Ayn Rand Institute

Ayn Rand Institute (ARI)

 Background

The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Irvine, California. According to ARI's website, it “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.” [1]

As part of its strategy, ARI implements education programs and distributes free Ayn Rand books to high schools. Since 2002, the Ayn Rand Institute has given out more than 1.4 million free copies of Ayn Rand novels to teachers in North America. [2]

The following is taken from Greenpeace's 2011 report (PDF) on Koch Industries' funding of the climate change debate: [3]

Based in Irvine, California, the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) is dedicated to laissez faire capitalism and the pursuit of self-interest as developed by Russian-American author Ayn Rand. ARI's writers have referred to a climate science report published by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) as “a lie,” and have cited the fabricated “Oregon Petition.” [4], [5]

ARI Senior Fellow Keith Lockitch, who spoke at the Heartland Institute’s 2009 International Conference on Climate Change, authored a paper denouncing the viability of clean energy and simultaneously denying the scientific consensus of climate change despite arguing that “development under capitalism has actually made us safer from climate-related risks than ever before in human history.” [6]

Acton's media director, Jay W. Richards, states, “climate is changing all the time, the real question is if humans are causing it.” [7]

Richards also has ties to the Cato Institute and sits on the Board of Advisors for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), one of the most vocal anti-environmental fronts for the petrochemical and biotechnology industries. Acton's governing boards reveals other Koch connections through Dr. Alejandro A. Chafuen of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute, as well as affiliates of Amoco (BP) and Wolverine Gas and Oil. [8]

Stance on Climate Change

”[…] vulnerability to the climate has been a feature of human existence for all of human history; there have always been droughts and floods and hurricanes and heat waves—and there always will be, regardless of what happens to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Moreover, the history of industrial development has been one of an ever-increasing ability to cope with natural disasters—an ever increasing resilience against them.

“A broader perspective on climate vulnerability suggests that industrial development under capitalism is not merely one factor among others influencing susceptibility to climate-related risks. Rather, it is the dominant factor, reducing climate vulnerability to a degree that makes all other factors irrelevant.

“But the life-saving value of industrial capitalism is profoundly unappreciated in today’s culture. This is not merely because people have forgotten or ignored its history, but because its opponents have actively sought to bury and distort that history.

“[…] Fundamentally, this is a debate about how society should be organized. The advocates of statism have made their position clear and are actively working to advance their cause. It is time for those who value freedom to do the same.” [9]

“Regardless of one’s views on global warming–and there is ample scientific evidence to reject the claim that manmade carbon emissions are causing catastrophe–the fact is that kneecapping the fossil fuel industry while diverting tax dollars into expensive, impractical forms of energy will not be an economic boon, but an economic disaster.” [10]

 Funding

According to Media Matters, the ARI has received $88,000 from the Rodney Fund. [11]

Greenpeace's Polluter Watch project reports that the Institute received $50,000 from Koch foundations between 2005 and 2010. [3]

Key People

Board of Directors

As of May, 2012, the ARI listed the following directors on their website: [12]

  • Michael S. Berliner — Board Co-Chair.
  • Arline Mann — Board Co-Chair.
  • Yaron Brook — President and Executive Director.
  • John Allison
  • Carl Barney
  • Harry Binswanger
  • Peter LePort
  • Tara Smith

Staff & Fellows

  • Alex Epstein — Former Fellow.
  • Onkar Ghate — Senior Fellow and Vice President of Intellectual Leadership (as of Sept 2012). [16]
  • Elan Journo — Fellow and Director of Policy Research (as of Sept 2012).
  • Keith Lockitch — Instructor and OAC Program Officer, Fellow (as of Sept 2012).
  • Don Watkins — Fellow (as of Sept 2012).

 Actions

Ongoing

Greenpeace's PolluterWatch reports that Alex Epstein of ARI's Center for Individual Rights regularly publishes opinion pieces in outlets like Fox News, the American Thinker and the Daily Caller “promoting fossil fuel use and attacking environmental safeguards.” Such articles include: [3]

May 21 - 23, 2012

The ARI is listed as a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute's Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7). [13]

March 8 - 10, 2009

The ARI was a co-sponsor (PDF) of the Heartland Institute's 2009 International Conference on Climate Change. [14]

DeSmogBlog researched the funding behind Heartland's Second International Conference on Climate Change and found that sponsor organizations had received over $47 million in funding from energy companies and right-wing foundations, with 78% of that total coming from Scaife Family foundations.

December 30, 2004

The ARI sent out a press release stating that the “U.S. Should Not Help Tsunami Victims” days after the South Asian tsunami which killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries.

The Boston Globe wrote, “That's certainly one way to keep alive the spirit of the author of 'The Fountainhead' and 'Atlas Shrugged,' for whom altruism was a dirty word and the productive, heroic pursuit of one's own happiness the highest ideal. After widespread ridicule, the Institute removed the statement from its website, offering the clarification that it was opposed to all government-sponsored charitable giving (since the money isn't the government's to give), and that singling out this instance, just now, was 'inappropriate'.” [15]

Related Organizations

 Resources

  1. Overview,” Ayn Rand Institute. Accessed May 12, 2012.

  2. Free Books to Teachers Campaign,” Ayn Rand Institute. Accessed May, 2012.

  3. “Koch Industries: Still Fuelling Climate Denial 2011 Update” (PDF), Greenpeace, April, 2011.

  4. Tracinski, Robert, “Global Warming Fraud,” Ayn Rand Institute, June 21, 2009.

  5. Ghate, Onkar, “Global Warming – Just the Facts, Ma'am,” Ayn Rand Institute. Accessed Jan. 26, 2011.

  6. Speakers,” Heartland Institute, March 5, 2009. Archived June 10, 2011.

  7. Richards, Jay W., “An Earth Day Review of Global Warming,” Acton Media/Acton Institute. Accessed Jan. 26, 2011.

  8. Bandow, Doug. “10. Book: Money, Greed and God,” Cornwall Alliance, September 4, 2009. Accessed Jan. 26, 2011.

  9. Keith H. Lockitch. “CLIMATE VULNERABILITY AND THE INDISPENSABLE VALUE OF INDUSTRIAL CAPITALISM,” (PDF), Energy & Environment, Volume 20, No. 5 (2009).

  10. Keith Lockitch. “The Green Energy Fantasy,” Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. Accessed May, 2012.

  11. Ayn Rand Institute,” Media Matters. Accessed May 12, 2012.

  12. Board of Directors,” Ayn Rand Institute. Accessed May 12, 2012.

  13. Cosponsors,” 7th International Conference on Climate Change. Accessed May 12, 2012.

  14. “International Conference on Climate Change Sponsored by the Heartland Institute” (Conference Program - PDF), The Heartland Institute. Archived March 7, 2010.

  15. Christopher Shea. “Ayn Rand's campus radicals,” The Boston Globe, February 13, 2005.

  16. ARI Staff,” Ayn Rand Institute. Accessed September 30, 2012.

  17. Ayn Rand Institute,” SourceWatch.

  18. Ayn Rand Institute,” Wikipedia.