Education

Galt's Gulch & Trust

|

NPR reports:

John Allison, CEO of banking giant BB&T, calls Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged "the best defense of capitalism ever written." He says that Rand changed his life, and he's working to ensure that the deceased author isn't left out of the nation's college curricula.

Since 2005, the BB&T Charitable Foundation has given 25 colleges and universities several million dollars to start programs devoted to the study of Rand's books and economic philosophy. In January, the company announced it was donating $1 million to Marshall University in West Virginia.

The money would establish a course dedicated to Rand's Atlas Shrugged and Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, and help create the BB&T Center for the Advancement of American Capitalism on campus.

I'm not sure I see the problem, here. Hell, my alma mater had classes on pornography, the Beatles, and the music of Frank Zappa (note: I consider this a good thing). It would be one thing if BB&T were establishing an entire econ department staffed only with Objectivists. But an elective class on the virtues of capitalism that exposes students to Rand's ideas doesn't seem all that nefarious. Of course, some people disagree:

Rick Wilson, a sociology instructor at Marshall and head of the West Virginia Economic Justice Project, says that Rand's philosophy, objectivism, is based on the view that selfishness is the only moral value.

"[Objectivism] goes against the collective wisdom of the human race, I think, pretty much everywhere," says Wilson. "I think it's a curious interpretation of philanthropy to use corporate money to promote, really, an extreme philosophy."

I'm not sure when it became accepted logic that corporate philanthropies should only fund ideas and causes that are hostile to free markets. But that certainly seems to be the prevailing sentiment in the philanthropy world. And Rand's weaknesses aside, I'd say you could make a pretty good case that capitalism, the economic system that accepts and harnesses self-interest, has served humanity pretty darned well.

Jeff Taylor blogged about a similar Allison gift to UNC-Charlotte last March, and wrote about BB&T's lead-by-example capitalism in 2006.

NEXT: Nudge, Nudge, Push, Push...Are You Ready for Libertarian Paternalism?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. is based on the view that selfishness is the only moral value

    Of course, that’s simply flat out false.

  2. “[Objectivism] goes against the collective wisdom of the human race, I think

    Well, Rand would probably agree with him there . . .

  3. The head of the West Virginia Economic Justice Project is unlikely to get my undivided attention on any topic.

  4. I’m not sure when it became accepted logic that corporate philanthropies should only fund ideas and causes that are hostile to free markets.

    Cop out, Radley. The guy’s objection is to Objectivism, not free markets, and Objectivists certainly don’t have a monopoly on that subject.

    I’ve even heard rumors that there are some people who are small market conservatives who DON’T believe that faith in a Supreme Being is incompatible with a decent, productive society.

  5. Rick Wilson, a sociology instructor at Marshall and head of the West Virginia Economic Justice Project…

    I like the interpretation that educational institutions are supposed to be for teaching students about many different “philosophies” and providing them the tools to critically analyze these philosophies.

    Oh.. or you could just teach about Economic Justice, whatever t.f. that is.

  6. It’s simply beyond me how anyone marginally sane would let his/her brain stop functioning at its full capacity in order to express anything close to admiration for Ayn Rand. If libertarians want to be taken seriously and not as the buffoon that John Allison most certainly is, they’d do well to disavow this fifth-rate hack who died way too late for her and our sake.

  7. Sometimes it’s just nice to see someone bucking the general academic trend. There are courses at my university that teach “rethinking Marx”… why not “rethinking Rand, or Smith, or etc”…

  8. PB,

    I am all for the notion of not pre-judging, but just from the guy’s title and org we could guess this response in advance.

    Isn’t Economic Justice a codeword for Socialism, from the people who accuse us of using codewords for everything?

    NP,

    Thanks for the fully-open-mind perspective.

  9. It’s an elective, shouldn’t be a problem. Now BB&T is the most fee happy bloodsucking ass bite bank I’ve ever had to deal with. They wanted $7/mo just for the priviledge of seeing my own account info in Quicken. It was fun to hear the stammer of the ‘relationship banker’ when I asked “What possible moral justification do you have for charging me $7 for eliminating your cost of printing and sending me a statment?”.

    By contrast, Suntrust, for example, will foot the postage on your checks (via “Bill Pay”) for free. So, future applications may not be a sure bet as the consumers become educated as to not having to pay fees for the act of breathing within the bank.

  10. edit “statEment”

  11. Isn’t Economic Justice a codeword for Socialism

    Shh.. Guy Montag –
    You shouldn’t use the word “socialism” by the popular understanding of the word, lest someone point out that it’s not actually socialism because of something in the definition.

    I think Economic Justice is code for a “living wage” and “universal healthcare” and “fair labor practices” and “fair trade” and… yeah

  12. Of course, some people disagree

    As if the “science” of sociology is taken seriously by anyone with half a brain. NP excepted.

  13. Ah, Economic Justice is for ‘fairness’ at the barrel of a gun?

  14. Shh.. Guy Montag –
    You shouldn’t use the word “socialism” by the popular understanding of the word

    Don’t worry, he didn’t.

    Quite the opposite, he used it in the libertarian understanding of the word.

  15. Something tells me I would encounter little to no resistance from Professor Wilson if I stepped forward and offered to provide a hefty endowment for a [Robin] Hood Chair for Economic Justice and Sociological Betterment.

  16. So glad that Prof. Wilson thinks that his opinion on how BB&T spends its money matters. Maybe he could opine on how Bill Gates spends his money as well? Or whether me buying that TiVo last week was good?

  17. NP @ 9:29…how substantive and informative. Any other temper-tantrums you want to go on? Any other name-calling invective binges you want us all to indulge?

    Grow up.

  18. me buying that TiVo last week was good

    Of course that was a good idea. May you go forth and never watch commercials again.

    Can anyone not picture Wilson with a thinning ponytail and a supremely punchable face?

  19. “Now BB&T is the most fee happy bloodsucking ass bite bank I’ve ever had to deal with.”

    What a total shock, given their support for the author of *The Virtue of Selfishness.*

  20. A_R,

    how substantive and informative. Any other temper-tantrums you want to go on? Any other name-calling invective binges you want us all to indulge?

    Don’t worry, joe is here to fill in for him now.

  21. What a total shock, given their support for the author of *The Virtue of Selfishness.*

    Are you retarded or something? As if selfishness as a virtue should dictate that you charge X number of fees.

    You must be one of those people who pretends to understand what Objectivism is all about.

  22. Actually, Objectivists believe in 2 morals, (a) nonviolence and (b) the virtue of selfishness. Most people who rant against the latter are more offended by the former.

  23. AR,

    Which brings me to another problem with Rand – her cult-like following. Anyone who opposes La Rand must be “retarded,” a “second-rater,” etc.

    Not that I’m being singled out. Rand was much nastier to her own followers [except mindless zombie clones like Peikoff] than to outsiders.

  24. Guy,

    Name one thing Rand did for capitalism in two million words that Basitat couldn’t and, in fact, didn’t do in two or three paragraphs. And BTW, you might wanna work on your hyphens if you have no desire to be typecast as one of those dimwits who interestingly but unsurprisingly are drawn to Rand.

    ed,

    When did I say anything about sociology? Oh, I’m sorry. You’re one of those Randites who naturally believe that Atlas Shrugged is a better novel than Anna Karenina. Oh, sorry again. I didn’t mean to insult literature by calling Atlas a novel.

  25. A rabid Catholic troll berating someone for having a “cult-like following.” Fucking hilarious.

  26. Now BB&T is the most fee happy bloodsucking ass bite bank I’ve ever had to deal with.

    So you went to another bank. Holy shit, the free market fixed that too.

    I’m not sure I see the problem, here.

    Radley,

    Did NPR report it as if it were a bad thing? Just reading that excerpt, I didn’t pick up on any negative connotation, but I have no idea of the tone in which the story was reported…

  27. Hell, I’d like to take a course in Frank Zappa. Maybe the professor could explain to me why I should like his music. Zappa’s always been a blind spot for me – he was a very cool individual, but his music leaves me cold. Puerile lyrics, over-arranged, empty of any real excitement. It’s just not that interesting. I love jazz, even a lot of fusion, but Zappa’s music just seems to be missing something.

  28. Don’t most colleges already have course in abnormal psychology?

  29. Well, well, well. You call yourself a Ayn_Randian but expect anyone to take you seriously? Tell me, how’s the Sun treatin’ ya?

  30. SugarFree,

    We Catholics can only *dream* about getting the kind of obediant, obediant cultlike followers Rand recruited.

  31. vanya,

    Those who like Zappa are usually the same people who think Boulez is the greatest composer since Schoenberg, who (of course) in turn was the greatest since Brahms. They are the sort of people who the rest of the world thankfully don’t take seriously. Not unlike Randites, actually.

  32. I think Edward posted under the “NP” name before.

    I’m still confounded by the existence of people who derive pleasure from posting non-nonsensical potshots on boards that no one is listening to.

    What are you trying to accomplish, Edward/MK2/NP? You’re lack of civility won’t change anyone’s minds, even if you’re correct. No one will debate with you, because we’ve all been off that cliff before.

    But the keyboard down, turn of World of Warcraft, and get outside. There’s a huge, interesting world on the other side of that greasy basement window.

    I swear…

  33. We Catholics can only *dream* about getting the kind of obediant, obediant cultlike followers Rand recruited.

    Srsly.

    You keep getting people like me showing up.

  34. Name one thing Rand did for capitalism in two million words that Basitat couldn’t and, in fact, didn’t do in two or three paragraphs.

    Got it onto a contemporary best-seller list. And Angela Jolie and Brad Pitt aren’t about to star in a movie adaptation of The Law.

  35. Ayn Rand’s novels were hopelessly repetitive and way too long.

    But the message was excellent, and timeless.

    People are skipping the point that the Wealth of Nations would be a central topic of the course as well. That in itself justifies the course.

  36. Which brings me to another problem with Rand – her cult-like following. Anyone who opposes La Rand must be “retarded,” a “second-rater,” etc.

    Uhh…no. Feel free to look up any of my posts where I criticize Rand. I’m not a blind follower by any stretch of the imagination.

    I called you “retarded” because you thought you had an insightful post, when in fact you showed that you have a superficial understanding of “selfishness” WRT the Objectivist context.

    “LOLZ duh the Objectivtist bank charges you da fees…tehy are the SELFISH!”

    NP – still waiting on something with substance. I suppose I’ll be waiting a while.

  37. Which brings me to another problem with Rand – her cult-like following. Anyone who opposes La Rand must be “retarded,” a “second-rater,” etc.

    I’ll grant you that fanatics of any stripe are counterproductive, but I wouldn’t condemn an idea because of the conduct of some of it’s messengers.

    Plus, aren’t philosophers supposed to be smarmy fucks? I wouldn’t respect one otherwise…

  38. “Isn’t Economic Justice a codeword for Socialism”

    Yes.

    As is “social justice” and “progressive”.

  39. We Catholics can only *dream* about getting the kind of obediant, obediant cultlike followers Rand recruited.

    Riiiight. Catholicism has over a billion members, is 2,000 years old, and has multiple wars fought in the name of it.

    It has its own country in the middle of Rome, too.

    And just look at all those heretics Objectivism burned at the stake!

  40. her cult-like following

    My 73-year-old Republican mother will be shocked to discover she belongs to a cult. Like most of the millions who enjoy Rand’s writings, she gets it without feeling the need to proselytize about it. The only “cult” I know of resides in the limited imagination of Rand’s detractors.

  41. Zappa’s always been a blind spot for me – he was a very cool individual, but his music leaves me cold.

    No, you’ve got that backwards. The man was an asshole, in the sense that he fucked over everyone he worked with.

    He was a brilliant musician. But Zappa isn’t for everyone. Mostly he’s making fun of everyone else (because he’s so much better than everyone else) all the social institutions, but also musical conventions. It’s all very ‘inside joke’.

  42. MM,

    Which brings me to another problem with Rand – her cult-like following. Anyone who opposes La Rand must be “retarded,” a “second-rater,” etc.

    Interesting perspective. I have more of a “problem” with the cult, not the leader. That problem being a curious entertainment that sometimes leads to aversion, like the Randoid bartender in the Crystal City Underground I have mentioned here before. Not sure when she went batshit-crazy about any comment I made (including trying to tip her during a shift change), but it began shortly after I quoted Brian Douherty’s mention of Rand having Libertarianish views in Radicals for Capitalism. No getting a word in edgewise after that, it was as if a wasp had entered an anthill, but she was the only ant. “SHE WAS NOT A LIBERTARIAN!!!” echoed through the hallways for days!

    Oh, NP, if you are running for hyphen-Nazi, have a great campaign!

  43. No, you’ve got that backwards. The man was an asshole, in the sense that he fucked over everyone he worked with.

    He was a well spoken man, although the music industry sending him to battle the PMRC could be seen as a “victory”, it could also be seen as an accidental blessing that we are still “allowed” to listen to music at all.

  44. This is kind of a silly argument. Of course it’s a good idea to expose students to new and different ideas in a comprehensive and critical way. They should be able to choose for themselves what they feel about the ideas and form their own opinions after sufficient consideration.

    The only concern (and a tiny one, at that) I would have is the tone that the program would take towards Rand might be more fawning than the dispassionate approach that a productive academic analysis generally utilizes, because of where the money is coming from. The concern is tiny because, heck, college kids are practically all grown up and ought to be able to defend their ideas and opinions against hostile authority.

    Heck, if nobody learns about Ayn Rand, how are people supposed to deal with folks like Ayn_Randian when they grow up? (I keed, I keed…)

  45. Ayn_Randian,

    Alright, let me pose you the same challenge I posed Guy: Name one thing Rand did for capitalism in two million words that Basitat couldn’t and, in fact, didn’t do in two or three paragraphs.

    Sorry for my intemperate comments, but I really find it hard to understand why some people are so fixated on Rand. Anyone with a discriminating eye will admit that Rand was a third-rate writer at best, and here I’ll cop to my knee-jerk contempt for anyone’s use of literature for propaganda. To me there are many other writers and economists (Bastiat and Schumpeter are my favorites) who are better spokesmen for capitalism than Rand.

  46. Which brings me to another problem with Rand – her cult-like following. Anyone who opposes La Rand must be “retarded,” a “second-rater,” etc.

    Reminds me of the time I went to see an Objectivist speaker at a local college. An audience member jumped up to denounce the speaker and wouldn’t shut up. As a tough-looking Objectivist escorted him out the door, he yelled to us “You’re in a cult! A crazy cult!”

    Hey, if I’m in a cult, I want my multiple teenage wives.

  47. NP,

    Seems you arrived here with some anti-Rand agenda that you are not disguising very well. Accusing me of being someone who has read one word of Rand’s work was a pretty good clue.

    My statement, meaning that you are so open-minded that your brain fell out, had nothing to do with the merits of Rands work and everything to do with your tantrum, that I suspected would continue.

    Now, run along and assign essays to someone else. I am not one of your “students”.

  48. NP – I’m not familiar with Bastiat making a moral case for capitalism. Indeed, he seems to be the forerunner for the school of thought that it’s an axiom that man should be free because of his nature.

    Sorry for my intemperate comments

    Oh really…?

    Anyone with a discriminating eye will admit that Rand was a third-rate writer at best

    Never mind. I guess you were “just kidding” with that faux-apology.

    Don’t insult me.

  49. but I really find it hard to understand why some people are so fixated on Rand

    Seeing as you seem to be equally fixated on Rand, maybe a little introspection would clear this up for you. Edward.

