"Whoever claims the right to redistribute the wealth produced by others
is claiming the right to treat human beings as chattel."
by:
Ayn Rand
[Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum] (1905-1982) Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter
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Reader comments about this quote:
Short and sweet.
 -- E Archer, NYC     
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     -- Logan, Memphis, TN      
    So true.
     -- Mike, NC     
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     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
    "Wealth produced by others"? Arguments like this set up straw men - the impression is that anyone who is not a right winger wants to take rich peoples money and give it to the lazy and the layabouts. NO! All we liberals want to do is to make sure that those who do "produce the wealth" - that is those of us who work for a living, get our fair share of the products of our labours. We just think that the government should be on the side of the majority of the population and not there to only make the wealthy even wealthier. I would be willing to bet that the 3 visitors above who like this comment are either the products of government inervention through progressive taxation and have been brain washed into voting against there own best interests, or they are part of the tiny elite who have written the laws to work in their favour and against the interests of everyone else?
     -- Simon, Victoria, BC, Canada     
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    "I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." In my words ... I respect life (yours and mine), I owe no one (i.e. the fruits of my labor), and no one owes me (i.e. welfare).
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
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    Thanks Joe... Mr. Anonymous from Reston--I am so sorry that you do not understand these ever so simple and elementary economic and political realities ( I had them in Jr. High School). Why do you think you do not get the "fair share" of the fruits of your labor? Because someone else has laid claim to it...and forces you to give it to them via the government...and it is not the corporations that do this. That, incidentially, is the definition of slavery. Freedom is an amazing thing. If you work, and I assume you do, then a great percentage of your earned income is being transferred to someone else perpetually...simply because someone wants to get votes for doing it...and friend, you and a thousand like you will NEVER be able to fill that lust. The only way to break this cycle is for people to be responsible for themselves in a system that rewards just that rather than punish it... I hope that some day you will do well by your own sweat and ingenuity and come to the realization that someone believes you should pay 75% of your income in income tax because you are "lucky and privileged"....who's the slave? Sorry Joe..you already do...and that was Ms. Rand's point...YOU are NOW being treated as chatle. Cool huh?
     -- MK, Houston, TX     
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    I thought the quote was succinct and clear just by itself. Simon, Canada is not immune from government corruption. Canadians pay twice what American's do in taxes -- the Canadian dollar is also a fiat currency owned by the private Bank of Canada raking in billions of dollars profit that should be going to the 'sacred' social services Canada enjoys. It is a tired old argument 'rich vs. poor', 'self-sufficiency vs. dependence', 'freedom vs. servitude'. Face it, there are some people who want to take care of themselves, and there are some people who want to be taken care of (and there are some people who want to tell others what to do). The argument over social services is not about whether it would be nice if they were available -- the question is "At what price?"

    What if the government issued a new benefit -- a government credit card -- to your daughter. The government encourages her to buy everything she needs with no credit limit -- then the government says that YOU have to pay the balance plus interest AND you cannot tell your daughter to stop running up charges AND you are liable for them. How long would it take for the daughter to bankrupt the father? Now reverse it -- the daughter has to pay for everything the father spends without limit... that is the system we have today. And does it make the poorer richer and the richer poorer? No, quite the opposite. The brainwashing is purely yours, Simon. A good product of a 'liberal' education that leaves out the most important part -- economics. I lived in Canada for 10 years -- it is a great country, and there is a lot Americans can learn from Canadians -- but as long as both countries have fiat currency (owned by the same people), then the juiciest and plumpest products of the People will continue to land in the bankers coffers.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    We should support the disabled, the orphans, and the elderly, not the lazy, the thieving, or the able-bodied. Rand's statement is valid within its context. However, whereas the amount of material property that exists is finite, the entire population requires the use of some of it; and some of the population is prevented from using enough of that property for their own subsistence. This is factual, not abstract. When the megawealthy retain more property for their personal use or caprice, than a certain amount that might allow enough surplus for the megapoor to utilize for subsistence, there occurs starvation. In some places, this is going on now for the reason stated. Capatalism encourages the acquisition of as much as you can get, but justice also hints at leaving something over for the poor slobs whom you are beating in the capatalist competition. If you don't leave them something, you should not be surprised to find yourself in Hell one day.
