Rand disciple spreads her word

It has been a generation since one of the 20th century’s most widely read and well-known philosophers, Ayn Rand, died. And it has been more than a half-century since her most well-known novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” was first published. Yet Rand’s philosophy of objectivism, based on the moral value and supremacy of rational self-interest and free-market capitalism, is enjoying a major revival of interest.
Yaron Brook heads the Ayn Rand Institute, headquartered in Irvine, Calif., but this 48-year-old Ph.D. permits little grass to grow under his feet. His zeal to spread the philosophy and ethic of Rand takes him across the country and around the world. It brought him earlier this month to Atlanta.
In addition to delivering to students in a packed Georgia Tech classroom a speech containing the elements of Rand’s philosophy, Brook fielded tough questions for over an hour. He parried with the students on topics ranging from the industrial revolution to global warming, and from the Federal Reserve to religion.
One thing that emerged from the two-hour-long session, and which in large measure may account for the resurgence in Rand’s popularity, is that in many ways it is an inescapable reality that the disintegration of America’s economy — which Rand described in “Atlas Shrugged” — is playing itself out today, but in the very real world of 21st-century Western civilization.
Yet, while some critics of the massive growth in the size, scope, power and cost of American government in recent decades come off sounding like sour grapes, Brook is upbeat in his talks to students (his audience of choice). Brook shines not as some sort of cockeyed optimist hoping simply to raise money for a cause. He truly understands and believes in the ultimate power of the free market and of the free will of people exercising their rational self-interest, to prevail over the destructive forces of collectivism.
This blend of reality and optimism is most refreshing; but without the strength of Brook’s deep knowledge of history, economics and finance, it would have negligible impact on his audiences. It is this background that lends so much more credibility to his message than all but a handful of speeches I witnessed during my eight years in the Congress or in the seven years since.
When Brook dissects the downfall of the Big Three auto makers, it is a discussion about more than the size of government subsidies or the “evils of big government.” I suspect that Brook has little sympathy for those Detroit CEOs who recently were figuratively disemboweled by congressional inquisitors. He understands, and easily conveys to his audience, that the Big Three bailout resulted from the unholy alliance between Washington, Detroit and the UAW — a cancer that had been eating the foundation of this once-mighty industry for decades.
Brook loves to speak about the growth of the computer industry by American entrepreneurs beginning in the 1960s. His eyes noticeably light up when he does so, and not just because he understands how computers revolutionized the modern world. He truly grasps the fact that in America, even with an economy controlled far too much by government taxes and regulations, there remains sufficient residual freedom to permit men such as Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, the founders of Intel, to visualize, create and market the world’s first microprocessor; only it would be vastly more difficult for them to do so in 2009 than in 1968, when they began.
Were a Thomas Edison to attempt in 2009 what he was able to accomplish 125 years ago, federal agencies from OSHA to EPA would quickly stifle his genius. By hawking the works and ideas of Rand, Yaron Brook hopes to lay the groundwork for a resurgence of the spirit that propelled America from a lumbering, backwater nation to the agile economic engine for the 21st-century world. For all our sake, let’s hope he succeeds.

117 comments Add your comment

Mark

November 16th, 2009
10:17 am

It is no wonder that Bob Barr is enthused by Ayn Rand and her “Atlas Shrugged,” that incredibly idiotic novel espousing primitive, repulsive ideas.

booger

November 16th, 2009
10:27 am

As long as we have a government which rewards the needy and dependant at the expense of the responsible and self reliant, we cannot recover the America that many of us, especially the older ones, remember. America was founded as a place where an individaul could chart their own course and succeed or fail on their own merits. Now success is being punished, and failure subsidized. The government is doing all it can to force workers into collectives called unions, and independant small business owners, who employ most of the people in this country, are footing the bill for this whole social experiment.

Our government decries the income gap in America, but their solution is to make the rich poorer, rather than make the poor richer.

