Ayn Rand and Big Government

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Yaron Brook, executive director of The Ayn Rand Institute and a co-author of Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government, discusses the impact of Ayn Rand on current politics - including the leaked Mitt Romney "47%" tapes - and the role of free market solutions in the current economy.


Yaron Brook

Comments [121]

kleduz from az

Not a liberal, Not You, but you used the wrong form of "it's". :) (Keep your 20 bucks...I only want what I earn.)

Sep. 19 2012 07:17 PM

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged Part 2 will be in theaters October 12th, 2012.

Sep. 19 2012 06:50 PM
Ed from Larchmont

A good defense of business, which can do a lot of good, of course. Blessed Mother Teresa wasn't in competition with business. But what she was selling was love, and she brought Christ to people, she wasn't a social worker. Still, a good defense of business.

Sep. 19 2012 08:05 AM
Rose Lake

American presidential candidates have become so bad that for this election, I am reduced to this: The only qualifications I require in order to cast a vote for a candidate are negative. First, that the candidate is *not* a nihilist, i.e. one who enjoys destruction for its own sake, and b) is *not* a religious fanatic who feels called upon to impose his own religious morality on the nation's citizens by force, like - say - Rick Santorum. I could never have cast a vote for Santorum or anyone like him, in which case I would not have cast a vote (for president) at all. But given Romney vs Obama there is no contest. Romney is the lesser evil by a large margin. The terrifying prospect of another four years of a nihilist in the White House, i.e. of America's certain destruction, "inspires" my decision.

Sep. 18 2012 07:16 PM
anna from new york

So, this bastard was raised in Israel (free education, including Technion), free health care, etc. and now is ... "objectivist."
dr anna

Sep. 18 2012 05:13 PM
Not You

$20 to the first liberal that righteously points out my grammatical error!

Sep. 18 2012 04:54 PM
Not You

For all of it's supposed intelligence and open-mindedness, this community is the largest echo chamber I've ever seen.

Are any of you capable of exercising an independent thought? Or does independence frighten liberals so much that groupthink is the only thing they know?

Sep. 18 2012 04:48 PM

I am still fuming.

Sep. 18 2012 04:15 PM
Eugenia Renskoff from Brooklyn, NY

Hi, Brian, Mitt Romney said what he said because he means it, because that’s what he really thinks. Has he ever been homeless? Has he ever gone without food or medical care? No, he has never wanted for anything and he has no sympathy for the people who do have to struggle in this world. To illustrate what I mean, today, while walking in Brooklyn, I saw a man outside a church. He was on the sidewalk sitting on a chair, covering himself up with a plastic red raincoat. Something fell and I turned around to ask him if it was his. He looked at me with a very defiant look on his face and told me yes, it’s mine. I assured him that I was not going to take the empty can of beer or whatever it was. He told me to go to Hell. I am afraid that I was unkind and as I walked away I said: You are already there. Then, as I went on my way, I thought, poor man. The empty can is probably one of the few things he has left. This is what homelessness does to people. I don’t want to be there again. I was homeless and probably am still homeless because I have just been unfairly evicted. Where is help and kindness for that man? For me? It will certainly not come from someone like Mitt Romney. He has been cushioned against want and poverty all his life. Maybe if I had his kind of wealth or something near it, I would be so cushioned that the poverty of others would not much matter to me. But if one lives in the world, one must have more understanding for the ones who are not rich. Before my own homelessness, I was doing well. I now wish I could have handled the homeless man’s attitude towards me, a perfect stranger, better. I wish I could have said: Have a nice day and smiled at him. I am sorry I didn’t. Eugenia Renskoff

Sep. 18 2012 02:15 PM

First Practice then preach. Members of Congress stop mooching off the government.

Sep. 18 2012 01:56 PM

Love many of these typically insightful, intelligent, WNYC comments.

When I read Rand in college as an English major, I was fairly horrified, and couldn't believe that anybody could consider this tripe "literature," or anything other than what it is: a psuedo-intellectual bodice-ripper (climactic rape scene near the end of each book). I found that those who believed in this sort of "individualism" were overwhelmingly young, white, rich, strong, male--those who would fare best in a deregulated, anarchic environment. Of course they're for "personal responsibility"--they already have the ensconced power.

Besides, I hated Rand's favorite buildings, which I considered cheap, cookie-cutter, soulless. For someone arguing against "collectivism," all her face buildings looked the same, with no individual character at all. All built as the Architecture Party decreed.

When I first came upon the term "social security," I thought the term meant a program to prevent mobs of starving people rampaging through the streets, and killing the innocent, the rich and pompous polemicists like Mr. Brook alike.

I'm off to get my "handouts": roads, fire depts., police, etc.

That Mr. Brook can get to the Green Space without slicing through the forest and/or getting mugged is due to "entitlements." Certain things are indeed needed, and are things only "big government" can properly provide. Our argument is over how we determine what those basic needs are.

