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Austin Cline

Ayn Rand, Welfare Queen: Living High On Government Assistance?

By February 6, 2011

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The importance of Ayn Rand for modern conservatism would be difficult to overestimate. This has always been ironic given her staunch atheism, something that is completely at odds with almost everything in conservatism in America today. Less ironic is the recent revelation that Ayn Rand was a hypocrite: she secretly accepted government assistance instead of relying on the proceeds of all those books in which she decried government assistance.

A heavy smoker who refused to believe that smoking causes cancer brings to mind those today who are equally certain there is no such thing as global warming. Unfortunately, Miss Rand was a fatal victim of lung cancer.

However, it was revealed in the recent "Oral History of Ayn Rand" by Scott McConnell (founder of the media department at the Ayn Rand Institute) that in the end Ayn was a vip-dipper as well. An interview with Evva Pryror, a social worker and consultant to Miss Rand's law firm of Ernst, Cane, Gitlin and Winick verified that on Miss Rand's behalf she secured Rand's Social Security and Medicare payments which Ayn received under the name of Ann O'Connor (husband Frank O'Connor).

As Pryor said, "Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out" without the aid of these two government programs. Ayn took the bail out even though Ayn "despised government interference and felt that people should and could live independently... She didn't feel that an individual should take help."

But alas she did and said it was wrong for everyone else to do so. Apart from the strong implication that those who take the help are morally weak, it is also a philosophic point that such help dulls the will to work, to save and government assistance is said to dull the entrepreneurial spirit.

In the end, Miss Rand was a hypocrite but she could never be faulted for failing to act in her own self-interest.

Source: The Huffington Post

She only got lung cancer because of her stupid, pig-headed denial that her smoking caused cancer in the first place. It would have been one thing if she had at least admitted that she knew the risks and wanted to do it anyway because she enjoyed smoking. Instead she lived in denial -- perhaps in order to avoid accepting any moral responsibility for getting the disease that killed her. Waiting, isn't accepting full responsibility for one's choices one of the principle of her philosophy?

This would be consistent with not accepting moral responsibility for refusing to live up to the principles which she demanded that everyone else live by. Randian apologists have argued that there is no hypocrisy in taking back the money one once had to give up in taxation -- and up to a point, they have something like an argument. Unfortunately what little they have quickly falls apart.

First, if her accepting government assistance really was principled and completely consistent with her philosophy, why was it apparently concealed? It should have been well known already as a demonstration that despite having money "stolen" in taxes, she was still able to get it back in the end. Why apply for the assistance under a name that would keep the information quiet?

Even more significant is the fact that a person suffering from lung cancer will likely take far more from the system than they paid into it. The surgery she underwent alone may have used up all that she paid into it, and that doesn't include whatever her husband took out of the system. If she had carefully calculated what she had paid in plus interest and took only that, no more, then one could argue that she stuck to her principles. We have no evidence that this occurred, however, and strong reasons to think that it did not.

In her own words, then, wasn't she little more than a parasite on society, stealing the fruits of others' labor instead of using her own resources and accepting the consequences of her own bad choices in life? Then again, the movement she spawned doesn't seem to be any different. The Tea Baggers all complain about "government health care" for others even as they happily draw on Medicare and Social Security to keep themselves alive, comfortable, and privileged.

Ayn Rand's philosophy is not one that any sane, rational adult can live by consistently any more than it's a philosophy that any successful, prosperous society could adopt. Ayn Rand wasn't insane so as soon as it was plain what her real choices were she chose to path of government support and abandoned her own failed philosophy. She just didn't have the courage to admit how much of a failure her philosophy was before she died.

There is another interesting parallel to be drawn from this: Ayn Rand's behavior tracks disturbing well with the behavior of so many religious leaders. How many of them preach one thing from the pulpit then do something else behind closed doors? How many priests inveigh against homosexuality before their congregation while their male lovers wait for them in some motel room? How many priests promote the virtues of abstinence and chastity just after molesting an altar boy? How many preach the gospel of Jesus then at the end of a hard day drive their luxury car to their multi-million dollar mansion?

Comments
February 6, 2011 at 6:53 pm
(1) Victoria says:

I wonder how many Republicans who pooh-pooh general assitance of any kind, or Rep./Dem who are wealthy still collect SSI and Medicare when they are 65. They probably do. They feel they desearve it.

February 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm
(2) Henry Solomon says:

In defense of Ayn Rand, fortunately, her writings are available for those who are interested enough to read them. Her position on public welfare is stated in her article “The question of Scholarships,” published in The Objectivist, June 1966.

“Since there is no such thing as the right of some men to vote away the rights of others, and no such thing as the right of the government to seize the property of some men for the unearned benefit of others–the advocates and supporters of the welfare state are morally guilty of robbing their opponents, and the fact that the robbery is legalized makes it morally worse, not better. The victims do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters profit doubly, by letting them distribute the money exclusively to the parasites who clamored for it. Whenever the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution, the victims should take it.”

February 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm
(3) Austin Cline says:

In defense of Ayn Rand…

I’m sure you saw that this “defense” was already addressed above.

March 17, 2011 at 6:27 am
(4) Alistair Stewart says:

Not really. It says that if the system is there anyway, even if you don’t agree with it, might as well take advantage of it. That seems reasonable to me.

The fact is though that she did ended up being a parasite through her smoking. She could have avoided it entirely, yet didn’t. I do feel she is “morally guilty of robbing her opponents”, and therefore is a hypocrite.

May 14, 2011 at 9:32 pm
(5) Fred Sparks says:

“by letting them distribute the money exclusively to the parasites who clamored for it.” Parasites?

What does that make her?

There is no justifying or rationalizing her views- they are anti-christ by definition. She just took Nietzsche to the next level. And she was a master liar. Example:

“Since there is no such thing as the right of some men to vote away the rights of others”…Hold up a second, that’s true!…but let’s keep going…

“and no such thing as the right of the government to seize the property of some men for the unearned benefit of others” Now that’s a lie! Your money is property in trade to pay taxes, your share. Everything henceforth in the logic is a lie. As was her life’s work.

May 16, 2011 at 8:20 pm
(6) Dangerclose says:

Wait, wut?

So by paying taxes for public use items such as roads, utilities, the common defense, you somehow thinks this makes it ok for the govt. to steal from the Citizenry under the color of law and give away the money earned by the working to the lazy who don’t work?

You sir, are an idiot.

It’s a shame that you still get to vote.

February 8, 2011 at 3:29 pm
(7) Dean says:

I’m not seeing how it was addressed. Rand didn’t fault people who needed assistance from taking what was available. Her ire was directed at those who set up the system, not those who turned to it when they were in need.

I can still see the hypocrisy charge sticking, I’m just not seeing how your article addresses her stated position on taking public assistance. She seems to have been ashamed of doing so herself, but lots of people are.

February 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm
(8) Austin Cline says:

I’m not seeing how it was addressed.

It starts with “First, if her accepting government assistance really was principled and completely consistent with her philosophy, why was it apparently concealed? ”

Especially important is the part beginning with “Even more significant is the fact that a person suffering from lung cancer will likely take far more from the system than they paid into it.” We can reasonably conclude that she and her husband did not merely take a “small restitution,” but rather took out far more than what they paid in. In her philosophy, she accepted money taken by force from others, making her complicit in theft.

Rand didn’t fault people who needed assistance from taking what was available.

Yes, she did. In your own quote she labels people “parasites” who ask for public assistance. That’s not the people who set up the system; the people who set up the system are the ones responding to the requests from the “parasites.”

I can still see the hypocrisy charge sticking, I’m just not seeing how your article addresses her stated position on taking public assistance. She seems to have been ashamed of doing so herself, but lots of people are.

She should be, since in her own words she qualified as the sort of “parasite” she otherwise attacked.

February 9, 2011 at 3:28 pm
(9) Dean says:

Henry Solomon produced the quote, but since it is handy:

“The victims do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters profit doubly, by letting them distribute the money exclusively to the parasites who clamored for it. Whenever the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution, the victims should take it.”

Rand is clearly making a distinction between people in need of assistance who didn’t ask for welfare to be institutionalized and the people who ‘clamored’ for it. For her to be the parasite she was referring to in the quote, she would have had to have advocated for welfare. Instead, she found herself in the position of ‘victim’ she refers to in the quote, someone who didn’t ask for the system but without moral obligation to refrain from using it once it exists.

As I said, I can see a case for hypocrisy based on her words and actions, but I don’t see where she indicted herself…she did what she advised others to do in the same situation.

February 10, 2011 at 3:43 pm
(10) Dean says:

Thanks, Austin, I see where you’re taking your point from now. I didn’t take ‘small restitution’ literally, I suspect Rand considered whatever someone got back from the system after many years of work and paying taxes to be ‘small restitution’, but that’s just my opinion, and at least I see where we are diverging.