Hillbilly Deluxe

November 16th, 2009
10:38 am

If you’re a lion or a tiger, the law of the jungle probably looks pretty good to you. If you’re an antelope or a wildebeest, you probably think there’s a better way.

JustCallitGreed

November 16th, 2009
11:01 am

Enter your comments here

JustCallitGreed

November 16th, 2009
11:07 am

Read Atlas Shrugged once or a thousand times. The result is always the same. Uncontrolled free markets will never solve our problems because greed rules the bottom line. Government is how we attempt to control greed. Just that simple Mr. Barr.

Jimmy62

November 16th, 2009
11:19 am

But who controls the government’s greed? No one, and it will destroy us far more surely than private greed, because there’s no one to stop it.

Mark: Nice attack. No actual discussion, just insults. Too bad you couldn’t raise an actual argument, since life is playing out just like Rand predicted.

Rob

November 16th, 2009
11:24 am

Justcallitgreed… You are right…greed is the problem. Not a greed for money or material things, but rather an ever-expanding government’s greed for power and CONTROL.

JustCallitGreed

November 16th, 2009
11:34 am

Rob, nice generality about government greed but no solution offered. Have you got one?

Hard Right Hook

November 16th, 2009
11:59 am

Greed? Govt. libtards that constantly scream about taxing everything & anything in sight?

Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, meet pot.

sane jane

November 16th, 2009
12:30 pm

Hillbilly Deluxe can always put it just so succinctly. I heart him/her.

The Fountainhead is a better read anyway.

Jefferson

November 16th, 2009
12:47 pm

If a man didn’t have to eat and drink to stay alive what would a capitalist have to offer?

Labor unions are bad but politcal unions are not.

Ever notice how when a man with the “know-how” hooks up with the man with the finances hook up — after a while the man with the finances forgets he doesn’t have the “know-how”.

I am for capitalism with rules. Good working people should not be squeezed and manipulated just so others can sit on their butts living the highlife. Nothing wrong with the highlife, just don’t squeeze those who provide it. If we are in it together, be in it together.

I love lower taxes, but on 9/12 what income group lost the most, you just have to pay for that protection or be happy with what you have left, same applies to the bailouts.

sam

November 16th, 2009
12:58 pm

Turd Ferguson

November 16th, 2009
1:36 pm

Until these dimwits are run on a rail out of Washington then the same mindless, guiltless politics will prevail. Just look at our leaders.

Joe Biden…representing the “hair club for men”.
Harry Reid…booger eater extraordinare.
Nancy Pelosi…Poster-girl for plastic surgery mishaps.
Barney Frank…Long lost brother of Rip Taylor.
Barack Obama…Have teleprompter will travel.

And none of these individuals are really that intelligent. They are just great double-talkers. Great liar, cover-up artists and if the truth were known should probably be breaking rocks on some chain-gang.

These are our so-called leaders? No wonder the Amercian people are in a complete rebellion. Is anyone surprised Atlas has no yet commited suicide.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
1:40 pm

- Conservatives need to understand that it is the actions of
INDIVIDUALS that is harming our country, not the actions of a
collective government, as demonstrated by the real-life crimes of
certain business leaders (MCI Worldcom, Enron, Healthsouth,
etc.) and “investors” such as Bernard Madoff.
Ayn Rand’s novels weren’t so much a form of social science fiction
as they were an argument for objectivism. And conservatives also
need to understand that objectivism is not just a philosophy of self-
reliance and rational self-interest – it also is atheistic in nature, using
rational thinking to deny the existence of God. Just though I’d weigh
in, FYI.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
1:43 pm

- I also agree with sane jane. “The Fountainhead” is the
novel you should start with if you delve into Rand’s works.
That’s why they used it on the now-defunct sci-fi show
“Andromeda”.

Michael P.

November 16th, 2009
2:14 pm

People, just be grateful that Bob Barr has read another book besides “1984″. Even though he still chimed in with his big bro mantra, at least he mentioned a second book.

I read “Atlas Shrugged”. It’s a cookbook! Run for your lives!

