? Ryan is having town hall meetings and his constituents are not happy with his budget plans. If you don’t think this matters that’s your problem. You folks on the right are hilarious. You cry foul when people call out inconsistencies or disagree with your comments.

          • ulTRAX

            Ryan’s budget is money laundering. In the last 30 years we have spent some $13.2 TRILLION on ourselves that we refuse to pay for. Much of this was tax cuts for the rich… which we’re in debt, is “funded” by more borrowing from future taxpayers.

            What Ryan is attempting to do is set this theft in cement by making our kids and grand kids pay the price with higher taxes and less services.

          • Anonymous

            I agree, and his constituents have caught on to his game.

      • ulTRAX

        Ad hominem? ROTF. Rand COULD have refused to pay for Social Security and Medicare… gone to jail, and become a martyr for her cause. But I guess Rand never bothered to read Viktor Frankl.

        Sorry Greg, this DOES reveal much about Rand’s moral weakness if not utter hypocrisy.

        • ulTRAX

          For those not familiar with Frankl’s work, this might sum up one of his core conclusions:

          “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

          Surely Rand COULD have gone to jail for her beliefs and proved her character by not allowing it to break her. That she chose to pay taxes she thought were immoral speaks volumes.

        • Anonymous

          I’m not defending Rand the person, nor am I defending her ideas. I’m suggesting that the argument ought to be about the ideas.

          • Anonymous

            I understand the reason people want to separate the person from the philosophy. I do think that this is not a black and white issue however. Would you do the same for Hitler or Lenin?

            This is an extreme example, but nonetheless it does point to the problems one can have with this idea.

        • Anonymous

          You don’t go to jail for not paying SS. If you’re self employed you can opt out. You just do not get anything back.
          Rand could have done this. She had to use Medicare because she had no choice due to her economic situation. That is what I find so ironic.

          • Steve

            Newsflash.

            People are selfish and act out of self-interest.
            Get the NPR staff on it.

      • Anonymous

        So you think that she is justified to loath the social programs she was benefiting from. It’s not an ad hominem attack. It’s an observation on this her hypocrisy. If her philosophy was what she lived by than why would she use SS? This was brought up in the show as well and the explanation clearly alluded to her hypocrisy.

        • Dave in CT

          Of course none of you drive and none of you use any plastic etc etc. You are purists in idea and practice, right? Right?

          I’m going to go work on my organic garden, which I wish many more did, but yes I still shop at a grocery store and eat an occasional conventional veggie!

          • Anonymous

            What this has do do with what I wrote and this show escapes me. I never said anything about being some kind purist now did I. I don’t dislike plastic or driving my car. I’m hoping that bio-plastic becomes the alternative to the petroleum based products now used. I also use wax paper instead of plastic wrap and have been doing so more and more. It’s a little inconvenient but it works.
            Your comment is kind absurd. I do have an organic garden and I’ve replace about 3/4 of my front lawn with raised beds. This has nothing to do with Ayn Rind and her the ironic turn of fate in her life that made her depend on the very things she despised.

          • Dave in CT

            That’s all awesome (your choices, what are you growing?), I was trying to comment on the points people were making about Rand and her Social Security collection, which is obviously hypocritical on its face, but also, to any reasonable person, understandable given that she didn’t live in her idealized world, did pay into SS, and had to get along within the rules like everyone else, regardless if she was espousing a different ideal.

            Also, I think its important to note that the numbers of pure Randites, the most radical of libertarians are likely very small. Most libertarians and free marketers understand that certainly there should be a basic safety net for the truly unfortunate.

            Hayek was clear on that while at the same time warning of slippery slopes toward collectivism.

            I think there are way more Hayekian-libertarians than Randites out there…. FWIW.

            Happy growing!

          • Anonymous

            Tomatoes, eggplants, beans, carrots, collards, kale, beets, cucumbers, mustard greens, which kept my grocery bill down way into winter. They are hardy plants. Herbs, and whatever else I can fit into the space I have.

          • Dave in CT

            Nice. I have Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers in the basement germination rack, some broccoli raab and raddichio in a cold frame (took tops off this week), and some lettuce, peas, chard, carrots, beets, arugula and mustard sprouting in the beds. Planted some asparagus roots in late winter, haven’t seen shoots, hope didn’t plant too early.

            Hope to have lots of greens this winter too, w/ the coldframe….

            Have fun,

            dave

    • Steve

      Yes,

      no inconsistencies.

      If you close the case on all those with inconsistent logic you will
      be standing alone.

    • Ellen Dibble

      I think it was Anne Heller, the biographer, who said that Ayn Rand justified her use of Social Security and Medicare on the grounds that she had paid into it as required, and so why turn down her fair share. Apparently she was sufficiently well off that she could have paid for her own care. I believe both Democrats and Republicans are trying to redraw the lines such that those who can pay for their own care can have “the opportunity” as well as the expectation to do just that. If she had lost her savings (thanks to Bernie Madoff sorts), then she would have access to that Medicare and Social Security — as the budget is going to have to be adapted.
      Currently the line for contributing to Social Security is something over $100,000 a year. If you are making more than that, your FICA contributing does not keep climbing each year. The idea is that here you have one particular line where we say 15.3 percent FICA ceases to apply if you are “rich enough.” Redrawing that line, and many other lines that are naturally changing as the population ages, and as medical care becomes more able but more costly, is the job of the legislators.
      May it not be the job of Ayn Rand’s ghost. I’m pretty sure she would say if she had lung cancer but did not — by fate or bad planning — have resources to take care of herself, she should have died under a bridge, the quicker the better. And some of us know full well that dying the quicker the better will eventually come to some of us, if not all of us, regardless of government provisions. Apparently she would not even try. Again, did she have children? Did she know about putting others first?

  • Claudia

    Where does Robin Hood fit into Ran’s philosophy? If the tea Party and Randians really want to worship the idea of the individual producer, then why not start everyone off with a clean slate at 14 or 18 years of age? At that point no one would get access to state funded or family-funded health care, education or guidance. Left to their own where would most people be?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      “Left to their own where would most people be?”

      Easy answer: dead. We do not come here on our own and cannot thrive here, alone. “No man is an island”, nor was Rand, herself, entirely “self-made”. She was a cold-blooded, misanthropic social climber who surrounded herself with sycophantic young men who fanned the flames of her insatiable ego. What’s so admirable & noble about that?

  • ThresherK

    Oh, now we get to how Rand’s fantasy sci-fi crap destroys things for the rest of us.

    Alan Greenspan, 10/23/08: “I made a mistake in the presuming that the self-interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, was such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders.”

    Alan Greenspan. Yep. Let’s get more Randians into government. That’ll work.

    • Dave in CT

      How are cheap Fed (ultimately taxpayer) money and bailouts (taxpayer) examples of self-interest at work?

      If anything, perhaps AG should have held on to his more pure market survival viewpoints that he left behind when he joined the Fed, instead playing central power, central banker with loose money, and representing and mingling with the banker class that colluded with government to make the bubble AND the bailouts possible.

      What we got with AG was what you would expect from a half-dose of antibiotics, a resistant strain of illness that comes back strong is even more difficult to eradicate (elite control/wealth/power via collusion).

      Early in the show, the lefty guest dismissed the idea that letting big companies fail would get any traction with a significant number of people in either party, and thus we can ignore that mechanism.

      Of course, if you throw out the accountability part of the market out, its easy to criticize the idea as a failure.

      We all know we have seen nothing like a truly accountable free market where the elites are allowed to fail.

      Why we pretend this should have no consequence, or can be conveniently left out of rational discussion is beyond me.

      Why we continue with such a red herring, regardless of our preferred solution, is as adolescent as any purist Randian belief.

      • Dan

        “How are cheap Fed (ultimately taxpayer) money and bailouts (taxpayer) examples of self-interest at work?”

        You don’t see how a $780 billion bailout that saves a $14 trillion economy from a deflationary spiral is in America’s self-interest? Seriously?

        Your reading of Greenspan’s actions as head of the Fed is funny. Also, not really in line with the facts.

        -dan
        Boston, MA

        • Dave in CT

          When you’re pro-bail out, don’t complain when the next crony bubble bursts.

          Once again, the ends justify the means.

          …and the banks are bigger, the government bigger, the elite, unscathed, the regular person, screwed.

          But hey, we saved the system and all its leadership!

        • Dave in CT

          “Your reading of Greenspan’s actions as head of the Fed is funny”

          What part?

          When do you hear libertarians or Ron Paul types or Austrian economic types defending the Federal Reserve system of unaccountable central planning, and the Keynesian mechanisms of debt and bubble-economics?

          They don’t. And yet that was Alan Greenspan’s job. He did it well. Didn’t end too funny.

  • ulTRAX

    The Right’s new cry is “don’t tax the job creators” is as disingenuous as all their claims justifying tax cuts. Of course when times are good the Right cries to tax the rich will create a recession.

    And that SHOULD be a clue that if the Right’s only answer to ALL problems, even as the debt grows, is tax cuts, then NONE of those rationales are truthful and there must be a hidden agenda.

    Of course we SHOULD know what that agenda is… to sabotage revenues hoping rising debt will kill off all those New Deal and Great Society programs the Right so loathes.

    If Democrats ever used fiscal irresponsibility to sabotage government’s ability to function or deal with emergencies, the Right would accuse them of treason.

  • Just saying

    Without casting aspersions on today’s panet, I cannot help but question the racial subtext to this movement. As the U.S. becomes less white, the economically powerful scream for more privatization as happened in South Africa before the end of apartheid. Given the ruinous actions of coporate America that got us in such a hole, race must be factored in to the increased popularity of these very concepts that have contributed so much to the average American facing more hardship than in previous decades. It is the elephant in the room. Racism is the cancer of America from which we cannot claim full remission.

    • Ellen Dibble

      I do think that the idea of opportunity for all, exemplified by the Civil Rights movement and Martin Luther King in the 1960s, must have seemed offensive to Ayn Rand’s philosophy if not her personal attitudes. I am wondering what she was writing and advocating for during that decade. She was viewed as capitalist, anti-Communist, as I recall, but not anti-opportunity.
      A fine distinction. Some Americans are allowed to be self-made, some are held back. Did she consider that?

  • Rg

    Rand was an angry broken person.

    Her world view was adolescent and unrealistic.

    She had some good ideas, so did David Duke and so Hitler.

    Do not carelessly put her, or anyone else up as a paragon before you know more than a sound bite about them.

    • Anonymous

      Mussolini built a good railway system in Italy and Hitler built the autobahn. Still they destroyed their countries and murdered millions all in the name of a failed ideology.

  • Rg

    Rand was an angry broken person.

    Her world view was adolescent and unrealistic.

    She had some good ideas, so did David Duke and so Hitler.

    Do not carelessly put her, or anyone else up as a paragon before you know more than a sound bite about them.

  • Adam

    I would like to contest your panel’s argument that questions relating to the commons should be understood under the umbrella of property. The assumption of this argument is that property can be defined by abstract boundaries that define the legal extent of one’s obligations, and that ecological conditions are static and abide by legal definitions of property. While this understanding is convenient, it belies a number of essential truths.

    If a chemical company operates irresponsibly, it not only effects the property that the company owns, but also the water table and air quality of the local community. This means that the local community will have a higher chance of contracting illnesses directly related to the production of the company, placing increased financial burden on this community in terms of health cost. Furthermore, it means that the property values for the area will be less than those where there is no chemical company, better water and air quality and (probably) better views.

    The “empty lot” of your panel’s metaphor, when left untended, then has significant consequences for the surrounding properties, something familiar to people living in depressed urban neighborhoods, where empty lots negatively effect the community’s property values. It is an unrealistic way of understanding a complex and urgent question, and disingenuous, to say the least.

  • Arlie1948

    Randers talk about individuals “making it” if they work hard and “play by the rules.” What rules? Who makes rules?

    • Dave in CT

      We make the rules by our representative democracy. We have a rational conversation/debate about the rules we want that will preserve as much liberty as possible, while protecting us from coercion and harm from others.

      Rules that don’t choose ends, but that define the boundaries, and let people work within them. Once we start using the laws/rules to favor/disfavor particular groups/people we are going down the road of either discrimination or collusion, which don’t end so well in the long term.

      Thats what libertarians mean when they criticize collectivism or central planning as immoral.

      http://www.thefreemanonline.org/headline/diversity-ends-rules/

      Its really not a radical concept, I just think most people haven’t given it much thought in recent history, as our comfortable lives in our debt bubble have made contemplating and re-examining our American economic/political mechanism/philosophy very far from our minds, until the crisis broke.

      • ohiolibrarian

        In what world do you live? Apparently it doesn’t include Donald Trump.

        • Dave in CT

          Donald Trump? What, he shouldn’t have been allowed to become whatever he is, red flop and all?

          If you don’t like him, make a rational argument to others why they should not support him as a leader.

          Don’t vote for him.

          If he did something illegal, prosecute him.

          What’s the point?

          • ohiolibrarian

            The point is that you live in a lala land where people have rational political discussions. I live in the universe where Donald Trump is treated as a believable presidential candidate.

            Postulating something that doesn’t exist as a precondition for your polity (aka the aforementioned rational discussions) suggests you live in a different world from the one the rest of us unfortunately inhabit.

            BTW, are you one of those libertarians that think that one of the functions of government is to protect our borders? If so, why? Why restrict the movement of people? I have never gotten a satisfactory answer to that.

          • Dave in CT

            To be honest I’m just trying to keep an open mind as I sort through the economic debacle we’ve had and following the $ and political mechanisms that allowed it/created it to happen.

            But feel free to pigeonhole me anyway you like :)

            If we can’t live in a system based on rational choices, or the freedom to pursue our choices, hopefully rational, that’s a sad state of affairs IMO. Since we can’t all be rational, we need to hand over our lives to a small group of what we think are smart and rational people to micromanage our lives for us? Because we are afraid of the irrational among us? We have, or should have, laws to protect us from the violently or corruptly irrational. Beyond that I’ll take freedom to act, decide, make mistakes and learn over following someone elses “plan” any day.

            RE Borders. Of course I support borders. Because I am some crazy militia person? No. Because if a group of people, a community, a society, choose to organize themselves a certain way (self-governance), choose to make certain sacrifices (get educated, agree to live within rule of law, work diligently etc.) then I believe those people deserve the rewards of their choices and sacrifices. Why should a group of sober, industrious people be forced to give the fruits of their labor, their scientific discovery, their mode of law and order or community ethics etc, to another group who choses to follow some hedonistic, or poorly thought out or wasteful way of life.

            Our choices and values as a self-governing people (not that we don’t have warts of course) are somewhat unique, and we should not be ashamed to enjoy the fruits of such, and encourage others to try the same if they wish.

            But to think there is a magic pool of plenty that can just be given out to the globe is fantasy.

            Civilization, freedom and any level of prosperity comes from choices and labors, and even revolutionary battles to have a chance at them. But we can’t do it for everyone.

          • Dave in CT

            Is there a nasty element of being lucky where you were born? Absolutely. Is there anything that can really be done about that? No. The change has to be organic.

            Can we just absorb everyone who wants to live those values too into our country overnight? No.

            The concept of liberty and self-governance and guarding against concentrated power, capital or despot, has to expand around the world.

          • Dave in CT

            Organically, not by force.

        • labored

          Don was born on third base and stole home…not a rags to riches story.

          • labored

            Same with many others…nevertheless there is enough social mobility to give the appearance that anyone, if they work hard and play by the rules can get ahead.

      • labored

        We the People of today are vastly different than We the People at our founding. States decided who could and could not vote. All but one limited the franchise to white male PROPERTY-OWNERS. This elite group elected the same, who then appointed the same to the judiciary. Collectively they looked after each other’s interests.

        Individuals without property, rugged or not, had a tough slog. Employers certainly colluded and did so legally. When employees without property tried the same, the judge found no statutory law they had violated and so resorted to common law to find unions ILLEGAL CRIMINAL CONSPIRACIES.

        No where near a level playing field on which we can all compete fairly, and let the cream rise to the top. Set up the game so its rigged from the get go, and let the chips fall where they may. There is just enough mobility in the U.S. to be able to DENY the reality that the “most important thing a person can do to insure a comfortable life for themselves and their offspring…is to choose your parents well.”

        • Dave in CT

          Well said. It’s a good thing we are vastly different than our founders in those regards.

