Toleration, Social Justice

Ryan vs. Ayn R.

By now everyone knows that Mitt Romney’s new running mate, Paul Ryan, is a big fan of Ayn Rand. But would Ayn Rand have been a big fan of Paul Ryan?

Ayn Rand

Given her views of Ronald Reagan, I suspect not:

I urge you, as emphatically as I can, not to support the candidacy of Ronald Reagan. I urge you not to work for or advocate his nomination, and not to vote for him. My reasons are as follows: Mr. Reagan is not a champion of capitalism, but a conservative in the worst sense of that word – i.e., an advocate of a mixed economy with government controls slanted in favor of business rather than labor (which, philosophically, is as untenable a position as one could choose – see Fred Kinnan in Atlas Shrugged, pp. 541-2). This description applies in various degrees to most Republican politicians, but most of them preserve some respect for the rights of the individual. Mr. Reagan does not: he opposes the right to abortion. (Ayn Rand Letter IV.2, 1975)

What do I think of President Reagan? The best answer to give would be: But I don’t think of him – and the more I see, the less I think. I did not vote for him (or for anyone else) and events seem to justify me. The appalling disgrace of his administration is his connection with the so-called “Moral Majority” and sundry other TV religionists, who are struggling – apparently with his approval – to take us back to the Middle Ages, via the unconstitutional union of religion and politics. (“Sanction of the Victims,” 1981; in The Voice of Reason)

How much enthusiasm, then, could she have for another anti-abortion pro-corporate statist in libertarian camouflage?

Published on:
Author: Roderick Long
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  • He claims to reject Ayn Rand and her philosophy. Strangely the formula is almost like that used at the exorcism preceding baptism.
    Instead, he believes in (his understanding of) Aquinas.

    • Well, he rejects her atheism (and his preference for Aquinas over Rand is specifically theological). But he has frequently expressed enthusiasm for her writings, both fiction and nonfiction.

      • Which one he expresses a preference for appears to be entirely context-dependent. He even claims to prefer Aquinas’ epistemology, given the right audience.

        • Yes, but the reason he gives for preferring Aquinas’ epistemology is theological. So again it seems to be primarily her atheism that he’s publicly distancing himself from. The other differences he’s being mostly silent about.

          • Murphy831

            No. I’m afraid that doesn’t square with the teachings of the faith he claims to hold. You can hardly claim to be a faithful Christian that see’s the icon of your faith as the symbol of self sacrifice, and also follow an ideology that detests that very concept and claim that it informs your very identity. Rand is about the virtue of self-interest. The Catholic faith is the exact opposite. You can’t be both. You can’t promote one ideology that contradicts the very thing you claim to believe in. I suppose you can, but the hypocrisy is overwhelming and people can see that.

      • Murphy831

        So he claims to be a Christian/Catholic but clings to an ideology of self interest. I’d say the man is conflicted and the Catholic Bishops and Nuns seem to agree. His budget is Rand. But that contradicts his Christian values. So who is he today?

        • Robadob

          A Rand budget would eliminate Medicare and Social Security entirely, not save them. A Catholic budget would (arguably) eliminate those programs over time for the middle and upper classes and save them only for those who cannot provide for themselves. Ryan proposed to save middle-class dependency on the government. Not Randian at all. I call it intelligent liberalism.

