Ayn Rand vs. Sen. Durbin’s “Real World” Economics


Well, there you have it. “Put down those Ayn Rand books for a minute and take a look at the real world.”

Whenever Ayn Rand’s name is mentioned on the Senate or House floor, prepare to cringe. It’s hard to say which is more disgusting — statist Democrats depicting her as the devil incarnate or statist Republicans citing her as an inspiration. This quip by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin is an artful combination of both. Statements such as this always demonstrate a horrendous misunderstanding of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, morality, economics, and of the real world that Durbin implores us to observe.

Rand’s stance is that government entitlement programs necessarily entail the forcible confiscation of one’s property to be appropriated to others, all under the threat of imprisonment or death for non-compliance. Any such acquisition by compulsion rather than by consent is akin to armed robbery and is thus immoral on its face.

Durbin’s slight of Rand suggests that this viewpoint has no place in the real world and only serves to cloud the judgment of the Senate Republicans on the issue of extending unemployment benefits to the jobless. Without this kind of unrealistic idealism, they would see that the extension is “the right thing to do.”

But is any component of Rand’s analysis untrue? Does any facet of it not apply to the present situation? If the extension passes, will the taxpayer have a choice in whether to contribute? What will happen if he doesn’t? Since he cannot outright declare that theft is not immoral, Durbin has fallen back on his only recourse here and implied that a failure to steal would be immoral. 

Durbin then pits his economic reasoning against Rand’s. Rand was a laissez-faire capitalist. She believed that economic prosperity is only possible by voluntary trade between individuals and profit from productivity in business. A centrally-planned distribution of wealth represents neither and acts as a drain on the economy by routing capital away from such transactions. Conversely, Durbin indicates that extending unemployment insurance disbursements beyond the prescribed twenty-seven weeks will result in job growth and put people back to work, thus stimulating the economy.

Durbin’s assertion centers around two outrageous claims. First, he refers to the Non-Partisan Congressional Budget Office as “real economists” whom we should listen to. No conflict of interest there! They’re non-partisan! Second, he echoes their projection that the extension will create 240,000 new jobs because the beneficiaries will spend their loot instead of doing something stupid like putting it into the stock market (where they could grow and expand it), or in the bank (where it could accumulate and collect interest).

Espousing economic fallacies as the bases of policy is a favorite pastime of the left, but this one is award-worthy. Durbin is actually suggesting that the over-taxed and over-regulated gas stations, utility companies, and malls in his shining examples, after another tax hike to fund the extension, are going to profit and grow so substantially from the expenditures of these unemployed recipients of their forced generosity that it will necessitate them hiring 240,000 new people!

Wow! So what have we learned? Ayn Rand was wrong! Economic health is measured in jobs, not productivity. Those jobs come from people spending money, not industrial growth. Money comes from government appropriation, not trade.

If this is true, then the unemployment insurance payouts over the preceding twenty-seven weeks must have had a similar effect, right? No? Well, maybe there’s a twenty-seven week lag for this unprecedented economic phenomenon. And if this is true, then not only should this pass, but let’s make it an indefinite extension and eventually unemployment will drop to 0%! That’ll show that Ayn Rand and her capitalism a thing or two!  

Put down the Ayn Rand books and look around at the real world? Certainly someone here is not looking at the real world. Anyone who has read Atlas Shrugged surely recognizes that the deteriorating society depicted therein is a pretty accurate reflection of the world we are living in. It is a world of inverted morality and flagrant disregard for the tenants of objective reality. It is a world of legalized plunder where people and businesses thrive on governmental favor rather than merit. It is a world shaped by leaders like Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin.

Perhaps his appropriate reality check would be to pick up an Ayn Rand book.

Content published on the Young Americans for Liberty blog is only representative of the opinions and research of the individual authors. It does not necessarily reflect the views, goals, or membership of YAL.

Published in

Post a comment