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Ellsworth Toohey: There's the building that should have been yours. There are buildings going up all over the city which are great chances refused and given to incompetent fools. You're walking the streets while they're doing the work that you love but cannot obtain. This city is closed to you. It is I who have done it! Don't you want to know my motive?

Howard Roark: No!

Ellsworth Toohey: I'm fighting you and shall fight you in every way I can.

Howard Roark: You're free to do what you please!

Ellsworth Toohey: Mr. Roark, we're alone here. Why don't you tell me what you think of me in any words you wish.

Howard Roark: But I don't think of you!

[Roark walks away and Toohey's head slumps down]

from the IMdb, so from the movie script, though I believe Rand had control of the screenplay and its editting

Edited by tadmjones

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Actually it was likely entirely correct for her to accept the money... given that it was taken from her in the first place.

 

What would Rand have done with her own money if her right to choose what to do with it had not been violated, i.e. what could she have done instead of paying for the inefficient "services" and "redistribution" mandated by the government and taken in the form of income tax (not to mention all the other taxes...) . 

 

Rand, was the victim of theft; this is not hyperbole; money was taken from her without her consent. It is hard to tell what amount she had to pay in but assuming her average income tax was 30% over the span of her career as script writer and author, imagine what funds she could have had; she could have saved it, invested it, or bought extended private medical insurance, she would have certainly been able to get the medical treatment with what she earned.

 

BUT FOR the government's theft of her resources, she would not have needed assistance and more than likely, when the final tally was made, all the medical treatment she received would not have amounted to the value of what she would have had, had they not taken it from her...

 

..throw in alcohol tax, property tax, education tax (she had no children), tobacco tax, and on top of that all taxes used for programs she would not have supported had the "institutions/departments" been private organizations.... you have a bonanza of value misappropriated from one who was farthest from sanctioning that misappropriation.

 

no matter how much medical treatment she supposedly received, the government got off easy if you ask me.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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I understand that's the argument; it's just not very appealing to me.

 

People from Rand's generation made out like BANDITS through Social Security and Medicare (the "Greatest Generation" was by far the greediest and most entitled in all American history), receiving out in public benefits many times in real terms what they paid in. They expanded government more than any other generation and essentially set up a Ponzi scheme to enrich themselves later in life, so saying these benefits are "restitution" doesn't make logical sense. Restitution is supposed to make one whole, not bestow a massive and continuing windfall to the wronged individual - and if you understand how these programs work, by collecting they are at the same time wronging somebody else.
 

I think it's an open question whether Rand got out more than she paid in (we'll likely never know - she probably paid a lot in taxes, but she probably collected a lot in benefits too). But as I was saying, I don't think "restitution" is the appropriate mode of thinking about the issue in the first place (e.g., if I pay payroll taxes for 5 years, then "hurt my back" and collect SSDI checks for the rest of my life, is that also restitution?).

 

I blame those who set up the perverse incentives to which individuals respond. "Hate the game" and all that.

Edited by Robert Baratheon

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I thought I already explained, but in case I was unclear, I don't buy the "restitution" argument justifying the acceptance of any and all public benefits because often the person is receiving more out of the system than he or she paid in. This was especially true in the case of Rand's generation, which voted in socialists like FDR who set up Social Security and later Medicare - little more than Ponzi schemes to pay them out a huge annuity on the backs of future generations. Also, these benefits can't be thought of as restitution since they are being taken directly from other people, not the government (e.g., there is no Social Security trust fund).

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What is this, a little collective condemnation?

 

This was especially true in the case of Rand's generation, which voted in socialists like FDR who set up Social Security and later Medicare - little more than Ponzi schemes to pay them out a huge annuity on the backs of future generations.

Check post #8, a contributor, named, phareign, sighted Ayn Rand's justification. I think it highly unlikely that Rand would have voted for FDR, or any socialist.

Edited by Repairman

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I didn't mean to claim Rand voted for FDR - just that she and her generation paid very little into Social Security and Medicare while the returns they received from these programs on the backs of future generations were astronomical. I don't see how receiving benefits can be considered "restitution" if it is many times the amount of what was taken. Nor do I see how in the Objectivist framework two wrongs make a right by stealing from somebody else to pay said restitution.

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I didn't mean to claim Rand voted for FDR - just that she and her generation paid very little into Social Security and Medicare while the returns they received from these programs on the backs of future generations were astronomical. I don't see how receiving benefits can be considered "restitution" if it is many times the amount of what was taken. Nor do I see how in the Objectivist framework two wrongs make a right by stealing from somebody else to pay said restitution.

Right or wrong doesn't matter when the law is the law.

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Right or wrong doesn't matter when the law is the law.

 

Well, yes, that's essentially my point. Instead of Rand's rather lame rationalization: "I'm, uh... receiving restitution for what was taken from me... yeah, that's the ticket..." we should call it what it is and lay the blame at those who further these social programs and incentivize individuals to take advantage of them.

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Instead of Rand's rather lame rationalization: "I'm, uh... receiving restitution for what was taken from me... yeah, that's the ticket..."

Rand wrote an article about accepting scholarships which should give you a better idea of how articulate she was and to what extent (if any) she was rationalizing away this subject.