          • Murphy831

            I’d hardly call it “intelligent” liberalism. Ryans idea of Medicare, destroys it and turns it into a voucher system. Medicare is currently designed for those who are retired and have no employer based insurance. Most of these people are on a fixed income. The Ryan plan raises the age from 65 to 67 to get it. Ryan has also pulled out $716 Billion from Medicare as a savings idea, and imposes an additional $6000 on the backs of the recipients, to make up the difference. A person now has the additional problem of having to go shopping for a low cost insurance plan.The money pulled from the trust fund then goes to tax cuts for the wealthy and to the Insurance companies and big pharma. The voucher is a fixed sum,and fails to keep pace with the increases in premiums. As the premiums are raised, the voucher amount remains the same making the program more and more expensive for the recipient.His plan also calls for he elimination of Obamacare. One of the features of Obamacare is the closing of the donut hole. That would re-open imposing an additional cost. Another feature of Obamacare is the elimination of pre-existing conditions. By eliminating Obamacare, the pre-existing conditions clause is now put back and patients could be denied coverage using that as an excuse to not cover a person. summary…you would pay an additional $6000 +, you would pay a deductable, you would have to pay the donut hole, and you could be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition. All of this while trying to live on a fixed income. This is neither intelligent, OR liberal. This is insane.

          • Robadob

            It is not insane; it works. Going off the fiscal cliff is insane, unless you are looking for a crackup so bad that the government is “forced” to step in and take over completely, via a single-payer (government) system which decides who gets what.
            Ryan’s doesn’t cut taxes; nor does he raid Medicare for $700 billion. Taxes are already cut and Obamacare already cut Medicare. BTW, Romney would restore the $700 billion to medicare.
            Our income tax is already among the most progressive in the world and the tax cuts by both Reagan and Bush made it more so. Now fully half of the public pay no income tax at all. Ryan’s budget calls for an increase in the overall taxes collected as a percentage of GDP.
            Ryan’s current plan leaves medicare as it is for those 55 and over. Those less than 55 would have the option of medicare as it currently exists.
            I do not like Ryan’s plan because it saves a system where the government takes from the average taxpayer a sum which it then spends for him in a way determined by rent-seeking political and crony capitalist classes, not what he would choose for himself.
            I do not object to the government helping the small minority who are unable to take care of themselves.

          • Murphy831

            No. It is insane.We aren’t going to go off “the fiscal cliff” unless the TeaParty drives us there, which as we’ve seen they are quite willing to do. As for the government taking it over completely, GOOD!, I’d much prefer that than destroying it and the lives that are affected in the process. I was for single payer anyway. Single payer doesn’t decide who gets what. Medicare is already single payer and no such situation takes place. We’ll have single payer here in Vermont and in Montana as well. The rest of the country will catch up in time.
            >”Ryan’s doesn’t cut taxes; nor does he raid Medicare for $700 billion.”<
            Yes. It does. Both plans include spending caps. But under Obama's Affordable Care Act, providers could see larger decreases if costs grow faster than projected, while Ryan shifts any additional expenses to beneficiaries. How do they pay for that increase? A Congressional Budget Office report that shows spending would be between 35% and 42% lower for new enrollees under the Ryan plan versus traditional Medicare. Guess where that savings goes? I'll give you a hint…it's not for deficit reduction.

            "By restructuring the program, it could have a very harmful effect on beneficiaries in the long run," said Edwin Park, vice president for health policy at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Under his plan, the government would give seniors that amount of money, in one form or another, to buy insurance on their own. Seniors would have had to pay for the difference between the cost of the insurance and the amount the government was willing to pay.
            Another problem is their position with Medicaid. If benefits aren't cut, and already low provider reimbursements aren't further reduced, then by 2021 about 19 million people, or one-third of all people on Medicaid, will need to be dropped from coverage. Many of those covered by Medicaid are very poor elderly people, or those who are blind or disabled. If states acted to preferentially protect those groups from cuts, then 27 million other people, many of them children and pregnant women, would be dropped from Medicaid. That's a lot of people being thrown to the curb.
            As for the cuts politifact looked into it. Stephanie Cutter said this: "Says Paul Ryan's budget relies on the same $700 billion in savings from Medicare that Mitt Romney and other Republicans have been attacking Democrats about." So Politifact checked it out. Here’s what Ryan said in an interview with George Stephanopolous of ABC News in June, before his selection as Romney’s running mate:

            Stephanopoulos: "You know, several independent fact-checkers have taken a look at that claim, the $500 billion in Medicare cuts, and said that it's misleading. And in fact, by that accounting, your budget, your own budget, which Gov. Romney has endorsed, would also have $500 billion in Medicare cuts.