Sep. 18 2012 01:25 PM
creaky crank from inwood

Randianism's cult of capitalism seems to ignore history, particularly, the excesses of the industrial revolution and the robber barons: unchecked air, water and land pollution, child labor, dangerous/ unhealthy working conditions, political corruption, etc. Without acknowledging this history, how do Randians justify their beliefs? And how can anyone take them seriously?

Sep. 18 2012 12:06 PM

When Mr. Brook, or one of his loved family members, are stricken with a terminal illness, he can have the morphine drip just drop shipped at his door and administer it himself, if he can crawl to the door. No caring or soothing hospice hands to ease his pain or calm his anguished spirit in his hour of need. Just some drugs provided by some "moral" big pharma that he can self-sufficiently make use of. What a lot of claptrap. Thanks for the peek behind the curtain at the morally and ethically bankrupt Ayn Rand philosophy.

Sep. 18 2012 11:53 AM
Jack of Corona from New York City

All of these “on your own theories” – libertarianism, AynRandism, pure unrestained Capitalism, etc, totally neglect the two main human characteristics that have allowed us to “conquered” the planet . First, we are a cooperative specie. We combine our various skills and resources to get a task done, and have the compassion and self- interest to take care of each other because a loss can jeopardize the survival of the group. Second, we are a selfish specie – “me first, second and last at all costs”. So, we have laws, regulations – religious, ethical, secular, government – to puts checks our greed, pride, etc. These help keep the game fair. Those who call themselves capitalist have not read the father of capitalism Adam Smith “Wealth of Nations” and Sentiments”.

Sep. 18 2012 11:47 AM

The millionaires/billionaires behind this Republican drive to turn the clock back in this country to a Randian/Dickensian laissez-faire system (say 1920s and earlier) all got rich in the existing system. In fact, quite a few got rich off the taxpayer dime (big government).

Also, the relatively moderate social benefits (which we've paid into) has not prevented the U.S. from becoming the richest, most powerful country in the history of the world by far. So what exactly is the disaster these people are trying to reverse? Is it just a philosophical preference? No, it's just greed; the rich are never satisfied.

These people should not be allowed to govern our country.

Sep. 18 2012 11:36 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Oh, & those payroll taxes? Mitt Romney pays no more of it on his salary--in actual dollars, not percentage--than someone making $108,000/yr. Not exacly a level playing field. Social Security is *not* going broke, & in fact is being raided, illegally, to pay for other expenses in the general budget (actually, maybe off the budget), & eliminating the ceiling on the payroll tax so that everyone would pay the same percentage of their salaries would keep it from going broke in the future.

Sep. 18 2012 11:32 AM
Michele from NYC

Yaron Brook is not deserving of having his lame opinions aired on the
public airwaves, nor of having WNYC advertising his book for him.
There are plenty of right wing media outlets where he can disseminate his toxic agenda.

Sep. 18 2012 11:22 AM
Ed from New Jersey

How interesting that the AP was able to find tapes from a Mitt Romney fund raiser. President Obama has held over 100 fund raisers (at $40,000 or more a plate) and never has had any leaks like this. Is it possible that the media just doesn't try to find any of those tapes? There is a difference between helping people with food and shelter and helping a college coed with birth control at a Catholic University.

Sep. 18 2012 11:18 AM
Padraig from Morris County

Ayn Rand is just another extremist atheist who's ideology is immune to rational critique much like the stalinists whom Yaron Brook lyingly equates socialists.

I was dismayed to hear this man given a voice without being offered criticism of his boldfaced lies.

Sep. 18 2012 11:11 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

I think that those who are criticizing Brian for not arguing enough with the guest are missing the point. He doesn't need to. He just needs to let the guy spew. His twisted logic speaks for itself. Kind of like Romney's . . .

Sep. 18 2012 11:10 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

To bernie - sorry, didn't mean it as a shot at you personally. I was just speaking off the cuff.

Sep. 18 2012 11:05 AM
Annmarie from Bellmore, NY

What disturbs me the most is the underlying assumption of the Republicans' arguments: only those that can compete should exist. Pursuing these objectivist beliefs would weed humanity of any frailty - not to alleviate suffering, but to eliminate drag. Imagine how people who hold these beliefs see other people and the world. I would never want to see such a desolate world. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan may be a la carte Randians, but the fact that they would even eat from that table at all is enough for me. I will not be a victim in the voting booth. Mitt should count on it.

Sep. 18 2012 11:03 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Enraged Independent

I am with you. And regarding Israel, while I experienced the downside of Israeli socialism as it once existed in the Mid-1980s that almost brough the country to the edge of bankruptcy and ruin, I also saw what subsidies for technical education did as well. Intel wouldn't have microprocessor fabrication plants in the Negev if that had not been the case. So some subsidies where you have the possibility of boosting capabilities sometimes pays off handsomely. Saving the auto industry from going bankrupt in Detroit was a good example of where saving an industry might work out for the best. So far it is. Who knows where we would be if Detroit totally went under.

