When Ayn Rand Collected Social Security & Medicare, After Years of Opposing Benefit Programs


Image via YouTube, 1959 inter­view with Mike Wal­lace

A robust social safe­ty net can ben­e­fit both the indi­vid­u­als in a soci­ety and the soci­ety itself. Free of the fear of total impov­er­ish­ment and able to meet their basic needs, peo­ple have a bet­ter oppor­tu­ni­ty to pur­sue long-term goals, to invent, cre­ate, and inno­vate. Of course, there are many who believe oth­er­wise. And there are some, includ­ing the acolytes of Ayn Rand, who believe as Rand did: that those who rely on social sys­tems are—to use her ugly term—“parasites,” and those who amass large amounts of pri­vate wealth are hero­ic super­men.

Rand dis­ci­ple Alan Greenspan, for exam­ple, ini­ti­at­ed the era of “Reaganomics” in the ear­ly 1980s by engi­neer­ing “an increase in the most regres­sive tax on the poor and mid­dle class,” writes Gary Weiss, “the Social Secu­ri­ty pay­roll tax—combined with a cut in ben­e­fits.” For Greenspan, “this was no con­tra­dic­tion. Social Secu­ri­ty was a sys­tem of altru­ism at its worst. Its ben­e­fi­cia­ries were loot­ers. Rais­ing their tax­es and cut­ting their ben­e­fits was no loss to soci­ety.”

One prob­lem with Rand’s rea­son­ing is this: whether “par­a­site” or titan of indus­try, none of us is any­thing more than human, sub­ject to the same kinds of cru­el twists of fate, the same exis­ten­tial uncer­tain­ty, the same ill­ness and dis­ease. Suf­fer­ing may be unequal­ly dis­trib­uted to a great degree by human agency, but nature and cir­cum­stance often have a way of evening the odds. Rand her­self expe­ri­enced such a lev­el­ing effect in her retire­ment. After under­go­ing surgery in 1974 for lung can­cer caused by her heavy smok­ing, she found her­self in strait­ened cir­cum­stances.

Two years lat­er, she was paired with social work­er Evva Pry­or, who gave an inter­view in 1998 about their rela­tion­ship. “Rarely have I respect­ed some­one as much as I did Ayn Rand,” said Pry­or. When asked about their philo­soph­i­cal dis­agree­ments, she replied, “My back­ground was social work. That should tell you all you need to know about our dif­fer­ences.” Pry­or was tasked with per­suad­ing Rand to accept Social Secu­ri­ty and Medicare to help with mount­ing med­ical expens­es.

I had read enough to know that she despised gov­ern­ment inter­fer­ence, and that she felt that peo­ple should and could live inde­pen­dent­ly. She was com­ing to a point in her life where she was going to receive the very thing she didn’t like.… For me to do my job, she had to rec­og­nize that there were excep­tions to her the­o­ry.… She had to see that there was such a thing as greed in this world.… She could be total­ly wiped out by med­ical bills if she didn’t watch it. Since she had worked her entire life and had paid into Social Secu­ri­ty, she had a right to it. She didn’t feel that an indi­vid­ual should take help.

Final­ly, Rand relent­ed. “Whether she agreed or not is not the issue,” said Pry­or, “She saw the neces­si­ty for both her and [her hus­band] Frank.” Or as Weiss puts it, “Real­i­ty had intrud­ed upon her ide­o­log­i­cal pipedreams.” That’s one way of inter­pret­ing the con­tra­dic­tion: that Rand’s phi­los­o­phy, Objec­tivism, “has no prac­ti­cal pur­pose except to pro­mote the eco­nom­ic inter­ests of the peo­ple bankrolling it”—the sole func­tion of her thought is to jus­ti­fy wealth, explain away pover­ty, and nor­mal­ize the sort of Hobbe­sian war of all against all Rand saw as a soci­etal ide­al.

Rand taught “there is no such thing as the pub­lic inter­est,” that pro­grams like Social Secu­ri­ty and Medicare steal from “cre­ators” and ille­git­i­mate­ly redis­trib­ute their wealth. This was a “sub­lime­ly entic­ing argu­ment for wealthy busi­ness­men who had no inter­est what­ev­er in the pub­lic inter­est.… Yet the tax­pay­ers of Amer­i­ca paid Rand’s and Frank O’Con­nor’s med­ical expens­es.” Ran­di­ans have offered many con­vo­lut­ed expla­na­tions for what her crit­ics see as sheer hypocrisy. We may or may not find them per­sua­sive.

In the sim­plest terms, Rand dis­cov­ered at the end of her life that she was only human and in need of help. Rather than starve or drop dead—as she would have let so many oth­ers do—she took the help on offer. Rand died in 1982, as her admir­er Alan Greenspan had begun putting her ideas into prac­tice in Reagan’s admin­is­tra­tion, mak­ing sure, writes Weiss, that the sys­tem was “more favor­able to the cre­ators and entre­pre­neurs who were more valu­able to soci­ety,” in his Ran­di­an esti­ma­tion, “than peo­ple low­er down the lad­der of suc­cess.” After well over three decades of such poli­cies, we can draw our own con­clu­sions about the results.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ayn Rand Helped the FBI Iden­ti­fy It’s A Won­der­ful Life as Com­mu­nist Pro­pa­gan­da

Free Audio: Ayn Rand’s 1938 Dystopi­an Novel­la Anthem

In Her Final Speech, Ayn Rand Denounces Ronald Rea­gan, the Moral Major­i­ty & Anti-Choicers (1981)

Flan­nery O’Connor: Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Ayn Rand (1960)

Ayn Rand Argues That Believ­ing in God Is an Insult to Rea­son on The Phil Don­ahue Show (Cir­ca 1979)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (109)
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  • Jonathan collins says:

    I wish this web­site was as forth­com­ing when a lib­er­al pipe dream burts as it is when a con­ser­v­a­tive’s does. That notwith­stand­ing, Rand did pay into the social secu­ri­ty sys­tem, and the monies she received, were right­ly hers.

  • John says:

    Real­ly? Ayn Rand wrote pub­licly about her tak­ing back wealth that was con­fis­cat­ed from her, and you choose not to even cite her response. You are the worst kind of intel­lec­tu­al fraud.

    Her posi­tion on this mat­ter is quite clear, and is quite log­i­cal­ly con­sis­tent. If you sup­port a pro­gram such as Social Secu­ri­ty, if you advo­cate in favor of it, you are sup­port­ing theft. You are, in every sense of the word, an accom­plice. You do not deserve any ben­e­fits from such a sys­tem.

    But, if you have active­ly and con­sis­tent­ly opposed such pro­grams, you are not an accom­plice. You are a vic­tim. You are enti­tled to resti­tu­tion of that which was stolen from you.

    It is pret­ty clear to me. It is also, in my opin­ion, cor­rect. You may dis­agree, but only some­one of lim­it­ed intel­li­gence would­n’t be able to rec­on­cile her phi­los­o­phy with her actions in this instance.

  • Brian says:

    Like oth­ers here, I don’t think she was a hyp­ocrite because there are two parts to Social Pro­grams; pay­ing and receiv­ing. If she had not paid, her the­o­ries could have been test­ed because she could have used/invested the mon­ey she was forced to pay into Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid. I would pre­fer to do that myself, but I am not giv­en a choice, there­fore I too will accept my mon­ey back when the time comes.

  • John Donohue says:

    Josh Jones,

    Two com­menters have already smashed your entire essay. So have hun­dreds of oth­er peo­ple who actu­al­ly under­stand Ayn Rand, when hun­dreds of times peo­ple have tried to pin con­tra­dic­tion on Ayn Rand for retriev­ing $11,000 of the vast­ly high­er amount tak­en from her by a coer­cive sys­tem. So, I can’t even say to you, “nice try.”

    It would be a con­tra­dic­tion for Rand to not get the mon­ey back. A pro­duc­er respects the wealth he/she cre­at­ed, and to sim­ply let it be tak­en, when means exist to get it back, would be to dis­re­spect her entire belief sys­tem.

    As to real­i­ty imping­ing on ide­ol­o­gy, it is the ide­ol­o­gy of being legal­ly in thrall to one’s “broth­er” that has near­ly bank­rupt­ed the Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment, and it now faces two impinge­ments: either Trump of anoth­er leader will spark a move to oblit­er­ate it, or if not, it will destroy our nation.

  • Robin Smith says:

    The point is is that when a lib­er­al pipe dream bursts, life goes on. When a con­ser­v­a­tive pipe dream bursts, peo­ple die.
    See the dif­fer­ence?