            Ryan: "Well, our budget keeps that money for Medicare to extend its solvency. What Obamacare does is it takes that money from Medicare to spend on Obamacare. …" (Read the full exchange.) Obamacare closes the donut hole. Ryan opens it back up costing the recipient more money. Obamacare ends pre-existing condition. The Ryan plan is to eliminate Obamacare, which would eliminate the ban on pre-existing conditions which bails out the insurance companies from paying out for services. So now, seniors pay more out of pocket which they don't have, they pay higher premiums which continue to rise, they fill in the donut hole out of pocket, and they are once again subject to pre-existing conditions. On top of all that, the presidents plan on Medicare extends it's solvency for an additional decade.

            So Ryan has confirmed his budget includes the Medicare savings.
            Those savings are applied to tax cuts for the rich. You really didn't think that Ryan would do anything that didn't involve lowering the taxes for the rich did you?
            Politifact's findings? Cutter was right about the Ryan plan. We rate her statement True.

          • Murphy831

            >”Our income tax is already among the most progressive in the world and the tax cuts by both Reagan and Bush made it more so.”” Now fully half of the public pay no income tax at all.”” the government takes from the average taxpayer a sum which it then spends for him in a way determined by rent-seeking political and crony capitalist classes, not what he would choose for himself.”<
            Lets see how that argument flys with seniors in Florida among other places. Tell them you want to end their Medicare and give them a coupon to go out and buy some private insurance plan. Then duck…and hope they aren't armed when you tell them. They aren't interested in some obscure ideological argument. They are only concerned with holding on to their medicare. You mess with that at your own peril.

    • Murphy831

      Did Aquinas subscribe to the virtue’s of selfishness? I never heard that.

  • “Observe Reagan’s futile attempts to arouse the country by some sort of inspirational appeal.He is right in thinking that the country needs an inspirational element. But he will not find it in the God-Family-Tradition swamp.” Rand

  • Sean II

    Two things are making me smile at the moment:

    1) A major party candidate, famous for his plodding caution, nevertheless finds it necessary to spend his veep token in an appeal to professed libertarians and Rand readers. Excuse me if, for a couple days, I ignore the huge gap between what is professed and what is actually understood, simply to gaze at this interesting marker of a shift in the political conversation.

    2) Ryan’s rabble-rousing mentions of Ayn Rand, soaked though they are in the brine of hypocrisy, will no doubt form the media’s main point of attack for weeks to come. That promises a higher than unusual density of (inadvertent) ideological content in the news. The results may eventually put “you didn’t build that” to shame, as a source of fodder for the bloggers here.

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  • Too bad Ayn Rand isn’t with us today. She no doubt would have some choice words for the people using her legacy for their own means. Interesting thought though, if she were here to flame the hypocrisy of today’s right, who would they pimp instead?

    • Sean II

      Extrapolating from her trajectory up to 1982, if Ayn Rand was alive today she would have already denounced everyone left on the earth as a bunch of force worshipping mystics who hate the good for being the good and will stop at nothing to commit treason against man’s highest values, etc.

      Right at this moment, she’d probably be far too busy trashing Neil Peart to say very much about Paul Ryan.

      (Although it is kind of funny to imagine what would happen if she was still alive and lurking around as a commenter on this site. Last week’s Liz Anderson lecture would probably have sent her through the roof. She’d be up all night doing furious page searches for any polite mention of Rawls or Kant. No one would be able to match her output of comments-per-hour. And don’t even get her started on that Crooked Timber debate; merely to entertain a discussion like that would be seen as proof of abject moral surrender!)

  • Meanwhile, the Atlas Society is applauding the pick:

    • Murphy831

      After he claims to reject Rand? sure…that works. Applaud the guy that you invite to give your Keynote address, and then have him deny any association with an atheist philosophy such as yours. Why not???After all…his infatuation with Rand was all an “urban legend”.