Sep. 18 2012 10:56 AM
Jeff from Manhattan

So it's the under classes that have a victimhood complex and sense of entitlement? Listen to how people like Brook talk. Randianism and right-wing conservativism in general is shot through with whining complaints of victimhood and entitlement. Anyone unclear about this should read John Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged. It is a deeply paranoid and cynical philosophy obsessed with delusions of persecution and moral superiority--exactly the traits that it excoriates in the so-called "moocher" class. Thankfully, it is finally being dragged into the spotlight and shown to be the flawed, pathetic worldview it is.

Sep. 18 2012 10:56 AM


Feel free, it's not mine though.

Lets get the Rand guys back on when they've created their free energy machine.

Sep. 18 2012 10:53 AM

Enraged Independent from Syracuse ~

He's not done exploiting it, yet!

Sep. 18 2012 10:53 AM


Sep. 18 2012 10:53 AM
Donald Isenman from The Catskill Park

Your idiotic interview with this salesman shows you to be the problem. When endless easily refuted lies are stated and you fail to point out the truth, you have failed in your mission and should retire from your droning on for 2 hours every morning. Give me Diane Rehm, who knows how to interview rather than allow total propaganda to be spewed.

Sep. 18 2012 10:51 AM
bernie from bklyn

@elle/bklyn- first of all, i'm not a romney supporter or a republican. your comparison to the "you built that" mis-interpretation isn't comparable...all i'm saying is that romney isn't necessarily saying that, in general, he doesn't care about 47% of the population. he's saying he doesn't care about 47% of the population in relation to him getting elected president. in reality he probably doesn't care, in general, about 99% of the population.
for some reason, i have a need for neutral journalism. i know, call me crazy

Sep. 18 2012 10:50 AM

Let's ship him and Netanyahu back to where they came from.

Sep. 18 2012 10:50 AM
Aaron from Brooklyn

Brian! How coul dyou let yiour guest run off a list of govt protections he would kill off which would take us back to the late1800's and not challenge him on the reality of his statement. We know what happens in untrammeled Randian capitalism and it results in mass poverty, children dying of the the flu, child labor, robber barons, environmental destruction, political bribery and the rise of unions to fight these injustices...
Don;t allow people to soil our airwaves unchallenged. You lose your moral legitimacy seeking to be too polite.

Sep. 18 2012 10:50 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To tom

That's a good one Tom. I hope you don't mind if I write that one down and make us of it, do you? Apt and very funny.

Sep. 18 2012 10:49 AM
anna from new york

I listened just one minute - my stomach doesn't tolerate "objectivism"
By chance, I had a brief (of course, my stomach ..) conversation with some pale version of objectivist last week (still fuming). Now in her early 60s, she spent her entire life in New Deal benefiting from whatever it offered and inherited something from people who also benefited from New Deal.
This retard just kept repeating that "she deserves, she earned, etc. (she has bachelor from some low grade college and worked as some copy editor)
In the end I had to shout:
OK, how do you produce these monsters? How do you produce this illiterate population?

Sep. 18 2012 10:49 AM

I guess Mr. Brook has never heard about the human testing Pfizer and other drug companies do in third world countries. I do not think the people in South America and in Africa who have been affected by these companies would agree with him that the drug companies who go around FDA testing and sell medicine that keeps people alive for a profit are moral. Then again his saint Rand did equate charity to suicide.

Sep. 18 2012 10:49 AM
Enraged Independent from Syracuse

I find it particularly ironic that this Ayn Rand advocate is an Israeli born Jew. Does he believe the US should step back from supporting Israel, so that they can 'stand on their own'? Should we have intervened in WWII and let the Jews stand up against Hitler on their own? The Poles? the French? the British?

I despise hypocrites and he is a hypocrite of the first order. If he is against statism or collectivism, why did he immigrate to the US in 1986, when we already had Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare? Why did he study at University of Texas, a public land grant university?

If he doesn't like our society then he should go home.

Sep. 18 2012 10:48 AM

"There's an age when boys read one of two books. Either they read Ayn Rand or they read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. One of these books leaves you with no grasp on reality and a deeply warped sense of fantasy in place of real life. The other one is about hobbits and orcs." - unknown

Sep. 18 2012 10:47 AM
carolita from nyc

This guy thinks people shoudl be left to die if they didn't manage to save enough for their retirements? I'd like to see what he thinks should happen to him if he saved enough for retirement but then had it all stolen from him by Wall Street? Or if he got cancer and needed to spend all his savings on saving his own life? Or if his house fell apart during a storm and his insurance decided it was the wind that did it, and refused to pay out because wind wasn't covered? What kind of man is this? What kind of human being?

Sep. 18 2012 10:47 AM

Hope you follow up this topic with mainstream representatives from GOP and also DEM parties.

This topic -- should the US be measured by its least privileged citizen or its most -- is the pivotal one for both parties and the only one addressed directly in both conventions.

Sep. 18 2012 10:46 AM

Yaron made a great point about big business not getting moral credit BUT businesses are all about profit at anyones expense including the workers. I will give business credit for a flawed moral compass.