I imagine she hid it because she figured most people would pounce on it as hypocrisy despite her caveat about accepting public assistance. She was right about that, which doesn’t mean she wasn’t a hypocrite for not choosing to die in her apartment without medical attention, despite her ‘escape clause’; and possibly also a hypocrite for hiding it. On the other hand, I doubt I’ll be in the mood to deal with my critics when I’m dying either.

February 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm
(11) Andrew Ryan says:

I am Andrew Ryan, and I’d like to ask you a question. Is a welfare queen not entitle to the sweat of your own brow?

February 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm
(12) Peter says:

She was a liar from the start and hoodwinked those never checking their history. She said she fled Russia in 1919 0r 1920 because of the Communist plan to begin collectivisation of farms, etc. Stain introduced that policy in the 5 Year Plan in 1928. If an initial lie how many more?

February 19, 2011 at 11:58 pm
(13) David Nieporent says:

Then why did she hide it? Why not proudly proclaim that she got back “restitution”?

Who said that she “hid it”? In what way did she “hide” it? (Hint: regardless of what name she applied under — and why wouldn’t she apply under her married name rather than her pen name? — it would not be a matter of public record.) Did you expect her to issue a press release? Why would she?

Except that she didn’t take some small restitution. That only applies if you take back less than was taken from you. She did the opposite.

You have no actual evidence of this. Just speculation.

February 20, 2011 at 8:45 am
(14) Austin Cline says:

Did you expect her to issue a press release? Why would she?

Because she’s taking back something that was stolen from her. It’s something to be proud of if one actually believes the philosophy in question.

You have no actual evidence of this. Just speculation.

It’s a far more reasonable conclusion that the opposite, which is that her operation and treatments and all the other assistance cost less than all the taxes she paid. Cancer is very expensive and operations are very expensive. That’s a great deal stronger of a position than mere “speculation” and you can’t offer an iota of evidence or argument against it.

May 2, 2011 at 5:29 pm
(15) jordan c. says:

It’s hilarious how you engage in petty semantics when it’s in defense of someone or some idealogy you agree with. At least TRY to be objective when you make an argument or it comes off like Rush Limbaugh….which, by the way, is NOT good, regardless of what you might think.

February 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm
(16) redharbinger says:

It would not have mattered if she took government assistance or if she was a billionaire. Her philosophy is still wrong. She made several intellectual mistakes throughout her career (like her nemesis Karl Marx).

Her followers always try to hit the “reset button” on capitalism. Thus the Great Depression is blamed on the New Deal even though it began well before FDR’s term and such government organizations like the Civilian Conservation Corps and Rural Electrification provided temporary jobs and pushed forward scientific discoveries and improved farming. Conservatism is a philosophy based on amnesia. If conservatism in the form of religious edicts and capitalist royalism worked their never would have been any alternatives thought up.

America is going bankrupt from imperialist wars (fought on behalf of capitalist enterprises). You can’t balance the budget and fight a war at the same time. It is something that history has proven over and over (like the failure of conservative ideologies).

March 21, 2011 at 11:35 am
(17) Ben says:

unbridled free market economy in today’s ailing economy and broken family structure will leave most people homeless and in dire straits. after all, it didn’t help out the queen of capitalism herself now did it. ayn rand and her tough talk on taking no government hand outs spent the last years of her life leaching off the government. so typical of a kosher hypocrite such as herself.

April 4, 2011 at 11:46 am
(18) Anconia says:

You are missing a very important point. Ayn Rand said that it was wrong for a government to TAKE in the first place. She does not fault the people who GET from the government.

She said that the problems arise when the government (the looters) take by force from those who produce.

This is VERY different from being a hypocrite.
Also, all of the quotes attributed post mortem… why do you belive them? only because they fit your political agenda?
…I mean it was only yesterday that Obama’s social worker told me that he said, when he was a student at Harvard, that the illuminati had arranged for him to become president of the USA in 2008, and that they would arrange a marriage with Michelle…
are you gonna go and quote that kind of garbage too?

April 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm
(19) Austin Cline says:

She does not fault the people who GET from the government.

Yes, she does.

April 19, 2011 at 8:13 pm
(20) bobnoir says:

Ayn Rand did not die from lung cancer. She died from heart failure. She was successfully treated for lung cancer. Quote,
Rand was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1974, but she underwent surgery, which she reported to be “a complete success.” She also stopped smoking at this time. There is no evidence that she experienced any recurrence of the cancer or that it was directly involved in her death, which did not come until 1982.
So there!

April 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm
(21) Matthew says:

This article rests on very flawed arguments and inaccuracies. It fails to recognize that Ayn Rand, as a tax payer, payed into the social security and medicare systems, so why should she not benefit from them? She might have condemned the nanny state, but she paid into the system–it’s only logical she would try to recoup her wealth. Also, the article takes great leaps to take side swipes at religious people and global warming critics–this is a gratuitous effort to appeal to lefties because the writer’s arguments can’t rest on its own merits. Additionally, the article claims how difficult it would be to underestimate Rand’s influence on Conservatism. Again, this is evidence of the writer’s ignorance. Just look at William F. Buckley’s and Whitaker Chambers’s strong rejection of Rand’s views. Again, this article rests on very, very weak and inaccurate arguments.

April 22, 2011 at 11:00 am
(22) Austin Cline says:

This article rests on very flawed arguments and inaccuracies.

Then why can’t you name one?

It fails to recognize that Ayn Rand, as a tax payer, payed into the social security and medicare systems, so why should she not benefit from them?

Two responses were given to exactly this argument. So why didn’t you address either of them?

Also, the article takes great leaps to take side swipes at religious people and global warming critics

When people show a consistent pattern of denial of science, it’s reasonable to point this out.

Additionally, the article claims how difficult it would be to underestimate Rand’s influence on Conservatism. Again, this is evidence of the writer’s ignorance. Just look at William F. Buckley’s and Whitaker Chambers’s strong rejection of Rand’s views.

The fact that not all conservatives who have ever lived have agreed with Rand isn’t a counter-argument to the idea that she is influential. To gauge the her influence, we can look at how often she is explicitly cited and how popular her specific ideas are. Do you really want to go there? Do you really want to look seriously at the two?

Again, this article rests on very, very weak and inaccurate arguments.

Then name one.

April 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm
(23) Ray says:

As a very staunch atheist, and a long time reader and fan of your website, I have to say that I am extremely disappointed in this article. I am a libertarian and I detest socialism almost much as I do religion, why would you use your page on atheism as a platform for something political that is entirely unrelated? Ayn Rand would have never supported the Tea Party and I resent your ignorant and incorrect attacks on her legacy.

April 24, 2011 at 7:56 am
(24) Austin Cline says:

Ayn Rand would have never supported the Tea Party and I resent your ignorant and incorrect attacks on her legacy.

Yet you are unable to identify any actual errors in the article.

April 28, 2011 at 9:27 am
(25) jellolover says:

Now, correct me if I’m wrong…but the whole “Surgeon General has determined that Cigarette Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health” thing started in the 60′s.

Ms. Rand probably started smoking in the 1930′s or earlier.

Saying: “She only got lung cancer because of her stupid, pig-headed denial that her smoking caused cancer in the first place” is presumptive in the extreme.

By the time those studies and warnings came out, the damage for a lot of folks had been done.

April 29, 2011 at 3:14 pm
(26) George says:

Considering the first use of “Coffin Nails” for cigarettes was in 1888 you’d think any and all smokers would have known that they probably weren’t good for you. It would be interesting to find if anyone had done studies on smoking pre mid century for instance.

Also Rand’s incidence of smoking, cancer and other vascular events could be argued to have had long term effects on her cardio health even though she’d quit smoking 8 years before.

June 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm
(27) jan says:

Lets summarize the points mentioned above.
1)
Ayn Rand advocated laissez fare capitalism, therefore, she was against institutionalized welfare system.
2)
But the institutionalized welfare system is a reality. It is not voluntary system, one has to pay the taxes.
3)
Because of these facts mentioned above, I understand that getting something back of the system is a form of restitution.
4)
She was a heavy smoker and she refused to accept the risk that it can lead to lung cancer.
5)
Ayn rand received healthcare from the institutionalized system.
6)
Some people argue, that her contribution to the system were much less that she has received from the system.
7)
She received the healthcare under her family name.
8)
Some people conclude that because she was against any form of institutionalized welfare system and healthcare in particular yet she received it under family name, not her own, she is a hypocrite.