  • Bea says:

    Bri­an, “choice” is just that. If a gov­ern­ment pro­gram offends you, you have the right to refuse it. I sug­gest you do so rather than being offend­ed by tak­ing it. Rand could­n’t have had near­ly as much mon­ey in the kit­ty as she pulled out. She got into Amer­i­ca by ille­gal­ly over­stay­ing her visa until she found a hus­band, which allowed her to stay. She spruned the suf­fer­ing of oth­ers, felt it was just fine to let them die with­out help, and if you can jus­ti­fy this ide­o­log­i­cal crap, you’re a pret­ty sad excuse for a human, just as she, Alisa Rosen­baum, was.

  • Eric says:

    Is it a prob­lem of hypocrisy ? Or one of intel­lec­tu­al lucid­i­ty ? Is this rea­son­able, that one per­son needs to be near death or pover­ty to dis­cov­er at last the legit­i­ma­cy of ben­e­fit­ing from social secu­ri­ty pro­grams ? was­n’t she sup­pose to be a thinker ? Isn’t a “cre­ative mind” sup­posed to be capa­ble of sym­pa­thy ?

  • Jayn says:

    @John So, it’s okay to accept your share of the spoils of thiev­ery as long as you protest loud­ly about the immoral­i­ty of it before pock­et­ing it? While the peo­ple who paid in in good faith that they were sup­port­ing a just and equi­table sys­tem are vile thieves and moochers?Come on.
    Medicare was a near­ly new ben­e­fit when Rand start­ed col­lect­ing from it — she can­not have pre­tend­ed that she was only col­lect­ing what she had paid in for it — and the after­math of lung can­cer is not cheap. She threw the bur­den of her health­care on the taxpayers…which is fine if you believe that old peo­ple at the end of their finan­cial rope in poor health deserve care, but if you’re Ayn Rand or a believ­er in her creed that any­one who does­n’t have mon­ey at the end of their life don’t deserve health, then you’re being a hyp­ocrite to accept such help — and the fact that you’ve spent your life vil­i­fy­ing peo­ple who accept the help because they’ve paid into the sys­tem they believe in does not exon­er­ate you from that hypocrisy.

  • G. Williams says:

    She took the mon­ey because most lib­er­als, com­mu­nists and con­ser­v­a­tives are scared to die, you sound like you would be sur­prised how you could com­pro­mise your beliefs when the grim reaper is at your door. We are but humans after all. Many an athe­ist has asked for gods help on their deathbed. He is a lot less like­ly to help you than health­care could.

  • Fritz Doerring says:

    Argue as you like, Ayn Rand was wrong!
    It is clear­ly obvi­ous humans can­not
    take care of them­selves — in THE mass.
    We can­not devise even a gov­ern­ment that is prac­ti­cal; such ever has to be
    Revised in order to sur­vive. And if peo­ple, even just some, are so able in them­selves, why do they die also?

  • John Donohue says:

    Many false­hoods: here’s your cor­rec­tion on one: “She spruned [sic] the suf­fer­ing of oth­ers.”

    First, Rand’s entire project is about remov­ing the main cause of un-earned suf­fer­ing: coer­cion. True, she has no sym­pa­thy for those who cause their own grief. Do you? And do you think it’s your duty to force me to pay for peo­ple who are destroy­ing them­selves?

    Sec­ond, Rand’s actu­al life is filled with inci­dents of her help­ing fam­i­ly mem­bers and strangers with the right atti­tude.

  • Joe says:

    I am opposed to Social Secu­ri­ty, pro­gres­sive tax rates for the wealthy, mas­sive inher­i­tance tax­es and Medicare. Now I’ve said it, so I can moral­ly ben­e­fit from all of those pro­grams. Thanks Ayn for doing the men­tal con­tor­tions nec­es­sary to make me NOT a hyp­ocrite.

  • Elias says:

    How do you feel about the Amer­i­can tax dol­lars used to mur­der peo­ple in third-world coun­tries in the name of cor­po­rate inter­ests? Speak­ing of Rea­gan, how about his involve­ment in the School of the Amer­i­c­as facil­i­ty in Panamá?

    I count this as mon­ey stolen from Amer­i­ca, yet here you are defend­ing the brood moth­er of a dis­gust­ing jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for evil and greed. No doubt you sup­port Thatch­erism as well.

    Your ilk is account­able for the lax view towards the greedy bankers and dis­gust­ing cor­po­rate par­a­sites who robbed Amer­i­ca under Bush­es watch. I have no respect for scis­sor­bills and Pinker­ton apol­o­gists.

    To be clear not only is she a hyp­ocrite, her anti­so­cial phi­los­o­phy is book learn­ing at its worst. Utter­ly igno­rant and harm­ful to soci­ety and a thought virus that infects minds.

  • Manel says:

    I real­ly don’t under­stand amer­i­can val­ues. Why is it ok to use taxed, pub­lic mon­ey on pro­tect­ing US cit­i­zens by vio­lence (US mil­i­tary bud­get is more than all the oth­er coun­tries on the earth com­bined)… but it is not ok to pro­tect US cit­i­zens by giv­ing them clothes or food? What did Ayn Rand write about the mil­i­tary indus­tri­al com­plex?

    If the gov­ern­ment spend­ing is evil, why is it not there a strong grass­roots move­ment to stop spend­ing in the mil­i­tary? The only com­plain is about inef­fi­cient spend­ing (F35) not spend­ing as such.

    I am not writ­ing this as a crit­i­cism. I real­ly can’t under­stand the log­ic, or val­ues, behind this dis­so­nance. Can any­one hint at an expla­na­tion?

  • John says:

    @Jayn — Wow! You real­ly are slow.

    Let’s try again. Was her mon­ey tak­en from her against her will? Yes. Should she attempt to recov­er what was stolen from her with inter­est? Yes.

    See. Even a two-year old can under­stand that.

  • John Donohue says:


    The fun­da­men­tal pur­pose of the Unit­ed States Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment, as found­ed, is to pro­tect the nation from attack, and to adju­di­cate (fed­er­al courts) crimes and law suits that cross state lines. The U.S. was not found­ed, nor ever intend­ed to be, a “social democ­ra­cy” where the fun­da­men­tal pur­pose of gov­ern­ment is to use force to redis­trib­ute wealth from some cit­i­zens to oth­ers, and direct­ly pro­vide help­ing ser­vices to cit­i­zens.

    Here is the log­ic of Ayn Rand, as inter­pret­ed by me (oth­er Objec­tivists may say I have it wrong.): The fun­da­men­tal meta­phys­i­cal fact for humans is that each is a dis­tinct enti­ty, in full own­er­ship of their body, mind, and prop­er­ty. They are free sov­er­eigns. This is true for every indi­vid­ual. There­fore, “cho­sen action” must not include vio­la­tion of oth­ers’ sov­er­eign­ty.

    The deter­min­ing bright line is: force. One cit­i­zen must not force anoth­er; that is a crime. The gov­ern­ment must not proac­tive­ly force a cit­i­zen to do any­thing, nor pre­vent them from act­ing as they wish to act; that would be worse than a crime.

    The gov­ern­ment is the only enti­ty that right­ly deploys force. It must not ini­ti­ate force, only respond and rec­ti­fy crime, as its job to secure the free­dom and sov­er­eign­ty of every indi­vid­ual. (A cit­i­zen retal­i­at­ing against force in a moment of self-defense is not a con­tra­dic­tion here.)

    So, there is a fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence between the use of force by gov­ern­ment to defend the nation, and use of force by gov­ern­ment to con­fis­cate wealth from its cit­i­zens to be used for social ser­vices.

  • Brian Gay says:


    You said: “Bri­an, “choice” is just that. If a gov­ern­ment pro­gram offends you, you have the right to refuse it.”

    You are dead wrong. If you had actu­al­ly tak­en the time to read what I wrote, you would see that I point­ed out the two parts of Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid; to pay and receive.

    You say I have a choice not to accept; that is true. But what I don’t have a choice whether to pay or not. If they gave me the option not to, I would not. How­ev­er, I will not pay for some­thing and then refuse it. That is just stu­pid and I don’t know of any­one who would do such a thing, ide­ol­o­gy or not.


  • John says:

    @Manel — Some of us are opposed to any form of invol­un­tary tax­a­tion. It does­n’t mat­ter whether it it used for mil­i­tary pur­pos­es or health­care.

    With that said, I believe in the rule of law. The US Con­sti­tu­tion gives our fed­er­al gov­ern­ment a role in nation­al defense. But the US Con­sti­tu­tion gives the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment absolute­ly no pow­er to pro­vide clothes, hous­ing, health­care, or retire­ment ser­vices.

    That is a very impor­tant dis­tinc­tion to some of us.

  • Frank says:

    Ayn Rand seemed to under­stand that tak­ing the ben­e­fits was in con­tra­dic­tion to her phi­los­o­phy. That’s why a social work­er had to step in and con­vince her to do oth­er­wise.