  50. Reminds me of the time I went to see an Objectivist speaker at a local college. An audience member jumped up to denounce the speaker and wouldn’t shut up. As a tough-looking Objectivist escorted him out the door, he yelled to us “You’re in a cult! A crazy cult!”

    Was he driving a ‘hybrid’ with a “Farms not Arms” bumper sticker?

  51. When I was in college I took two classes that involved reading Ayn Rand’s essays and Atlas Shrugged. They were called “History and Philosophy of American Business” and “Business in Literature” and are responsible for turning me into a libertarian.

  52. Was he driving a ‘hybrid’ with a “Farms not Arms” bumper sticker?

    I believe he got the hybrid with the “Air Force had to hold a bake sale. . . ” option instead of “Farms not Arms.”

  53. Every curriculum development grant comes with conditions. If the objection is to the fact that it comes with conditions, well, you know, deal.

    OTOH, if the objection is that a course on Atlas Shrugged does not merit placement in the business school’s curriculum, that’s a bit different. Certainly courses on ethics and capitalism would fit in the business school’s curriculum. Whether a course that includes Atlas Shrugged on the reading list would fit well is a matter that the business school faculty are better-equipped to decide.

  54. Abdul,

    LOL! I love those, especially when I see one after buying stuff at a military bake sale the same day.

  55. “Those who like Zappa are usually the same people who think Boulez is the greatest composer since Schoenberg, who (of course) in turn was the greatest since Brahms. They are the sort of people who the rest of the world thankfully don’t take seriously.”

    I realize that it’s frustrating being confronted with things that are so obviously beyond ones comprehension, but that shouldn’t blind you to the fact that some people, being blessed with greater musical understanding, can enjoy such music without being anything like this caricature you have described.

    Have you ever heard Ray White sing? The guy is a gospel singer who can’t even read music and he was in Zappa’s band for years. How did this happen? Well, because he was gifted. Even without any musical scores or common historical references, these men understood each other because they both had musical talent. Something that is, sadly, taken less and less seriously every day.

    And the ‘serious composer guy’ most often associated with Zappa wasn’t Schoenberg but Varese.

    @#%*ing anti-intellectuals.

    Everyone makes fun of them when they attack the theory of evolution, but when they attack music…….

  56. NP,

    Would you sign my copy of Atlas Shrugged? When I reread it, it will be so much better with your signature on the inside cover. It would almost feel like a trophy . . .

  57. Would you sign my copy of Atlas Shrugged? When I reread it, it will be so much better with your signature on the inside cover. It would almost feel like a trophy . . .

    Can’t you just make an X yourself?

  58. Who’s John Galt?

  59. Colin,

    He’s a fictional character in the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

  60. Colin,

    He runs a consulting business, advising companies on inventory planning.

    http://www.johngalt.com

  61. Got it onto a contemporary best-seller list. And Angela Jolie and Brad Pitt aren’t about to star in a movie adaptation of The Law.

    So did L. Ron. Getting on a bestseller list and having a rumored movie being made does nothing to dispel the cult accusation.

    I have no problem with the guy attaching strings to his money, but it’s not a class I would’ve wasted my time with. Atlas Shrugged was too long and has characters so one dimensional, they should be used in math classes to help students better conceptualize what a true line is.

    My main problem with Objectivism is that it ignores human nature as much as Marxism does. Humans are not tigers, we are social animals that are hard-wired to help our community, even at risk of some inefficiency. Humans aren’t reason automatons.

    This doesn’t even get into the problems with Rand as a person, which are numerous.

  62. My main problem with Objectivism is that it ignores human nature as much as Marxism does. Humans are not tigers, we are social animals that are hard-wired to help our community, even at risk of some inefficiency. Humans aren’t reason automatons.

    So, does that make us lions or ants?

  63. Ayn_Randian,

    I was critiquing Rand as a writer of literature, not as a thinker. If you took my critique as an insult, fine, but I don’t think I was the one throwing the tantrum this time.

    Now as for Rand’s moral case for capitalism, I don’t see how one can avoid discussing freedom, economic or not, in moral terms. You might counter that Rand saw capitalism and individualism as inseparable and in fact was among the first to make the connection, but then others will argue that any economic system affects human behavior greatly and thus cannot be treated separately from ethics or morality. IOW, all economists–Bastiat included–are moral philosophers, whether they intend to be or not. In fact one of the great tragedies of the 20th century was the failure to realize this truth, which, I’ll admit, Rand did play a role in undoing. So yeah, Rand did make some contribution to capitalism, but at the same time I think there are many others who better deserve our attention.

  64. So, does that make us lions or ants?

    Let me tell you a story, about how a camel became a lion, and how a lion became a child. It all started with this dragon…

    Ah, fuck it.

  65. Rand may very likely have been a third-rate writer in the sense that Edgar Rice Burroughs was a third-rate writer. Both wrote readable fluff with comic book dichotomies of right and wrong.

    The difference is that Rand’s novels are the only popular novels that attempt to credibly discredit altruism and collectivism, and go on to attempt to credibly laud selfishness and individualism, both morally and pragmatically. There’s no other show in town where that’s concerned. Bastiat has some nice critiques of command economies, but there’s no moral argument in favor of selfishness there and precious little popular traction.

    There are dozens of novels that have attempted to distill and sell these ideas, but they have all consistently failed where Rand succeeded. Sure, she was a hypocrite and a tyrant who tortured her arguments to fit her desires. So what. I don’t have to like her or all of her ideas to find many of the key ones very compelling.

    So, take your cult arguments and your ad hominems and shove them up your ass. This is the second most influential book ever written, according to virtually every poll ever taken. An insistence that it has no place in a college curriculum has a pretty big hurdle to overcome to escape an assumption of bad faith.

  66. I loved the idea of the lost liberty hotel. we need more hotels that have a copy of something like Atlas Shrugged, or better yet something like Philosophy: Who Needs It? instead of crappy Gideon bible.

  67. Humans are not tigers, we are social animals that are hard-wired to help our community

    Rand never said “Don’t Help”, she just said that [paraphrase] Poverty isn’t a mortgage on productivity; hunger somewhere in the world isn’t a check for your money.

    She said charity was a virtue, and like all virtues, should be practiced voluntarily.

    Thank you, Rimfax.

  68. Rick Wilson, a sociology instructor at Marshall and head of the West Virginia Economic Justice Project, says that Rand’s philosophy, objectivism, is based on the view that selfishness is the only moral value.

    “[Objectivism] goes against the collective wisdom of the human race, I think, pretty much everywhere,” says Wilson. “I think it’s a curious interpretation of philanthropy to use corporate money to promote, really, an extreme philosophy.”

    A little more humor, along with the wimpy pony-tail picture, and you have solid Onion material here.

    1. I almost went to Marshall University, and then I remembered it was in West Virginia. Also I didn’t want to be part of a “Thundering Herd”.

  69. Guy,

    When did I accuse you of “being someone who has read one word of Rand’s work”? Tell you what. When people throw tantrums, I usually ignore ’em. But you didn’t, and since this thread is about Ayn Rand I figured you probably knew more about her works than I do, so I asked you a question. But then you said you only wanted to criticize me for throwing tantrums, which, if you ask me, doesn’t look very good on the person making this same criticism. I apologized for my previous comments (that was actually a genuine apology, A_R’s (mis)interpretation notwithstanding), so I think I’ll refrain from repeating it.

    Naga Sadow,

    Not sure if that was meant tongue-in-cheek, but I think you already know my answer to your question.

  70. This is the second most influential book ever written, according to virtually every poll ever taken.

    So every poll ever taken thinks that Rand is more influential than two of the following three: Old Testament, New Testament and Koran. Those polls are objectively and laughably wrong.

  71. I’m not sure when it became accepted logic that corporate philanthropies should only fund ideas and causes that are hostile to free markets.

    I don’t have an exact date, but I’m guessing it was sometime around 1955.

  72. It’s an elective, shouldn’t be a problem. Now BB&T is the most fee happy bloodsucking ass bite bank I’ve ever had to deal with. They wanted $7/mo just for the priviledge of seeing my own account info in Quicken. It was fun to hear the stammer of the ‘relationship banker’ when I asked “What possible moral justification do you have for charging me $7 for eliminating your cost of printing and sending me a statment?”.

    To make a profit. If you had read Atlas Shrugged you would know the answer!

  73. My main problem with Objectivism is that it ignores human nature as much as Marxism does.

    Her commentary about “the day one man invented the wheel” is the perfect microcosm for his misunderstanding of humanity.

  74. In an Objectivist bank, do the tellers fantasize about being robbed?

  75. So every poll ever taken thinks that Rand is more influential than two of the following three: Old Testament, New Testament and Koran.

    I’ve read english translations of these as well as Atlas Shrugged, and I can say AS has a much tighter plotline.

    Not as much blood, though.

  76. Isn’t Economic Justice a codeword for Socialism, from the people who accuse us of using codewords for everything?

    Of course it is. Every class I had in the academy and in high school that wasn’t about math or chemistry was about leftist political philosophy and the oppression of the world by America.

    The vast majority of the students indoctrinated thusly went on to live productive lives except that the taint of trendy leftist thought infects every aspect of our modern culture and manifests itself daily.

    From design and review boards to mandatory helmets on juvenile bike riders to smoking bans.

    This is the legacy of our public education system.

  77. Face it. Rand was barely readable, at best.

  78. She had her moments. Like Hitler’s paintings, she did landscapes and buildings much better than people.

    “What do you think of me now, Dominique?”

    “But I don’t think of you.”

    That’s pretty sharp right there.

  79. So every poll ever taken thinks that Rand is more influential than two of the following three: Old Testament, New Testament and Koran.

    Well, considering it’s usually a poll about novels, the results are only screwy if you’d like to go ahead and admit that OT, NT and K are fiction.

    (The non-snarky answer is usually the polls are about 20-century novels. The #1 is usually Ulysses, which means the most influential idea in a 20-Century novel is lying about having read it. )

  80. Face it. Rand was barely readable, at best.

    I don’t think I got through the first ten pages of Atlas.

  81. NP,

    Perhaps you could tell me, specifically, the aspects of Rand’s philosophy that you have a problem with.

    Please note that I am not interested in a critique of her talents as an author of fiction. The aspects of her work that are lacking by the fashions of 20th century fiction [the lack of naturalism; the didacticism, the narrow characterizations] would be perfectly acceptable for work composed in a different time and place [we’re still studying Greek tragedies set up in almost exactly the same way] so it’s not really relevant.

    I’d be more interested in hearing what you dislike about the philosophy itself. Because 95% of the reason it’s derided as third-rate by the philosophy community is her use of axioms to bypass fundamental metaphysical debates. But those axioms aren’t actually controversial if you live in the real world, so in effect academic philosophers despise Rand because she’s not an ass clown.

    There are definite flaws and holes in what she tried to do, and she appears to have not been a very nice person, but in my experience the people who had loudest in voicing disdain for her work either aren’t really familiar with it, or are embracing conventions that no one outside the tiny philosophy community really accepts. So I’m just interested in where you are coming from.

  82. AR,
    She also regards charity as a minor virtue and supported it only if it was affordable (i.e. not a sacrifice). Like I said, agree or disagree, it’s a fundamental misreading of human nature and pure selfishness would leave the world a far worse place. All of the characters in her book emerge from Zeus’ skull as fully formed supermen. They’re not raised and aided by friends and family that help them even if it won’t pay off for them in the long term. Talk to pretty much any person that’s successful without inheriting their wealth and they’ll say (if they’re honest) that they wouldn’t be where they were without the support and aid of others.

    guy in the back,
    I agree on the plots, but at least the characters have more depth in the old books.

  83. Actually, it’s usually the case that when someone puts a modifier in front of the word “justice”, they’re trying to tell you that it’s Opposite Day.

    Social justice, economic justice, racial justice, gender justice, whatever.

    It usually means that standard, run of the mill justice doesn’t produce the outcome desired by the speaker, so they are asserting a right to act unjustly against someone to achieve a “higher” or “different” justice.

    There would be no need for the modifier if this was not the case.

  84. Isn’t Mr. Wilson’s attitude similar to that of the Ohio councilwoman who recently didn’t want the atheists to preach his dangerous doctrine where children can hear?

    If Mr. Wilon’s faith in his philosophy is so shaky, perhaps he should reexamine his suppositions?

  85. I don’t think I got through the first ten pages of Atlas.

    I thought it was very readable, except for the gawdawful monologue. That bit was why I have never attempted to read any of her non-fiction.

    I just finished rereading Anthem (after years AWOL, my copy was returned to me). That is a quick and easy read.

    Anthem should be made into a movie, not AS. I hate to think the cuts that will take, but Anthem would need padding, if anything, which could be bad too. A rewriting to add dialogue, if nothing else.

  86. From a strictly literary aspect, I think she got worse as a writer as she went on. The characters in We the Living are much more real than those in The Fountainhead, or Atlas Shrugged. Since she became more and more interested in explaining her philosophy, the characters started to lose their depth and basically became abstractions. I forget who it was, but someone (generally sympathetic to her ideas) called the characters in Atlas Platonic ideals.

    Incidentally, I had the chance to see the Italian movie version of We the Living (Noi Vivi). Although they changed the ending to get it a happy ending, the movie overall was much better than the film version of The Fountainhead.

  87. Mo,

    List

    Take it for what you will.

  88. She also regards charity as a minor virtue and supported it only if it was affordable (i.e. not a sacrifice). Like I said, agree or disagree, it’s a fundamental misreading of human nature and pure selfishness would leave the world a far worse place.

    Actually, I think this gets to a core problem with Objectivism, and is better than the usual superficial criticisms.

    I would go farther and you and say that Rand tolerated charity, but did NOT regard it as a virtue. I would say she regarded it as a vice, but also would not seek to prevent you from engaging in this vice with your own money.

    This ties in nicely to our discussion of “[something] justice”, because I think that Rand observed that “justice” and “charity” were opposites, if you used her definitions of each, and she was so committed to the idea that opposites couldn’t both be virtues that she disposed of charity.

    Basically, she defined justice as “the rendering to each what is deserved” and charity/mercy as “the rendering of what is not deserved” and decided matter-of-factly that only one of these could be a virtue.

    There are potentially ways to resolve the apparent conflict of these opposites, but she didn’t explore them. I can understand that, since she was forming her philosophy when “bourgeois justice” was under assault from egalitarians who disguised their intentions as charitable, and she reacted strongly against this.

  89. She also regards charity as a minor virtue and supported it only if it was affordable (i.e. not a sacrifice).

    OK, but Rand ! = Objectivism. In that her thoughts on a particular subject are not the entirety of the philosophy’s viewpoint on that subject.

  90. Rimfax,

    Hadn’t seen that list. But, really, if you’re going to bitch about any book in the top ten, I’d go with Gone With The Wind. Overlong Harlequin Romance. Bleech.

  91. Face it. Rand was barely readable, at best.

    I don’t think I got through the first ten pages of Atlas.

    Really? I thought it had a great plot if you skipped some of the repetitive rah rah ubermenchisms. Seeing how far the protagonist and her lover would bend even after the ‘stop the moters’ idea was made clear was riveting. I’m not saying it wasn’t a tough read but the plot was pretty good.

    For me it was much easier to read than some of CS Lewis’s work, such as “Out of a Silent Planet”

  92. N-P,

    When did I accuse you of “being someone who has read one word of Rand’s work”?

    When you tossed out that juvenile essay “assignment” to me, as if you have any authority to do so, about your favorite writer being “better” than another writer, with the focus on Rand, as if I had every read her. That is when.

    You sound more like joe every post, or a six-year-old asking “why” about everything. Yes, other readers, that was redundant.