My question and comment:
A) Question:
Lets assume that her contribution to the system were far more than she received. What difference would it make? In this case, would it make her philosophy acceptable to here opponents?
B) Comment:
In such an institutionalized welfare system there is no way how to do the profit/loss balance. It is very hard just to imagine, what else Ayn Rand could do with her money. She could have invested them and be better of than what she has received from the medicare system. There is no way how to do a comparison other than through imagination. … but the task to concretise it properly whould take an other novel, not a comment.

June 5, 2011 at 1:15 pm
(28) Austin Cline says:

Because of these facts mentioned above, I understand that getting something back of the system is a form of restitution.

Then why not publicize it? If it’s reasonable and laudable, there’s no reason to hide it.

Lets assume that her contribution to the system were far more than she received. What difference would it make? In this case, would it make her philosophy acceptable to here opponents?

It would mean that she wasn’t a hypocrite. It would mean that she didn’t cheat on her own philosophy when it served her interests.

In such an institutionalized welfare system there is no way how to do the profit/loss balance.

Oh? Why not? I don’t see how hard it is to calculate taxes paid and then the rough cost of medical care.

Your points are all addressed in the article. Sometimes in detail. So why not address what was written directly instead of bringing them up as if they were somehow new ideas? It suggests you didn’t really read the article, never mind the times this points were discussed in comments already.

June 6, 2011 at 2:33 am
(29) songitecht says:

With all due respect, I think the fundamental error in this article is your assumption that Rand’s mention of the “parasites” who “clamored for” welfare institutions refers to taxpayers who benefit from the system they’ve payed into. I’ve read all of her work, and it’s clear within context that the “parasites” she was so disgusted by were the wealthy, powerful people who seek to influence government policy for their own direct benefit (and the politicians whose careers benefit by it). My point being that your main premise is an assumption, not an established fact. I’m not asking you to critique my critique; I’m asking you to establish your principal assumption as fact.

June 6, 2011 at 2:39 am
(30) songitecht says:

Also: As adult human beings on planet Earth, can we not at least agree that the headline you chose is an embarrassing piece of propagandist drivel? “Welfare Queen”?? “Living High on Government Assistance”?? She made a living in her profession, payed into the Social Security system, then made use of that investment when she developed cancer. You should expect yourself to be above that kind of tragedy-mining, opportunistic, cheap attack.

June 11, 2011 at 9:34 pm
(31) RicH says:

Ayn rand sold millions of books -she probably
put in more than she got…. and then besides her
money recieved by medicare she still payed for her
food and rent from her earned money … which is not
what welfare queens do (they take all their money from government get extra funds by deliberately
getting pregnant use food stamps or cards).
she definately had self esteem to only use her own money for food. and after her death had enough money
to set up the ayn rand institute .Making capitalism
important rather than gurus (including the technical
guru who runs a large corperation) is helping atheism.

July 8, 2011 at 5:50 pm
(32) FK says:

Sometimes an idea can become much bigger than the individual themselves to follow. It depends on your worldview. Yes many who make claims of something fall sorely short of what the claim is. Ideas are powerful and even if the one who speaks it and gives it life falls short that does not mean the idea is very well bad, it just simply means the person found it much more than they can handle. How many of us who say we would never steal anything at all but find ourselves in a terrible way make the choice to steal to survive? Even the strongest and most idealist man or woman could find themselves weak for only a moment and give in to some tempation. It is the way of the human condition. We can judge from our chair those with high ideals when we discover they had “feet of clay.”

Can you truly say that you would never do wrong if the circumstances occurred to put you on the spot? Yes the idealist Ayn Rand failed. Her failure only details her flaws. The idea she presents in “Atlas shrugged” is a very important and valid one. Man can achieve inspite of what a group, such as a government, tells them otherwise. Her words inspire inspite of her human shortcomings.

When any leadership in government seeks to control the actions of the population by any means at its fingertips, that is leadership out of control. They use the law as its weapon because most people will follow the law, until the law cannot be followed anymore.

July 8, 2011 at 9:51 pm
(33) Austin Cline says:

Can you truly say that you would never do wrong if the circumstances occurred to put you on the spot?

So, you admit that she did wrong and disagree with all those apologists who are insisting that she did nothing wrong?

The idea she presents in “Atlas shrugged” is a very important and valid one.

OK, prove it.

When any leadership in government seeks to control the actions of the population by any means at its fingertips, that is leadership out of control.

So, when speed limits are set for any road, the government is out of control. When the government outlaws pedophilia, it’s out of control. When the government outlaws murder, it’s out of control.

No wonder people fail to live up to your system — it’s ridiculous.

They use the law as its weapon because most people will follow the law, until the law cannot be followed anymore.

And people will follow the law of gravity, until gravity does not work anymore. Tautologies are so much fun, but also so superficial. Maybe that’s why they are the foundation of Objectivism – they are meaningless to everyone who’s moved beyond first semester philosophy.

July 28, 2011 at 8:58 am
(34) joshtheobjectivist says:

I can see how this looks extremely bad for Ayn Rand. But come on guys, it was lung cancer. She paid federal taxes, she paid social security, as we are all forced to. Even though she hated the system, she was forced into it, as well as forced to use it to save her life. I am against social security in general, but I do pay into it, and in doing so I will use it if neccesary. When Ayn was a child she had the same beliefs, but still had to stand in Russian food lines or starve. And one more thing, nobody is absolutely perfect in the execution of their ideals. I believe Ayn Rand was a women of integrity, and I think all you naysayers are being a little unfair.

July 28, 2011 at 9:32 pm
(35) Austin Cline says:

I can see how this looks extremely bad for Ayn Rand. But come on guys, it was lung cancer.

So, she was a sick parasite.

She paid federal taxes, she paid social security, as we are all forced to.

That justifies taking back out of the system what she paid into it – but no more. Taking more made her a parasite.

I am against social security in general, but I do pay into it, and in doing so I will use it if neccesary.

And will you refuse to take out any more than what you put in? If so, then you’re consistent and actually live up to the ideals you espouse. If not, then you’re a hypocrite and – according to Objectivist philosophy – also a parasite.

August 19, 2011 at 3:06 am
(36) Juan Fucking Iota says:

I read every single comment, and every one of your replies here, and its quite plain to me that the only parasite here is yourself. I surely hope you dont introduce yourself in social circles as a “journalist” because my slimy friend, you are not. How in the f**k did you get a job writing, unless it’s just as a shill for hardcore left wing agenda propagandists? Best of luck creating your “utopia”.

August 19, 2011 at 3:00 am
(37) Juan Fucking Iota says:

The depths of ignorance and plain un-truth in this article is massive, and isnt even worth the time it would take to re-educate & embarrass you with facts. I assure you probably wouldnt know a fact if it slapped you in the forehead. Using your webpresence to manipulate words to further your agenda is just about the scummiest thing any human could do on the internet in this day and age. How ironic that you want to smear her as being greedy and selfish….. I thought this was a website about atheism? roflmao

August 19, 2011 at 5:27 am
(38) Austin Cline says:

The depths of ignorance and plain un-truth in this article is massive, and isnt even worth the time it would take to re-educate & embarrass you with facts.

So it’s worth your time to make accusations, but not worth your time to substantiate those accusations? That sounds rational and moral.

I read every single comment, and every one of your replies here, and its quite plain to me that the only parasite here is yourself.

More accusations lacking substance. Is this something you learned reading Rand?

August 24, 2011 at 11:46 pm
(39) Carl Smith says:

You sure do speak in a condescending manner, for someone so against Rand’s point of view, i would’ve imagined the opposite.

Okay, so to begin with, where do you base your assumption of her taking in more than she put in? I mean, if I’m not mistaken, tax brackets are significantly higher for the wealthy than they are for other classes; she had two best selling novels along with other works of at least moderate sales plus her screen plays and interviews. With that in mind, it is reasonable to believe that she put in quite a great amount to the system.

In regards to “if her accepting government assistance really was principled and completely consistent with her philosophy, why was it apparently concealed”, how do you figure it was concealed? Because she didn’t use her pen name? I will go ahead and assume that you do not understand the concept of a pen name to an author based off of your statement. It is a name used when publishing books, not on legal documents, hence the usage of her actual name. There is a difference between not publicizing it and hiding it; do you publicize your daily activities to everyone one who reads your posts? I’d have to imagine otherwise.

Furthermore, i may be incorrect, but from my examination of all of her works and interviews, that the highest moral priority of her view, Objectivism, was betterment of the self, your own needs among all others, or selfishness, while not inhibiting, interfering, or prohibiting the rights of others . A parasite would be those who contribute little and demand much at the expenses of others; i.e, the middle and lower class wishing to tax the higher class due to obvious factors of jealousy and groomed animosity. By no definition was Rand a parasite.

Please don’t associate the Tea Party with Ayn Rand, she was more intelligent than that horribly despicable party. Common misconception that they follow her views; they clearly do not, as their interference with individual rights makes so evident.