     -- David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood     
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    The people who own the wealth are not the ones who produce it.
     -- andi , bakersfield     
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    What you own is yours.
     -- Anonymous     
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    "Whoever claims the right to redistribute the wealth produced by others is claiming the right to treat human beings as chattel." And whoever claims the right to control all that exists is claiming the right to treat human beings as irrelevant.
     -- David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood     
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    "Short and sweet" and simple.

    For Rand, capitalism, the system of laissez-faire, is the only moral system.

    I submit that Rand's posture is as 'simple', absolute, immoral, and haughty (though 'simply' alluring) as the postures of her philosophical 'laissez-faire' predecessors. It does make for interesting drama in any event.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
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    Ayn Rand falls into a category of ideologues subscribing to Minarchism.

    If you like the direction our 'corporocracy' is heading, you'll love Ayn Rand. I suspect her Russian roots had something to do with her somewhat extreme and romantic outlook.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
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    Why do you people who give 0 stars to quotes that are obviously pro liberty and freedom even bother to subscribe to this website?
     -- Anon, USA     
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    Anon, USA; Perhaps you could define 'liberty' as well as 'freedom' for us. I expect you'd like everyone to march lockstep with everyone else North Korean style to demonstrate how 'liberated' and 'free' everyone is.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
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    Anon, USA; perhaps you've not noticed that this site is named 'Liberty-Tree' and not 'Exclusive-Self-Congratulatory-Mutual-Admiration-For-The-True-Believers-Only-Tree' - or did you miss that tiny subtlety?
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
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    "The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities." TB, Ayn Rand was first and foremost a defender of individual rights, including the right of individuals to freely associate and trade (capitalism). Today's "corprocracy" bears resemblance only to the toadying-for-favors collectivist business environment she illustrated in "Atlas Shrugged" which precipitated the downfall of civilization. She would not have been pleased with the state of America today, even though she predicted it.
     -- Julz, Lancaster     
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    And it can be added will redistribute plenty to themselves as a reward for their "altruistic" efforts. Sad to see so many commies in here.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    Only a fool would say that those who own the wealth are not those who produce it (with the exception of inherited wealth). There is a reason that the worker on the assembly line doesn't own the factory--maybe s/he doesn't want to, maybe s/he isn't smart enough, maybe s/he doesn't work hard enough...or maybe s/he will someday but isn't experienced enough yet. We all live in the reality of the decisions and choices we make, and are entitled only to what we can provide for ourselves. Those who own the wealth have taken the risk, put in the work and made the right decisions in order to get that wealth. Without them, the job for the assembly line worker doesn't even exist. They create wealth on some level for more than just themselves. Take away their wealth, and you take someone elses's too.
     -- Josh, Parker, CO     
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    Answering the first fellow... Who pointed a gun to your head and forced you to work for less than what you call your "fair share?" Are you angry at yourself because you freely and voluntarily chose to work at a job that hasn't made you rich, rather than do what it takes to earn more? So now out of self-loathing and envy you want to point a gun at someone else's head and take what this other person has earned?
     -- Christian Prophet, Salt Lake City, UT     
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    @ Josh, Parker, CO Your elementary understanding of the economic situation in this country renders your argument null and void. These owners of assembly lines, as you put it, are executives who buy and sell stock. That's it! The wealth they've "made" for themselves had/has NOTHING to do with hard work. It's simply self-perpetuating, moving money from one enterprise to another. All this, most often at the expense of employees who DO work hard to maintain the company's success. You fools talk about "freedom" and "liberty," yet are so trusting to let executives, whom NOBODY ELECTED, make the decisions that affect the middle class and our national economy.
     -- m., Arlington, VA     
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    Those that refuse to understand this quote obviously want what others earned.
