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Friedrich Hayek Joins Ayn Rand as a Hypocritical User of Medicare

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We’ve been a bit hard on the left of late, so we figured we’d take some steps to balance our programming. Mark Ames, who has been doggedly on the trail of the Koch brothers, found a delicious failure to live up to his oft-repeated standard of conduct by a god in the libertarian pantheon, Friedrich Hayek. And this fall from grace was encouraged one of the chief promoters of extreme right wing ideas in the US, Charles Koch.

Bear in mind that Charles Koch has not merely promoted libertarian ideas generally but in particular founded the Cato Institute, which has done more than any other single organization to wage war on Social Security. Koch wanted Hayek to come to the US in 1973 to become a “distinguished senior scholar” at the Institute for Human Studies, which Koch quickly made into a libertarian citadel. Hayek initially turned the opportunity down, saying he had just had an operation, which made him particularly aware of the dangers of falling ill abroad. Austria had close to universal health care; Hayek’s comment strongly suggests he took advantage of it.

Per Yasha Levine and Ames in the Nation:

IHS vice president George Pearson (who later became a top Koch Industries executive) responded three weeks later, conceding that it was all but impossible to arrange affordable private medical insurance for Hayek in the United States. However, thanks to research by Yale Brozen, a libertarian economist at the University of Chicago, Pearson happily reported that “social security was passed at the University of Chicago while you [Hayek] were there in 1951. You had an option of being in the program. If you so elected at that time, you may be entitled to coverage now.”

A few weeks later, the institute reported the good news: Professor Hayek had indeed opted into Social Security while he was teaching at Chicago and had paid into the program for ten years. He was eligible for benefits. On August 10, 1973, Koch wrote a letter appealing to Hayek to accept a shorter stay at the IHS, hard-selling Hayek on Social Security’s retirement benefits, which Koch encouraged Hayek to draw on even outside America.

This should put Hayek in some sort of libertariam circle of hell, along with Ayn Rand, who took Medicare and Social Security payments when she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

To quote Blue Texan at FireDogLake:

And before any glibertarians come back with “but…but…she paid into it so there’s no hypocrisy” in comments, Rand herself wrote,

There can be no compromise on basic principles. There can be no compromise on moral issues. There can be no compromise on matters of knowledge, of truth, of rational conviction.

Adding an extra layer of crow to the deliciousness, the Ayn Rand Center for the Center for F*ck You I Got Mine Individual Rights has an article on its website right now titled, “Social Security is Immoral“.

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246 comments

  1. jay

    There are two things to social security. Involuntarily forcing people to pay into it, collecting for what you paid or collecting it for free. I guess Aynrand quote is apt for that involuntary pay context. As a libertarian I would have been disappointed with Aynrand if she didnt collect the SS, because that would be letting government loot money, I guess most people would know Aynrand would have protected her money with her life.

    There can be no compromise on basic principles. There can be no compromise on moral issues. There can be no compromise on matters of knowledge, of truth, of rational conviction.

      1. jay

        haha
        I think libertarians should have realized we are in a swamp of libtards and just suck it up or take meds :)

        We cant even agree any more on what “social security is immoral”, that means the whole deal not paying into it and collecting it. I think paying into it and not collecting it is a crime and disrespect to a person’s honest efforts that made the money in the first place.

        1. F. Beard

          I think paying into it and not collecting it is a crime and disrespect to a person’s honest efforts that made the money in the first place. jay

          One theft does not justify another.

          However, if one sees social programs for what they truly are, compensation for the government enforced private money monopoly, then accepting them as they are needed is no theft.

          1. optimader

            Mista, funny Ive always had the same perspective on how people rip on Mao and his non-fiction writing.. Or is it fiction? I get confused sometimes

          2. James

            Using money stolen from you is not hypocrisy…being a lefty socialist and leaching off of creative Capitalists for your needs certainly is….

        2. Mista B

          One thing you can be sure of, the mere mention of Ayn Rand typically results in at least one of two things: (1) an ad hominem attack or (2) the using of some individual fact about her personal life to suggest that everything she ever said was wrong. I’ve been seeing the same thing for years. (I’ve no doubt that this response is causing at least one reader to think about writing something really incisive like “Keep taking your meds”.) I love Yves. She is a tremendous voice of REASON in this crisis. She embodies the very rational philosophy that Rand (and Aristotle, Jefferson, etc.) espoused. Yves’ arguments are typically lucid and on the mark. My guess as to why she has such disdain for Rand is because of her association with Greenspan and because Rand was an advocate against government regulation, and an absence of regulation in the financial industry had a big part in the current crisis. All this tells me, though, is that Rand was human. She was not an economist, and she was far from perfect. God forbid!

          The ad hominem attacks are juvenile. The second line of attacks–i.e. suggesting that personal faults or limitations somehow invalidate the entirety of one’s philosophy–are so weak as to be non-arguments. EVERYBODY could be attacked is such a fashion, as EVERYBODY makes mistakes. Postulating reason is easier than actually being rational, and striving for rationality will never result in omniscience. Rand didn’t understand personal finance. Having grown up in pre-Communist Russia and witnessing firsthand the downfall of the aristocracy and the government seizure of assets, she was fearful of investing. How many people who criticize her can claim to have lived through such chaos? She came to the U.S. with nothing and to my knowledge had no relatives here. She had a vision and she became rich (and could have been far more so if she had had better financial advice). That she lost it is testament to her vision about the U.S.–i.e. that if you don’t understand capital you’ll likely lose it. (Unless you’re a bank nowadays.) Rand didn’t really know what to do with capital. Much like 95%+ of the population. She also wrote books that still sell strong more than 50 years after their publication. Not a person who posts here can claim such an achievement.

          For all the people who rip on Rand, I’ve yet to see one of them dissect her non-fiction writings, which is where the meat of her philosophy lies. When I’ve asked what axiom–i.e. the fundamental precept–is at the heart of “her” philosophy, the response is either silence or an ad hominem attack. And yet the same people rip on her for not understanding economics! They can’t even identify the very axiom of her philosophy! And it’s not as if she hid it. She stated it explicitly.

          When, however, I turn the conversation on its head and say let’s not discuss Rand, let’s discuss personal attributes, and I then ask the person if they think it’s wise to seek reason, purpose, and self-esteem, they invariably answer yes. I likewise then say that honesty, integrity, independence, justice, productiveness, and pride are virtues I greatly admire in people and that I strive to live my life by them. I then ask if they agree. Invariably, the answer is “Of course!” And that’s the heart of Rand’s philosophy–reason and ethics, NOT politics. She said it herself on many, many occasions. Philosophy is important to how one lives one’s own life first and foremost. It isn’t a computer program that gives perfect answers, especially when it comes to dealing with others (which is politics). Rand wasn’t perfect. This doesn’t mean all of her thoughts should be dismissed. Nor does it mean everything she wrote and believed was perfect. But I’ll say this. Following the tenets of her philosophy has helped me attain both wealth and happiness. So for that, I owe her thanks. And thanks to you Yves as well, for so tremendously embodying reason, purpose, self-esteem, honesty, integrity, independence, justice, productiveness, and pride. The world, and the profession of journalism especially, could use far more people like you.

          1. LeeAnne

            Attacking Ayn Rand isn’t the best thing a dissenter can do. The best thing to do about Ayn Rand is to tell the truth: she wrote a best selling novel that resulted it a very good movie starring one of the iconic male movie stars of the day, was quite unattractive, but able to attract nevertheless some very weird men to something labeled a theory who went on to destroy the best the American system was able to build, and incidentally, inspire the rest of the world with.

          2. RueTheDay

            “For all the people who rip on Rand, I’ve yet to see one of them dissect her non-fiction writings, which is where the meat of her philosophy lies.”

            Sure. Let me know how “A is A”, “Existence exists”, and “Consciousness is conscious”, her “axioms”, if you can call them that with a straight face, logically imply property rights and contracts as the foundation of ethics. Her philosophy is FULL of hidden assumptions and non sequiturs that the high priests of Objectivism hide from their teenage followers. Ask an Objectivist how the private ownership of land and unproduced natural resources (which are NOT the fruit of anyone’s labor but are necessary for anyone’s survival) is consistent with individual rights and the non initiation of force, when declaring such a property right is tantamount to extinguishing the rights of everyone else (in a state of nature) to use a resource that would otherwise be available to them and thus is ITSELF an initiation of force against all of humanity. Watch their heads explode as they realize their entire Objectivist philosophy is built on a logically inconsistent foundation of sand.

          3. Anonymous Comment

            You ask: What is the basis for Ayn Rand’s philosophy?.

            From my perspective, the basis of Rand’s philosophy is ‘altruism is evil’. Which makes every so-called Christian who subscribes to her view, a hypocrite.

            Anyone who subscribes to the teachings of Christ cannot also subscribe to the teachings of Rand without experiencing a cognitive dissonance that eventually causes them to drop one of these two ‘teachers’ or go mad.

            There is no way to reconcile the two philosophies.

          4. F. Beard

            From my perspective, the basis of Rand’s philosophy is ‘altruism is evil’. Which makes every so-called Christian who subscribes to her view, a hypocrite. Anonymous Comment

            Correct. My reading of the Old Testament alone was enough to set off major alarm bells with regard to her philosophy. Furthermore, what business is it of her’s if people choose to be generous?

          5. liberal

            RueTheDay wrote,

            Ask an Objectivist how the private ownership of land and unproduced natural resources (which are NOT the fruit of anyone’s labor but are necessary for anyone’s survival)…

            Bingo.
            The royal libertarian essay I linked above shows that Rand was perhaps partly aware of the distinction between capital and land, but not fully.

          6. F. Beard

            that Rand was perhaps partly aware of the distinction between capital and land, but not fully. liberal

            There is another distinction Ayn Rand did not make – that between money and capital. If money is purely a creature of the State (and it currently is) then those who use it should pay for that privilege. Even her beloved gold would not necessarily survive as a money form without government privilege.

          7. nikhil

            When, however, I turn the conversation on its head and say let’s not discuss Rand, let’s discuss personal attributes, and I then ask the person if they think it’s wise to seek reason, purpose, and self-esteem, they invariably answer yes. I likewise then say that honesty, integrity, independence, justice, productiveness, and pride are virtues I greatly admire in people and that I strive to live my life by them. I then ask if they agree. Invariably, the answer is “Of course!” And that’s the heart of Rand’s philosophy–reason and ethics, NOT politics.

            This proves nothing. Most philosophical and religious thought has been interested in answering these questions. You really think Rand was the only person to espouse a philosophy based on reason and ethics? Have you ever heard of Kant? He spent a pretty good amount of time discussing these same ideas.

            The quality of a philosophical argument isn’t the qualities it advocates for, these are nearly universal. It is the argument it makes on how to achieve these qualities. Rand’s answer that individual will and selfish desire are the only way to reach a society with these qualities. I won’t even get into my personal feelings about the moral poverty of this and just say it is a sadly simplistic argument. That seems to me to be the trend with Rand. She took really complicated ideas developed by others and simplified them into slogans.

          8. libarbarian

            Am I the only one to notice that

            For people who tout the primacy of the pursuit of self-interest, Randians are awfully quick to moralistically demand that other people ignore their own self-interest in favor of the interests of the Randians.

            Next time Randian goes off on Medicare or Social Security, try coming at it from this angle: “Medicare & Social Security are both in my self-interest. Letting you avoid paying into them would be foolish & immoral altruism”.

          9. Foppe

            But you simply may not organize! Only the rich may do so.
            (But yes, I admit it says something weird about society that so few people ignore that very obvious solution to her whining.)

          10. Fiver

            I found Rand interesting when I was a teenager as she advocated a world where the most able quite rightly deserved to rule the world.

            Then I thought about it. For maybe a week. And it became evident then, and remains so now, having read much, much more, that hers is right up there with the foulest, least honest, most destructive visions of humanity ever to come down the pike.

            Why? Because its one and only “principle” is that the more capable you are the more void of obligation your existence. Her philosophy is the rankest form of mangled Darwinism outside of Nazi Germany.

          11. puckerup

            RuetheDay –
            If the property was purchased, then it is the fruit of one’s labor.

            Anonymous -
            The two can be reconciled. Rand explains that charity is a transaction. Jesus encourages charity so that we recognize that transaction.

    1. W

      Dear A$$hole. It is people like you, which is why I refuse to use welfare. You F’n A$$hole. I am liberal, socialist, loved by my friends, work 55 Hours to 90 Hours Every Freaking Week, earn my own living, yet am going hungry and am earning below the Poverty level, supporting myself and my son, barely. I have easily paid more than a 1/2 Million in Federal Taxes A$$hole. I have contributed to society, but I hate your Capitalism, hate Ayn Rand, love Peter Kropotkin, love Fair Trade, and love choosing Good over Selfishness. I wish that Social Security, Medicare, where expenses that A$$holes like you were not forced to contribute to. I would prefer also, that all people work some productive job to provide to one another. I will never think that Capitalism is right. Free Markets are not Free, and the US is the only country full of enough selfish people to not have a government program for the overall economy. Every other Government has a National Economic Policy A$$hole. But the US just leaves the economy up for the Very Wealthy to run, as opposed to all of the People being served by this hateful system, just the wealthiest benefit daily from its insidious nature. Selfishness will never be a virtue A$$hole.

