Ayn Rand on welfare-state handouts, Social Security, etc. as restitution

This post was mostly inspired by yesterday’s Free Talk Live which mentioned Social Security.

Many years ago, I naively and mistakenly believed the anti-Ayn Rand propaganda that she was heartless and that she thought every unfortunate poor person was an immoral looter, taker, and parasite.

I was so surprised when I finally learned enough about Ayn Rand to find out that she believed that anyone who opposes coercive welfare statism is morally entitled to accept welfare-state handouts as partial restitution!

Quoted from the above essay, “The Question of Scholarships” by Ayn Rand:

Another interesting page:

Quoted from the above:

Perhaps most people on Social Security or welfare are actually so moral that, if we asked them the right questions, we would find out they sincerely agree that stealing is wrong, and that taxes should be abolished, and that they’d rather have handouts that were funded by voluntary means, rather than by any form of coercion such as taxes.

Perhaps even Sarah from New Mexico? Sometimes she actually seems quite nice. If I recall correctly, there was a Free Talk Live a while ago in which she mentioned she paid $500 to a charity to try to protect young homeless girls from ending up as prostitutes.

Taxes such as sales taxes, involuntary payments to Social Security, and so on do probably more tangible harm to the poor than to any other category of people, so it would make sense even for poor people to support liberty activism, anti-taxation, and the idea of things like Social Security and welfare being funded in purely voluntary ways.

As someone who detests coercive welfare statism but also cares about the poor, I’m delighted that Ayn Rand would regard even the most shameless handout-taker as perfectly morally justified in accepting all their handouts as partial restitution, as long as that handout-taker sincerely opposes coercive welfare statism.

1 Like

i think she did doubletalk to make excuses for taking SS

Perhaps! But her “excuses” seem to make so much sense, I prefer to consider them logical and legitimate justifications, sufficient to refute any accusation of hypocrisy. :slight_smile:

You might find this interesting.

1 Like

I agree with Ayn Rand… I’m on social security now.
It doesn’t matter what retirement plan you have, they pretty much work the same way.
It doesn’t matter who is offering it.

This is similar to the reasoning on posse comitatus. All “bystanders” may be called to serve, including military personnel, so long as they are performing the same tasks as are permitted to be performed by any civilian.

The federal government might be managing the social security program, but they are not doing anything that any other civilian retirement plan is not allowed to do.

1 Like

Thanks, I’ll check it out sometime!

Posse comitatus is a new concept to me. I guess I never learned enough about history to know about it before.

I heard about posses in old western movies but I didn’t know it was short for a fancy Latin legal term.

That Wikipedia article actually mentioned New Hampshire:

Reminds me of involuntary jury duty and military drafts. These are all things I wouldn’t expect a truly free country to have.

It’s shocking that there are still penalties for refusing to be part of a posse, but at least NH’s fine is “not more than $20”.

I’m too young to know much about retirement plans yet, so I’m having a hard time understanding how Social Security, civilian retirement plans, and posse comitatus relate to each other.

Thanks for bringing it up, though. I love learning new things, especially new things I struggle to understand at first. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Let me see if I can clear it up.

There is a long history of the posse comitatus, going back more than 1000 years.
Back in the 19th century, much of the western frontier was without civilian law
enforcement. Sometimes a federal marshall would call in the Army as a federal
posse comitatus, in many cases to apprehend fugitive slaves. In the late 1870s
there was a move to prevent the military from interfering with civilian law. Thus
the legislation known as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. Posses comitatus are
supposed to consist of civilians enforcing civil laws.
Even as far back as the framing of the US Constitution there were questions about
a federal posse comitatus. Some of the founding fathers were concerned about
the militarization of civilian law enforcement (sound familiar?). Others believed
that the federal government had the power to do anything necessary to enforce
civilian law, so no federal posse comitatus was explicitly included in the Constitution.
The 1878 legislation include the power of Congress to grant exception to the law
in emergencies. There were no specific guidelines for an exception, just the will
of Congress.