     -- Judy, Ft Lauderdale     
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    m. in Arlington, you are ignorant. The top executives at every publicly held firm are put in place by the board of directors...who are ELECTED by the shareholders--AKA, THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE COMPANY!! Next, if the worker doesn't like the way the greedy pig owner or executive is cheating him/her out of their fair share, they should seek other employment or start their own business and do it their way. What's stopping them? Only their own talent. Which is how the business owner got to where they are. No one is saying there aren't bad execs out there--but the free market weeds them out over time, and when the regulatory bodies are working they way they should, execs have the best interest of the firm and the shareholders in mind at all times. This is far more effective than government panels (who by the way truly aren't elected) which are riddled with corruption. Finally, how do you think execs get stock? It doesn't just magically appear. Most execs are granted stock as promotions/performance warrant. They can't just trade stock in the firm they work for anytime they want. The stock ties performance to pay. When the exec does well, all shareholders do well. My job, performance, and education say that I have far more than an elementary understanding of the economic situation. If you want to have a discussion about the MBS's, Credit-default swaps, and real-estate speculation bubble, I would be happy to engage. I'm sure you would learn something from me and my elementary understanding.
     -- Josh, Parker, CO     
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    I like Ayn's ideas , and can find flaw in the aggregate truth in her ideology, People will always covet someone else's property if it appears to be better then their own , and will conspire against the owner of the better property(intellectual or real)so we build protection systems to prevent the injustice from happening(armys police, juries prudence)the administration of these services ultimately believe they are as much entitled to the better property as the title holder since they facilitate the maintained ownership of the title so the owner then must share or the owner risks being marginalized or forced out of his property . so how do you protect genuine owners from theft , personally I believe this is the basis for the existence of collectivism and therefor personal property for ones self will always be marginalized and folded into the aggregate . and the persons who rise to the top always hold property in trust of the collective and proxy as much use for their personal (altruistic ) ends , sad I think but true
     -- Anonymous, chattel collective terra firma     
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    persons at the top of the chattel chain alway have the percieved nature of being more enlightened and parental toward the collective of mankind, the highest of these enlightened (politician ,kings and queens zcars,popes ect...)understand that to maintain the perception to keep proxy on the wealth they must appear to be acting selflessly and maintaining the ethics and morality of professed doctrines acceptable to the collective ,for example business leaders are also normally found to be church leaders, community service leaders, nonprofit organizers and philanthropists, some of these leaders understand this mechanism and use it , and other leaders are naive to the formula and innocently carry it through with best intentions , but the result with or without intention is always the same , marginalized personal property resulting in the haves and the have nots
     -- chattel collective, terra firma     
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    Difficult to take Ayn seriously. Her Laissez-faire` dependence winds up looking like "BLADERUNNER". If a person values his family or friends more than his work, he is "IMMORAL". There should have been NO diplomacy with the USSR. Wonder what that would have done with the Cold War results? In WWII, there should have been NO DRAFT. Think about that one. And like her namesake, Rand Paul, she would want to revisit the Civil Rights Act and adjust that terrible admonition about discrimination due to race, gender, age, religion. She can't be taken seriously.
     -- Jak, Lauderhill     
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     -- dfafd, Newport News      
    Rand is clearly correct here. Our present system of wealth redistribution does in fact treat every single one of us as inventory. Our present system is communist in nature and masquerades as that of a "free" nation. Our present system is completely irresponsible and run by criminals of both political and corporate status. What I work for is mine, period. That I use it to improve the lot of myself and my family...thereby not being a burden to society, is what I expect of each and every citizen. How is that wrong?
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Rand escaped from the Soviet Union. She knows well about government redistribution. Her father worked his entire life building up his own Pharmacy when suddenly the Communists walked in and informed him it was no longer his property. "This belongs to the people now," they told him.