  2. Maurice

    By this line of reasoning then, if you’re in a dictatorship that you oppose, and you’re unable to escape, then you should just let yourself die. After all, you oppose the regime. How then can you possibly follow their rules and use their products and services?

    It’s the same issue. Rand did go over this quite a lot. And it’s not a compromise on basic principles. What is the basic principle being compromised? That when someone forces you to pay for a service, you take advantage of the service? Explain exactly what principle is being violated.

    Now, if you have the opportunity to dismantle the system that you disagree with and choose not to because you want to continue receiving the benefits — yes, that would be compromising on the principle.

    Here’s one quote:

    “It is obvious, in such cases, that a man receives his own money which was taken from him by force, directly and specifically, without his consent, against his own choice. Those who advocated such laws are morally guilty, since they assumed the “right” to force employers and unwilling co-workers. But the victims, who opposed such laws, have a clear right to any refund of their own money—and they would not advance the cause of freedom if they left their money, unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-state administration.”

    I’m sure you can find many other examples of “hypocrisy” here:
    http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/government_grants_and_scholarships.html

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You guys are a caricature. You can’t make remotely credible arguments.

      Rand’s status bore no relationship to someone in a dictatorship. No one forced her to use Medicare. Her action was strictly elective. She could have died with no treatment (her condition was terminal anyhow). And Medicare is insurance, not a tax. It is affordable precisely because it is a collective exercise. Self insurance will not leave you with a big enough kitty to cover a catastrophic illness. People who get really sick like Rand get out a lot more than they put in.

      Indeed, the comment from the person who helped her get it suggests she might have been able to afford medical care on her own: her concern was that she might, stress might, be wiped out. She still had royalties coming in from her book.

      She was actively out to destroy programs like Medicare. Taking advantage of it IS hypocrisy, particularly given that it was NOT driven by “gee I paid for it”. She took advantage of it out of fear she’d be left destitute otherwise. That was a de facto admission the program had real value, yet she had despised and attacked that sort of thing repeatedly.

      She was vehemently opposed to taking any support from the state, she depicted that as weak and any state apparatus as interfering with the rights of her ubermenchen. But when she got sick, man she was happy to suck off that tit she said she despised and insisted other renounce. And she said no compromise was permissible.

      If you don’t understand that to be hypocrisy, I suggest you acquaint yourself with a dictionary

      1. jay

        what hypocrisy?

        Hayek payed into social security he received the payments.
        Aynrand payed into it and received payments.

        So in your opinion, they should pay at gun point, but not collect to be consistent?

        Offer me a quote from either of them supporting ” Pay SS at gun point and dont collect payments”, then it will be clear to everyone they are hypocrites.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I suggest you go reread Hayek. He was firmly opposed to all social welfare by the time he took Social Security and Medicare. Taking advantage of a program you denounce publicly IS hypocrisy. It is no different from a leader of the pro-life movement getting an abortion.

          Per Ames:

          Hayek’s comparatively liberal attitude toward social insurance hardened considerably by the time he published his 1960 opus, The Constitution of Liberty. Despite privately spending the intervening years paying into Social Security, Hayek devoted an entire chapter—titled “Social Security”—to denouncing the modern welfare state as a gateway to tyranny and moral decay. Ironically, one of Hayek’s main objections to government programs like Social Security was the “fundamental absurdity” of using tax dollars to promote their benefits. In other words, Hayek publicly objected to the kind of brochure that Charles Koch sent him. In their private correspondence, however, we could find no objection to this “fundamental absurdity.”

          By the mid-1970s, Hayek had fully distanced himself from the modest benefits he’d originally conceded to in The Road to Serfdom. In his preface to the 1976 edition, he explained his “error”: “I had not wholly freed myself from all the current interventionist superstitions, and in consequence still made various concessions which I now think unwarranted.”

          1. jay

            Again as long as he didnt have choice in paying into the system there is no hypocrisy.

            You know what real hypocrisy is? showing a letter from koch to Hayek informing about ss and jumping into conclusion that Hayek actually collected benefits and call him hypocrite!

          2. jay

            I dont see reply link after jeff’s comment.
            to jeff below I read the letter I dont see anywhere where the payments were optional?. SS had the concept of covered and uncovered jobs but it was never optional. If you are in a covered job you pay.

          3. Bob Flynn

            @Jeff65 – Social Security has never been “optional”, so check your facts before you post.

            @Yves – If a thief takes your money and offers you a little back after you retire, it is *not* hypocrisy to take the money and also be against thievery.

          4. Anonymous Jones

            Also, you guys clearly don’t understand what “insurance” is. An insurer is not “looting” because it accepted more premiums for any one individual than it made payouts. That’s not how this works.

            And yes, it’s always easy to separate everything out and take advantage of the good of collective behavior, try to free ride, and accept none of the burden. You are, indeed, caricatures and have none of the moral compass you think is such a fundamental part of yourselves.

            Step back, breathe, think…I know it’s difficult. But try.

          5. Lear

            That makes Hayek a perfect example of what Social Security is for. Old guys get cantankerous and senile and their work doesn’t cut it anymore, so you put them out to pasture humanely.

          6. nikhil

            @BobFlynn: If it is not hypocrisy then it is immoral by Hayek’s own ideas. Hayek used a program that he claimed led to moral decay. Therefore he has compromised his morality in using it. That’s it. No argument about making payments or whatever, even though that’s not how SS works, can change that fact. He took part in what he believed to be an immoral program thereby going against his moral conviction.

            http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hypocrisy

            hy·poc·ri·sy
               /hɪˈpɒkrəsi/ Show Spelled[hi-pok-ruh-see] Show IPA
            noun, plural -sies.

            1. a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.

          7. JoJo Shakespeare

            So let me get this straight: Hayek would be coming to the U.S. as an immigrant, who had not paid into the Medicare, Social Security system, and then would be immediately covered for his infirmities?

            If he had used the system soon after he arrived in the U.S., then how is he any different from the maligned immigrants that supposedly use our system now?

            So because a person is an “important” lecturer at the U of Chicago, they are different than a farmworker that uses the public healthcare system soon after they arrive?

            Seems like when a person defends Hayek, then criticizes the immigrants, they are hypocritical!

        2. F Libertarians!

          Jay, you don’t seem to understand how Social Security and a Social Insurance program works. In arguing along the lines of “Rand and Hayek paid into the Social Security system” and, therefore, deserve to recoup their payments by collecting benefits, you are implicitly assuming that each person who pays into Social Security pays equally into Social Security and draws equal benefits out of Social Security. That is not true. I am sure that, compared to Rand and Hayek, there are many Americans who earned higher salaries and paid more money into Social Security and Medicare but were healthier in old age (because they did not smoke) and, thus, drew out fewer benefits from Social Security. Secondly, Social Security and Medicare during Hayek and Rand’s time were, as they still somewhat are today, pay as you go systems in which younger workers pay the benefits of older Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries. As a result, other healthier Americans were partially subsidzing Hayek’s and Rand’s Medicare and Social Security benefits. Because of this unmistakable fact, Social Security and Medicare are programs that run totally contrary to Hayek and Rand’s ideology because both Hayek and Rand preached the virtues of “personal responsiblity” and “free markets”. Hayek and Rand are hypocrites because, after spending the vast majority of their personal lives espousing rugged individualismm personal responsilibility, and taking care of one’s self who cares about others, Hayek and Rand both opted into Social Security and Medicare programs in which other people paid for Hayek and Rand’s medical care. So basically, at the end of the day, similar to garden variety American conservative hypocrites and right-wingers, Hayek and Rand implicitly asserted that it is okay for them to have their Social Security and Medicare benefits paid for by other people; however, others not named Hayek and Rand should be forced to look to the free markets and to themselves for salvation when sickness and old age befall them. THAT IS HYPOCRISY.

          I don’t expect libertarians to understand hypocrisy because most libertarians graduated from another social insurance program called the “American public education” system and, after graduating and getting a career because of public education, they then turn around and demonize teachers, teachers’ unions, public schools, and advocate for tax cuts for the rich and the defunding and privatization of the very same public schools which they attended. Libertarians are the NUMBER ONE hypocrites in the U.S. because they don’t mind one bit if others pay for their public education but they love to throw hissy fits when other people try to access the same public education system from which they graduated. Libertarians are the ultimate hypocrites in the world so don’t expect libertarians to understand the meaning of hypocrisy because the day that a libertarian finally understands the meaning of “hypocrisy”, that libertarian will have to face the cold truth that American libertarianism is hypocrisy and that said libertarian is a hypocrite. Don’t try to sell mirrors to libertarians because they are not buying. In life, it’s better to just stay the hell away from libertarians. You know that libertarians are never going to help you when you get into trouble so why waste time associating with or befriending libertarians? American libertarians are useless noisemakers. And, if a libertarian ever gets into trouble, don’t help that libertarian out. Let the free markets save libertarians!

        3. Ludwig Von Friedman

          Just to be clear: Truman’s expansion of Social Security in 1950 gave non-profit institutions and education institutions like the University of Chicago the option to elect into Social Security or not. U. Chicago was one of the first to vote “Yes!” to Social Security. Friedrich von Hayek, as a non-US citizen working in the US, similarly had the option of voluntarily electing to join and pay into Social Security or not; he quietly and voluntarily chose to pay into the program throughout the 1950s. Throughout that entire time, he worked on his book “Constitution of Liberty” published in 1960, which has an entire chapter called “Social Security” laying out 9 reasons why Social Security is bad and dangerous and inevitably leads to Bolshevism, moral corruption, and shorter life expectancy.

          1. DBlevins

            Not only that, but the fact is he was reticent about moving to the U.S. because they didn’t have universal healthcare and he understood the ‘danger’ that losing the ability to use such a system would have for one of his age.

        4. Lefty

          Yep, society (since most of us want these programs and don’t think we should fall into abject poverty when horrible things happen because of some sophomore, reality less philosophy) put a gun to their heads and forced them to take part in a system that helped them when they were in need. The horror!

          I think that ignoring material benefits is just wonderful. After all, as a cancer survivor, I don’t NEED money to pay for health care with money. I can pay for my care with “individual liberty”. There’s a bank account for that. If I can’t pay for some medication instead of money I can use “freedom”. I ask them before treatment, do you accept “liberty” as a payment?

          Just total nonsense. No one who has to deal with the real world takes this stuff seriously. Its too simplistic, unscientific and a-historic.

      2. jake chase

        I suggest you read Hayek’s book, The Road to Serfdom, and criticize it, rather than indulging in ad hominem attacks. An intellectual is nothing more than the husk of his work. His personal life doesn’t matter. I don’t care if Hayek screwed pigeons in Macy’s window. I don’t care if Ayn Rand chased men thirty years her junior and became insanely jealous when they stepped out on her. I don’t care if Voltaire cried out to God on his death bed. Hayek’s book is devastating accurate on the inevitable problems of state planning. Rand nailed the hypocrisy of state enforced altruism and its designs on the moral order. What she failed to appreciate is that the dogood state was always a cover for corporate predation. But it was indeed an assault on individual freedom and the assault has continued, under Republicans and Democrats, for sixty odd years, while things have gone from bad to worse and now are becoming absurd. How much more governmental hypocrisy, corruption, leaf raking, fear mongering, boon doggling, bungling, strong arming and misdirection do you need to get the point?

        1. Foppe

          Why bother? Neoliberalism is a kind of offshoot of the mentality he promulgates in/with the book, and we see where that leads: to serfdom for most of the world’s population, while a small class prospers. To quote a bit from the wiki page, “the individual would more than ever become a mere means, to be used by the authority in the service of such abstractions as the ‘social welfare’ or the ‘good of the community’”.[15] Even the very poor have more personal freedom in an open society than a centrally planned one.[16] See the joke?
          And, from the summary, “Such centralized systems also require effective propaganda, so that the people come to believe that the state’s goals are theirs.” < what do you think "free market ideology" is? The 'American Dream' is the height of this ideology, conveniently enshrined as a cultural value that makes people accept everything should be left to the market, because the market's goals are theirs.

          1. Dennis

            Yea that makes perfect sense. Poor sharecroppers in the South of America in the 1920s were just living an amazing life.

          2. Foppe

            @Dennis: Sorry, but you’ll have to explain that response a bit better. Because I do believe the debtcropping phenomenon you’re referring was made possible by precisely the same (need I remind you: private) lenders, who were doing their utmost to extract wealth from people who were trying to get by.

        2. Tom C

          “An intellectual is nothing more than the husk of his work. His personal life doesn’t matter.”

