First Principles

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Yaron Brook, president and executive director of The Ayn Rand Institute, and Miles Rapoport, president of Demos, talk about the role of government and the First Principles debate.


Yaron Brook and Miles Rapoport

Comments [26]

March 11, 1936 is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's birthday.

Happy Birthday Tony!

Mar. 12 2011 12:35 AM
Mark from Bronx

"It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it." - Thomas Sowell

Mar. 11 2011 03:24 PM
Jeff Gold

Markets are simply information tools, with price signals, and market fetishists like the Ayn Randists seem unable to have a clear-eyed view of what markets do and what the state does and how they interact--or don't. There are public goods, like health care, which are intrinsically outside any market mechanisms; I couldn't as a lay person evaluate the merits of one heart valve over another when the surgeon was replacing one in an elderly relative. On the other hand I can use market signals to evaluate a deli sandwich on quality, price, type of bread, freshness, ingredients, convenience, speed etc.

Some goods require market mechanisms to serve the commonweal, as with Congestion Road Pricing, which can both mitigate congestion and allow a modal shift of resources to transit and improve logistics for business delivery and emergency vehicles that have to use the streets.

Most business managers, despite all the babble about "free markets," want only to insulate themselves from market mechanisms, and the larger actors practice one dollar/one vote lobby politics. The Koch Brothers, with their political contributions and semi-oligopolistic energy firm, would be an example of this, even as they invoke "market efficiencies" and "small government" while gaming the system every which way they can.

Only government has cradle to grave responsibility for all citizens, and cannot exit markets when the going gets tough. Social Democrats in Europe and elsewhere have done a better job of recognizing this than we have in the U.S., and that's why market-skeptical social democracy, even under current stresses of globalization, is still the highest form of human aspiration realized to date.

Mar. 10 2011 06:03 PM
Mark from Bronx

As for Amy, yes, pollution is a violation of property rights.
It damages your health, hence, it is a violation against the individual. You don't need to own "property" in order to be violated.

You statists will never learn.

Mar. 10 2011 02:06 PM
Mark from Bronx

billymeltdown, puh-lease...
"government should protect people from powerful interests"

and who do you think makes it possible for the "powerful interests" to infringe on the rights of individuals.

typical neo-liberal hogwash argument.

Mar. 10 2011 12:13 PM
Matthew from Brooklyn

Mick from NYC has it spot-on: this is a classic liberal media definition of "debate", pitting a lunatic fringe viewpoint with a moderate, mainstream one.

Mar. 10 2011 11:32 AM

The Ayn Rand institute was not well-served by their man here: he did not throw up any refutation of the critiques of the negative conception of freedom and he sounded like Elmer Fudd.

Mar. 10 2011 11:31 AM
Karen Corson from NJ

What about the common good like in policies related to public health, e.g. vaccination programs

Mar. 10 2011 11:23 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Yaron Brook thinks pollution is a matter of property rights? Not health? What about people who rent apartments in buildings on property where waste is discharged? Does only the building owner have any rights to stop the pollution, not the people who live there? What about people downstream/downwind of the sites where the waste is actually released?

Mar. 10 2011 11:23 AM
Open mic night

Apparently it's open mic night at the WNYC. I guess the war in Libya must be over already.

Mar. 10 2011 11:22 AM
Hy from Forest Hills

The purpose of government is to protect AGAINST the infringement, not to uphold the right of someone to do whatever he or she wants to do. This is what the Ayn Randers do not get. You do not get to do whatever you want, as Wall Street endeavors (mostly successfully) to do. We, the people, will not have it. In essence, government comes into play because there are ALWAYS individuals and entities who will seek their interests at the expense of anyone and everyone else. Ultimately, what is the protection of individual rights but this?

Mar. 10 2011 11:22 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

Sorry, wrong "whose."

Mar. 10 2011 11:20 AM
dan from Chelsea

why did Canada, with real regulation, survive the recession relatively unscathed, while we were punished by unregulated, fraudulence. the fact that while the fraud was at it's highest, and SEC prosecutions at their lowest, during the market run-up, should tell you something.

Mar. 10 2011 11:19 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

Who's property is the air! He's GOT to be kidding here.

The caller is right on with the evolutionary argument.

Mar. 10 2011 11:19 AM
mick from NYC

This "debate" is absurd. You are equating a mainstream centerist/liberal with a right wing fringe group. To put the Ayn Ran Institute on equal footing with an organization that represents a mainstream opinion that sometimes represents the electoral majority is like putting a Neo-Gramscian anarcho-syndicalist as a representative of public opinion on with footing in a debate with Bob Dole! The historical revisionist spouting of Mr. Brook about the causes of the Great Depression show that he is an ideologue who denies the opinion of mainstream economists.

Mar. 10 2011 11:18 AM
Lauren from Bed-Stuy

We need to radically update our understanding of what an individual is away from the Enlightenment philosophy of private property, subjective autonomy, and human progress.

Mar. 10 2011 11:18 AM

We get it, Yarron, you don't think government should protect people from powerful interests that have historically and demonstrably exploited them.

You're in the wrong country, buddy.

Mar. 10 2011 11:18 AM
Gilbert Weatherly from CT

If my neighbor decides to turn his home into a commercial nightclub is that right? Should property zoning be eliminated?

Mar. 10 2011 11:16 AM

This Ayn Rand loony is really blaming the financial crisis on OVER regulation?

Rand's own acolyte, Alan Greenspan, over saw all of the deregulation that lead directly to our current disaster.

You are not entitled to your own facts.

Mar. 10 2011 11:16 AM
david from ditmas park

I'm very interested to hear the basis of these philosophies...the history?

Mar. 10 2011 11:15 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

Longstreet, the Founders also denied basic citizenship rights to women and non-whites. Maybe it's time to evolve from your originalism. The writers of the Constitution weren't gods; they were just people with an idea - and the good sense to provide for the accommodation of new ideas through the amendment system.

Mar. 10 2011 11:15 AM
Mike Leung from NJ

All fortunes are built on the availability of spenders. As far as the constriction of government allows hoarding, and therefore cuts the number of spenders, it is hostile to future fortunes. It isn't what the Objectivists say it is.

The democratic party should secure its position and commit to policy and taxation to secure the availability of spenders.

Mar. 10 2011 11:15 AM
Fabio Carasi from Montclair

I read "For an Objective Epistemology" over 30 years ago when I first came to the US. I wanted to get a sense of what kind of ideas were floating around.
Thankfully, immediately after, I read William Burroughs' statement:
"Subjectivity, Objectivity? What is the difference?"

Mar. 10 2011 11:14 AM

We should replace the US Constitution with a 800 page romance novel espousing free-market principals based on infinite energy machines and unbreakable metals.

Mar. 10 2011 11:13 AM
longstreet from nyc area

The first principle is Liberty. The constitution was essentially a large "NO" sign with a few exceptions granted to the federal government. This foundation is inarguable.
Not that the political left knows or cares, but the first principles most assuredly weren't about social engineering, gazillion page tax codes, never ending wars, forcing people to buy insurance and redistributing cash to politically favored groups (or the lazy, envious, etc).
Essentially, everything the Dems stand for today is incongruent with what the founders intended, and about 80% of everything that the Republicans stand for is at odds with what this country was meant to be.

Mar. 10 2011 09:59 AM

we are the government

Mar. 10 2011 08:37 AM

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