  • True. She would have voted for sexually perverted serial killers, whom she deemed to be “Supermen”.

    • Because bringing up a thinker’s childhood fantasies (while ignoring the context in which they occurred, or the emotional reasoning behind them) totally invalidates the philosophy they expressed explicitly 20 years later…

      • JOR

        If by “childhood fantasies” you mean “pathetic grown-ass adult fangirling”. Rand deliberately philosophized herself into sociopathy, and sociopaths are what she admired. That she later decided she wanted her philosophy to produce ethical conclusions it just couldn’t (without completely out-of-left-field ad hoc nonsense about “man qua man”) is a credit to her moral intuition, but not to her philosophy. I think the notion that Rand’s nasty personality (or traumatic youth, or whatever the kids call it these days) corrupted her basically decent philosophy is at least half wrong, and possibly exactly backwards.

        • As is well known, she went through a somewhat Nietzschean period where she found criminals an attractive aesthetic symbol (without endorsing them literally). She exorcised this tendency by writing The Fountainhead, which explains why the Nietzschean conception of individualism (as represented by Wynand) should be rejected in favour of the Aristotelean one (as rejected by Roark).

          If romanticising criminals is an unpardonable sin, what should we say about Foucault? or Truman Capote?

          As for “out-of-left-field ad hoc nonsense about ‘man qua man’,” if by “left field” you mean “Aristoteleanism,” okay; but why is it nonsense?

          • JOR

            Unpardonable sin? I’m not a god and I’m not sentencing people to eternal damnation. Come on. I think of Rand’s “Nietzsche” phase much the way I think of the people who felt compelled to leap to Roman Polanski’s defense against the hordes of Endarkened Reactionary Groupthinkers who were so crude and mediocre as to think one little old rape is a big deal. A serious stain on their legacy and a good reason to never leave them alone in the same room as someone emotionally or physically vulnerable, but not something that invalidates everything they do and say forever and ever.

            I agree that Mark Ames’ article is a hatchetjob and an incredibly clumsy one at that. Even so, Rand endorsed much worse in her life than the persecution complex of one little poor, oppressed kiddie-killer, and I don’t think her ideas actually changed that much over time. She enthusiastically defended genocidal colonialism to the end of her life (and only objected to 20th Century American imperialism on the grounds that it wasn’t genocidal and “selfish” enough). Not that that’s particularly incompatible with Aristotelean ethics, or anything.

            And yes, in her arguments for her ethics, “man qua man” comes out of left field and serves no purpose but to beg the question. You’re right that it was inspired by Aristoteleanism, which, I agree, whatever its faults, has a more nuanced and interesting conception of self, self-interest, and moral psychology than almost any modern philosophical tradition. But fitting it meaningfully into her actual arguments would have required her starting over from scratch, and would have involved dropping premises that she clearly wanted to cling to.

          • Sergio Méndez

            “If romanticising criminals is an unpardonable sin, what should we say about Foucault?”

            Prof Long, what do you mean here? I am not as versed in Foucault as I should be, so I am on the dark here. The only criminals I know Foucault romanticized were the religious maniacs that lead the islamic revolution in Iran…is that what you are refering?

          • I was thinking of Pierre Riviere.

            A good question to ask people who focus on this issue is: why is it suddenly okay to romanticise serial killers if their last names are Bush or Obama?

          • good_in_theory

            I don’t know too much about Foucault’s treatment of Pierre Riviere, but it strikes me that his interest doesn’t seem to have much to do with romanticizing Riviere. Rather, it was the novelty of seeing courts and doctors and early psychiatrists, as well as the peasant criminal himself, struggling over how to treat the event. “Professor of History of Systems of Thought,” after all…


    Hi hip hurray! Abortions for everyone! Better yet, abortions after birth!