          There is a saying: never trust a chef who doesn’t eat in his own restaurant. It is entirely legitimate, when someone claims to have discovered universal, eternal principles by which everyone ought to live, to point out that the example of their own life shows that they believe these principles to be an excellent thing for the guidance of everyone except themselves.

          “Do as I say, not as I do” is, as always, repellent hypocrisy. And it really isn’t good enough to say that they preached the gospel all their lives because they didn’t know better, and then claim that they were great thinkers anyway. Rand and Hayek appeal to an adolescent frame of mind because ultimately they’re about self-gratification and denial of responsibilities. When you’re 15, what’s not to like?

          1. jake chase

            Hayek never claimed to have discovered anything. In his book he exposes the fallacies of planning and the perils of monopoly. He argues quite persuasively that a world with a small number of rich people whose power is limited by their private property is freer than a world in which a single authority dictates all economic decisions, always of course in the name of the people. Governmental power is continually increased in the name of the public interest, and the fact that it does nothing more than prefer the private interests of some to those of others is so transparently apparent that one would question the need for writing the book in the first place. Unfortunately, socialism always appeals to envious and frustrated self appointed intellectuals whose worth is somehow never properly appreciated by market forces. They are the principal market for the left wing fantasies which in the last century delivered huge portions of the globe into autocratic hands for the purpose of constructing a workers paradise. Those interested in living in such a paradise ought to try Cuba, but they should not be surprised if they are arrested as spies as their flights touch down.

            It ought to be obvious to anyone that today’s kleptocracy is the handmaiden of government, that most of its eggregious wealth derives from manipulation of the money creation process which is enforced by government, and from government enabled looting of shareholder wealth entrusted to publicly held corporations. Nevertheless, the intellectuals never tire of promoting this or that windbag politician as the answer to all our economic and social problems. Then when the windbag is exposed as a fraudulent empty suit they mope about being disillusioned and cannot wait for the next great hope to rise from the mud of the political process. Don’t blame Hayek or Rand when you run out and elect one duplicitous blowhard after another. All they were trying to accomplish was to keep you from writing these blowhards a blank check.

          2. nikhil

            @jake chase

            A world with a few constrained rich people is better than a command economy. What an amazing insight. Nobody is arguing for a command economy. Taking the most extreme position and arguing against it isn’t very difficult. What is difficult is making the link between govt programs, such as SS, and regulation inevitably lead to some socialist dictatorship. This is nonsense.

            Hayek wasn’t saying “hey guys take it easy”. He was a radical arguing that all collective action of any sort led to moral degeneracy. Even a modest social safety net program like SS is a step away from the party commissars telling you what kind of bread to eat or whatever. This is and not true.

            Additionally his ideas are empirically wrong. Systematic removal of all govt regulation and the formation of a free market doesn’t lead to a constrained rich and a lack of monopolies. We are living through the fallacy of his beliefs as we speak. Lets be frank the market CANNOT clear all needs. There are socially beneficial objects/actions that do not and will not have an immediate need within a marketplace. The view that the market can always provide is a view that discounts the existence of time and history.

          3. nikhil

            Additionally that you would say this

            “Nevertheless, the intellectuals never tire of promoting this or that windbag politician as the answer to all our economic and social problems. Then when the windbag is exposed as a fraudulent empty suit they mope about being disillusioned and cannot wait for the next great hope to rise from the mud of the political process.”

            In a post outlining the hypocrisy of Hayek and his libertarian sociopath friends is a funny irony. So who’s the next great libertarian white hope?

            BTW how do you guys italicize your quotes? I could use your help. Please don’t leave my education of this up to the free market.

        1. jake chase

          nikhil,

          Read Hayek’s book. You will see that is arguments are quite restrained and devastatingly correct. Whatever he did after 1944 he left the world richer for this single work. I suspect that few of those who have tried to use him to promote kleptocracy ever bothered to read what he said. He was against monopoly and in favor of the rule of law. The neoliberals have conspired to entrench monopoly and to use law as a club against those at the bottom of the pyramid. The cries of free business and regulate people never came from Hayek. Nor did they come from Rand. You have to read the original books to understand what they actually said. Most of the comments on this site are simply ignorant of the texts.

          1. LucyLulu

            I haven’t read Hayek’s book but I’ve read Rand’s work. She shaped my first political views. I thought Atlas Shrugged was the best book I’d ever read, and I’d read a LOT of books, perhaps still think its the best book. I think Rand has some good ideas, it certainly is hard to argue that integrity, hard work and good ideas shouldn’t be rewarded. I don’t think anybody would disagree with that.

            The difficulties lie in her attitudes towards those who don’t, for whatever reason, make productive contributions, and whether or not there is a responsibility towards their care. It boils down to the individual vs. society argument. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve witnessed in my own life, and those of others around me, that nobody lives in isolation and that neither success nor failure is independent of contributions by the same society. Randians and most libertarians (which I consider myself one) discount the benefits they have received. It is human nature to take things we have for granted. Rand advocates a society that is similar to old European aristocracy, merely replacing nobility with meritocracy. And when it comes to meritocracy, some have distinct advantages, whether coming from families who can afford to comfortably feed, childrear, and educate them, being white males, high intelligence, good physical and mental health, etc. Some are unable to overcome the handicaps thrown in their path. Everyone starts as non-productive children and ends their life the same way. How do we treat orphans and the elderly? The disabled? The unemployed? The uneducated single mother of four whose childcare expenses exceed her wages? Will some scam the system? Sure. But if you compare the cost of welfare scammers to what we have spent on those who have scammed our financial and corporate system, it’s pocket change.

            My issue with Rand and any capitalism purists is the failure to recognize that an unregulated free market does NOT control greed or cheating. In fact, it encourages it. The same entrepreneurial spirit that helps to achieve success can also be used to find new ways to circumvent laws and come up with unfair advantages. The other inherent flaw I see in capitalism is the tendency over time towards fewer companies of increasing size and monopolies. This concentrates the wealth to the point that governments can become captured to serve the elites’ interests. How is this better than the centrally planned government that Hayek warned against? Either way, the government no longer represents the will of the people being governed.

            Call me cynical if you like, but I’ve come to believe that ALL types of governments and economies have an inherent tendency to become totalitarian/authoritarian, and those further towards the ends of the spectrum seem to fall prey first. We need to be on constant guard, as our founding fathers warned. We already missed the boat on this one, and both sides of the political spectrum have allowed it to happen. In the 80′s, Reagan teamed up with a Democratic Congress to allow fraud in the financial sector, and get it kickstarted. During Clinton’s years, we had a Democratic president teaming up with a Republican Congress to dismantle protective financial regulation that had served well for 60 years. Now we have the same type of political partnership to ensure that the status quo remains in place. When the average CEO makes 400x what the average worker makes, and short term profits are generously rewarded in the financial industry (while the inevitable losses that follow are taxpayer subsidized), they can afford to buy their Congressional leaders and judicial system. Can you afford a multi-million dollar lobby group to write amendments that lower your taxes to 15%, result in billions in subsidies, and ensure judicial and regulatory complicity? I can’t.

            I’m surprised that I never hear the one argument that capitalists need to make in favor of “entitlements” like welfare, medicaid and food stamps (SS is not an entitlement, it was paid for, albeit arguably stolen). That is, there is a minimal level of a social safety net required if the elite would like to retain their wealth. If the proletariat become too numerous and too miserable, they will eventually realize they’ve been exploited and revolt. Instead of government forcing the elite to turn over wealth in the form of taxes, the poor will take the wealth in a far less organized and peaceful manner. If capitalists don’t feel the need to pay taxes towards a social safety net out of compassion or a sense of responsibility, they can look at it as the token payment for appeasing the masses and keeping civil order in place.

  3. SH

    Life on earth. Life on earth.

    “Professor Hayek had indeed opted into Social Security while he was teaching at Chicago and had paid into the program for ten years. He was eligible for benefits.”

    I never had the option to opt in or out. Who cares if a man opted in? The issue is the ability to opt in the first place. He had it, chose yes, and that’s it.

    Now we get the real decision, whether or not we can opt. That’s a lot different than a man’s decision in 1973. Maybe he made the better choice.

    Scott

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      If they stopped trying to destroy social welfare programs after using them, I’d have some sympathy. But neither did. In fact, Hayek became even more doctrinaire in his older years.

        1. liberal

          OK. When I’m in your neck of the woods and I need some land to pitch my tent on, I’ll opt out of the government-granted arrangement whereby you get to deny me and everyone else access to your land.

    2. anon

      “Now we get the real decision, whether or not we can opt.”

      You do not get to “opt” regarding your participation in a society that has provided more for you than you can ever contribute as an individual. The best example perhaps is language – your mother tongue – that great, non-optional collective project from which we all benefit and without which we would die.

      And then there are those human achievements that stem from this initial fact, that is, all of the knowledge and technological creation that enables you, for example, to make a comment on a forum. You’re really not going to be able to “opt” about any of that. Even the Amish, who opt out of part, have their own craft and culture that no one man or woman made.

      Of course there are many ways in which a society can be organized. But the whole fake elevation of the individuals right to “opt” is just so sophomoric.

        1. liberal

          OK. So if I want to use your land, against your wishes, that’s fine, right? Especially if I have a bigger gun than you do.

    3. wafranklin

      Emigrate, sooner than later. You have that power. Exercise your own powers to control your life. No one here needs you according to your own fallacious dictates.

      1. ScottS

        Indeed. I wait with baited breath for the “productive” class to follow up on their threat to leave this socialist dystopia and start their own self-interested paradise.

          1. liberal

            nikhil: actually, I think one of the (superrich libertarian) founders of paypal wants to build some huge libertarian artificial island or boat or something, so they can create their own libertarian paradise de novo.

          2. nikhil

            Right sea-steading. Well then I hope they have some boats to fight off pirates in international waters. YAAARRRRR!

          3. F. Beard

            Well then I hope they have some boats to fight off pirates in international waters. nikhil

            Excellent point!

  4. toxymoron

    I can understand Ayn Rand being in that libertarian circle of hell, and I can understand the noise about Charles Koch looting the public good for his own profit.
    But Hayek is on record as stating that government should provide for basic necessities, like market regulation, social security or a guaranteed minimal income.

      1. SH

        This is the brutal it’s all fun and games until you’re dying argument. I get it Yves, but how do you do this fairly? Fair to me is give me all the money I got in the world and let me try. It’s not take from another for my MRI.

        I’m done on this thread because I hope I’m not looking for an MRI in a year.

        Balloon payments are tough. It should be preventative medicine and limited balloons and no one is thinking that because they don’t want to be the balloon, but for those of us that may be willing to accept the pain and die, give us the choice to opt out.

        Scott

        1. Ethax

          Folks who choose to opt out public health insurance would (on average) raise costs for everyone else – just as uninsured traveling Americans have raised the cost of the NHS. How would you deal with the reality that healthcare professionals aren’t going to demand payment before saving a childs life?

        2. PL

          “(F)or those of us that may be willing to accept the pain and die, give us the choice to opt out.”

          I sense that you’re thinking of a quick, medically unassisted death, Scott, and overlooking chronic diseases which let one linger for years. Would you be willing to live in a diminished capacity while chronic illness takes its slow, inevitable course or would you rather maintain quality of life and accept medical care, the cumulative cost of which would wipe out all but the very wealthiest, leaving insurance the only option? If you choose medical care for a chronic condition, you get to be a productive member of society. If you reject it, your thoughts, energy and time revolve around sensations of pain and illness that prevent you from being productive to society (or attentive to those you love.) In other words, the financial cost of chronic illness is far greater than that of mandated insurance.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            More old people kill themselves than you know. My parents moved to Mountain Brook, one of the 10 wealthiest communities in the country. I know hardly anyone in their circle, and of the five people I know who died, three committed suicide (one by refusing meds, one by taking an overdose of barbituates, one with a gun).

            And let me stress they ALL had enough money to afford more treatment.

          2. PL

            The calculus depends, in part, on the age at which one gets “The Diagnosis”. I’d venture to guess that it’s easier to refuse treatment if you’re an empty nester on the far side of 70 than if you’re 35 with dependents. It would be a rare person who refuses treatment while having children to provide for financially, physically and emotionally. Circling b

          3. Mark P.

            ‘Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in dialysis centers.’

            I like it.

        3. LucyLulu

          I’m a nurse. It doesn’t matter if somebody has health insurance or not, opted in or out. They come in, they’ve had an accident, they are in agonizing pain, they want treatment. It might well be a very treatable injury, albeit very expensive, but fatal if not treated. Unless they were suicidal prior to the accident (Yves elderly would fall in this category, and yes, some elderly reach the point they have had enough and are ready to go), EVERYBODY will say they want treatment. If they are 40, they want to live. And guaranteed, insurance or not, they will be treated in the ER and OR, and their pain will be treated, exactly the same as if they didn’t have insurance.

          That is the problem with the “opt-out” option. There is no such thing. And when those who have opted out decide to “buy their insurance after their house burns down”, it drives up costs for those who were more prudent.

