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Terrible People Tuesday, part three: Atlas Grifted (or: The Ayn Rand Institute took a government PPP handout)

Among the organizations to accept a loan from the government-run, taxpayer-funded Paycheck Protection Program (a.k.a. the PPP) is none other than the Ayn Rand Institute. These loans have an  ultra-low interest rate of 1% and mature over either 2 years (if issued before June 5, 2020) or 5 years (if issued after June 5, 2020).

Given that Rand herself was a rabidly anti-government, anti-social services, anti-altruism crank who nevertheless spent her twilight years on that government handout program called social security, the Ayn Rand Institute’s use of the PPP is actually on-brand.

Of course, the Ayn Rand Institute wouldn’t have done this without coming up with some kind of excuse, no matter how weak. Here it is:

“It would be a terrible injustice for pro-capitalists to step aside and leave the funds to those indifferent or actively hostile to capitalism,” Ayn Rand Institute board member Harry Binswanger argued in May, stating that the organization would “take any relief money offered us.”

Recommended viewing: All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace – Episode 1: Love and Power

I’ve joked that Ayn Rand’s novels were popular with people who majored in business and computer science — the former because she appeals to their greed, the latter because she appeals to their revenge fantasies.

Rand’s shadow still looms large over Silicon Valley and its wanna-bes, and it gave rise to awful things such as the Californian ideology, Peter Thiel, tech bros, and the general dickery that is an unfortunate part of American tech culture. It’s captured quite well in the first episode of a 2011 BBC documentary series called All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.

Recommended reading

  • Ayn Rand’s entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which includes this gem: “Conspicuous by their absence from Rand’s list of virtues are the ‘virtues of benevolence,’ such as kindness, charity, generosity, and forgiveness.”
  • RationalWiki’s entry for Ayn Rand’s philosophy, objectivism. They’re not fans of it, either, despite the fact that objectivism’s supposed highest virtue is supposed to be rationality (little hint: it’s not).
  • Blogger John Rogers on Ayn Rand’s writing: “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”


One reply on “Terrible People Tuesday, part three: Atlas Grifted (or: The Ayn Rand Institute took a government PPP handout)”

I was taken with “The Fountainhead”, but “Atlas Shrugged” lost me with the revolving dollar sign. And yes, I was 14.

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