The Meme Policeman #elitist

Many have highlighted the Ayn Rand Institute (and other similar groups) taking PPP funds as hypocrisy. Their thought process goes; Rand opposed welfare, they are getting government assistance, thus hypocrisy. This is a shallow and mistaken view of her philosophy and the reasoning behind taking these funds.
-The ARI didn’t secretly apply for PPP loans, hoping no one would notice. They wrote an article back in May proudly announcing the move, “we *will* take any relief money offered us. We will take it unapologetically, because the principle here is: justice.” So how could taking government money be justice?
-Ayn Rand herself explained in a 1966 essay. She explained the recipient in such a case is morally justified “so long as he regards it as restitution and opposes all forms of welfare-statism.” Those who support such handouts, “have no right to them; those who oppose them have. If this sounds like a paradox, the fault lies in the moral contradictions of welfare statism, not in its victims.”
-Rand recognized that the welfare state (the taking of some people’s money by force to give to another) was wrong. To advocate for or support this was also wrong, but what about those who oppose redistribution but are still stuck in the system? “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.”
-Similarly, if someone advocates for private roads, but given the current system there’s only government roads, they are not obligated to refuse to use all roads, that would be absurd. To get taxed for the road and not use it out of some sense of principle would make one unnecessarily suffer. And for what? The same holds for programs like Social Security, Medicare and certain government scholarships and grants.
-As for the PPP funds, the government shut down most of the economy, adversely affecting virtually everyone (including ARI and their donors). They then offered money to virtually everyone to ease the pain. But the government has no money of its own, so essentially it is taking from all to give to all. Money that will likely not be paid for through taxation, but through inflation and deficits, which will effectively take from all productive people in the future. To refuse some of this restitution, so that others who might be indifferent or wholeheartedly support government redistribution can solely benefit, is not standing on principle, but enduring yet another sacrifice.
-Rand lists some other factors to consider in accepting money. One must not compromise their values or views and continue to advocate against the welfare state (the ARI was clear in their article that they would continue to fight for laissez-faire and their efforts wouldn’t be affected). And they shouldn’t take part in providing moral or ideological support for such programs, nor help in enforcing immoral laws.
-Rand admits these are often difficult moral questions. “It is a hard problem, and there are many situations so ambiguous and so complex that no one can determine what is the right course of action. That is one of the evils of welfare statism: its fundamental irrationality and immorality forces men into contradictions where no course of action is right.”
-One major drawback to these stimulus programs is it forces almost everyone into these moral quandaries. Essentially, it’s a free-for-all for government money, should you take yours or simply let everyone else benefit at your expense? There’s no purely virtuous move, but the fault of that lies with the stimulus programs themselves.
-She concludes with this caution in accepting government money, “The ultimate danger in all of these issues is psychological: the danger of letting yourself get bribed, the danger of a gradual, imperceptible, subconscious deterioration leading to compromise, evasion, resignation, submission. In today’s circumstances, a man is morally in the clear only so long as he remains intellectual incorruptible. Ultimately, these problems are a test, a hard test, of your own integrity.”



So were we! You can find all of this, and more, on Fundies Say the Darndest Things!

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