  5. sidelarge

    I wouldn’t necessarily care much about if this is damning hypocrisy or not, but if anything, this report is good in that it reminds us of the fact that Hayek got more and more warped as he grew older. Maybe it’s just people around me, but I think there is this general misconception that he got “softer” toward the end of his life, and that his younger and more passionately apostles took over and radicalized his fantasy theories. That’s hardly true.

    That old man was spewing utter metaphysical nonsense that could have even upset his younger self.

  6. DiSc

    Ah, libertarians! It is so refreshing to read your warped comments.

    Just know how strongly I support all your efforts to turn the USA into some kind of third world, civil war-torn dictatorship.

    Unbelievable how your crackhead ideology has gotten to the mainstream in a formerly decent country.

  7. SS

    Yves: Out of curiosity, what do you actually stand for? You bring down Obama at every opportunity. You don’t like the Republicans. You don’t like libertarians. You think everyone is a hypocrite (well…almost everyone). So, the big question is, what is that you actually think is the right form of governance? I ask this sincerely and would appreciate an honest answer instead of a putdown. To be honest, even I’m of the opinion that we need something new, something that clearly isn’t close to being seen today or in the near future. I don’t believe that I have the maturity at this stage to express a system that would plug the obvious loopholes in every political ideology that is currently in vogue (so called liberalism, conservativism, libertarianism etc.). Cheers.

    1. sidelarge

      Are “Obama,” “Republicans” and “libertarians” about the only options in your spectrum? They aren’t even remotely close to covering “almost everyone” in the real world.

      I think Yves’s stance is remarkably clear to anyone who reads her stuff, regularly or occasionally. If you feel at a loss as she doesn’t offer you a neatly concrete “system” to latch onto, that’s not her problem.

    2. Yearning to Learn

      SS:
      Please buy Econned.

      I also don’t much like Obama or Republicans, and I also have a problem with conservatives who pretend to be libertarians. (for instance: how can a libertarian be against gay marriage or the civil rights act? hmm…).

      One doesn’t have to be “for” a particular movement.

      I would say that Yves consistently advocates for a government OF the people, FOR the people, BY the people. Yes, this unfortunately means that it can’t be run by maniacal self-serving hypocrites.
      It means that a politician should say what they mean
      and it means that we should get offered candidates who are looking out for our country, not for campaign contributions.

      one can be from the right or left, the R or D, O or the Libertarians, and agree with that.

      Thus: we need change to the system… Yves has given a template about some things that need to change
      -campaign finance reform
      -sensible financial regulation
      -trying to address regulatory capture.

      etc.

      but again, read her book.

      unfortunately, there’s not a lot to like in today’s America, and thus we get Yves who must constantly be on a rampage… but what else can we do when we have sham stress tests and covert bank bailouts and lying-through-their teeth politicians, and HYPOCRITICAL (yes hypocritical) ideologes like Hayek and Rand.

      and then you get people who DEFEND a person who took social insurance while at the same time demonizing it.

      Just like Strom Thurmond… pride of the South, defender against the evil blacks… except he had a biracial daughter that he refused to recognize. Hypocrite.

    1. John Zelnicker

      indio007 – That form you reference is to withdraw an application for benefits, not to withdraw from the payroll deduction system. Only certain clergy can withdraw from paying into the system. And if they do so, it is a permanent withdrawal and cannot be rescinded. See IRS Form 4361.

  8. F. Beard

    Libertarians should note that the need for massive government social programs arose out of the Great Depression which Ben Bernanke has admitted was caused by the Fed.

    1. JTFaraday

      Well, then they must be scared witless at the mere thought of what the future holds this time, because they most certainly intend to draw their social security.

    2. Lefty

      How in the hell did the Fed CAUSE the Great Depression? I have seen it argued that they might have prolonged and worsened the depression (Friedman for one says this), but I don’t know many who say it CAUSED the GP. What about private debt levels that ballooned leading into 1929? The explosion in wealth inequality? The increased speculation? Galbraith talked about this in his classic the Great Crash, the speculative land crash in Florida leading into the depression. Should have been a warning. Sounds a bit like California. The private debt explosion is like our situation now, something Steve Keen has talked about quite a bit. Irving Fisher said the economy was just peachy, just like many neoliberals right before the most recent crash, shortly before the 1929 crash and lost an insane amount as a result.

      The Fed didn’t cause the Great Depression, there were fundamental problems in the economic system. The US government, pushed by the left and workers movements (both much stronger then) did far more to change what needed to be changed in the decades after. Since the early 70′s the right in both parties and the establishment has done a good job of picking away bit by bit those reforms. Here we are.

  9. MarkJ

    It is especially disconcerting that so many disavow programs such as Social Security and Medicare but willingly and purposely participate in all other governance that is provided by the state for their benefit (the ultimate hypocrisy).

    I suspect that many whom extoll the principals of Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek are really anarchists at heart and even though they will not admit it they gladly and willingly accept governance in all other aspects of their lives.

    Tea Partier’s come to mind when they recently demonstrated against a public or single payer health care option and “wanted government to stay out of their healthcare” even though a substantial number of them were on Medicare or another government sponsored medical care insurance system.

    1. Yearning to Learn

      Yes indeed.

      or Tea Party darling Michelle Bachmann who has taken HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars of farm subsidies.

    2. JTFaraday

      “and “wanted government to stay out of their healthcare” even though a substantial number of them were on Medicare”

      You are buying the corporate liberal media spin on this. I paid careful attention to this at the time, and at the time, the Obamacare proposal took money OUT of medicare and put it into other initiatives in the plan.

      So “keep the Government’s hands off my medicare” was a self interested and perhaps somewhat ham handed slogan, but an ACCURATE one nevertheless.

      Considering that Obama has come back again looking for more cuts to medicare (and medicaid), those older people you are blindly following the media in demonizing as “Tea Partiers” have proved positively PRESCIENT.

      Nice that so many so-called liberals think older people are just plain stupid.

    3. Jim Haygood

      ‘I suspect that many whom extoll the principals of Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek are really anarchists at heart and even though they will not admit it they gladly and willingly accept governance in all other aspects of their lives.

      Tea Partier’s come to mind …’

      And we have a winner!

      Yep, we’re just crackhead anarchists. And we even f*ck with the language [another generously-bestowed collective benefit according to anon 5:14 a.m.] any way we please, warping principles into principals and salting texts with random apostrophes just to flaunt our lawless malevolence.

      AH HA HA HA …

  10. barry

    The letters they were writing back and forth were delivered using a government subsidized service.

    If they were using telegrams and telephones, they were using products that would never have been so cheap had it not been for direct federal subsidies.

    The frigging typewriter they were using was most likely made by a company that survived over the years because of government contracts.

    And before any GOOPER starts shouting about FEDEX, even that entity uses government subsidized airports and air traffic control.

  11. LeeAnne

    Yes, and the public parks (speaking of shared expenses through government). Wait’ll the rate take over Central Park because exterminating services have been curtailed and downsized, people fired, you’ll know what public services are all about.

    Koch lives on Fifth Avenue aka Central Park. Maybe he’ll exterminate it. But then, if he did, he would no doubt limit public access, expand on Bloomberg’s extensive fencing, and station security guards at intersections to extract a fee from transgressors.

    Oh, and its not about PETA. Like the commenters above, PETA is more likely to argue for the rats.

  12. Dan Duncan

    Well…[huff puff]…Well…[huff puff]…

    Al Gore has a big carbon footprint! So there! Take that!

    [Fingers are now inserted into ears and eyes are shuttered. Stepping in place with fidgety anxiety. And in a voice louder than all others....]

    I can’t hear you! Al Gore has big carbon footprint! I can’t hear you! I can’t see you! Blah! Blah! Blah! Al Gore has big carbon footprint! Nanny Nanny Boo Boo! Stick your head in doo doo!

    1. nikhil

      The only people who would agree with his “destruction” of the social contract are those that are uninterested in the transmission of culture that exists beyond a legal contract. Basically people nobody would want to hang out with.

      Man I would like to see the contract he signed to opt him in to the use of the English language. What language was it in?

    1. Ray Duray

      What a fatuous windbag. Sheesh. Listened to 1:30 of drivel. Couldn’t abide to abuse my common sense any more than that.

    2. nikhil

      The only people who would agree with his “destruction” of the social contract are those that are uninterested in the transmission of culture that exists beyond a legal contract. Basically people nobody would want to hang out with.

      Man I would like to see the contract he signed to opt him in to the use of the English language. What language was it in?

  13. EMichael

    I actually understand(though do not agree) the libertarian stance that the actions of Rand and Hayek were not hypocritical. Though Hayek choosing to join SS has to be considered hypocritical.

    But I cannot understand the plainly sociopathic basis of libertarian thought. The thought that there is no need for government interference simply ignores civilization. The thought that “some” government interference is necessary is hypocritical andj sociopathic to the extreme, as the “some” is always defined by themselves.

  14. Paul Tioxon

    Maybe Hayek should have collected some royalties from millions of copies of the Readers Digest and then the million more reprints sent out as propaganda against post WWII government worship of his polemic “The Road to Serfdom”. Then he could have bought private health insurance. Why Americans have to be subjected to a cut rate European Intellectual from Austria, to tell us how to think about our government, our economy and our way of life is beyond belief, except for his value to the rich, like Koch, who needed something other than hired thugs to shoot and beat American workers in order to prevent them from organizing for a better life with better pay, better benefits and a future with something other than penniless old age to look forward to.

    As Emerson pointed out in the American Scholar, we need to get out from under the cultural and intellectual wasteland of Europe as well as the oppression of their empires and kings. Hayek is another beaten down confused European intellectual with nothing to offer but the nightmare which is history. And all of his ideas, his solutions, his warnings are of the nightmare generated over there with absolutely no meaning to an American society already free from kings, popes, aristocrats and serfdom. Hayek was still fighting the last war in his mind from his personal trauma, which he then inflicted on the American public. Thanks for nothing.

  15. JTFaraday

    Given that most so-called libertarians are all over the “fund your own retirement” dictat, I think we can assume that they, more than anyone else in American society, know exactly what’s due them on the social security line.

    I think we can also assume that, outside a few extremely wealthy persons and market playas, said so-called libertarians will be on the front lines of the barricades defending that line in their personal excel spreadsheets.

    That is not to say, however, that they won’t attempt to take that line off the personal spreadsheets of the 24 year olds currently Occupying Wall Street.

    This will soothe their own troubled consciences and the cognitive dissonance provoked by their own personal hypocrisy.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

    Medicare may be a toss up. Given that so many well heeled valiant libertarian warriors are merely paying chump change in an employer health plan, with no idea what private healthcare financing plans of the sort to which they have become accustomed actually cost out on the open market, they may think they prefer to go the free market route.

    (Almost) makes you want to give it to them.

    As for the Koch/ Hayek thing, the writing is on the wall. KOCH hypocritically deployed the bog government Social Security benefit in order to attract Hayek to Cato.

    Hayek took the fedgov benefit he opted into and then the absent minded professor hypocritically did what his new wealthy master TOLD him to do.

    Now that right there, that’s the real Road to Serfdom.

    Don’t even try to troll me. I’m not going to sit here all day and defend something so obvious.

    1. EMichael

      Yeah, the multi-millionaire “new master” that would not pay Hayek(including health insurance) for his services.

  16. Paul Sherrard

    Oy, these comments. Are you people 15 years old? It’s like the other day when Yves posted a link to that trader in the UK who prayed for recessions: all these commentators solemnly explained that the way you get rich in a bear market is to buy low (and then … later … sell high). Now today it’s “Ayn Rand, like Aristotle and Jefferson,…” and “you don’t like Obama OR the GOP?! you’re off the map!” Shouldn’t you people be commenting over on Yahoo? Or writing letters to the U.S. News and World Report?

    I don’t get it. This is a great blog.

      1. rotter

        Whats so funny? We know Aritstotle and Jefferson supported the “natural order” that slavery grew out of, and Rand turned the whole “natural order” rationalization into a narcissistic,mid 20th century, self worshipping, new age screed. So whats the LoL’ing all about? Are you broken up by the irony of the three of them being so “liberty” Obsessed?

    1. nikhil

      Now today it’s “Ayn Rand, like Aristotle and Jefferson,…”

      hahahahaha. Yeah what is this nonsense? Rand=Aristotle? Just stop Randroids.

    2. Sutter Cane

      I’m sure a lot of them are sock puppets, that post the same comments on multiple sites using multiple pseudonyms. In reality I think the number of individuals who actually hold these views is smaller than the representation of these views online would lead you to believe.

      The military already uses similar software to manipulate public opinion, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Koch brothers fund a similar program for their own purposes.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks

    3. reslez

      There used to be some pretty insightful commenters here, but it seems like they stopped visiting. I read the comments pretty frequently for that reason alone. Now I usually don’t bother.