August 24, 2011 at 11:46 pm
(40) Carl Smith says:

In your replies, you seem to ask for the errors to be pointed out in your article, aside from the ones i already listed: Ayn Rand died of heart failure, not lung cancer. You say Rand is a hypocrite, though you fail to prove it, only base your article on your own assumptions. Considering that she had both lung cancer and a corrective surgery, I’m assuming she accepted the responsibility for her actions, but hey, who knows. You say her philosophy was a failure, and that she refused to accept that it was a failure; by definition, it is impossible for a philosophy to be a failure due to it being a point of view making your statement incorrect.

So yea, I’m looking forward to a rebuttal, preferably a competent one; nice try, but i feel your article was poorly formulated, distasteful, unjustly arrogant, and all around a bad idea. I don’t understand why you harbor so much resentment of her, she was one of the greatest authors of all time, my personal favorite, a damn good economist, and in my opinion, genius. I don’t find her philosophy as hard to live by as you seem to.

January 4, 2012 at 8:22 pm
(41) Jess says:

You guys are hysterical. The worship of the woman is amazing. She has become a god to those who say they are godless!! LOLOLOL there is no example of the society goddess Ayn Rand talked about except in her mind oh or Somalia
Thanks for the laugh

January 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm
(42) Carl says:

her philosophy neither failed nor succeeded on the wings of one eagle … to claim “She just didn’t have the courage to admit how much of a failure her philosophy was before she died.” is just ignorant. She was, in this case, a hypocryte — that in itself does not make her ideas wrong any more than her living by her words would make them right.

January 15, 2012 at 11:42 pm
(43) Tim Lister says:

Moral absolutism based on incomplete or incorrect data seems to be the problem with most political philosophies. I think it would be helpful to strip away all the meaningless ideology and figure out a basic common goal. From there if we could take human nature into account while accessing the most scientific method of reaching that goal maybe we could finally get somewhere. But this would require people to give up firmly held beliefs and approach problem solving in a rational way which doesn’t seem too likely to happen in the near future. Maybe in the meantime technology will advance sufficiently to completely address everyone’s basic needs. That will go a long way towards giving us the breathing room to develop a truly workable and universal philosophy.

January 16, 2012 at 7:57 am
(44) Mike says:

Let’s get this straight: Liberals that recommend money be forced from people at the point of a gun think that those same people from whom the money was confiscated have no moral authority to recover at least a small portion of it? These same liberals demand that all confiscated funds be limited in their disbursement to those that recommend the confiscation in the first place. Why is that not theft? Don’t think “taxes” are collected at the point of a gun?? Try refusing long enough, try resisting the “authorities” strongly enough and you will be shot dead by some drone Sheriff’s deputy or Treasury agent. Unless you are stupid enough to believe the evil Harry Reid’s statement that our tax system is “voluntary”.

January 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm
(45) Austin Cline says:

Let’s get this straight

Nope, you don’t have it straight – which is pretty amazing, actually, given how it was made clear more than once already. How’d you miss it?

Liberals that recommend money be forced from people at the point of a gun think that those same people from whom the money was confiscated have no moral authority to recover at least a small portion of it?

No, morally competent adults recommend that others not be hypocrites.

Don’t think “taxes” are collected at the point of a gun??

Of course they are. If you won’t contribute what’s necessary to pay for the society you benefit so much from, you loose freedom in that society.

Don’t like taxes? Move to Somalia.

February 5, 2012 at 7:22 pm
(46) Judy Weismonger says:

It was her money…Ayn Rand was forced to pay into the government Social Security system her entire life and she paid plenty. Now the Left Wing Twits want to keep her money and steal it to give to PARASITES? What? When did Ayn Rand’s money, or your money paid into SS, become the Government’s money? Huh? SS is not welfare…unless you have never paid into the system. Rand paid and paid and paid as do everyone who works…now why would she not want to get some of her OWN money back? Duh? Why is the Left so stupid?

February 7, 2012 at 5:35 am
(47) Austin Cline says:

It was her money…

All of it? Are you sure? This is an issue that was already addressed in detail above. Either you don’t know because you didn’t read the article before commenting, or you do know but decided to write a comment that completely ignores what’s already been said.

Neither says very much about your reasoning skills.

February 9, 2012 at 7:26 pm
(48) max says:

Actually, Rand probably did not ever collect back all the money that was taken from her in taxation. She became successful in the 1940s, and her books were made into Hollywood films. I would like to see an accounting of her expenses, but it seems quite plausible that the hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars that she burned up in medical expenses through public assistance in the 19700s did not equal all the money she paid out in the form of taxations that she opposed throughout her life. After all, 30 years is a long time. The Gov’t takes an awful lot of money out a millionaire’s pocket over 30 years.

February 10, 2012 at 6:18 pm
(49) Austin Cline says:

did not equal all the money she paid out in the form of taxations that she opposed throughout her life.

Really? Why do you think she paid millions in social security and medicare taxes?

February 13, 2012 at 10:05 am
(50) tebra says:

This arguement is revolving and through its revolutions in the comments on this page, is she a hypocrit is she not? on and on, fails to address an important aspect of Ayn Rands thinking. Because the arguments here are based on the idea that Rand is a “victim” of a system already in place wemust look at what type of system she thinks would exist if this system did not. OK. Taxes only for roads, bridges and national defence, (anything else i left out?). Then that leaves public health and welfare out. So what happens to people? oF COURSE MAN Y DIE. iS THIS WHAT lIBERTATRIANS AND aYN rAND CONSERVATIVES WANT? sORRY CAPSLOCK..fixed it. Is that a world that you would want? A nation that allows its people to die from starvation, malnutrition, diseases, childbirth? is that what we would want our nation to be like? With modern technology, it is reasonable to use tax dollars for the public health and welfare. Remember the story of the epidemic of cholera in England? And it came fom one well. A scientist figured that out. Then London began a program of pulic health with the water wells. It paid off and no more cholera deaths. Do you think that they should have done nothing? Do you think that poor people should die? If you do how far are you willing to take the idea of people as “parasites” on society? Should we eradicate the parasites. How like nazi germany did? Oh well have fun “Libertarians” not a very libertated world you imagine, it is one of horrors worse than you can imagine. Daydream on, but not while driving a large co2 producing SUV on the way to get your flu shot while stopping at ’1000 cows per burger’ Mickey D’s. Oh that poor mom next to you in CVS using a medicaid card for her flu shot? Scum just run her over.

February 21, 2012 at 4:10 am
(51) The Mikeness says:

Everything being said here is irrelevant. The moment the author of this article and of the Huffington Post article it references, invoked the logical fallacy of “Appeal to hypocrisy”, the entire intent of this article failed. Say what you will about Ayn Rand, but the validity of objectivism is completely independent of any actions she may or may not have taken.

Please, only continue arguing here about this article if you have no idea what a logical fallacy is, for the rest of us however, there’s nothing of value to see here.

February 21, 2012 at 6:13 am
(52) Austin Cline says:

Please, only continue arguing here about this article if you have no idea what a logical fallacy is, for the rest of us however, there’s nothing of value to see here.

Those of us who actually know something about logical fallacies also know that there are both legitimate and illegitimate uses of tu quoque.

Say what you will about Ayn Rand, but the validity of objectivism is completely independent of any actions she may or may not have taken.

No conclusions about the validity of Objectivism are asserted on the basis of her personal hypocrisy.

March 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm
(53) Cedric Katesby says:

Excellent article.
Ayn Rand’s supporters clearly lack reading comprehension skills.
We have enough selfishness in the world without making it into a virtue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7c-Ei7btbI

April 10, 2012 at 2:58 am
(54) Starchild says:

It seems to me there is another possibility here which may have been overlooked.

If Ayn Rand knew that she herself would continue to oppose government welfare/wealth redistribution programs like Social Security and Medicare regardless of whether she accepted benefits from them or not, she might have decided that it was better for her to receive those benefits than for them to possibly instead go to someone who might be corrupted by receiving them (i.e. might come to support the programs as a result of having benefited from them).

I have thought about this ethical issue myself, because it applies to my own situation. I live in a rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco despite being an adamant opponent of rent control, but I will never stop politically opposing this failed government program even though it has helped me personally, because I know the personal benefits that some including myself have gotten from it do not outweigh the harm it has caused others by making housing less affordable and available overall.

Even assuming that no one else would have received whatever money Ayn Rand got from Social Security or Medicare if she had declined to take it, it makes practical sense if you oppose a program like Social Security to take whatever benefits it makes available to you so that its inevitable bankruptcy will come a little sooner than it might otherwise, thereby hastening the end of its negative effects on society. But only if you are strong enough in your commitment to principle that you will continue to oppose the program(s) in question and vote against them at every opportunity.