Dan Edge

November 16th, 2009
2:19 pm

I was there that night, and I second Mr. Barr’s evaluation of Brook. It was a superb lecture, and an even better Q+A session. The strength of Brook’s talk was his continuing focus on the *morality* of capitalism. Free markets are not just practical, he argues — they are *moral*. Freedom, individualism, and capitalism are required for an ethical system of government. I only regret that this point is lost on the Libertarian Party! As long as you concede the moral argument to the opposition, Mr. Barr, your party will never succeed. I note that you made scant mention of ethics in this article, despite the fact that half of Brook’s lecture focused on morality.

John Donohue

November 16th, 2009
2:40 pm

” . . . it is the actions of
INDIVIDUALS that is harming our country, not the actions of a
collective government . . .”

180 degrees backwards.

The collective government action of turning wealth/money into fiat air-notes is at the root. This collective progressive power grab sent us down the road to funny money. Where money is a joke, jokers will play and scoundrels will gather. Un-collectivize money and the awful exigencies of the market will keep them off the playing field.

Mr. Conservative, II

November 16th, 2009
2:57 pm

It is the individual, not government, that makes a society great. It is the individual who creates the job, writes the book, composes the music, cures the disease, etc. Rand understood this. So- called “help” from the government is just a Trojan horse for control of our lives and loss of our freedoms.

Jim

November 16th, 2009
4:20 pm

You posters should go hear Yaron speak. Ask him to explain and clarify your issues to you.
His is simply intelligent and engaging.

Mark

November 16th, 2009
4:52 pm

Jimmy62: “life is playing out just like Rand predicted” Really? Did you really read that book? You must be kidding.

dbm

November 16th, 2009
4:56 pm

Hillbilly Deluxe

November 16th, 2009
10:38 am

Successful capitalists don’t kill or eat anyone. In a true free market the relationship between rich and poor is mutually beneficial. Even capitalists who lose out in competition don’t get killed or eaten, unless it’s by themselves because they can’t deal with a setback.

Mark

November 16th, 2009
5:04 pm

I am sure Mr. Yaron Brook is intelligent and engaging. I wonder how much time he spent on the Ayn Rand gook’s mantra: “I swear by my life and love of it I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
All volunteers and charity workers must have been enchanted.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
5:09 pm

- Mr. Conservative –
You (and Donohue for that matter) are confusing individualism
with invention.

Invention is older than civilization itself, and it is not an achievement
of individuals alone. Sure, there is some individual effort, but to suggest
that achievement comes ONLY through the efforts of the individual
is what’s behind the bulk of failures our country is experiencing in
the 21st century.

How many times have you and Donohue heard the mantra for and about
service in the military, that it is a belief in “service over self” ?

What we have now in this country is a belief, mostly among conservatives,
that individual wants and needs rule above all else. Yet this is also the main
“value” expressed by the ME generation, as well as mainstream Hollywood.
Why do you think so many actors and actresses shift over to the right of
the political spectrum (as well as a former beauty queen)?

If we continue to reject any kind of collective action, regardless of the
circumstance (remember UNITED WE STAND ? If that isn’t collective
action, I don’t know what is), other countries will seize upon our inability
to work together as a team and exploit us as “individuals”.

No quarterback can win a Superbowl ring all by himself. No student can
self – teach him or herself throughout their entire academic career. And
no country comprised of nothing but individuals can endure. Remember,
United We Stand – Divided We Fall.

YellerSkeeters are PeterEaters!

November 16th, 2009
5:10 pm

How ’bout them DAWGS!!

netkabuki

November 16th, 2009
5:29 pm

Dr Brook may want to explain why he is exploiting his MBA and PhD, from the UT at Austin – a publicly funded, taxpayer subsidized education – to make a living as a financial guru and yet draws a salary of 415,000 fro the ‘not for profit’ Ayn Rand Institute.

He is the quintessential definition of a moocher – a man who does not productive work but survives on the largesse of people donating to a non-profit

A not-for-profit-Ayn-Rand-Institute is the classic definition of an oxymoron.

