The Ayn Rand Institute Weighs in on the Online Gambling Bill
It should come as no surprise that the Ayn Rand Institute has formally weighed in against the UIGEA. In a press release issued this month, executive director Dr. Yaron Brook called the measure "an infringement on our rights."
The Ayn Rand Institute is a non profit organization that provides outreach and educational programs that are synergistic with the philosophies of Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand was a novelist-philosopher best known for her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and the creator of the philosophy of Objectivism. Like her novels, Objectivism celebrates man's rational self-interest, individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism. The institute's position relative to the UIGEA is consistent with its views on the role of government. In her book, The Virtue of Selfishness, Rand wrote, "Since the protection of individual rights is the only proper purpose of a government, it is the only proper subject of legislation: all laws must be based on individual rights and aimed at their protection."
The Institute's press release went on to say, "Why do supporters of the law deny individuals the freedom to spend their hard-earned money on gambling? Because, they say, people will bet and lose more than they can afford. In other words, individuals are inherently incapable of making rational decisions, and thus it is the government's job to protect us from ourselves. This vicious, paternalistic idea has no place in a free society."
While Rand's individual-centric philosophy is applicable to many regulatory laws and issues, its ideology is particularly salient to the discussion of online poker. In many ways poker is the perfect Objectivism gambling metaphor. Rand would have argued that altruism is as misplaced in society as we know it to be at the poker table. As a poker player, our goal is to insure our own personal success. While poker rarely makes society's short list of moral activities, Rand would have disagreed. She felt that a person's "pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life."
While anti-UIGEA sentiment has been expressed by a number of unlikely sources, The Ayn Rand Institute's position is as expected as a minimum of five pre-flop callers in a low limit hold'em game.