  • Fritz

    The libertarian penchant for rejecting the lesser of two evils for the sake of unattainable ideological purity never ceases to amuse me.

    • JOR

      Whence the idea that it’s always (or ever) easy to know which of two evils is “lesser”? Put in the context of US presidential elections, it’s downright impossible*.

      *From a libertarian perspective, at least; center-left technocratic
      capitalists and center-right technocratic capitalists obviously disagree, since the tribal gratifications they desire are more obviously attainable by means of authority and terror.

    • a) Why is Ryan the lesser of two evils?
      b) Why is supporting the lesser of two evils our only option?

      • Murphy831

        It isn’t unless you’re a hopeless ideologue. It’s a false dichotomy.

  • Jay_Z

    How is Ryan the lesser of two evils?
    If you believe that statism can only harm and hamper, and your only choice is statists, it would seem that the true lesser of two evils is the statist who is most balanced, who harms everyone in relatively equal proportion. Other statists would be worse to the degree that they favored particular groups over others.
    Ryan favors corporate welfare (voted for TARP.) He favors cutting welfare to the lower classes. This only makes him the lesser of two evils if you also favor corporate welfare over other forms of welfare, which means you are a corporatist yourself.

    • purple_platypus

      Even granting your premise (STRICTLY for the sake of argument), why is “harms everyone equally” the criterion, and not, for example, “does the least harm overall”? It’s not obvious that the two go together in general, and downright preposterous to think they do in this case.

  • Andrew Garland

    Reality asks “Compared to what?” So, Rand disliked Reagan, would dislike Ryan, and would loathe Romney compared to a desireable alternative, but an alternative which is/was not available.

    Surely, advocate and work for the better belief and system. But, when you must choose, it is harmful to embrace collapse because you cannot immediately attain that better system.

    Romney/Ryan is better than Obama/Anyone. If that seems like a horrible choice, then work harder to establish a better choice next time, but don’t embrace societal destruction while saying “I told you so”. Elect Romney/Ryan and immediately work to support their good ideas and defeat their bad ones.

    • JOR

      Romney/Ryan is better than Obama/Anyone?

      That’s obviously true from a conservative perspective. It’s not obvious at all from a libertarian perspective.

      • Murphy831

        Nor is it obvious from a liberal perspective. Frankly I think the election will be a clear difference in the parties. Ideology vs. Philosophy. I have a pretty good idea which will win the day.

    • Sean II

      I’m sure someone like Dr. Long could clear up this metaphysical question for us, but isn’t it necessary for something be DIFFERENT from another thing before it can be BETTER than that thing?

      • Murphy831

        Better is a value judgement. How does one demonstrate why their values are true? What’s the basis for the value. And if we claim that values must have a basis..then what’s the basis for the basis?

        • How do you demonstrate that you have asked a question?

          • Murphy831

            By placing a ? at the end of your sentence.

          • Are you sure about that. I’m not so sure? (But I do like to be sarcastic at times?)

          • Murphy831

            I guess it depends on where you learned the basics of grammer. The Declarative sentence and the Interrogative sentence. A declarative sentence simply states a fact or argument, without requiring either an answer or action from the reader. You punctuate your declarative sentences with a simple period. ex: Paul Ryan is a hypocrit. Mitt Romney is a douchbag. The Interrogative asks a direct question and always ends in a question mark. (?) Who doesn’t understand this distinction? Are you being sarcastic? I think you are being sarcastic.

          • Heh. I was merely trying to demonstrate Long’s point. I asked a question (“Are you sure about that?”) without following the convention you posited. I trust there was no confusion at least about that?

            But the deeper issue that Long was getting at is that we don’t *need* what you (correctly) pointed out we can’t have: a basis for value judgments that is not itself a value judgment.

          • Murphy831

            I know. I got the joke. I actually responded with a play on the joke. (Are you being sarcastic? I think you are being sarcastic).