    Rand knew she was essen­tial­ly com­mit­ting a hyp­o­crit­i­cal act. And yet her sup­port­ers today do their best to explain it away. A third-rate thinker gets a third-rate defense.


  • Manel says:

    If you look at the con­sti­tu­tion, (it’s not “my” con­sti­tu­tion) it seems to con­sid­er defense and wel­fare

    ” 1: The Con­gress shall have Pow­er To lay and col­lect Tax­es, Duties, Imposts and Excis­es, to pay the Debts and pro­vide for the com­mon Defence and gen­er­al Wel­fare of the Unit­ed States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excis­es shall be uni­form through­out the Unit­ed States;”

    So how is that “gen­er­al Wel­fare” car­ried out? Should it? Is there any amend­ment that can­cels that goal? Or, what is inside of that “wel­fare” state­ment?

  • Mark says:

    It’s been said already many times here, and if any­one read­ing these com­ments does­n’t want to accept the dif­fer­ence between choice and coer­cion, then there’s noth­ing any­body else can say that’s going to make them accept it. All I’ll add is this: if you real­ly want to under­stand Ayn Rand and her phi­los­o­phy, then go straight to the source. There’s plen­ty of mate­r­i­al writ­ten by Rand herself–you don’t need to come to a hack site like this one to come to a con­clu­sion about the legit­i­ma­cy of what Rand had to say.

  • John Donohue says:

    “Gen­er­al Wel­fare” has indeed been used by Counter-Rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies (Pro­gres­sives, Social Democ­rats) to mean “pro­vide a social safe­ty net and direct ser­vices” to cit­i­zens. They do not care about the “Force” bright line I brought up.

    In fact, “Gen­er­al Wel­fare of the Unit­ed States” means: peace­ful streets, rec­ti­fi­ca­tion of crimes, pro­tec­tion of free­dom and prop­er­ty, free­dom of move­ment and asso­ci­a­tion.

    The way the oth­er con­cept of wel­fare must be car­ried out in a free coun­try: pros­per­i­ty, integri­ty, hard work, sav­ings and insur­ance to take care of one­self and fam­i­ly, and pri­vate vol­un­teer agen­cies to help the unfor­tu­nate few who are pre­vent­ed from self-suf­fi­cien­cy through no fault of their own.

  • Manel says:

    @John Dono­hue: Thanks for clar­i­fy­ing. Real­ly! I did not grasp how these val­ues were artic­u­lat­ed in the US. I start to under­stand… slow­ly (I live in Europe and these val­ues are not com­mon here).

    Two ques­tions … and a half (yes, they are “lim­it” ques­tions, but they help to define the edges of the phi­los­o­phy).

    a) Anti trust laws: would Objec­tivism agree on that? How would it jus­ti­fy enforc­ing that law? (or not)

    b) The gov­ern­ment as a safe­guard against “crime”: that only push­es the prob­lem back a bit? because “crime” is just what is against the law, and by manip­u­lat­ing the law, one can jus­ti­fy gov­ern­men­tal vio­lence against basi­cal­ly any­thing? What is the check and bal­ance against that? Spe­cial­ly under your state­ment “The gov­ern­ment must not proac­tive­ly force a cit­i­zen to do any­thing, nor pre­vent them from act­ing as they wish to act; that would be worse than a crime.”
    b.1) Forced con­scrip­tion as an exam­ple of b)

    What is your view on those?

    Again, thanks!

  • John Donohue says:

    Forced con­scrip­tion is indeed a vio­la­tion of a sov­er­eign cit­i­zen by gov­ern­ment. I per­son­al­ly fought against it 50 years ago, and Ayn Rand wrote specif­i­cal­ly against it. A nation with the high val­ue of free­dom, under threats from out­side, will have no dif­fi­cul­ty find­ing men and women to vol­un­teer to defend it.

    “…because “crime” is just what is against the law, and by manip­u­lat­ing the law, one can jus­ti­fy gov­ern­men­tal vio­lence against basi­cal­ly any­thing?”
    Yes, this is a true prob­lem. This is why tremen­dous dis­ci­pline and integri­ty must be kept to pre­vent the pass­ing of laws that vio­late the sov­er­eign­ty of indi­vid­u­als. “Crime” must be clear­ly, ratio­nal­ly, and seri­ous­ly defined as vio­la­tions by force. Ayn Rand became sor­row­ful that the peo­ple of the Unit­ed States did not main­tain this vig­i­lance, and allowed vast num­bers of wrong laws to be passed over the pri­or 120 years, each one chip­ping away at the fun­da­men­tals.

    Anti-trust is a more com­plex issue. There is exten­sive writ­ing by Objec­tivists on it. Here’s a link…


  • Neil says:

    The idea put across here, that her tax­es for social wel­fare were stolen from her, and that she was tak­ing back her stolen prop­er­ty, does not make sense to me. She chose to immi­grate to the US and become a cit­i­zen. Sure­ly she vol­un­tar­i­ly made a con­tract with the nation to pay all tax­es as per the laws. At the height of her fame she undoubt­ed­ly had the resources to move to anoth­er coun­try where less tax is paid. She had a choice in the mat­ter and decid­ed that the ben­e­fits of where she lived out­weighed her dis­agree­ment on the amount of tax she paid. So her tax­es were not stolen from her, and in the end she decid­ed to use the ser­vices that her tax­es pro­vid­ed.

  • John Donohue says:

    Forced con­scrip­tion is indeed a vio­la­tion of a sov­er­eign cit­i­zen by gov­ern­ment. I per­son­al­ly fought against it 50 years ago, and Ayn Rand wrote specif­i­cal­ly against it. A nation with the high val­ue of free­dom, under threats from out­side, will have no dif­fi­cul­ty find­ing men and women to vol­un­teer to defend it.

    “…because “crime” is just what is against the law, and by manip­u­lat­ing the law, one can jus­ti­fy gov­ern­men­tal vio­lence against basi­cal­ly any­thing?”
    Yes, this is a true prob­lem. This is why tremen­dous dis­ci­pline and integri­ty must be kept to pre­vent the pass­ing of laws that vio­late the sov­er­eign­ty of indi­vid­u­als. “Crime” must be clear­ly, ratio­nal­ly, and seri­ous­ly defined as vio­la­tions by force. Ayn Rand became sor­row­ful that the peo­ple of the Unit­ed States did not main­tain this vig­i­lance, and allowed vast num­bers of wrong laws to be passed over the pri­or 120 years, each one chip­ping away at the fun­da­men­tals.

    Anti-trust is a more com­plex issue. There is exten­sive writ­ing by Objec­tivists on it. Here’s a link…

    Go to Ayn­Ran­dLex­i­con dot com…search for AntiTrust_laws

  • John Donohue says:

    Neil says:

    “… she vol­un­tar­i­ly made a con­tract with the nation to pay all tax­es as per the laws.”
    Yes, she paid her tax­es.

    “…and in the end she decid­ed to use the ser­vices that her tax­es pro­vid­ed.”

    So? It sounds like you are agree­ing that there is no hypocrisy in Ayn Rand for receiv­ing Medicare/SS. Is that cor­rect?

  • Tom Gyory says:

    There is,no def­i­n­i­tion of the term wel­fare in the con­sti­tu­tion. The Founders cre­at­ed a con­tra­dic­tion by includ­ing this term and it should be removed. The def­i­n­i­tion of gov­ern­ment is force. Any­thing that needs to be enforced is a prop­er role of gov­ern­ment. The mil­i­tary, police and courts are the only prop­er role of a lim­it­ed gov­ern­ment.

  • Neil says:


    I think it’s more inter­nal­ly incon­sis­tent than hyp­o­crit­i­cal, but I val­ue com­pas­sion more than stick­ing to a prin­ci­ple or ide­ol­o­gy, so I would nev­er goad some­body for mak­ing this deci­sion near the end of their life.

    I would see it more as hypocrisy if she delib­er­ate­ly act­ed against pro­fessed beliefs, but I accept that she can see her actions as con­sis­tent (ie tak­ing back what was stolen). I’m also not call­ing her hyp­o­crit­i­cal as it is a more loaded and rhetor­i­cal way of attack­ing her actions.

    But it sounds incon­sis­tent because she makes the argu­ment that she has been coerced to do some­thing she does­n’t want to do and that she does­n’t val­ue (tax for wel­fare). But she has always had the choice to move to a nation where the small gov­ern­ment she aspires to is clos­er to real­i­ty. And she did­n’t. So it seems to me that she accept­ed the con­tract and was nev­er in the posi­tion of hav­ing some­thing stolen from her, so should­n’t see accept­ing wel­fare as tak­ing back what was hers. It would be dif­fer­ent if she lived in North Korea, but she did­n’t.

  • Neil says:

    (That is, I see it as incon­sis­tent to feel coerced on pay­ing tax when as a pow­er­ful US cit­i­zen she had enough agency to choose to leave the US if she want­ed. So she was nev­er coerced.)