Sep. 18 2012 10:46 AM
Nora Rocket from Queens

Shut this shyster up. Sickening.

Sep. 18 2012 10:46 AM
Sassy from nyc

this past weekend i travelled to PA to canvass for obama. a chatty women (stranger) sat next to me on the bus and all she could talk to me about (she chewed my ear off) was how we live in this entitled society. She is a nurse and couldn't stop talking about how many low income people she sees in her job just want to get SSI and SSD and whatever else SS is out there, they take advantage and abuse the system - according to her.
She said there are lazy people she encounters whose sole goal in life is to get money from the government (they say they are mentally ill, they have many children bla bla bla). She's an O' supporter but hates living in NYC and paying such high taxes for "lazy" people. Left and Right seem people agree that waste and fraud and "entitlement" needs to be curtailed.

Sep. 18 2012 10:46 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

He is right, business has done more for humanity the last 100 years, than any charity but - why should they get "moral" credit for it? They did it for profit.

Sep. 18 2012 10:45 AM
Charlotte from Sunset Park

This idea of 47% of victims who don't want to take responsibility is a perfect example of how out of touch Republican ideology is to the degree of struggling and suffering these 47%-plus are experiencing as they bust their asses off to indeed take care of their own, to be responsible, and still live hand-to-mouth. With comments like Romney's I'm at least happy that the truth of their lack of compassion and honest understanding of human beings in general is out there. This kind of socially and emotionally oblivious hyper-individualism will not succeed or survive, and Romney's inarticulate comments only help make that more evident.

Sep. 18 2012 10:45 AM
Ryan from Brooklyn

The director of the Ayn Rand Institute just said that poor people are oppressed by minimum wage laws. Really? So, wages should drop even lower than they are already? How is that effective if the wage one earns cannot even purchase the necessities of life? Try living on minimum wage and see how that goes for you. And then you will see how living on less than minimum wage is preposterous.

Sep. 18 2012 10:45 AM
RJ from prospect hts

The damaging part of what the Ayn Rand fellow is saying are these: If people want to buy insurance, they should. The presumption is that there will be insurance they can afford. The 2nd is that insurance by definition is that the risk is spread around whether or not someone decides they need it immediately. The point of Medicare etc. is to create a pool knowing that the unknown can happen to anyone and that therefore, as an interconnected community (see the segment from the Takeaway on the unseen who keep society functioning, who are paid poorly and inadequately protected), we take care of each other--through, yes, entitlement programs.
Pfizer focuses on diseases that will make it a profit. So the so-called orphan diseases--TB, malaria, AIDS--that primarily affect the poor and need advocates and others to bash Pfizer into programs that will help the poor. Oh, yes, Pfizer is the paradigm we should follow. Then we'll be out of people to sew our clothes and clean our toilets.

Sep. 18 2012 10:45 AM
Bella from Brooklyn

Respect and enjoy Brian and the show. But perhaps the venom in his voice when he speaks about Ayn Rand would feel a lot less like hating the headline if he could get through Atlas Shrugged?

Folks, it's still literature.
There's a lot there.

I doubt the intelligent, insightful Mr. Lehrer would be able to say what he does about Rand, in the tone he does, if he could pull the hours out of the air to read her.

I'm not a libertarian. I am the educated, freelancing, tax-paying, uninsured poor.

Also, it's sad to attach Rand to Mr. Romney's foot-in-mouth performances.

If you want a moderated, non strident non pundit view of Rand, I'm here.

Sep. 18 2012 10:44 AM
Smokey from LES

Where did this notion that someone who receives a paycheck doesn't pay income tax? Just take a look at the pay stub and all the withholdings - and the fraction that's left to take home - and say "I don't pay income tax!" Federal Withholding IS income tax - it's just collected every two weeks because the IRS likes to collect tax on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Just because one doesn't write one big check in April like Romney (well, maybe not that big a check) doesn't mean one doesn't pay income tax. This is just one more bit of Republican Spin.

Sep. 18 2012 10:44 AM

This MORON believes climate change is a conspiricy.

Sep. 18 2012 10:44 AM
Lori from New Jersey

Why are we listening to someone who wasn't born in the United States. He was born in Israel, and isn't Israel's leaders asking for US help in fighting Iran. Under his views of Ayn Rand the United States should be self-interested, which in my view means our country should not bother with being Israel's protector or police.

Sep. 18 2012 10:43 AM
Mike from NYC

This guy is a nut case he longs for the day of Senior Citizens falling into poverty after retirement or dying because of lack of medical care. The rich get richer, and everyone else gets by or perishes. The 1930's were great.

Sep. 18 2012 10:42 AM
Edward from NJ

The people who pay no income tax are not necessarily the lowest 47%. Some are higher income but have deductions that zero out their federal income taxes.

Sep. 18 2012 10:42 AM
Truth from USA

Please give this person his own island... In fact, let's give him his own planet and get him off this one.