    4. Jane Doe

      To answer your question: Yes, there is a deep immaturity in political discourse. However, it is deeper than that. There is a strong strand of irrational thinking, cults of personality, corruption, marketing by the elite, which all reinforce the immaturity. What you are witnessing whether it is here on this blog or the society in general is the decline of an Empire, and all that entails.

  17. ScottW

    Hypocrite defined: “a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.” Rand used the Medicare system should condemned in her writings to receive treatment for lung cancer. Open and shut case of hypocrisy. You can rationalize all you want, but she was a hypocrite on this rather large issue. We are all hypocrites to one degree or another, but let’s face it, Rand’s rates higher on the scale than most.

    Did Rand ever write something to the effect that she only took Medicare because the Government forced her to pay into the system, but she would have preferred to go without it and pay for her lung cancer treatment out of her own pocket? She didn’t even conjure up the excuse that many of you posters argue as a rationale for her hypocrisy.

    1. Dan Duncan

      Ad Hominem Tu Quoque defined:

      A fallacy that is committed when it is concluded that a person’s claim is false because 1) it is inconsistent with something else a person has said or 2) what a person says is inconsistent with her actions. This type of “argument” has the following form:

      Person Friedrich Hayek makes claim X.

      Person Yves Smith asserts that Person Friedrich Hayek’s actions or past claims are inconsistent with the truth of claim X.

      Therefore X is false.

      The fact that a person makes inconsistent claims does not make any particular claim he makes false (although of any pair of inconsistent claims only one can be true – but both can be false). Also, the fact that a person’s claims are not consistent with his actions might indicate that the person is a hypocrite but this does not prove his claims are false.

      But none of this–of course–applies to Al Gore…

      BECAUSE AL GORE HAS A LARGE CARBON FOOTPRINT. HE DOES! AND THEREFORE, GLOBAL WARMING IS A BIG FAT LIE.

      1. ScottW

        There’s a huge difference between Rand and Gore. Rand advocated policy that would abolish Medicare and Social Security in favor of an undefined individual responsibility approach for healthcare. Yet, when faced with the prospect of being wiped out financially, she opted for a program she advocated should be destroyed and it worked as promised. She never addressed in writing, or in interviews, how her individualistic healthcare model would have benefited her equally, or more, than Medicare.

        I have never heard Gore advocate for laws prohibiting people from owning a home greater than a certain number of square feet, or from wasting all of the energy on their lifestyles they can afford. To the extent he is advocating every individual use as little energy as possible, he is a hypocrite, however, unlike Rand, he is not pushing for government laws that would outlaw lifestyles such as his. On the other hand that is supposedly what Rand wanted–a life in which Medicare was outlawed.

        1. wunsacon

          True.

          Al Gore doesn’t want to outlaw fossil energy use. He just wants us all to pay a little more — which he’s willing to pay along with everyone else — in order to shift away from it.

          *AND*, wasn’t Al Gore buying carbon offsets for his energy usage as well??

          1. wunsacon

            Meh. Read a report that Gore paid for offsets from his own firm. If so, it’s self-serving and can’t count in his favor.

        2. Dan Duncan

          C’mon, man…

          I’m not actually comparing Rand and Gore. I don’t give a shit about Rand or Gore.

          The over-exuberance on the Al Gore carbon footprint was done to highlight that it’s the same type of moron who would make an Al Gore carbon footprint connection is the type that makes a Hayek SS connection. That is all.

  18. wunsacon

    After watching “Century of the Self” and “The Corporation” years ago and reading a lot since then (including at this site), I’m connecting a few more dots and conclude: “Liberty” is the marketing slogan plutocrats use in a Bernays-like campaign to sell us some ideas that are bad for us. And so I no longer refer to “libertarians” without using quotes.

    Look at what “libertarians” don’t spend any time opposing: the concentration of private power. They actually explicitly support it, by opposing progressive taxation and by opposing estate taxes. But, a person born wealthy is, in practice, in a better position to defend all his rights (including property rights) than a poor person. “Libertarians” don’t address this difference between theory and practice.

    “Libertarians” simply don’t support any policies that oppose plutocracy. Cui bono? It’s obvious.

    1. René

      “Century of the Self” and “The Corporation” are mind-opening documentaries. I agree with you there.

      There is one blog (partially libertarian) which is relentless in its effort in tracking down the money elite and exposing its nefarious activities.

      http://thedailybell.com/

    2. liberal

      Look at what “libertarians” don’t spend any time opposing: the concentration of private power.

      Exactly. To them, private power is never abused, only state power.

    1. rotter

      “venom”? A little gleeful, perhaps. But its Hayek who was caught sucking at the teat ofr the evil government cow here. We’re entitled to s few laughs. The “venom” you are feeling is,maybe, seeping out of your own Idealogical fangs.

  19. Paul Gottlieb

    I think Hayek was a bit of a nutter, but as I recall, he explicitly accepted the idea of basic government-provided healthcare as part of a civilized state. Just as in the case of Adam Smith, the idiots who worship them would be appalled if the every actually read what their heroes actually wrote

    1. Mike

      Paul: Agreed. Having actually read the Constitution of Liberty, Hayek made explicit allowances for a basic social welfare net. I understand – and agree with – what Yves’ was going post, but she jumped the gun by going after Hayek vs. Koch.

      1. Ludwig Von Friedman

        You’re absolutely wrong about Constitution of Liberty. Read the chapter on “Social Security.” He only allows for a bare minimum social safety net only for those who absolutely cannot care for themselves (such as invalids, mentally-handicapped, those types); anything more, anything extended to those who could work and had a chance at making it, would inevitably lead to Stalinist tyranny, moral corruption, and shorter life spans for everyone. It’s all in the “Social Security” chapter. Stop lying.

  20. Susan the other

    If we had appropriate, modern nationalized health care, single payer, Medicare would no longer be a debate. Medicaid would just be an old shameful argument. And we as a nation would be saving billions of dollars a year. In fact, our corporations – including the Kochs’ corporations – would gain the advantage that all other foreign corporations enjoy – their respective governments take care of those medical expenses. The biggest danger that dug-in, terrified ideologues pose is that they prevent the evolution of our social systems into better social systems. So much so that they completely disregard the enormous savings to be gained. Or are they ideologues at all? Are their votes merely purchased by Big Pharma?

    1. LeeAnne

      Couldn’t agree with you more. Whenever this argument about employer paid medical insurance comes up it reminds of the injustice acknowledged by just about everyone of the old company stores and bunk housing for employees. How could you leave? You were a slave (not that both those ‘benefits’ are not still used today) because, a. you’d have no money. it was all owed to the company store, so they would just withhold your pay, and 2. you’d have no place to live.

      The same situation exists with employer paid medical insurance. Why should an employer pay to ‘reward’ someone for work when they can’t work. Talk about perverse incentive.

      By the same token, health care is as necessary to human life as food and water. It is not a commodity. Most people would like a single payer system. And Medicare operates with only 3% administrative costs compared to the private the private insurance that has disincentives to serve their clients. The less service they provide, they more they skim for themselves. (‘earnings’ it is not).

      To make a commodity of health care is criminal.

      People go into the health care field for the same reason they go into teaching or the priesthood for that matter. They have a calling to do so. For those who have the calling, it is very gratifying.

      Capitalism run amuck commodifies everything; sucking the joy, creativity and satisfaction out of all work. That leaves only working with no principles whatsoever other than to grab as much as you can to retire as early as possible.

      Those who succeed at that are a menace to society.

    2. Lefty

      Well said. I would argue that “libertarians” are usually pampered, suburban know nothings who usually don’t have to deal with the reality of those less fortunate. They generally don’t travel, if they did many of their illusions would be shattered.

      Really though, I think the problem is that people develop an all encompassing philosophy on how the world works before they understand how the world actually works. They have an extreme bias before they have knowledge. Once that happens everything gets filtered through an ideological lens. Any facts that challenge their basic tenets are filtered out. If they don’t travel and keep an open mind they are done and useless as far as solving the problems of the real world.

      Regarding libertarian economics: most “libertarians” I know don’t know jack $hit about economics. They have an encyclopedic knowledge of LIBERTARIAN economics and when pressed about an economic issue will pull out some obscure Austrian theory, but they don’t know much, if anything, about other branches of economics. They also tend to have a very black/white view of the world.

      They are for “freedom” or something and everyone else is a socialist or a tyrant of some sort.

      Like I said above, anyone who THINKS about these complex issues and has a bias towards reality doesn’t take this nonsense seriously. These people are the useful idiots of powerful interests behind the scenes.

  21. wunsacon

    From Jesse’s recent article, here’s a little insight on high priestess Ayn Rand:

    http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/2011/09/ayn-rand-leading-light-for-generation.html

    I try to separate the message from the messenger. But, the message from “libertarians” seems so indifferent towards the *outcomes* for the bottom 90% or for minorities that I have to wonder what kind of person supports or conceives these ideas. I don’t think it’s immaterial.

  22. ben

    What you don’t understand about conservatives and libertarians is that it’s a two tier system. On one tier you have the conservatives and libertarians themselves who get first-class treatment. Then there’s everyone else who have to live in the hell of the libertarian/conservative ideology.

  23. ep3

    yeah that ayn rand woman was totally all about taking advantage of people. It’s like the epitome of her ideology is that you do whatever you can to win the zero sum game (g.gecko in wall street: money is a zero sum game). Cheat, lie, steal, anything to benefit you the person.
    And what is the deal with her? Why is she so popular? Because I wonder if she was some leader of some creepy sex cult. All these nerdy guys (greenspan) that couldn’t score, they would come over to Rand’s apartment and she would lay back and let them have their way. She got connections and wealth and power (and book sales) while they got their rocks off and a figurehead for their little cult. I know my comment/idea is a little gross and not based upon economics. But it just seems creepy weird to me, this relationship she had with all these men (that weren’t married themselves) while herself having a very withdrawn husband.
    sorry yves.

  24. rf

    Couple thoughts/questions:

    If you could opt out of Social Security and keep the payroll tax, would you?

    I’ve read that part of the reason for the high savings rate in parts of Asia is the lack of a retirement safety net. Does that say something about how people would respond to a world without SS?

    Even as someone who does not generally believe that government is the answer, extreme capitalism breeds extreme outcomes – very rich and very poor. To accept these outcomes in the libertarian sense means accepting the possibility of an undignified existence for some elderly people. In a rich economy that seems unnecessary (not unfair, the world is not fair).

    But for the vast majority its possible that there’s another way besides SS involving more personal responsibility.

    1. liberal

      I’ve read that part of the reason for the high savings rate in parts of Asia is the lack of a retirement safety net. Does that say something about how people would respond to a world without SS?

      AFAICT the “argument from moral hazard,” while logically plausible, is empirically wrong, at least on the margin in the US.

      1. F. Beard

        Does that say something about how people would respond to a world without SS? liberal

        Good point. People in poor countries have a lot of children for the same reason – security in their old age.

        1. PL

          Lots of children are a hedge against poverty in old age where the government so allows, but where it doesn’t (China) female fetus and infant mortality rates are shockingly high because parents presume grown daughters will not contribute to their family of origin’s resources. The lack of a social safety net incentivizes desperate measures as well as virtuous savings.

  25. Namazu

    I like the idea of balance, but I think you do the left a disservice here. Flailing dead intellectuals barely scuffs the arguments against the manifestations of their hypocrisy: social programs intended but not designed to last across generations will inevitably take on the characteristics of a Ponzi scheme. Given that inevitability, one can debate till the cows come up the ethics of sauve qui peut vs. the ethics of empty promises. Surely the left must have stronger lines of argument than this and Kochs-on-the-brain syndrome.

  26. Siggy

    Social Security is a transfer of income tax. Earners pay the tax and aged ‘non earners’ receive benefits.

    Medicare/Medicaid is also an income transfer tax in the guise of insurance. You pay a medicare premium/tax and it is returned as partial payment for medical services. If you have an employer sponsored medical benefits program, your primary benefits payer will be your employer provided program.

    Now, if these income transfer programs are underfunded, we need to tax more, provide fewer benefits, or both.

    As to Ayn Rand and Herr Hayek, were they hypocritical? Yes.

    Were they rational in the face of ill health, inflation and constrained incomes? Yes. Under the law were they eligible? YES!

    If you are unhappy with the fact that they availed themselves of something they were eligible to claim; your unhappiness is a form of hypocracy.

    Will Obamacare give you comfort? Now there’s a question worth considering.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Did you miss the point? They took advantage of social welfare programs and did not recant their views. It’s one thing if they said, “Gee, maybe I’m gonna have to rethink this, it was really useful to take advantage of these programs.” No, they continued to press for their destruction.

      And Hayek HAD to know Koch was rich. Why the hell didn’t Hayek say, “No, I’m not comfortable coming to the US and using a social welfare program when I’m going to be advocating policies hat oppose it. I’m really keen to help, but you’ll need to figure out a way to get private health insurance if I come to the US.”