  • John Donohue says:


    There’s no incon­sis­ten­cy in Rand’s posi­tion. She paid her tax­es. She col­lect­ed a small por­tion of her mon­ey back. Per­fect­ly con­sis­tent.

    When a cit­i­zen has no choice when coerced by gov­ern­ment, except: “well, you are always free to leave,” that is a direct attempt to unalien­ate the per­son from cit­i­zen­ship.

    It’s ter­ror­ism.

  • Manel says:

    @John Dono­hue: Thanks for your expla­na­tions. It is, as I said, a very dif­fer­ent “val­ue set” of the one I live in/with, but now I under­stand bet­ter.

    Although some of the ideas have indeed “passed on” to Europe (Tatcherism, etc), many are also very alien: maybe chris­tian­ism plays a role in mak­ing Wel­fare com­plete­ly accept­able. Also, vio­lence in Europe is irre­versibly linked to the two world wars, in which nobody won any­thing real­ly, except… peace. At an infi­nite cost. Even the brits, who the­o­ret­i­cal­ly were part of the “win­ning side”, basi­cal­ly con­sumed all their wealth in try­ing to resist Nazi Ger­many. The US has not had a big “domes­tic” war defeat, and in a Nuclear world, pos­si­bly nev­er will. That changes mind­sets!

    I can’t help but won­der what would Ayn think about the rise of Trump… but that is anoth­er sto­ry.

    Thanks all!

  • Seán Garland says:

    Excel­lent arti­cle and pitch of con­tent. Suf­fi­cient­ly digestible and infor­ma­tive to the unini­ti­at­ed as to encour­age fur­ther read­ing on the sub­ject.

  • Traba says:


    I’m all for free health­care over defense spend­ing. I think Ayn’s fears are worth lis­ten­ing to. How­ev­er, I like to put it this way: ALL orga­ni­za­tions, whether pub­lic or pri­vate must be scru­ti­nized to every last pen­ny. There are crooks in each case. There are peo­ple and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions always look­ing to game their way in and suck the wealth from them. From the North Kore­an par­ty offi­cial to the cush Aero­space / Defense con­trac­tor steal­ing from tax pay­ers.

  • Everett says:

    I’ve seen a lot of com­ments stat­ing it was not a con­tra­dic­tion that she was just get­ting back what she put in. There is no way you can say that with­out know­ing what was put in and what was tak­en out. Not sure if any­one has done the math on this spe­cif­ic case, but my under­stand­ing is that most recip­i­ents of Social Secu­ri­ty and Medicare ben­e­fits sur­pass the amount they put in, even after account­ing for the rates of infla­tion. The costs of med­ical treat­ment has grown far faster than the none med­ical infla­tion rate.

  • Stevo says:

    Oh man. You’ve got to read that Ayn Rand orga­ni­za­tion response. It’s pret­zel log­ic.

  • Jerry Biggers says:

    A com­men­tary on the crit­ics’ reac­tion to Atlas Shrugged – writ­ten 52 years ago – and still rel­e­vant! “It is hard to say which is the more elo­quent proof of its sig­nal rel­e­vance to the cru­cial issues of our age: the wide­spread admi­ra­tion and enthu­si­asm it has inspired – or the hys­te­ria of the attacks unleashed against it. The nature of those attacks is an instruc­tive index of the cur­rent intel­lec­tu­al con­di­tion of our cul­ture.

    Rand’s antag­o­nists have unfail­ing­ly elect­ed to pay her what is, per­haps, the great­est trib­ute one can offer to a thinker whom one oppos­es: they have all felt oblig­ed to mis­rep­re­sent her ideas in order to attack them.

    No one has dared pub­licly to name the essen­tial ideas of Atlas Shrugged and to attempt to refute them. No one has been will­ing to declare: “Ayn Rand holds that man must choose his own val­ues and actions exclu­sive­ly by rea­son, that man has the right to exist for his own sake, that no one has the right to seek val­ues from oth­ers by phys­i­cal force – and I con­sid­er such ideas wrong, evil, and social­ly dan­ger­ous.”

    Rand’s oppo­nents have found it prefer­able to debate with straw­men, to equate her phi­los­o­phy with that of Spencer or Niet­zsche or Spin­oza or Hobbes and thus expose them­selves to the charge of philo­soph­ic illit­er­a­cy – rather than iden­ti­fy and pub­licly argue against that for which Rand actu­al­ly stands.

    Were they dis­cussing the ideas of an author whose work was not known to the gen­er­al pub­lic, their motive would appear obvi­ous. But it is a rather grotesque spec­ta­cle to wit­ness men seem­ing­ly going through the motions of con­ceal­ing from the pub­lic the ideas of an author whose read­ers num­ber in the mil­lions.

    When one con­sid­ers the care­ful pre­ci­sion with which Rand defines her terms and presents her ideas, and the painstak­ing man­ner in which each con­cept is con­cretized and illus­trat­ed – one will search in vain for a non-psy­chi­atric expla­na­tion of the way in which her phi­los­o­phy has been report­ed by antag­o­nists. Alleged­ly describ­ing her con­cept of ratio­nal self-inter­est, they report that Ayn Rand extols dis­re­gard for the rights of oth­ers, bru­tal­i­ty, rapac­i­ty, doing what­ev­er one feels like doing and gen­er­al ani­mal self-indul­gence. This, evi­dent­ly, is the only mean­ing they are able to give to the con­cept of self-inter­est. One can only con­clude that this is how they con­ceive their own self-inter­est, which they altru­is­ti­cal­ly and self-sac­ri­fi­cial­ly renounce. Such a view­point tells one a great deal about the man who holds it – but noth­ing about the phi­los­o­phy of Rand.”
    (- Nathaniel Bran­den, in “The Moral Rev­o­lu­tion In Atlas Shrugged,” WHO IS AYN RAND? (N.Y., Ran­dom House, 1962 ).

  • Manel says:

    @Jerry Big­gers:

    No one has been will­ing to declare: “Ayn Rand holds that man must choose his own val­ues and actions exclu­sive­ly by rea­son, that man has the right to exist for his own sake, that no one has the right to seek val­ues from oth­ers by phys­i­cal force – and I con­sid­er such ideas wrong, evil, and social­ly dan­ger­ous.”

    Well, I do.

    I do think that com­bin­ing the three ideas, one can get ratio­nal­ly to do atro­cious stuff, and then get a com­fy jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of being right in that action. You choose ratio­nal­ly, (with­out empa­thy, which is out of ratio­nal­i­ty), you choose think­ing about your­self and nobody else, and then let’s see what hap­pens. To your chil­dren, for exam­ple…

    From Ayn’s Lex­i­con:

    “Love, friend­ship, respect, admi­ra­tion are the emo­tion­al response of one man to the virtues of anoth­er, the spir­i­tu­al pay­ment giv­en in exchange for the per­son­al, self­ish plea­sure which one man derives from the virtues of anoth­er man’s char­ac­ter”

    Spir­i­tu­al pay­ment? Self­ish plea­sure? In exchange??!

    While I am not so naïve as to not rec­og­nize the strength of ego­ism and self inter­est… that is los­ing half of your life’s hap­pi­ness. Have you heard the expres­sion “pay it for­ward”? It is impos­si­ble under these ideas.

  • Manel says:

    Re: the pre­vi­ous com­ment

    “The mere fact that man has the capac­i­ty to pro­cre­ate, does not mean that it is his duty to com­mit spir­i­tu­al sui­cide by mak­ing pro­cre­ation his pri­ma­ry goal and turn­ing him­self into a stud-farm ani­mal .…” (found in Ayn’s Lex­i­con)

    So hav­ing chil­dren makes you a “stud-farm ani­mal” and “com­mit spir­i­tu­al sui­cide”. Tell that to your moth­er !

    Fact is, yes, as an indi­vid­ual you have a duty and a right to free­dom, but also you are part of some­thing big­ger, whether you want it or not. You are part of a group, clan, coun­try and species. And the nature of that is that your real “nat­ur­al” goal is to per­pet­u­ate that species, you are wired for that, and some of the actions you will per­form and give hap­pi­ness to you (in a DNA-encod­ed, pre­his­tor­i­cal­ly deep hap­pi­ness way) are, from the point of view of an an indi­vid­ual, irra­tional, because they will be done *com­plete­ly* in behalf of oth­ers. Just as oth­er did the same so that you could exist! (Hi, mom!)

  • ATexan says:

    Ayn Rand despite her weird­ness should be required read­ing in high­school or col­lege lit­er­a­ture class­es. I dis­like some aspects of her object-ism but if you read Atlas Shrugged she does make some good point which have been in motion for some­time now regard­less of of the uni par­ty sys­tem.