          • Murphy831

            You use a ? at the end of a sentence.

    • Murphy831

      Nonsense. Romney/Ryan is “better” than Obama/Anyone?? Oh please. Elect Romney/Ryan and HOPE that you might defeat their bad ideas? What kind of option is that? For starters the idea that Romney/Ryan is better is not demonstrably true. It’s a subjective value system without any basis. In this case its about ideology and no ideology can ever demonstrate why it would be true. I have no interest in ideologues. It’s floating foundationalism and it I know what I have with Obama, and I’m quite satisfied with that direction. I can’t support an indeology that admits no new information. I can only suspect where we might go with Romney/Ryan based on what they say and what they offer and I see nothing that I find remotely in the interest of the nation other than the same thing that plunged us into the mess we are in.

  • Joseph R. Stromberg

    And note that Rand did not urge anyone to “advocate *for*” or not to “advocate *for*” Reagan’s nomination. She knew that “advocate” is already a transitive verb.

    • What’s even worse is the people who say they “advocate for AIDS” or “advocate for homelessness” — which on the most natural reading would mean they’re in favour of those thing.

  • John David Galt

    So much for the guy who told me that pro-life is the Objectivist position.

    • Murphy831

      >”So much for the guy who told me that pro-life is the Objectivist position”<
      Whoever told you that, doesn't know Rand. She was completely pro-choice.

  • neoclassical.libertarian

    I guess the real question Roderick Long should be asking is: “But would Ayn Rand have been a big fan of Libertarians?”

    Given her views from an interview, I suspect not:

    “Libertarians are a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people: they plagiarize my ideas when that fits their purpose, and they denounce me in a more vicious manner than any communist publication, when that fits their purpose. They are lower than any pragmatists, and what they hold against Objectivism is morality. They’d like to have an amoral political program.”

    I suppose most Libertarians, including Long, are as clueless about Ayn Rand as their latest person of ridicule: self-proclaimed conservative, and non-Libertarian, Paul Ryan, whose acceptance of Randian ideas is conditional.

    While Long fancies himself a member of the avant-garde, it would be a judicious decision for him to examine his own views regarding Ayn Rand.

    • JOR

      I’d call Long’s views on Rand a lot of things. “Unexamined” is not among them.

    • Murphy831

      >”self-proclaimed conservative, and non-Libertarian, Paul Ryan, whose acceptance of Randian ideas is conditional”<
      I think that's an accurate discription of Ryan, Ron and Rand Paul, and most of the others that attempt to cherry pick the Randian philosophy to suit their agenda. There is no way that any conservative could hold onto Rands views on abortion and her atheistm. So…they attempt to force fit her philosophy into an extreme right wing ideological stew that ends up as toxic for all concerned. They feast on the individuality and self reliance part, and hide the pro-choice, and atheism and hope that the Teabaggers that they are appealing to won't notice.

  • Yes, Rand also hated Libertarians. It seems to me that she didn’t really like anyone, and if you watch her interviews she seemed like a thoroughly disagreeable character. But the important question is: was the country better off under Reagan than it would have been under four more years of Carter? That’s the same question we should be asking today.

    • Murphy831

      I think the actual question will be, do we want some kind of Randian ideology running the country as a Plutocracy, or do we want to retain a liberal democracy.

      • a) We are already living in a plutocracy. Neither Obama/Biden nor Romney/Ryan shows any interest in changing that. b) If Ryan were a genuine Randian he would be committed to changing that (as the above quote shows), but modus tollens.

        • Murphy831

          >”We are already living in a plutocracy”” Neither Obama/Biden nor Romney/Ryan shows any interest in changing that”“If Ryan were a genuine Randian he would be committed to changing that””modus tollens”<
          If/then. If Obama wins, then we might have a chance at reclaiming democracy. On the other hand, If Romney and the Repubs win, then I expect life in America to become something we won't recognize.