          We better keep working for transparency, equality before the law and a fair chance to do something productive and rewarding with ones life.

        • Dave in CT

          Whats the alternative? Cream handouts? Making sure each has a fair chance (not fair outcome, beyond elemental safety net) and keeping collusion and corruption at bay seems the best we can do.

    • TomK in Boston

      You know, a man has to really work hard to become, say POTUS. Look at my ‘ol buddy, W, for example:

      Admitted to Andover, then Yale based on rich white boy affirmative action.

      Daddy’s friends get W into “closed” national guard unit to stay out of ‘nam

      Gets into HBS based on rich white boy affirmative action.

      Fails in oil biz but is bought out by company owned by daddy’s friends.

      Is offered sweetheart deal on share in texas rangers by daddy’s friends, quickly sold for big $.

      Brought into politics by daddy’s friends. Presidential recount and bush v gore handled by daddy’s friends.

      AND, after that heroic, “Atlas”-like effort, W is president! Yay!

      And, as voodoo economics brings is further and further along the path to oligarchy every day, we will have more and more inspiring W-like stories. In reaganomic America, the #1 way to “make it” is to have rich, connected parents. Sort of like the way it is in the 3′rd world dictatorships which we are approaching in economic inequality.

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        BDS

        • TomK in Boston

          The hard work involved in W’s ascent to the presidency is much like that of Bashir Assad’s in rising to the presidency, of syria.

        • TomK in Boston

          The hard work involved in W’s ascent to the presidency is much like that of Bashir Assad’s in rising to the presidency, of syria.

  • Tina

    NO! No!!! THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS — ANY and ALL interpretations MUST be seen to exist within a CONTEXT which ALSO must be STUDIED!!! In some places, the English colonists gave the East Coast Native Americans reservation land (reservations existed before the 18th century; and yes, sadly, it was giving the Indians back their own land, in pitifully PALTY amounts.). Some of the later colonists wanted to reverse that, but once we were a country, the AMERICAN citizens in power (now I’m talking about Northampton County, Eastern Shore Virginia) really worked hard TO GET THAT LAND FOR THEMSELVES. THE LANGUAGE THEY USED FOR THIS LAND GRAB was the language of “individuality” and of “individual ownership”: surely, they said, the Indians wanted to OWN their own plots of land. Trouble is, these powerful people ALSO said, in a paper trail they didn’t realize would catch up with them later: “Hah! If we change the law that gave them their land collectively, so that they each own a plot of land, they won’t be able to pay the TAXES on the land, and they will forfeit the land, and we will get the LAND, AND we will be able to get RID OF THEM, under vagrancy laws! (By the way, the White, powerful citizens said that THEY should decide who was “Indian”, and in spite of protestations that they designated the WRONG people, they proceded to designate various individuals as being “Indian”. Like other reservations, this one, in Eastville, had become a maroon with Indians, Blacks, Whites, and Mulattos all living together; the Whites only wanted individual land ownership to go to Indians; again, knowing that they would soon lose their land to tax debt.) I’ve told you all this before in other contexts, but it NEEDS to be said in THIS context! The Tragedy of the Commons must be studied in the broad contexts it dwelled within — it is NOT A FREE-STANDING CONCEPT — even contemporary scholars of the concept MUST be seen to ALSO live within a social/economic context which they may/may not be able to parse out for its INFLUENCE on THEIR interpretation!!!

    This research about this land-grab was done by historian Francis-Bibbins Latimer; altho I take responsibility for the paraphrases of the land-grabbers, and I delivered a very abbreviated version of her research.

    • Tina

      Correction: I said, “Like other reservations”, I should have said, “like some other reservations”.

  • Roger Runnalls

    very unflattering photo…she looks like a witch

    • Ellen Dibble

      She looks quite a bit like me, rather intense, perhaps likely to get carried away by either feeling or ideas, but “wearing it well,” pretty well. And smiling, the kind of smile that says to me she’s smiling “in spite of” a very great deal. Looking at the photo, I’d say that smile emanates from or tunes in to a kind of transcendence (good or bad, arrogant/regal or simply, I mean well-earned Buddhist); it isn’t a smile of recognition, a response. It seems to be of a person seeing the cup half full, ignoring a great deal. Ommmmm.
      And for sense of style — I’m wondering what she was like physically. One usually isn’t “driven” — the way the photo suggests to me — without aspects to one’s physique that mean that leading an ordinary life, the kind she apparently despises, is not an option. Her face suggests to me that for her life is pass/fail (winner take all, in a way), not a well-trodden pathway where it’s quite okay, and actually preferable, to be average.
      I guess I do look witch-like. Actually.

      • Steve

        Your comments make you beautiful to me

  • Ryan H

    How come a show like this wasn’t done with Obama? I’d say Obama has some friends that are pretty questionable.

  • TomK in Boson

    Rand (ie Alisa Rosenbaum) epitomizes the term “sophomoric”. I imagine bunch of college sophomores drinking and going “Oh wow, I see it now – selfishness is good”. Talk about narcissistic personality disorder. However, most of us grow out of that.

    The far right agenda is transferring the wealth of the middle class to the top. Since they can’t come right out and say that (tho the ryan budget comes eerily close), they are constantly looking for camouflage, smokescreens, spin, rebranding, etc. “Rand”‘s drunk dorm room philosophy fills the bill.

    Aren’t christians supposed to be on the right? I like the expression “Atlas shrugged, Jesus didn’t”

  • Aajay

    To Ryan,Kibbe, Tea Partyers–Grow up! Most of us shed Rand at about 18!

    • Dave in CT

      That kind of arrogance, justified or not, is exactly what fuels so many people. Just because you may be right, doesn’t mean you can jam your rightness down others throats because you know better. That will never fly.

      Rules against murder? Theft? Corruption? Of course, but the more and more detailed and end-oriented our know-best rule-making gets, the more it starts to piss people off, and can only be maintained by force or other coercion.

      As a PhD scientist, I had my moments, especially in my 20′s, of being sure I knew better than most, and that we should let smart “elites” make the rules for everyone.

      But I don’t believe that anymore, and recoil of the arrogance of it, even if it results in slower progress, people re-inventing the wheel, and a less “perfect” society.

      This simple idea I think goes to the heart of so much of our red state blue state crap that wastes so much time and energy that could be better spent on free trial and error of ideas, come what may.

      http://www.thefreemanonline.org/headline/diversity-ends-rules/

  • Brett

    Ah, Fyodor Dostoyevsky…now there was a real Russian writer!

    In all of us, we are a series of contradictions. In Ayn Rand’s case, her contradictions bordered on hypocrisy. But I do see her as a textbook example of being philosophically formed completely within the context of one’s own early environment, completely by events she experienced in childhood.

    I found it interesting to hear one of today’s guests mention something about a surge in Ayn Rand’s popularity starting around 2008…now, let’s see, what happened in 2008? Hmmm…

    I had a difficult time listening to Matt Kibbe, but partly for unfair reasons: he sounded just like Gary Cooper in The Fountainhead. Hearing that recorded piece of Rand Paul as an example of “Ayn Rand philosophy” playing a role in modern politics…I never think he isn’t a nutjob when I hear him speak!

  • Adam

    We should be clear when discussing Rand’s concept of the individual; this is not necessarily tied to the “rugged individualism” of American Transcendentalist philosophy, this is the heroic individualism of “genius,” and thus a reassertion of egoism. This is why Rand goes through such lengths to aggrandize her protagonists and diminish her antagonists, something clearly seen in the construction of “The Fountainhead.”

    Of course, to accept Rourke’s assertion of his right to creative control, we have to accept the assumption that Rourke is a genius, and that his architecture represents some kind of significant and meaningful transformation for the better. If Rourke is a hack, well, then he’s just a poor designer hiding behind a phenomenal ego to legitimate arson.

    It is ironic, in some respects, that Rand chooses an architect as her model for genius, because the work of the architect is frequently public, and its importance, social, especially with respect to Rourke’s proposal. Naturally, none of the ephemeral social benefits of Rourke’s work are discussed in the novel, and as the architectural historian Reyner Banham points out in his “Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment” many modernists fell significantly short in terms of the ultimate functionality of their buildings – a problem that currently plagues numerous modernist masterpieces today.

  • Adrian from RI

    Tom, this program is another one in the tradition of a Bertram Scudder, the editorial writer for the magazine “The Future.” Your show would have had some semblance of intellectual honesty in the Aristotelian sense of the word if at least one of your guests would have had a thorough understanding of Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Maybe you can fill a future program with a discussion between Dr. Harry Binswanger from the ARI speakers’ bureau and another guest of your choice.
    You and your guests Jonathan Chait and Anne Heller are so deeply immersed in our culture of skepticism that they are unable to learn anything from Ayn Rand and they look at those who do in condescending bewilderment.
    For those who do not mind challenging their premises I suggest you visit a website where you can listen to a collection of talks Ayn Rand gave at the Boston Ford Hall Forum some 40 years ago.
    http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reg_ar_library

    • Anonymous

      Rand cultists show their lack of education by comparing everyone they disapprove of to villains with funny names in Rand’s novels.

  • Bonduelle

    Egoism, selfishness and hyper-individualism?

    Obama is definitely a Rand follower.

  • Brett

    I found Mr. Kibbe’s side-step of the religion incompatibilities between Randian “philosophy” and American political conservatism, when Tom posed the first question in that regard, predictable. Then, later, Kibbe set up the straw man that if one doesn’t buy into everything Randian, then there must be no kernel of truth in her “philosophy” (as a response to the religion problem). That’s just it: there is just enough kernel of truth in Randian “philosophy” to hook somewhere with someone.

    The problem with the “religion problem” between Rand’s ideas and conservatives’ co-opting those ideas, citing her, is a political one, which might alienate part of their base.

  • Dave in CT

    Oh those shameful Japanese Libertarians!

    Culture of Collusion Tied to Stricken Nuclear Plant

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/27/world/asia/27collusion.html?hp

  • Anonymous

    “Atlas Shrugged” Isn’t that the story of how a group of super-capitalists drop out of society and go live together in a collectivist setting that borders on a communist utopia?

  • Royce Woodbury

    The conservative right’s support of Rand libertarianism ignores the reality that the “capable” members of society will inevitably take all there is from the “weak” (read financially challenged). This WILL lead to social instability. “taking from the rich and giving to the poor” is the cost of social stability. The rich cannot be rich except on the backs of the poor. They use fear of the “socialist” idea of wealth transfer to justify and strengthen their ability to take more from the weak in society. Let them have their way and you’ll see what happens.

    royce

    • Anonymous

      So if John goes to college, pays his college expenses delivering pizzas, opens a business and then hires employees… and starts making a profit.. it is ok to take his money because Peter is a lazy dupe that flunked out of high school and isn’t working and needs help? Those who work for their money should not be condemned for being wealthy. You can’t continue to hand out entittlements to people who have no desire to help themselves. Until we develope a system to get people off of welfare and other government hand outs, the country will keep sliding down and down.

  • Gordon

    Mr Kibbe said that the Obama administration claims to know better how to take from the rich and distribute to the poor.

    But the only way for government to operate is to tax. Therefore is he saying that he is opposed to all taxes? If not, then he is merely substituting his “wisdom” for the current administration.

    Does he believe that we should terminate social security, Medicare, Medicaid, road building, etc

    • TomK in Boston

      That’s about it, Gordon. In our system you pay a % of your income, the rich pay more, and the $ are used to fund things that are needed by the non-rich. I used to think that was simply “our American system”, but the rosenbaumites make it out to be some horrible socialist “redistribution”. Yes, they think we should terminate SS, medicare, etc. It’s all part of their class warfare.

      If you follow the money and don’t worry about theorizing, you’ll see that wealth has been flowing from the middle class to the rich. In typical fashion, the rightys are all horrified about the possibility that the opposite might happen.

  • Jep

    The genius of the US Constitution is how it balances the rights of the individual with those of the People writ large. The preamble states specifically the aims to “provide for the common defence , [and] promote the general Welfare.” Just as Communism is too willing to sacrifice the individual on the altar of the Collective, Objectivism is too willing to sacrifice the community on the altar of the individual. Given a choice between Ayn Rand and the Framers, I will hew to the Constitution every time.

    • Dave in CT

      Yes, but the big question America is wrestling with is which way have we tilted too much toward and which we need to move more toward?

      The knee-jerk party line answers are easy, and will continue to dig our hole.

      I think we are in weird mix of the worst of both, and need to be able to discuss it all rationally and non-patisanally too be able to find a common ground that intersects its sites on the malefactors, as opposed to defending a status quo.

      This exploration of libertarianism, austrian economics etc etc, is largely such an exercise for me, who was plenty well versed, and well-gutted if you will, in the progressive view.

      The book still open for me, I’m still at the Progressive Values, Libertarian Principles stage……

  • Madisonman

    Those who decry ‘taking from the rich to distribute to the poor’ conveniently ignore the fact that the rich have no trouble taking from the poor to distribute to themselves. Throughout U.S. (indeed, world) history, the rich have controlled most of the levers of government power, and they have rarely hesitated to use those levers to enrich themselves. Government tax policy, military policy, industrial policy, criminal policy…the list goes on…have always favored those with wealth, power and privilege. Just one example: less than 1% of the U.S. population owns more than half of all U.S. assets, and the total U.S. population accounts for only about 4% of the world’s population, yet the U.S. military budget exceeds the military budgets of all other nations on this planet combined. So, whose assets does that massive military budget protect? That’s right, America’s rich.

    • TomK in Boston

      The bizarre thing is that we are talking about “taking from the rich” while for 30 years the wealth has been flowing TO the rich, from the middle class. Doesn’t it make more sense to talk about policies that are “taking from the middle class to redistribute to the rich”, when that is actually happening in the real world?

      Can anyone not see that ryan’s substituting coupons for guaranteed medicare while lowering the top tax rate is “taking from the middle class to redistribute to the rich”?

      Would it be possible to talk about reality instead of reaganomic fantasy, smoke and spin?

      • ulTRAX

        TomK wrote: “for 30 years the wealth has been flowing TO the rich, from the middle class.”

        Good point. Why is this obvious fact so difficult to report on? Why aren’t the Dems doing a better job educating the American People?
        Aside from general ineptitude, can it the Dem’s infighting with its pro-corporate neo-liberals undermines the Democrat’s “brand”? It’s pretty difficult to make the case the Dems are the party of the working person when some of them push policies like free trade.
        What other party undercuts its own base, in this case unions, like this?

        • TomK in Boston

          Yeah, uLTRAX, being so concerned abt the rich at this point in our economic evolution is like an alcoholic worrying that he doesn’t drink enough.

          I don’t understand the suicidal Dem behavior. Why couldn’t Obama speak out on the class warfare in wisconsin? I don’t think Scott Brown would have won in MA if the dem base had anything to be excited about.

  • Madisonman

    Those who decry ‘taking from the rich to distribute to the poor’ conveniently ignore the fact that the rich have no trouble taking from the poor to distribute to themselves. Throughout U.S. (indeed, world) history, the rich have controlled most of the levers of government power, and they have rarely hesitated to use those levers to enrich themselves. Government tax policy, military policy, industrial policy, criminal policy…the list goes on…have always favored those with wealth, power and privilege. Just one example: less than 1% of the U.S. population owns more than half of all U.S. assets, and the total U.S. population accounts for only about 4% of the world’s population, yet the U.S. military budget exceeds the military budgets of all other nations on this planet combined. So, whose assets does that massive military budget protect? That’s right, America’s rich.

  • Mike B

    Ayn Rand may have hated the bail-out, but beliefs such as Rand’s are what caused the bubble and the Great Recession that followed. Rand may have been passionate, but people, including Mr Ryan, are taking her literally.
    Rand’s philosophy is black and white and her writing lacks nuance. It’s great for sophomores in high school who read Anthem, but in the adult world it doesn’t fly.
    As for ownership of private property having anything to do with environmentalism… Someone who owns a polluting factory is not necessarily going to care how much their actions are affecting an area in which they themselves do not live. Rand herself said it’s about selfishness.
    This is why I take issue with so-called “conservatives” who see things so 2 dimensionally as to wield such a heavy-handed philosophy and apply it to a real world economy.

    • Dave in CT

      You could not have had the massive bubble without the Federal Reserve, the massive leverage and speculation it enabled, and agencies like Fannie/Freddie, that gave it a retail outlet to get us all involved.