At some point civilians called for more specifics on when the military could be
called on to assist civilian law enforcement. At some point (please forgive my
lack of details, I irretrievably lost my notes in a disk crash a week ago) the US
Supreme Court ruled that if the military was supporting civilian law enforcement
in a way that any “bystander” could also assist, then the military was not acting
in a purely military manner, rather they were acting as if they just another citizen
supporting civilian law enforcement. In every case, the military cannot actively
do those things outside of their legal jurisdiction. The examples most often
given are search and seizure. No active duty military are allowed to do anything
that is traditionally the job of civilian law enforcement.

In the same way, just the fact that a civilian government agency was controlling
social security, in a way that any other civilian “retirement plan” agency could
do it, indicates that the federal government is not acting in a way that is exclusive
to the government, and so there is no reason to consider social security as
any different than any other civilian retirement insurance.

The second case above, social security, does not involve the military, but it does
involve the federal government. The fact that it is the government doing it is irrelevant.

It’s a way of thinking. I should mention that the Posse Comitatus Act just keeps getting
stronger and stronger. It was last updated in 2021, to include even the US Space Force
from participating in civilian law enforcement.

On January 6, 2021, you might remember, National Guard troops were called to
Washington, DC, to help quell the disturbances there. I’ve heard both 9 and 11
state militias were activated. So long as they not federalized, and were under
the control of their respective states, there is no problem. What happened in DC
was that all state militia personnel were made subordinate to the DC National Guard.
The president is the “governor” of the DC National Guard. By making the other
state militias subordinate to the DC National Guard, these troops became federalized
and were thus covered under the Posse Comitatus Act. They were legally prohibited
from taking on civil law enforcement duty. They were prohibited from search, seizure,
arrest, etc. as these are civilian law enforcement duties.

1 Like

Fascinating! Thank you so much!

I’m still not sure I’m fully understanding everything, but I’m guessing part of my confusion was from previously not realizing that Social Security is part of the executive branch of government.

In any case, it definitely seems very inappropriate for the federal government to have anything to do with running retirement plan programs.

I don’t think I’d want state or local governments running them either, but that might at least be an improvement on the current situation, since state and local governments are overall easier for We the People to influence how they’re run.

Hmm, maybe I’m starting to understand now. Just as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 tried to restrain the federal government from sticking its nose where it didn’t belong in civilian law enforcement, maybe there ought to be something similar to restrain the federal government from intruding into private matters that ought to be totally up to individual choice, such as retirement plans?

Thanks again for such an educational intro to these topics! :slight_smile:

1 Like

This topic is discussed at length in Liberty circles. The powers of government are explicitly delimited in the Constitution. Furthermore, the Constitution, Tenth Amendment states that
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution,
nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively,
or to the people.”

Thus, there is no permission for the federal government to form any kind of civilian law enforcement at the federal level, only the military… the powers include raising an army, and a navy, so implies that military law, a draft, etc. are legal, because they are the way the federal government carries out those missions. Also, there is no permission for things like the Department of the Interior, Department of Education, etc.

Article I Section 8, however states:
“To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper
for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all
other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government
of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

This has been invoked for much of what the federal government does.
Still, the foregoing powers do not mention most things the government
does today.

1 Like

Getting back to Ayn Rand, the following are also currently available at tubi:

1 Like

Did she really oppose voluntary funding of childcare since children are generally not tangibly producing present value?
Your chatgpt on that certainly shows its blindspots there.
Also chatgpt seems to not understand locomotion, driving, intoxication, and pleasure seeking very well.
On the other hand, it seems hyper focused on helping the neediest around, perhaps at the expense of others. Quite a servicer, chatgpt seems to be a great Slave to have!

1 Like

I’m no expert on Ayn Rand, but I very much doubt that she did! :slight_smile:

Definitely! :slight_smile: But at least it was good for some laughs. :slight_smile:

A direct link to that part of my ChatGPT transcript:

I’ll reply to more of your post in the ChatGPT discussion.