          • Sean II

            You know, there is a difference between “speaks against” and “opposes”. It is even possible to speak against something while quietly embracing it in every possible way.

            The striking thing about Citizen’s United is how much it didn’t change anything at all.

          • Murphy831

            Really? What’s the difference? I suppose one can nuance anything depending on his own hypocrisy meter, but assuming that one is being intellectually honest…I don’t see it.
            As for Citizens United, saying it didn’t change anything strikes me as an odd position to hold. Opening the flood gates of unlimited cash into the political process will certainly change everything. If it had no effect then a lot of very rich people are spending money for nothing. I doubt that they are that stupid. Advertising works, and a lot of money can buy a lot of advertising. If it didn’t work, then there would be no reason for Madison Ave. to exist. There would be no reason to charge 3 million a pop for an ad on the Super Bowl. Scott Walker in Wisconsin outspent his opponent by a 10-1 margin. His opponent had one month to raise money, while Walker was doing it for almost 2 years. The results speak for themselves. IF Citizens United had no effect, there would be no Super Pacs and Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers wouldn’t be spending millions to buy politicians that will serve their interests.

          • Sean II

            Oh, so you want to go back to that time when our elections were pure and untouched by the influence of special interests, a time before the back room deals, the gimmickry, and the expensive advertising, a time when the ballot box truly was a proving ground for great ideas, when candidates of quality stood on their merits without need of cheap poll-tested trickery, a time when the voters chose carefully from a broad menu of options and then simply let the issues decide.

            Before we fire up the DeLorean and gun it to 88mph, please remind me: exactly what year did you have in mind?

          • Murphy831

            January 21, 2010 will do fine. There’s always been special interest money in our elections. You don’t deal with that problem by unleashing unlimited amounts of the very thing that is the problem on the country. I think you can do the math on that. I suppose you can make the case that Citizens United didn’t “change” the problem of special interest money, but any rational thinking person can see that it made it much much worse. This is like saying, I have a bee flying in my house, and somebody fixes it by throwing an entire nest in the house. I suppose that hasn’t changed the fact of the bee in the house, but your problem is now much worse.

          • Sean II

            Any rational thinking person can see it, eh?

            Does that mean only an irrational unthinking non-person (like me!) would be so crude as to ask for some actual evidence?

          • Murphy831

            Yeah…probably. But…ok. You can try this at home. Turn on the water in your bathtub. Make sure the drain is stopped. The water represents a leak. You know you have a problem with a leak. Now…leave the house for the weekend. Have a good time. When you come home…you’ll find you have a much bigger problem than a simple leak. I promise you won’t like what you find. I think you’ll find the problem is much worse than when you left. Now, we have to use the water as a metaphor. Thats when one thing is used to represent something else.The dripping water represents money in politics. The flood in your house, represents money in politics after Citizens United. I hope that makes it clear.

          • Sean II

            You have now added a leaky faucet analogy to your previous attack of the killer beehive analogy. Technically, that’s called a mixed metaphor.

            Neither counts as evidence.

            Look, you’re not being asked to prove some difficult and delicate philosophic point here. If the floodgates to the beehive really have been left leaking in the house or whatever, you should be able to show that empirically.

            One would expect the amount of total campaign spending to increase from 2008 to 2012 by an amount greater than the increase from 2004 to 2008, 2000 to 2004, and so on. Be careful though, because we’ll need a statistically significant increase, and we may just want to compare it against GDP and perhaps total government spending to be sure.

            Next you’ll need to show this has some meaningful effect on voting behavior. You’ll have to find out who is giving how much to what causes and parties, and we’ll need a nice long list of cases where some demographically disadvantaged candidate won thanks to a juicy bolus of cash. We’ll need to see some zoologically curious political animals: a few Republican mayors elected in black inner cities, a Democratic senator from Utah, an anti-cohabitation ballot initiative that suddenly passes in San Francisco, these are the sorts of things that would show a perverse and undemocratic result from money being stuffed into the ballot box.