    The orig­i­nal pur­pose of SS was to pro­vide a ‘sup­ple­ment’ to one’s life­time of work. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this pro­gram has been loot­ed over the decades along with some seri­ous cen­tral bank depre­ci­a­tion of the mon­ey.

    I don’t like cen­ters of pow­er whether cor­po­rate or gov­ern­ment, but Josh needs to move to Cuba or North Korea ASAP.

  • Carl says:

    Mon­ey was not tak­en from her against her will.

    By earn­ing mon­ey she accept­ed the rules of the state in which she earned those monies. If she did­n’t want to pay tax­es, she should­n’t have tak­en a job.

  • Susan Coffey says:

    It seems as if the mighty were laid low when Rand expe­ri­enced great need. She had to swal­low her pride and ask for the assis­tance to which she was enti­tled, even though she’d pre­vi­ous­ly chal­lenged the same assis­tance for oth­ers. Paint it any way you like, it’s still the same pic­ture, need ver­sus greed.

  • Veganwarrior says:

    A num­ber of Rand’s fol­low­ers espouse the virtues of objec­tivism and ratio­nal­ism, and so it is worth con­sid­er­ing whether her deci­sion was a ratio­nal one. It may cer­tain­ly have been irra­tional to have refused assis­tance at a time of need; irre­spec­tive of whether one believed their was an ‘enti­tle­ment’ to such assis­tance.

    By accept­ing state help Rand arguably behaved in a ratio­nal man­ner. Her beliefs, odi­ous as they may be to some, should not have pre­vent­ed her act­ing in self-inter­est once hard­ship approached. We may all have ideals about how we would like to see the world, but they may rarely be worth going to the gut­ter or the grave for; or con­sign­ing oth­er like­wise.

  • Michael Flores says:

    This is a blend of fact and a bend­ing of fact. Ayn Rand spoke in pub­lic as young as in her 20’s that peo­ple should col­lect Social Secu­ri­ty rather than let the mil­i­tary take it.

  • David Arceneaux says:

    What’s the cita­tion for this 1998 inter­view with Pry­or?

  • Kaleberg says:

    Rand’s phi­los­o­phy denies human real­i­ty. She took help from her moth­er and father when she was a child. Did she ever pay them back? Was their some ratio­nal nego­ti­a­tion as to terms of repay­ment? Of course not, that’s not how human soci­ety works. If here par­ents knew what they were rais­ing, they should have done the old fash­ioned, ratio­nal thing and exposed her, left her out to die.

    Whin­ers like Rand always annoy me. They take and take and take and whine like strick­en dogs when asked to put some­thing back in the pot. We should bring back 90% mar­gin­al tax rates and let the bil­lion­aires and mul­ti-nation­al cor­po­ra­tions who don’t like move else­where. Bil­lion­aires and mul­ti-nation­al cor­po­ra­tions are a dime a dozen. They’ll be replaced in a few months and good rid­dance to the ones who left.

    Maybe Rand should have been true to her phi­los­o­phy and not let any­one help her. She should not have had can­cer surgery, not because she could­n’t pay for it, but because she, per­son­al­ly, could not pay for the research involved in devel­op­ing it, the over­head of the med­ical sys­tem, the costs of its med­ical schools and so on.

  • Carol Burns says:

    It is hard to stick to your prin­ci­ples in the face of adver­si­ty, which explains why there are so many death bed reli­gious con­ver­sions. She did pay into the Social Secu­ri­ty sys­tem, which is not a sav­ings account but is an insur­ance plan. You pay in to the sys­tem which funds pay­ment to the cur­rent ben­e­fi­cia­ries. She was down on her luck and enti­tled, legal­ly, to col­lect, which is also true of many of the peo­ple she called losers and par­a­sites. I found her black and white views very appeal­ing when I was an ado­les­cent, but they did not hold up well over time. I am a 58 year old lawyer who had some kind of job since I was 11 years old. But I also rec­og­nize that I have been very lucky and oth­er peo­ple haven’t. That is why there is a safe­ty net, as Ayn Rand dis­cov­ered.

  • Beetinick says:

    […] Her posi­tion on this mat­ter is quite clear, and is quite log­i­cal­ly con­sis­tent. If you sup­port a pro­gram such as Social Secu­ri­ty, if you advo­cate in favor of it, you are sup­port­ing theft. You are, in every sense of the word, an accom­plice. You do not deserve any ben­e­fits from such a sys­tem.[…]

    So I sup­pose you are on the side of the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion that espe­cial­ly con­sid­ers pro­grams to sub­si­dize, incen­tivize or bail out cor­po­rate inter­ests and cor­po­ra­tions the grand­est of lar­ce­nies?

    Would your cha­grin expand to the for­eign mil­i­tary aid to sub­si­dize mil­i­tary expen­di­tures of for­eign gov­ern­ments as well.

    Unless you are ok with these above types of thefts, as long as the indi­vid­ual or fam­i­ly have no expec­ta­tion of sup­port from the very sys­tem that is meant to rep­re­sent them?

  • Todd's Written Word says:

    I think Open Cul­ture needs to post some­thing on log­i­cal fal­lac­i­es, as I notice a sub­stan­tial num­ber of com­menters that dis­agreed with Jones resort­ed to ad hominem argu­ments, specif­i­cal­ly attacks on his intel­lect. Claim­ing some­one has a lim­it­ed intel­lect does not dis­pute the argu­ment made by that per­son. Actu­al cita­tions to evi­dence, pro­vid­ed in a well-man­nered fash­ion, are more like­ly to sway an audi­ence. Addi­tion­al­ly, one could look at the Buckley/Vidal debate, in which Buck­ley resort­ed to homo­pho­bic ad hominem slurs, and see how that tac­tic can make the user look brutish and weak.

  • Wiser says:


    She is a worth­less hyp­ocrite, PERIOD. Her ideas are null and void because she her­self went against them in the end, and out of con­ve­nience at that.

  • Wiser says:

    Lib­er­al ideas bust, huh?

    Yeah. I sup­pose the noble, hon­or­able, and true ideas of human rights, a unit­ed human­i­ty (for a change), and keep­ing our eco-sys­tem healthy instead of destroy­ing it is a bust. Because fuck it, a bright future for all human­i­ty isn’t worth it. We should just con­tin­ue to self-destruct our­selves and laugh insane­ly until we make our­selves go the way of the dinosaur by our own hand. Cause fuck it, anoth­er aster­oid is com­ing to destroy us all any­way.

  • Wiser says:

    “Ayn Rand wrote pub­licly about her tak­ing back wealth that was con­fis­cat­ed from her”


    “You may dis­agree, but only some­one of lim­it­ed intel­li­gence wouldn’t be able to rec­on­cile her phi­los­o­phy with her actions in this instance.”

    Nah, nobody is dis­agree­ing with you. We are sim­ply call­ing you out on your lying bull­shit, mate.

  • Wiser says:

    Blah, blah, blah. All I heard is that you’re a piece of trash who is des­per­ate­ly attempt­ing to jus­ti­fy your own hypocrisy.

  • Wiser says:

    Carl says:
    “Mon­ey was not tak­en from her against her will.

    By earn­ing mon­ey she accept­ed the rules of the state in which she earned those monies. If she didn’t want to pay tax­es, she shouldn’t have tak­en a job.”

    Exact­ly what Carl said. The rest of you try­ing to defend Ayn are in denial and pathet­i­cal­ly brain­washed.

  • Matt says:

    The fun­ni­est thing about this is the com­ments with all the paulbots twist­ing them­selves into knots try­ing to jus­ti­fy and explain the hypocrisy that is evi­dent to any­one with func­tion­ing grey mat­ter. My oth­er favorite response is to point fin­gers at lib­er­als. Con­ser­v­a­tives love to respond to crit­i­cism of con­ser­v­a­tives by point­ing at some­thing lib­er­als may or may not have done. Is that real­ly the only argu­ment you tool­bags can ever come up with?

  • Matt says:

    “Mon­ey was con­fis­cat­ed from her!!!”

    Oh my god, do the right wing histri­on­ics ever end? She could have moved to any oth­er coun­try she want­ed or worked for cash or just not worked at all. She CHOSE to work in this sys­tem, know­ing full well the rules.

    Give me a break you lit­tle right-wing snowflakes

  • Jerry says:

    Oh is that why Ayn Rand wor­shipped child killer William Hick­man AFTER the pub­lic turned against him for mur­der­ing a child and hack­ing her body up?

  • SRP says:

    Holy crap is that a poor­ly strung togeth­er argu­ment. I mean, that may have been her rea­son­ing, but it is a sheisty premise at best. How about this, let’s keep the pro­grams and pay in while we all talk about how par­a­sitic they are, then be grate­ful when we can retire with ben­e­fits.