      1. Deus-DJ

        It was as the Nation article ended it:

        “Another question hangs over all this: Why didn’t Charles Koch offer to put up some of his enormous wealth to pay for Hayek’s temporary medical insurance? One obvious answer: because the state had already offered a better and freer program. But perhaps Koch’s stinginess also reveals the social ethic behind libertarian values: every man for himself; selfishness is a virtue.”

        Fucking losers.

      2. MRW

        Yves,

        in my view,the issue that is missing from both Rand’s and Hayek’s positions is the importance of values, a society’s values. That was too ‘soft’ a driver for either of them to consider simply because both lacked the breadth of imagination to include it in their theories (positions), nor did they understand the consequence and costs over time of not including it. Neither do their adherents today, which is why their positions carve out so much of society to make their point.

      3. Siggy

        I wish to emphasize, I see Hayek and Rand as being hypocritical in their criticism of social security/medicare whilst they call for its destruction. I also see them as rationale in availing themselves of its benefits in their instance of need.

        As to Rand, I find nothing of merit in her writings and public philosophy. She strikes me as a diletante seeking celebrity to support a life style. She’s no longer with us and it may be that we are the better for that fact.

        As to Hayek, despite his hypocracy, he did give us a point of view worth consideration. He is no longer with us and we may be the poorer for that fact.

        As to the libertarian point of view, I see it as being naive. Altruism and absolute consideration of the common welfare are not common qualities within people whereas self survival is a common trait. If survival requires hypocracy for survival, there will be hypocracy.

        As to Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. As I said, they are income redistribution taxes. In fact, virtually the entire tax code is a form of income redistribution. The tax code has been a form of social policy from the date of its inception circa 1913.

        As to commenting on the acts of hypocracy commited by Rand and Hayek; Yves, you can and should do better. We would be better occupied if we addressed say the hypocracy of a fiat currency coupled with fractional reserves and a Justice Department and assorted regulatory agencies that have failed to prosecute what would otherwise be identified as common frauds.

        We should be worried about the various agencies of the Administration that spin the economic data so as to justify and entrench crap-think policies that employ social welfare as a tool to garner power that is used to protect those among us who control the means of production.

        What ails this country is not the hypocracy of Rand and Hayek, what ails this country is the pandemic of corruption that arises out of pernicious inflation and a failure to constrain the inherent power that accrues to being rich. That conflict between owners and renters is recognized in our contract for government and we seem to have failed to demand that our representatives honor the contract.

        Net I see little profit in bemoaning a clear case of hypocracy. Rather, I would prefer to discuss what can be done to achieve fair markets. Not free markets, fair markets. Fair markets require policemen and prosecutors; curiously before Doff-Frank we had such laws as would necessary and we had some policemen as well. Sadly, nothing was done.

        Now we have Greece etal and a cadre of banks that are insolvent and a set of politicians groping for a way to forestall the inevitable default. It being played out like a game of musical chairs, who can pawn off the sovereign paper the fastest.

        Enough, yesterday’s hypocracy is a concern for the chattering classes and unworthy of your talents. You could do better.

        All of the foregoing with respect and affection for your otherwise very real and valuable contributions to the dialogue.

  27. censeo

    I don’t know what your position is or what, for that matter you’re talking about. Both Hayek and Rand were creatures of their time–hayek’s was in response to current flux circumstances–and he was educated. Rand is a functional nutcase; a psychotic denier. So here hypocrisy is thus explained. She was emotionally stunted and better suited as a psychological case study than ranking as a political economics thinker.
    What is to be learned from the state of domestic debate that Keynes is considered obsolescent and retro-wrong while Rand and Austrian theory are bandied about in current media. History is to be learned from not repeated.

    1. Deus-DJ

      Hayek may have been educated but he also was a nutcase. Observe how he said the government may be putting something into the water to brainwash us. He was a complete lunatic.

  28. Namazu

    Having established that I think this is a dumb argument, let me enter the dumb argument: governor X thinks Federal taxes should be lower, that decisions about what infrastructure to build and how to pay more it should be made more at the state and local level. Yet the Feds continue to collect the taxes and dole them back out to the states according to an arguably less efficient mechanism. Should state X refuse the return of any of their tax dollars? The abortion analogy doesn’t pass the freshman philosophy 101 test.

  29. dirtbagger

    Libertarians need to get out more. If they saw the crushing poverty (until recently) and lack of services in India and Pakistan or experienced the complete breakdown of law and social order in Beirut during the 70′s they would have a better understanding of the downside of a libertarian philsophy.

    It is one thing to expouse the benefits of libertarism on a full stomach in the comfort of ones home, but to experience the devastating effects of this philosophy on the ground is another matter.

    Look at your glorius leader Ron Paul. The guy has been sucking on the goverment teat for over 20 years. He thinks government should pretty much get out of everything except controlling a woman’s reproductive system and making sure his check is in the mail.

    1. douchebagger

      Pakistan is a military dictatorship.

      Are you one to tolerate those teabaggers calling Cuba a great example of liberalism?

      You’re both dead wrong, and blindly partisan.

  30. mitchw

    Hey, sorry I arrived late to the party. When I read Hayek some years ago he wrote that it was the responsibility of the state to maintain workers in sufficient health so that they could function economically. It’s always been a curiosity for me to hear our ‘market liberals’ rail against govt healthcare. Oh well. (Yves, you seriously read all these comments? Are you a mentalist?)

  31. Cahal

    Hayek actually did support:

    - A citizen’s income
    - Moderate fiscal and monetary expansion in a downturn
    - Healthcare
    - Worker regulations
    - Education

    In fact, he is known as a ‘social democrat’ by some of the more diehard Austrians.

    1. Because

      Yes, Hayek changed and was supportive of social insurance programs after the war.

      We have to remember, the “Austrian” like Keynesianism school is broken up into many parts and pieces. Heck, FDR wasn’t even a Keynesian. He was student of the Wisconsin school.

      My general opinion is, that “old school” Austrian forumla won’t work. Inequality is to high and public service is the only thing from completely exposing it. Austrians think by causing deflation and forcing the value of money through the roof will cause the “savers”(the hero in Austrian plays) to reset the economy at some efficient equalibrum. This is bad bad intellectualism gone awry. I love that nobody calls it that, but it is.

      The truth is, the “savers” aren’t most of society, matter of fact, they are the very few. Forget about the working poor. Heck, even middle managers making 75,000 year don’t have that much in savings. If you had a man and women together making 150,000 in gross, is not going to be loaded with savings. They both lose their job, the money starts flying out, overrunning their “higher values”. Nope, it will be the Koch’s,Waltons’,Buffett’s,Dude who created Facebook(huck huck). Yeah, Koch Industries may falter, Wal-Mart may shutdown hundreds of stores, A couple of Buffett’s businesses may fail…………..but they have millions, upon millions of savings stashed away. While the economy gets worse and worse as the middle class disappears, they get personally wealther and wealther. It simply is a mess for the Austrians by then.

      You have a economy that has lost generation worth of growth. A angry,hate filled underclass ready for blood who are not all poors. Finally collapse of civilization. Essentially the US in January 1 1933. As Polonyi consribed. Without the freeland, the US joined Europe in the failure of self-regulating market. Hence, 19th century America is no good from a economic analysis point of view. Hayek understood this and adjusted, while modern idiots like Ron Paul cannot.

      The real problem right now is that supply side economics has gone wild globally. As Keen said, we are just to flush with capital. Buffett is already calling for a backdoor tax and spend plan to boost the “underclass’s” demand and draw the capital out. The other way is to destroy it ala the Austrians. But that is a waste and inefficient. When we could build sidewalks,bridges,Subways,Powergrids ete ete ete. Sounds like common sense problem to today’s issues. Of course you still have the “creative” banking centers, but……..there are ways to deal with them and make them “whole”.

      1. Ludwig Von Friedman

        No, Hayek actually changed again by 1960 and denounced Social Security specifically in a chapter titled “Social Security” in The Constitution of Liberty. And then in 1976, he denounced his own relatively moderate stance on social welfare programs circa-1944. So get your facts straight about Hayek. He opted into Social Security right as he was turning harsly against Social Security, accusing programs like it and Medicare of bringing on Stalinism and totalitarianism.

  32. Sauron

    Couple of points. Some posters argue that Rand and Hayek’s actions do not prove their theories are false. This is true.

    But actions certainly reveal character and thus are relevant to whether or not she is a hypocrite. As for the argument that she was just taking back her due, I would have considerable sympathy for it if there was evidence she calculated out exactly how much (with interest) she paid in, then accepted back not a penny more.

    Screaming ad hominen is not a get out of jail free card. Ad hominen arguments are only invalid if the attack is irrelevant to the matter at hand. Saying Rand’s theory is false because she is ugly obviously is fallacious. Saying so-and-so shouldn’t be a police officer because they are a lying, bullying, bastard is not.

      1. Sauron

        Jeeze man, read my post. I’m not defending Rand in any way. I’m saying she’s a hypocrite. I’m only saying you can’t prove her positions are false from the fact she’s a douche. You don’t need to–a retarded monkey with a festering head wound could find logical grounds.

        I’m trying to get through to the Randroids that yelling ad hominen doesn’t answer the charge of hypocrisy.

  33. F. Beard

    Who knows how big government should be? But one thing we do know – the need for big government did not grow till the bankers wrecked the economy with the Great Depression.

    So, let’s fix the money system (which is currently based on government backed theft and usury) and allow the need for government to “wither away” as some famous person said.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      There were many, many reasons, including: shifting demographics (smaller family size, and improved child survival), rapid urbanization, the beginnings of large research universities, just to name a few.

      1. F. Beard

        Running interference for the usury and counterfeiting cartel, are we?

        Occam’s Razor and 300+ years of history indicate that the banks are the cause of the boom-bust cycle.

  34. Schofield

    Libertarian thieves stole the people’s right to have their money creation decided completely democratically. The result has been the deflation of the American economy with the debt bubble. This bubble also led to toxic mortgage bonds which along with outsourcing has further accelerated the implosion of this country.

    See Michael Hudson’s article posted here yesterday for more chapter and verse:-

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/09/michael-hudson-debt-deflation-in-america.html

  35. Mike EEE

    If the Ad Hom per paragraph metric has any bearing on the weight of actual fact, logic, and evidence, (as it generally seems to) the Ayn Rand bashers lose this debate.

    Social Security should be voluntary, or at least limit the state to requiring an ‘opt out’ individual to demonstrate they are making provision for their retirement individually at some minimum threshold.

    It’s a terrible system that has become a bloated, involuntary, unsustainable, mandatory, confiscatory, sacred cow. I dislike the system, but I will draw out every penny I can when I get to retirement, and still be WAY BEHIND what my lifetime contributions compounded in conservative investments would have been, by the time I drop dead.

    If this makes me a hypocrite, than someone should really examine the fallacious logic behind their definition of hypocrisy.

    But like all good libs, you Rand bashers believe all assets, resources, capital, and fruits of labor belong to the ‘collective’, and only what pittance the REAL hypocrites at the political top deign to dole out back to us, is what we should have benefit of.

    For the demonstration of hypocrisy X 8 trillion, let’s take a look at ‘spread the wealth around’ Obama and his lavish endless Billion dollar lifestyle of Millionaire vacations, caviar, Michelle’s designer dresses, Matha’s Vinyard junkets, et al. No president in history has been so ostentatious and hypocritical. But this is typical of all leftists who get to positions of power. HYPER typical in fact. Very generous with OTHER people’s hard earned money.

    Should we help the poor, sick, and needy? Absolutely. She would do it at the point of a political gun? No. The U.S. has the most generous voluntary givers on Earth, and we could easily meet the basic needs of the poor if the $ Trillion+ in annual confiscation was to cease.

    1. liberal

      “…you Rand bashers believe all assets, resources, capital, and fruits of labor belong to the ‘collective’…”

      Actually, that’s a lie.

      The position of many Rand bashers—myself in particular—is that while it’s entirely reasonable, even just, to argue that a man should be able to keep the fruit of his labor (including capital as “stored up labor”), with only the minimum needed for essential government functions to be taxed, most of the wealth of the rich wasn’t earned but rather (legally but not morally) stolen by collecting economic rents. That stuff can be recouped by the government with zero loss to either efficiency or justice.

      1. F. Beard

        most of the wealth of the rich wasn’t earned but rather (legally but not morally) stolen by collecting economic rents. liberal

        Bingo!

    2. Binky the Bear

      Social insurance doesn’t work if people can opt out. Maybe the commenter doesn’t understand that this country isn’t named MikeEEEEEland, and that MikeEEEE is not the first or only person to live here.
      Do you want the rights and privileges of being an American?
      Pay up.
      Do you want to live in libertarian ecstasy without the Man violently asking you to contribute to the commonweal?
      GTFO. Somalia calls you, a lawless land where a free man can carve out his empire of manliness. Maybe build a railroad then quit when other people complain about it or make suggestions. Build that sandcastle, Ron Paul is rooting for you!
      But GTFO, freeloader, or quit whinging. We the people, not me the libertarian dingbat.