            I’m afraid that a single Wisconsin governor who survived a recall election won’t do. You’ll need a lot more than that to make your case.

          • Murphy831

            >”Neither counts as evidence.””Next you’ll need to show this has some meaningful effect on voting behavior.””I’m afraid that a single Wisconsin governor who survived a recall election won’t do. You’ll need a lot more than that to make your case.”<
            In order to determine if it had an effect or not, you'd need to have something to compare it to. For example, remove the cash from the election process that took place completely and compare the results. Did unlimited cash converted into advertising produce a different result from zero cash in the same election. Unlimited cash means that you are only limited by the amount of time available to be bought on radio or TV. Of course you could flood the print media as well. It's all about getting out a message. The more money you have at your disposal, the more ability you have to get your message out.

          • Sean II

            So if I may sum up, your reply is thus:

            1) You know Citizens United changed American politics the same way that you know 2+2=4.

            2) If people do stuff, it must work, otherwise why would they do it? (I suppose then that prayer must be an effective means of medical treatment; otherwise, why would people spend so much time and effort traveling to Lourdes?)

            3) The problem of induction excuses you from any obligation to provide even a minimal empirical grounding for your claims, such as finding out if campaign spending even went up since 2010. You don’t need to do this because all swans may not be white, so you know, what’s the point of dealing with mere facts?

            4) In direct contradiction to the above, you DO want to conduct an experiment whereby all money is removed from the process of elections. Since that will clearly never happen in the history of the universe, the result is exactly the same as if you had proposed to settle this argument by meeting me for a light saber duel beneath the ice of Europa.

            You know those middle school engineering projects where kids have to build a protective apparatus around an egg, then drop it from a ladder to see if it cracks? Typically they use clever little combinations of springs, padding, streamers, parachutes, etc.

            You’re like that, except you’ve built your protective apparatus around an idea, and you refuse to actually drop it from the ladder because you’ve got a, excusatory note from Dr. Hume.

          • Murphy831

            >”You know Citizens United changed American politics the same way that you know 2+2=4.” “otherwise, why would people spend so much time and effort traveling to Lourdes?)”< They go because they hope it will work. Not because they know it will work. It's because of faith. The claim of a miracle that defied nature.
            3.The problem of induction excuses you from any obligation to provide even a minimal empirical grounding for your claims, such as finding out if campaign spending even went up since 2010."”In direct contradiction to the above, you DO want to conduct an experiment whereby all money is removed from the process of elections. Since that will clearly never happen in the history of the universe, the result is exactly the same as if you had proposed to settle this argument by meeting me for a light saber duel beneath the ice of Europa.”<
            The problem with your idea here is that it isn't that it's not physically able to be done. It is. It's that there is no will on anybody's part to attempt it. It's not like trying to prove the existence of God. This isn't a metaphysical problem.

        • Andrew Garland

          Citizen’s United did not change the rules for corporate contributions to political campaigns. Corporations can’t contribute.

          What they can do, more freely now after Citizens United, is buy advertising which actually mentions politicians along with policies. This gives the average corporation (a collection of people) the same rights as the corporations which call themselves “media companies”, like the New York Times. The Citizen’s United ruling says that people may join together in the form of a corporation to produce advertising.

  • Ryan Long

    Nice anagram.

    • good_in_theory


      Maybe round it out with some pig latin (or maybe just Canadian)?

      Ryan v. Ayn R. v. N R, eh?

  • famadeo

    Though I identify as a leftist and, as a philosophy student have more of a proclivity for the products of the continental tradition, I have a persistent respect for Rand. She, at least was consistent and, all things considered, I celebrate the way she revindicates the individual.

    As for the Republican Party, she’s right: What could be said or thought of them especially nowadays? They are a poupourri of religious fanatics, militarists and borderline xenophobic nativists. Reagan and Nixon would be to the left of anyone in congress today, that includes most Democrats.

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