  • Mike says:

    @John Rand did­n’t “attempt to recov­er it.” She had no oth­er choice than to accept it.

    The long­stand­ing exis­tence of social wel­fare pro­grams and Rand’s own inevitable fall into their net should offer you and oth­er apol­o­gists a well-need­ed dose of humil­i­ty. Now swal­low.

  • Shannon says:

    You have no idea how the sys­tem works. You don’t pay into it for your own ben­e­fits; you pay into it for the ben­e­fits the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion receives. So essen­tial­ly, Ayn Rand was bitch­ing about hav­ing to pay for the retire­ment of senior cit­i­zens, call­ing it “theft”, but by receiv­ing it showed she had no prob­lem steal­ing it from the younger gen­er­a­tion. So yes, she was indeed a full-blood­ed hyp­ocrite.

  • Lisa M Tibbitts says:

    I am not sure if I ful­ly under­stand why she took ben­e­fits, if she did, hav­ing died with an estate and monies over 800,000 in worth. If she did it would appear she did­n’t need it and only did it to pre­serve her estate after her death. This would make sense for most peo­ple in her sit­u­a­tion the prob­lem is she dimin­ished the val­ue of oth­er humans, she was intel­li­gent but unkind and in the end showed any­one pay­ing atten­tion one of the ways she val­ued self­ish­ness. This is one more les­son from her, look out for your­self and your own inter­ests. If those inter­ests need to include safe­ty nets, sup­port pol­i­tics and groups who pro­vide them and take con­trol of your own life.

    Safe­ty nets mean police and health­care work­ers do not need to spend their days pick­ing up dead bod­ies from decrepit homes and off the street, less dis­ease and less rot­ting flesh smell for all of us, peo­ple do not need to sell their own organs to live or keep their chil­dren alive, or resort to slav­ery to sur­vive. Pay atten­tion to the world, learn his­to­ry, hell, watch les mis­er­ables and be glad we aren’t sell­ing our teeth in the street or buy­ing them from poor peo­ple whose life took a turn for the worse.

  • John shot says:


  • simon says:

    Hi John,
    “The fun­da­men­tal meta­phys­i­cal fact for humans is that each is a dis­tinct enti­ty, in full own­er­ship of their body, mind, and prop­er­ty.” This state­ment is dubi­ous to say the least. We are not closed sys­tems. If the input of oth­ers sig­nif­i­cant­ly deter­mines our notions of per­son­al iden­ti­ty and the cat­e­gories we use to inter­pret, explain and inter­act in the world, then sure­ly this has impli­ca­tions for the notion of sov­er­eign persons/entities?

  • Dave says:

    The fun­da­men­tal ten­ant of this “phi­los­o­phy” is more than just flawed, it is out­right false. Peo­ple are NOT whol­ly iso­lat­ed sys­tems, but utter­ly reliant on our com­mon envi­ron­ment. And that’s just the phys­i­cal aspects of biol­o­gy, not account­ing for the social aspects of human inter­ac­tion. But Ayn Rand was real­ly so nar­cis­sis­tic that she thought she was above not just oth­er humans, but the very laws of physics. Her death put the lie to that asi­nine fool­ish­ness.

  • Elle Beaumont says:

    At what point is smok­ing ones way into lung can­cer not caus­ing ones own grief? In point of fact, how much suf­fer­ing is not caused by the self itself?

  • Chris Merry says:

    So Social Secu­ri­ty, the most pop­u­lar and nec­es­sary pro­gram in this coun­try. So every­one who is for keep­ing it are thieves. You have an incred­i­bly sim­plis­tic view of the world. You have a prob­lem with giv­ing peo­ple in their six­ties 1200 a month just to make their lives a lit­tle eas­i­er? I imag­ine you are just will­ing to let them die in the streets because they did­n’t save for retire­ment. I bet you’re proud to be con­sid­ered an Objec­tivist, as well as a social Dar­win­ist You obvi­ous­ly have no con­cept of how many peo­ple nowa­days are liv­ing pay­check to pay­check do to those poli­cies that that a‑hole Greenspan put into action. Rea­gan’s class war­fare poli­cies of shift­ing the tax bur­den onto the work­ing and mid­dle class and being just super sweet to the poor and call­ing them “wel­fare chis­el­ers”. Rea­gan was an evil sack of shyte. He did the plu­to­crats bid­ding. any­body who con­sid­ers altru­ism a bad thing, makes me con­sid­er them repro­bate.

  • muck says:

    Your argu­ment is com­plete­ly unfound­ed. How can she be a vic­tim of a pro­gram that ben­e­fit­ed her?
    That is illog­i­cal.

  • Z says:

    The point must be seen in a wider sense. Even if she had been able to hold onto all her resources it is very unlike­ly she could have bought any work­ing care with it. Because the divid­ed funds are not only a mon­e­tary one, but also an invest­ment against a mass of ills.

    Mean­ing there would be no cures for the “filthy rich” either in such a hypo­thet­i­cal Rand world, because there would not be enough of them or their dis­eases to make such research worth­wile.

    There is this sim­ple rea­son for med­ical just like any tech­nol­o­gy to have explod­ed in devel­op­ment at con­ver­gence over the last 100 years after all. Mass.

  • Marshall Godfrey says:

    Nobody died in the burst­ing of the lib­er­al pipe dream called the Sovi­et Union? LMAO.

  • Josh Dodson says:

    That is by far the best arti­cle I have ever read; at least the best arti­cle writ­ten by some­one with a per­cep­tion of my 8 year old. Even she under­stands what it means to pay back what is owed. She, at 8 years old under­stands the dif­fer­ence between sup­port­ing a pol­i­cy that is theft, and reclaim­ing what has been stolen. I sug­gest you con­tin­ue your quest for edu­ca­tion, and when you start to grow, revise this arti­cle to match your men­tal growth.

  • E. Roycroft says:

    Today’s busi­ness lead­ers are not Ayn Rand’s idea of busi­ness lead­ers — they are cagy manip­u­la­tors who have learned how to game the sys­tem (gov­ern­ment and Wall Street) not run a fac­to­ry.
    They have no inter­est in pro­duc­ing any­thing — send it over­seas to con­trac­tors who do that dirty work. Her busi­ness lead­ers could go to the fac­to­ry floor and do any job there them­selves. What does Rex Tiller­son give us? The knowl­edge, paid for by his com­pa­ny, that glob­al warm­ing is real; this led to Exxon tak­ing steps to pro­tect their prop­er­ty from the results, while at the same time lying for decades to the pub­lic about the harm of fos­sil fuels, and Ayn Rand would not have admired that! Safe­ty net is need­ed because peo­ple are not always able to sup­ply their needs — how I wish there had been help to keep my father in school when his father died. Instead, at age 14, he went to work in a fac­to­ry to sup­port his moth­er and two younger sis­ters — in his spare time he went along the rail­road tracks to pick up coal. The only rea­son we have mas­sive wealth inequal­i­ties is because mon­ey buys politi­cians, who pass laws favor­ing mald­is­tri­b­u­tion of wealth. Want to see a s**thole nation? Stay around a few more years and you will see our poor being no bet­ter off than throngs of peo­ple in India, where kids are on the street beg­ging and there is no pub­lic school and no pub­lic sewage or water in places. Watch the rich get rich­er.

  • johnjohn says:

    Open Cul­ture
    “The best free cul­tur­al & edu­ca­tion­al media on the web”
    You for­got “unbi­ased”.

  • God says:

    Actu­al­ly that’s not entire­ly true. She actu­al­ly took out far more mon­ey then she ever put into social secu­ri­ty, as do most peo­ple. That’s how it works.

  • God says:

    Except she took out way more than she put in, mak­ing your argu­ment null-in void. Even an idiot should be able to under­stand that.

  • Jackie says:

    It does­n’t mat­ter how she looked at it or how she jus­ti­fied it. It only mat­ters what it actu­al­ly is. You know, being objec­tive and ratio­nal about it all.

    It is not resti­tu­tion for tax­es or monies stolen, but an enti­tle­ment ben­e­fit for tax­es paid. That is what it is. You have to be insane to think oth­er­wise. Clear­ly, the social work­er had to con­vince her because she knew. Fol­low­ers that did­n’t accept it knew too. Any­one with a brain knows.

    A ben­e­fit that like­ly paid out in the form of medicare insur­ance and oth­er ben­e­fits way more than paid into it. Pay­ing for the results of avoid­able unhealthy habits at that.

  • Jackie says:

    Just go to wikipedia and read a lit­tle about her beliefs about cer­tain peo­ple. Read about the psy­chopath ser­i­al killer she hung out with and her thoughts about him and how it is believed he is a mod­el for char­ac­ters in her sto­ries and her oth­er behav­ior.

    Pret­ty hor­ri­fy­ing stuff, her col­lec­tion of enti­tle­ment ben­e­fits that treat­ed some self induced con­di­tions aside.