I say this because he has no concept of a society. When you are part of society, there does come some responsibility to your fellow member of society.

The reality is that not everyone was NOT given a fair, even chance and in his world, your guest's, people will not be fair and will not give their fellow society member a fair chance at anything.

He is a cheat.

Sep. 18 2012 10:42 AM
Janet from NJ

The fact that half of taxpayers make $58,000 or less (a nice weekend perhaps for the 1%) so that their STANDARD DEDUCTIONS erase their tax liability, the fact that MOST of those who pay no income tax are the elderly and students is being completely ignored by the Romney camp. Why don't we talk about the few wealthy among those 47% who use loopholes, not standard deductions to pay no tax? If Mr. Romney wants to talk about taxes let's start with his, which he considers off limits to scrutiny. If an ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY is the subject here, Romney is the embodiment of it; believes he is on the way to becoming a god on his own planet, why would he feel he must do anything to pass the interview for the job of leading the United States?

Sep. 18 2012 10:42 AM
scott from soho

Romney's comment was simply stating that a certain voting block is not worth the effort to try and persuade. Both campaigns do this and it is no surprise. Obama is targeting and gets support from the very 47% that he is talking about.

Please explain what is wrong with personal responsibility?

Sep. 18 2012 10:42 AM

Tomorrow's guest better not be someone form the "Flat Earth Society"...

Sep. 18 2012 10:42 AM
John A

"How Ayn Rand's Ideas Will Eventually End All Society,
Government Included"
Is where I'm at at present.

Sep. 18 2012 10:42 AM
Robert from Manhattan

I was looking forward to the BLS intelligent analysis of yesterday's comments. Instead I get the Ayn Rand take? Is this a joke? It begins to remind me of Fox News - viscerally. And of the time WNYC (and I believe it was the BLS) had a nuclear industry spokesman on to analyze the Fukushima crisis. Sheesh.

When the analysis is reading David Brooks to an Ayn Rand acolyte where is the intelligence? Instead it is propaganda and provacation. Rand's theories are not valid (she was after all a fiction writer) - is the absolute most important person to have on to discuss important news a member of what is essentially a cult?

Sep. 18 2012 10:41 AM

he was stumping for money and he was trying to get people mad enough to give him money. Does he believe everyone getting gvt aid is an Obama person?...probably not but it incites his people...
The guest is 100% right.

Sep. 18 2012 10:41 AM
g from staten island

And just how would someone earning minimum wage or wages that keep a family at poverty level have enough money to buy "poverty insurance" or save enough for retirement/ health care? I can hear it now, the carts along the street "put out your dead".

Sep. 18 2012 10:41 AM
Nancy Breslow from NYC

"...there is no safety net..." -- that's the goal, just stated by your guest. Try developing an illness or disability, guest, that's not your fault, and see how you feel about no safety net. And how about those Americans who are not blessed with a high IQ and are raised in poverty, without the socialization that enables them to pull themselves up? Leave them to die on the street? Get rid of EMTALA, the federal law requiring all emergency rooms to stabilize any sick person who comes in?

I don't mean to be rude, but this guest's views are radical and sickening in our democracy, which is built on citizenship and the idea that we're all in this together.

Who should we let die because they are too ill or too ill-equipped, to compete in a radically free-market (free-for-all market) envisioned by these Rand nuts?

Sep. 18 2012 10:41 AM
galit from Manhattan

The guest is forgetting that private insurance holds no guarantees of ever paying out. I doubt that insurance companies would want to pay out "poverty insurance" when the market crashes. Medicare and social security are backed by the government and forced to pay when the time comes.

And what happened to the atheistic reality of Rand. Romney talks up god all the time. Which one is it?

Sep. 18 2012 10:40 AM
JT from LI

If your guest is even moderately religious I wonder how he squares his Randian philosophy with his faith. They are exact opposite views.

Sep. 18 2012 10:40 AM
Judith from Brooklyn

Moral? Ethical? How about Christian values - we are our brothers' keeper. It is moral and ethical to help those at the bottom -
some of whom are at the bottom through no fault of their own (for example, discrimination).

Sep. 18 2012 10:40 AM
Molly from NYC

How about a quarter of corporations in the country not paying their taxes?

Sep. 18 2012 10:40 AM

Mr Brook wants government to "protect us from crooks & criminals," yet he is perfectly willing to throw us to the crooks who run the insurance industry.

He contradicts himself.

Sep. 18 2012 10:40 AM
John from NJ

Shut this guy up. Challenge him when he says Social Security is a ponzi scheme. It was designed so current workers pay for current retirees. It's been that way since day one and it is the most successful social and anti-poverty program on the planet.

The real problem is business leaders deciding that we will not make TV's, etc in this country anymore, therefore making all the jobs in the US low-wage retail jobs. So current workers are making less and therefore putting in less thereby creating the imbalance. Imagine if manufacturing levels stayed the same since the 50's? With so many people making good wages and paying more into the system? We' be fine.