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
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    Within the U.S.A.'s de jure jurisprudence, the body politic was to serve the sovereigns by protecting their individual inalienable rights. The servants were not to represent the persons themselves (everyone is different - different needs, talents, desires etc.) but rather, the individual sovereign's inalienable rights which are equal to all men. Rights include enjoyment of the fruits of one's labors. Once the body politic left the status of servant representatives to become carnal gods over a collective chattel, the accuracy of the here quote became brutally obvious.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    From around 1645 to 1776, so many enjoyed the fruit of their personal labor. With prosperity, envy and greed creeps in, of those eyeing such wonderful progress of the individual. Why build your own, if it can be stolen from another. The Old world has done such a good job of enslavement of another. The reaction to such a threat, Our Declaring of Independence ordained by, no other than God the Creator himself. For we know the corruption of man. For what man knows the things of man, save the spirit of man within him. All rights reserved, is our declaring for each Individual. The highest point to guard. Many did not want a constitution of central government knowing well, each separate Free nation/state comprised of Free individuals would be put in harms way of overthrow. Many, many saw the battle coming, till in 1859 the war of aggression against the Sovereign states and individuals began. Northern industrial might needed raw material. Now currently under socialistic rule, it is foolish to blame the " Capitalistic individual for having to operate within a sea of Plundering centralized government controlled by Socialist. Soft tyranny, is soon to become the Heavy hand of Communism. Education is like wisdom, and with all your getting get Understanding also. By it you will recognize who you real enemy is ! Having started in the trades as a young man, sole ownership had no favor, other than perfected skill, and with perfected skill came leadership for others. Then from there, Incorporating to further individual growth. This of course at a price. Due to socialistic oppression. Whether now I have a little or a lot, makes no difference. Having had success, rising and falling many times, God has furnished my need, one of correction the other of contentment in what ever state I'm in. No need to envy the wealthy of their fruit. My grandfather told me, do not try to make a living, Live off what you earn ! never spend, that, that you do not have. Be always ready to work for another, for we must all serve another. I choose God rather than man. Therefore my affection is toward God and not another's wealth. Leadership knows when to follow !
     -- Ronw13, Logsden     
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    Stupid remark (I suppose she is referring to the government) - what does she think taxes does??? Unfortunately, those who should be paying taxes and don't, or very little, are usually the wealthy and corporations. A flat tax of 17% on gross income, without any deductions except for mortgage payments, and corporate improvements (but we all know that can be loaded). Anyway, this whole thing about the poor ripping of the rich is so asinine that it makes my blood curdle - the sheer greed and stupidity of it all. The trickle down theory was only another way for the rich to get richer and the poor poorer - it is most definite a trickle up event. Perhaps also, America stopped being a warmonger (of which 60% of our GDP goes on) we could help the poor, provide healthcare to all it's citizens, and improve the educational system. The last thing government knows about is how to manage - America needs professional managers not lawyers dreaming of riches.
     -- Robert, Somewhere in Europe     
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    A better terse description of the symbiosis between human-held power to stockpile and redistribute wealth, as equating with a "right" to enslave may not exist in the English tongue. However, even thin understanding of Ms. Rand's writings and philosophy leaves little doubt that she had much grasp or respect for the concept that labor IS capital. Instead, Rand largely grants the corporate sector - the INITIAL acquisitors of great labor-based wealth PRIOR to formal taxation - the right to keep and/or distribute great riches at any sundry board of directors' or majority stockholder's discretion, simply because they're positioned, often by birthright only, to do so.

    Endless exploitation, revilement as "budget busting," end-of-life consumers of "entitlements" and eternal war are part and parcel of the payoff for labor. That means just about all of us, even those accepting Rand's interpretations without compromise. After all, bondholders must and will be paid: see Flint, MI.
     -- Mann, Kalamazoo     
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    andi, bakersfield are you saying that Bill Gates and Michael Dell didn't earn their wealth? If so,are you nuts. Yes you are.
     -- jim k, Austin     
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    This is a NEW WORLD of Independence, Free will, to Share Knowledge and Skill !!! Which We the People hold Dear, To and For, Our Children's Inheritance !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. Get the Point ! It is amazing how Arrogant ,Thieves Can Be !! 3, Their are Three levels at the Top of Management !! Not One is Excluded !! Therefore to Hold Property is BUT one of three, SKILL is At an Equal Level, serving well, more than the fancy of vanity !! Well said Jim. In this ROOM, opposition needs to understand, Liberty and Freedom ARE COLOR BLIND. So simple in bridging the gap of COLOR. but to some money and power are the game !
     -- Ronw13, USA     
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