    3. nikhil

      If the Ad Hom per paragraph metric has any bearing on the weight of actual fact, logic, and evidence, (as it generally seems to) the Ayn Rand bashers lose this debate.

      Thankfully it doesn’t. Instead we know from fact and evidence of history and basic use of logic that Rand was a third rate “philosopher” who’s ideas were basically just slogans.

      BTW This place isn’t some kind of Obama supporter hangout so shaming anyone here with that isn’t going to get you anywhere. Of course that’s pretty standard for a libertarian. You guys think the radical answer to corrupt democracy is to run to a king. Cowards.

    1. libarbarian

      If you actually read “The Road to Serfdom” without bias you would see that it is tragically misunderstood by the Tea Party and does NOT say what they claim it says.

      Hayek EXPLICITLY said that he was ONLY talking about Economic planning and NOT talking about social assistance programs. There is a very big difference between a a gov’t that undertakes to provide social assistance within a market based economy and one that undertakes to determine exactly how many tons of steel or bars of soap will be produced in a year … let alone exactly how these products will be distributed.

    1. Sauron

      I mean they mistrust government and rail against redistributive social programs, yet draw allow the government to retain the monopoly on force.

      More people have been enslaved, killed, and robbed by the armies of kings and queens and than all the medicare and FDA programs in the world.

  36. Naumadd

    For many years, I too paid into the Social Security system. Yes, it was compulsory. Still, it was my money properly earned. At the moment, I live on Social Security. Yes, I am as libertarian as they come. I believe it is right that I receive what I well earned. There is no contradiction between what I understand as libertarian principles and my receiving value in return for value given. On the other hand, my wife’s 20-something son has never paid a nickel to the system and recieves more money than I do from Social Security. Others are forced to pay for his living. That is quite the opposite of libertarian principles and a travesty. He is a charity case, I am not. He is taking from others, I receive what is my just payment. As I understand Ayn Rand’s views and her so-called use of Social Security/Medicare, there’s no contradiction. Had there been, I’m quite certain Ayn herself would have seen it long before anyone else. This is a juvenile attempt to discount a philosophy and a person you little understand.

    1. lbcyclist

      Will you stop withdrawing money from social security when the amount you withdraw reaches what you have paid?

  37. Naumadd

    I assume those who argue an imbalance between the return from Social Security on my actual (compelled) payments also wouldn’t take a large insurance payment for some loss when they actually paid a much smaller amount as premiums. I pay a great deal for auto and life insurance – most of which I will likely never see again. Is that fair in your mind?

    My point – value is given and promises made by those receiving it for some value in return. It is just. Is all taxation unfair? No. Value is given for value. What’s unfair is when value is taken with nothing given in return. The values do not have to be monetarily equal, but those involved in the exchange either come away satisfied with it or unsatisfied and at war with one another. I would not take away more than I believe I have coming to me, and certainly no less. Sometimes, government does seem a bargain for the value it gives in return. Often it does not.

  38. Psychoanalystus

    Reading these comments helps me understand what is wrong with this Tea Party mentality that has possessed this stupid country. No offense meant, but you guys are complete wackos!

  39. Skippy

    Umm…since time lost, some have, for what ever reasons…deemed themselves special…above it all.

    Private chats with deity’s.

    Ancestral sheep skins imbuing “can do no wrong” so populations sacrifice is natural.

    Ideological superiority attached to geographical location.

    Stored Wealth masquerading as infallible logic.

    Starring at fixed objects for long times or drug influenced writing.

    Big Brain Fires attract more moths…stuff.

    Etc, etc, …

    Well you get the point.

    Skippy…any who…some people were scared of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)…yet look at the Computational Market Collider (CMC). One may suck our collective consciousness into another dimension…where the other just sucks_our will to live_from us…sigh…priced electrons are a poor metric by which to experience the human condition or an optic to see the world through…methinks. Equitable society or stuff it…love of life (all) or indifference in totality (eww)…come together or be blown away.

    ps. has a species ever ideologically snuffed it self…see fossil record…what a distinction..eh.

  40. Brian Gates

    Yves Smith is dishonest. Whether to support entitlements and whether to claim the benefits that you were forced to pay for are two different issues that are not difficult to keep apart. This is a cheap distortion raised by people whose best method of argumentation is to attack the messenger.

    1. Skippy

      The messengers in this case, used armchair logic, based on the previous century’s opines – machinations, like…born to rule…pay to belong…kill too survive…eugenics…ethical and moral superiority by title – possession – handed down or gained wealth.

      Skippy…the world gets smaller every day, so its hard to be a rugged individual in a sardine can…eh.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      You need to acquaint yourself with a dictionary. “Hypocrisy” means being unfaithful to the standards you say you hold. This is an open and shut case. The two issues you say are separate are not because they are about acting on v. violating principles both Hayek and Rand advocated, repeatedly and forcefully.

  41. Brian Gates

    P.S. Ayn Rand was filthy rich and didn’t even need Medicare. She claimed it just to piss off people like Yves Smith.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You are funny, you don’t even have your facts right.

      Rand was NOT rich, she was freaked out her cancer would render her destitute.

  42. Bernard

    really fascinating to see the pretending going on in the libertarians. they will never own up to the facts of that others see as a different side of reality. lying and hypocrisy will never be okay in my book. defending liars and cheats is not behavior that i consider to be worth emulating.

    just my way of thinking, being.

    people who steal, cheat or lie usually can’t be trusted with anything like my money. see what they have done to the US government! nor would i trust such “illogical” behavior. these ideas/notions from libertarians sound so much like right wingers, even though i gather “libs” are supposedly all over the political spectrum. but they sound so right wing and “I’m better than you are, you deserve to die! you loser!

    refusing to see obvious illogical behavior or thinking is always a cumulative disaster. and i doubt by now the “reality” of their “illogic” would ever be considered by them ever to be “wrong”.

    and i see all the phrases and little “code” words for accepted “ways” of speaking. all the innuendo instead of direct yes or no answers. always qualified responses. the obviousness and the elusiveness of the replies always show an attempt at defense of “My Way” and a counter attempt to deflect the conversation to topics which are farcical, but still not an answer.

    seems only the collapse of their “world” as they perceive it will be able to break through the “defenses” 30 to 40 years of capitalist free market propaganda and misinformation.

    the sad part is that everyone else has to pay the price for the greed of a few. with people like Hayek and Rand, and the Tea Party/Obama responsible for a greater evil. using government to screw all the poor and middle classes under the guise of “their vision” of paradise on earth, Somalia. which they have never ever denied or declaimed.

    for they obviously believe Somalia would be heaven on earth if only the foreign governments would not interfere and let them kill each other off. so the “strong” could rule as they are supposed to do in the fantasyland they want for the rest of us.

    old lies/erroneous thinking/ are hard to break, like habits, a serious “Incident” may be the only way to break through. even then, maybe not.

    a fascinating time in America.

  43. David Veksler

    “Since there is no such thing as the right of some men to vote away the rights of others, and no such thing as the right of the government to seize the property of some men for the unearned benefit of others—the advocates and supporters of the welfare state are morally guilty of robbing their opponents, and the fact that the robbery is legalized makes it morally worse, not better. 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 . . . .

    The same moral principles and considerations apply to the issue of accepting social security, unemployment insurance or other payments of that kind. It is obvious, in such cases, that a man receives his own money which was taken from him by force, directly and specifically, without his consent, against his own choice. Those who advocated such laws are morally guilty, since they assumed the “right” to force employers and unwilling co-workers. But the victims, who opposed such laws, have a clear right to any refund of their own money—and they would not advance the cause of freedom if they left their money, unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-state administration.”

    “The Question of Scholarships,”
    The Objectivist, June, 1966, 11
    http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/government_grants_and_scholarships.html

      1. mario

        The society had no problem collecting her cash, but would hold her responsible to her standards. I think we are being irrational.

  44. David Veksler

    Imagine that a thief continually stole a third of your salary your entire working life. Is it so hypocritical to get a small fraction of that money back? Does getting back some of what was stolen from you invalidate your moral opposition to theft?

  45. bob

    Keep it up, I was really hoping that the debt ceiling situation/downgrade would make all of their heads simultaneously explode in one giant fart.

    I think it happened too quickly for them to realize, and they still don’t realize the real power “they” have.

    Waiting now for them to shoot themselves in the foot with it.

  46. Sauron

    Ifa corporation skims off a third of the wealth you produce through your labours as profit, does that count as theft?

    I would be very interested in what the political landscape would be if you had a fully itemized list of deductions on your paycheck. Tax, corporate profit, CEO salaries, lobbyists.

  47. Knative

    Yo. Reading these defenses of these two twerps kind o reminds of that one Catholic dude that is always getting pissed about things, and how he excuses pedophile priests. He’s all like, “Priest molest at the same frequency as teachers.” But they’re priests dude, they’re supposed to be godly. Hayek and Rand are the number one libertarians. If they weren’t following their own ideology, then they really shouldn’t be deified like they are hot shit. Though I suppose Reagan is a god despite being pro-apartheid. And don’t get me started on that bitch Mother Theresa. There are nuns and priests like Father Romero that were murdered violently for fighting for the poor. All that stupid Albanian woman did was watch people die, and rail against abortion and condoms. Pretty much all rightwing heroes are usually actually assholes. Though Ghandi, a liberal saint, was racist against Africans.

  48. Attitude_Check

    Neither had the right to opt out – it was a tax and they had to pay by law. Once paid for the “service” was bought, and it is perfectly reasonable, moral, and consistent with logic to acquire what you were forced to “purchase”. Remember “It’s not an entitlement program”, or are you claiming it is?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Wrong. As a foreigner back in the day, Hayek had the choice whether to opt in or not.

      And Rand depicted anyone who relied on state support as weak and despicable. She got way more out of Medicare than she paid in because that’s how a collective program (in this case, social insurance) works for those in need.

  49. Jacob

    David Veksler, the money never was yours, a fiat currency is the states money and only has value because of government regulation or law.

  50. Bill G

    And not only that but using federally funded highways – guilty, using Federally subsidized ethanol – guilty, eating federally subsidized food – guilty, using federally subsidized oil – guilty, using federally subsidized power – guilty, using federally subsidized anything – guilty , , , bunch of charlatans makes me sick.

  51. Tedd

    Miss Rand argued against legal and illegal wealth transfers. She also was against self-sacrifice. Late in life, when she had the opportunity to get some of her money back – legally – she took it. If she HADN’T agreed to receive some of her money back THAT might have been hypocritical.

    1. F. Beard

      If she HADN’T agreed to receive some of her money back THAT might have been hypocritical. Tedd

      Wrong. The government does not have money of its own; it takes from Peter to give to Paul or in the case of money creation takes a little purchasing power from the entire population to give to Paul.

      Ms Rand therefore agreed to theft by proxy according to her logic.

  52. Geotechnical Engineer

    I think this whole debate is a classic example of why economics is struggling as an applied science. Theory must be integrated into practice based on actual data in order to be successfully applied.

    Here we have theory (Rand-Hayek concepts) bumping into some actual data points (Rand-Hayek using SS and Medicare)in order to maintain their living standards. Given their age with respect to when SSN-Medicare were established, it is likely that they extracted much more than the value of the insurance that their actual paid insurance premiums would have justified. This, after all is the basis of the “Ponzi-scheme” argument that we are hearing from their current day proponents of their theories.

    As an engineer, I view this as the equivalent of Newton’s Laws of Motion. The formulae that you see in high school and introductory college physics texts are very simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, they don’t work in the real world, except in space, because there are so many potential sources of friction and and opposing forces.

    The way that economics is handled in today’s politics means that a baseball pitcher would not be able to throw a curve ball because the simplistic theory would require the game be played in a vacuum so that there would be no airdrag on the baseball. All the players would need to play in space suits which would undoubtedly change the game even further.

    I would love to live in a world where fraud would not occur because everybody has perfect information instantaneously and it would not be in the fraudster’s self-interest to commit a fraud that would be found out. That is the rationale behind de-regulation. Unfortunately, I think there is sufficient airdrag on that deregulation ball that it does not fly straight, but will instead curve away because of the drag of criminal intent and lack of information.

    Similarly, Hayek and Rand found themselves in precisely the situations that Social Security and Medicare were designed to address because the originators of the systems recognized that there are frictions in the real world that
    will cause people to be in danger of losing everything and hte private sector will not provide adequate insurance to allow the individual to survive well.

    Somehow, we need to get the theoretical political and economic world to recognize that there is a real world. Unfortunately, I think it will take another depression to make that point again once reality has gotten so bitter that even the most undaunted of theoreticians will need to recognize it.

  53. Bob Lince

    Hayek was like your favorite uncle.

    Rand was like your meanest teacher ever.

    If Ms. Smith had brought this topic up with Hayek while he was still alive, he would have discussed it with her in an a rational, scholarly, and interesting way; conceding to her any valid points she made, and hoping she would concede to him his any valid points.