      All that central planning/experimenting and government manipulation of markets doesn’t sound too Randian to me.

      Sounds like Neocons, Private-Public collusion Democrats, and an Alan Greenspan who played his lackey role, previous ideology notwithstanding, to me.

      • TomK in Boston

        We must live in alternate universes, Dave. Here’s how it happened in mine:

        We had massive leverage and speculation, too, but they resulted from DEregulation. The Bush SEC raised the allowable leverage for investment banks to 40:1. Phil Gramm’s “commodities futures modernization act” said that derivatives should never be regulated. The Glass-Stegall act, that separated the legit and gambling functions of banks, was repealed.

        Even when regulations were on the books, they might as well not have been, since the agency heads like Randian Alan “self-regulating markets” Greenspan and Chris “see no evil” Cox at SEC didn’t believe in regulation, so they simply didn’t do their jobs. That’s the best way to deregulate, no legislation necessary.

        Even tho banks were still somewhat regulated, that didn’t matter either, since financial deregulation had unleashed all sorts of non-bank entities, like the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization, Countrywide. The unregulated non-banks made most of the subprime loans, that were packaged into unregulated securities and derivatives, that were bought with that deregulated 40:1 leverage by merrill lynch et al. All it took was a whiff of reality to bring the whole thing crashing down.

        So in my universe, it was a crash of deregulation. I’d be interested to hear how yours got the same result from “central planning”.

        • Dave in CT

          All the things you mention were truly wrong, yes. But I have never made a case here for a lack of basic, strong, universally applied regulation as a pillar of liberty, as the rule of law.

          The fact that cooperative revolving door regulators and FORMER randians play the corporatist game well gives ammunition to both your, and my, “universes”.

          This tendency of people who likely really share the same frustration of the system, to miss each other, because the language of our stale 2 party system loads us with assumptions and suspicions of other views, is a real shame.

          I think there is lots of agreement on ends, and alot of argument/discussion to be had about means.

          But when huge swaths of the electorate, your fellow American citizens, just get discounted because so many self-rigtheous conventional liberals (not saying you) are so sure anyone who doesn’t view the political-economic-power situation the same way as them, MUST be an evil schemer of some sort is asinine and counterproductive to progress.

          If we can’t get past this stuff, and both prosecute corrupt wrong doers, and preserve liberty and an organic free marketplace of ideas and goods and services, without the chain of the imperial war machine and crony capitalism, we deserve the fascistic type of society we will ultimately awaken to.

          • Dave in CT

            The Central Planning is in the form of the unaccountable Federal Reserve policies, the high level collusion (ok, well-intentioned planning) between Fed officials, Wall St Banking heads, Rubin/Geithner/Summers types and Fannie/Freddie types, to preach free markets, but actually use a nasty combination of deregulation and head turning and their own master plans of how to engineer our economy via policy for the ”best”. Oh, and someone “planned” the bailouts.

            It was anything but laissez faire, and to blame free markets within a rule of law with the convenient “laissez faire” Rorschach paintbrush is a counterproductive distraction.

            The crash was a result of shi**y planning, by an elite group who may or may not have had good intentions. (I find it hard to believe, given the obscene profits and transfer of wealth that is was all well intentioned, but, we decided to hand them the power…..).

            Less leverage using other’s money as the core capital, tough regulations AND punishments for rigging or corrupt or predatory behavior, and less rosy planning/manipulation by technocrats would seem a reasonable position, and compatible with liberty and populist senses of justice.

  • Mike B

    Ayn Rand may have hated the bail-out, but beliefs such as Rand’s are what caused the bubble and the Great Recession that followed. Rand may have been passionate, but people, including Mr Ryan, are taking her literally.
    Rand’s philosophy is black and white and her writing lacks nuance. It’s great for sophomores in high school who read Anthem, but in the adult world it doesn’t fly.
    As for ownership of private property having anything to do with environmentalism… Someone who owns a polluting factory is not necessarily going to care how much their actions are affecting an area in which they themselves do not live. Rand herself said it’s about selfishness.
    This is why I take issue with so-called “conservatives” who see things so 2 dimensionally as to wield such a heavy-handed philosophy and apply it to a real world economy.

  • Kentchris

    Ayn Rand along with a growing part of the conservative/republican movement are looking more and more like a collection of comic book characters. Are they going to come and save the day by some great feat of collective individualism?????????? or are they going to be tossed into the trash bin of history.

    Kent

    • Rory14

      You’re absolutely right. I have been Republican for most of my life but the party has left me behind in recent years. Completely absurd…where did the grown ups go, realistic ideas??

      Obama strikes me as a pragmatic centrist for the most part…and he has my support.

  • Kentchris

    Ayn Rand along with a growing part of the conservative/republican movement are looking more and more like a collection of comic book characters. Are they going to come and save the day by some great feat of collective individualism?????????? or are they going to be tossed into the trash bin of history.

    Kent

  • Anonymous

    Okak, let’s see: Alan Greenspan — check!

    I’m making a table of famous people who are Ayn Rand admirers. Can anyone suggest another name for “charlatans, quacks and frauds” column?

    • TomK in Boston

      Class warrior general Rep Paul Ryan

      • Anonymous

        Duly noted: Rep Ryan — check!

    • TomK in Boston

      Class warrior general Rep Paul Ryan

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Donnie-Brasco/100000445294057 Donnie Brasco

    You don’t need communism to make a socialist system. If only we could get rid of the obligation of protecting the world, we could set up a sweet utopian system on the backs of the capitalists.

    :/

  • http://www.facebook.com/sandra.penzkover Sandra Penzkover

    I read Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged many years ago while on a bus trip from Madison Wisconsin to Berkeley Calif for a summer vacation. I can honestly say that I enjoyed reading it because it seemed soooo hopeful, empowering to me as an individual, and I think I especially enjoyed it because there was sex and romance in it–perfect fodder for a young college student. NOW, I do not accept her premise because is is based on selfishness and of course it is self-serving. NOW, I do not think our survival as a community, nation, world is possible with her point of view, which is really based on fear of not having. My belief is that there is plenty to go around — hoarding is not only unnecessary and sick it is destructive to all of us. Unfortunately, the GOP/conservatives/Tea Bag Party have picked up on her premise and has made her an icon. i feel really sorry for those who think this way. They live in constant fear of losing instead of embracing life and knowing that after all we are one.

    • Anonymous

      Wow, Sandra … as a lifelong Republican I am genuinely moved. I would never have expected such a thoughtful, gentle rebuke coming from someone from Madison who goes to Berkeley for vacation! ;)

      • Abby

        Hey, weren’t you the same guy that said something about labels “not necessarily being valid when ascribing group characteristics” somewhere? So, what, now that doesn’t hold true when stereotyping folks by where they vacation?

        Just sayin’.

        • Anonymous

          Ha, ha! Okay, Abby–touche! … but I was just applying a little good-natured satire here. I figured my little ‘smiley wink’ would’ve given that away.

    • ulTRAX

      Sandra wrote: “Unfortunately, the GOP/conservatives/Tea Bag Party have picked up on her premise and has made her an icon. i feel really sorry for those who think this way.”

      What the Tea Baggers have picked up on is the hysterical accusations of the Right that Obama is a Socialist out to redistribute wealth. What’s comic, or perhaps sad, about this is the utter LACK of any intelligent discussion about redistribution of wealth. In our system it happens all the time… from the government funding the rural post roads to rural electrification. Does anyone seriously believe the then 400,000 people in Wyoming could have built their section of the interstate highway system without federal monies?

      And if anyone is truly concerned about redistribution of wealth they’d be horrified that this is what WE are doing… stealing from future taxpayers… a theft Ryan’s budget sets in cement.

    • guest

      Dont you realize that this country is so great and prosperous because it was founded on the protection of the individual! It was founded on the idea that the product of ones mind and labor was his. (private property). This is not selfish, nor is it immoral. The taking of others property, (money) to give to those that didnt earn it, is selfish and immoral. Your “belief that there is plenty to go around” suggests a lack of understanding about the concept of “making money” Someday youll learn that there is not a finite amount of money out there that the rich take from the poor. By the way, your tea bag slur may offend some, but thats right, you dont believe in the individual, just like those 50 % of people who dont pay taxes want to raise the tax rates on the few left who still produce.

  • Walter Fox

    It is interesting that Bernie Madoff is the topic of the show that followed that about Ayn Rand. He seems to follow her philosophy.

    • dotti

      Exactly, that is the philosophy of selfishness that simply doesn’t work in a kind, civilized, society.

  • Abby

    I’ve never read anything of Rand’s, but I know enough about her to know that not only did she not think too highly of religion herself, but that Christianity–which, at it’s core, is based on someone making the ultimate sacrifice of themselves for others–is the direct antithesis to her philosphy in many ways.

    Why is it, then, that Rand is embraced by the same party that is embraced by evangelical Christians?

    • Anonymous

      Abby, most Republicans do not embrace Ayn Rand, many Christians would not consider themselves ‘evangelical,’ many Republicans are not Christians, some Democrats are evangelical Christians, some Democrats embrace Ayn Rand, etc.

      See where I’m going with this? Labels might be descriptive and convenient, but they’re not necessarily be valid when it comes to accurately ascribing group characteristics. I’ll argue this is particularly true when it comes to generalizing about people by using political labels.

      Wouldn’t a ‘true-believer Randian’ be both an Independent and an atheist? or am I falling into my own trap here …?

    • Sofia

      It IS a puzzle. Ayn Rand, a.k.a. Alyssa Rosenbaum, came from a Russian Jewish family. Her new last name came from her typewriter, which she loved. She herself was an atheist. It is hard to fathom why devout evangelical Christians would promote the ideas of somebody who they could say–based on her background and circle of friends and employers–was surely part of the “Zionist takeover” for of the media and financial systems. Ayn Rand and her husband worked in the film industry for several years for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Paramount.

      Why the Christian right gives this novelist and film writer whose ideas are antithetical to the Bible’s (Hebrew AND Christian) messages to serve humanity and help the poor and powerless is mind-boggling.

      • Anonymous

        You can probably just invoke the old adage, “politics makes strange bedfellows” and call it a day ….

      • Ellen Dibble

        I think the American “right” and Congressman Ryan and others are piggybacking on the legacy of anti-Communism that she represented. That “bloc” of unified abhorrence, with mushroom clouds pending in our national consciousness for about 40 years, created an ingrained “party.” If it’s capitalism versus communism, there is a reflexive nationalistic “we’re capitalists.” The problem is that as I recall, we were told that in the USSR as well, people voted. It’s just that all candidates were communists. Well, guess what, in America, all candidates are capitalists. And if the result is that a sort of shrouded elite runs the show, in both countries, well, defining that and shedding that was the business of Russia since about 1990, and it may be the business of America starting about now. Ayn Rand brings back the days when we had a “real enemy,” and it was not the Democratic Party.

    • ulTRAX

      Abby asked: “Why is it, then, that Rand is embraced by the same party that is embraced by evangelical Christians?”

      The Right has a minority agenda of protecting wealth and power. They can not win on that agenda so they are forced to build a coalition of single issue and “values” voters who care so much about God, gays, guns, apple pie and the flag, they pay no attention to the Right’s true agenda.

      In a way, many of the religious Right buy into the doctrine that the riches are God’s way of showing favor and success in the market is matter of hard work, thus a matter of morality.

      Take away God, and there’s not much difference between them and Rand in this regard.

      I think for GOP strategists Rand provides a useful narrative they can use to justify their policies. Whether many in the GOP actually believe Rand is another matter. I suspect they want to use government power for the benefit of their have and have mores constituents… something Rand would loathe.

  • guest

    Ayn Rand espoused a very darwinian take on things. The selfish gene: the selfish individual etc ….But she doesn’t seem to get Darwinism. The point being that human beings are the only species that consiously defy darwinian evolution by natural selection.

    She was/is wrong but at least she did think about major issues. Credit her for that. The movie is terrible BTW!

  • Timothytrump

    http://www.slate.com/id/2233966/

    Many of the comments below ignore the personal side of Ayn Rand and also some of the worldview she possessed. This review of two recent biographies (one by today’s guest) provide a good overview of who Ayn Rand was. Many of her devotees may be surprised by the negative view she had of most people. She had quite the Nietsche view of humanity and valued the individualism of the great while disparaging the common man.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2233966/

  • Timothytrump

    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.

    Anonymous, quoted in “I’m Ellsworth Toohey!” by Paul Krugman

    • Zing

      I never read either. Giants in the Earth was far more interesting to this bookish fourteen-year-old.

    • Dotti

      love your statement

  • Zing

    Thanks for another segment designed to portray the right in the worst possible light. As usual, the predictable base is fired up enough (we hope) to whip out those checkbooks. Don’t forget, folks, mother’s day is right around the corner. Oh…and, uh, if you want to get something done, give Trump a call.

    • ulTRAX

      Zing wrote: “Thanks for another segment designed to portray the right in the worst possible light.”

      I have no idea what you’re talking about. As someone on the Left I have on numerous occasions criticized Thom for NOT being rougher on the Right. I don’t believe Thom even touched on Rand’s fascination with a serial killer whose sociopathy Rand so admired he became the model for some of her protagonists.

  • ulTRAX

    I think we also have to confront that Rand and the Right have no use for democracy… where a citizen has an equal voice for no other reason than that citizenship. The Right prefers “the market” where those without that property we call money have little or no say but the rich can set the direction of the economy or a nation.

  • IrieJonesIsAGrownUp

    I don’t understand how people who claim to be Christians can have anything to do with this woman or her writings.

  • Oshun

    Matt- how can you answer Toms question with a straight face? You did not answer how individualism can coincide with Christianity. Because u cannot! You did not answer, America is built on community. One individual can do nothing without society! America would not be this great country had slaves not provided free labor! And you said without respect for the individual, you cannot have community? You are insnane if u believe this. I must respect your choice to burn trash in your backyard? Really,? Can u really defend this madness? Pitiful just pitiful!

  • Cynthia B

    I saw Rand Paul on TV and agreed with him about everything until he said “I don’t believe in the income tax.” I saw Sarah Palin in Madison WI and agreed with her until she said “Public school teachers need to take a cut.” Why can’t the progressives and tea party work together to take down special interest spending and corporate tax breaks. Then we can duke it out when it comes time to, you know, taking care of poor people and the elderly.

  • Al Z

    As a bona fide Cold Warrior, I certainly share Rand’s anti-communism. The mistake that Rand and her followers make is to conflate all forms of communitarianism together, not allowing for the fact that there are forms of collective identity and action that are compatible with democracy and capitalism. Calling tepid Clinton and Obama administration left of center policies an American form of Socialism or Capitalism is simplistic. America was founded as a Republic. Republics rely on the virtue of citizens acting together for the common good. Barack Obama articulates the civic republican notion of citizens’ mutual obligations to one another very well. This has nothing in common with European style Socialism or Communism.

    • Kinsey

      Oh, you’re wrecking the illusion!

    • tired of pointless argument

      Thank you! Finally someone who doesn’t put all forms of comunity in the same basket.

      Another point that people confuse is that large corporations are not compatible with free market, free market requires a lot of competition of smaller companies that can react faster to consumer demand and that are able to take their individual employees into consideration.

      Also isn’t it time for conservatives to make their own party and for true republicans to take back the gop?

  • Anonymous

    The more we learn about Rand, the crazier she sounds. Yet she did have one good insight: When a government abuses its productive citizens sufficiently, they will move their human capital and whatever wealth they can salvage from their home country to places which treat them better. Rand characterized this as a strike of “the men of the mind” in an otherwise undistinguished novel.

    Apparently this process has gotten underway in China, a country which to the best of my knowledge doesn’t have a Chinese translation of Atlas Shrugged available. Successful Chinese business people have figured this out on their own:

    Rich Chinese consider leaving China
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8466160/Rich-Chinese-consider-leaving-China.html

    I guess they’ve decided to shrug off the admonitions of China’s Obamas, Thom Hartmanns and Michael Moores that they have to stay put and “give back” the wealth they have produced.

  • MinerSam

    The Republican (Gas& Oil Party) are moraly Bankrupt, juvenile, Treasury Looters. There is nothing Conservative about them. Their 1100 Think Tanks have replaced rational thinking with rationalization for their theivery. They are psychologically abusive liars who thrive upon and perpeturate Ignorance & Divsision.

