Menu

Ayn Rand Institute PPP Controversy

Claim

"Never letting ‘Atlas Shrugged’ fans live down that the Ayn Rand Institute sought, and was granted, a PPP loan from the government."

Rating

True
Like this fact check?

Reporting

On February 10 2022, Imgur user @PrincessPicklebricks shared a screenshot of the following tweet, suggesting that the Ayn Rand Institute “sought, and was granted, a PPP loan from the government”:

Although the tweet itself did not receive significant engagement, a screenshot of it was viewed more than 100,000 times on Imgur. Beyond the yes or no question, it involved a little more context.

What Is Atlas Shrugged, and Who Was Ayn Rand?

Atlas Shrugged is a novel and a political polemic:

The book’s female protagonist, Dagny Taggart, struggles to manage a transcontinental railroad amid the pressures and restrictions of massive bureaucracy. Her antagonistic reaction to a libertarian group seeking an end to government regulation is later echoed and modified in her encounter with a utopian community, Galt’s Gulch, whose members regard self-determination rather than collective responsibility as the highest ideal. The novel contains the most complete presentation of Rand’s personal philosophy, known as objectivism, in fictional form.

Goodstein’s ‘States of Matter...
Goodstein’s ‘States of Matter’ Opening Quote

The same source described Ayn Rand as follows:

Ayn Rand, original name Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, (born February 2, 1905, St. Petersburg, Russia—died March 6, 1982, New York, New York, U.S.), [was a] Russian-born American writer whose commercially successful novels promoting individualism and laissez-faire capitalism were influential among conservatives and libertarians and popular among generations of young people in the United States from the mid-20th century.

What is the Ayn Rand Institute?

According to SourceWatch:

The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) describes itself as “a non-profit organization headquartered in Irvine, California, works to introduce young people to Ayn Rand’s novels, to support scholarship and research based on her ideas, and to promote the principles of reason, rational self-interest, individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism to the widest possible audience.”

The right wing 501(c)3 nonprofit was an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN).

[…]

A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members’ intent to change state laws and policies, referring to “advancing model legislation” and “candidate briefings.” These activities “arguably cross the line into lobbying,” The Guardian notes.

Ayn Rand is often championed by proponents of limited government and Objectivism, her stated philosophy:

Fundamental to Rand’s outlook — so fundamental that she derives the name of her philosophical system, “Objectivism”, from it — is a trichotomy among three categories: the intrinsic, the subjective, and the objective (ITOE: 52–54; Rand 1965: 13–23). An intrinsic phenomenon is one whose nature depends wholly on factors external to the mind; a subjective phenomenon is one whose nature depends wholly on the mind; and an objective phenomenon is defined, variously, as that which depends on the relation between a living entity’s nature (including the nature of its mind) and its environment, or as that which depends on the relation between a properly functioning (rational) mind and extramental reality. Commentators are divided over the best way to interpret Rand’s views on this issue.

What Is a PPP ‘Loan’?

Per the Treasury.gov website, the Paycheck Protection Program was intended for small businesses to be able to stay afloat and continue to pay their employees through economic stresses caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic:

The Paycheck Protection Program is providing small businesses with the resources they need to maintain their payroll, hire back employees who may have been laid off, and cover applicable overhead.

The Paycheck Protection Program, established by the CARES Act, is implemented by the Small Business Administration with support from the Department of the Treasury.  This program provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.

The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $659 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.

Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.

Did the Ayn Rand Institute Seek and Receive Government Assistance in the Form of a PPP Loan?

Yes.

On July 6 2020, Reuters’ “In sign of the times, Ayn Rand Institute approved for PPP loan” reported:

The institute promoting the “laissez-faire capitalism” of writer Ayn Rand, who in the novels “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” introduced her philosophy of “objectivism” to millions of readers, was approved for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan of up to $1 million, according to data released Monday [July 6 2020] by the Trump administration.

The Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism in Santa Ana, California, sought to preserve 35 jobs with the PPP funding, according to the data.

Reuters mentioned a May 15 2020 blog post from Ayn Rand Institute board member Harry Binswanger and senior fellow Onkar Ghate (“To Take or Not to Take”), which read in part:

The CARES Act has created a moral dilemma for those Americans who value freedom. The pandemic has cost them their jobs, their savings, their businesses. And they blame a significant part of this loss on the government. But because they oppose government handouts, they worry that accepting CARES money would be a breach of integrity.

At the Ayn Rand Institute, we are dedicated to philosophic principle. And because we are, we will take any relief money offered us. We will take it unapologetically, because the principle here is: justice.

[…]

What the government would giveth, the government must first taketh away.

The $2.3 trillion in “relief” going to some people means $2.3 trillion ultimately drained from savings — their own and the savings of others.

On July 7 2020, the Ayn Rand Institute published a video titled “Ayn Rand Institute: We Took PPP and Would Do It Again!”

Summary

A popular Imgur screenshot of a tweet stated that the “Ayn Rand Institute sought, and was granted, a PPP loan from the government.” The claim was accurate per the Ayn Rand Institute itself, and further validated by their video, titled “Ayn Rand Institute: We Took PPP and Would Do It Again!”