April 12, 2012 at 5:10 am
(55) Austin Cline says:

If Ayn Rand knew that she herself would continue to oppose government welfare/wealth redistribution programs like Social Security and Medicare regardless of whether she accepted benefits from them or not, she might have decided that it was better for her to receive those benefits than for them to possibly instead go to someone who might be corrupted by receiving them

That’s pretty arrogant. It’s a lot like a person saying “porn is corrupting, but I’m capable of handling it so it’s OK if I view it – but others have to be stopped because they aren’t as strong or pure as I am.”

That doesn’t make Rand look better; it makes her look far, far worse.

I have thought about this ethical issue myself, because it applies to my own situation.

You mean, you’re in a situation where you have to choose between something that benefits you and the principles you claim you have – and you’ve picked what benefits you. But you don’t want to admit that you’re a hypocrite who doesn’t accept the principles you want applied to others, so you’ve made up an excuse that makes you look “strong” and “good”.

Having read all the comments in this thread, I’ve seen no evidence yet presented that Ayn Rand condemned people for taking government benefits for which they were eligible, in cases where the recipients did not politically support the programs through which those benefits are handed out.

No, she condemned them, period. She didn’t make any exception for people who were “strong” enough to continue opposing them even while benefiting them, thus not becoming “corrupted” by them.

The stench of hypocrisy from you is overwhelming.

If you really believed in your principles you’d uphold them even when it’s inconvenient and even when it costs you something. The fact that you don’t means you’re not honest when you promote them. The fact that you want others to submit to those principles even while you won’t make you incredibly immoral.

April 10, 2012 at 3:00 am
(56) Starchild says:

(this is continued from my previous comment — I ran out of space to fit everything I had to say into one post)

Having read all the comments in this thread, I’ve seen no evidence yet presented that Ayn Rand condemned people for taking government benefits for which they were eligible, in cases where the recipients did not politically support the programs through which those benefits are handed out.

Perhaps Rand did condemn people for such behavior — I know she could be strongly judgmental, and condemned lots of people for lots of things, some of them very unreasonably imho, so I certainly don’t rule out the possibility — in which case I would agree that she acted hypocritically by taking the money; I simply haven’t seen it proven.

It should also be acknowledged by her detractors that if she did hold such a double standard, she was being no more hypocritical in doing so than the many statists who rail against corporations, consumerism, capitalism and so on while clamoring for more government spending, taxation, and control, yet buy and use all kinds of corporate-produced products, even non-essential ones, and never voluntarily give government a dollar more of their own money than is required of them.

April 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm
(57) Grandpa In The East says:

Starchild,

You have just proved that anything is possible, if you rationallize enough. What surprises me is – Not only did you think it up, you wrote it all down.

Grandpa

April 27, 2012 at 10:04 pm
(58) Gehrig says:

Ouestion:

Do followers of Rand believe in Democracy?

June 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm
(59) Not a Crony Capitalist says:

So a Hypocrite? maybe. What’s even more hypocritical is to FORCE people to participate in SS through taxation and then deride their participation when it’s time to collect on their INVESTMENT.

June 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm
(60) realist says:

A cynic would say Ayn followed her own Objectivist philosphy: She followed her own self-interest when it suited her. It didn’t matter that help came from an ‘Altruistic’ US government health care system.

There is a notorious passage where she argues that all the passengers in a train filled with poisoned fumes deserved their fate. All this coming from a chain smoker who got treated for lung cancer on government expense.

Poetic justice ….?

June 30, 2012 at 7:02 am
(61) easye says:

Peter in comment #12,
Before you call another a liar, you might want to get your facts straight. The October revolution occurred in 1917. Stalin was not the first communist leader of the USSR.

Being a hypocrite is not a crime. If it was, we all would be in jail. Nor does being a hypocrite invalidate a persons message. Might I remind you, that our founding fathers were huge hypocrites. They spoke of liberty and yet owned slaves. The Constitution is a pretty good document.

Ayn Rand a hypocrite? So what? She was guilty of being human. Get over it.

July 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm
(62) Austin Cline says:

Nor does being a hypocrite invalidate a persons message.

True, but if a person is unwilling to live by their message when it’s inconvenient to do so, it calls into question just how much they really believe it – or whether it’s truly livable.

July 4, 2012 at 10:55 am
(63) Self Ish says:

Paying into an immoral system in your whole life, and then taking benefits is not hypocritical. It is taking some of your back.

July 14, 2012 at 11:35 am
(64) Bob says:

I agree with many of these comments about taking back what you’ve paid in, if she only paid $100,000 into social security and medicare that money would have ballooned in value, it is an interest free loan to the government and she had every right to collect all that money back plus interest.

July 19, 2012 at 4:21 am
(65) cowbell says:

And if she saved $100,000 instead, that money would of depreciated in value over time due to inflation. A typical lung transplant cost $450,000 for one lung. Ayn Rand’s life was saved by the very system she hated. Period.

August 2, 2012 at 10:58 pm
(66) Joan MArie Davidson says:

Rand was a liar and a hypocrite who wrote nonsense and remained
consistently inconsistent as a human being and as a writer. I’m amazed that you people spend so much time picking over such minimalist arguments and information AND the beauty of it is that most of you writing for and against each other, and her, are —ha ha—men.

August 11, 2012 at 11:56 am
(67) Kk says:

I am against bi goverments, taxes and overregulation. But her argument is if one paid taxed, he is entitled to government services. Everyone pays taxes(at least sales taxes). So everyone is entitled. And we cant abolish the programs since the taxes have already veen paid.. alice didnt have to come to the socialist US either and she had a choice of not taking govt help and die for what she believed in. Otherwise she is just a demagogue. By the way, what happened to all the money Ron Paul took from his supporters before he had his son endorse Romney the Obamacare guy?

August 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm
(68) Austin Cline says:

I am against bi goverments, taxes and overregulation. But her argument is if one paid taxed, he is entitled to government services.

But is she entitled to take the money paid in by others? According to her own philosophy, that makes her a parasite.

August 11, 2012 at 7:47 pm
(69) James says:

Hello songitecht
Your comment #30.
SS an investment as you say. I thought it was a Ponzi Scheme as the Ryan group would claim.
You can’t have it both ways. Stick with one interpretation of reality.

August 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm
(70) Katman says:

To those in here choose to believe the assertions in the article on blind faith, at least have some pride and read this rebuttal. A lot the above appears to be complete hogwash.

And to Austin Cline, this comment thread is rife with ILLEGITIMATE usages of Tu Quoque, not the least of which is your own, here:

“Nor does being a hypocrite invalidate a persons message.”

“True, but if a person is unwilling to live by their message when it’s inconvenient to do so, it calls into question just how much they really believe it – OR WHETHER IT”S TRULY LIVABLE” (emphasis mine)

P.S. Your constant condescencion has not gone unnoticed and is not flattering.

August 12, 2012 at 8:19 pm
(71) Austin Cline says:

To those in here choose to believe the assertions in the article on blind faith, at least have some pride and read this rebuttal. A lot the above appears to be complete hogwash.

Then you should be able to show how.

And to Austin Cline, this comment thread is rife with ILLEGITIMATE usages of Tu Quoque

Actually, I think all uses of To Quoque are illegitimate.

not the least of which is your own, here:

Incorrect. The Tu Quoque fallacy is basically “Yes, I did that, but so did you.”

That’s not what’s going on in the passage you quote. A person who refuses to live by what they preach really does call into question whether their message is livable. It doesn’t prove that their message is livable, but it calls that into serious question.

Your constant condescencion has not gone unnoticed and is not flattering.

Then you should be able to demonstrate how. Though, since you can’t rebut the central issue or even address it correctly, I’m not surprised you didn’t.

August 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm
(72) Tom Mahoney says:

She said that doctors cost more than a writer could afford. She wasn’t just taking from a system she had paid into; she could not afford the self-reliance she preached. She had no choice. She needed the government to come to her rescue. All of these phony arguments about “victims of the welfare state should take their payments” presuppose that she had a choice. She herself admits that she did not. Therefore, she was a hypocrite. Worse, an irresponsible hypocrite: 1). Not listening to the experts who said smoking was lethal; 2). Realizing too late that it was lethal, she tried to save herself without the funds to do so, rather than accept the fate that her recklessness caused; and 3). With nowhere else to turn, she came with both hands out to the government help she despised.

September 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm
(73) Carol Wheeler says:

Someone asked about her followers accepting govern ent “hand-outs”–I believe Rep. Ryan is a good example of this, since he did accept such money when his father died, a d maybe at other times. The hypocrisy is hideous and cruel, as usual.

November 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm
(74) Paul says:

So, if Ms Rand used public transportation was she a hypocrite? Could she drive on the public roads? Use products transported on the public roads? Use currency that wasn’t backed by the gold standard? Sorry, Austin, your argument is reductive and uncompelling.