    While we are a country whose values are closer to Superman’s
    I.e. Truth, Justice and the American way (which is about nieghbor
    raising barns with nieghbor) Republicans will do anything to achieve
    their ends:

    From 1) Destroying the Government we PAY to protect our interests
    (ie. FEMA=Katrina, SEC,CFTC,FTC etc = Financial Meltdown, destruction of MMS = Oil Spill. Consumer Product Safety Division== Poison in toys.
    Now they want to destroy the EPA on behalf of their Refiner & chemical benefactors. etc. etc. etc.) TO 2) Microtargetting Single Issue people
    who live in Isolated SiloS to vote against their own interests.

    The guest’s equating Goldman Sacks with General Electric (As companies that don’t “produce” anything) was a tiny window into the intellecectual dishonesty. Dick Army organized the Tea Party while he was A Health Insurance Company Lobbyist. John Boehner met with
    100 Health Insurance Lobbyists while The Afffordable Care act was
    being formulated (and hundreds of Republican amanedments were considered or included). Reagan appointed a bunch of upper level Bectel
    vps. In 2000 Enron (along with the Moonies) was GWB’s largest contributor and we all know about Haliburton.

    Every day the Republicans are fighting for Predatory Standards for Corporations and Totalitarianism against We The People. They wracked up 87% of the debt we are in, pushed the country off the cliff and turned around and blamed the Democrats for what Republicans have been perpetrating upon us.

    Ryan & Rand are not the only Randians. On the other side of the Tea Party is Clearance Thomas who also gives his aids Ayan Rand’d books.

    The Republicans are the terrorists we should fear. They are destroying our Quality of Life and Standards of Living. And almost every tragedy we endure today is the direct result of the Implementation of their Ideologies. While the Main Stream Corporations that control our
    Information Pipelines are beholden to them for Consolidation.

    They used 9/11 to divide us one demographic group against another.
    Just when we needed to be strong and united Their reinvented Reagan
    launched his campaign in the place where the Civil Rights workers were tortured to death to appeal to the people who would do such a thing for their votes.

    Ayan Rand was a self hating insult to ones intelligence those who take her seriously forgot to leave her behind in Junior High School.

    • Dotti

      What you say is very correct, I just wish you had used spell check, it would make your argument stronger.

      • MinerSam

        Thank you. You are right.
        Bestest
        Sam

  • Kinsey

    OMG! Ayn Rand is not a novelist. Anyone who had to sludge through her turgid, wooden prose in college must agree.

    My biggest gripe here- I will bet you my retirement fund that none of these people actually know that John Galt was a musician. And no one brings up this point.

  • Boris4z

    As a refugee from “the worker’s paradise” I am 200% supporter of Ayn Rand’s philosophy. I’m often appalled facing again and again socialistic traps that kill again and again ideas of able people and promote meritocracy.

    • Boris4z

      SRY, mediocrity not meritocracy

    • Kinsey

      Your comment makes no sense unless you define, what is the “Worker’s Paradise”? Russia? Cuba? An IBM employee in 2006 w/benefits and corporation provided housing?

      • Boris4z

        Actually – Socialist USSR, but it does not metter – Russia, Cuba, IBM, Walmart. The larger the entity – the more collectivistic socialistic traps.

  • Federico, in Nutley NJ

    Here is what bothers me. Conservatives are always skeptical of concentrated political power in any type of form of government. But, why is it that you conservatives are comfortable with concentrated political power in the hands of a few corporations? Today, any corporation is a collective elite that also threatens the freedom of the individual. Nonetheless, you always forget to consider this.

    • twenty-niner

      But, why is it that you conservatives are comfortable with concentrated political power in the hands of a few corporations?

      I’M NOT! That’s crony capitalism, which is just as destructive as socialism in my view. I’ve railed against banks, neocons, bailouts, oil subsities, military-industrial sponsored wars, and the like exhaustively on this board.

      • Dave in CT

        Nobody wants to hear it. The simple difference between an honest market economy and crony capitalism is so important, and so consequential, AND offers so much common ground to otherwise knee-jerk politically opposed people, it is a real shame intelligent people don’t take the few minutes to contemplate the idea, and research resources of people who are against it.

        Most people would be shocked that most of their “enemies” are likely their friends, if they could scratch the surface of how our economy really works today.

        Of course the two party hyperbole and catch phrases that keep the herds intact don’t make it easy, but I think most people around here are smarter than that.

  • Federico, in Nutley, NJ

    If cutting the deficit is the goal, why conservatives this week are opposing to eliminating tax breaks for the oil companies?

    • twenty-niner

      Don’t confuse conservative with neo-con. I don’t think TR would support tax breaks for big oil (after having broken up Standard Oil), and neither do I. As a traditional conservative, I don’t like power being held in the hands of a few, whether that be a Wall Street cabal, oil companies, or a massive government bureaucracy.

  • Dotti

    These ideas would leave the weak and the poor out to freeze in the snow, the selfishness of these ideas is simply stunning.

  • Mark S.

    Softball after softball after softball. More softballs than the local Ace Hardware 16-inch league. One of the more vacuous outings in recent “On Point” history, but representative of the direction of this program of late.

    Rand’s hypocrisy in participating in Social Security and Medicare was barely touched upon, when the logical conclusion of her “devil-take-the-hindmost” philosophy – the abolition of both programs – would mean poverty and death for countless Americans. It was cowardly, to say the least. The delusion that the “free market,” if that ever existed, is self-correcting is utterly laughable as we struggle through the lingering effects of the predatory capitalist nightmare of the late 2000s. Rand was an empty suit to outdo empty suits, making her an apt icon for the current crop of Republicans and low-information, Neanderthoid tea-baggers. My answer to the question “Who is John Galt?” is that he was a sociopathic moron.

    And the fact that Alan Greenspan was so “shocked and surprised” at the behavior of the Masters of the Universe he genuflected before simply amplifies my long-standing belief that the man was, and is, an idiot.

    By the way, does the transcendant reverence that some of your guests have toward the founders, wealthy, white, landed slave owners who yearned for liberty, extend to the chattel whose labors had a great deal to do with the early social and economic foundations of this “republic.”

    Rand’s derivative, destructive musings should be consigned to the dustbin of intellectual history where they belong.

    • Boris4z

      “Neanderthoid tea-baggers”, “sociopathic moron”, “an idiot”.
      What have you accomplished in your life, such an intilectual and opinionated comrad? Have you expropriated any property from those who built their fortune on misfortune of others? No? You are almost there…

      • Mark S.

        Where the sun don’t shine, Boris. Where the sun don’t shine. In order for me to express how little I care about the opinions of you and your ilk would require an understanding of nano-particles that I’m sure extends beyond your characteristic counting of fingers.

  • http://twitter.com/GregHare Greg Hare

    Rand’s atheism and feminism are for some reason almost universally ignored by her fans, who are (as far as I can tell) all white males.

    And note that when Ryan went home to his constituents with his Randian proposals, they booed him.

    • Boris4z

      It’s quite possible to agree strongly with some ideas and disagree with some other. Attempt to mix everything together and blotch everything at once is not going to work…

    • Dave in CT

      Maybe its time to realize there are plenty of atheists and feminists out there who don’t agree with the debt-based Keynesian approach to centrally managing our economy.

  • twenty-niner

    After this show, I feeling like listening to some Rush.

  • Smb Tres

    I think Ayn Rand is outdated. She existed before the mega-corporation. And as Citizen’s United has proved the role and more importantly “the voice” of the individual is now fighting against the corporation.

    • twenty-niner

      She existed before the mega-corporation.

      Huh? Ford Motor, Standard Oil, US Steel, AT&T, GM, IBM, JP Morgan, the list goes on, all predate Rand.

  • steve

    The idea that the wealthy could be being over taxed and that there is to much restriction on the free market seems counter to the fact that more wealth is in the upper 1% of the population than any time in the last 50 years.

    When thinking about the fairness of wealth transfer its is important to consider the idea of long term wealth balance. There are mechanisms within the free market like interest that naturally funnel wealth toward the wealthy. Having capital makes it easier to earn more wealth. Other mechanisms such as taxes transfer wealth in the opposite direction from wealthy to pore. Since there is always transfer of wealth in both directions it seems useful to consider long term(multi-decade) wealth distribution. Wealth distribution over a long time is independent of the rhetoric of the day and factual data.

    Wealth flows from many factors including the publicly funded roads on which products are shipped and the efforts of many employees not just the hard work of a few.

    As an individual is seems reasonable not to expect any sort of hand out but that the hard work yields prosperity while being willing to share success with less fortunate. I think there is an appeal in the attitudes of confidence, competence, and individuality in Ayn Rands work that does not need to be coupled to a lack of generosity.

  • http://twitter.com/AllOrZer0 Alan Mayweather

    Though I’m not sure how many of you might have played it, Bioshock is a good example of Rand’s ideologies taken to the absurd extreme. An adherent to her school of thought builds a paradise beneath the waves for those who do not wish to be confined by the rules of the “weak minded and weak willed.” The entire city (Rapture) is torn to the ground by a man who comes in and is so much more predatory in his pursuit of wealth and power that the entire emerging civilization is driven to near cannibalism and maddened violence as a means to survive.

    Her ideas have some merits, but not taken to the extremes many Republicans would have us believe. The individual is important, but unless we spend at least some time making our collective cooperate, the entire system fails. Much like the military, our weakest link is the true judge of our strength.

  • David Strayhorn

    I do not think it was necessarily immoral for Rand to accept medicare money to treat her lung cancer. To make my point, consider the following apocryphal story:

    Once upon a time there was a basketball player who lobbied to eliminate the three point shot. After years of making his case, he wsas still unsuccessful, and the three point shot remained in place. One day, he actually made a three point shot, and the referee asked whether he wanted to “accept” all three points or just take two. Drumroll please …. he accepted all three points. He stated that his arguing against it did not require him morally to play the game at a handicap.

    So that’s the analogy. Rand wanted to change the rules of society; but until she could make those changes, should she have played at a handicap? If you make the case that she should have rejected medicare money, then that would be like making the (absurd) case that the basketball player should have accepted only 2 of the 3 points.

    I know that the analogy is imperfect, but … food for thought.

  • David

    After having read Rand many years ago and had about 20 years to digest it, the real dichotomy in my mind is not (1) individual versus (2) society. Rather, the dichotomy should be: (1) endorse the notion that in some instances it is morally acceptable in a civilized community to rob peter and give to paul, versus (2) endorse the notion that a truly civilized community never allows that.

    Again, just food for thought.

  • Prim468

    How can people who call themselves “Christians” and practice the “Golden Rule” still think that Ayn Rands ideas are what their perfect world should look like. Do we really want a world where a few are considered “great minds” and the rest of the people don’t count? Is it only rich people who count and the others are invisible and their gifts, and talents not worthy. What is wrong with the rich giving a little to the poor-we are not talking a great amount-a small sum that will hardly be missed but would mean a whole lot to a person with no money? No one is saying that people who work hard give a big chunk to those who don’t work. Everyone should work for their share. People who sit back and feel entitled deserve nothing. This is not going to make everyone equal by any means. But we all have basic needs.

    • Anonymous

      You said it.. everyone should have to work for their share! Unfortunately democrats/ progressive communists want to hand out entittlements to every lazy bum that will vote for them.

  • Gail

    Ayn Rand in her own words.

    Video – In Her Own Words – The Truth About GOP Hero Ayn Rand:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7zwO88nRH8

    #####

    Ayn Rand in practice via Alan Greenspan.

    Video – The Flaw (trailer):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7IQe7CBPCc

    The Flaw:
    http://theflawmovie.com

    #####

    The Flaw movie demonstrates what happens when people of extreme economic importance to a country, ie: Federal Reserve Chair, listens to the absurdities of idiocy.

  • Mark

    We preserve the weak regarding humans! We’re not animals!! These people no longer want to do this!! They want them to die!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

    Why is Onpoint giving extremists like Matt Kibbe a platform to spout their far-right nonsense?

    His orgainization Freedomworks, formed to co-opt the Tea Party movement, is even more hypocritical than Rand!

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=FreedomWorks

    FreedomWorks is chaired by former U.S. House Majority Leader, Republican Dick Armey. In a 2005 New York Observer article, Joe Conason noted:

    “[Republicans] who have controlled Congress since 1995 long ago proved eager to grease their friends with federal money [ in contrast to their rhetoric about limited government.] … Asked once why his revolutionary Republican comrades were consuming so much more federal pork than the Democrats ever did, …[ Dick Armey ] replied smugly: ‘To the victors go the spoils.’”

    Are we really expected to take Kibbe’s criticism of “Crony Capitalism” seriously?

    • Dave in CT

      “Are we really expected to take Kibbe’s criticism of “Crony Capitalism” seriously?”

      More seriously than all the Democrats talking about it? Oh, what Democrats…

      Yes, take it seriously, and take it further, hold folks accountable to that critical failure of our system. Or just cynically complain and keep the status quo going.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

        Campaign finance and lobby reform along with reasonable corporate regulation (e.g. anti-trust, consumer/environmental protections, etc.) are obviously necessary. Unfortunately, Republicans have repeatedly derailed numerous democratic (and bipartisan) efforts to limit the influence of big money in our political system.

        http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campaign_finance_reform

        http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobbying_in_the_United_States

        FreedomWorks and Matt Kibbe have no credibility on this issue.

        • Anonymous

          You’re an even bigger simpleton than I gathered from your original comment if you think that the government will regulate its own campaign finance laws in an effective manner. Corporate money and influence will always be a problem in politics, so it’s up to we the people to hold our politicians accountable and get rid of them when they sell us out (talking about 95% of the Dems and GOP here).

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

            The ad hominem attack (e.g. name calling) is the preferred tool of those who have no real arguments (or those unable or unwilling to understand someone else’s opinion in the first place). You call me a “simpleton?” When we judge and criticise others we are actually giving a description of ourselves.

            You think “we the people” should just throw the rascals out? Much easier said than done. With so much propoganda and misinformation out there how can voters identify who the real “rascals” are?

            The sytem is BROKEN. We need to fix it. Especially in the wake of the Citizens United and other Supreme Court decisions upholding corporate rights over those of individuals. Campaign finance and lobby reform is an important step in the right direction.

            More info (esp the External Links) here:

            http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campaign_finance

            http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campaign_finance_in_the_United_States

            And for anyone who’s interested here’s an entire web site dedicated to critiquing both the pros and cons of libertarianism from both the left and right:

            http://world.std.com/~mhuben/libindex.html

          • Anonymous

            Sorry for calling you a simpleton. I get worked up reading all of the short-sighted myopic blather on these boards.

            Regarding “we the people” throwing the bums out, we have had several notable successes of late. Bob Bennet fell to Mike Lee in UT. Rand Paul beat out the establishment in KY. The tide is starting to turn, and incumbent corporatists are on the run.

            I think it is naïve to expect that the very politicians which benefit from corporate financing are going to properly shackle themselves.

        • Anonymous

          How about Obama not including unions, ACORN style community and government contrators to his plans to enforce exposing contributions?

          Left wing propaganda is all over this site.

    • Anonymous

      Better ask why On Point chose to interview one of Ayn Rand’s biggest critics about her life instead of someone from the Ayn Rand Institute. Talk about bias!

  • Rob (in NY)

    I believe many of the comments here miss the point that Ayn Rand was as a fiction writer (e.g. story teller). Atlas Shrugged and her works need to viewed in this context, rather than as providing a workable philosophy on the role of government.

    For the record, I enjoyed reading both Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged . While I agree with Rand’s view that capitalism is the only moral economic system devised by humanity (as it relies on voluntary consent as opposed to government coercion), most conservatives (including me and Paul Ryan) would not accept Rand’s views regarding such an extremely limited role of government. She argued that the ONLY role of government was to maintain a military, police department, and a court system. She considered all other government evil. Where Rand also loses my support is when she uses such harsh rhetoric (e.g. moochers, looters, etc…) to define everyone else in the same manner as tythose on the economic left lose my support when they degrade business executives, entrepreneurs, etc.. A person can accept Rand’s celebration of reasoning, entrepreneurs and business, but reject her demonization of everyone else in such harsh terms and also believe that a competent, limited government benefits both individuals and society by promoting educational achievements, infrastructure, and providing (and preferably temporary). Where my views differ from most of you who often post regularly on this discussion board is that I believe this federal government role has to be limited based on both economic constraints and also to be effective (e.g. perhaps to the 18-21% of GDP that we maintained during most of the post WWII era prior to 2008).