Do as I say not as I do is the credo of all these hypocrites.

John Donohue

November 16th, 2009
6:05 pm

I am sure Mr. Brook would support the abolition of all privileged positions per tax policy — through advocating the end of compulsory taxation.

John Donohue

November 16th, 2009
6:18 pm

dewstarpath, all this collective past on which you claim current productive people benefit (and claims to individual accomplishment being thereby void)….

Were those past achievements performed by “society?” If so, please forward society’s Social Security number. I want to find him and thank him personally.

Irony aside: there is no such thing as a collective brain, a collective will, collective rights, collective achievement, IN FACT. There may be a metaphoric pointing to a set of people and ideas, but those are still individuals, not in fact a ‘collective’ being. You cannot run my soul and I cannot run yours. Is there an accumulated body of knowledge and progressive improvement by one person over those of the past on specific fields? Of course.

Ayn Rand honors this intensely in her epistemology. Humans developed a rational method of concept creation based on the particulars of reality. This allows knowledge to be passed from one person to another. It allows an individual to ‘load up’ on a mass of discovery in his field. However, there is no intrinsic ‘debt’ to those in the past which can justify the binding of the current individual to others currently alive. The productive person must produce new value in order to have something to trade with others doing the same thing.

saywhat?

November 16th, 2009
7:29 pm

Netkabuki @5:29, you just pretty much nailed it. Where are all the Randians acknowledging the benefits they have received, the opportunities they have been provided, etc, that would not, could not have happened without the presence of the “collectivism” they claim to so despise? If someboody claims to be a “self made man’, they lie.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
8:25 pm

- John Donohue –
You misquote me:
“- all this collective past on which you claim current
productive people benefit (and claims to individual
accomplishment being thereby VOID)…”

My ACTUAL quote:

” – Sure, there is some individual effort, but to suggest
that achievement comes ONLY through the efforts of the
individual is what’s behind the bulk of failures our country
is experiencing in the 21st century.”

I acknowledge the achievements of the individual. But our
greatest achievements come from teamwork. That’s the
way it is – a fact of life that can be seen everywhere.

Going back to the sports example – just because a team
wins a championship or a Superbowl, doesn’t mean that
you can’t have an MVP – it’s just that the MVP isn’t more
important than the team as a WHOLE.

And Ayn Rand was not the figurehead of the philosophical
concept known as epistemology. That honor goes to Alfred
North Whitehead, of Ramsgate, Kent (U.K.). Epistemology
is rational, but objective in that the individual has to have a
multi-faceted outlook at a given situation – not the tunnel
vision most conservatives tend to have. Objectivism (Rand) and
objectivity (Descartes) are fundamentally different.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
8:26 pm

- saywhat? –
You nailed it as well.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
8:34 pm

- Donohue –
One other thing. You can advocate it until you’re
blue in the face, but “the end to compulsory
taxation” ? Don’t hold your breath. This is reality.
There is no such a thing as a “taxless government”.
The Revolutionary War started over “taxation without
representation”, not “taxation with immediate
cessation”. If that happened, there wouldn’t be an
America today for you to freely express your views.
Armies and navies are paid for with taxes. Fact of life.

dbm

November 16th, 2009
9:46 pm

Mark

November 16th, 2009
5:04 pm

Being a volunteer or a charity worker does not equate to living for the sake of another man.
Anyone who works honestly for a living is trading value for value, whether they work for a charity, another type of nonprofit, another type of organization, or themselves.
Most volunteers are getting something and/or hoping to get something out of their volunteering, even if it’s not financial.

netkabuki

November 16th, 2009
5:29 pm

A person who works for a nonprofit is not a moocher as long as he or she is giving fair value for the income.
Ayn Rand approves of the profit motive, but this does not equate to insisting that every organization make a profit.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
8:25 pm

Any team is composed of individuals. It is true that these individuals must work together to optimize their success as a team, but the team is nothing without the contributions of its individual members.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
8:34 pm

The way in which government is financed needs to be reformed, but this can only be done after government is cut back to its proper functions. There are non-coercive ways to fund government. Ayn Rand addressed this point.

