Monday, November 23, 2009

Not understanding what she quotes

Tapu Misa quoting Ayn Rand to support today's column about Saturday's march;

As the philosopher and writer Ayn Rand observed, "Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by the majority (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual)."

Anybody who regularly reads Misa will know what a hoot this is.

Misa is a collectivist of the tallest order.

Let's have a look at a couple of her previous columns dismissing the rights of the individual.

On ACC, supporting its founder, Sir Owen;

To read Sir Owen is to understand how far we've strayed from many of the principles on which ACC was built. Like community responsibility, which goes against the idea that you should levy one section of the community more heavily than others, as proposed by the current government. Sir Owen held that as we all benefit from risky activities, we should all bear the cost equally.

On the US health reforms;

As Obama was at pains to point out last week, ensuring health care for all Americans isn't a matter of individual responsibility, and can't be left solely to big business - it requires government intervention.

Tapu Misa believes passionately in the role of government to regulate individuals. This directly infringes on the few rights they actually possess. In her world government should have more responsibility and power than the private sphere; from charity to business. The very idea of big government, one involved in all the areas Misa thinks it should be - health, education and welfare - rests on the suppression of the individual for the sake of the community.

The columnist has no idea what Ayn Rand was talking about. Misa believes in positive rights - that is the right to something like education or income support or healthcare. Ayn Rand believed in negative rights - the right to be free from something like government coercion. The two are incompatible. In effect Rand was arguing against everything Misa holds dear.

This is a better explanation of the theory of rights;

Within the philosophy of human rights, some philosophers and political scientists see a distinction between positive and negative rights. According to this view a positive right imposes an obligation on others and the state to do certain things, while a negative right merely obliges others and the state to refrain from certain activities.

Other readers may know where Rand stood on the rights of children. She may have argued the right of children to be free from any degree of physical force. I do not know.

But I would be hard-pressed to find any column Misa has ever written about society and government that Rand would have approved of.


Lucy said...

Misa does not understand Ayn Rand at all. Ayn rand was for individual rights (and responsibility) and anti big government.
Succesive governments have follwed her predicition of "The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."
And that is what is happening with the stupid smacking law and all of the other laws made up and foistered on us each week. I will bet anything that you like that the vast majority of us break a law every single day of our lives.

PC said...

Still, at least she quoted Rand (wonder where she got the quite from?). Which might make a few more 'Herald' readers do some Rand reading.

And she's right that Rand would have opposed binding referenda.

And the plural of Misa? Surely it must be Mises -- which can't be all bad. ;^)

Shane Pleasance said...

Gosh - Rand quoted in Herald? And sans malice? PC, its working.

Shane Pleasance said...

But clearly this is just a magpie collection of quotes to back a knights-move thought process. She don't know Rand from her hand.

Anonymous said...

Although this is wierdly out of character for Misa, she is correct. Binding citizens initiated referenda are a terrifying idea. Maybe, she can follow that thought through to the idea that coercion is equally unjustifiable when legislated by a government which has been supported by just over half the people who bother to vote. Then just a few more connections and she'll be a fully fledged Libertarian.

Dave Christian

Ruth said...

It's wonderful that someone as widely read as Misa has quoted Rand. We all have to start somewhere and she has been interested enough to read up on Rand.

Rand was the greatest anti-authoritarian of them all - something the Left should be enlightened about.

john said...


I see where you are going with this, but I challenge the use of "negative rights" in association with Objectivism.

I think you are falling into the "enumeration" trap.

Rand, in my opinion, would say someting like: 'there is no such thing as positive and negative rights. There are only indivdiual rights and all of them rest on the absolute right to one's life.'

The individual holds all rights. In a proper politics, the government is constrained against any infringement of them.

No 'found' or 'add-on' rights need to be enumerated or discovered or invented.

Willie said...

We ought to go easy on Misa.

This may be the first time Rand has been quoted accurately in a NZ newspaper.

Maybe she'll quote from Human Action next?

Stranger things have happened.