HomeBloggingHow Does this Quote from The Fountainhead Make you Feel?

How Does this Quote from The Fountainhead Make you Feel?

After way too long I finally finished The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.  It took me forever since I only really read when on vacation, and the book clocks in at over 700 pages.  I really liked the book and plan on re-reading it one day, but closing in on the last 100 pages or so I came across a diatribe by the main character, Howard Roark that I felt should be shared.

Howard Roark Talks about Government Housing Projects

A little background about the lengthy quote: In this ‘scene’ one main character Howard Roark, an architect, is talking to another main character, Peter Keating.  Howard Roark is accepting Peter’s plea to help him design a public housing unit,

‘what architect isn’t interested in housing?’ I hate the whole blasted idea of it.  I think it’s a worthy undertaking – to provide a decent apartment for a man who earns fifteen dollars a week.  But not at the expense of other men.  Not if it raises the taxes, raises all the othe rrents and makes the man who earns forty live in a rat hole.  That’s what’s hapening in New York.  Nobody can afford a modern apartment – except the very rich and the paupers.

Have you seen the converted brownstones in which the average self-supporting couple has to live?  Have you seen their closet kitchens and their plumbing? They’re forced to live that – because they’re not incompetent enough.  They make forty dollars a week and wouldn’t be allowed into a housing project. But they’re the ones who provide the money for the damn project.  They pay the taxes.  And the taxes raise their own rent. And they have to move from a converted brownstone into an uncoverted one and from that into a railroad flat.

I’d have no desire to penalize a man because he’s worth only fifteen dollars a week.  But I’ll be damned if I can see why a man worth forty must be penalized – and penalized in favor of the one who’s less competent.

I added the paragraph splits to make it easier to read online.

It shouldn’t be terribly surprising that I more or less agree with Howard Roark, but forget me the quote has to illicit some sort of emotion out of you, I’d I love to hear it!



  1. There are 2 ways of living comfortably (whatever it means to different people).

    1. You are very rich and can afford most of the things all the time. Your job (if you still want one) is a pleasure and you’re doing it for a joy as you have enough money.

    2. You are very poor and everything is given to you. You don’t work, because as soon as you start working you’ll lose all the free stuff. You enjoy your life doing nothing and you laugh at people going to work for 10 hours every day. You’re getting pissed whenever any of your free benefits are late or incorrect. Life if beautiful…

    All people between are living not that comfortably so that others can get stuff for free.

    • Not sure I can agree with the “Life is Beautiful” for the second group of people, but I feel your middle class frustration.

      • It might not be as beautiful as the first group, but it’s a trouble-free life. If you’re hungry, you’ll be given it. If you’re cold, you’ll get heat. If everything is given to you, there is nothing to challenge you, so there is no need for a change, so everything stays as it is. And it’s a loop.

        Humans, in general, are lazy. If they don’t have to, they won’t do anything. No mater what category they fit in.

        • Funny you used the word lazy. Just finished a great book I won on another blog called The Other 8 Hours. In one of the chapters the author says Humans aren’t lazy they are uninspired. I happen to agree with you though….

  2. Such a sensitive topic. Public works projects can arguably have done more harm than good. They pacify the residents, allowing them to be not just be content, but reliant on their current way of living – placing more of a burden on the rest of society. I had a class on this topic in college a while back, really blew my mind. The thing is, because people are born into these types of situations, it is all they know! They don’t realize that you CAN make more of yourself by striving to achieve more, and not rely on the government to support you. Very difficult topic to cover in just one paragraph, or even blog post.

    I forget the stat I heard a while back, but it was astonishing, something like 50% or so percent of U.S. Citizens do not pay any income tax. And with the government continuing to hire, hire, hire, and pass more and more public programs ($1 Trillion Health Care Bill), I am anticipating some seriously rough times ahead…

  3. I know people that don’t get married, have kids, and the mom and kids live in public housing because they don’t get enough money, plus food stamp.

    The father of the kids (who should be the husband of the woman) drives a truck and works other jobs. He even list a different location as his residence. He also owns homes that he rents out, so he’s a landlord.

    This family, specifically doesn’t get married so they can take advantage of the system. They have nice new cars, a big Screen TV (when they were more expensive), and take frequent trips to Disney and other cool vacation locations.

    So no, I don’t agree with such governmental policies because of people who take advantage of us the taxpayers.

    • I know it is not where you are going, but it is when you talk about individual family situations (the proper situation) is where I start to fold on the zero social safety net stance.

      • Hmmm, perhaps I’m looking at my scenario with younger eyes. After all, the people I knew was when I was 16 and a bag boy. The lady was very pretty, dressed well and looked like a model. So I was a bit surprised when she used food stamps. Back then, I know she just recently came back from Disney at the time too.

        Perhaps she was the super rare exception… And besides, I’m doing just as well as she was now. My wife doesn’t work, and we were able to take my kids to Disney last year…

        Interesting topic! I’m done venting my teenage frustrations… Time to move onto something that I have more control over 🙂

  4. Programs to support the poor can help, but they can also create incentive to rely on these programs, and disincentive to “get out of the hole.”

    Like MFO stated, the cycle continues as future generations get born into the same environment.

    I don’t have an easy answer, but I think it’d be more beneficial to offer support, but also help them get on their own two feet.

    Like the saying goes, “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.”

  5. Well, we surely have plenty of people living on the streets around here. I remember when I was a kid, Americans thought only countries like India had a lot of their population living in cardboard boxes or sleeping under rags on the street. America was too good for that.

    So I guess Rand’s kind of thinking has taken hold. Quite the improvement, eh?

  6. It’s interesting, when I was younger I was all for social programs and helping out the unfortunate. As I get older I get increasingly angry seeing ho my tax money gets transferred to people who take advantage and don’t pay in their fair share or contribute to society.

    This isn’t to say that all social programs are bad and that anyone who has assistance is milking the system. It just seems like there is a lot of room for people to take advantage and that shouldn’t be the case.

    I’m all for helping out those who truly need a boost but how do we do it without subsidizing the leeches?

    As for The Fountainhead – I wonder what Roark would think of today’s McMansions that all pretty much look alike; full of architecture bits that aren’t needed (like giant roman-esque columns)?

  7. All the folks who think that the poor have it so good — I wonder if they know any actual poor people.

    • Who thinks the poor have it good? I don’t think I ever said that. The quote is about punishing the middle class (or at least how I interpreted it).


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