John

November 16th, 2009
10:35 pm

Mr. Barr, I’m assuming you are referring to the incandescent light bulb invented by Edison as something that couldn’t be done today. Evidently you are unaware of the LED bulbs developed by CREE in the US and Philips in the Netherlands. You and presumably Dr. Brook are far too pessimistic regarding the capability of today’s individual and corporate inventors. And yes, we need the FDA, EPA, SEC etc. to keep people from doing some very bad things. Speaking of initials, do DDT and CFC’s mean anything to you.

Ralph C. Whaley MD

November 16th, 2009
10:58 pm

John: DDT was and is a life saver, the most efective and economical prevention of mosquito born diseases including malaria and yellow fever. It has saved millions of lives before it was banned. CFC’s are excellent highly efficient refrigeration agents that serve man with safety and economy. Both have been banned on false representation of their nature when used for these purposes. Check the facts before repeating by implication these false ideas.

stevieb

November 17th, 2009
12:31 am

The Thomas Edison comment is typical of the whining “no more regulation” crowd. No Mr. Barr, it wouldn’t be government that would slow down or stop a would-be inventor of a new battery that would yield enough power to make automobiles function at their present speeds for a week It would be big oil companies and the boot-licking politicians that live off them that would halt that inventor.

norman ravitch

November 17th, 2009
6:37 am

Conservatives may think well of Ayn Rand but her form of capitalism is so unreal, so Utopian that conservatives should think more than twice. Opposition to Utopian thought is the most important element of conservatism. This all tells me that our so-called conservatives are not very smart or very conservative.

Joe M.

November 17th, 2009
8:22 am

Yaron Brook is an extremely articulate and persuasive exponent of his views. Agree or disagree, people ought to listen to him.

bob

November 17th, 2009
8:51 am

John, taking care of your own needs may be repulsive to you but many, like myself, have no problem coping without the hand of mommy Gov’t. I will go out on a limb and say you are a supporter of Obamacare and Social Security.

dbm

November 17th, 2009
10:22 am

stevieb

November 17th, 2009
12:31 am

You admit then that politicians, i.e. government, would be needed to suppress an invention. Big companies couldn’t do it by themselves in a free market.

norman ravitch

November 17th, 2009
6:37 am

Please define “Utopian”.

V for Vendetta

November 17th, 2009
11:37 am

Wow. I’m shocked by some of the vehement comments coming from posters today. It seems that many of you have read Atlas Shrugged and/or The Fountainhead; however, I wonder how many people spewing such vitriolic statements have read The Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, and The Romantic Manifesto.

It seems as though many of you do not understand what Rand meant when she talked about “rational self interest.” Such a viewpoint does not prevent one from donating to or working for a charity, it explains a moral way to promote Capitalism, and it teaches self reliance and accountability.

Sounds pretty terrible, huh?

Chris Broe

November 17th, 2009
12:22 pm

Going Rogue is the new Atlas Shrugged.

TW

November 17th, 2009
12:34 pm

Oh, for cryin’ out loud – today’s ‘conservative’ don’t know Hank Reardon from Hank Williams…

DebbieDoRight

November 17th, 2009
1:36 pm

But who controls the government’s greed? No one, and it will destroy us far more surely than private greed, because there’s no one to stop it

We do. It’s called “vote them out of power”. Why do we continue to let the greedy avarice politicians remain for years/decades and do nothing about it but complain about their greed? Like the scorpion said to the frog, you knew what I was when you let me ride on your back.

DebbieDoRight

November 17th, 2009
1:39 pm

Want no more government controls? Wanna peanut butter sandwich? (or a piece of meat, or some milk, or some green onions, or some tomatoes, or…………….)

dewstarpath

November 17th, 2009
2:35 pm

- john – stevieb – norman ravitch –
Thank you. We need more people like you
at the state level of government.

dewstarpath

November 17th, 2009
2:40 pm

- dbm –
If you think big business can’t suppress an invention,
maybe you ought to research Kearns v. Ford Motor Co.,
as depicted in the 2008 film “Flash of Genius” .