  • Dennis says:

    Not true. What she wrote and what she did are dif­fer­ent. That’s why this web­site is call­ing out hypocrisy.

    That’s what she and Karl Marx have in com­mon: Both of their the­o­ries were flawed and impos­si­ble to ful­ly car­ry out, and nei­ther author did so.

  • Vanessa Johnson says:

    In 1981 she denounced every­thing she once preached. In her last days she under­stood just how wrong she was!
    Those who call Social Secu­ri­ty a hand­out are wrong. The Great Depres­sion was hor­ri­ble, many once wealthy peo­ple found them­selves in soup lines and sleep­ing in tent cities, a place they nev­er thought they would be. The Social Secu­ri­ty pro­gram was start­ed to ensure it nev­er hap­pens again.Yes we still strug­gle with home­less­ness and we still have hun­gry peo­ple but with­out this pro­gram, that every­one con­tributes, our streets would be full and civ­il unrest could eas­i­ly occur. It’s not a per­fect pro­gram but it beats the alter­na­tive.

  • Wayne says:

    So pro­mot­ing the gen­er­al wel­fare would not include spend­ing tax dol­lars to pro­tect the pub­lic from epi­demics like Yel­low Fever, Cholera, Malar­ia, Zika, Typhoid, Tuber­cu­lo­sis, Ebo­la, HIV, Smallpox,Influenza,etc or to pro­vide safe pub­lic water sup­ply sys­tems from inter­state or inter­na­tion­al waters such as the Great Lakes or Nia­gara Riv­er or Col­orado Riv­er, or to pro­tect or reim­burse the pub­lic for dam­ages caused by hur­ri­canes, floods or land­slides caused or inten­si­fied by human caused faulty con­struc­tion, sto­tage or dis­pos­al of haz­ardous mate­tials, or cli­mate change, or ter­ror­ist activ­i­ties?
    Should it be the per­son­al respon­si­bil­i­ty of per­sons liv­ing down­stream or down­wind from haz­ardous indus­tri­al or mil­i­tary facil­i­ties to relo­cate to safe moun­tain­tops or under­ground bunkers or pur­chase high cost dis­as­ter insur­ance poli­cies to pro­tect them­selves from neg­li­gence or crim­i­nal activ­i­ty of the wealth pro­duc­ing cap­i­tal­ists or cor­po­ra­tions?

  • Matt says:

    Rand was a cold heart­ed bitch. Rega­nomics has helped destroy the mid­dle class for far to long. Hope­ful­ly those acolytes still alive die soon­er rather then lat­er.

  • Angel says:

    Oh no, she accept­ed ben­e­fits from a sys­tem she lit­er­al­ly paid into — the impu­ri­ty!

    Except this is total­ly fine and no, she had argu­ments FOR using it, since she already paid for it. Stop this neck­beard, “ayk­shewuh­ly” lev­el intel­li­gence

  • Angie says:

    Ayn was such a pho­ny and obvi­ous­ly not the foun­tain­head of what­ev­er the F she imag­ined she was.

    Irri­tat­ed lib­er­tar­i­ans stomp­ing on here to com­plain she paid into the sys­tem: stick a cork in it. Seri­ous­ly. Deploy the hip­po-crates. Ayn is a fake.

    Your phi­los­o­phy is a fake, which is why she was unable to live with­in it. Accept this basic truth and stop being such arro­gant chil­dren about it.

  • WATSON says:

    hypocrisy at its finest

  • WATSON says:

    the mon­e­tarist sys­tem dic­tates that costs rise in order to prof­it from hard­ship … and Rand fell vic­tim to it — like so many oth­er peo­ple far less well off that her

    then there’s the “hero­ic super­men”
    where were these peo­ple when rand need­ed help?
    far too busy being indi­vid­u­al­ists and self­ish bas­kets

    eight years of care
    i fail to see how pub­lish­ing a few books — instill­ing self­ish­ness into late 20th cen­tu­ry dia­tribe — paid for that care .… it prob­a­bly all went on deca­dent liv­ing and a jet set lifestyle … did Rand even do one day‘s hard work in her entire life — i seri­ous­ly doubt it

    and as for the naysay­ers and sup­port­ers of right wing revi­sion­ism … the far right wing in oth­er words — lit­er­al­ly nobody cares about your indoc­tri­nat­ing kool aid — except for the peo­ple already poi­soned by your rhetoric — so go jump off the near­est bridge when you get ill and the rul­ing class­es aban­don you — instead of ponc­ing off the long suf­fer­ing tax pay­er


    Dacă toți colegii mei de Face­book au scris in alte limbi,Eu o sa scriu in românește .Ura

  • johny why says:

    John Dono­hue plz share your source of the def­i­n­i­tion of “Gen­er­al wel­fare” that you stat­ed. Does the US Con­sti­tu­tion exclude health care from the def­i­n­i­tion?

  • Sergio Santana says:

    Left­ist hypocrisy is real­ly wide­spread. In Brazil, left­ists crit­i­cize con­ser­v­a­tives for going to free col­lege and even for using roads LOL. They pre­tend not to real­ize that we’re enti­tled to what we have paid, even if we face the real­i­ty: left­ist ideas are the worst response to prob­lems and cre­ate many oth­er prob­lems, includ­ing unem­ploy­ment and pover­ty.

  • Johny Why says:

    @Sergio, so Brazil­ian Left­ists say that con­ser­v­a­tives should NOT go to free col­lege or use the roads? Do Brazil­ian Left­ists say it’s OK for Left­ists to go to free col­lege and use the roads?

  • Johny Why says:

    @Vanessa John­son: accord­ing to this oth­er arti­cle, Rand did NOT denounce every­thing in her last speech. To the con­trary, she reaf­firmed her views.

    She said the Reli­gious Right was a threat to per­son­al free­dom, because they sought to force their val­ues (like anti-abor­tion) on the rest of soci­ety. This is con­sis­tent with her life­long posi­tion that indi­vid­u­als should not be coerced.


  • Rik Elswit says:

    Rand had every right to col­lect SS and Medicare. BUT.…..don’t you think she owed an apol­o­gy to the Amer­i­can peo­ple, whose social safe­ty net she worked so hard to end? A pub­lic apol­o­gy. She was, after all, a pub­lic intel­lec­tu­al, and opin­ion mak­er, and the cir­cum­stances of her life should have made it clear to her that she was wrong.

    How about some­thing like:

    “I was wrong. At the end of my life, when I was sick and fac­ing bank­rupt­cy, Medicare and Social Secu­ri­ty were there for me, as promised, even though my cir­cum­stances were of my own mak­ing. I’d like to thank the Amer­i­can Peo­ple, and I’d like to apol­o­gize for the dam­age I attempt­ed to do to the sys­tem that ls sup­port­ing me now, at the end of my life.

    But she was an intel­lec­tu­al cow­ard, and died ungra­cious­ly.

  • Mike Kelley says:

    I’m anti Rand but you’re right. Except in that sit­u­a­tion Rand by her own log­ic would only be enti­tled to what was tak­en from her and not the enor­mous over­age lik­ley that a pro­longed expense from lung can­cer would cost.

  • D. Ball says:

    Actu­al­ly you’re the one who’s slow.…… and vile.

  • Fredrik Wiksaas says:

    Ayn Rand was stu­pid enough to smoke cig­a­retts, which caused her health to be destroyed. The ill­ness and the aid she rece­vied was there­fore caused by her own stu­pid­i­ty. Of course, it might be, like the mod­ern cli­mate sep­tics (sic) dis­miss sci­ence, that she did­n’t believe smok­ing caus­es can­cer. Both the pro-smok­ers then and the cli­mate sep­tics now seem to fol­low the same cap­i­tal­is­tic, not-sci­ence argu­ments.

  • sd says:

    “If a gov­ern­ment pro­gram offends you, you have the right to refuse it”
    Bea, don’t be stu­pid. If you attempt to refuse it, the IRS puts you in jail.

    What you mean is you have the right to refuse the pro­ceeds, when you already paid into it. In oth­er words, any­one who dis­agrees with gov­ern­ment actions should be irra­tional­ly self-destruc­tive because you want them to.

  • Steve Springer says:

    This is a twist­ed ratio­nal­iza­tion for hypocrisy

  • Steve Springer says:

    Ayn Rand went to a good deal of incon­ve­nience to be a part of the Amer­i­can social con­tract, com­plained at an epic scale about it, then despite her vocif­er­ous objec­tion regard­ing it, relied on it. She was an ungra­cious guest, and a hyp­ocrite.

  • Joe says:

    She was a genius, she rev­o­lu­tionised every field of phi­los­o­phy.

