The Ayn Rand Institute Takes a Loan from Paycheck Protection Program: Like Rand Herself, Her Followers Don’t Walk the Talk


Image via YouTube, 1959 interview with Mike Wallace

Finally bowing to public pressure, the Trump administration has revealed which companies received loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) created to support small businesses during COVID-19. To no one’s surprise, the published list reportedly includes a host of privileged entities: the shipping business owned by Mitch McConnell’s wife Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao; businesses associated with members of Congress (from both parties); the law firm of David Boies; elite private schools like Sidwell Friends and Saint Ann’s; Grover Norquist’s Anti-Tax Group; the law firm run by Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz; billionaire Kanye West’s company, Yeezy; the fine art studio for millionaire sculptor Jeff Koons, a venture that raises money for Trump’s campaign and the RNC, etc.

Add to the list the Ayn Rand Institute–an organization named after Ayn Rand, the Russian writer who exalted the self-reliant individual and criticized social welfare programs that support the vulnerable. As she wrote in The Virtue of Selfishness, “The right to life means that a man has the right to support his life by his own work (on any economic level, as high as his ability will carry him); it does not mean that others must provide him with the necessities of life.” In short, if you can’t make it, you’re on your own.

Rand’s political theory collapses when it confronts everyday reality. At the end of her own life, Rand, suffering from lung cancer, had to grudgingly rely on social security and medicare to make ends meet. Now, reports Reuters, the institute bearing her name has requested (and apparently received) “a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan of up to $1 million.” All while showing no gratitude to the American taxpayer. The Ayn Rand Institute deemed the loan “partial restitution for government-inflicted losses.” (Also see their latest justification here.) Some will consider that spin–a way to justify accepting government largesse.

Watching Ayn Rand talk below, it seems like a principled Randian would have gone, hat in hand, to a private charity instead.

via Lithub

Related Content:

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

Christopher Hitchens Dismisses the Cult of Ayn Rand: There’s No “Need to Have Essays Advocating Selfishness Among Human Beings; It Requires No Reinforcement”

The Simpsons Take on Ayn Rand: See the Show’s Satire of The Fountainhead and Objectivist Philosophy

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Comments (9)
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  • Bill W. says:

    To be fair, Social Security and Medicare/cade is from money-earned paid into the system, not a government “hand-out”.

  • Al says:

    Do you seriously expect leftists to understand that? They think money just grows on a tree.

  • wds says:

    Considering she herself took Social Security after railing about “government” … this isn’t surprising in the least … like founder, like organization …

  • Jeff says:

    When the Government forces institutions to shut down for Covid-19, the Government can reimburse them for their financial troubles. There is no contradiction or story here.

  • Alx says:

    They actually do.

  • g4b says:

    well, social security still works on money everybody pays into the system;
    and nothing the government can give you works differently.
    so it is never actually a hand-out.
    this is even clear for someone on the left.

  • Adam says:

    So the government taxed the Ayn Rand Institute and now the Ayn Rand Institute has managed to recover some of that money. I don’t see the problem here. And to give up that money just to make a statement that noone would hear, like this and many other articles suggests, is just stupid

  • Gerald says:

    The only way to prevent government handouts to the people/organizations you don’t like is to get the government out of the business of handouts entirely. If you are willing to draft that petition, I’ll sign.

  • Landon says:

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

    Ayn Rand in 1966:

    “I hope that you will not find yourself in need of public assistance. But permit me to say that if you do need it, you should not hesitate to call on it, because you are certainly entitled to it—in view of the taxes you have paid and in view of the fact that today’s political system makes it impossible for anyone to provide for his own old age. This does not mean that the welfare state is right, but that so long as you oppose the welfare state, you should not be its first victim and should not be made to suffer while your own hard-earned money is being spent to support bums all over the world.” (Ayn Rand, 1964 letter to a reader)

    ARI also explained their rationale in multiple articles that explains this principle quite well.


    “The CARES Act has created a moral dilemma for those Americans who value freedom. The pandemic has cost them their jobs, their savings, their businesses. And they blame a significant part of this loss on the government. But because they oppose government handouts, they worry that accepting CARES money would be a breach of integrity.

    “At the Ayn Rand Institute, we are dedicated to philosophic principle. And because we are, we will take any relief money offered us. We will take it unapologetically, because the principle here is: justice.”

    No matter if one agrees with her or not, it’s foolish to say they’re not standing by their principles. They clearly are.

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