November 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm
(75) Austin Cline says:

So, if Ms Rand used public transportation was she a hypocrite?

If she uses it afte railing against and attacking it… yes, of course.

Sorry, Austin, your argument is reductive and uncompelling.

Feel free to show how.

January 5, 2013 at 9:20 am
(76) Hoghed says:

So getting back just some of the money that the government stole from you so that parasites like you people don’t have to work is considered welfare? She paid into SSI her whole life. How many people here even pay taxes?

January 8, 2013 at 6:09 pm
(77) Austin Cline says:

So getting back just some of the money that the government stole from you so that parasites like you people don t have to work is considered welfare?

Some? Evidence indicates that she took quite a lot more than she paid in. Doesn’t that make her a parasite?

She paid into SSI her whole life. How many people here even pay taxes?

Everyone payes taxes, though not everyone pays all the same taxes. Regardless, your question is a poor attempt at an ad hominem argument. It’s categorized as a fallacy of relevance because it’s an attempt to shift focus from the substantive issues and towards something irrelevant. It’s usually used by people who can’t argue the substantive issues.

January 21, 2013 at 6:19 pm
(78) Daniel Mullarkey says:

If you ask me, limited welfare can exist as a privilege but welfare cannot exist as a hard-core right. I understand the need to help aged people and those with disabilities, but why is there a welfare system that exclusively caters to unmarried (typically one-parent) households, but not more responsible married (typically two-parent) households. When adults, children, or pregnant mothers are in need of economic help, it should not matter what kind of household they are involved in, they should all be treated equally.

January 21, 2013 at 9:40 pm
(79) Austin Cline says:

If you ask me, limited welfare can exist as a privilege but welfare cannot exist as a hard-core right.

Why?

Since one of the most common uses for welfare is to provide food, you’re basically saying that people don’t have “a hard-core right” to sustenance – to eat, and thereby sustain life for another day.

Is there any reason why anyone espousing such a position should be treated as though they had anything serious to say?

I understand the need to help aged people and those with disabilities

Why? What makes that acceptable in a context where people don’t have a right to eat?

but why is there a welfare system that exclusively caters to unmarried (typically one-parent) households, but not more responsible married (typically two-parent) households.

You err in assuming that being married makes people more responsible.

When adults, children, or pregnant mothers are in need of economic help, it should not matter what kind of household they are involved in, they should all be treated equally.

That would work if it were true that single-parent households didn’t have any extra needs that two-parent households are able to avoid.

January 25, 2013 at 8:21 pm
(80) humbug says:

Disclaimer: Quotes may not be correct. I’m not overly familiar with about.com commenting.


Since one of the most common uses for welfare is to provide food, you’re basically saying that people don’t have “a hard-core right” to sustenance – to eat, and thereby sustain life for another day.

He may not be saying that. I will. No, you do not have a “right to sustenance” any more than you have a right to a big screen TV. You have a right to provide for yourself, provided you do not violate the rights of others in so doing.


Is there any reason why anyone espousing such a position should be treated as though they had anything serious to say?

Intellectual honesty? You disagreeing with a position doesn’t automatically make that position wrong, or the person espousing it less “serious” than you are.

That one may not rank highly for you, as it didn’t seem very important in the initial article. Your claim of hypocrisy falls on its face after tripping over your own dishonesty You are under no moral obligation to take back from the system only what you’ve put in. You tacked that bit on yourself in order to point out only that Rand (likely) took more. In short, a strawman.

January 26, 2013 at 9:25 am
(81) Austin Cline says:

No, you do not have a right to sustenance

Why not?

You have a right to provide for yourself, provided you do not violate the rights of others in so doing.

What rights are those?

Intellectual honesty? You disagreeing with a position doesn t automatically make that position wrong, or the person espousing it less serious than you are.

I didn’t say it was wrong or less serious simply because I disagreed with it. Ergo, the lack of intellectual honesty rests entirely with you.

It’s noteworthy that you couldn’t answer the question: why someone espousing that position should be taken seriously.

Your claim of hypocrisy falls on its face after tripping over your own dishonesty

Ad hominem argument. You can’t rebut Rand’s hypocrisy, so you look desperately for false accusations to make against me.

You are under no moral obligation to take back from the system only what you ve put in.

Under Rand’s philosophy, taking what you didn’t put it means taking what others put in, which means taking others’ money and is theft. So if she believed in her own philosophy, she was a thief and a parasite.

So, no strawman.

February 4, 2013 at 1:28 am
(82) fads says:

You are claiming she shouldn’t use something she was forced by the gov’t to pay into… (isn’t that kind of idiotic to expect that someone who has no choice uses something they’re forced to pay for). That in no way makes her a hypocrite.

To me the adversity to such a thing has more to do with gov’t demanding and forcing all individuals to pay into it unlike a say, insurance company dealing with it, where it’s not a requirement but a choice of the individual to contribute to such a system and benefit from what the system is capable of or not pay and not benefit.

I mean look at Chile how they weaned off of forcing people to pay into the gov’t SS program and let them choose either the gov’t run version or do their own plan. 90+% of the people there dropped the gov’t plan for their own personal plans and last I checked retire and live much better lives then those through the gov’t run system.

By the way I’ve never read her book or know anything about her…

The problem is, to me, allowing a small group to force others into something with no alternatives or choices for the individual.
For instance look at how Clinton stole money from SS to pay down the debt and other things immensely hurting the programs sustainability. The fact everyone must pay into this and the gov’t can willy-nilly steal their money for other endeavors seems a tad insane wouldn’t you say?

February 8, 2013 at 7:20 pm
(83) Austin Cline says:

You are claiming she shouldn t use something she was forced by the gov t to pay into

No, I’m not.

That in no way makes her a hypocrite.

No. She’s a hypocrite for taking money that wasn’t hers.

I mean look at Chile how they weaned off of forcing people to pay into the gov t SS program and let them choose either the gov t run version or do their own plan.

And now look at how awful things are for them.

By the way I ve never read her book or know anything about her

Clearly.

The problem is, to me, allowing a small group to force others into something with no alternatives or choices for the individual.

You have the choice to leave.

February 4, 2013 at 7:09 am
(84) Sally says:

You’re certainly a more sanguine person than I am, Austin.

If I lived in the vicinity, I’d excavate Ayn Rand’s grave and build a public restroom on top. Then I’d provide (processed) copies of her writings as toilet paper.

Moreover, I’d jail her acolytes, such as those writing here in her defence. Their crime? Stealing oxygen that might rather nurture sane, reasonable and compassionate human beings!

February 17, 2013 at 4:57 am
(85) Andrew says:

All the proof you need that Ayn was 100% spot on is the fact that in an effort to destroy this woman’s reputation, the left has so contorted itself it is now calling Social Security & Medicare…WELFARE! Oh sweet irony. I look forward to the day when the left attempts to discredit Ayn by calling food stamp recipients LEACHES. Note to the author, Mr. Cline, 30 years after her death Ayn Rand is living in your head rent free.

February 17, 2013 at 10:57 am
(86) Austin Cline says:

All the proof you need that Ayn was 100% spot on is the fact that in an effort to destroy this woman’s reputation, the left has so contorted itself it is now calling Social Security & Medicare…WELFARE! Oh sweet irony. I look forward to the day when the left attempts to discredit Ayn by calling food stamp recipients LEACHES. Note to the author, Mr. Cline, 30 years after her death Ayn Rand is living in your head rent free.

February 20, 2013 at 12:33 am
(87) Patrick says:

Austin, you either have not read the book or you went into it with preconceptions that were already fed to you. You clearly have no understanding of what Ayn Rand was referring to when she used the words “parasites” and “looters.” Out of control government was her problem, NOT the victims of out of control government. Your argument that she is a hypocrite is simply based on factless passion and misguided interpretation of her work. And you rebutting everyone else’s comments with things like “not uh” and “no she didn’t” makes you seem incredibly incompetent. Read the book, spark notes and reviews are never good for substance, and if you did, try reading it again.

Most importantly, “Do not let your fire go out spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not quite, the not yet, the not at all”

February 24, 2013 at 3:49 pm
(88) Austin Cline says:

Austin, you either have not read the book or you went into it with preconceptions that were already fed to you. You clearly have no understanding of what Ayn Rand was referring to when she used the words “parasites” and “looters.”

Then why are you unable to provide counter-evidence?

Your argument that she is a hypocrite is simply based on factless passion and misguided interpretation of her work.

Interesting that you are unable to provide evidence to support your accusations.

Making unsupported accusations does not enhance your position. It is, however, 100% consistent with Randroid apologists.