  93. One rather easy way to get around that contradiction, which doesn’t seem to have occured to Rand, is to cease assuming that those in need deserve their poverty, and have done something that excludes them from deserving things like food, shelter, and a decent quality of life.

    Rand was rather Calvinist in her willingness to treat the relationship between wealth and virtue as a default assumption.

  94. “Just as her operatic businessmen are, in fact, Nietzschean supermen, so her ulcerous leftists are Nietzsche’s ‘last men’, both deformed in a way to sicken the fastidious recluse of Sils Marnia? [In her vision] resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final can only be wilfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and , in fact, reason itself enjoins them. From almost every page of Atlas Shruged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding, “To a gas chamber – go!”

    Let’s talk about morality. One of her “heroes” in Atlas Shrugged, Nat Taggart murders a state legislator because he revoked a business charter for a him.

    Taggart also “threw down three flights of stairs a distinguished gentleman who offered him a loan from the government.”

    Taggart was a murderer and a bully, great role model and moral indvidual

  95. She also regards charity as a minor virtue and supported it only if it was affordable (i.e. not a sacrifice). Like I said, agree or disagree, it’s a fundamental misreading of human nature and pure selfishness would leave the world a far worse place.

    When Reardon gave the rails to Taggert RR even though he knew they couldn’t pay as per contract it appeared to be charity, but Reardon made it clear it was in his long term best interest for the railroad to be built as an advertisement of his new metal.

    Similarly, I would see John Allen’s donations not as charity but more of a long term investment in getting more people interested in Objectivism.

    Plus, he probably gets to write off the money, so the looters are paying!

  96. joe – ye gods, just hush. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

    is to cease assuming that those in need deserve their poverty

    She never said they did anything to deserve it, just that whatever their set of circumstances, it doesn’t mean that they are somehow entitled to what YOU earn.

    have done something that excludes them from deserving things like food, shelter, and a decent quality of life.

    Deserving? At who’s expense…at who’s labor, joe, are you deserving of these things? Just because you’re born doesn’t somehow make you entitled to the other people’s possesstions.

  97. Because 95% of the reason it’s derided as third-rate by the philosophy community is her use of axioms to bypass fundamental metaphysical debates. But those axioms aren’t actually controversial if you live in the real world, so in effect academic philosophers despise Rand because she’s not an ass clown.

    Can I get an atheist amen here?

    philosophers seem to get mad because Rand doesn’t find “Is the cow brown, or is the brown an essence of the cow?” a particularly useful inquisition for people who are trying to live in the real world.

  98. A_R,

    See? They sound the same.

  99. Can I get an atheist amen here?

    I just gave you a Libertarian Christian one.

  100. Mo: i couldn’t disagree with you more and don’t think you really understand what being selfish really is. Why would trying to make yourself the best person you can be, be harmful to society? Why would taking responsibility for everything that happens to you be a bad thing? How many times does collectivism have to fail for you to understand that their is no such thing as a public good? We are not worker bees mindlessly going about our day in support of the hive. Does life, liberty and pursuit of happiness not sound like enough to you?

    People can be selfish and still help each other. This is what corporations are.

    And what kind of asshole says “agree or disagree” and then goes on to state a completely biased opinion. get a life.

  101. guy in the back row,

    Out of the Silent Planet is by far the weakest of the Lewis fiction. That I have read. Which is a big chunk of it.

  102. adrian,

    It is as if “helping others because I like to” is an alien concept to these people. They insist on the help coming from the barrel of a gun.

  103. G of WC,

    Nat Taggert killed a legislator. Whether it was murder or not depends on whether Taggert was acting in self defense.

  104. Oh, Randian, get off the high horse.

    The last time you decided to talk down to me, I pwned your ass over your silly assertion that Rand wasn’t opposed to unions, and that The Fountainhead didn’t depict them in a bad light. That argument, I’m afraid, has “the kind of hands that would drop things all over the kitchen.”

    You want to argue with me, argue with me, but it is long past time you got it through your head that I know what the fuck I’m talking about.

    She never said they did anything to deserve it, just that whatever their set of circumstances, it doesn’t mean that they are somehow entitled to what YOU earn.

    No, she went quite a bit further than that. If you don’t have money yourself, and don’t deserve anything anyone else has, then you don’t deserve those things. The only way to deserve something is to be able to secure it in the competetive marketplace, and if you haven’t done so – if you are without – then you don’t deserve it.

    Deserving? At who’s expense…at who’s labor, joe, are you deserving of these things?

    Now you’re just repeating her argument, and as a matter of fact, confirming the statement I made that you so smugly insisted was wrong: that Rand and her -roids believe that people do not deserve even a minimal level of material life, if they have not achieved it themselves, regardless (as you so kindly pointed out) of the circumstances that produced that situation.

    Yes, the material wealth they do not own belongs to someone else – this is utterly irrelevant, and in fact confirms, my point: that she does not believe the poor have any claim at all to any aid from anyone else.

    Congratulations, you told me I was wrong about her attitude towards the poor, confirmed that I was right, and even provided the justification she provides for the belief that I accurately described.

  105. I am calling for a strike by all of us who actually have a high-level skill.

  106. I’m not sure when it became accepted logic that corporate philanthropies should only fund ideas and causes that are hostile to free markets.

    When leftists took over academia, the first they did was replace logic with dogma. This is why unrepentant former terrorists and apologists for Communist mass murders get professorships and accolades while Ayn Rand, whose philosophy lifted billions out of poverty and gave us lifestyles uninmaginably wealthy by the standards of a century ago, is too extreme even to be taught.

    And of course, after deciding capitalism was evil, the next thing the academics did was jack up tuition.

  107. Let’s talk about morality. One of her “heroes” in Atlas Shrugged, Nat Taggart murders a state legislator because he revoked a business charter for a him.

    Taggart also “threw down three flights of stairs a distinguished gentleman who offered him a loan from the government.”

    Taggart was a murderer and a bully, great role model and moral indvidual

    This gets at Rand’s great shortcoming, both as an author and as a philosopher. She doesn’t treat this as a struggle between two moral imperatives. She doesn’t make the book about how the evil in society can drive good people to do bad things. She doesn’t show her characters as conflicted, or even as wearing the blinders of fanatics in the pursuit of a good cause, as they do terrible things.

    Where she could have worked to point out the moral ambiguity is a simplistic, black-and-white moral system, she instead produces her own simplistic moral universe, and then has the good guys commit what look to all the world like evil acts, and expects everyone to treat them as morally-perfect heroes.

  108. Lord knows the intertubes are full of crackpots, but nothing brings them out quite like an Ayn Rand thread. The ignorance on display here among Rand’s detractors is nothing short of hilarious. It appears that we are not reading reviews of her work but rather second- and third-hand reviews of reviews. That, or her detractors have the analytical skills of a band of apes.
    (Not to disparage apes.)

  109. I am calling for a strike by all of us who actually have a high-level skill.

    Can’t we just tell all the useless people the Earth is doomed (hell, most of them already believe it, thanks to Al Gore) and put them on Golgafrincham Ark B?

  110. TallDave,

    That didnt work out so well for the Golgafincham’s who were left behind.

  111. Dividing the world into “the useless people” and “the productive people” is what Chambers were referring to.

    No good comes of fantasizing about the day the productive class gets its revenge on the parasites. We’ve seen plenty of political movements that revolved around that, and the particulars of how those categories are defined doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.

  112. Don’t worry, we’ve exempted the telephone sanitizers this time around.

  113. and expects everyone to treat them as morally-perfect heroes.

    LOL You don’t understand Rand any better than you understand Hayek. Her whole point was that no one is a morally perfect hero.

  114. Joe,

    First of all, the “unions” discussion was with me, not with A_R, and you hardly pissed all over me. I was right, and you were wrong. There is simply no way to answer my definitive rebuttal to you: that the novel Rand would certainly have acknowledged as the high point of her life’s work is about a strike.

    But I think the fact that you define support for unions as support for NLRB-supported unions colored the discussion in ways I did not perceive directly at the time.

    But with regard to your point here:

    Yes, the material wealth they do not own belongs to someone else – this is utterly irrelevant, and in fact confirms, my point: that she does not believe the poor have any claim at all to any aid from anyone else.

    No, it isn’t irrelevant. There is a distinction one has to make here:

    It is possible for people to be poor through no fault of their own.

    But the fact that this is possible does not give us any information about their right to any particular piece of property.

    To provide the poor with property, you both have to give it to them, and you have to take it from someone else. How can you possibly assert that the “taking away” part has no bearing on the justice of the situation? That half the transaction is irrelevant?

    One rather easy way to get around that contradiction, which doesn’t seem to have occured to Rand, is to cease assuming that those in need deserve their poverty

    To me I think the obvious answer is [as usual] to draw a distinction between individual action and group action or state action.

    Consider a situation where someone has without provocation hit me in the back with a club, but later is contrite about it and profusely says that they are sorry.

    It would be justice for that person to suffer some sort of punishment or to provide me with some kind of compensation. [The discussion of exactly what kind of punishment or compensation would take us far afield and isn’t really relevant here.]

    It would be charity/mercy for me to forgive them and demand no punishment or compensation at all.

    Now, most people would say that either outcome here is consistent with virtue. If I obtain justice, I am just. If I show mercy, I am merciful. Both of these are regarded as good, and as virtuous.

    Rand said, No – you have to obtain justice. If you don’t demand justice, you are pissing on the virtue of justice itself. You are helping injustice to exist in the world.

    I don’t think she was right. I think that charity/mercy can in fact be a virtue – but only if I am the one who gets to make the decision. If I want justice, and you, Joe, come along and say, “No, I want to show everyone I am a nice guy, so I am going to deny you justice and let this guy go without punishment, so that everyone will sing the praises of King Joe,” that would NOT be virtuous. You would be denying me justice, and also not exercising true charity/mercy, since it wasn’t yours to exercise. You’ve stolen the virtue of charity/mercy, as it were.

    If we apply this rationale to other instances of the conflict, we end up with a situation where it would be virtuous for me to help the poor, but it is NOT virtuous for you to take my property to help the poor. Which fits a bit more nicely into general libertarianism and answers some of the “human nature” objections raised above.

  115. No good comes of fantasizing about the day the productive class gets its revenge on the parasites. We’ve seen plenty of political movements that revolved around that,

    You mean like the reduction in those 90% marginal tax rates? Or the fall of Communism in Europe? I think those political movements worked out pretty well.

    The only revenge the productive want is to keep what’s theirs.

  116. Uh, yeah, TallDave. She doesn’t create ubermen, and treat their selfishness as heroic.

    No, not at all. Moral ambiguity is her touchstone, and she goes out of her way to point out the moral ambiguity in her protagonists.

    I guess I just don’t read too good. How could I have ever read Ayn Rand as having a manichean view of morality, or dividing people into white hats and black hats? Silly me.

  117. Her whole point was that no one is a morally perfect hero.

    No, dumbass. Her whole point was that conventional morality didn’t recognize the brilliant and pure superiority of the people she treats as heroes.

  118. joe: I don’t believe anyone has a claim to anything they haven’t earned no matter their societal level. Why is that so bad?

    also, why can’t they only deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? And life here meaning no one will physically take it from them, not society will support some kind of life for them.

  119. No, dumbass. Her whole point was that conventional morality didn’t recognize the brilliant and pure superiority of the people she treats as heroes.

    As usual, you fail at reading comprehension. Rand didn’t expect anyone to treat her heroes as morally perfect; they were explicitly to be immoral by conventional standards.

  120. Her whole point was that conventional morality didn’t recognize the brilliant and pure superiority of the people she treats as heroes.

    Actually, I think Galt is intended to be perfect.

    But Galt isn’t the protagonist of Atlas Shrugged. Dagny is.

    And Dagny is, in fact, conflicted, and in a “struggle between two moral imperatives”.

    Dagny spends three-quarters of the novel thinking that Galt is evil, after all.

    Dagny can’t be a morally perfect superwoman when she spends 900 pages in a state of moral error.

  121. I don’t believe anyone has a claim to anything they haven’t earned no matter their societal level. Why is that so bad?

    Because it is a morality that undercuts everything that joe has ever believed in, and he’ll foam at the mouth with a million self-justifying statements to destroy that morality.

  122. joe must be at the soup kitchen, voluntarily aiding the poverty-stricken. Hasn’t posted in a while.

  123. I guess I just don’t read too good.

    Well, at least you’re beginning to recognize that.

    How could I have ever read Ayn Rand as having a manichean view of morality, or dividing people into white hats and black hats?

    Because you just read leftist reviews rather than the actual books?

  124. Fluffy,

    One small nitpick before I start: I seriously doubt that Rand’s fiction would be acceptable in a different time and place. The best of Greek tragedies don’t suffer from what you admit are Rand’s weaknesses as a writer of fiction: didacticism, narrow characterizations, and even lack of naturalism, as they are “natural” in their own context. But I digress.

    I see that you have already dealt with probably my main beef with Rand, that she regarded charity as a vice or at least something short of a virtue–“the rendering of what is not deserved,” as you put it. Now this is a complex subject, one that does require more than just a short paragraph or two to explore in depth, but here’s, in brief, where she’s wrong.

    1) Since Rand defined one’s own happiness as the ultimate moral purpose in life, by her logic one’s financial assistance to the less fortunate, whether they deserve it or not, would be a moral decision as long as it makes the giver happy. Of course, one’s giving money to an undeserving person–or agent, it might be argued in this case–only for the sake of his/her happiness would be an immoral decision, but not according to Rand’s definition. Yeah, this is a pretty simplistic example, but you get my point.

    2) A related point: Exactly who deserves charity and who does not? Surely, most would agree that those who can make a valuable contribution to society–say, someone who is unemployed or homeless but has up-to-date professional skills–deserve our help, whereas those who don’t–crack addicts or, in everyday parlance, bums–do not. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I doubt Rand would or, in fact, did distinguish between these two different types of “charity.”

    Let me go a step further. I’d argue that even those we often label as bums often deserve our charity, because their very existence teaches us a valuable lesson on the virtue of hard work and self-respect, and also because making sure that everyone is fed and at least has a home, as long as we have the economic means to do so, is good for many reasons, including PR. (No country wants the top ranking for homelessness.) As you can see there are many ways people can engage in charity and pursue happiness at the same time, so trying to define charity as “the rendering of what is not deserved” or in some other narrow nomenclature strikes me as fruitful as trying to define what is liberal, conservative or libertarian. Again correct me if I’m wrong, but to my knowledge Rand never bothered to explore these nuances.

    Rand is derided, and not just by the philosophical community, not because of “her use of axioms to bypass fundamental metaphysical debates” but because of her weaknesses I highlighted above. Hopefully I’ve made a convincing counterargument.

  125. If we apply this rationale to other instances of the conflict, we end up with a situation where it would be virtuous for me to help the poor, but it is NOT virtuous for you to take my property to help the poor.

    Exactly. It’s the morality that gives to the poor versus the morality that votes for higher taxes on everyone else to help the poor.

  126. Fluffy,

    I was right, and you were wrong. You mean why you said she didn’t depict the strikers in The Fountainhead in a negative way, and I threw the “hands that would drop things all over the kitchen” lady in your face, and you didn’t have an answer? Was that where I was wrong?

    There is simply no way to answer my definitive rebuttal to you: that the novel Rand would certainly have acknowledged as the high point of her life’s work is about a strike. Except for the part where I answered you, and you didn’t have a response. Revenge fantasies are best when you shoot the bad guy with his own gun.

    A strike is an action, and you’re right, she isn’t opposed to that action. What she was opposed to, like you apparently, is such actions by the “bad guys,” while they are perfectly justified by the “good guys.”

