When Ayn Rand was sixteen years old, a teacher questioned her on why she disagrees with the philosophy of Plato. She answered "My philosophical views are not part of the history of philosophy yet. But they will be."

She was right.

Exquisitor says: "[Selfishness] treats people as a means to an end, not an end in themselves." "Treating people as a means to serve yourself might play out well in her books..."

Working Class Zero says: "when you start looking out for yourself to the extent of taking advantage of others, it stops being a good thing."

Ayn Rand says: "Man--every man--is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest purpose of his life."

jonlasser says: "It seems quite instructive to me that Ayn Rand believed that the world was basically a giant scrapyard from which you could take what you want and dump what you want, without any sort of compensation."

Ayn Rand says: "As far as the issue of actual pollution is concerned, it is primarily a scientific, not a political, problem. In regard to the political principle involved: if a man creates a physical danger or harm to others, which extends beyond the line of his own property, such as unsanitary conditions or even noise, and if this is proved, the law can and does hold him responsible. If the condition is collective, such as in an overcrowded city, appropriate and objective laws can be defined, protecting the rights of all involved--as was done in the case of oil rights, air-space rights, etc. But such laws cannot demand the impossible, must not be aimed at a single scapegoat, i.e., the industrialists, and must take into consideration the whole extent of the problem, i.e., the absolute necessity of the continued existence of industry--if the preservation of human life is the standard."

jonlasser says: "her philosophy depends upon: getting something for nothing (land, power, resources, loyalty, or whatever), and then exploiting that gift to turn a profit."

I interpret your objection thus: While man should own what he produces from his own resources, land isn't man-made, so which man should own it? The answer to this question is relevant to any social system which recognizes man's right to life and hence property rights. Objectivism answers it in the negative: man cannot take land already belonging to another by force. This leaves three acceptable ways of gaining ownership of land:

  1. through trade
  2. as a gift, i.e., inheritance
  3. by claiming unowned land

So the question becomes: given competing claims to the same unowned land, whose claim is valid? Considering Ayn Rand's philosophy as a whole, I suspect her answer would be: the man who first acts to keep it (by inhabiting or developing it).

Update - Ayn Rand writes in The Property Status of Airwaves in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal:

"The question of defining the application of property rights has arisen frequently, in the wake of major scientific discoveries or inventions, such as the question of oil rights, vertical space rights, etc.

. . .

"A notable example of the proper method of establishing private ownership from scratch, in a previously ownerless area, is the Homestead Act of 1862, by which the government opened the western frontier for settlement and turned 'public land' over to private owners. The government offered a 160-acre farm to any adult citizen who would settle on it and cultivate it for five years, after which it would become his property. Although that land was originally regarded, in law, as 'public property,' the method of its allocation, in fact, followed the proper principle (in fact but not in explicit ideological intention). The citizens did not have to pay the government as if it were an owner; ownership began with them, and they earned it by the method which is the source and root of the concept 'property': by working on unused material resources, by turning a wilderness into a civilized settlement. Thus, the government, in this case, was acting not as the owner but as the custodian of ownerless resources who defines objectively impartial rules by which potential owners may acquire them.

"This should have been the principle and pattern of the allocation of broacasting frequencies.

"As soon as it became apparent that radio broadcasting had opened a new realm of material resources which, in the absence of legal definitions, would become a wilderness of clashing individual claims, the government should have promulgated the equivalent of a Homestead Act of the airways--an act defining private property rights in the new realm, establishing the rule that the user of a radio frequency would own it after he had operated a radio station for a certain number of years, and allocating all frequencies by the rule of priority, i.e., 'first come, first served.'"

note: jonlasser's writeup misrepresents Ayn Rand's views. The implication that she condoned slavery is particularly disturbing given her adamant (and unambiguous) fight against it.

update: (1) Owning land is not the moral equivalent of slavery. The claim serves no fuction but to mislead those who are merely skimming through this node rather than examining your writings critically. (2) The claim that this is a contradiction in Ayn Rand's philosophy is even more inexcusable since Ayn Rand explicitly states what constitutes the good. Slavery is evil because it is inimical to man's survival as a man; this is not true of owning land. (3) Ayn Rand's purpose in the quoted paragraph is to show the proper method of defining property rights where none exist. That the land in question might have been inhabited by natives (it wasn't) is not relevant to the point she's making. Her position on the violation of individual rights has been made explicit elsewhere.

[CST Approved]