Inequality: Should we care? A debate between Y. Brook (Ayn Rand Institute) and J. Galbraith & Y. Varoufakis (UT); 17th April at UT Austin

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Witness a dramatic battle of ideas between two internationally known speakers over the question of whether or not we should be concerned about economic inequality.


A debate between Dr. Yaron Brook, of the Ayn Rand Institute, and Dr. James Galbraith, of UT’s Inequality Project. Dr. Yanis Varoufakis, of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, will moderate.

With all of the political chatter about the increasing gap between the rich and poor, no one has emerged to question whether or not this gap is something we should be concerned about. Information on the Presenters:
Dr. Brook – http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?id=5151
Dr. Galbraith – http://utip.gov.utexas.edu/JG/
Dr. Yanis Varoufakis (Moderator) – http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/about/

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20 Comments

  • Hello,

    I just watched a short clip on youtube with Yaron Brook, Elizabeth MacDonald, and Nancy Skinner discussing taxation & Gov spending on FOX Business (moderated by “Judge” Napolitano) – neoliberal ideology at its worst (or best) depending on your point of view!

    • thank you very much….. please find below links to two videos related to Ayn Rand :

      Her Last Public Lecture: The Sanction of the Victims

      and a Ayn Rand’s First Appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, 1967

      you may find them of interest

  • I attended the debate. As the objectivist from the Ayn Rand focused on encouraging people to accept socio-economic inequality of the poor, there was a glaring blind spot where he ignored the need to accept the inequality for the rich. Individuals in the 1, 5, 10 Percent, etc., facing a greater level of taxation might do well to remember that they are in the minority, and the U.S. is premised upon the natural state of things: majority rule. We all lose to dominate interests in some aspects of life. There is no escape for anyone from inequality and “unfairness.” If you have more wealth than others in the U.S., the majority has decided you should pay more. It may not be “fair,” but you simply lose. Privileged people are frequently befuddled by the concept of losing.

    • Contrary to popular opinion the US is not a democracy where majority vote rules. The Founders understood this fact of democracy from studying history. However there were contradictions in the Constitution that made it possible to slowly erode the Republic. Objectivism defends the fact that rights are absolute and can not be voted away by a majority. If something is wrong for one person, multiplying it by 51% doesn’t change that fact.

    • Objectivism does not ignore or miss the inequality that exists in the so-called ‘rich’ as you posit. I have heard Dr. Brook speak many times, and his point is constantly focused on the fact that today’s system (and democracy generally) is not Laissez-faire. Furthermore he shows how the use of force can never be valid on the grounds that it negates rationality, humankind’s greatest attribute. Either you are for actual equality, ie. an attitude of ‘hands off’, and no ‘special interests’ for anyone across the board, or you are for force.
      You state: “…the majority has decided you should pay more. It may not be fair, but you simply lose.” That is force. You are an advocate of force then.

    • Paracelsus,

      Objectivists, first and foremost, defend class privilege. Whether that is best achieved via republican or dictatorial means is ultimately irrelevant to them. They despise democracy because they understand it can be utilized by the masses to erode facets of said privilege, not out of any particular respect for rights.

    • Jesse White,

      Objectivists consider force at odds with rationally, yet the force exerted to maintain property rights is perfectly okay? Give me a break.

    • If there is to be greater taxation on the 1-10%–it will be on income not assets which is akin to letting a thief keep his take but taxing what he makes from it.

    • Michael Acuña…
      calls himself a “Marxist theorist” and a “wage slave” and wears a hammer and sickle necklace in his bio picture. (really! click his name and look!) You gotta laugh to keep yourself from crying. It is no wonder he is posing in his picture like the ‘angry young man’ cliche, and he is so mixed up.

    • Oh, Jesse. That’s just the way I look. I’ve been told I look “angry” from co-workers even while being perfectly content for years – it’s not some shtick. I call myself a Marxist theorist because I utilize the economic and sociological methodology developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels when analyzing current events and matters of historical interest. As for my affinity for the hammer and sickle, I confess to finding it a power and inspiring symbol of worker solidarity. Would you like to continue this biographical discussion on my blog, or would you rather address my post to you?

  • Ayn Rand,, the author of the book that know-it-all, one book readers most commonly read. Look if a society comes with even a little inherent injustice it probably has a short lifespan. For all those smarties out there, I’ll leave you with Frederick Douglass who said” At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.”..Ayn Rand died on welfare as she couldn’t afford her cancer treatment

    • Dear John Z,
      Every person has the right to a dignified end. In particular one’s struggles with both financial adversities and the unbearable and unimaginable difficulties of battling with cancer are deeply private matters.
      They certainly to not do justice to your argument (whatever that might be) and moreover it’s deplorable and inconceivable that you employed the sharing of such information in this forum.
      I am truly appauled by both your comments here and the fact that they were allowed to appeared past the moderation stage.
      Yiannis I urge you to consider removing the above comments in the name of the basic human right to have such deeply personal information withheld even it’s post mortum.

      Sincerely
      Panos Salapatas

    • No I am afraid I did not miss the point.
      The trajic irony of Rand’s ending up on welfare does not prove or disprove Rand’s objection to the welfare system; an objection that was based on an extensive set of well defined arguments.

      By the way she was arguing for the need to abolish welfare in order to actually reduce society’s need.
      And that in a peculiar way reminds me of what Yiannis has been advocating and practicing. Stay out of politics in order to be able to practice politics.

      No room for sensationalizing when dealing with such complex issues.

  • I recently saw this documentary,”Inequality for all”, narrated by Robert Reich (inequalityforall.com) and would really like to see the views of these people too. Please let us know when will this discussion be availabe.
    Greetings