    Also, you need not repeat back to me Rand’s position on whether poor deserve aid. I understand it quite well, thank you. I just disagree with it. Pointing our her justification for WHY the poor do not deserve aid doesn’t refute my contention that she believes the poor do not deserve aid (that is, have a right to it). In fact, it confirms what I wrote, that she believes the poor do not deserve aid simply by virtue of being our fellow human beings in whose place we could easily be.

    I understand why she holds this position, just fine. I just disagree with her.

    How can you possibly assert that the “taking away” part has no bearing on the justice of the situation? That half the transaction is irrelevant?

    I wrote that it is irrelevant to the question “Does Rand believe the poor deserve material aid?” That is a yes/no question, and we all understand that her answer is no. Explaining to me WHY her answer is no is irrelevant to the yes/no question.

    By the way, the example you chose to demonstrate her view of the poor – someone who assaults you with a club – also serves to make my case. You are arguing that it is just for the poor to suffer the pangs of poverty, just as it is just for an assailant to suffer for his violence. It is this very point that we disagree on – I don’t consider that to be the case, because I don’t consider the failure, in all circumstances, to have material wealth to make the pangs of poverty just punishment. I don’t believe the poor choose their poverty the way an assailant chooses to attack someone.

    In my opinion, which is different from Rand’s, it is right for you to decide whether to kick your assailants ass, or not. It is not right for you, or me, to decide that someone should live in poverty.

    Yes, what I’m going here is equating the duty to care for one another with the duty not to assault them. As an earlier commenter pointed out, we are not tigers, we are social creatures, and we all depend on the society around us.

    You disagree that the poor have a right to aid. You disagree that everybody has a duty to provide aid. In other words you, and Rand, disagree with me and most of humanity about what the poor deserve, what they have a right to, what rights they have that we all must respect.

    And that’s what I said at the beginning.

  127. TallDave,

    The reduction in the 90% tax rate was not based on getting revenge on anyone, and the righteousness of the anti-communist movement in Eastern Europe was about freedom, not who was and was not generating wealth.

    So, no, that’s not what I mean. I mean what I actually wrote – that politics based around categorizing people into “productive” and “parasite” classes end badly.

  128. fluffy
    As I mentioned on a thread from last night, I just can’t wrap my head around a “property right” that is inherently morally demanded. In other words, while an idea of property has great utlitarian value to most societies that exist or have existed imo, an idea of “property” divorced from human welfare as a component of what is morally correct strikes me as really bizarre.

    We’ve discussed this hypo before, but let me bring it up to demonstrate what I mean: you, me and joe wash up on a deserted island. We each devise three seperate plans to raise food, I hunt the boar native to the island, you forage for berries and joe fishes. After a week let us say that I’ve got enough food to feed myself only. You’ve got a ton of food. And joe got no fish and is starving, and you insist you will not share your “property”. I think not only would it be morally ‘ok’ for me to take some of your berries and give them to joe, but it would be morally required of me to do so. How could any other resolution be moral? We get to reduce the overall welfare on the island by a 1/3 in the name of “I found this so it’s mine?” I must say that strikes me as very bizarre.

  129. adrian,

    I don’t believe anyone has a claim to anything they haven’t earned no matter their societal level.

    And so does Ayn Rand.

    Why is that so bad? also, why can’t they only deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Because the pursuit of happiness, and usually liberty, become impossible in the real world below a certain level of material good and social equality.

  130. “Does Rand believe the poor deserve material aid?”

    joe, that’s a question akin to “Do you still beat your wife?”
    The very word “deserve” explicitly defines the morality in terms of the need of the “poor.”
    The better question is, “Does Rand believe that people should help those in need”?
    And she answered with a qualified “yes” — those “in need” through no moral fault of their own (drinking, drugging, gambling) don’t “deserve” our charity, but charitable giving to those is a virtue (albeit a “minor” one, in her thinking).

  131. It is not right for you, or me, to decide that someone should live in poverty.

    But you clearly DON’T believe that. You would forcibly impoverish one to make another less impoverished.

    what rights they have that we all must respect.

    Apparently those rights don’t extend to not seizing their property.

  132. TallDave, if you wish to accuse me of reading comprehension, don’t repeat my arguments back to me as if they are rebuttals of my argument.

    Cripes, the fact that you used exactly the same phrase – conventional morality – as I used didn’t tip you off that you might be repeating my point?

    Yeah, I’m the one with difficulty at reading comprehension.

  133. Fluffy,

    Dagny spends three-quarters of the novel thinking that Galt is evil, after all.

    Dagny can’t be a morally perfect superwoman when she spends 900 pages in a state of moral error.

    Dagny is “saved.” She becomes a morally-perfect ubermensch by shedding her old morality.

  134. Because the pursuit of happiness, and usually liberty, become impossible in the real world below a certain level of material good and social equality.

    And what precisely is this magical level of material good at which liberty and pursuit of happiness become possible?

    Your average 2008 person living on less than $1,000 a month lives better than most people in the 1800s or before. Did no one ever have liberty or pursue happiness before the last 50 years or so?

  135. Because the pursuit of happiness, and usually liberty, become impossible in the real world below a certain level of material good and social equality when you’re addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, or mentally ill.

  136. “If you don’t have money yourself, and don’t deserve anything anyone else has, then you don’t deserve those things. The only way to deserve something is to be able to secure it in the competetive marketplace, and if you haven’t done so – if you are without – then you don’t deserve it.”

    The concept of whether anyone “deserves” some fate is completely unrelated to what anyone’s rights are.

  137. “those “in need” through no moral fault of their own (drinking, drugging, gambling) don’t “deserve” our charity, but charitable giving to those is a virtue (albeit a “minor” one, in her thinking).”

    Again, I think this is what you get when you divorce morality from human welfare. To me, if we can prevent human suffering we should. Meaning we are morally obligated to do so, not that it is a “minor virtue.”

    If I come upon a person who is literally starving because he gambled his paycheck away, and I can end his suffering by giving him half of my lunch, I should. Whether he “deserveds” his suffering “because” he gambled seems largely irrelevant. There may be a good reason to cut this guy off at times (for example, if giving him money will “enable” future harmful behavior onhis part), but to watch his suffering “because” he “deserves” it seems inhuman to me.

    As a long time poster to H&R, I realize how corny this sounds, but I’ll take the morality of Jesus over Rand any day…

  138. Jamie Kelly,

    If you deserve something, have a right to something – for example, your free speech – than I am morally obligated to respect that. Whether your free speech rights should be respected, or not, should NOT depend on whether I feel like respecting them.

    So, if you acknowledge that the poor deserve some material well-being, that they have a right to it, then that right, too, should not depend on whether I feel like respecting it.

    Also, on the soup kitchen snark: observing that someone has a duty to do something is not the same thing as asserting that they must do that, and only that, to the exclusion of all else.

    I trust you believe in the right to bear arms. Are you out protesting gun laws or selling bullets right this second?

  139. I’m always baffled by the fact that many recognize Ellsworth Toohey (villain in The Fountainhead) to be a anthropomorphization of an entire intellectual class, but that the heroes in Atlas are not seen as such (even though that’s how they were intended).

    Joe, she didn’t worship uebermenschen, she worshiped productive humanity?and made them into characters in a novel.

  140. NP: Yes that is the way a socialist would see things. Help the poor, feel bad for the poor, feel guilty every time you have more than someone else, live your life at the lowest means so that you can give to others and don’t feel guilty anymore.

    But alas, this is crap. What is the cut off for being a bum, or being poor? Is it mere subsistence or not having air conditioning? When all the bums have air conditioning but not cars do we then need to give them all cars? At what point do you stop trying to balance society and let the bums just be bums?

    If you feel guilty than give all your money to the poor, but I don’t feel guilty, you won’t make me feel guilty, and i resent having to give anything that i have earned to anyone else who hasn’t earned it.

    And yes most people feel guilty, most people want socialism, most people are not wealthy, most people are not above average, most people want everyone to be the same because they cannot become on their own what they envy.

    It still does not make it right. And that is the point Rand was trying to make.

  141. Yeah, I’m the one with difficulty at reading comprehension.

    Yes, you clearly are. You said Rand “expects everyone to accept” their moral superiority as though she was not deliberately making them immoral by conventional terms precisely in order to challenge what everyone accepts — that moral ambiguity you seem incapable of grasping.

  142. You would forcibly impoverish one to make another less impoverished.

    Apparently those rights don’t extend to not seizing their property.

    No, I most certainly do not support taxes people into poverty. I probably support a much more progressive system of taxation than you.

    “Poverty” is not defined as “not having as much wealth as you otherwise might.”

    That’s two arguments in row from you that have been reductio ad absurdum fallacies.

  143. So, if you acknowledge that the poor deserve some material well-being, that they have a right to it, then that right, too, should not depend on whether I feel like respecting it.

    They deserve the opportunity to gain it, but they don’t “deserve it” at the expense of someone else…to be decided by your or the State.

    Even if you “deserve” the right to free speech or to bear arms, that doesn’t mean I have to give you a lectern or a gun.

  144. Yes that is the way a socialist would see things. Help the poor, feel bad for the poor, feel guilty every time you have more than someone else, live your life at the lowest means so that you can give to others and don’t feel guilty anymore.

    Wow, I guess all the socialists I see are kinda fake.

  145. As I mentioned on a thread from last night, I just can’t wrap my head around a “property right” that is inherently morally demanded.

    I can understand that, since in some cases [real property, intellectual property] it can be difficult to see property existing outside of the social construct of the law.

    But your example is horrible. Its very horribleness helps in this context though:

    We each devise three seperate plans to raise food, I hunt the boar native to the island, you forage for berries and joe fishes. After a week let us say that I’ve got enough food to feed myself only. You’ve got a ton of food. And joe got no fish and is starving, and you insist you will not share your “property”. I think not only would it be morally ‘ok’ for me to take some of your berries and give them to joe, but it would be morally required of me to do so.

    In this instance it’s clear that what is being owned is the labor of looking for the food. I would say that you unquestionably own your labor, and it is “inherently morally demanded” that everyone else acknowledge that you own your labor.

    Would your evaluation of the example change if, rather than everyone agreeing to look for a different kind of food at the outset, Me and Joe said, “We don’t want to look for food. Go look for food and we’ll each take a third of it. If you don’t like it, we will fuck you up”? Because to me this is no different from your example. You are less immoral overall if you make your own effort before stealing mine, but the discrete action of using force to take the product of my labor is itself immoral in either context.

    The fact that you looked for food and failed has no bearing on my relationship to my labor, and therefore to the berries. My labor is mine whether you are successful in looking for food or not.

    I can think of any number of reasons why it would be either prudent or virtuous for me to share my food with you, but I would be sharing my food with you.

  146. So, if you acknowledge that the poor deserve some material well-being

    I do not acknowledge that.

  147. So, if you acknowledge that the poor deserve some material well-being, that they have a right to it, then that right, too, should not depend on whether I feel like respecting it.

    How you can have a “right” to that wealth which belongs to someone else? How is it “respecting their rights” to forcibly seize wealth from someone else?

    Your euphemisms can’t hide the ugly truth that what you are talking about is not “rights” but state-sanctioned theft.

  148. By what right, joe!?

    By what right does The State steal from one group “less deserving” and give to the other!?

    What’s the moral basis? What set of ethics suddenly dictates that I have to provide someone else a living?

  149. TallDave,

    And what precisely is this magical level of material good at which liberty and pursuit of happiness become possible?

    There’s nothing magical about it. Nor precise.

    Like the questions “when are taxes too high?” or “how much force is excessive?” or “How much error amounts to negiligence?” that is a question which has a precise answer only in principle, and becomes messy when applied to the real world.

  150. “she worshiped productive humanity”

    She sure did! They were perfect Gods beset on all sides by nefarious parasites who were just dragging down society and would hopefully “get theirs” one day…I don’t want to Godwin this thread but I know what that has always reminded me of…

    Besides, her writing was usually so unusually awful…I mean, the descriptions and flat characters in works like Anthem or the nearly hilariously artificial dialogue in works like Shrugged…Yeck…But fanatics usually make bad writers (note that her least polemical work imo We the Living was really good)

  151. Even if you “deserve” the right to free speech or to bear arms, that doesn’t mean I have to give you a lectern or a gun.

    What about free airime under the Fairness Doctrine?

  152. “Poverty” is not defined as “not having as much wealth as you otherwise might.”

    No, it’s defined by bureaucrats as living under a certain percentage of the average income.
    Which in most cases includes TV, cable, a home and a car.

  153. MNG: How do you not see giving something to a broke gambler as reinforcing unproductive behavior? How does your “moral” act work with natural selection and competition, or do you think that is immoral as well, and that we are all equal?

    And why does what you feel you need to do, become a moral imperative for me? Who are you to say what I should do? What gives you that power over me?

  154. Ayn Randian,

    Joe, she didn’t worship uebermenschen, she worshiped productive humanity?and made them into characters in a novel.

    No kidding. Were you trying to put this out there as a refutation of something I wrote?

    Of course her ubermen were supposed to represent the “productive class,” and her worshipful treatment of them represents her attitude towards “productive humanity.” That’s what I’m criticizing her for.

  155. What set of ethics suddenly dictates that I have to provide someone else a living?

    joe’s catholicism masquerading as economic philosophy.

  156. TallDave,

    she was not deliberately making them immoral by conventional terms precisely in order to challenge what everyone accepts

    is exactly what I’ve said about a half dozen times already.

    The next time you do this – the next time you repeat my argument back to me as if it’s a refutation of my argument – I’m just going to skip the rest of your posts.

  157. fluffy
    I understand property, intellectual and all that. I just don’t understand how it has any moral weight when put against human welfare. If principles of property conflict with human welfare, they gotta go.

    “The fact that you looked for food and failed has no bearing on my relationship to my labor, and therefore to the berries. My labor is mine whether you are successful in looking for food or not.”

    Ur, yeah, but I don’t see how the “ownership” of the item in question is even morally relevant. A resolution which ends in a human being suffering for the sake of “being in compliance with a system of ownership of items” strikes me as nuts.

    So a human being, if he owns item X which another human being needs or will die an agonizing death, is morally OK to say “fuck it?” Again, any moral system that is that fucking blind to human welfare strikes me as self-evidently crazy…

  158. And drop the fucking “ubermen” shit.
    We all know what you’re getting at, and it’s fucking stupid. She was not a Nietzchean and her refutation of Nazism is as impassioned and eloquent as has ever been written.
    Fucking dickstain.

  159. I most certainly do not support taxes people into poverty.

    You haven’t defined “poverty” so that’s impossible to say.

    “Poverty” is not defined as “not having as much wealth as you otherwise might.”

    That obviously depends on how much wealth you start out with, and where you end up after they seize some of it to give to someone else.

    That’s two arguments in row from you that have been reductio ad absurdum fallacies

    It clearly isn’t, as I’ve demonstrated above. Your grasp of logic is worse than your reading comprehension.

  160. So a human being, if he owns item X which another human being needs or will die an agonizing death, is morally OK to say “fuck it?”

    Well, you don’t really own it if someone else’s circumstances (which you didn’t cause) entitle them to it anyway, do you?

    What’s point of saying someone “owns” something if the first invalid who comes along can just take it?

  161. They deserve the opportunity to gain it, but they don’t “deserve it” at the expense of someone else

    I disagree, and Rand agreed. This argument began with you sneering at me that Rand most certainly did NOT agree with that statement, and now you’re confirming that she does.

    I understand WHY you and Rand believe this. You can stop explaining it to me. Really. All set. Gotcha. All clear. It’s been all clear for years. You can stop now.

