Ayn Rand's a batshit insane dead woman. Her "ethics" isn't a serious philosohy, but rather a personality cult that demonizes everyone else who would dare disagree with her system. She's the scientology of the ethics world.
Rational = Ayn Rand says it's good because she says so. Her philosophy is riddled with so many holes, but no one who follows Objectivism really gives a shit about that. They like the "me me me" idea of her philosophy too much.
She consistently makes huge assumptions, kills other ideas by guilt by association or strawmen, and then declares victory. If you disagree, you are a heretic and are actually thrown out of the "club." THis was the reason why there was a split between Objectivists into two hard-line groups. They were all fighting over whose version of the Randroid Holy Scripture was the One True Vision(TM).
Seems like a Karmic notion .. the old reap what you sew philosophy .. something that in practice, breeds good behavior .. but in real world terms falls short because humans cannot know 100% the results of their actions .. more often than not the squeaky wheel gets the oil .. rather than the person who has given most readily ..
Its better to be good because its what you want to be .. rather than for any payback IMo .. doing the right thing out of some misguided notion that you will get a pay back for it .. only breeds discontent so far as I can tell ..
Rand was too philosophically confused and utterly contradictory to be taken seriously as anything more than a writer of fictions. Even so, unless you've the urge to be preached to for three pages on end, I wouldn't really recommend picking up a book of hers.
I tried reading Rand's Atlas Shrugged, but I couldn't finish it. It was so monumentally boring. In that respect, it's a lot like Heinline's writings. They begin ok, but then suddenly devolve into every third page being a giant sociopolitical speech.
They are like musicals. But instead of people bursting into a happy song, people start giving really annoying lectures.
Ayn Rand's nonfiction seems to be the secular equivalent of New Age nonsense. Instead of simply trying to find flaws in the works of philosophers like Hume or Kant, she should have actually tried to understand what they were getting at. It probably would have helped her write something interesting or relevant. Although, I suspect she realized she was a hack, as evidenced by the fact she wouldn't publish in peer-reviewed journals.
Wow, it seems she's not to popular around here. Ayn Rand's idea of friendship can be summarized in a lot of ways, but I think the best way to put it is not 'tit for tat', it is seeing the manifestation of the good parts of one's self reflected in others, and coupled with the absence of dependency. She said herself that the only relationship between the creator and the looter is one of slave to master, or executioner to victim.
Rand's general perspective is unique and interesting. Her attempts to demonstrate that it was an unquestionable objective truth are what I find laughable. I also tend to think that rational egoism is an incoherent notion. We could say that everything we do is selfish in some sense. Helping others tends to make us feel good about ourselves. So to promote rational egoism as opposed to inherent egoism seems to ignore the mutual benefit that is almost always gained from what we might think of as altruistic action. Otherwise, it seems to be the view that the benefits gained from helping others are trumped by those gained by looking out for oneself. 'Prisoner's Dilemma' situations seem to demonstrate that such is unquestionably not the case in many circumstances. So as interesting as it may be, there really isn't any rational justification for 'rational' egoism.