'Charity fraud alert'

A friend reports receiving a promotional letter that has given her a whole new outlook on promotional letters. It’s accompanied by a questionnaire bearing the same title as this piece. The letter is from Richard E. Ralston, managing director of the Ayn Rand Institute. Ralston wishes to warn Americans against a gigantic fraud, a "hoax perpetrated by the media, charities, politicians, and academics." You’ll know you’re a victim if anybody has ever tried to "get your money by making you feel guilty about the plight of others," or if you’ve been "forced to pay taxes to fund government welfare programs." The hoax is based on "the phony idea that you have a moral duty to serve others." This is "a bold-faced lie." In reality, "you don’t owe your life to anyone." "Real morality means pursuing your own happiness and interests." And yet, "[I]f these guilt-mongers get their way, everything America stands for-independence, self-reliance, self-confidence-will go up in smoke." For, "[o]nce they’ve established a ’moral obligation’ to help others, they’ll have made it ’moral’ for government to take everything you own for ’the good of society.’ That’s a one-way ticket to tyranny." It’s time to "stand up and fight back for our liberty."

The Institute bases its philosophy, called Objectivism, on the principles laid down in the works of the late novelist Ayn Rand, author of Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. To reach the "eager young minds" in the nation’s colleges and high schools, the Institute runs yearly contests in which students write essays based on the novels, thereby grasping Rand’s view of "man": "A heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute." Once imbued with Objectivism, the students will eventually "put that philosophy into action as they take control of our country’s institutions of government and the private sector." The takeover will presumably include biblical studies; the Sermon on the Mount may be replaced by Ayn Rand insights that will surprise you, such as: "The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing."

Since the battle for sanity and capitalism must be funded, recipients of the letter are asked to send the Institute a tax-deductible contribution of from $20 to $1,000, or "other___." Our friend is sending the "___." She, too, wishes to prevent charity frauds.

Published in the 2000-02-11 issue: 
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