  162. Guy,

    Again, since this is an Ayn Rand thread and you accused me of being closed-minded, I figured you knew more about her than I do, which is why I asked you a question, or an “assignment,” as you put it. Again I apologized for my intemperate comments and you admitted that you were criticizing me only for my tantrums, so can we let this go now, instead of you generalizing my posts based on this one thread?

  163. Crap! Why?! Why?! Why?! Why do you people make me agree with joe?! A crotch-rotting venereal pox on all your houses!!!

    By my reading (AS 3x, FH 1x, WtL 1x, Anthem 2x), Rand was a moral Calvinist. She really did think that there were born supermen and born sheep, and that the sheep should acknowledge the moral superiority of the supermen. (She even included a sadly thinly-veiled self-portrait in Galt’s Gulch to show which side of this razor she was on.) Her stories were comically polarized between the “looter” and the “motors”.

    I still see value in her work, despite this flawed black and white depiction. And I do see evil in the acts of collectivists, but I rarely ever see malice.

  164. “Even if you “deserve” the right to free speech or to bear arms, that doesn’t mean I have to give you a lectern or a gun.”

    Yes, despite joe’s attempts to conflate “deserve” and “right” they are not the same thing at all.

    Furthermore, rights are negative in nature. They prohibit government interfering with the individual doing something (such as speech). Rights are not a claim on other individuals as being obligated to assist you in some material way to guarantee that you will be able to sucessfully have or do something you want to do.

  165. It’s been all clear for years.

    I very much doubt that. You still haven’t answered, “Upon what set of ethics is someone entitled to the labors of someone else?”

  166. she was not deliberately making them immoral by conventional terms precisely in order to challenge what everyone accepts is exactly what I’ve said about a half dozen times already.

    No, you said she “expects everyone to treat them as morally-perfect heroes.” That’s exactly the opposite of what she expected. But at least you admitted you were wrong. Progress!

    The next time you do this – the next time you repeat my argument back to me as if it’s a refutation of my argument – I’m just going to skip the rest of your posts

    Oh noes! I’ll be forced to refute your arguments without also refuting your flailing grasping-at-straws defenses.

  167. That’s two arguments in row from you that have been reductio ad absurdum fallacies.

    Hold your horses, joe.

    The reductio is not a fallacy. It is a perfectly acceptable method of argument.

    If you assert a principle, it is appropriate for us to examine that principle in its most extreme application. You can counterclaim that we haven’t understood the precise principle you’re advancing, but you can’t label the entire analysis fallacious.

    By the way, the example you chose to demonstrate her view of the poor – someone who assaults you with a club – also serves to make my case. You are arguing that it is just for the poor to suffer the pangs of poverty, just as it is just for an assailant to suffer for his violence.

    I used the example of punishment for a crime because it’s more accessible for most people. Naturally I start with the easiest case. You are welcome to perform the reductio on it if you wish.

    And the difference between the attacker and a poor person is the “slash” in charity/mercy. By his action, the attacker has created a right to respond that I will either exercise or not exercise. His action is bound up with the right to punish. In the case of the poor person, they haven’t done anything to me – but it’s not necessary for them to do anything to me. My property right either exists, or it doesn’t exist, without any input from the poor person at all. My relationship to the attacker is marked by moral blame, but my relationship to the poor person is simply a nullity.

  168. How you can have a “right” to that wealth which belongs to someone else? How is it “respecting their rights” to forcibly seize wealth from someone else?

    By what right, joe!?

    By what right does The State steal from one group “less deserving” and give to the other!?

    What’s the moral basis? What set of ethics suddenly dictates that I have to provide someone else a living?

    I don’t actually feel like having this conversation again.

    I just wanted to get to the point that everyone was acknowledging that, yes, as I wrote, Rand and the Objectivists believe that the poor do not deserve and have no right to material assistance. They deserve their poverty, it is just for them to experience it, and helping them is an act of giving them more than they deserve.

    Glad that’s settled.

  169. Ayn_Randian,

    So a human being, if he owns item X which another human being needs or will die an agonizing death, is morally OK to say “fuck it?”

    Sounds like he wants your kidney and will have the government take it from you without bothering to ask you even if you want to sell or lease it.

    Perhaps he wants other parts as well.

  170. Rimfax,

    That’s hardly every list ever made, as you asserted. AS wouldn’t even make my top 100. If we’re talking about fiction books ever, I’d still have a ton of books well ahead of AS. That list has the book of Mormon at number 8 and no sign of the Koran, the Origin of Species, the Wealth of Nations or the Communist Manifesto. Judging based on adherents and impact on history, all four of those mop the floor with everything on their list with the exception of the Bible. I’m not saying that AS wasn’t influential, but #2 is ridiculous.

    i couldn’t disagree with you more and don’t think you really understand what being selfish really is. Why would trying to make yourself the best person you can be, be harmful to society? Why would taking responsibility for everything that happens to you be a bad thing? How many times does collectivism have to fail for you to understand that their is no such thing as a public good? We are not worker bees mindlessly going about our day in support of the hive. Does life, liberty and pursuit of happiness not sound like enough to you?

    People can be selfish and still help each other. This is what corporations are.

    I completely understand what selfishness is and it’s great for an economic system, but if you want to base all human interactions on that humanity is fucked. Do you really think families and friendships should be managed the same way as a corporation? You completely missed that portion of my comment. Human society is much more than our economic interactions.

    The problem with people like you is that you think anyone that disagrees with you and sees a place for selflessness, altruism and sacrifice is a socialist. I’m a pretty hard-core capitalist, I just don’t base all of my personal relationships on what’s in it for me. Keep in mind that Rand considered hedonism to be evil.

    OK, but Rand ! = Objectivism. In that her thoughts on a particular subject are not the entirety of the philosophy’s viewpoint on that subject.

    You can’t have it both ways by using Rand’s quote and then saying her views aren’t the entirety of Objectivism. So tell me then, how are the Objectivist views on sacrifice and charity different than what I stated?

  171. MNG,

    If I come upon a person who is literally starving because he gambled his paycheck away, and I can end his suffering by giving him half of my lunch, I should.

    As a long time poster to H&R, I realize how corny this sounds, but I’ll take the morality of Jesus over Rand any day…

    I agree with both those statements, HOWEVER (and I capitalized it because this is THE BIG POINT), neither the morality of Jesus or of Rand allows me to take half of your lunch to feed to the hungry guy.

  172. Man, I didn’t read through most of this thread but what I did read is rampant with people who have not read Rand and think they understand her, specifically the issues of charity and selfishness. Please for Galt’s sake check out the Ayn Rand Lexicon conceptual index available for free on the interwebs to see what she actually wrote, in her words, not your have baked interpretations of someone else’s interpretation of Rand. Ridiculous.

    “My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.

    “Playboy’s Interview with Ayn Rand,” March 1964.”

    http://www.aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/#C_index

  173. I just wanted to get to the point that everyone was acknowledging that, yes, as I wrote, Rand and the Objectivists believe that the poor do not deserve and have no right to material assistance. They deserve can work their way out of their poverty, it is just for them to experience it decide how, and helping them is an act of giving them more than they deserve charity that can be construed as a virtue, depending on their circumstances.

    joe never learns. Ever.

  174. Mo,

    Every list I have ever seen (admittedly, probably all english language polls, hence no Koran) has started 1. Bible 2. Atlas Shrugged.

  175. joe, Wal-Mart just accomplished, with the addition of thousands of new drugs at hugely discounted prices, more than the Catholic church has done in terms of charity in the last 20 years.
    Stick that up your religious ass.

  176. TallDave, very impressed with himself, writes

    You haven’t defined “poverty” so that’s impossible to say.

    Perhaps I do you too much credit by assuming you are familiar with the meanings of common English words.

    Regardless, since Rand’s philosophy did not distinguish between the moral status of providing bread to the starving and that of providing aid to the middle class, drawing a precise level at which poverty kicks in is irrelevant to a dicussion of her philosophy.

    That obviously depends on how much wealth you start out with, and where you end up after they seize some of it to give to someone else.

    Yes, it does, which is why your argument that suppporting redistribution equals “taxing people into poverty” is so idiotic. It is obvious that it depends on that question, and it reflects rather poorly on your critical thinking skills that this obvious point didn’t occur to you before you accused me of wanting to tax people into poverty.

    And, that is my last word to you. I’m about to lap you, and you think you’re ahead of me, and I’m starting to feel sorry for you.

  177. Mo,

    Another point – very few people have read Origin of the Species, Wealth of Nations or the Communist Manifesto, at least compared to AS (or the Bible or the Koran). I have only read 1 of the 3 myself. I have also read AS and the Bible (but not the Koran).

    Would I have Atlas Shrugged #2 on my personal list? No. But considering
    a) how few people actually have had books affect their lives
    b) how many have been affected by AS,
    its ranking doesnt surprise me.

  178. adrian,

    Did you try to address at least one of my points? If you did, try again, ’cause your posts didn’t reflect even a poor outline of my economic outlook.

  179. You still haven’t answered, “Upon what set of ethics is someone entitled to the labors of someone else?”

    Or “By what right does The State steal from one group “less deserving” and give to the other!?”

    Or “Your average 2008 person living on less than $1,000 a month lives better than most people in the 1800s or before. Did no one ever have liberty or pursue happiness before the last 50 years or so?”

    His only answer to this is:

    There’s nothing magical about it. Nor precise. and that it’s “messy.”

    Why? Because precision reveals how ridiculous these modern socialist arguments are. There is no reasonable argument by which one can insist that people have a “right” (enforced by state force) to be elevated to a historically extravangant living standard built on wealth seized from others.

    But it makes good politics. You can get lots of people to vote for the idea they deserve other people’s money.

  180. If principles of property conflict with human welfare, they gotta go.

    Ur, yeah, but I don’t see how the “ownership” of the item in question is even morally relevant. A resolution which ends in a human being suffering for the sake of “being in compliance with a system of ownership of items” strikes me as nuts.

    Well, if treating charity and mercy as separate halves of a single concept is muddying the waters of my discussion with joe, at least it’s beneficial to my discussion with you.

    What about punishment? It seems silly to me to make “avoiding human suffering” a trump card which defeats all claims of justice without considering the concept of punishment.

    Murderers who are punished suffer.

    Their suffering has no utility for their victim.

    Shouldn’t we decide that punishing murderers is inconsistent with human welfare, and therefore has to go?

    After all, if you try to use a deterrence counterargument, that doesn’t really tell us anything about any particular murderer.

  181. Fluffy,

    It is a fallacy to assume that the most extreme application of a principle is the proper method for judging that principle.

    To wit, “When it’s cold, you should turn the heat up.”

    ZOMG! You want me to put the heat up to 95! Here, let me point out all the bad things about turning the heat up to 95, and that will refute your principle. That is a fallacy.

    In this case, it’s even worse, because the principle is “We have a duty to keep people from living in poverty,” and the attempted rebuttal is “You’re arguing for taxing people into poverty.” Obviously not, if I’m arguing for the principle that our actions should keep people from living in poverty.

    My relationship to the attacker is marked by moral blame, but my relationship to the poor person is simply a nullity.

    This is the area of disagreement; I do not believe that your relationship to the poor person is rightfully a nullity. You, and Ayn Rand, disagree with me.

  182. Or “By what right does The State steal from one group “less deserving” and give to the other!?”

    Doesn’t that come from one of those Leninist Commandments that goes “from each . . to each . . .”?

  183. Every list I have ever seen (admittedly, probably all english language polls, hence no Koran) has started 1. Bible 2. Atlas Shrugged.

    There are translations for the Koran and the Bible wasn’t published in English originally either. I just can’t see how someone could say that AS is the second most influential book in human history with a straight face. It’s not even the most influential book on capitalism (Wealth of Nations gets that one). I could see if it the list was most influential fiction books of the 20th century. BTW, the only thing I was shown was an odd survey by the LoC that also had GwtW at #6. Do you really want to pimp that list?

  184. the principle that our actions should keep people from living in poverty.

    That is not a principle, that is a simple blind assertion. And we’ve spent the last fucking two hours asking you PLEASE, joe, PLEASE explain to us the moral code that makes this an imperative on the individual and society.
    And you’ve been shooting blanks all goddamn day.

  185. Joe, you are making three statements in one sentence that are related but not precisely the same.

    1. Rand and the Objectivists believe that the poor do not deserve and have no right to material assistance.

    Generally, yes.

    They deserve their poverty, it is just for them to experience it,

    This is not precisely the same statement.

    If I deserve my property, I have the right to dispose of it. If you are poor, you may or may not deserve it, but in either case you would have no right to demand my property unless I had violated some right of yours in a way that produced your poverty.

    If you’re poor because I stole everything you have, I owe you my property. If you’re poor because someone ELSE stole everything you have, I don’t.

    and helping them is an act of giving them more than they deserve.

    It depends, but this conclusion is possible in Objectivism, yes.

    We’re in general agreement but the qualifications to your statement that I’m making are important, for reasons that would become apparent as we moved to discussions of specific policies.

  186. Jamie Kelly, I’ll explain it to you again:

    IF you accept that X is a right, then 1) it is not incumbent on someone to do anything to deserve that right, and 2) my duty to respect that right does not depend on whether I feel like it.

    Should I reply that you have the chance to move somewhere without gun bans, or figure out a way to avoid the speech police? No, if something is a right, then it needs to be respected in all cases.

    Since I believe, as Rand doesn’t, that the poor have a right to assistance, the fact that those who can work their way out of it don’t need it changes nothing about the rights of those who cannot, or who haven’t done so yet.

    You can keep explaining the point I already understand over and over if you’d like. I’ve already responded a number of times, but I guess going beyond the repetition of your initial argument is beyond you.

  187. Perhaps I do you too much credit by assuming you are familiar with the meanings of common English words.

    It’s a word describing a condition you claim demands redress by state seizure, that such redress is in fact their “right.”

    Of course, it is far too much to ask that you define such a condition with specifity beyond simply using the word to mean whatever you like, because the minute you cease obfuscating that point your arguments fall apart.

    And, that is my last word to you. I’m about to lap you, and you think you’re ahead of me, and I’m starting to feel sorry for you.

    LOL Yes, just keep patting yourself on the back and telling yourself what you want to hear. It’s what socialists do best.

  188. Mo,

    The surveys also ask most important or influencing book in your life.

    Communist Manifesto affected and/or killed millions of people but very few actually read it, so most of them cant count it.

    Even limiting it to Americans, Wealth of Nations has has a huge effect, but how many Americans have read it?

    If I was making a personal list, God in the Dock by CS Lewis would probably be #2 on the list. Dune would be way up there too. 🙂 It doesnt mean that I would list them that high as most influential books of all time, but they had a greater impact on my life than Wealth of Nations did.

  189. BTW, the morality of Jesus isn’t to force you to feed the starving person, it’s to say that feeding the starving person is a good thing. Rand thinks feeding the starving person is a bad thing. There’s nothing about theft or socialism here, just simple charity. How is a sandwich worth more than a human life? You guys are trying to turn charity and altruism and equate it to theft. Not all altruism is theft, much of it is self-started.

    Another point – very few people have read Origin of the Species, Wealth of Nations or the Communist Manifesto, at least compared to AS (or the Bible or the Koran). I have only read 1 of the 3 myself. I have also read AS and the Bible (but not the Koran).

    Would I have Atlas Shrugged #2 on my personal list? No. But considering
    a) how few people actually have had books affect their lives
    b) how many have been affected by AS,
    its ranking doesnt surprise me.