    P.S. I also believe that using Alan Greenspan to critique Rand’s philosophy borders on absurd. If Mr. Greenspan was so inspired by Ayn Rand, why would he pursue a career as a central banker, which is a career that Rand and those who accept her views would reject in its entirety.

    • Rob (in NY)

      One of several typos above. “…providing (a preferably temporary) social safety net.

    • Dave in CT

      “If Mr. Greenspan was so inspired by Ayn Rand, why would he pursue a career as a central banker, which is a career that Rand and those who accept her views would reject in its entirety. ”

      Tried to ask that many times, but folks don’t like to answer questions that fly in the face of knee jerk assumptions about how our economy really works today.

    • Anonymous

      Rand shows profound ingratitude to the U.S. in her last novel. The American people accepted her as a refugee from communism, let her become a citizen and made her financially comfortable by buying her novels. Yet she returned the favor by calling ordinary Americans – the decent poor people in my parents’ and grandparents’ generations who voted for Roosevelt, Truman and other Democrats, and helped to defend this country in the Second World War – names like looters, moochers, thugs, derelicts, etc.

      And what did Rand really have to complain about her life in the 1950′s? The country experienced full employment, rapid economic growth, rising real wages and investments into future prosperity, so what more could Rand have wanted? She reminds me of Natalie Wood’s character in that stupid teen movie, Rebel Without a Cause. Wood plays a well nourished, healthy, clean and attractively dressed white teen girl in 1950′s L.A. who, upon first meeting James Dean’s character, says “If you call this living.” Well, yes, a teen girl like Anne Frank, or like Alyssa Rosenbaum in the Soviet Union before she migrated and became Ayn Rand, would have found American life in 1950′s quite good living indeed compared to what they had. What a wretched woman.

      • Anonymous

        Rand jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. American society with it’s ever-growing emphasis on collectivism and altruism began to embody many of the worst qualities of the Soviet system.

        The prosperity of the 1950s came from the government ceasing a lot of its interference in the private market (price controls, war production, etc.) and from the destruction of productive capacity at at our economic competitors.

        • Anonymous

          Excuse me? In the 1950′s the Federal Government started paying Social Security benefits to seniors, widows and the handicapped; built the interstate highway system; funded the G.I. Bill and educational grants and loans so white trash guys like my father could go to college; invested heavily into new technologies like electronics, computing and aerospace; and supported workers’ rights to form unions and engage in collective bargaining. That sounds like a substantial amount of government “interference” to me which apparently made many Americans’ lives better.

    • http://profiles.google.com/tgawronski Tom Gawronski

      Using Greenspan to critique Rand is actually made relevant by virtue of the fact that in the compilation of writings over Rand’s name called “Capitalism the Unknown Ideal” Greenspan is a contributor. But as a Randian expert, rather than the typical superficial worshipper of Rand, I am sure you knew that.

    • Jim in Omaha

      Re: Greenspan and other claimed apostles of Rand and her objectivism: Wouldn’t being a hypocritical phony, if it advances your own interests, be entirely consistent with this philosophy?

      • Kristin

        Hmm. Don’t recall John Galt or Howard Roark being phony, if I recall correctly. They were the absolute opposite. Have you read any of her books, Jim? Or are we just practicing our pitchfork raising? Hate to be rude, but you don’t know what you are talking about.

        • Jim in Omaha

          You realize that Galt and Roark are not real, don’t you? My comments were focused on real people (e.g. Greenspan, Ryan), with real power in the real world, who claim to be her disciples. And from my perspective, their main principle is self-centered greed should be the guiding light. Perhaps it is they who don’t know what they’re talking about.

  • Bryan

    NPR continues to bend over backward in affording a forum for extreme right-wing views, as if to prove that it isn’t biased toward the left. When so many other subjects cry out for discussion, why lend legitimacy to that cranky anti-government crusader Ayn Rand? Instead, why doesn’t OnPoint devote an hour to the writings of Thomas Frank? His books “The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule” and “What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America” thoroughly skewer ideas about freedom and government that Rand’s intellectual offsprings hold so dear. It would be a great service to listeners to have him debate a Randian right-winger, with much lively give and take assured. OnPoint producers: please get Thomas Frank on your show. We would all benefit.

    Simple, cogent objections to Objectivism were made long ago. To reiterate what others here and elsewhere have said: a society organized along the lines of Rand’s rabid individualism would quickly destroy itself as each member sought to gain decisive advantage over the next. Rand’s ideas are as fanciful as the notion of a “free” market that she so championed. In reality, there is no such thing, and the correct question about the role of government ought to be to what degree and under which circumstances (i.e., on whose behalf) must government intervene in the market for a democracy to function well (and thank goodness for Rand it did, in the form of Medicare). Historic levels of wealth inequality indicate that ours is not a well-functioning democracy. Putting Rand’s ideas into practice would make inequality far worse while continuing to rely on dubious arguments to rationalize the egregious results. The effort to elevate Ayn Rand as a moral and intellectual beacon is proof that Greed and Selfishness are the twin gods of our age.

    • http://profiles.google.com/tgawronski Tom Gawronski

      I am no fan of Rand myself (I was until it occurred to me she was an industrial fascist), but I have to ask if you actually listened to the broadcast? The panel consisted of those who worship Rand as well as those who saw her for what she was. The callers were also split. What is refreshing is that the show entertained conflicting views without the raucous name calling so evident on most of talk radio and Fox Noise. Would that there were more outlets that had the ability for people to disagree without reverting to the practices of children.

      As to the relevance of Rand, like it or not, whenever there is political change that reverses conservative flow along with economic downturn, Rand becomes relevant if only because conservatives never tire of trotting out tired philosophies. I think a show dedicated to a deeper discussion of Rand is timely if only because the Congressional Czar of the Budget claims to “love” Rand (which only goes to show how little he knows of her, or how narcissistic he is).

      I particularly enjoyed a late commenter who noted that at her death, Rand was taking full advantage of the social safety programs she railed against. Yet another in a long line of conservative hypocrites. It is so easy for one to say one wants to destroy the safety net to dupe uniformed voters when you know full well you will take full advantage of the net yourself when the time comes.

      • T.S. J.D.

        Your shallow understanding of objectivism is laughable.

        Objectivist are against government force to deprive individuals of their own personal property. Obviously, an objectivist want’s this coercion to be stopped.

        The forced payment into the government programs would absolutely be be immoral under the objectivist philosophy.

        The collection of your own property, which you were forcibly deprived of throughout your entire life, would certainly not make an objectionist a hypocrite.

        Maybe you should try and form your own rational thoughts. Or you could continue to to follow others blindly (whom did not provide documentation I might add, and regardless failed to see the illogical nature of their assertion.)

  • Anonymous

    Obama works for the banks.

  • Anonymous

    Contrary to the presentation on NPR and other mainstream media sources, the Republican Party is not homogeneous. I happen to be a pro-choice atheist supporting Ron Paul (Republican) in 2012. The rest of the GOP can go suck eggs.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

      A little disconnect here? You claim you are pro-choice but you support Ron Paul who calls himself “strongly pro-life” and “an unshakable foe of abortion.” In 2005, Paul introduced the We the People Act, which would have removed “any claim based upon the right of privacy, including any such claim related to any issue of … reproduction” from the jurisdiction of federal courts. If made law, either of these acts would allow states to prohibit abortion. In 2005, Paul introduced the We the People Act, which would have removed “any claim based upon the right of privacy, including any such claim related to any issue of … reproduction” from the jurisdiction of federal courts. If made law, either of these acts would allow states to prohibit abortion.
      In order to “offset the effects of Roe v. Wade,” Paul voted in favor of the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. He has described partial birth abortion as a “barbaric procedure.” He also introduced H.R. 4379 that would prohibit the Supreme Court from ruling on issues relating to abortion, birth control, the definition of marriage and homosexuality and would cause the court’s precedents in these areas to no longer be binding. He once said, “The best solution, of course, is not now available to us. That would be a Supreme Court that recognizes that for all criminal laws, the several states retain jurisdiction.”

      • Dave in CT

        If we can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, we really are screwed.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

          What you are really saying is that you don’t care about a woman’s right to choose.

          • Dave in CT

            That kind of reasoning and pigeonholing is what is destroying all chance of unity and progress in our country. thrashertm made plenty of logical responses.

            So instead of supporting a candidate with a broad political philosophy that is against war, corporate collusion and shady banking, things that have taken us to the brink, you would reject that because of his own personal views on a personal issue, which his political/liberty philosophy leaves up to the people to decide.

            Yes preserving liberty runs up against some sticky situations that can occur (might have to go to a state that is choosing to to legislate more like you agree with), but the bigger protections that liberty affords against tyranny by government or corporate collusion, (if ever honestly applied) make it pretty much the only game in town.

            It might be satisfying to be able to control everyone else’s thoughts and behaviors and choices, but it’s not very ethical, or sustainable for a peaceful society over the long run is it?

            Liberty vs control is a peace issue in the bigger picture. Live and let live, accept that some people see some things differently and continue to argue in the marketplace of ideas to persuade if you are convinced you are right. But individuals are and always will be at vastly different places in their lives with their thinking, their choices, their incentives etc, and denying that, and forcing everyone into line will never be a peaceful thing.

            That from a pro-choice atheist.

            http://www.thefreemanonline.org/headline/diversity-ends-rules/

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

            Again, all you are saying is that a woman’s right to choose isn’t really very important to you. I’m not trying to “control” anyone, just pointing out inconsistencies. In fact, it is Ron Paul who is the one who wants to interphere with a woman’s reproductive rights and allow the states to control her decisions.

            Don’t get me wrong I like a few of Paul’s positions (e.g. cutting military) but not others (dismantling Social Security, Medicare, consumer/environmental protections, financial regulation, abortion etc. etc. etc.). Obama’s positions on military spending and civil liberties are actually not that different from Paul’s (despite Paul opposition the 1964 Civil rights Act).

            As President Rand Paul would have little or no impact on our military (cf Obama) but he just might be able to push the Supreme Court even further to the right and elect judges willing to strike down a woman’s right to choose and overturn Roe vs wade.

            Be careful who you vote for, you might just get them.

      • Anonymous

        I am well aware of Ron Paul’s pro-life position, but I am OK with it, as it is consistent with our Federalist system. I agree that abortion should be decided by the states unless there is a constitutional amendment that makes it a federal issue.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

          So then you are not really “pro-choice” at least not for for ALL women, just those lucky enough to live in (or rich enough to travel to) states that would protect reproductive rights.

          • Anonymous

            Do you know what federalism is? I’m pro choice for all women everywhere, and think a woman should be able to terminate a pregnancy at any time (even the day before she is about to give birth), but I wouldn’t impose my views on the citizens of other states that see the world differently. I wouldn’t try to impose democracy on the Iraqis, and I wouldn’t try to impose liberal abortion laws on the people of Wyoming or Utah.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

            That’s kind of a cop out. You think that all women should have the right to choose but think it’s OK for states to deny that right and impose their will on women. Doesn’t sound very libertarian to me.

          • Anonymous

            It’s the very essence of libertarianism. Deal with your own issues and stop imposing your views on everyone else. There are enough problems in this world without busy bodies meddling.

          • Anonymous

            More importantly in terms of a presidential race – is this really an important issue? Ron Paul will not be able to affect abortion laws, nor has he made it a major goal of his campaign. He would however immediately stop these senseless wars, begin bringing our troops home, end the drug war, and stop the indefinite detentions and other violations of our civil liberties. These are completely within the president’s power; it’s a pity that Obama chooses to continue Bush’s policies in these areas.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

            The next president may well have the opportunity to nominate one or more Supreme Court Justices, which could have a huge impact on a woman’s right to choose and many other important isseues–so yes, it is a Big Deal.

          • Anonymous

            It might have an impact on your ability to run other people’s lives according to your values. Why can’t you just leave people alone? (rhetorical, don’t need to answer that).

  • Anonymous

    Rand Paul is short for Randal, and he and his father Ron have said several times that he was not named after Ayn Rand.

  • Floyd

    Given how critical both Ashbrook and Hellert are of Rand, it’s obvious that those who complain of public radio giving a platform to radical ideas have not actually listened to the interview. Or perhaps they have, and simply aren’t comfortable with opposing views being heard.

    No matter. You don’t have to be a Randian to appreciate that she does a good job of pointing out some of the dangerous trends in modern American and European society. We have moved from being a nation of pioneers and creators into being a nation of consumers of government largess. You’d think that fans of JFK, who asked us to think about what we can do for our country, would be concerned that we now live in a society in which close to half of all citizens pay no taxes to the Federal government.

  • Anonymous

    There is a profound misunderstanding of Ayn Rand’s philosophy in the mainstream, as evidenced by the appallingly ignorant and hateful comments here.

    Objectivism starts with a simple premise – that we are rational and that we are not slaves (we own our own lives and bodies). Accordingly, individual rights supersede those of the collective. The collective/government has no business telling individuals what they must do with their lives, bodies or property.

    In terms of policy, it is obvious that throughout history, the producers, the poor and middle class especially, have been exploited in the name of “the greater good”, while the oligarchy mooches off their productivity. Examples: in the name of nationalism we the people have fought wars that enrich industrial interests. In the name of saving the “economy” we the people have bailed out Wall St and other wealthy interests. In the name of protecting “the country” we are told to give up our individual civil liberties.

    As a producer myself, I wish that my wealth was not forcibly expropriated by the government to reward what I see as bad behavior by the various industrial interests that control our government. I would like to use my wealth to reward virtue in the free marketplace of ideas.
    With respect to charity, that too has a place within Objectivism. It is in my own self interest to prevent people from dying in the streets, and in a more prosperous free-market I would have the freedom to choose to donate towards that goal.

    • Dave in CT

      But it’s so much more self-satisfying (as a true, or like to think of self as, elite) to claim that everyone but the elite leaders are too irrational to be trusted with freedom.

      Of course the planners are perfectly rational. And altruistic. And incorruptible.

      • Anonymous

        Haha touche`. Speaking of these elites, I once dated a girl that ate up every word from the NYT editorial board (Gail Collins, David Brooks), and firmly believed that the majority of Americans need the helping hand of government to run their lives, because they were unable to take responsibility for them. When I asked her to what extent she thought the government should run her life, perhaps determine whether or not she should have the right to an abortion, she was of course vehemently opposed to such control. Needless to say, our relationship didn’t last beyond a few dates. I find the world view that the government must run our lives and run the world abhorrent. I am not a slave.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

        Forgive me if I prefer elected officials who are accountable to the people making the important decisions as opposed to corporate elites who are accountable to no one.

        • Dave in CT

          Oh, I didn’t get the ballots with Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Rubin, Geithner etc etc.

          But they did a heckuva job! I”ll be sure to vote for them again!

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

            It’s called representative democracy.

            The President (who is ELECTED) appoints the seven members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; they must then be confirmed by the Senate (which we also ELECT) and serve for 14 years. Once appointed, Governors may not be removed from office for their policy views. The chairman and vice-chairman are chosen by the President from among the sitting Governors for four-year terms; these appointments are also subject to Senate confirmation. In practice the chairman is often re-appointed, but cannot serve longer than one 14-year term as governor (or, if appointed to fill a position whose previous occupant had not served out their term, then 14 years plus the time remaining in the previous unexpired term).

            By law, the chairman reports twice a year to Congress (which we ELECT) on the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy objectives. He or she also testifies before Congress on numerous other issues and meets periodically with the Secretary of the Treasury.

            The United States Cabinet is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States. Its existence dates back to the first American President, George Washington, who appointed a Cabinet to advise and assist him in his duties. Cabinet officers are nominated by the President and then presented to the United States Senate for confirmation or rejection by a simple majority. If approved, they are sworn in and begin their duties. Members of the Cabinet serve at the pleasure of the President, which means the President may remove them at will.

            As our founding fathers realized a pure direct democracy would be neither practical nor desirable.

    • Jim in Omaha

      Perhaps some of us are having a problem telling the laudable “producers” from the evil “oligarchs”. Can you provide some definitional markers to help us out?

      • Anonymous

        I would say that anyone that creates value and trades a good or service
        voluntarily is a producer. The worst parasites/moochers use fraud, coercion
        and force, sometimes with the cooperation of the very government agencies
        that are supposed to be policing them. I am thinking of Wall St and the SEC
        here.

