Michael Ford: Ayn Rand and the VIP-DIPers


Michael Ford: Ayn Rand and the VIP-DIPers

Note: According to this article, Ayn Rand took money from the taxpayers to fund her cancer treatment. If true, she may have been a hypocrite. She would also have lacked a proper analysis of the world in which we live.

Collecting welfare of any kind when you don’t need it, or deliberately making yourself in need of it, is immoral. But taking it when you have fallen on hard times is not wrong at all. We do not live in anything approaching a world of free markets. Running your life as if you lived in a free market society will, in many cases, land you on the scrapheap of life.

I turn to the case of the NHS. The private market is not free. It is very heavily regulated – professional barriers to entry, professional behaviour codes, drug safety and availability laws, patents, and all the rest. These regulations drive up the price of medicine beyond ordinary reach. If you fall sick, what are you supposed to do? Grin and bear it when your private insurance goes about a tenth as far as it would in a free market? Or take whatever “help” your government offers? I have private insurance. This buys me certain advantages I have never yet needed to test. But I am under no illusions regarding the willingness of my insurer to keep me dosed up through a chronic illness or a long decline.

Welfare is a drug handed out by a ruling class that has monopolised the means of production. You don’t abolish the first until the second has been addressed. Get rid of the NHS, by all means – but not until after the medical cartels have been disestablished.

More fool Ayn Rand and her followers for preaching otherwise.[Sean Gabb]

16 responses to “Michael Ford: Ayn Rand and the VIP-DIPers

  1. A typical example of a dishonest leftist argument.

    The State takes money from you by force and imposes a monopoly of medical treatment. If you then have to use that State provided treatment, which you have already been forced to pay for, then somehow this makes you a ‘hypocrite’ if you disagree with this state of affairs.

    According to the leftists, for a Libertarian to be true to his principles he should refuse the treatment he has already been forced to pay and instead die.

    A perfect enlightening of the warped logic and fundamental dishonesty of the leftists.

  2. Tom Burroughes

    Murray Rothbard lived in a rent-controlled NY aparmtment. This argument is silly: there are few ways that even the most purist libertarian can be entirely free from this sort of thing.

  3. True, but I do feel an essay coming on about this matter – when it might be appropriate to accept unemployment benefit and housing or disability benefit, etc etc.

  4. Accepting government healthcare is restitution of stolen property. Only those who opposed the welfare state are entitled to its benefits.

    This is all explored by Ayn Rand here in the Ayn Rand Lexicon.

  5. In effect the only way you can retrieve any of the money that has been taken through taxation is to make use of some of the services provided by the state whether you want to or not. Those services are ones you’ve already paid for in advance without being allowed any choice in the matter, so I see no moral dilemma. On the other hand I still hate having to do it and I still often choose the free market alternative if it offers a clear advantage.

    A good example of this is private education. We didn’t want our son to be indoctrinated in the state sector (in the late seventies) and so sent him to private school despite the fact we couldn’t afford it. It meant paying twice over for education, once through taxes and again through school fees. We couldn’t win and we lost out greatly financially but what other choice did we have? The quality of education he got was however a great deal better than the local state schools offered. An education voucher system could have gone some way to remedying the problem but the Tories, like good socialists, wouldn’t go for it.

  6. The problem for libertarians with saying they can accept publicly funded healthcare without being hypocrites because they have been forced to contribute to it and would otherwise have used that money to fund private healthcare, is that that no private health insurance in any country comes close to providing what the NHS provides. Check any private health insurance and you will find it covered with exclusions such as no long term convalescence, no psychiatric care, no pre -existing conditions etc.

    To say the state drives up the cost of healthcare through drug legitimation regimes, the licencing of doctors etc is to say nothing, because very few people indeed would support laissez faire in the field of medicine. Libertarians have to live in the world as it is not the world as they want it to be.

    As for welfare generally, it is a good deal for both the haves and the have nots, for it provides for those in need and protects the better off from the rage and desperation of the needy whose basic needs are not met. This was why state provision for the poor was introduced into England in the 16th century . The existence of welfare also has the effect of removing the moral case for the desperate to resort to criminality to survive.

    There are abuses of welfare and these are not new. The 1835 Poor Law was brought in because the system under the old 1601 law had become abused especially with “putting out”, the payment of alms to those living outside poor houses. But abuses do not invalidate the general principle of welfare any more than they invalidate private charity.

    Those who are interested in the general subject of welfare may care to try these articles



  7. Yes, I feel a longer essay coming on about welfare. For the moment, I’ll post a link to an older piece I wrote about the NHS.

  8. Tom Burroughes

    Sean, it would be good to see how a libertarian, in the real world, can live by a code of not using tax-funded services. A sort of guide to “how to live off the grid”, as it were.

    Harry Browne’s “How I found freedom in an Unfree World” has some good pointers.

  9. Red Robbo said:

    “As for welfare generally, it is a good deal for both the haves and the have nots,”

    It’s not a deal – it’s involuntary; violently imposed by the government to buy votes of the have-nots with the money from the haves.

    “for it provides for those in need and protects the better off from the rage and desperation of the needy whose basic needs are not met.”

    So the needy are superior beings who have the right to circumvent the laws that apply to the rest of us? What happened to not being deprived of property without due process?
    Since when did this nonsense become part of libertarianism? When did being dissatisfied with your lot gave you the right to confiscate someone else’s property? No, sir. All your “good deal” does is create a new set of victims.

    “But abuses do not invalidate the general principle of welfare any more than they invalidate private charity.”

    The fact that it’s involuntary invalidates the principle. When done privately, it’s called a protection racket.

  10. Couple of questions for you Jim:

    1. do you hold that there should be no government and hence no taxes?

    2. When people are desperate, starving, unable to feed and house their children and so forth, do you imagine they sit around asking whether it is moral to rob?

  11. When I read this piece, I immediately thought of Chris Tame who received taxpayers’ money as a welfare claimant, NHS patient and a former employee of Lambeth council. I have yet to read of any LA member attacking Chris for taking state money.

  12. As Milton Friedman pointed out, property rights are elaborate social constructs, not self-evident truths. All this “taxation is theft” stuff completely disregards this basic fact.


  13. Re Tony Hollick on “taxation is theft”, IMHO if money is taken from me by force for a purpose to which I do not consent, then that is nothing other than theft. I consent to very few of the vast majority of uses that taxes are put to beyond national defence.

  14. I wonder if Tony H will maintain his argument that property is simply an ‘elaborate social construct’ if he is burgled or mugged.

    I doubt it somehow.

  15. I am just thinking. I can always do with a bit more kit. If Tony H would like to kindly extend an invitation to me I could pop in, rummage around, and maybe help myself to some of the stuff he’s got that isn’t his property (as there’s no such thing).

  16. >More fool Ayn Rand and her followers for preaching otherwise.

    Can you say “straw man”?