John

November 17th, 2009
6:54 pm

Dr. Whaley, my point regarding DDT and CFC’s was related to their overuse before they were regulated. Surely you are aware that neither of these chemicals readily break down. DDT is therefore concentrated in the food chain. Also there is some evidence that mosquitoes are developing a resistance to it. As for CFC’s, their role in destruction of the ozone layer was determined by some really good science and they were banned except for essential uses where no substitutes exist. Usage dropped by more than 90%. It’s pretty obvious that without government intervention the use of DDT and CFC’s would have increased.

neo-Carlinist

November 17th, 2009
8:47 pm

Ayn Rand was a navel-gazing purveyor of fiction, period. Rand disciples rant about the “government” as if there is a difference between the public sector and the private sector. Are the lobbyists who project the (self) interests of corporations representative of a “free market”? The evil “government” and “unions” came about because unbriddled self-interest (greed) has its limits. I openly admit that I don’t know where the limit exists and neither unfettered free market capitalism, nor collectivism is the answer. Were markets allowed to operate independent of special interests, maybe we’d have a better mousetrap, but Ayn Rand’s musings are no more valid than the musings of Karl Marx. SELF RELIANCE is the key, self-interest is a dead end.

Fang1944

November 17th, 2009
10:33 pm

“I am sure Mr. Yaron Brook is intelligent and engaging. I wonder how much time he spent on the Ayn Rand gook’s mantra: “I swear by my life and love of it I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
All volunteers and charity workers must have been enchanted.”

I spend one morning a week living for another man (or in this a woman and her family), working on a Habitat for Humanity house. It has to do with that Christianity stuff. Anybody putting out some effort for something philanthropic has contributed more to our country than Ayn Rand.

And let’s not forget Thalidomide. Thank God a bureaucratic lady in the FDA stifled it from being approved in this country.

ken

November 18th, 2009
12:46 am

Have any of you libs read Atlas Shrugged ? GREED IS GOOD

neo-Carlinist

November 18th, 2009
7:37 am

Ken,

I think you meant to type “Greed is God”. for Rand and her ilk, self-interest is a theology. Rand is inaccurately tagged as a “libertarian” but this label misses the boat. A libertarian believes “freedom” is good. Ayn Rand preached that self-interest is good. Liberty allows one to excercise “self-interest”, and in a very real sense, “self-interest” (greed) restricts freedom (slavery, usery, exploitation of labor, etc.). I am not saying the opposite of greed is good, but let’s not go ordaining St. Ayn just yet.

dbm

November 18th, 2009
8:00 am

neo-Carlinist

November 18th, 2009
7:37 am

Slavery is very anti-capitalistic and has a corrupting, destructive influence on those who use it. It is not truly in anyone’s self-interest. A government operating according to Objectivist principles would certainly ban slavery as a gross violation of the rights of the slaves.

Please define “usury” and “exploitation”.

william

November 18th, 2009
8:44 am

Sorry I am too busy reading Sarah Palin’s book. It is more interesting than Rand and more contemporary.

Freedom Line Blog » Morning Links

November 18th, 2009
8:45 am

[...] – Republicans to Grill Holder on Gitmo Politico – How to Pass a Health Bill Fast Bob Barr – Rand Disciple Spreads Her Word John Stossel – Worse than Taxes: The [...]