        Regards,
        Zack/Fives

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

      Ever heard of the idea of the Social Contract whereby individuals unite into a society by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by certain rules and to accept duties to protect and care for one another? Although developed for understanding human societies, sociobiologists have adapted it to societies of other social species or even to interspecies symbiotic relationships. Among humans, it implies that the people give up sovereignty to a government or other authority in order to receive or maintain social order through the rule of law. It can also be thought of as an agreement by the governed on a set of rules by which they are governed.

      http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_contract

      • Anonymous

        Of course I’ve heard of it and I don’t think it applies. I didn’t agree to this social contract whereby our government can use my taxes to pay for aggressive wars of choice and bailing out rich bankers. Furthermore, since our government completely flaunts the rule of law and the Constitution, I don’t see how they are holding up their end of the supposed bargain in any conceivable way.

        What you are suggesting would be nice if we actually were given a choice of whether or not to enter into the contract. Instead we are treated like slaves.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

          The constitution and the laws are our written contracts with the government. There are several explicit means by which people make the social contract with government. The commonest is when your parents choose your residency and/or citizenship after your birth. In that case, your parents or guardians are contracting for you, exercising their power of custody. No further explicit action is required on your part to continue the agreement, and you may end it at any time by departing and renouncing your citizenship.

          You are hardly a “slave.” You choose which country to live in, and you can change it. You may not be able to improve some things about it all by yourself, because it is not entirely yours.

          You have at least 4 choices. 1) Tolerate the social contract, and perhaps try to amend it. 2) Leave it by emigrating. 3) Violate it. 4) Revolt.

          http://world.std.com/~mhuben/faq.html

    • Anonymous

      > Objectivism starts with a simple premise – that we are rational

      And thus it fails – Mankind is often not rational, often rationalizing, and rarely does everyone have complete information.

      • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

        Men by their constitution are naturally divided into two parties. I. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers form them into the hands of the higher classes. Secondly those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depository of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist…

        - Thomas Jefferson

        Now, which party do you categorize yourself within?

  • Sara Giannoni

    I love portions of Ayn Rand but let’s think rationally.

    Science is has a rational process. So if science proves climate change wouldn’t it be rational to believe that climate change exists. If the basic goal of capitalism is to make a profit, that wouldn’t it be rational to believe that capitalists and companies would disregard what is best for society for profit.

    It seems that the way some idolize Rand, and how people believe in her ideas, turns it into a new sort of religion. Ironic?

    • Anonymous

      Sara,
      Capitalism can’t make a profit if the environment is ruined due to climate change. Furthermore, when climate change becomes an actual tangible problem rather than a somewhat distant threat, capitalism (private property ownership) will mobilize entrepreneurs to make a profit ameliorating it. I wish well-intentioned progressives could see that their good intentions are mostly being used to line the pockets of GE. Environmental risks are a legitimate concern but when they manifest into tangible problems private property rights are the most efficient way of affecting the situation.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

        The problem is greedy corporations and individuals (seeking their own narrow self-interest) can and do make huge short term proffits damaging the environment. Hence the need for REGULATION!

        Watch Jon Stewart school Rand Paul on the issue:

        http://www.grist.org/politics/2011-03-10-watch-jon-stewart-give-rand-paul-a-logic-spanking-on-the-environmen

        • Anonymous

          Actually Ayn Rand and Rand Paul’s philosophy of individualism would oppose the corporate liability protection that allows employees to escape personal prosecution when they commit wrong-doing in order to obtain short-term profits. Again, individual property rights (including the concept that you own your own body, and thus can seek redress if your body is damaged by pollution) is enough to curtail polluters.

          I watched the clip and I don’t think Stewart drew blood, except for his slavishly loyal progressive audience.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

            I have no idea what Ayn Rand’s ideal form of capitalism might look like. You claim she’s opposed to the limited liability corporation which is the very foundation of our current economic system. Sounds pretty radical to me. Yet many Randians seem to be totally opposed to any kind of corporate regulation?

            Regardless, the remote possibilty of an individual law suit at some point in the distant future is NOT enough to deter polluters. In the real world it is often very difficult to prove damages and precise causation especially where there arevarious possible culprits(cf tobacco, asbestos litigation). Moreover, injuries can take many years, even decades to develop, sometimes long after the polluters and the evidence of their wrongdoing has disappeared. Our legal/tort system is totally inadequate to deter polluters. Some level of REGULATION is obviously necessary.

            Even Rand Paul himself reluctantly admits this in the Jon-Stewart interview starting around 1:50 where he acknowledges that government regulations have made a huge positive difference for the environment.

          • Anonymous

            I don’t pretend to know specifically what Ayn Rand’s views were on the LLC, but it is a collectivist construct (socializes losses), so I assume that she would oppose it.

            “the remote possibilty of an individual law suit at some point in the distant future is NOT enough to deter polluters” – maybe under the current system whereby individuals have no liability and the court system is rigged, but I am advocating for a free market – not the current crony-capitalist system we have today.

  • http://profiles.google.com/ellis.weiner Ellis Weiner

    Whether you agree with Rand or not, I think we can all agree that a parody that re-visits Dragnie, John Glatt, Hunk Rawbone, and the whole gang ten years later–and shows how Glatt’s Gorge has become, in essence, Colonial Williamsburg–is just good clean fun. See for yourself:

    http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/54707

  • David

    It seems to me ironic that it is the left who continuously point out the ever-growing disparity between the rich and the poor, but it is the Austrian economists / libertarians who have proposed what seems to me to be the most plausible model of the unjust means by which this happens: the rich use government to steal from the poor, always under the pretense that they are motivated by altruism.

    Consider the Federal Reserve. In what seems like an endless cycle, the wealth of everyone (but especially the poor) is eroded through inflation whenever the Fed prints money. This newly printed money gets handed over to the banking elite and whoever else has the most political pull at the time. In other words, it’s a massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. Pretty simple actually. And the left pick up on a few tell tale signs here and there, like the massive bonuses of corporate and banking execs and other Jim Taggerts of the world. Yet it seems like Ron Paul and a few others (Austrian economists are the ones who truly understand it) are the only ones who understand the fundamental mechanism that makes all this theft possible.

    The reason so few understand it is that the lawmakers make the laws as intricate as they have to be. By that I mean: intricate enough that the average citizen gets lost in the details and so does not realize that the transfer from poor to rich vastly outweighs the other way around. If people start to catch on, they just add a layer of complexity. Actually, even the lawmakers start to get confused: Ron Paul wrote iirc about a congressman on the banking committee who didn’t even know whether we were or were not on the gold standard!! But the lawmakers will ALWAYS have a better understanding of the details because, after all, they are doing it full time!

    This is why libertarians want to stop the forcible plunder of ANYONE by ANYONE. Until the day that the honest, non-parasitic, working class say: “who is John Galt? I AM!!” …. the poor will continue to be hoodwinked by policies that supposedly are written in their favor, but all too often are not.

    If only Michael Moore could be made to understand this …. !!

    • Dave in CT

      you should repost that on today’s Bernanke page…

    • Anonymous

      Getting rid of the Fed will not stop the problems you mention. We had plenty of years of good economic growth in this country with good solid banking regulations and usury laws. Wall Street was not allowed to own banks or hide assets in them. Hedge funds were small part of the economy and the nation did pretty good under these laws and regulations from WW2 up to the 80′s. The real issue to me and you also allude to this, is how the special interest are running the show. We do not stand a chance when the likes of the Kouch brothers are pouring money into the agendas that they feel enable their interests.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

      “The Austrian School of Economics is a tiny group of libertarians at war with mainstream economics. They reject even the scientific method that mainstream economists use, preferring to use instead a pre-scientific approach that shuns real-world data and is based purely on logical assumptions. But this is the very method that thousands of religions use when they argue their opposing beliefs, and the fact that the world has thousands of religions proves the fallibility of this approach. Academia has generally ignored the Austrian School, and the only reason it continues to exist is because it is financed by wealthy business donors on the far right. The movement does not exist on its own scholarly merits.”

      http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-ausmain.htm

  • Ian

    NeoCons and Tea Partiers like a good conspiracy theory, so here’s one: Ayn Rand, Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum, was a Russian plant put in the US to spread her philosophy. The Russians knew that we’d never accept communism, so they sent her to push a brand of “selfish” capitalism and individualism that they knew would eventually destroy our economy. Mission accomplished.

    I can’t believe these Tea Partiers have no problem trusting a cold war era Russian, but thy have a hard time trusting a president born in the US.

    *Note: I’m not insane, so I don’t believe this. However, it makes just as much sense as some of the crap coming from the far right.

  • GMG

    When are we going to learn that the world is a complex place, and our simplistic mental models are wrong? I can’t believe, after all the disasters inflicted on our species and the world by ideologues in the last century, that we still have to put up with this kind if simplistic insanity.

  • HAROLDERYAN

    Progressives are inflicted with the liberal disease which Ayn Rand recognized, she showed us the analogy in her book Atlas shrugged. The problem is there is no cure for it. Mussolini and Stalin were victims of this disease, we see how that turned out in the Soviet Union. It took 50 years to undo the damage caused by their insanity and as history bears out it has never been cured. Progressive Democrats will not be satisfied until the collapse of our financial system, in their sick and perverted minds they believe they will create a better system of kings and slaves. carl marx, Lenin and their systems have failed every time it’s been tried. In their state of insanity they cannot perceive history and therefore are not aware of their illness. We have a duty to the mentally ill to try and guide them through their illness.

    • David

      One of the reasons imho that the Libertarian Party has not been more successful than it has is that so many libertarians have unfortunately internalized Rand’s contempt for anyone who is not a Large O Objectivist, and who believe as you state, that there is no cure for their insanity. I do not share that belief. If you were a rational being trapped in North Korea, you might be tempted to think it impossible that a society with the (relative) freedom of the US might exist. But you would be wrong! If you lived in one of the war-torn countries in Africa, you might be tempted to believe that the Rule of Law is a pipe dream that can never be realized. But again, you would be wrong!

      The libertarian movement needs someone with the skill of Reagan when it comes to communicating a vision of optimism. He told Gorby to “tear down this wall” and guess what? Holy crap, who would have thought it possible, it actually did fall! I would love to see Ron Paul or some other libertarian leader give a speech asking Obama to “open this gate” and “tear down this wall” — metaphorically speaking, of course, but I think we in this country need a vision that it can ACTUALLY happen.

      • Dave in CT

        and God’s got to go. Believe what one wants, but the self-evidence of liberty truths is all we need in the political sphere. Professing a need for god to be free is a real foot shooter.

        • Kristin

          Rand was an ardent atheist. And she had no love for “conservatives”. I wish the Bible Thumper Right Wingers pumping their fists in the air for “Anne” Rand would actually read some of her Oist theory for once.

          • Dave in CT

            Here, here!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

      Stop with the nonsensical ad hominem attacks and get your facts straight.

      Mussolini and Stalin were facists not liberals.

      Unregulated capitalism and greed led to the financial crisis (not progressive policies).

      Marx and Lenin were communists not liberals.

      • HAROLDERYAN

        To understand my statement, liberalism, Marxism, socialism, communism are all the same totalitarian systems with minor variances. They all strive to achieve total control of the population and diminish God-given rights.
        Did greedy capitalism really destroy the banking system? Or was it the unconstitutional mandates placed on the banking industry by the federal government that demanded, banks, make loans to people who could not afford to repay them? The people behind this scheme are the ones that were screaming the loudest, Barney Frank, and others. When Congress and Pres. Obama took control of General Motors, they exercised one of the main tenants of communism. There are 10 main tenants of communism, so far, nine of them have been implemented. It would be nice or convenient to assign all the blame to the present president but that is not the case.
        Progressivism got its foothold on this country around 1911 and has been increasing in incremental steps ever since. Our current politicians, on the left, are just advancing the progressive agenda. I’m going to say a dirty word here please don’t be offended, God and the Bible says man is not capable of governing himself and right now, as the world is on fire, it bears witness to this truth.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

          “If Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism, then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism. Society in fact requires both individualism and collectivism, both selfishness and altruism, to function. Like Marxism, libertarianism offers the fraudulent intellectual security of a complete a priori account of the political good without the effort of empirical investigation. Like Marxism, it aspires, overtly or covertly, to reduce social life to economics. And like Marxism, it has its historical myths and a genius for making its followers feel like an elect unbound by the moral rules of their society.”

          http://www.amconmag.com/article/2005/mar/14/00017

          The claim that the Community Reinvestment Act contributed in part to the 2008 financial crisis by encouraging banks to make unsafe loan has been rejected by mainstream economists, including those from the Federal Reserve and the FDIC. The Federal Reserve, having examined the evidence, holds that EMPIRICAL research has not validated any relationship between the CRA and the 2008 financial crisis. At the FDIC, Chair Sheila Bair delivered remarks noting that the majority of subprime loans originated from lenders not regulated by the CRA, calling it a “scapegoat” and declaring it “NOT guilty.”

          http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_Reinvestment_Act

          See also:

          http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subprime_mortgage_crisis

          It seems ambundantly clear that unregulated capitalism and greed caused the crisis, not “unconstitutional mandates” to help the less fortunate!

          See generally:

          http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late-2000s_financial_crisis

          The United States Senate issuing the Levin-Coburn Report found the crisis was “the result of high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; and the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street.”

          http://fcic.law.stanford.edu/report

          This report, which is well worth reading in it’s entiety (including the dissents), found widespread failures in financial regulation; dramatic breakdowns in corporate governance; excessive borrowing and risk-taking by households and Wall Street; policy makers who were ill prepared for the crisis; and systemic breaches in accountability and ethics at all levels.

          Similarly a more recent US Senate inquiry has slammed Goldman Sachs and other investment banks for triggering the financial crisis, and in some cases profiteering from it.

          http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/04/14/3191331.htm

          Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., the subcommittee’s top Republican, joined in condemning Wall Street.

          “Blame for this mess lies everywhere — from federal regulators who cast a blind eye, Wall Street bankers who let greed run wild, and members of Congress who failed to provide oversight.”

  • RPM

    The contempt and disregard towards Ayn Rand’s philosophy from Heller and Chait and sundry NPR callers is really quite amusing. Whereas they and their works will likely be forgotten before their deaths, Rand’s self-evident truths will be remembered and revered (by the rational among us that is) for generations to come. Do they realize that they are characters right out of an Ayn Rand novel? (and not the heroic ones, needless to say) This confirms why I can’t bring myself to donate even a nickel to NPR fund drives.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

      Yet you listen. Doesn’t that make you a “parasite?”

      • HAROLDERYAN

        Yes, keep your enemies so close to you that they cannot swing!

      • RPM

        Parasite? No. NPR’s “business” model is to broadcast free content, and listeners can then voluntarily donate what they will, like a street musician passing the hat. I calculate NPR’s value to me vs. the damage it’s propaganda does, to be in the negative $. Sadly also NPR is in part funded by a government that compels me to pay for thousands of unconstitutional programs I oppose against my will. Who are the true parasites?

  • Bryan

    My, my, such lavish praise in these comments for a woman whose twisted view of life led her to extol the virtues of a serial killer, among other far-out notions. Rand worshippers with enough curiosity can read it all here, in a 2009 Slate.com online review of two biographies of Rand: http://www.slate.com/id/2233966/

    Here’s a choice tidbit from the review, which effectively captures for me the alternate pusillanimity and whininess of Rand’s supporters:

    “Her heroes are a cocktail of extreme self-love and extreme self-pity: They insist they need no one, yet they spend all their time fuming that the masses don’t bow down before their manifest superiority.”

  • Anonymous

    my (unanswered) email to On Point:

    I so wish I could get through to someone – anyone – on your staff!

    I have been studying Objectivism seriously – and honestly – for over 46 years now.

    (although interrupted somewhat by working to get two degrees in six years at MIT)

    I understand Objectivism deeply, and I understand it to be the most truly human, pro-Man philosophy that has ever been developed.

    It pains me so much to hear people have mocking attitudes towards it when they have clearly not studied it enough to understand it.

    I am certain that a broad understanding and application of her understanding of Man and the world in which he lives would result in a new Renaissance – for all people who try honestly to live their lives with respect for the rights of others — and that absent that, we will continue headlong down the road to ruin.