March 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm
(89) Hortence says:

Let’s not split hairs about Austin Cline’s statement about Rand apparently concealing info about her medical condition. It’s a fair comment to point out that someone that wrote ad nauseam about welfare “moochers” had nothing specific to offer about her own situation. If her “institute” wants to end that debate by offering her records to the public, I invite them to show us.

It’s all clearly hypocrisy on Rand’s part, but apologists like to argue that it doesn’t invalidate her writings just because she couldn’t personally live up to them. That’s not the issue, however. The real question is whether anyone could. Like Cline, I ask for proof. Without it, I see Objectivism as self-deluding and self-congratulatory. Adherence to this pseudo-philosophy is purchased at the expense of tying society’s hands in one way or another. The idea that Objectivists overcome all completely on their own is arrogant beyond defense. Being responsible is laudable but pointing out that Rand’s ideas aren’t doesn’t make one a “moocher”. It makes one a realist.

Everyone in a society (except for Objectivists apparently) bank against the knowledge that they’re mortal and will likely need help at some point in their lives. Rand cared more about getting people to pay attention to her than she did about society or even the realities of life, so bailing out of that moral contract for as long as she was beating the odds is consistent with everything else we know about her.

I’m glad Rand got the health care she needed. If she could also at the same time have gotten over herself long enough to learn something from the experience and realize what an egotistical prima donna she had been, she might have discovered one of life’s insurmountable truths – there are some problems society can make better that an individual can’t. If that wasn’t true, societies wouldn’t have formed in the first place.

Hey – this philosophy stuff is easy. Look at me! I’m a philosopher, too.

March 12, 2013 at 1:18 am
(90) William Jackson says:

It is most unfortunate that Ayn Rand smoked. However, I find it curious that many people judge her unfortunate decision to smoke and her obvious addiction to nicotine by today’s standards. I also find it curious too that some people seek to totally dismiss all of Rand’s ideas with the waive of the hand because of one or more of her personal failures while also embracing the feel good phoney baloney of European style socialism. I challenge such individuals to closely examine the failed personal lives of their socialist heroes and note the extent to which they themselves are willing to make allowances for leftists who have acted badly (but meant well). I also find it curious that so many of Rand’s critics fail to understand Rand’s intentional juxtaposition of opposites in phrases she coined such as “The Virtue of Selfishness”. Such individuals, wrenching Rand’s statements out of context, often seem to lack the ability to engage in abstract thought. Ayn Rand was a brilliant thinker and most definitely encouraged people to be self-reliant. One only has to read her essay entitled “Envy / Hatred of the Good for Being Good” to see that she had no patience for those who would tear down others rather than pursue self-improvement.

March 15, 2013 at 3:43 pm
(91) Austin Cline says:

I also find it curious too that some people seek to totally dismiss all of Rand’s ideas with the waive of the hand because of one or more of her personal failures

Except that no one has don that. This is just a straw man you’re using in order to evade addressing the real arguments.

Ayn Rand was a brilliant thinker

Then feel free to demonstrate how.

March 22, 2013 at 9:29 pm
(92) Brian Gates says:

Just because she accepted Social Security and Medicare befefits doesn’t mean she was poor. I would expect a writer as successful as Ayn Rand (whose books sols millions of copies, and at least onr was made into a msjor movie during her lifetime), to have made a fortune. Most likey, she would have been fine without accepting her benefits, but chose to do so anyway because it was in her rational self-interest. She wasn’t the kind of person to care whether her critics considered it hypocritical. She didn’t give a damn about her critics.

March 26, 2013 at 5:28 am
(93) Austin Cline says:

Just because she accepted Social Security and Medicare befefits doesn’t mean she was poor.

And who made this argument?

I would expect a writer as successful as Ayn Rand (whose books sols millions of copies, and at least onr was made into a msjor movie during her lifetime), to have made a fortune.

That doesn’t mean she retained her “fortune” in cash.

Most likey, she would have been fine without accepting her benefits

Then she didn’t need to accept the benefits. Basically, you’re making the argument that she took money which she didn’t need and was definitely a parasite.

She wasn’t the kind of person to care whether her critics considered it hypocritical. She didn’t give a damn about her critics.

And, according to the argument you just made, she didn’t care whether she bothered to follow her own philosophy or wether she could be honest. I won’t disagree.

March 26, 2013 at 7:06 am
(94) Tom says:

I worked, saved a sacrificed, paying my childrens way through college. My wifes nephew makes more money a year than I ever did, is a dead beat dad and his children are brought up by his several baby’s momma’s who are on welfare. When it came time for his children to go to college (none of them finished) they got free grants because only the welfare momma’s income had to be reported. THIS IS A MARRAGE TAX, Another example of what is destroying our country

April 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm
(95) Jim Callum says:

The biased ignorance in this article deserves no comment.

April 9, 2013 at 4:05 am
(96) Austin Cline says:

The biased ignorance in this article deserves no comment.

Yet, you commented anyway.

Even worse, you did so in a way that failed to point out any bias or ignorance.

May 17, 2013 at 6:20 pm
(97) wiseoldsnail says:

some of you are suggesting that rand didn’t take more than she put in to the system. that’s absurd. for one thing, we pay percentages of our income into the system. during our lifetime, we use much of that in daily existence : roads, publicly supported infrastructure, etc. even the dairy industry, along with meat industry (was she vegan?), and the science research which ultimately treated her cancer, all were subsidized with her tax money … and mine.

so, let’s just jump out on a limb and say that a quarter of our taxes are spent on things which benefit us. of course too much of our money is used to wage war all over the world, and in support of welfare sucking corporations and tax exempt churches.

if the money rand made was not enough to cover her cancer surgeries and treatment, than most certainly the percentage she paid in taxes was substantially less, and couldn’t possibly have been enough to cover her treatment. this is very simple math.

if she believed she was doing the politically right and responsible thing, she should’ve taken her payback publicly, after calculating not only what she paid in to the system, but also what part of that she had already received in services from the government in the form of infrastructure : roads, military, police, libraries housing her books, etc. did she ever ride in a gasoline powered vehicle? oil is subsidized.

so … if i cannot afford a car, i won’t be using subsidized fuel, or would be using substantially less of it by using public transportation. but rand could afford a car, so did use subsidized fuel. in that sense, she was in constant direct conflict with her own stated ideology, using the oil subsidized by workers who could not afford the vehicles to put the fuel into.

May 17, 2013 at 6:21 pm
(98) wiseoldsnail says:

most tea party and otherwise extremely right wing operatives and voters idolize ayn rand.

unfortunately, most of them (some of you here) don’t have the reading comprehension skill it takes to understand either rand’s writings or the bible they (you) claim to follow. the god of the mythological new testament, for instance, rails against idol worship. the idol worshiped by self-described christians happens to be an atheist …

rand’s vociferous expressions, touting the selfish as ideology, is pure comedy.

but even in atlas shrugged, she is railing against not only individual ‘parasites’ but, as someone mentioned above, those parasites who take positions in government, but actually do no real work. this tiny tidbit is one of her very few reasonable statements. current right wing ideology is the opposite : in support of unregulated profits for people who do no work (investors, government obstructionists) at the expense of those who actually do work. her writings are misinterpreted to support those views.

i appreciate and agree with some of rand’s views about the importance of productivity … but i don’t agree at all with her definition of productivity, nor her willingness to rush to judgement, leading others to the blind assumption that a person’s contribution to society has no value if they aren’t being paid for it.

when it comes right down to it, rand produced no goods or services. maybe that’s why she inserted artists into the stories … to put ‘value’ to art, in order to include herself as among the worthy.

ayn rand wasn’t a ‘welfare queen’ in the sense of the accepted derogatory definition. she was a productive person. however … she took more from the official system then she paid in.

ayn rand was most definitely a hypocrite.

May 25, 2013 at 5:48 pm
(99) Bruce Majors says:

Anther subnormal scribbles a screed on Ayn Rand as a pay per view gang rape of a corpse to get clocks on his website.

Another nazi big lie technique repetition of a lie

Ayn Rand was never on welfare.

She become 69 in 1974 and began drawing social security and was eligible for Medicare

Since she sold millions of books and paid double the maximum FICA taxes of an employed person as she was self employed, she probably never got her tax money back.

Additionally Ayn Rand started smoking when she worked in Hollywood in the 30s. Everyone smoked and everyone thought it was healthy.

May 26, 2013 at 8:11 am
(100) Bruce Majors says:

It’s always amusing how little nerd boys who will never have the success Ayn Rand did as writers will create these little payper view cyber gang rapes of Ayn Rand’s skeleton just as a way to get hits on their website. And then they whine that she promoted selfishness.

Ayn Rand made millions and paid hundred of thousands in taxes including a double FICA tax payment as a self employed person. Self employed people pay double the tax everyone else does for Social Security but ar never eligible for unemployment benefits. So of course she wanted the money back when she was old enough to get social security and Medicare.