Sep. 18 2012 10:40 AM
Marcello from Brooklyn


Sep. 18 2012 10:40 AM
Annmarie from Bellmore, NY

To Thomas Pinch: I have decided to take Mitt's advice and borrow money from my mother to be an entrepreneur. I am making t-shirts, "Victim for Obama." Interested?

Sep. 18 2012 10:40 AM
licnyc from queens

Great, this genius wants us to live in a place like somalia. I wonder how many times brainiac like this has lived in a place where there is no government, because after trying to find some food or clean water within the first day, I am sure they would be singing a different tune.

Sep. 18 2012 10:40 AM
Mike from Rockaway Beach

Why then don't they call for destruction of FDIC thats a saftey net.

Sep. 18 2012 10:40 AM
Robert from NYC

Am I wrong or does this guest sound like Elmer Fudd?

Sep. 18 2012 10:39 AM

I think Ayn Rand's philosophy is anachronistic, myopic and self serving. I believe that anyone espousing it letter for letter is about 400 years too late.

Sep. 18 2012 10:38 AM
Ron Sanecki from tonawanda ny

after listening to this guy...
he is a moron.
sorry for brutal honesty

Sep. 18 2012 10:38 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

To bernie from bklyn

"as much as i think romney is a ridiculous candidate, this is all being taken a bit out of context.....he means he doens't have to worry about tthat 47% for the purposes of being elected president, not in general terms"

Yes, but that's what I find so disturbing. It's like he's saying, "They're not going to vote for me, so the Hell with them." That may not be what he meant, but hey, it hurts when you take comments out of context, doesn't it? ("you didn't build that" ring a bell?)

Sep. 18 2012 10:38 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Did he say "private insurance" THAT GUARANTEES? Like big banks?

Sep. 18 2012 10:38 AM
Robert from NYC

Then salaries should be sufficient to allow people to buy their own insurances in the private market. And remind him Brian, that social security is not broken. He said it is broken.

Sep. 18 2012 10:37 AM
Thomas Pinch

"Insurance is voluntary". Not bloodly likely. It was during Rand's day. Heck, it was 2 decades ago, but now, you can't do anything without some kind of insurance, because we are much more of a sue, sue, sue society. The law requires protection from such litigation. It is NOT voluntary!

Sep. 18 2012 10:37 AM

What about people whose fathers give them a famous name, a first rate degree and network of other rich guys.
Are they makers or moochers

Sep. 18 2012 10:37 AM
rudeboynyc from Williamsburg

Isn't it true that Ayn Rand ended up relying on social security & medicare later in life?
Or is this just a rumor...?

Sep. 18 2012 10:37 AM
TNina from tarrytown

So the goal here is to emulate Romney's favorite Chinese factory where young women work brutal hours for starvation wages, living 12 to a room, stacked like firewood, with one bathroom to 120 people, and barbed wire and guns surrounding the facility to "keep aspiring workers out". This is the new American dream?

Sep. 18 2012 10:37 AM

Where the hell is the welfare state???

Please, Brian...why the moron??

Sep. 18 2012 10:37 AM
Amy from Manhattan

People aren't entitled to health care? The obligation of hospitals to provide emergency care is ensured by law. Would Mitt Romney repeal that law, & allow hospitals to let people who can't afford the preventive care that would keep them out of the ER in the 1st case die?

Sep. 18 2012 10:37 AM

This guy has no idea what he's talking about - Brian ask him where he gets his knowledge of people's thought processes?

Sep. 18 2012 10:37 AM

Any way to make a buck, right Brook?

Sep. 18 2012 10:37 AM
JT from LI

We all know that this is the current republican position and that particular audience definitely already thinks this is true. Herman Cain expressed it when he said that if you aren't a millionaire it's your own fault.

Sep. 18 2012 10:36 AM

Wow this guy is awesome

Sep. 18 2012 10:36 AM
Julian from Manhattan

Apropos Michael in Manhattan:

"Critics of Social Security and Medicare frequently invoke the words and ideals of author and philosopher Ayn Rand, one of the fiercest critics of federal insurance programs. But a little-known fact is that Ayn Rand herself collected Social Security. She may also have received Medicare benefits.

An interview recently surfaced that was conducted in 1998 by the Ayn Rand Institute with a social worker who says she helped Rand and her husband, Frank O’Connor, sign up for Social Security and Medicare in 1974.

Federal records obtained through a Freedom of Information act request confirm the Social Security benefits. A similar FOI request was unable to either prove or disprove the Medicare claim.

Between December 1974 and her death in March 1982, Rand collected a total of $11,002 in monthly Social Security payments. O’Connor received $2,943 between December 1974 and his death in November 1979.

According to a spokesman in the Baltimore headquarters of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Rand and O’Connor were eligible for both Part A, which provides hospital coverage, and Part B, medical. The spokesman said their eligibility for Part B means they did apply for Medicare; however, he said he was not authorized to release any documentation and referred the request to the CMS New York regional office. That office said they could not locate any records related to Rand and O’Connor.