    I guess, but when I think of influential, I think of actual impact. The CM led to the dominant conflict of the 20th century. Without WoN, there would be no AS. Without OoS, modern biology (and early 20th century sociology) wouldn’t be where it is, etc.

  190. close italics dammit. ARgh.

  191. Jamie Kelly,

    And we’ve spent the last fucking two hours asking you PLEASE, joe, PLEASE explain to us the moral code that makes this an imperative on the individual and society.

    And I’ve said “No, not right now,” because we’re having a different argument.

    You don’t get to dictate which topic and which ideas I choose to focus on.

    We disagree on whether there is a moral duty to help you fellow human beings, and you’re just going to have to learn to live with the fact that I’m going in a different direction than answering that particular question on thsi particular thread.

    Deal with it.

  192. ZOMG! You want me to put the heat up to 95! Here, let me point out all the bad things about turning the heat up to 95, and that will refute your principle.

    This is a good example of a case where a reductio doesn’t work well, because the principle is poorly expressed, and the reductio is poorly applied.

    “When it’s cold, you should turn the heat up,” really means, “When you feel cold, you should turn the heat up.” This principle contains within itself a bounding: you only turn the heat up until you don’t feel cold any more.

    That makes “ZOMG what about 95 degrees!” a bad analysis, because it’s outside the bound.

    But your other principle: “People who are poor deserve to be supported,” does not contain within itself any such boundary. If it’s a principle at all, it applies in every case where anyone is poor, and it applies to every marginal dollar you have as long as you are not poor.

    You have disputed this before, because you claim it’s not necessary to sacrifice everything you have above subsistence to actually apply the principle. But I have never seen where you think this principle is hiding its boundary. If poverty is a basis for asserting a right to property, it should always be.

    and the attempted rebuttal is “You’re arguing for taxing people into poverty.”

    Yeah, I didn’t really get that, either. But I think your argument is vulnerable to certain applications of the reductio ad absurdum, just not that one.

  193. Mo,

    I guess, but when I think of influential, I think of actual impact. The CM led to the dominant conflict of the 20th century. Without WoN, there would be no AS. Without OoS, modern biology (and early 20th century sociology) wouldn’t be where it is, etc.

    You are thinking of across the board influence, not personal. The question is personal. For example, WoN didnt greatly change me because I was already in agreement with it before I read it. It didnt really present any new ideas to me, because the people who it had influenced had already influenced me. Thus, a low ranking from me.

  194. Fluffy,

    I don’t believe that the moral relationship between me and a poor person changes if he poor because he was robbed or because he lost his job.

    I agree, there is an additional duty on you if YOU stole his stuff, but I’m talking about something else.

  195. Honestly, I doubt even joe really believes this stuff makes any sense, which is why logic is so futile a tool in discussing it with him.

    Socialism just a useful ploy for politicians to get votes and for those voters to feel good about themselves (we’re helping the poor! we’re saving the children!). You can see from joe’s constant delusional self-congratulation that feeling good about joe is his main priority.

    If religion is the opiate of the masses, then socialism is the secular religion to replace it.

  196. joe is in such a circular argument with himself that he could perform a self-colonoscopy.

  197. “I do not believe that your relationship to the poor person is rightfully a nullity.”

    And you would be wrong about that.

    But it still has nothing to do with “deserve”.

  198. Fluffy,

    “When it’s cold, you should turn the heat up,” really means, “When you feel cold, you should turn the heat up.” This principle contains within itself a bounding: you only turn the heat up until you don’t feel cold any more.

    This is exactly what the “taxing into poverty” canard does – it replaces “cold” with “poor” and uses that same logic.

    I did put a boundary on the principle – keeping people out of poverty.

    But I have never seen where you think this principle is hiding its boundary. In principle, you’re right, there is no boundary except poverty. In practice, the elimination of poverty would require resources far short almost impoverishing everyone, and the overally well-being of humanity is better served by stopping redistribution well short of that boundary anyway (due to well-understood matters of how a capitalist economy works).

  199. TallDave,

    Communism is the opiate of dumbasses.

  200. Mo: You can give the sandwich if you want. Don’t make other people give theirs. Other people don’t feel guilty when they don’t give theirs. Rand may or may not give the sandwich.

  201. It’s pretty striking, the different levels at which Fluffy and Ayn Randian are having this discussion, vs. TallDave, Guy, and Jamie Kelly.

    The amusing part is that the latter clearly don’t see the difference.

  202. When we get the free gun do we get a pony too?

  203. Joe is performing a service here, folks.

    No need to give him shit about it.

    To return to a point near the beginning of this argument, I at one point claimed that Rand saw justice as “the rendering to each what is deserved” and charity/mercy as “the rendering of what is not deserved”. [Or in the case of punishments, it might be more clear to say, “refraining from rendering to each what is deserved”.]

    I find it striking that joe’s argument eliminates the distinction between justice and charity altogether. There is no such thing as charity, under the terms of joe’s argument. If justice is “the rendering to each what is deserved”, and joe asserts that the poor deserve support, then it is not charity to help them, but only justice.

    So in an interesting way, Rand is not the only one who fetishizes justice and does not see charity as a virtue. Joe not only doesn’t see it as a virtue, he has defined it out of existence.

    This, of course, creates certain quandaries, because it creates instances where competing claims cannot be resolved. Joe can’t assist each and every poor person, so someone’s “just” claim to support is going to go unsatisfied. For any particular piece of property, you have an infinite number of possible claims – joe’s own claim, since presumably he works for a living, but also the claims of all poor people, each of whom deserves the property but only one of whom can have it.

  204. Shorter TallDave: joe doesn’t agree with my logic. That must mean he’s stupid!

    Yup, that’s exactly what’s going on here. I’m just not getting your point, because it’s so complicated.

  205. Yes, it does, which is why your argument that suppporting redistribution equals “taxing people into poverty” is so idiotic. It is obvious that it depends on that question, and it reflects rather poorly on your critical thinking skills that this obvious point didn’t occur to you before you accused me of wanting to tax people into poverty.

    Of course, I did not say “taxing people into poverty.” If you search on that phrase you will find only joe used that phrase.

    Generally, when you quote someone, you quote what they actually said, but as I’ve noted before reading comprehension is not joe’s strong suit, and intellectual honesty is not in his lexicon.

    What I said was “You would forcibly impoverish one to make another less impoverished.” which Google defines as:

    Definitions of impoverish on the Web:
    make poor
    deprive: take away

  206. Fluffy,

    There is no such thing as charity, under the terms of joe’s argument. If justice is “the rendering to each what is deserved”, and joe asserts that the poor deserve support, then it is not charity to help them, but only justice.

    That’s only if you assume that there is no duty to perform acts of charity. The fact that respecting the right of the poor to succor, unlike respecting negative rights, requires an active response, as opposed to merely refraining from acting against them, does change the moral standing of respecting that right – just not in the way many are arguing here.

    It adds an element of moral boon to the act of doing one’s duty. In Fluffy’s terms, aiding the poor is given them BOTH justice and mercy.

  207. Shorter TallDave: joe doesn’t agree with my logic. That must mean he’s stupid!

    Well, the “I’m ignoring you!” tantrum didn’t last long.

  208. I had a really awesome comment that I had to delete because it violated one of my pet peeves about these kind of discussions. Dang it.

    I refuse to call some one a hypocrite when they are acting in a way I agree with (instead of the way they are arguing).

    Note: This peeve started watching Barney Frank criticize a Republican for not supporting a bill on federalist grounds. He was right, but as Frank isnt a federalist, he should not be using the argument. You only get to argue from your own premises and moral structure.

  209. Maybe, TallDave, you should try to make your points clearer, instead of deliberately choosing language intended to produce confusion.

    This thread has become one about poverty. You chose to use the word “impoverish” to describe taxing people.

    I’ll take your word for it that you just chose your words poorly, and didn’t intend to leave the impression that you were using “impoverish” to mean “reduce to poverty.” Just an honest mistake of poor word choice, and I’m glad you cleared that up; you were NOT accusing me of wanting to make people poor through taxation.

    Which is no doubt more generous than you would be to me in a similar situation, but I guess we just have different ideas of what people owe to each other.

  210. Well, the “I’m ignoring you!” tantrum didn’t last long.

    It produced the desired effect.

  211. “Economic Justice, whatever t.f. that is.”

    It’s newspeak for “looting”.

    -jcr

  212. “That’s only if you assume that there is no duty to perform acts of charity. ”

    There isn’t. If it were a duty, it wouldn’t be charity.

    -jcr

  213. “Joe is performing a service here, folks.”

    What would that be?

    Comic relief?

  214. Rand was rather Calvinist in her willingness to treat the relationship between wealth and virtue as a default assumption.

    Nope, she certainly recognized that some people acquired wealth through illegitimate means.

    -jcr

  215. I’ll take your word for it that you just chose your words poorly,

    I didn’t choose it poorly, it means exactly what I said. You created an entirely new phrase and dishonestly put it in quotes as though I’d said it, and now you’re blaming me.

    But back to the original point, which you’ve been dodging with your manufactured quote:

    It is not right for you, or me, to decide that someone should live in poverty.

    You want to make some people poorer in order to make other people less poor, or as I said before, impoverish them to make others less impoverished.

    So apparently you DO get to decide whether the former are too far above poverty. How did you come by that right, exactly?

  216. If it were a duty, it wouldn’t be charity.

    Funny story from Maryland (my sister is a HS teacher there). I few years back they started requiring XX hours of volunteer “public service” for graduation. They refused to accept Boy Scout public service hours because the scouts earned a badge and therefore it wasnt volunteer work. My counterargument was that they couldnt count anything then, because the students were earning a diploma with the service and therefore, it wasnt volunteer work.

  217. Well, the “I’m ignoring you!” tantrum didn’t last long. It produced the desired effect.

    LOL Of course, the “I meant to do that” defence. Yes, we’re all just pawns of your subtle strategems.

  218. volunteer “public service” for graduation

    I remember that. It was some Kennedy family cunt who came up with that “conscription lite” thing, wasn’t it?

    -jcr

  219. Ask not what your country can do for you, ask instead what your country can demand you do before it lets you have a high school diploma.


  220. Let’s talk about morality. One of her “heroes” in Atlas Shrugged, Nat Taggart murders a state legislator because he revoked a business charter for a him.

    Taggart also “threw down three flights of stairs a distinguished gentleman who offered him a loan from the government.”

    Taggart was a murderer and a bully, great role model and moral indvidual”

    Killing or injuring a thief (or agent of an organization of thieves) is not a bad thing. Both of these individuals surrendered their rights by their actions.

    Also, Joe, in attempting to establish as a “principle” that people be forced to provide for those in poverty, because “Circumstances” somehow produced it, you are destroying the very thing that makes production possible. By sundering goods and their production, you render the title “producer” equivalent in meaning to slave, and humans will run from it as surely as they ran from slavery- which means your whole dreamed-up regime will collapse.

    When you assert that someone has a “right” to money they never produced, you deny that others have any rights to their own life, which means, because rights are reciprocal, there is no right to life, which means, there can be no rights, since rights are formed as objective requirements of human life, and respected based on self-interest and the fact that human situations are analogous.

  221. joe – please define “poverty” so I know how much I am obligated to give to someone else, and how much I get to keep.

    Of course, you’re refusing the answer the big question in all this: Who gets to decide? You’ve apparently defaulted to “we”, even though I don’t consider myself part of you or some random poor person halfway across the world.

    So, joe, again, define: “Poverty”. Just a cash amount, please.

  222. The fact that respecting the right of the poor to succor

    Define “Succor”, joe.

    If you expect me to be able to operate within morally acceptable (read: your morality) parameters, I expect you to do me the decency of defining them.

  223. Wow, they’re still going at it!
    Good ole Ayn…she can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile.

  224. One rather easy way to get around that contradiction, which doesn’t seem to have occured to Rand, is to cease assuming that those in need deserve their poverty, and have done something that excludes them from deserving things like food, shelter, and a decent quality of life.

    This is a total misreading of Objectivism. Objectivism isn’t Calvinist, in the sense of believing that poor people deserve their condition. Rather, it says that poor people have no moral claim to force others to be charitable to them. Rather, Objectivism says that the poor should do something productive and useful for other people, and via this voluntary exchange obtain the things desired.

    And Objectivism doesn’t rule out compassion to the less fortunate, so long as it isn’t coerced. The protagonist in the Fountainhead does something (for entirely selfish reasons) to benefit the poor — designing and building a super-efficient low-income apartment building — but it’s the moochers and socialists who destroy and pervert this design, leading to it being dynamited.

  225. Calvinism is pre-deterministic, is it not?

    Pretty sure Rand believed in free will, too.

  226. John C. Randolph writes, There isn’t. If it were a duty, it wouldn’t be charity

    I guess you’ve never read the Old Testament. Or the New Testament. Or the Koran. Or any of the teachings of Buddha. Just about every major religion on earth has a duty to perform acts of charity.

    He also writes, Nope, she certainly recognized that some people acquired wealth through illegitimate means. So did the Calvinists. They both treat the wealth-virtue connection as a rebuttable assumption.

  227. Stop snivelling, TallDave.

    You used the word “impoverish” twice in the same sentence, setting it up in parallel, to make two things look alike. Do you really think you’re fooling anybody with this shtick?

    You should either stand by what you write, or not write it. Let me give you a heads up: this is a lot easier to do if you don’t use semantic tricks to express thoughts you don’t actually believe in an effort to win arguments.

    Dishonestly like this makes conversation with you pointless.

  228. For more information about the Ayn Rand cult, you may wish to consult *The Ayn Rand Cult,* by Jeff Walker.

    “And just look at all those heretics Objectivism burned at the stake!”

    Don’t be silly – the spokespersons for orthodox Objectivism respect human life too much! All they want America to do is to “withdraw from the suicide pact that is the Geneva Convention,” which is “based on the so-called Just War Theory.” The Geneva Convention, you see, deters American soldiers from endangering “so-called innocents.”

    http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=10477

    The Catholic Church is responsible for the nefarious Just War theory, which continues to be influential with non-Catholics.

    So, you see, it’s not for lack of trying that Objectivists don’t have a big enough body count. Tell me again about your respect for the sanctity of human life.

  229. prolefeed, well said

  230. ragnar rahl (If that IS your real name):

    Also, Joe, in attempting to establish as a “principle” that people be forced to provide for those in poverty, because “Circumstances” somehow produced it, you are destroying the very thing that makes production possible. I appreciate how this dynamic could come to be, in circumstances of economic levelling that actually do sunder the connection you point out. As I wrote at 2:31, In practice, the elimination of poverty would require resources far short almost impoverishing everyone, and the overally well-being of humanity is better served by stopping redistribution well short of that boundary anyway (due to well-understood matters of how a capitalist economy works).

  231. I guess you’ve never read the Old Testament. Or the New Testament. Or the Koran. Or any of the teachings of Buddha. Just about every major religion on earth has a duty to perform acts of charity.

    OK, I’ll bite. Quote me the passage in the New Testament where Jesus advocates compulsory, involuntary charity, in particular said “charity” enforced by the government.

    Hint — he doesn’t. He says that if you want to build up treasure in the kingdom of heaven, you CHOOSE to do this. When he asks the rich man to give all his goods to the poor and then become his disciple, and the rich man walks away from this request, Jesus doesn’t advocate making the sumbitch be charitable.

    Actually, show me the passages in any of these cited religious works advocating for involuntary, government-coerced “charity”.

  232. Ayn Randian,

    Please define “security” so I’ll know exactly how much I have to pay to support the military, and how much I get to keep.

    That’s a really stupid question, isn’t it? So is yours.

