Ayn Rand’s Philosophy on Helping the Poor, Capitalism, and Human Nature

by | Feb 1, 2019 | Philosophy

Ayn Rand's philosophy on social safety nets, capitalism, human nature and more.

Yaron Brook (President, Ayn Rand Institute) joins Dave Rubin, discussing Ayn Rand’s philosophy on social safety nets, capitalism, human nature and more.


  1. The fact is that unregulated individuals do cheat in markets. A general example of many possible ways is to bribe or threaten suppliers so that they do not supply competitors or do so at higher costs. Instead of bribing government to use its force for market advantage, the private individual uses force or fraud in his own sphere of influence to cheat for market advantage. Common people are aware of the fact that individuals can do, will do, and have done these sorts of cheats. Is such cheating really in the cheater’s long term self interest in full context of their entire existence? I would argue no, but it would be naive to think that individuals do not very frequently judge that cheating others is in their self interest. This is where government force has a legitimate role – to organize the (individual) self defense of people and property. How this police work or defense work or cheating patrol would work effectively is a critical component of any such discussion like the one in the video, but is typically omitted. The topic is large, including questions of preemptive attempts at preventing cheating /fraud vs. only after the fact identification and punishment, and also the entire question of corporate or business liability and what limited liability laws do to people’s willingness to cheat or risk prosecution, to the specific mechanisms for government to discover cheating, to what does in fact constitute cheating in the marketplace – what does in fact constitute a violation of another’s life, liberty, or property.
    Any discussion of deregulation that does not include analysis of individual propensity to cheat, and what organized force can or will do about it, is a disservice to the cause of liberty and just government, because the average Joe will think anyone spouting deregulation alone is just a naive crank. Any hope of using peaceful means to return law to justice and protection of persons and property requires winning the war of ideas in the minds of the average citizens. To have the discussion above without clear articulation of the role of law and justice in a deregulated economy is a failure.

  2. I think I’ve read every thing you’ve written on Disqus. (I literally follow your comments)
    You are an amazing thinker. Do you blog, write books? Do you plan on running for office?

  3. *hat tip*
    I’m afraid not…. and I don’t think someone running on a platform of real justice for all would have a chance any longer.

  4. If you’re ever in Phoenix, look me up, I’ll buy the drinks.

  5. I cant disagree much w you. But I’d like to present the blockbuster effect. There was a flourishing of Mom & Pop video stores in the 80’s, most for a dollar rental, with limited copies of the recent hit releases. Blockbuster entered the market, and competed at low price, but with large selection of these hits. Once they put the mom & pops out of business, they were free to raise prices significantly, and increase obligatory rental periods, and late fee penalties.

    The free marketplace cure was lower cost kiosk rentals, and Netflix by mail. It is the attractive large target presented by juicy successful companies, that attract even newer competition. Gluttony accelerates the process, as in the case of Blockbuster, where bad will from customer resentment, merely accelerated their death spiral.

    I can think of no corrupt business without the support of some political cronyism that can maintain corrupt or abusive behavior. In cases where there is conspiracy or racketeering with prices, we can, and do have laws. This facilitates class action if wrongs are actionable. Yes, the tort system has been corrupted itself with bogus class actions.

    I will add certain cartels, like Debeers Diamond, are an example of free market bullyism, yet few suffer actually suffer (other than via divorce rates). Yes, it is a foolish, but willing expense to buy diamonds. In a way, Debeers props up the value of ones foolish investment in diamonds, though artificially. The cable oligopoly is one example where local cities protected against open competition, by granting zone monopolies. Yes, the FCC has somewhat regulated against this, but the cable companies seem to have a hidden peace truce of non-competition.

  6. Regarding winning the minds of average citizens, I recall a prescient comment you made, as follows: “Representatives from our various levels of government commit extortion all the time — show up at a business, mention pending legislation, and suggest that the company become ‘more politically involved’ if they want things to go well for themselves, or avoid damaging regulation. ”

    Term limits. Perhaps they could help enlighten and empower the minds of average citizens, by disinfecting the commode every 2-4-6 years?