    WBUR, located as it is in a major center for education and intellect, could be a shining leader of the application of honest intellectualism – but it consistently fails to do that.

    I’m sure that the time pressures of putting on shows is a factor – and I imagine that producing shows that your (potential) donors and other financial supporters will like is a major factor – but…

    If you could only just challenge your inclination to snarkiness some times, it would help a good bit.

    I understand too that it’s an enormous task to get to the bottom of the truth on any issue.

    Any issue that matters to a significant number of people will have its snake-oil salesmen – and a similar group of detractors — but it seems to me that trained and experienced journalists should have become able to detect such people, and continue looking for honest people who actually know what they are talking about – and not be satisfied until they are found.

    I would be more than happy to help anyone on your staff understand Objectivism.

    It is the most important issue in today’s world, because in it we have the understanding that’s needed to advance civilization – and without it, … I mean, how much perceptiveness does it take to see that we are on a very wrong path – and have been for years?

    • David

      I don’t think that calling someone a snarky liar in an introductory email is a good strategy if you really want a response.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah.

        That was extremely mild for me.

        I felt like I had to call out a couple of the most important issues; I hoped
        that I could do it well enough that someone might consider it.

        And at least, I on the record.

    • Ian

      I have been studying Marxism, extremely seriously, for 50 years (although, interrupted by earning three advanced degrees in five years at three different institutions: Harvard, Yale, and the University of Cambridge).

      I am certain that if people would take the time to actually understand Marxism, really understand it, the world would be absolutely perfect. Anybody who thinks differently simply does not understand enough about it and is certainly my intellectual inferior.

      Any common idiot can see that because we haven’t followed Marxism, as only I and a very select few understand it, we’re headed down the wrong path. Any past errors related to Marxism have come from its misapplication resulting from misreadings.

      Being the supreme expert, I would be happy to help Marx himself understand Marxism – if only he were alive today.

      End sarcasm.

      I have yet to meet an O’ist who hasn’t claimed that anyone who disagrees with them “doesn’t get it.”

      That whole diatribe is full of logical fallacies. Rubbish.

      • Brett

        This is my favorite post of the day. It is a perfect parody of the “e-mail” by Ryan_Dyne…Ian, you missed the self-involved paragraph spacing, though! ;-)

        • Anonymous

          (The “self-involved paragraph spacing” was the result of pasting my composition in Gmail (w/o “self-involved paragraph spacing”) directly into one of these Reply composition boxes.)

    • Ian

      Okay, I may have been too sarcastic. Let me offer some constructive criticism.

      A word of advice: if you want to get someone’s attention, and you’re an unknown, you don’t tell them you’re the expert – you show them.

      That whole “letter” comes across as pompous drivel. That style may work with some of the people you regularly argue with, but it does not work with real intellectuals. It’s great that you have two degrees from a prestigious institution, congratulations. Guess what? A lot of people do. I have a couple myself and so don’t most of their guests. It’s okay to start off with that, sure, but then you have to write something worth responding to.

      There is nothing that would make anyone want to engage you in that letter. You’ve insulted people, you’ve stroked your ego, and aside from that – you didn’t make a single point that added to the conversation.

      You did make some claims, but then you didn’t back any of them up – that would have been a good time to show you know something about O’ism. You made yourself sound like a jerk and you’re surprised you didn’t get a response?

      And one of my degrees is in rhetoric – so you should listen to me :p Ha!

      • Anonymous

        I’d be happy to try discussing this further with you off line, but I don’t think my lack of rhetorical skills is germane to the larger discussion here.

        I didn’t bother to go down to the level of making Objectivist points because (my memory of) the discussion on-air didn’t deserve that..
        (Since the host and the detractors didn’t bother to learn enough about what they were deriding before they went on air and pretended to know what they were talking about, why in the world would anyone thing that they would be open to my taking the time to give detailed rebuttals to their uninformed slights?)

        ..and since I have tried making detailed points in other forums, with people who consider themselves at least superior – and, here and there, versed in official philosophy: It’s a complete waste of time, unless one first finds someone who’s honestly interested in what one has to say.

        So my note was an admittedly not-likely-to-work, sort of middle-ground attempt to say to ‘BUR staff that here’s one vote, from someone who allegedly has chops, that Ayn Rand’s work is worth far more than they have apparently considered it to be.

        I didn’t really bet a lot on that getting a response, but I knew that I couldn’t do anything else – and I knew that if I did get a respones, I could then take it the next step.

        pmh232 gmail

        • Bryan

          Why don’t you try to convince us critics of Rand’s transcendent benefits through reasoned arguments instead of first complaining that we are misinformed, as you did in your earlier post, and then dismissing us completely here, saying it would be a total waste of your time to bother engaging with us at all because we’re clearly too closed-minded to hear what you have to say? How convenient it is to resort to such arguments, as it allows you to avoid having to answer our specific concerns, such as Rand’s apparent admiration for a serial killer or the seemingly dictatorial control she exercised over her followers.

          I would argue that your attitude reveals an air of superiority that you accuse critics of having. Your complaining about other people’s closed-mindedness seems highly ironic to me.

          I would imagine you would dismiss the following quoted passage as completely disrespectful of Rand, but regardless of the tone of the writer, I’d be curious to know your response to the actual points raised, particularly the comments by one of her students and Barbara Weiss, her secretary. After all, these were her supporters.

          Here is the passage, followed by the source:

          “As her books became mega-sellers, Rand surrounded herself with a tightly policed cult of young people who believed she had found the One Objective Truth about the world. They were required to memorize her novels and slapped down as ‘imbecilic’ and ‘anti-life’ by Rand if they asked questions. One student said: ‘There was a right kind of music, a right kind of art, a right kind of interior design, a right kind of dancing. There were wrong books which we should not buy.’

          “Rand had become addicted to amphetamines while writing The Fountainhead, and her natural paranoia and aggression were becoming more extreme as they pumped though her veins. Anybody in her circle who disagreed with her was subjected to a show trial in front of the whole group in which they would be required to repent or face expulsion. Her secretary, Barbara Weiss, said: ‘I came to look on her as a killer of people.’ The workings of her cult exposed the hollowness of Rand’s claims to venerate free thinking and individualism. Her message was, ‘think freely, as long as it leads you into total agreement with me.’”

          from “How Ayn Rand Became an American Icon,” by Johann Hari, 11/2/09 online article at: http://www.slate.com/id/2233966/

          • Anonymous

            Because, as I said to Ian, all of that information is available – even
            freely on the Web.
            (from both first-hand sources (Ayn Rand herself, her intellectual heir,
            Leonard Peikoff, the Ayn Rand Institute and its Fellows, etc.) and serious
            Objectivists (ie: although not officially approved spokesmen for
            Objectivism) (not to be confused with the legions of people who are content
            to bash Ayn Rand w/o bothering to first learn what she actually developed in
            her philosophy) )

            Given that, it seems to me warranted to conclude that people who publicly
            speak against Ayn Rand and Objectivism – especially when acting as
            knowledgeable and when for payment – have a responsibility to have studied
            their subject enough to know that they know what they’re talking about – and
            to have become able to identify others who do not, and so discount them.

            I don’t think I actually accused anyone of being closed-minded exactly -
            although it’s true that there’s a fine line between those who don’t bother
            to study Ayn Rand and Objectivism before forming their opinions — and those
            who do at least read something about them, but do so with such strong
            preconceptions as to too readily dismiss what they read.

            As for the quote you cite:

            First, note that it – as is so very frequently the case – doesn’t address
            her philosophy at all (but rather is content to focus solely on the person
            and alleged personality of Ayn Rand itself. That should set off warning
            bells in the mind of any honest person.

            Second, to the content that the author did care to include: I knew Ayn Rand
            to the extent of having read everything that she published, and having
            attended many of her Ford Hall Forum talks and many of her courses. I thus
            saw first-hand what kind of mind and what kind of personality she had. She
            was lightning quick to see the essence of everything, whether a question
            from the audience or the latest news items. She was also lightning quick to
            evaluate her such perceptions (since she realized that the only reason for
            identifying facts is to judge their value for one’s life) – and to respond
            emotionally accordingly. This did in fact, from time to time, result in
            some questioners feeling singed by her intensity. Most of them clearly
            deserved it, for having tried to challenge her dishonestly. Some, IMHO, got
            a bit more than they deserved, since their error was innocent. And one or
            two in my experience got “flamed” completely undeservingly, because she
            misunderstood the point they were trying to make. But one of the most
            impressive things I’ve ever seen was how quickly and completely she turned
            from anger to apology when she realized that she had misunderstood. There
            was not one second of her acting like she felt like she had to do something
            to preserve “face”. She was a completely honest person (believe it w/o
            proof here or not).

            As to the people who “surrounded her” (not “she surrounded herself with”),
            they were people who were so taken with her and her works that they couldn’t
            imagine anything more valuable and stimulating than being in contact with
            her. I so wish I could’ve been one of them, but I was 10 years or so too
            young. For an amazing and very revealing account of the experience of two
            of them, see http://facetsofaynrand.com/book/ari_archives_oral_history.html.

            That shows the truth of how she responded to questions, among many other
            things.

            It is true that she (knew that she had) “found” (developed) the One
            Objective Truth about the world. One kind of person will scoff snarkily at
            that statement; another will want to learn what she developed.

            And it is true that knowing something has strong implications for one’s
            moral choices. For instance, knowing that someone is a dishonest detractor
            of Ayn Rand and Objectivism implies that one should not support him.
            Knowing that a country is essentially a slave labor camp (Cuba, China, North
            Korea) means that one should not support their continued existence (eg: by
            trading with them). Knowing that religion is essentially evil in practice
            (if not necessarily in intent) means that one should not support it.

            Judgements in the less well understood areas of philosophy (eg: Esthetics)
            are concomitantly less certain – and so less warranting of moral judgement.
            I myself don’t recall an instance of her judging a person negatively for his
            preferences in art.

            Apparently, she did take too many amphetamines (for her weight, I believe
            she said it was) and she smoked. One might remember that this was before
            the harm of either was (well?) understood.

            The rest of the 2nd paragraph of your quote doesn’t deserve much comment.
            She took ideas extremely seriously (which, I submit, is the only way that a
            serious, honest person can take them). As you can see from the above
            reference, she characteristically acted on that in the case of perceived
            mistakes in thinking by taking as much of her time as was required to go
            over the issue in question with the person, until she could see that the
            person got it. For intentional and persistent disagreements on the
            fundamentals, in contrast, she could be forced to conclude by the facts of
            such a conversation that the person was committed to a fallacy – which is
            irrational – and so which is grounds for a break with the person. Perhaps
            some of you choose the people you spend your time with differently (I
            don’t).

            Bottom line: Don’t take my word for it. If you care about understanding
            Man and existence, study Ayn Rand and Objectivism. And if you don’t, please
            don’t pretend that you know anything about it.

  • Jeff

    I was thrilled to hear Tom quote a right-wing “think” tank claiming that the top 2% of incomes pay 42% of the taxes collected.

    So all we have to do is double the taxes of those most able to pay, and we can practically eliminate taxes for 98% of the population — the most productive people in the nation! Talk about a clear way forward!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rory-Houlihan/100000765448125 Rory Houlihan

      You mean that over paid lone cashier you see at the check out, or that over paid trash collector. How about the over paid teacher. You do realize FDR was a rich man and Roosevelt family sat on like 5 Companies boards at the time? Would that make him an insider? Maybe FDR knew the only folks that never are asked to sacrifice is the CEO, his Friends, and the Board of Directors? = Golfing Buddies? 463 Americans have more wealth then 150 million = wage suppression = King of the Hill Economics. Masses having money = WalMarts doing well = Mass Markets? Masses having money = No Mortgage melt downs?

      Just a thought?

  • Brett

    Ayn Rand’s resurgence: McCarthyism is back in a big way! Neo-Libertarianism is trotted out as the new savior, as well. Hacks writing novels, when they’d be better suited to writing diagnostic manuals and fringe-group manifestos, is also back in…this whole thing makes sense.

  • Kristin

    WILL EVERYONE PLEASE STOP FREAKING OUT OVER AYN RAND?

    http://reason.com/archives/2009/11/10/will-everyone-please-stop-frea

  • Bryan

    I recommend the following article to anyone interested in learning how Rand was a fervent admirer of a serial killer in 1928, using the killer’s personal statements and actions as a model for one of her own characters in a novel she was working on at the time: http://www.michaelprescott.net/hickman.htm

    Rand’s thinking is best summarized by the following brilliant quote by someone named “MT from Arlington,” in the response section to an online article I mentioned previously at the following website: http://www.slate.com/id/2233966/

    I wish I had written what this person wrote, because I think it is the most concise and to-the-point critique I have yet read of Rand’s views. Here it is:
    _____________________

    “Atlas Shrugged was dreadful. As literature, its subtitle could have been, ‘A Boring, Unrealistic, and Unsubtle Story of Convenient, Oversimplified Strawmen Assembled and Demolished by a Pseudo-Heroic Strawman.’ As philosophy, it dodged the serious questions that at least Nietzsche’s ‘Superman’ philosophy tried to confront.

    “The human condition is immensely complex — finding answers and deep insight in the shallow, ego-worshipping rantings of a third-rate ‘philosopher’ is simply retreat from and denial of the varied, multi-layered reality in front of one’s nose. If your basic view of the world is ‘my unhappiness is other people’s fault,’ you really are not advocating a daring, meritocratic idealism — you are hanging window-dressing on a juvenile, ‘these-fools-just-don’t-understand-me’ radical self-centeredness and hoping no one pops your solipsistic balloon.

    “Perhaps the way I should have worded her point of view is: ‘(because I blame other people for my unhappiness, I will take revenge in the following way) I will be responsible for my own happiness by taking actions I deem will be pleasing to me regardless of their negative or destructive consequences on others.’”

    -by “MT from Arlington,” at: http://www.slate.com/id/2233966/
    ______________________

    Well done, MT. I don’t think anyone has said it better in so few words.

    • Monashka. Mountain

      New Yorker ? or Harpers had a pretty good article recently about Ayn…. seemed terribly unhappy in her personal life, maybe drank too much of her own Kool Aid?

  • Kristin

    I’m a big Rand fan. (Not a “Randroid”, there is a difference.) As an artist, I find her views on aesthetics refreshing and validating. For over 20 years her work has inspired me. Do I think she’s 100% correct all of the time? Certainly not. Worshipping “sooty smoke stacks” and declaring women should not desire the Presidency is laughable in this day and age. But Capitalism is still the most moral and proper method of economics for a free and creative populace. I personally believe common-sense regulation is needed, because Rand envisioned a free-market Capitalism engineered by ethical Producers with strong integrity, and we are certainly in short supply of that.

    There’s a LOT of hyperventilating going on in this thread. It’s not surprising. Just mention the name Ayn Rand in polite public and women faint, men ball their fists, cats run behind couches. It’s a little…..much. Her rabid fans get defensive and start talking in Randroid language, and her rabid haters (who, for the most part, have not read much from her) pounce and start dredging up serial killer stories and posting quotes from pissed off college kids who didn’t like her books. Boring, Sidney, boring!!

    You have to remember…or I have to remind you…Ms. Rand escaped from Communist Russia to an America of that time that was at its epitome of greatness and still riding high on the romance of its industrialist and pioneer origins. We’re a very different place now. The great industrialists and creators that inspired Rand back then have been replaced with faceless govt. funded mega-corporations that pay off politicians, receive crazy tax breaks, and create…what? Steve Jobs…now that is a Capitalist. Gates too. But Goldman Sachs? GE? They are not capitalists, they are moochers. We are all resting on the laurels of our great past – the past Rand fell in love with – but we are a very different nation now. We would do well to re-fall in love with our own past as well, instead of becoming a nation filled with childhood obesity and mediocrities and corrupt CEO’s receiving golden parachutes and bypassing jail after their “too big to fail” operation helped to bring down our economy.

    So while Liberals lose their composure over Rand and fume about how terrible Capitalism is, remember, it is not Capitalism, it’s Corpocracy. And she did NOT like Conservatives. She called them “futile, impotent, and culturally, dead”. I would like to think she would absolutely despise the likes of Rush Limbaugh and the other loathsome pundits who are taking up her mantle.