It’s funny how leftovers and proglodytes become so fascist on this issue. They have the government loot people and monopolize many services (education, retirement, medicine) and then demand that dissidents shut up or be denied the monopolized services. It’s a morality literally from Hell – Hades kidnapped and raped Persephone and when she almost escaped demanded that she spend 6 months of the year in Hell with him because while their she ate a single seed.

June 1, 2013 at 3:00 pm
(101) Austin Cline says:

Ayn Rand made millions and paid hundred of thousands in taxes

If you think she paid as much or more in taxes as what she took out, present your evidence.

June 1, 2013 at 3:20 pm
(102) Grandpa In The East says:

Bruce,

You wrote: “It’s always amusing how little nerd boys who will never have the success Ayn Randdid…”

I suppose you you MUST stoop to name-calling in order to strike back at those you hate and FEAR!!!!!

Grandpa

June 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm
(103) Richard says:

I’m glad she died of cancer. Natural selection at it’s finest.

June 26, 2013 at 12:22 am
(104) Beatnik Bob says:

I was first diagnosed with jaw cancer in 1988. I’m not wishing cancer on anyone.

June 26, 2013 at 11:47 am
(105) edwapa says:

in response to (99) Bruce Majors

if she was self-employed than the current rate is 12% up to a maximum of $113,000 for 2013. that’s about $14,000 for 2013. (14k)x(30Yrs)=420k. i’m estimating the amount of years she paid in because i just want a ballpark figure to see if the statement of whether she is a parasite or not is reasonable. now this 420k is today’s figures, not 50 years ago. as u stated she started pulling out in 74 and died in 82 then 8 years of payments were made to her. for 2013 about $1200/mo is paid according to SS website. so (1200mo)(12)(8)=115k she was paid. 420k-115k=$305k available for her lung cancer care. a quick google search shows 2600/mo to 9600/mo for minimal care to chemo/radiation plus 15k for the initial treatment month. then add in the costs of whatever heart condition she had and i’m concluding that the actual sums she paid in the 40′s-60′s were well below what she took out, even including SS interest. i am able to do that since a quick read of her work history in wikipedia showed that she most certainly didn’t pay in the max for the first 10 years, and probably more. and since medicare didn’t start until the mid 60′s and it’s rate is 1.4% on all income, i’d estimate less than 100k was put into it. i have no idea what actually happened with her finances and health costs but rough estimations say she was a parasite. if anybody can point to somewhere i can look to get better data, then do it and shut up with the emotional diatribe against people that aren’t selfish.

July 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm
(106) Stu says:

Hey Austin,

Ayn Rand died at the age of 77, that’s well above the average for her demographic in 1982, and how do you think she did in comparison to other girls born in St. Petersburg in 1905?

Also, in your intellectual laziness you’ve created some amorphous blob of Rand’s view on the proper role of government, and Thoreau’s view of the proper role of a citizen whose government is unjust. What is the point of paying the taxes, but not collecting the benefits? Show me where Ayn Rand wrote about her concern that the government didn’t have enough money, and that everyone should pay their taxes, but only those who support the government’s policies should collect the benefits.

Austin, if you want to prove that you’re not a hypocrite, why don’t you write another article in which degrade all of those who take every tax break they can in private, while publicly calling for higher taxes. Or the droves of big city liberals who hire illegal immigrant housekeepers and nanny’s and pay them less than a living wage, while calling for the government to raise the minimum wage.

And if you’re not too busy repairing your glass house, maybe you should actually read Ayn Rand before you write this kind of garbage.

July 3, 2013 at 4:30 pm
(107) Austin Cline says:

Ayn Rand died at the age of 77, that’s well above the average for her demographic in 1982, and how do you think she did in comparison to other girls born in St. Petersburg in 1905?

Much better – and she can thank the sort of government she hated for that.

Also, in your intellectual laziness you’ve created some amorphous blob of Rand’s view on the proper role of government

Yet, for some reason, you can’t point to any errors in what I’ve written.

What is the point of paying the taxes, but not collecting the benefits?

Some people say there is a point in standing on principle, even when doing so is financially detrimental. So basically you’re denying that standing on principle is valuable.

And if you’re not too busy repairing your glass house, maybe you should actually read Ayn Rand before you write this kind of garbage.

I have read her books. The fact that you can’t point to any errors in what I’ve written is noteworthy here.

July 5, 2013 at 3:53 pm
(108) Bob says:

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and assume that this article was something more than lambasting a person for hypocrisy. I do this because assuming anything else leads to the conclusion that the author has begun with a point to be made, and has found evidence that supports them rather than finding all the evidence then drawing a conclusion.

To that end, let’s look at what Ayn wanted. She wanted individuals to have power, and government to be dissolved. In this regard, her utopia would not include taxation and government regulation. The argument for being a “parasite” makes the false equation of Ayn’s ideal and real world.

Ignoring that, let’s look at the brazen comparison to preachers. Ayn did not believe in a god, specifically one that had divine oversight and judgement. Preachers, and indeed religion, would not exist in her utopia. The fact that they exist in the real world needs to be divorced from her philosophy.

At this point, I have to make a simple assertion to wrap this up: the constructed world of an author is divorced from the reality of the author. We can see this with at least one author still living today, Orson Scott Card. The man espouses some things that modern sensibilities find vile, yet the books he writes are endearing divorced from him. Forcing an author to be judged on the basis of their fictional works is as unreasonable as the converse.

Do I believe Ayn Rand is a hypocrite, yes. Do I believe that hypocrisy devalues her works, no. Mr. Rodgers and Captain Kangaroo carried guns before they carried childrens television shows. If you want to attack Ayn Rand’s work you need to sit someone down in front of a play through of Bioshock, Rapture does more to counter-point her philosophy than a smidgeon of hypocrisy ever could.

July 16, 2013 at 2:51 pm
(109) professorzed says:

I can agree with what Bob is saying here to an extent. We must be able to separate the artist from the art. Orson Scott Card has some repugnant views on homosexuality, Pablo Picasso was a misogynist, and so on.

However, Ayn Rand is a philosopher first and foremost, and not a fiction writer. Despite her own hypocrisy, her books would still retain whatever literary merit they deserve. However, as a philosopher who could not practice what she preached, her works have no philosophical merit at all.

I’ve never heard that Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo carried guns before they carried children’s television shows. However, I don’t think that carrying, owning and practicing with a firearm is philosophically contrary to hosting a children’s show.

A person can be a responsible firearms owner, enjoy the sport of target shooting, and even justify that they carry a firearm for the protection of their person and family. If they chose not to share their enthusiasm for firearms on the show, such as showing sock puppets using firearms to defend their homes from intruders, this does not necessarily denote hypocrisy. All it means is that these men chose to keep their personal lifestyle and political perspectives to themselves, rather than use their shows as a propaganda vehicle to promote their personal views.

I do know that Fred Rogers was also a Christian Presbyterian minister. I have a great deal of respect for him since throughout his show, he never once mentioned ‘Jesus’ ‘God’ Christianity, nor did he even allude to the existence of an afterlife. If he had wanted to produce a Christian propaganda show, it would have been a simple matter. There were many Christian oriented T.V. shows for children at that time (such as Davey and Goliath).

July 17, 2013 at 5:13 pm
(110) Don Oakley says:

I started smoking cigarettes in 1946 at age 16. I’m now 85. In 69 years of steady smoking I’ve never been afflicted with lung cancer (or any other “smoking-related” disease or ailment).

July 18, 2013 at 4:41 am
(111) Sally says:

My, my, my, Austin, you’ve certainly stirred up a hornet’s nest of drooling wannabe Harold Roarks and John Galts!

Nelson Rockerfeller, capitalist exploiter extraordinaire, at least had the intelligence to admit that “Marx was right – I’m just on the other side.”

Rand’s understanding of economics, politics and society, not to mention her sense of compassion, or even simple humanity, ranks well below even that of her soulmate, Adolf Hitler.

And crude though it is, Mein Kampf is a masterpiece of literary style and a jewel of philosophical clarity compared to the honking and bellowing that is Atlas Shrugged – “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”.

December 27, 2013 at 9:40 am
(112) Tc says:

SS and Medicare are not give always. People are taxed during their earning years to cover these. Of course people end up receiving more than they payed in because the government is running a Ponzi scheme That one day will collapse.

January 2, 2014 at 10:18 am
(113) Austin Cline says:

Of course people end up receiving more than they payed in

So, you agree that Rand was a parasite on the system?

February 24, 2014 at 10:46 am
(114) Toby says:

“Ayn Rand was forced to pay into the government Social Security system her entire life and she paid plenty. ”

Nobody forced her to come to the U.S., print her wealth in fiat industries that depend on copyright laws and pay taxes on those dubious earnings all her life.

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