The couple registered for benefits shortly after Rand, a two-pack-a-day smoker, had surgery for lung cancer in the summer of 1974. Medicare had been enacted nine years earlier in the Social Security Act of 1965 to provide health insurance to those age 65 and older."

Sep. 18 2012 10:36 AM
Joe from nearby

Unlike Mr Brook, I am my brother's keeper.

Sep. 18 2012 10:35 AM

(obviously the us-branch of uk-based barklays)

Sep. 18 2012 10:35 AM

From Paul Krugman: "Many of the people in the no-income-tax category are (a) elderly (b) students or (c) having a bad year, having lost a job - that is, they're people who have paid income taxes in the past and/or will pay income taxes in the future. The idea that half of Americans are just grifters is grotesque."

Sep. 18 2012 10:35 AM

Much of the reasons many of the "47%" do not pay income tax is because of Republican tax cuts. But these are hardworking people who still pay payroll and sales tax.

Sep. 18 2012 10:35 AM
Lori Ann from Ditmas Park Brooklyn

Please ask your guest if Ayn Rand was really collecting welfare (I really don't know the facts of this rumor). If she was on welfare (or any assistance), how does he explain this whole Ayn Rand club? I don't get it. Thanks.

Sep. 18 2012 10:35 AM

"...wind down the welfare state to the point where there is no safety net?" What is this man saying?

Sep. 18 2012 10:34 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

If he says, "Don't worry, be happy" one more time, I'm going to scream. Does he REALLY believe that that is the mood of the country today?

Sep. 18 2012 10:34 AM
Edward from NJ

If the all of the 47% who "pay no income taxes" were for Obama, the election would be a landslide.

Sep. 18 2012 10:34 AM
ann from NYC

These are the true numbers...from the Mother Earth article.

"Mr. Romney’s figure of 47 percent comes from the Tax Policy Center, which found that 46.4 percent of households paid no federal income tax in 2011.

But most households did pay payroll taxes. Of the 18.1 percent of households that paid neither income taxes nor payroll taxes, the center found that more than half were elderly and more than a third were not elderly but had income under $20,000. Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the center, wrote in a blog post last summer that about half of those were off the rolls because they had low incomes."

Sep. 18 2012 10:34 AM
MARCELLO from Brooklyn


Sep. 18 2012 10:34 AM
Seth Pickenstiff

Rand thinkers want Risk-Takers, but have no plan for those when the risk goes bad. They want winners and losers, but have no plan for how to get the losers back on their feet. That will eventually drive the country back into Bush's ditch.

Sep. 18 2012 10:33 AM
blacksocialist from BKbaby

once again, lehrer invites a hack to interview. hack to hack if you will. the idea that we, as a country, are still giving these randians a forum to spout their nonsense is utterly pathetic. the never ending journey of conservatives to find the moral justification for selfishness.....

Sep. 18 2012 10:33 AM

That 47% -- it includes ceos-on-down of ford, citibank, barklays, lockheed, and the other American companies that rely on Government checks to survive, right?

Sep. 18 2012 10:33 AM
John A.

Still amazing that Republicans claim to be both pro-Rand and pro-Religion. This do not add up (SIC). One cancels the other.

Sep. 18 2012 10:33 AM
desdemona finch from Brooklyn

What about the U.S. corporations that avoid corporate taxes despite making huge profits? According to the GAO, 68 percent didn't pay federal corporate taxes from 1998 to 2005. (

Sounds like corporate America feels more entitled than the 47% who didn't pay federal taxes because they didn't make enough or had children or are old and retired but paid an assortment of other taxes.

Sep. 18 2012 10:33 AM
BK from Hoboken

The question now is this: will those voters, as described in the book "What's the Matter with Kansas?", finally see that the Republicans have been using social wedge issues to win votes? That the Republicans laugh at how gullible these people are for voting against their wallets based on some social issues like a couple gay guys getting married 1500 miles away in NYC? That these conservative blue collar religious (and honest and hard working) people still think they should vote To eliminate the estate tax even though they and their kids have virtually no hope of being wealthy enough to be taxed by that?
This is the real Romney. He finally let his guard down in front of his wealthy buddies.

Sep. 18 2012 10:33 AM

Raising the minimum wage is not the answer.

Sep. 18 2012 10:32 AM

And the Republicans are the same ones who refuse to raise the minimum wage. It's the devil take the hindmost mentality.

Sep. 18 2012 10:32 AM
Mark from New York

Romney simply can't walk this back. He said exactly what was in his heart and head. He didn't stammer or pause or search for words. It's what he thinks and feels.

Sep. 18 2012 10:31 AM
Thomas Pinch

I want a T-shirt: We Are the 47%!

Sep. 18 2012 10:30 AM

aren't WE the government?

Sep. 18 2012 10:30 AM
Ron Sanecki from Tonawanda NY

BIG...a relative term.
The basics: The GOVERNMENT is US!
The government must be as "BIG" as needed.
WE take care of US!
WE create the systems, and they must be MORAL.
Grow up Mitt!