Also, here is an article which discusses in detail some fact surrounding Rand and her supposed but often cited Social Security income:

http://freestudents.blogspot.com/2011/10/lying-about-ayn-rand-and-social.html

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Restitution is supposed to make one whole, not bestow a massive and continuing windfall to the wronged individual - and if you understand how these programs work, by collecting they are at the same time wronging somebody else.

(e.g., if I pay payroll taxes for 5 years, then "hurt my back" and collect SSDI checks for the rest of my life, is that also restitution?).

Disability insurance is just that--insurance. If you pay in for one month and receive a lifetime of benefits, you are getting what you deserve. Yes, the current system is not set up like private insurance and hence introduces moral hazard into the equation. However, this example may not serve your purpose well. Medicare is not really insurance but a defined benefit plan. That is a better example.

Concerning restitution, the fraudulent way programs are constructed will someday, if we comply fully, undo themselves. Rand was consistent in complying fully to the fraudulent system of her day, as she recommended we do.

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As I've said before, I wonder what the political landscape and election campaigns topics would like if taxes on incomes(wage earners) were not withheld by the employer, but remitted by the employee after receiving their 'gross' pay, the payroll tax collection scheme prior to WW2.

Edited by tadmjones

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Robert, it seems to me you're taking a cheap shot not only at Ayn Rand, but every person who lives long enough to collect on an entitlement program, regardless as to how it came into existence.

 

Well, yes, that's essentially my point. Instead of Rand's rather lame rationalization: "I'm, uh... receiving restitution for what was taken from me... yeah, that's the ticket..." we should call it what it is and lay the blame at those who further these social programs and incentivize individuals to take advantage of them.

Whether one chooses to call it "restitution" or "winning the lottery of life," those who paid into the program over the course of their lives are legally, if not morally, entitled to it. To counter your point, those people were legally forced to pay into the program, whether they approved of it or not. In Rand's case, she did not approve of it. Nonetheless, she was forced to make the sacrifice, when some other private insurance policy may have better suited her moral sensibility. You continue to condemn her, and others of her generation, in spite of the fact that not only did they have their choices limited by government policies, but in addition, many of them made sacrifices losing opportunities, fortunes, or both in the Great Depression, and many others risked their lives and limbs in the Second World War. Some never collected, because they died, ("losing the lottery of life"). While I'm not one for collective praise, (such as calling them "The Greatest Generation") I recognize the difficulty of their plight, and the general ideology of their times, (being that of an American-form of socialism).

 

The Social Security Insurance program is abused, but not so much by the members of Rand's generation. For those among them who out-live and consume more than their life's contributions, I'm quite sure it was not so intentional as to accuse them of a scam or Ponzi Scheme, as you seem to see it. SSI is unsustainable in its present form, and I hope some day policy-makers find an option that is practical and moral. In its present form, it is neither. But we who earn our wages and salaries have only one other choice, and that is to violate federal laws. How far will that take you?

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I didn't mean to claim Rand voted for FDR - just that she and her generation paid very little into Social Security and Medicare while the returns they received from these programs on the backs of future generations were astronomical. I don't see how receiving benefits can be considered "restitution" if it is many times the amount of what was taken. Nor do I see how in the Objectivist framework two wrongs make a right by stealing from somebody else to pay said restitution.

 

I gather you did not quite "get" the character "Ragnar Danneskjöld" of Atlas Shrugged... or at least you would disagree with him.

 

You use the word "steal".  That is caused by a fundamental misunderstanding in the context of what "initiation" of force is.

 

Redistribution generally results from producers paying more into a system than what they get out (a lot more) and others getting a lot more from the system than what they pay in.  Carving out things Rand did not want to "get" or "fund", you actually believe over her lifetime she falls below the threshold of provider to dependent? 

 

You claim Rand lived as a parasite?

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Honestly, I don't think it's worthwhile to try to calculate how much Rand (or anyone else) "paid in" to such a scheme versus how much they "took out." I wouldn't think to look for morality there.

But for those who think that such calculations are important, I think it's worth considering that we're not necessarily talking about a 1-to-1 relationship, dollar for dollar.

If a person is taxed early in their life, it possibly prevents certain investment opportunities and a greater resultant wealth. Also, governmental intervention into the economy can result in poor outcomes in the marketplace. Given Capitalism, who knows how (in)expensive healthcare may have been for Rand -- or, for that matter, how many other areas of economic life would have been cheaper, again resulting in the potential for a greater overall personal wealth.

Governmental interference in the economy -- infringements upon liberty generally -- make us all poorer, not only for the specific monies that we're individually taxed, but also in innumerable and incalculable other ways, as production is punished and made more difficult, and the entire system is thereby made inefficient.

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Perhaps the fault is mine if I was unclear, but I don't criticize individuals for using public benefits. That falls into the progressive trap of making us all hypocrites for using public roads, the mail, and so on. The distinction I use is whether someone is simply using the existing system or whether they are taking specific actions to make the problem worse. If you are entitled to Social Security, by all means take it, not because of the "restitution" argument, which makes little sense for those receiving more than they paid, but because that's simply the system into which you were born a participant - as you say, forced to accept its terms. However those who get doctors to certify bogus disabilities so they can not work and collect SSDI or a police/fire disability pension are engaging in immoral behavior and making the situation in this country worse. I blame those who created and perpetuate Social Security and Medicare - the politicians and the voters - not those who merely accept the terms into which they were forced.

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