    Both of those concepts are, to a certain extent, socially constructed, which means we can all hold slightly different visions of what they mean. Since there is no precise and objective standard, we “muddle through” using the democratic process.

  233. Calvinism is pre-deterministic, is it not?

    Yes, and it also professes a belief in the divinity of Christ.

    Would you like to spend the evening brainstorming other ways that Calvinism is different from Objectivism, or should we stick to the subject, their position on poverty and its alleviation?

  234. Tell me again about your respect for the sanctity of human life.

    So, you quote ARI…and then extrpolate that quote to mean that all Objectivists think this way?

    Does that even sound like a remotely fair debating tactic to you?

    Regardless, I like how Catholicism “respects” the sanctity of life so much that it enslaves women to clumps of cells. It enslaves men and women to lives of unwanted children because a thin piece of latex is somehow immoral (but timing your intercourse is not).

    You’re so far deep in absurdity I’m surprised you know how to walk.

  235. Just about every major religion on earth has a duty to perform acts of charity.

    A duty similar to a personal duty not to sin, not a duty to be forced at gunpoint. Coerced actions do not gain you grace, at least when I was studying Catholic catechism back in the 70s.

    And wouldn’t using major religions as source material for behavior be specious, since we all agree which side priests fall on in the motors/looters divide.

  236. prolefeed,

    Objectivism isn’t Calvinist, in the sense of believing that poor people deserve their condition. Rather, it says that poor people have no moral claim to force others to be charitable to them.

    If that was the entirety of Rand’s claim – that people have no right to use force against others – it wouldn’t have been a novel philosophy.

    But of course, there is more to her philosophy than that. She doesn’t just argue against redistribution on non-initiation of force grounds, but on the grounds of dessert as well. In addition to other arguments, such as a materialist definition of selfhood that deeply personalizes wealth, and on pragmatic grounds related to the destruction of incentives.

    Beyond her argument that “taxation = theft,” she argues that it is unjust for a “productive” person not to enjoy the fruits of his labor, because he deserves them, while those who have not earned wealth do not deserve the materials comforts of that wealth, to any degree.

  237. Just about every major religion on earth has a duty to perform acts of charity.

    Actually, to really split hairs here, joe, the duty part is the duty to the deity. You have a duty to God to give money to the poor that they don’t deserve.

    Or it’s a pseudo-Kantian sort of duty, where it’s precisely the fact that the poor don’t deserve it that obligates you to give it to them.

    When you say that the poor “deserve” your support, I’m reading that more as they “deserve” it in the way that the guy who owns the Donut shop “deserves” $1.50 from me after he gives me coffee. You would never say that paying the Donut man is “charity” – you’re just paying him what you owe him.

    So in order for alms to be charity, they can’t be “owed” or “deserved” in that respect. And if they are “owed” or “deserved”, then they aren’t charity any more.

  238. Please define “security” so I’ll know exactly how much I have to pay to support the military, and how much I get to keep.

    So, the amount of “succor” that poor folks are entitled to is an ever-shifting amount?

    There’s an objective way to look at the security situtation and say “We’re more/less secure than previously”…there’s no way to look at a poor person and say “you’re less poor now!” because of the ever-increasing standard of living.

    Shoot, joe, how do we even determine who needs aid, when you can’t come up with a definition for “needy” in the first place?

    “I’ll know it when I see it” is not an acceptable basis for law.

  239. prolefeed,

    Quote me the passage in the New Testament where Jesus advocates compulsory, involuntary charity, in particular said “charity” enforced by the government. Why? Jesus didn’t talk about how the government should be organized, or very much about political matters at all.

    He did, however, say that his followers had a duty to help the poor. He said that the rich young man should give away all that he owned to do his duty to God, and that it is harder for a rich man to go to heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. He also inveighed against stealing and adultery, making it quite clear that you have a duty not to commit them, without once saying how, or even if, those prohibitions should be enforced. Enforcement simply wasn’t his bag.

    This isn’t a thread about the right way to enforce that duty, nor have I written any comments about that subject. Try not to jack the thread any worse than it already is.

  240. “So, you quote ARI…and then extrpolate that quote to mean that all Objectivists think this way?”

    Ach, I forgot that the Ayn Rand Institute is nae made up of True Scotsmen!

    When you challenged me to “just look at all those heretics Objectivism burned at the stake,” implicitly contrasting the life-affirming attitudes of your philosophy with the life-negating doctrines of the Catholic Church, what you *really* meant was, “Objectivism [as outlined by people outside of ARI].”

    I certainly understand why you want to retreat full-speed from those Objectivists who want to repudiate the Geneva Convention and the Just War Doctrine – product as it is of the hated Papists. You would prefer that nobody know about it at all. Look over there! The Inquisition! Birth Control!

  241. Both of those concepts are, to a certain extent, socially constructed, which means we can all hold slightly different visions of what they mean. Since there is no precise and objective standard, we “muddle through” using the democratic process.

    Joe, sorry, but this doesn’t wash.

    If the poor deserve support, and if their dessert of that support trumps property rights, then it isn’t just a matter of a representative government deciding to help the poor, and paying the taxes set by a representative government wouldn’t satisfy any individual obligation to the poor.

    The political question is a subset of the moral question. It’s not the whole question.

    Otherwise, this would mean that if I can just get the government to say I have no obligation to the poor, I actually won’t have one. And it would mean that at any moment in time every person who wants more help for the poor than the current state benefit level is morally in the wrong. And I seriously doubt that you think this.

    There has to be some way to individually make the moral analysis of one’s individual obligation, and it has to be utterly separate from the political process, for any of this to make sense.

  242. guy in the back row just repeats prolefeed’s error – not understanding the difference between asserting a duty and proposing that it be enforced – but Fluffy offers a serious rebuttal:

    Actually, to really split hairs here, joe, the duty part is the duty to the deity. You have a duty to God to give money to the poor that they don’t deserve.

    Duty to God? “Whatsoever you do to the least of these, that you do unto me.” At least in the Christian tradition, this distinction doesn’t exist.

    I’m certainly open to the argument that there can be a duty, but the government shouldn’t enforce that duty. But the conversation we’re having is prior to that; we’re discussing whether such a duty exists. For most of the world, and in the religious traditions of most of humanity, that duty certainly exists. A duty to perform works of charity.

    When you say that the poor “deserve” your support, I’m reading that more as they “deserve” it in the way that the guy who owns the Donut shop “deserves” $1.50 from me after he gives me coffee.

    Good point. That is not what I mean by the term. I do not believe that we are in debt to the poor, that they deserve aid because of something they’ve done. Maybe I should stick to the term “right” for clarity’s sake, since I’m arguing that they “deserve” (or whatever) our help by virtue of their being human beings (endowed by their Creator, created in the image of God, however you want to phrase it), just as they have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In fact, as I’ve said, I consider freedom from want to be part of parcel of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Yes, I’m arguing for a positive freedom. That’s where our philosophies diverge.

  243. Max,

    The Objectivist argument against the Just War theory is actually pretty morally sound.

    It places all moral blame for damages arising from a war on the part of the aggressor.

    The Objectivists would argue that if someone “declares war” on you, and advances to attack you while [to use a bizarre theoretical example] wearing a suit of armor made of living human infants, if in the course of defending yourself you kill those infants the moral blame for their deaths resides with the attacker and you have no responsibility whatsoever.

    It’s actually a neat and perfectly valid argument. I don’t subscribe to it as much as I would have at one time, but that is because no one involved in war ever thinks of themselves as the “bad guy”, so everyone in war would take upon themselves the right to commit atrocities if they attempted to apply the Objectivist theory. But it’s certainly not an anti-life position to deny the aggressor the ability to engage in moral extortion. The argument is flawed not in its moral basis, but because it just doesn’t take into account the way it could be used to excuse the conduct of the very aggressors it is constructed against.

  244. Fluffy,

    So, would it be fair to say that you regard the Objectivist ideal of war as nice in theory but flawed in practice?

    (Although, just to nitpick, if their theory is problematic because of its potential for use by aggressors, then I would think that *is* a moral problem. And that it isn’t *only* the aggressor side which should he held to humanitarian standards. The good guys maybe ought to act like, you know, good guys.)

  245. Ayn Randian,

    This is wrong: There’s an objective way to look at the security situtation and say “We’re more/less secure than previously”…there’s no way to look at a poor person and say “you’re less poor now!” because of the ever-increasing standard of living.

    You most certainly can say “You’re less poor now.” There is a very easy, objective way of measuring that – their material wealth.

    It’s the line at which someone goes from “poor” to “not poor” that is imprecise, not whether we can measure if people are more or less poor. It’s exactly the same as security – we can measure whether we are more or less secure, but the question “How secure is secure enough?” is one with a socially-constructed answer that is both complex, and can change over time.

    And no, the fact that a precise standard of applying principles must be socially constructed does not define that principle out of existence, or even make it impossible to use as the basis for policy. When does rudeness become harrassment? How safe is safe enough? We answer these questions at both the level of principle and practice all the time.

  246. Maybe I should stick to the term “right” for clarity’s sake, since I’m arguing that they “deserve” (or whatever) our help by virtue of their being human beings (endowed by their Creator, created in the image of God, however you want to phrase it), just as they have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In fact, as I’ve said, I consider freedom from want to be part of parcel of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    That doesn’t clear it up, because I wouldn’t consider acknowledging these rights of others to be an exercise in charity, either.

    See how confusing this gets? The question of the unity or diversity of the virtues has been tied up in knots this bad since Socrates met Alcibiades if not longer.

    I actually understand where you are coming from. If we are ordered by God to be charitable, then it would seem that the poor can be said to “deserve” our charity. But OTOH, if charity is deserved, why do we need a different word for it at all? What is the distinction between committing an act of charity and discharging a debt? There seems to be agreement [in most Romance languages anyway] that there is something special about charity that makes it need its own word. So what is it?

    I don’t think Rand was amiss in seeing a tension between justice and charity which, if you try to be entirely consistent, rises to an opposition, unless you try to dissolve the distinct quality of charity altogether. It’s a difficult issue.

  247. Fluffy,

    If the poor deserve support, and if their dessert of that support trumps property rights, then it isn’t just a matter of a representative government deciding to help the poor, and paying the taxes set by a representative government wouldn’t satisfy any individual obligation to the poor.

    Hold it, there are two different questions you’re putting together: “should we help the poor?” – a question of principle – and the pragmatic questions Ayn Randian and you point out. I’m saying that the democratic process can answer the pragmatic questions, not the question of principle.

  248. You used the word “impoverish” twice in the same sentence, setting it up in parallel, to make two things look alike. Do you really think you’re fooling anybody with this shtick?

    Still playing semantic games and dodging the question? LOL What a shock. Be sure to tell yourself you’re winning the argument again; it’s like socialism for your ego.

    Dishonestly like this makes conversation with you pointless.

    This from the guy who just manufactured a quote and attributed it to me. Priceless.

    Sheesh, this is worse than when you tried to tell us global warming was making islands sink.

    joe – please define “poverty” so I know how much I am obligated to give to someone else, and how much I get to keep.

    He can’t. Any attempt to do so would annihilate the whole premise of the argument the poor have some fundamental right to have the state seize other people’s wealth and give it to them.

    That’s why he never addresses the real questions.

  249. Fluffy,

    That doesn’t clear it up, because I wouldn’t consider acknowledging these rights of others to be an exercise in charity, either.

    I thought this was a good point when you raised it earlier, and offered an answer at 2:44.

    That’s only if you assume that there is no duty to perform acts of charity. The fact that respecting the right of the poor to succor, unlike respecting negative rights, requires an active response, as opposed to merely refraining from acting against them, does change the moral standing of respecting that right – just not in the way many are arguing here.

    It adds an element of moral boon to the act of doing one’s duty. In Fluffy’s terms, aiding the poor is given them BOTH justice and mercy.

    Look at it this way: my wife has never kissed me on the cheek and thanked me for not cheating on her with a hooker. It is my duty not to cheat on her with hookers.

    She has, however, kissed me on the cheek and thanked me for doing housework, as I have to her. It IS my duty to do housework – but since there is an affirmative, active element that I have to take upon myself to live up to this duty, I get credit from her for those acts, in a way that I don’t get for sitting on the couch instead of chasing hookers.

  250. I’m being accused of “playing semantic games” by the guy who wrote You would forcibly impoverish one to make another less impoverished, and then proceeded to whine because I didn’t immediately understand that he meant two different definitions of “impoverish.”

    We can all read what you did there, ToolDave. Let the people who are making an effort to have an honest conversation continue.

  251. I think Joe’s untiring devotion to socialism is actually a manifestation of his deep religious beliefs. He defends socialism in much the same way as one would defend religion, using many of the same arguments.

    Would he be a socialist if he weren’t religious? Does he see that many of the same fallacies expounded by religious leaders are found in socialism and vice-versa?

    It’s starting to make sense to me now. Don’t know what took so long.

  252. Since there is no precise and objective standard, we “muddle through” using the democratic process.

    That’s what this really comes down to: you can get lots of people to vote for the idea they deserve other people’s money.

    Of course, if we treated this like other issues of rights, the courts would step in and declare that seizing people’s wealth to give it to other people is an unconstitutional violation of their rights, regardless of what laws we pass democratically.

  253. Hold it, there are two different questions you’re putting together: “should we help the poor?” – a question of principle – and the pragmatic questions Ayn Randian and you point out. I’m saying that the democratic process can answer the pragmatic questions, not the question of principle.

    That’s a nice formulation, but it still has the problems above.

    It’s a useful argument for you, because it allows you to punt on the “boundary” question I raised. If the poor deserve support, why aren’t you obligated to assist the poor until you are “poor plus 1 dollar” yourself? Answer: Because we all get together as a society and set a pragmatic limit to our obligation, sort of like a speed limit.

    But trying to use democracy as your boundary raises all sorts of questions: Before the vote is taken, by what moral standard should each person be making their judgment of where to vote to put the boundary? If I can somehow get “society” to place the “speed limit” at “give poor people one dime”, does that become the moral limit too? In a state of anarchy, is there no moral responsibility to help the poor?

    The reason these questions are important to me is because I think that you can’t really use the pragmatic issue to mask the impact of the principle. If the principle is true, a society which sets a pragmatic limit that doesn’t satisfy the problem is an unjust and immoral society. The people who participate in the process that leads to the pragmatic limit stopping short of the principle and unjust and immoral people. Etcetera. There’s no refuge from the principle in pragmatism at all that I can see.

  254. I’m being accused of “playing semantic games” by the guy who wrote You would forcibly impoverish one to make another less impoverished, and then proceeded to whine because I didn’t immediately understand that he meant two different definitions of “impoverish.”

    It’s not my fault you can’t read a dictionary. You’re the one who manufactured a quote instead of using what I actually said, so apparently you understood perfectly well what I meant and had to make up your own quote to make it sound like something else.

    And once again, you didn’t answer the question.

    Let the people who are making an effort to have an honest conversation continue.

    I guess you’ll be leaving then, since all you’ve done is quibble over semantics, manufacture quotes, and refuse to answer questions.

  255. ” As I wrote at 2:31, In practice, the elimination of poverty would require resources far short almost impoverishing everyone, and the overally well-being of humanity is better served by stopping redistribution well short of that boundary anyway (due to well-understood matters of how a capitalist economy works).”

    I rather think you are ignoring my argument, Joe. I wasn’t talking about a specific point of redistribution- the fact of redistribution as such is what sunders the connection between production and consumption, what regards human beings as slaves, and thus what discourages the act of production.

    And no, this is not my real name. I can use whatever name I want here, one of the advantages of the Internet.