Sep. 18 2012 10:30 AM
bernie from bklyn

as much as i think romney is a ridiculous candidate, this is all being taken a bit out of context.....he means he doens't have to worry about tthat 47% for the purposes of being elected president, not in general terms....c'mon brian, don't be FoxNews-like...

Sep. 18 2012 10:30 AM
Laura from New York, New York

There's a difference between entitlements and basic human rights. Food, for example, is not an entitlement.

Sep. 18 2012 10:29 AM
Nick from UWS

I'm sure Romney's "irresponsible" 47% would be delighted to take control over their lives, had not people like Romney and Ryan destroyed, looted, ransacked and pocketed the very financial infrastructure necessary for the average American to prosper even modestly. Thus is the voice of plutocratic sociopathy.

Paul Ryan is a man that worships the brutal philosophy of Ayn Rand 6 days a week, and on Sunday is eating the body of Christ. This is man who doesn't know if he's coming or going. Personally, I think he's crazy and very dangerous.

Sep. 18 2012 10:29 AM
Elizabeth from Park Slope

I guess the song:
"Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
Send these the homeless tempest-tost to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

....means little or nothing to you.

Sep. 18 2012 10:29 AM

"We are the forty-seven percent" is surely the new slogan. It says even more than "We are the ninety-nine percent."

Sep. 18 2012 10:25 AM

1st Romney is a doofus, an empty suit. A perfect front man for the GOP race to the bottom.
2nd his statement IS the central GOP ideology. It's survival of the fittest if we let them win and we will deserve what get.

Sep. 18 2012 10:18 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Amen Cory - this whole recycled "47% of Americans don't even pay income taxes" Fox news mantra is misleading.

Most of that 47% includes:

** 100% of unemployed Full-time college students, without trust funds.

** Seniors, without trust funds, living off of Social Security.

** Disabled Veterans, without trust funds.

** And of course, hardworking Americans, working those low-paying "jobs, jobs, jobs" (that republicans love so much) - Who already pay a high % of their income in payroll and State taxes, who decided to not have abortions but instead take advantage of "pro-family" Reagan era, child tax deductions on their returns - because they have no trust funds.

According to Mitt, if you are ultra-wealthy, with access to six-figure accountants and lawyers to take advantage of the tax code, with off-shore accounts, you are virtuous. In fact, your taxes should be even lower.

If you happen to be the working poor, and god-forbid, use a deduction on turbo tax - YOU ARE A DEADBEAT.

Sep. 18 2012 10:17 AM
Michael from Manhattan

If "Big Government" includes a social safety net for the old and poor, just remember one thing: Ayn Rand (or whatever her name was) died collecting Social Security and having her medical bills paid by Medicare.

Case closed.

And why am I donating money to WNYC to give extremists like this guy a platform for regurgitating Rand's absurdities and failed theories? I've hit the mute button till he's gone, thanks.

Sep. 18 2012 10:13 AM
Seth Pickenstiff

47% of Americans don't pay Income tax, but they do pay payroll tax, sales tax, property tax, transfer taxes, taxes on their internet and telephone and cable tv. Income tax would be just a small portion of all the taxes that the 47% pay. The heck with the 99% or the 1%. I'm a proud part of the 47%!

Sep. 18 2012 10:07 AM

@Cory -

The 47% number is people who file their tax returns. Finding validation for this number is hard to do but is more or less correct.

The mistake that Romney and his audience make is believing that income taxes are the only source of federal revenue and that anyone that does not pay income taxes is 'freeloading'. Federal revenue comes from personal income taxes, corporate income taxes, excise taxes and FICA withholding. It may be emotionally satisfying for the rich to think that
their taxes are the only source of federal revenue and they are carrying people who don't produce but it is not true. It also can't be good for their long-term view of their fellow American either.

A large part of the government transfer payments to individuals that the candidate and his kind are railing against are financed through FICA (SocSec and MediCare). Most Richie Rich's don't pay FICA. (or stop paying at $107K of income.)

Sep. 18 2012 09:51 AM
Cory from Planet Earth

47% of what? I've heard the 47% number before, but what is it 47% of? Obviously, if it is of the population, a large part of the population includes children, students, stay at home moms and retired people. That would get you close to 47%, but that has probably always been the case. Indeed with lower birth rates and two income families, that number would be smaller than it used to be. It can't be 47% of tax return filers. It can't be 47% of filers get the Earned Income Credit. It can't be 47% of voters, which would only be 25% of the eligible voters and an even lower percentage of the population. The 47% supposedly comes from some study by the Tax Policy Institute, but how is the number arrived at?

Sep. 18 2012 08:54 AM
One of those "Freeloaders" from NYC

To Mr. Romney and his friends, the following, from "It's a Wonderful Life":

"Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about... they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn't think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they're cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you'll ever be!"

As one NYT commenter eloquently stated: "Stick a fork in him; he's cooked."

As well he should be.

Sep. 18 2012 08:33 AM

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