  7. As a friend and I discussed term limits, I mentioned Reagan’s objection (starting around 11 minutes in https: // www. youtube. com/ watch?v=TRFFDR0S5Ms)- that such a policy would get rid of the good ones too. We looked at each other for a long second, and then couldn’t keep straight faces due to bitter laughter. We couldn’t think of any ‘good ones.’ This is primarily because the status of our political philosophy and philosophy of the SCOTUS is that the general welfare clause and interstate commerce clauses can mean anything at all the federal government wishes to fund or regulate. “As long as it is admitted that the law may be diverted from its true purpose — that it may violate property instead of protecting it — then everyone will want to participate in making the law, either to protect himself against plunder or to use it for plunder. Political questions will always be prejudicial, dominant, and all-absorbing. There will be fighting at the door of the Legislative Palace, and the struggle within will be no less furious. ” Fred Bastiat
    In this sort of corrupt governmental system, it does not matter, really, even if there are several good men elected. They get steam rolled by the cacophony of cheating.
    As for term limits, what would be required to have such an amendment passed? It seems very unlikely that a group of the legislators in sufficient number would vote themselves out. The only situation in which this could be forced upon them would be if sufficient percentage of the citizenry who vote made the term limits issue a litmus test for re-election. This would mean that dear senator would be out if he voted for term limits (when his term expired), and would be out if he did not (would not be re-elected), and he would not get elected in the first place if he didn’t support the amendment at least in speech. This possibility unfortunately requires sufficient percentage of the voting citizenry to philosophically understand and actively support the underlying goal which term limits purport to serve – that being a more limited government – limited to the only just functions of government – only those activities subsumed under the idea of ‘organized force in defense of persons and property, all the time, in every scrap of legislation or executive action.’ But if this were the case – sufficient voting citizens understood this and wished to alter their government back to a state of justice- then the products of their elective force, would make term limits unnecessary anyway. And in such a case you really would want to ‘keep the good ones’ because extricating ourselves from the rats nest of cheats/frauds/lies/debt/etc. is in itself, even with clear correct principles, a monumental task to undertake with the goals of harming as few people as little as possible while re-establishing a just government. It is far easier to describe how to avoid falling into the tar pit, than to formulate an effective plan for getting out, once in, Br’er Rabbit .
    If I ponder that for a bit, I do pause for a moment to consider whether a full philosophic understanding among the voting citizenry is really necessary to force the events necessary for an amendment. I don’t think so. And, as I wrote, if such a philosophic revolution occurred then term limits really wouldn’t be necessary and could be detrimental and a violation of the people’s just will to retain those who best serve their protection of life, liberty, and property. But, because such a revolution is so unlikely, then what situation might give rise to the amendment regardless? I think it would be a mix of philosophical change among the voting citizenry and, frankly, a generalized anger at crooks, at cheaters. I think that general notion, of these men selling advantages, of being corrupt in some sense perhaps not clearly, specifically, consciously understood, might still carry the cause. At that point, then, the situation would be precarious, because the real understanding of the principles of just government would still be insufficiently understood by the electorate and by those elected, but those elected would have some degree less opportunity to build a structure of cheating. I suspect however, that the process of cheating would still go on, but the continued selection of candidates by each party within each state would simply have to be more organized so that the succession of cheaters retained some continuity in program.
    Once again, I try not to underestimate those committed to living at the expense of others.
    Good to hear from you, Dlanor.

  8. I think an assimilating culture could fashion reasoned term limits. Such as we have for the Presidency. However, that regresses the problem: How do we get a decently assimilating culture? Not with multi-culti, superficial, race-division baiting.

    There is a possible alternative, even if remote. (Electing Trump was also remote.) That is, a Convention of States.

    (Btw, I found your comment on the Ethics blog, from which some beta mod apparently saw fit to ban me. I do not mean to stalk, but I find some of your comments to be erudite, so I appreciate your take.)

  9. Do you think blockbuster used any form of force – governmental, or criminal – to better satisfy consumers? It may be that they did cheat in some way, but I am not aware of it. Are you?

    Within a free and just economy, ought we wish for any other than the individual consumer to be ruler of when and to whom he shall trade his life efforts? If the vast majority of individual consumers prefer to trade their life efforts for those offering a greater selection of videos at lower price, should force of any sort by any agent intervene – and by what justification?
    I might rather wish to sell the custom furniture I make at a sufficient price and in sufficient number to live ‘at a nice standard.’ Should governmental or criminal force be leveraged to secure my wish that can not otherwise be secured due to the likes of Ashley furniture, and IKEA, and Wal-Mart, etc.? All manner of such examples can be constructed, and they all boil down to the suggestion that the life of one person is somehow the property of another – to be disposed of in a way or at a price determined by the judgement of some one else, in every case.

    I do not find it surprising that when a company such as blockbuster chooses to attempt to leverage a large position as if it were a forcible monopoly, they get beaten around the head and neck by many other individuals attempting to provide competitive service at lower price that yet yields profit. We ought not wish that blockbuster could indeed secure a forcible monopoly, and neither ought we decry a monopoly by merit, else from where comes the impetus for real improvement in products and services, and efficiency of production?

  10. Yes. I think there is at least some hope for the Convention….. using the argument that it was the election among the states that elected Trump.

  11. As I said… I do not disagree… I agree.
    Merely adding/ discussing an interesting case study, whereby the free market, eventually, dealt with a semi-monopolistic, market bully. By contrast, some say Rockefeller was beneficial to customers, bringing down gas from $5/Gal to 25 cents. On the other hand, he was ruthless to his competitors (I’ve no pitty for them)
    Thanks for Feedback…………..

  12. Thanks. Yes. I couldn’t quite tell what you thought of the blockbuster case – whether you thought it should be prevented in some forcible way, or just let their errors come home to roost as consumers choose what is best for themselves in the context of their lives. I understand your view now. Agreed.

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Intermarket Forecasting
Dr. Brook is the president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.


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