    Please define “security” so I’ll know exactly how much I have to pay to support the military, and how much I get to keep.”

    Any Objectivist who is consistent would tell you you don’t “have to” pay to support the military in a free country. I.e., Objectivism supports the abolition of taxation, so your rebuttal doesn’t work. If you don’t pay for government services, you don’t get services from them.


    Both of those concepts are, to a certain extent, socially constructed, which means we can all hold slightly different visions of what they mean. Since there is no precise and objective standard, we “muddle through” using the democratic process.”

    There is no such thing as a “socially constructed” concept. Concepts are constructed by individuals. If there are differences in interpretation, one is in error. Also, if there is no “objective standard,” no objective reality in the matter, and individual judgment is not to be trusted, democracy will not and cannot save you. A line of zeroes is still zero, a line of uncertains is still uncertain. If we take your premise consistently, all is futile, and there can be no morality, no standards, no action- and frankly this computer can’t possibly be mass produced.

    “she argues that it is unjust for a “productive” person not to enjoy the fruits of his labor, because he deserves them,”

    What is unjust about it? Justice, you’ll remember if you read Rand, is defined in her arguments as “Causality applied to human beings,” i.e. reaping the consequences of one’s actions. Are you denying wealth is a consequence of net production (what capitalism rewards?) If you’ve a different definition of the term, you’re equivocating, even assuming your concept is meaningful, which it probably isn’t, just guessing from usual definitions..

    And because I see things buzzing around on the Just War Doctrine and Geneva conventions and such, and someone claiming to be Objectivist but equivocating, I’ll have to note: Objectivism in a strict sense does indeed support the invasion of unfree nations (rand’s term “dictatorship,” but I think that term is too overloaded with irrelevant connotations), and the Geneva Convention cannot be justified on it (The just war doctrine is frankly so undefined in every reading I’ve done on it that judgment is impossible for me thus far). The reason for this is that those in such countries who are innocent are ALREADY having their rights violate by the government, and thus, any invasion of the country cannot further violate their rights (they are “inactive” one might say). Once the invading country is actually in power in the region however, the rights of the citizens are again “Active” and thus it is of course wrong to establish any similarly oppressive regime.

    I”‘ve said, I consider freedom from want to be part of parcel of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    There is and can be no such thing as “freedom from want.” All human existence entails that you want something, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t act.

    “Yes, I’m arguing for a positive freedom. That’s where our philosophies diverge”.

    You are arguing for a floating abstraction, that cannot be concretized in reality. No definition ever proposed of freedom other than “Freedom from force and fraud” can be consistently concretized.

  256. You are arguing for a floating abstraction, that cannot be concretized in reality. No definition ever proposed of freedom other than “Freedom from force and fraud” can be consistently concretized.

    Exactly.

  257. She has, however, kissed me on the cheek and thanked me for doing housework, as I have to her. It IS my duty to do housework – but since there is an affirmative, active element that I have to take upon myself to live up to this duty, I get credit from her for those acts, in a way that I don’t get for sitting on the couch instead of chasing hookers.

    This is interesting to me and I will have to consider this more.

  258. adrian,

    I was a liberal for years, when I wasn’t religious.

    And if you see a similarity between what I’m arguing and defenses of religion, it is because you are lumping everything you don’t believe into the same category.

  259. So, let me ask again: by what right do you impoverish some to lessen the impoverishment of others? And yes, I once again deliberately used the same word twice, and no, it is not the same as “taxing into poverty.”

  260. And if you see a similarity between what I’m arguing and defenses of religion, it is because you are lumping everything you don’t believe into the same category.

    No, it’s because you proceed from the same fallacy of received wisdom as the religious.

  261. Fluffy,

    Please do me the courtesy of letting me provide my own answers, rather than assigning them to me. I haven’t been doing that to you.

    The answer to If the poor deserve support, why aren’t you obligated to assist the poor until you are “poor plus 1 dollar” yourself? is the same as the last two times I answered it: In practice, the elimination of poverty would require resources far short almost impoverishing everyone, and the overally well-being of humanity is better served by stopping redistribution well short of that boundary anyway (due to well-understood matters of how a capitalist economy works).

    Which, you might notice, is not a statement about the democratic process deciding things, or about making a values judgement about boundaries, but an observation about objective reality. We don’t tax people to “poor +1” because it would do more harm than good, in terms of people’s economic well-being.

    If the principle is true, a society which sets a pragmatic limit that doesn’t satisfy the problem is an unjust and immoral society. Or on imperfect society, made up of fallable people doing their best, and working to produce something workable, that comes up short. We can only do what we can do.

  262. Here is where the “positive right” of succor fails: it can only be sustained through the coercion of others who are not poor.

    Consider a group of people alone in the world, who are poor. We can claim they have a right not to be poor, but this is meaningless if there are no other people from which to seize wealth to make them less poor. We can, however, say they have negative rights: the right to not have their own property seized, the right to physical security, etc.

  263. Whatever, ToolDave. We can all see what you did with that sentence, deliberately conflating two ideas when, as you now admit, you knew while you were writing it that you were talking about diffferent concepts.

    Dishonest hack. I can read a dictitonary just fine, and used the first definition in the dictionary to define your use of the same word in the same sentence, twice. Yeah, this is a problem of my dishonesty and poor reading skills. No way you used “impoverish” and “impoverish” to refer to two different things because you wanted to make them look the same.

    Who do you think you’re fooling?

  264. Objectivism in a strict sense does indeed support the invasion of unfree nations (rand’s term “dictatorship,” but I think that term is too overloaded with irrelevant connotations)

    Whoops. Do you remember when Rand said it was justified to invade “unfree” nations?

    And, of course, where I jump off of this Objecto-train is to state that there are particular areas where nations are more or less free; in that there are more “social” freedoms in some and more “economic” freedoms in other, and there’s not an objective way to determine whether, say, the United States is “free” or “not free”.

    To say that a nation is “unfree” means that some line somewhere has been stumbled over, from “free” to “oppressed”…when freedom is on a continuum from Maximum to Minimum…with “more free” and “less free” along the way.

    Claiming that it is the “right” of free nations (which, nations do not have rights) to invade “unfree” nations is to forget that the reductio of that is, in libertarian- and Objectivist-land, no nation is 100% free.

  265. Dishonest hack. I can read a dictitonary just fine,

    Obviously not, or you wouldn’t have whined for ten posts about “You would forcibly impoverish one to make another less impoverished.” being poorly worded when it was clearly perfectly accurate, as I proved.

    No way you used “impoverish” and “impoverish” to refer to two different things because you wanted to make them look the same

    Your point being what? LOL It’s dishonest to use words of similar etymology? Of course the point was that to indicate the irony of making one poorer to ease the poorness of another. But instead of simply answering the question you manufactured a quote and attributed it to me (“dishonest hack,” indeed LOL).

    And of course, as we’ve now proven, you can’t answer the question. You lose.

    But thanks for playing, and enjoy your lovely take-home prizes!

  266. “I think Joe’s untiring devotion to socialism is actually a manifestation of his deep religious beliefs.”

    For those who came in late, this is considered the ultimate H&R put-down.

  267. Ragnar,

    I’m not ignoring your argument, I’m disagreeing with it.

    And no, this is not my real name. I can use whatever name I want here, one of the advantages of the Internet. Sorry to hear the humor injection didn’t take.

    the fact of redistribution as such is what sunders the connection between production and consumption, what regards human beings as slaves, and thus what discourages the act of production. I disagree with that. A person who has some minority portion of his earnings collected in taxes still enjoys the fruits of his labor (just not all of them), and still has the incentive to keep producing (just attenuated somewhat). That connection doesn’t go away with the first penny collected in taxes.

    I haven’t noticed the economy grinding to a halt, or people becoming slaves without control of their destinies, with the government collecting something-teen % of GDP.

    Any Objectivist who is consistent… really isn’t worth arguing with. Fortunately, we seem to have a few who can adjust that philosophy to fit the real world, like Ayn Randian.

    There is no such thing as a “socially constructed” concept. You are wrong. The fact that dollar bills have economic value is socially constructed. There is no objectie reality behind this, other than the fact that we all agree together that they have value.

    Concepts are constructed by individuals. Yes, usually by individuals working in tandem and producing a common understanding. The fact that this collection of letters conveys meaning is socially-constructed. If you had attempted to construct an alphabet individually, it would be worthless and meaningless.

    If there are differences in interpretation, one is in error. Yup. And in the case of socially-constructed ideas, the one whose interpretation differs from the group is in error.

    If we take your premise consistently, all is futile, and there can be no morality, no standards, no action- and frankly this computer can’t possibly be mass produced. History proves you wrong. We can muddle through, and come up something that is good enough, without having certain, objective, unchanging knowledge.

    What is unjust about it? Are you denying wealth is a consequence of net production (what capitalism rewards?) No. Would you like me to answer the question of what I think, or are you doing just fine filling the blanks by yourself?

    There is and can be no such thing as “freedom from want.” All human existence entails that you want something, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t act. The term “freedom from want” has an actual meaning and history, you know. (As does, btw, “If that IS your real name.”) Do you not actually know what it means, or are you just playing a semantic game?

    No definition ever proposed of freedom other than “Freedom from force and fraud” can be consistently concretized. Actually, Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, like them are not, are a hell of lot more concretized and applicable than “freedom from force and fraud.” I’ve seen how squirrelly you all get with “what is force” and “what is fraud.”

  268. Wow, TallDave actually decides to write something other than “joe iz bad.” I suppose I should provide positive feedback for such behavior.

    So, let me ask again: by what right do you impoverish some to lessen the impoverishment of others? The rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which are denied to those struggling with poverty.

    No, it’s because you proceed from the same fallacy of received wisdom as the religious.

    As if “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and “all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights” and even “the right to be free from force and fraud” were disovered in an beaker at Bell Labs by post-docs.

  269. ToolDave, everybody can read your sentence. You used the word impoverished, twice, in parallel.

    You aren’t fooling anyone. It’s blindingly obvious why you did that, and what your purpose was.

    Please, keep drawing attention to what you did and insisting that you didn’t. I’m concerned that you might still have a modicum of credibility.


  270. Whoops. Do you remember when Rand said it was justified to invade “unfree” nations?

    http://www.aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/dictatorship.html

    Here ya go, it’s in there.


    Claiming that it is the “right” of free nations (which, nations do not have rights) to invade “unfree” nations is to forget that the reductio of that is, in libertarian- and Objectivist-land, no nation is 100% free.”

    Nations do not have rights- except as a product of the rights of the individuals within them.

    Yes, no nation is 100% free. But obviously it’s beneficial to get rid of the ones that are closer to 100% enslaved (actual 100% enslaved ones would have no living members of course).

    ” I disagree with that. A person who has some minority portion of his earnings collected in taxes still enjoys the fruits of his labor (just not all of them), and still has the incentive to keep producing (just attenuated somewhat). That connection doesn’t go away with the first penny collected in taxes.”

    He has an incentive to hide the amount of his production- which results in an extra expenditure of his production. See the millions of tax havens. Also, he has an incentive to see what he can do about getting rid of the taxing authority, of course.


    I haven’t noticed the economy grinding to a halt, or people becoming slaves without control of their destinies, with the government collecting something-teen % of GDP.

    Economies grind very, very, very slow. Very slow.

    ” You are wrong. The fact that dollar bills have economic value is socially constructed. There is no objectie reality behind this, other than the fact that we all agree together that they have value.”

    They don’t have value on net. They have guns behind them, guns held by those for whom there can be no values :D. If no individual made the decision to hold the first gun behind the dollar, the dollar would never have been exchanged.

    “Yes, usually by individuals working in tandem and producing a common understanding. The fact that this collection of letters conveys meaning is socially-constructed. If you had attempted to construct an alphabet individually, it would be worthless and meaningless.”

    The letters of the alphabet are not a concept, they are a stand-in for concepts.

    “History proves you wrong. We can muddle through, and come up something that is good enough, without having certain, objective, unchanging knowledge.”

    Wait, you are telling me there are no individuals in history who were certain of their ideas? None? Or that these people had no impact whatsoever? Sorry, I never took that history class.

    “o. Would you like me to answer the question of what I think, or are you doing just fine filling the blanks by yourself?

    I would like you to define justice in an absolute, concretizable manner.

    “The term “freedom from want” has an actual meaning and history, you know. (As does, btw, “If that IS your real name.”) Do you not actually know what it means, or are you just playing a semantic game?”

    Want means an unfulfilled desire. So, um, I’m waiting for you to provide a definition of “freedom from want” that is meaningful. I’ve never heard a meaning of it that was consistent with that of it’s component terms, or with reality.

    “As does, btw, “If that IS your real name.”)”
    I was entirely unaware that sentence had any history.

    “Actually, Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, like them are not, are a hell of lot more concretized and applicable than “freedom from force and fraud.” I’ve seen how squirrelly you all get with “what is force” and “what is fraud”


    1. Freedom of speech and expression
    2. Freedom of religion
    3. Freedom from want
    4. Freedom from fear

    Freedom from force and fraud has never been squirelly to my knowledge. Fraud is the violation of contract, a form of force. Force consists of doing something physically to someone’s person or property without their consent, that has an actual impact of some sort on their person or property. And it’s quite concretizable (at least in the sense of prohibiting actions that interfere with it, though not necessarily in the sense of preventing them all without error), as it entails nothing but people stopping doing a thing.

    The first two of the “four freedoms,” though both were two some extent violated by Roosevelt’s administration, are of course part of the defintition of freedom I gave, and quite concretizable.

    But freedom from want? That, as I said earlier, is impossible by the definitions of the component terms (if it has some other definition by all means bring it). And freedom from fear is not achievable by political means. Politicians can cause fear, but they cannot do away with the fact of anxiety disorders, or fear of dogs, etc, unless they slaughter everyone with any such fear. And if that means the fear of the potential, than that means slaughter everyone, since everyone fears some potential event unless they are dead :D.

  271. Yes, no nation is 100% free. But obviously it’s beneficial to get rid of the ones that are closer to 100% enslaved

    Beneficial to whom?

    I would say it isn’t “obvious” that it’s beneficial to rid ourselves of less free states, either. It’s generally less beneficial to the liberating state, in that history bears out that said state becomes less free in the process of waging war.

    Additionally, I fail to see where the unfree nation has “initiated force” on the free nation (in our hypothetical example). If you want to say that said state initiated force on its own people, that’s fine, but so has every other government (to my knowledge).

  272. oh yeah, joe, there’s no way that “Freedom from Want” or “Freedom from Fear” are concrete. You can’t look at any person in the entire world and say “this person is free from fear and want”…and you never will.

  273. Marx, Marcuse, Mao, Che Guevera…these are people who espoused extreme philosophies…am I right? Seems they have found a home in American Universities but someone who disagrees with them such as Ayn Rand should not have a home because she has an extreme philosophy? Extreme to whom? Marx, Marcuse, Mao and Che Guevara.

  274. The proponents of Economic Justice seem to be regurgitating the ultimate aim of socialism: the abolition of private property and the redistribution of the world’s goods to provide everyone with enough. Of course, the definition of “enough” is never advanced. Also, any course using works by Ayn Rand and Adam Smith (he wrote more than one book) should include required reading of Howard Roark’s defense in The Fountainhead.

  275. who is this Ayn Rand character?

  276. I don’t understand why folks even bother with joe. It’s obvious he jizzes himself when he thinks about poor people; he just can’t wait to effuse and bleat about how much he cares.

    Funny, he could actually take all the time he sits here typing and show he cares, but that isn’t what this is all about. It’s about getting joe off.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.