    So, try not to get to crazy about Rand. Remember where she came from. And don’t blame her for all the idiots messing up the economy…her desired view of Capitalism is not at all what these Corporations are engaging in. Blame them. They could use some blaming, don’t you think??? I have my bones to pick about her, but I still love her work, and I think many of the disparaging things being said about her are ill-informed and fueled by emotion. Pick up a copy of The Ayn Rand Lexicon and read what she really thought.

    • Bryan

      It simply won’t do for you to dismiss strong criticisms of Rand as “hyperventilation,” as if you are the only calm and reasonable person in the room. Rand supporters typically seem to reject the criticism of those of us who find her ideas abhorrent as overblown and hate-filled, without bothering to answer the specific points on which we recoil. You find her work full of merit, her esthetics valuable and pleasing. Fine. But it won’t do for you to brush off her attitude toward William Edward Hickman, the serial killer who dismembered a 12 year-old girl, as an unimportant tidbit dredged up from the past. According to an online article by Michael Prescott, Rand was fond of the credo, “What is good for me is right,” which was attributed to Hickman. She said this phrase represented “The best and strongest expression of a real man’s psychology I have heard.” I would argue that anyone upholding such a notion as a fundamental value is nothing short of a sociopath.

      For you, Rand is a deep thinker. But neither she nor the Objectivist school of thought she promoted are listed in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, or the Oxford Companion to Philosophy. She wrote two best-selling novels. Two.

      One might argue that the hyperventilation regarding Rand comes from her supporters, who insist on elevating this very flawed woman into someone of great artistic and intellectual achievement. Critics are not the bunch of jaded college kids you blithely assume us to be.

      • Jackie

        Bryan, have you ever read anything by Ayn Rand, because if you had you would know that she firmly criticized the idea of hedonism, which is exactly what you described above. She specifically defined a difference between healthy pleasures and those that hurt others (such as gaining pleasure by committing murder).

        Furthermore, to discredit her simply because she “only” wrote 2 best-selling novels is silly. Harper Lee only had one but I doubt anyone would argue against “To Kill a Mockingbird “‘s timelessness and impact as a wonderful work of fiction.

        I think Kristen was just trying to explain that Rand is to be taken with a grain of salt, as with most philosophies. Yes, her philosophy is incredibly idealistic, overly simplistic, and in many ways impossible to apply to the real world, but it is so much more than that.

        • Bryan

          You characterize Rand’s philosophy as
          inapplicable to the real world, simple-minded, and idealistic, yet you say it is
          “so much more” than all of that.  Those
          criticisms seem to me to be quite damning. 
          What could you possibly say in praise of her ideas that would
          redeem them in our minds if you are already willing to concede so pointedly how
          inadequate they are as a guide to reality?   

    • Ian

      “Just mention the name Ayn Rand in polite public and women faint, men ball their fists, cats run behind couches.”

      That’s a nifty bit of hyperbole – which you gleaned from the cartoon you linked us to earlier. Here’s what’s more likely to happen if you were to mention Ayn Rand in front of ten random people: five won’t know who she is, three will laugh, one will have read one AS or TF and either liked it for what it was, and one will either a rabidly for or against O’ism.

      Here’s what it boils down to (and this is a simplification, but it works): O’ism and Marxism where both doomed from the start. Why? Because they’re both metanarratives built on flawed assumptions about human nature. They’re ideologies that ignore human complexity and pluralism.

      Rand did not advance philosophy much past Aristotle. The only thing that saved Marxism from being taught strictly in history departments is critical theory where its economic theories are ignored or adapted into other contexts. Rand will never be taught in either – her philosophy was outdated when it was written.

      Rand can be read as fiction or as a historical description of the time that she lived in – from her perspective. Which is one of many.

      Like the foundation of F.L.W.’s Fallingwater yielded to the reality of gravity, Rand’s philosophy yields to the reality that the world is much more complex than she conceived it.

      Sure, you can cherry pick from it, but why? Anything worth taking is and was already in the oeuvre of Western Philosophy.

      • Ian

        Sorry for the typos and brevity. I’m pecking this out on my iPhone.

      • Blbender

        hey, dont insult FLW by  comparing him with AR   He was a genius, despite personal flaws.  ANd Fallingwater is being reinforced and is beautiful, awe inspiring.

    • monashka.mountain

      Thank you, it isn’t capitalism…..Corpocracy is a great word.
      Bully for you. But all “liberals don’t lose their composure and fume about how terrible capitalism is….you just said it…”it’s not capitalism any more and hasn’t been for a while. When “discussing” lately with my R.Wing friends one of the first things I’m accused of is being anti-capitalism, commie or socialist. I don’t happen to be any of those….but disagreeing with right summons labels and usually ends discussion.

    • dolcevespa

      very well thought out reply.  I learned something…thank you.

  • Anonymous

    The weirdest thing about Rand is how many christians love her. The whole thesis of Atlas Shrugged is that the christian ethos leads to communism and economic collapse. It’s just bizarre to watch christians talk about her. She hated christianity with a passion, and christians love her.

    Rand’s accomplishment was to mythologize the market place as the all-knowing, ever-benevolent god of the good society. It’s traditional russian mysticism dressed up in the language of rational philosophy. If her policies were pursued in this country the US would look like a banana repulic in a generation, with 1% at the top running everything and the other 99% consigned to inscapable poverty and hopelessness. Thank God her program can never get too far in this country. Americans have too much sense to allow it.

    • Joy

      aren’t we already well on our way?
       

      • http://thewarmastersrevenge.blogspot.com GreatGunz

        we’re in an economically conservative era, but imo the republicans can only push so far… I hope. 

  • Anonymous

    The craziest part of her philosophy is this idea that businessmen seek freedom from the government. That’s total nonsense. What businessmen seek is to control the government and force it to serve their interests. That’s exactly what happened during the robber baron age, the golden age she wants to take us back to, and that’s what happened during the bail out.

    Watching these tea party guys get co-opted by businessmen is enough to make anyone cynical. All that rage against the bail out, and now they’re the most committed, fanatical foot soldiers of wall street. The bail out was a republican project that benefited big businessmen exclusively, and here these guys go making signs about how they hate the bail out and how they’re going to vote republican to make sure it never happens again. It’s truly laughable. These people are being used like tools.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

      Well said, but I submit that it is the middle class who is being ussed…no raped, by corporate interests in disguise: The Congress. 

      • http://thewarmastersrevenge.blogspot.com GreatGunz

        as long as people are willing to vote against their own economic self interest because they are socially conservative…. yes. I just wish that people would vote their economic self interest because the republicans would never win an election if that was all they were about.

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  • Mark S.

    I am inspired by your adherence to a philosopy and a world view that essentially hails from a work of fiction, not unlike the rambling, 1930′s pulp science fiction ideas that gave rise to Hubbard’s cult of Scientology. I would use the same “c” word to characterize “objectivism.”Given that we are basing movements on fictional rants, I think I will tryto start an anti-imperial movement based on the philosophies of Paul(Muad’dib) Atreides from “Dune.” Then again, there’s always “The Force” of Star Wars fame, but that seems more conducive to starting a religion rather than a socio-political epistemology.How about it? “Death to the Harkonnens!!”

  • seasidesue

    Ayn Rand was an anarchist. Her philosophy appeals to adolescents because their recent increase in strength and knowedge combined with a lack of experience with the world allows them to imagine that they do not need anyone else. In fact even the strongest among us has an interest in maintaining a system that enforces contracts, maintains public safety and brings us to early adulthood relatively intact. Mercy completely aside, there is no justice in winning a competition against someone who has been handicapped by lack of education or basic health care. We are all symbiots benefitting from a system that safeguards our rights; Refusing to acknowledge or repay the public gifts that make his freedoms possible defines Gault and his ilk as parasites, not the people they would trample in their rush to the trough.

  • Banjo Bill

    Hey, I am an anarchist, and most modern anarchists look to collectives and cooperatives as the building blocks of society. So don’t dump her ungrateful butt in my camp.

    • Mark

      Yes, that’s exactly what’s wrong with you leftist anarchists. You have a distaste for government, but are still in favor of the coercion that government imposes. You’re a walking contradiction.

      • Drscantor

        Unfortunately, you’ve bought into the common fallacy in right wing thinking that the left favors government coercion.  isn’t the right wing that gets upset at any criticism of the government’s power?  Like flag burning…or the rule of law…or supporting military intervention, and so on and so on…. 

  • Anonymous

    I can’t even bear to listen to this. We all read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and We The Living when we were 19. By the time we were 25 we remembered those books and laughed at the author’s naivete. What happened to Paul Ryan?

  • Bill

    Paul Ryan has a lot more in common with Wesley Mooch than John Galt.

  • Drscantor

    Ive never read Ms. Rand’s books- right wing, capitalism at all costs diatribes fail to appeal to me.  But i do know that it’s easy to be selfish and self centered and forget that interdependence is the rule of life and independence is an illusion.  We are extremely social and connected animals, born primates and turned into human beings with love patience and socialization.  To laud our primitive roots and instincts is to ignore how civilizations/societies emerge out of cooperative and collaborative efforts. 

  • http://police-state-watch.blogspot.com/ JTWilliams

    It’s clear that the liberals here lack any understanding of Ayn Rand’s underlying message- which is unsurprising, since the Democrats count on that ignorance! They rant against corporations and “special interests”, while being no better in standing up to them than the Republicans! Corporations are no more evil than individuals, it is big business, mixed with boundless government that we fear. If you hate profit for business, than you clearly hate prosperity for yourself! Say no to the proletariat, say yes to individual liberty!

  • Carpenter

    Ayn Rand was a outspoken Anti-Christian Atheist who’s Philosophy was used to create the Satanic Bible. Anton Levay said he just added a little bit of satanic ceremony to Ayn Randianism while writing the book.I find it beyond BIZARRRE that Republicans, and especially those so-called Christian Conservatives, would link arms with Libertarian Ayn Randian-ists who worship the the Holy Founding Fathers and the Holiness of the Holy Founding Documents!  I mean what an un-godly UN-HOLY alliance.  The Founders and the Constitution have become their Counterfeit GOD! So as much as I would like to vote against the Communist in the Whitehouse I believe that thee Obama is a divine PUNISHMENT for the Radical Libertarian Ayn Randianists who have stolen the Republican Party. They deserve to be OBAMunaited. 

    • Kirk

      Unwavering ideology is the badge fiscal and religious conservatives flash as proof that they are better Americans then the rest of us.  A belief in human-created visions of the perfect world are sometimes commendable. But like Republican fears of too much government, their ideology necessarily carries the same end – dominance to force others to see the world through their ideology. Whose freedom does that protect?  The cognitive dissonance Republicans concoct to justify their ideological vision of freedom to their lifestyles defies the laws of gravity and thus cannot be rationally explained. The scary part of all this is, Republican-followers are so far in the tall weeds of fear that they have lost the ability understand what they so fear – the loss of “freedom,” which is ironic. A life of fear is not a life of freedom.

  • Pheasantfriend

    This was a story book I read in the 70′s.  Serious reading with depth or particular insight-not really.  It was entertaining the same as in the early 50′s when I would race to the store to get the latest superman,batman
    and wonder woman comic books.  It had the same feeling.After you got done with the book,you’d think “that was a fun story”.  It took my mind off reality.

  • Blbender

    Isnt she totally discredited by now?  COme to think of it, arent the neocons?  Why do “thinkers” who screw up our economy and our foreign policy still get an audience from intelligent people?  It would be like asking Neville Chamberlin about how to deal with  a fascist dictator.

  • DP

    “If you are not a liberal before the age of 25, you have no heart.  If you are not a conservative after the age of 25 you have no brain”.

    Ayn simply painted a mental picture of the likely outcome of socialism if it is pursued to an extreme.  All societies have a balance of the pursuit of self-interest, and concern for the needy.  When either extreme vilifies the other, they become irrelevant to a constructive dialog.

    Paul Ryan is probably smart in relating the current situation to Rand’s work.  Our society is ham-stringing the most productive members in order to support the least productive.  This will eventually bankrupt our nation.  Success comes from creating a desire and reward for upward mobility, not destroying the possibility of achieving it.

    • http://tfgray.wordpress.com Tf Gray

      Um, if you think of the Bush Children’s Trust and the Koch Brothers as the “least productive,” then I guess your point makes sense. Since the onset of Reaganomics (formerly known as “Voodoo Economics”) the share of the nation’s wealth going to the top 1% has skyrocketed. The working class (those who actually do the producing, mind you) are being sucked dry.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CRXIKAY6U6NXVTMGC7UNOJOL3A Daniel

      If we lived in an economic form of meritocracy,  your ideals would be spot on …
      US capitalism is not a meritocracy …

  • Paul Barthle

    I want to base our Constitution on J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.  Oh, wait. Gene Roddenberry and “Star Trek” would probably be more appropriate.  The result would probably be better than a Libertarian  economy!

  • Corey

    When cancer threatened to wipe out the little bit of wealth Ayn Rand managed to put away for her old age she changed her name and applied for welfare benefits.

    Capitalism is Unconstitutional. Capitalism’s core ideology and only
    ideology is: Profits before people”. Money is more important than a
    human life. The is not following what Democratic Socialism proposes,
    which is; “We the People”.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CRXIKAY6U6NXVTMGC7UNOJOL3A Daniel

    When I was much younger during the mid 1980′s, I read nearly all of Ayn
    Rand’s essays, novels and even some of the Ayn Rand Letters available
    during this time period. I agreed with nearly everything she wrote;
    agreed with her Aristotle inspired form of objectivist philosophy,  and
    for many years I was a  libertarian style Republican … But much
    later, as I grew older,  I began to question a great deal of her
    philosophy on empirical grounds …

    One of her essays “Apollo and
    Dionysus” exemplifies some of the underlying conflicts I now find in
    her philosophy. In this essay, contrasts are made between the Apollo
    program and the Woodstock festival of 1969. In short, the Apollo 11 moon
    landing, which could only be achieved through the primacy of objective
    scientific thought and reason,  is contrasted against the mindless,
    emotionalism of the Woodstock rock festival and Vietnam war. The Apollo
    scientists and astronauts are depicted as heroes just as the rock
    festival at Woodstock is portrayed a mindless mob of collectivist ideals

    I agree with her judgement; but Ayn Rand has a problem here
    … The Apollo moon program was one of the largest governmental,
    civilian programs in history costing billions of tax-payer dollars, 
    while the Woodstock festival was effectively a free-market libertarian
    affair during which free, peaceably-minded individuals chose to behave
    in any manner they saw fit. Her criticism of Woodstock is warranted, in
    my mind, but this essay demonstrates how her deductive logic and
    customary hatred of government can conflict with her own carefully drawn
    conclusions about the real world …

    One is tempted to
    say…”Well she made one mistake…,” but if she can be inconsistent
    here, what other mistakes can she make ?  In my mind, she has made a
    great many inconsistent arguments, especially about the voluntary
    donation of taxes and the necessity of maintaining a military force to
    fight Soviet aggression and the spread of communism during the Cold
    War.  In an all-out fight against another world superpower, donations
    simply don’t cut it…   At times, it has seemed as if she wants to have
    her cake and eat it too …

    Fundamentally, I think my opinion of Ayn Rand has changed due to the following: To paraphrase Ayn
    Rand; within the context of  her novels (she) “…wrote about the world
    as it should and ought to be — not as it actually was.”  The problem
    is that her version of how the world “should and out to be”  can depart
    so far from empirically objective reality  (the real world)  that her extremely idealized and novelized version of the world can
    resemble a fairy tale, or worse, a comic book …  This is no longer
    objective reality …

    I still believe in her basic premise that
    all reality behaves in a fundamentally objective manner. I agree with
    much of Aristotelian philosophy and logic, but my opinion of Ayn Rand
    objectivism has changed over the years. I now find inconsistencies where
    I once saw logical and thoughtful arguments. I now find many of Ayn
    Rand’s conclusions not in agreement with empirical and objective
    reality. I find her idealized versions of humanity  (both good and
    evil)  to be caricatures of humanity and it’s truly complex nature. I
    have changed since I first read Ayn Rand and it has made me a more
    complex and a more thoughtful person …

    • dolcevespa

      The fact is that Rand didn’t take into account the complex nature of human beings and therefore all of her arguments are inconsistent. As human beings we can’t look at life objectively and live it at the same time.  Just my .02. 

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Some Tools And Tricks For College Financial Aid
Thursday, Apr 17, 2014

Some helpful links and tools for navigating FAFSA and other college financial aid tools.

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