  • Frank says:

    John hit the nail on the head back in Decem­ber of 2016 when he called you an intel­lec­tu­al fraud. Her posi­tion on receiv­ing SS ben­e­fits after hav­ing paid into the sys­tem was artic­u­lat­ed well before her ill­ness. This is just a smug, posthu­mous, hit piece on an intel­lec­tu­al giant who would have eat­en your lunch had she had the chance, lit­tle man.

  • vikingvista says:

    Not many blogs can main­tain a dis­cus­sion for 4 years. Should we take it into a 5th?

    Although in the 1970’s the SS and MC pro­grams still had tax rev­enues exceed­ing out­lays, it was still the case that all rev­enues were sim­ply spent by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, as today. Rev­enues exceed­ing MC/SS out­lays were sim­ply spent on gen­er­al bud­get items, with a Con­gres­sion­al promise to lat­er replace them with gen­er­al rev­enues.

    This is rel­e­vant to the resti­tu­tion argu­ment. If a thief steals your prop­er­ty and imme­di­ate­ly con­sumes it all, then resti­tu­tion becomes impos­si­ble, unless the thief some­how becomes suf­fi­cient­ly pro­duc­tive in the vol­un­tary soci­ety, or has oth­er suf­fi­cient eth­i­cal assets–which is not how gov­ern­ments work.

    The fact of the mat­ter is, the mon­ey every­one pays into the MC/SS sys­tem is all con­sumed away that very year. The mon­ey that recip­i­ents receive each year is entire­ly from that year’s tax rev­enues. This means that you can­not receive resti­tu­tion for your pre­vi­ous vic­tim­iza­tion with­out vic­tim­iz­ing oth­ers. Any liq­ui­dat­ed assets would have to be equal­ly due to all tax­pay­ers, in pro­por­tion to the tax­es they paid, which of course would be far less than what was tak­en.

    The resti­tu­tion argu­ment, to be con­sis­tent with Rand’s vol­un­tary­ist prin­ci­ples, requires that the per­pe­tra­tor has an eth­i­cal source of rev­enues to pay the resti­tu­tion. Since that is not the case, any demand for resti­tu­tion is at the expense of oth­er inno­cents, and in vio­la­tion of Rand’s prin­ci­ples.

    Any vol­un­tary­ist, to be con­sis­tent, would have to accept the fact that they were vic­tim­ized by the forced pro­gram, but that eth­i­cal resti­tu­tion is impos­si­ble. The only moral action would be to refuse all pay­ments and advo­cate end­ing or chang­ing the pro­gram.

    Per­haps one might argue that those advo­cat­ing the uneth­i­cal pro­gram some­how deserve to have their funds tak­en, and those should be used to pay resti­tu­tion. But action and advo­ca­cy sure­ly do not both mer­it mate­r­i­al pun­ish­ment. And, there would be no way to iso­late advo­cates from vic­tims any­way.

    Real­ly the clos­est to a ratio­nal Objec­tivist argu­ment for receiv­ing MC/SS, is the ‘liv­ing in an unnec­es­sary world I did­n’t cre­ate’ argu­ment (which is acces­si­ble to any ide­ol­o­gy). Unnec­es­sary anti-Objec­tivist actions are inex­tri­ca­bly mixed with every­thing one needs to live (which Rand rec­og­nized). So, your choice then real­ly is either to imme­di­ate­ly end your life, or live as close to your prin­ci­ples as you can, with­in the avail­able world.

    Note that this use of dis­ap­proved sys­tems no more dis­proves Objec­tivism, than Amer­i­can com­mu­nists using cap­i­tal goods dis­proves com­mu­nism. E.g., North Kore­ans who escaped star­va­tion using the NK gov­ern­ment food pro­gram did not ben­e­fit from that pro­gram, but tru­ly were vic­tim­ized by it.

  • Ty Byrnes says:

    It is unfair to rely on the say-so of one per­son about why Rand took social secu­ri­ty and under what cir­cum­stances. Rand was not against vol­un­tary offers of help. In fact, if one under­stand her rea­son­ing, she would have encour­aged peo­ple to help each oth­er. If she accept­ed Social Secu­ri­ty and Medicare, then giv­en that she had paid into the the sys­tem dur­ing her adult like (all of her life most like­ly for SS and for about 10–15 years of Medicare), then she was sim­ply seek­ing to get a return on her tax dol­lars in a sys­tem she did­n’t like but lived with­in. Her rea­son­ing, he chief con­tri­bu­tion to soci­ety, is 100% intact in this sto­ry. That it is the social work­er who twists the truth and under­mines Rand’s think­ing, is not sur­pris­ing

  • Bart Millar says:

    i saw a com­ment upstreat that those who cause their own suf­fer­ing don’t deserve as much sym­pa­thy as hap­less vic­tims of cir­cum­stance. rand was impov­er­ished due to her lung can­cer treat­ment, caused by her heavy smok­ing.

  • Ella Starr says:

    How help­ful that you talk about how a robust social safe­ty net ben­e­fits indi­vid­u­als and soci­ety. My par­ents are get­ting old­er and I want to help them with Medicare when the time comes. I will find a great health care clin­ic to help.

  • Joanna Crews says:

    How convenient.your side step­ping her hypocrisy .

  • Brad Bothell says:

    1. A reply here indi­cat­ed she only got back $11k in ben­e­fits but paid in much more. 2. Was it even pos­si­ble for her to not con­tribute to those pro­grams? 3. I’ve encoun­tered 1000s of Social Moral­ist Democ­rats like you through my CA polit­i­cal activism, the pejo­ra­tive, condemning,.smug left­ist words and atti­tude your trade­mark. Your scam on Us the Lit­tle Sh*ts is this: “You delud­ed Lit­tle (most­ly) Minor­i­ty Work­ing- & Mid­dle-class Stiffs and your fam­i­lies will pay what­ev­er I demand from you in fees, tax­es and bonds to con­tin­ue “enjoy­ing” our col­lec­tivized Social Democ­ra­cy of Cal­i­con­fis­ca­tion I actu­al­ly am enjoy­ing and, in the process, you will accept a com­pro­mised std of liv­ing (par­tic­u­lar­ly, hous­ing) and the unac­cept­able qual­i­ty of the gov­ern­ment ser­vices pro­vid­ed through the “benev­o­lence” of we Democ­rats for you, all in the name of assist­ing I and my fel­low (chiefly) White Con­trol-freak Left­ists work­ing out the psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress­es in our heads, just so we can social-moral­ly accept our­selves.”

  • Dan says:

    What if Rand had fall­en on hard times ear­li­er on her life, say in her 30s,she smoked like a chim­ney, so she could have eas­i­ly con­tract­ed can­cer ear­li­er on before she accrued ben­e­fits. As an indi­vid­ual who appar­ent­ly had decid­ed she and sahe alone was respon­si­ble for her wel­fare, she could have saved the mon­ey she spent on fags and put it away to cov­er any med­ical ben­e­fits, she was in fact ( if we use your own beliefs ) a feck­less and worth­less per­son, as she failed to pro­vide for her health cov­er as she should have done, in addi­tion she could have refused to pay tax­es or con­tribute to any ben­e­fit schemes and cho­sen to be incar­cer­at­ed , instead she chose to be like the rest of us and con­tribute to the com­mon good as many humans have been doing since back to the ear­li­est tribes. In cri­sis sit­u­a­tions its been proven that those who work togeth­er have far high­er sur­vival rates than those who just took the ‘every per­son for them­selves ” approach. Rand was a los­er and so are her adher­ents.

  • dan says:

    obvi­ous­ly, you have no idea what the term ‘lib­er­al’ means , it does not apply in any respect to the sovi­et union.
    lib­er­al “relat­ing to or denot­ing a polit­i­cal and social phi­los­o­phy that pro­motes indi­vid­ual rights, civ­il lib­er­ties, democ­ra­cy, and free enter­prise.”

  • DrCruel says:

    The last big Left­ist pipedreams have left 100 mil­lion peo­ple dead in the last cen­tu­ry alone, and today have brought back slave based cot­ton pro­duc­tion and cre­at­ed a new indus­try around invol­un­tary live organ dona­tion, pri­mar­i­ly tak­en from dis­si­dents of the CCP. By con­trast, Tea Par­ty protests regard­ing high tax­es seem to at best mild­ly incon­ve­nience super-rich Democ­rats in the fed­er­al and state bureau­cra­cies. Is that what you mean?

  • DrCruel says:

    By your def­i­n­i­tion, Ayn Rand was a lib­er­al while Democ­rats and social­ists are clos­er to fas­cists.

  • João C. says:

    If Rand was coher­ent she would nev­er have stayed in the USA, she would have gone to the jun­gle or the desert in Africa or some­where else where there was no state or gov­ern­ment at all.
    Same for most of her fol­low­ers. Act accord­ing­ly to what you preach and move to Soma­lia.

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