    If she had brought it up with Rand while she was still alive, the bitch (as the poet says: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/captain-carpenter/) would have bit off [her] arms at the elbows.

    Though they disagreed on economics, Hayek and Keynes, as acquaintances, got along famously well, enjoying and respecting each others company. Rand would have shuddered at being in the same town as Keynes.

    To play these two, Hayek and Rand, as cards out of the same deck seems more of a parlor trick than a real game.

  54. Yellowrose

    In the end we make a fundamental choice to either work for our own self-centered interests (Ayn Rand) or to work for the good of all – which INCLUDES my own self interests.

    Working for our own self-centered interests is easy, short term and will often destroy us in the end. Our under-regulated financial industry demonstrates this as we are seeing.

    Conversely working for the good of everyone is not compromise. It’s NOT like a real estate deal where I give up some of what I want and you give up some of what you want and we wash out somewhere in the middle.

    No. Working for the good of all requires creativity, imagination and out-of-the-box thinking. It requires recognizing that we are all interconnected and interdependent. It definitely takes more time. But long term, everyone thrives.

  55. mario

    ” My reading of the Old Testament alone was enough to set off major alarm bells with regard to her philosophy. Furthermore, what business is it of her’s if people choose to be generous?”

    That’s one weird conclusion. Her point was that any instance of generousity should be voluntary in nature and should not be imposed on anyone. I can not agree more.

    1. F. Beard

      Her point was that any instance of generousity should be voluntary in nature and should not be imposed on anyone. mario

      You give her too much credit. She was against all altruism, not just involuntary “altruism”. She was also pro-individual rights unless you count unborn children as individuals. She was also an atheist though I don’t see how one can know for certain that God does not exist (So much for her logic?) She was also for a government enforced gold standard. How is that libertarian?

      1. mario

        “She was against all altruism, not just involuntary “altruism”.”

        That is not the impression I’ve got after I watched her interviews. I think that her philosophy left a space for a free interpretation.

        1. mario

          -I want to help people, I want to do good to other people, what is so wrong with that?
          -Nothing, if you do it by your own choice, and if its not your primarily aim in life if if you do not regard it as a moral virtue…

          1. F. Beard

            In the US we attempt to balance fascism, a government enforced private money monopoly, with large amounts of socialism.

            It does not occur to many that without the fascism there would be little need for the socialism.

          2. mario

            Actually it does, what I do not uderstand why socialism is actively promoted mainly to missdle class.

          3. F. Beard

            what I do not uderstand why socialism is actively promoted mainly to missdle class. mario

            Neither the Left or the Right trust the population with money so the Left takes it from them with taxation and the Right takes it from them via banking. Both are elitists and should be slapped down for their presumption.

          4. F. Beard

            Well, soon enough you may change your mind… mario

            Never. I have read every Ayn Rand book that I know of. I consider her a fascist and a hypocrite.

  56. Sauron

    Liberalism doesn’t need to rest on a foundation of altruism. Self-interest–ENLIGHTENED self-interest–can be the guiding principle. The problem is that enlightened self-interest often involve curbing simple self-interest and immediate gratification.

    Libertarians see the debate as altruism vs self-interest.

    It is more accurate to characterise the debate as enlightened vs simple self-interest.

    What curbs we should put on self-interest is, according to liberals, an empirical, data-driven question. What, in practise, works?

    Libertarians do the same thing, but seem unaware of it. The courts, the military, and the police all are curbs on narrow self-interest there to prevent a Hobbesian war of all against all.

    After that, they draw the line–no more curbs on simple self-interest. I don’t know what their rational foundation for this line is.

    1. Sauron

      Final point: Listening to libertarians, their motivation for drawing the line seem involve a desire for simple and clear answers/rules as opposed to complex, empirical driven balancing acts(gives randroids their religious flavour), greed (they want what will make them, or what they think will make them, better off personally–their right wing flavour).

      Liberals also have a problem with drawing the line between narrow and enlightened self-interest–drawing a line between pursuing an enlightened society so far as to throttle and destroy freedom. The most charitable–irony alert–impulse behind libertarianism seems to be a reaction to this problem.

  57. Jean

    As I have not all of the comments above, I may be repeating, but who were the ultimate recipients of the generosity of the Medicare program for Mr. Hayek?

    First and most obvious, Mr. Koch, who would ultimately have paid a larger amount of money to Mr. Hayek in order to secure his services. And secondly, did Mr. Hayek die with a net worth to be passed to heirs.

    The Social Security/Medicare argument always fails to acknowledge the significant contributions net value to others. Intergenerational transfers also come into play.

  58. Ole C G Olesen

    HI
    I find above article DISTASTEFUL ..first of all
    Secondly .. and arguments below apply for all MIDDLE CLASS ( MC ):

    Everyone of US is living in a society of Bureaucratic Fascism where the bureaucratic apparatus EXTORTS TAX from all those where the bureaucratic apparatus is in a position of POWER to EXORT TAX .. and that means more or less exclusively the WORKING MIDDLE CLASS ( the lower classes cannot be taxed .. as they dont have any money … the rich have the means to buy adequate legal support and / or simply just threaten to leave country and are therefore left untouched )

    The productive part of society … the MC …therefore ( and this is a deliberate TACTIC by the ruling POLIT-BUREAUCRATIC COMPLEX ) is left WITHOUT THE MEANS … to pay for such basic things as HEALTHCARE …. the bill for this has already been extorted from this Class ..many times over ..by TAXES . Both Ayn Rand ..and the mentioned other persons .. incl HAYEK . as being ACADEMICS .. belong to … THE EDUCATED MIDDLE CLASS .. and have probably paid a fair amount of TAX .. during their life time .. and are .. I guess ..like most MIDDLE CLASS … not RICH .. but have delivered a SUBSTANTIAL PART of their LIFE TIME EARNINGS ..to a GREEDY STATE ! If just a fraction of the taxes paid ..could have been diverted into a FIRST CLASS ..PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE
    all the mentioned persons could have had all the healthcare they needed in absolute luxury also ..wherever on planet earth they would have choosen !

  59. Ole C G Olesen

    And as a post scriptum : FIRST CLASS HEALTH CARE INSURANCE is relatively CHEAP .. especially if entered in the YOUNGER YEARS of a persons Life. It is easily affordable for ANY Middle Class Working Person .. especially if he is NOT squeezed dry by TAXES … Even the best insurances covering all and anything one might encounter in the field of disease and accidents will not take more than maximally approx 5 % of a MC persons Income ( and this figure is for the very best insurance policies available ) if such an insurance is entered not too late in life !

    1. LucyLulu

      Oleson,
      I’m guessing you live someplace that has socialized medicine, and have never had to purchase private health insurance? I ask because here in the US, where we only have private healthcare, one can not buy insurance when one is young for later on. Your premiums will increase in price as you get older or sicker, assuming they don’t refuse to insure you altogether. The exception is if you happen to be part of a large employer’s health plan, then everybody who works for that employer pays the same rate, which is how most people who have health insurance get their insurance. The employer also picks up a large portion of the premium. Most people who don’t have the option of an employer sponsored plan go uninsured. Our middle class can’t afford health insurance, it would cost more than the typical family’s total tax liability. My ex-husband is currently paying over $1000 per month for his family coverage on COBRA…… meaning he was laid off, so gets the group discount but the employer no longer pays a portion, expires in another 6 months. And at 58, no job, and with his health history, he’ll be uninsured. I believe he is guaranteed the ability to buy coverage as long as he doesn’t allow any lapses to occur between policies, but I can’t even fathom what it might cost him. The privately insured healthcare system, at least in the US, is outrageously expensive (often with substantial out-of-pocket expenses), and of mediocre quality. OTOH, if you happen to be an oil sheik and uninhibited by such things as insurance authorizations, approvals of hospital lengths of stay (and continued stay), and proving less costly options were/will be ineffective, you can receive medical care that is unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

      I laugh when people say they are afraid that health care will be rationed. I graduated in 1979 and it’s been being rationed as long as I’ve been around. It happens behind the scenes though. Your doctor, nurses, and pharmacists are regularly communicating with your insurance company. If the insurance company says no, then you don’t get it. You probably won’t even hear the disallowed option mentioned by your medical provider.

  60. LRT

    Its hard to understand this preoccupation with Rand. She was a brilliant idiot. That is, brilliant at self promotion and mass media, but an idiot about philosophy, politics and economics. She’s about as relevant to any of that as Harold Robbins, and as a novelist is at about the same level as him.

    Its a bit like someone on the right getting obsessed with for instance Kirov and proving over and over again that he was not a very brilliant thinker or writer. Who cares?

    Hayek is a different matter, he was actually an economist, but what is worth discussing is not how he funded his medical treatment, but his economic ideas. Rand, though, its really time Rand was left to rot in the dustbin of history.

  61. Michael R. Brown

    You have shown no hypocrisy or contradiction in Rand or Hayek. The State has stolen so much money, so much prosperity, so much innovation that these two giants had the right to recoup a tiny amount of what was stolen.

  62. Robin Allison

    Thank you so much to the commentators above who mentioned 1) that in a government with a fiat currency, money actually belongs to the government, not you, and 2) that SS is INSURANCE, similar to someone with a perfect driving record whose premiums this month will pay for his neighbor’s wreck. 3)the distinction between the self interest exposed by so called libertarian free marketers and enlightened self interest, which is what makes a society successful.

    I read Ayn Rand’s novels way back in my late teens and still enjoy them to this day. I’m highly amused when I see the likes of Rush playing the role of Ellsworth Toohey, who was one of her villains. Actually, in her novels, her villains very much write the playbook for the present day “conservatives”. I then went and attempted to read her non-fiction. I never finished the entire “Virtue of Selfishness”, because even as a 19 year old, I spent most of the time trying to figure out how her philosophy could possibly work in the real world. I would read something, then think of a dozen real life situations where greed, or evil, or stupidity, or simple luck would render her world view impossible.

    I don’t think she was necessarily a hypocrite…IMO in her view, since she wasn’t a second rater, she was entitled to whatever she could get. See, only the second raters were parasites and deserved contempt. Paul Ryan suffers no problem with his government salary and perks because in his mind he is one of the elites and is deserving of such. The rest of us are obviously less deserving because we are not him, and so should sacrifice some of our “perks” because obviously we are the problem. Like I said, her philosophy made no provision for simple reality and I abandoned 90% of her beliefs. The unfortunate 10% I retained- the integrity of sticking to your principles and not brown-nosing for success- probably accounts for my actual lack of monetary success. Oh well.

    Oh- for the tea party apologists who say “get government hands out of my Medicare” is justified by the “cuts” in the ACA…. talking points for the ill-informed. The cuts are to a Bush era program that didn’t work as they thought it would and was costing MORE than traditional Medicare rather than saving money. It was due for the ax, even without the health care bill. Or do you advocate as a libertarian view that we keep our under performing governmental programs and just get rid of the ones which work efficiently? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Looking at our present crop of libertarian heroes in government. I shudder at some of their personal actions if they represent the ideology. Would society be better off if all doctors self accredited? How about no check on clinics accepting government funds as to whether they followed the full disclosure requirements, and whether they practiced approved methods? Or let the buyer beware? After all, if a client commits suicide because they thought something was going to cure them and it didn’t, that clinic has lost business! The market place will soon sort out incompetent doctors and shrinks! Our present system doesn’t do a great job at it, so less oversight should fix the problem (yeah, sarcasm). How come the free market isn’t enough to close down abortion clinics? After all, in a free market, there will never be demand for immoral services, so why regulate against things like abortion, loans to poor folks, companies hiring undocumented workers, paying workers under the table, or forcing people to work unpaid overtime. There would be no discrimination based on race, creed or gender if the government didn’t regulate those things- the companies would of course go out of business! Like all those southern restaurants did before the civil rights act?

    Libertarianism in its pure form is a bogus as pure capitalism or communism. Get more than 50 people together or continue for more than a generation, and any of these are going to fail, simply because of human nature. Governments exist to make sure the majority of the governed can co-exist with success. It means if my neighbor is an ass hole, I don’t have to depend on him if my house is burning down. It means if I go to a doctor, he has had a minimum level of training and knowledge. It means my employer cannot force me to endanger my life unnecessarily by forcing them to provide safeguards. It means my food is relatively safe, buildings don’t collapse on me, and banks have to at least put how they will screw you in the fine print.

  63. William

    Social Security is not mandatory. Its only mandatory if you are a wage earner. Its possible to work and live your whole life in the US without making a single SS payment. How, become an entrepreneur and don’t pay yourself a salary and only take out dividends / income from a limited partnership.

    http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/annuities.htm

    Hayek and Rand had a choice. If they were true to their principles they would have setup corporations and have people pay them through the corporation. They would take out dividends. Hence no need to pay social insurance. They would have minimize taxes and stuck to their principles. Furthermore, they could never take on “workers” for the corporation but instead outsource their staff to temp agencies.

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