neo-Carlinist

November 18th, 2009
8:52 am

dbm, are you kidding me? the institution of slavery is the very essence of self-interest and naked greed (forcing another human to work for no wages, to enrich one’s wealth). Kinda funny how the many of the “Founding Fathers” owned slaves and did not see fit to “ban slavery” when they drafted the Constitution. American Heritage Dictionary defines exploitation as; “the utilization of another person for selfish purposes.” Slavery is “exploitation”. Employing undocumented workers is “exploitation”. Revenue-producting NCAA sports is “exploitation”. The American Hertitage Dictionary defines USURY (my bad) as; “the act of lending money at an exhorbitant or illegal rate of interest.” You’ll find Tony Soprano and most major banks embrace this practice. Now I know Tony Soporano operates in a “free market”, but the banks most certainly do not, and the concept of an “illegal” interest rate is dicey because of the power of the banking lobby. Listen, Objectivism is narcissism. It is a shallow and childish view of the world. Obviously, it is “kill or be killed” in the jungle and the primary instinct of any animal (and we are animals) is to survive. The problem is; we do not live in the jungle. For better or worse we are social being that need each other to survive. Again, I appreciate the innovations and technology that “greed” produces, but Rand’s ideas and arguements are weak and infantile.

dbm

November 18th, 2009
10:33 am

neo-Carlinist

November 18th, 2009
8:52 am

Did you read what I typed about slavery?

Failing to ban slavery was possibly the Founding Fathers’ worst error and certainly their most blatant one.

The word “selfish” tends to be used in a very loaded, illogical manner. Ayn Rand addressed this point. This applies to the dictionary definition of “exploitation” you gave above, rendering that definition illogical and therefore invalid.

Undocumented workers have been forced into a limbo of illegality by laws improperly restricting immigration. This prevents them from shopping around for jobs and otherwise protecting themselves as they could if the government were respecting their rights. The basic problem is the improper immigration laws forcing them into limbo and thus distorting the market for their labor, not the “greed” of the employers who get them cheaply because of the distortion.

Who is being exploited by NCAA sports? The players? No one is forcing them to be players. They are just getting an opportunity they would not have if there were no such sports. The fans? No one is forcing them to be fans. They are just paying for the value they receive from the sports. Perhaps you would care to explain further.

Please define “exorbitant” and explain why some interest rates should be illegal.

Tony Soprano makes heavy use of physical aggression in running his “business”. This makes the market in which he operates very unfree. He is not at all a representative of capitalism. We would have a lot less organized crime, maybe none at all, if the government had never improperly forced anything into a limbo of illegality.

Neither Objectivism nor capitalism is about “kill or be killed”, either literally or figuratively. They are about reason. They are about neither living for the sake of another person nor expecting any other person to do so. They are about producing economically as the means of economic success. They are about basing interactions with other people on reason, not force, and on mutually voluntary cooperation for mutual benefit.

dbm

November 18th, 2009
10:49 am

dewstarpath

November 17th, 2009
2:40 pm

I did some research on Kearns. That was not about suppressing an invention. It was about stealing an invention. The invention was heavily used. Kearns did get compensation for some of the thievery, and might have gotten compensation for more if he had been more willing to hire attorneys instead of representing himself.

neo-Carlinist

November 18th, 2009
1:56 pm

dbm, we’re chasing ayn rand’s tail here. the world which Rand idealizes does not exist and cannot exist. where does a law shift from a ncessity for maintaining social order and oppressive government? Rand’s pinings are Utopian (fiction) at best. “if ifs and buts were cherries and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas…” you (and Rand) talk about “reason” and “logic” as if these things exist beyond one’s mind. Objectivism is a “what if” based on the notion that homosapiens behave “reasonably”. her’s a memo: WE DON’T. and we don’t because we lie, steal, cheat, enslave and exploit others when doing so suits our self-interest(s). please show me any example of unfettered capitalism producing a balanced, healthy society. I have more respect for Tony Soprano than Ayn Rand because he lives and dies by his code. what Rand fails to accept is the fact that capitalism cannot exist in some libertarian (no government) vaccum. not all laws are good (in fact most are bad), but for all her blathering, Rand never offered a better mousetrap; she merely pointed out what she did not like about the one she used to rid her home rodents. OH, and if you think there is not exploitation’injustice in a multi-billion dollar enterprise (NCAA) fueled by the unpaid labor of teenagers and young adults (a/k/a indentured servitude) it’s pointless for me to discuss whether or not college athletes are “forced” into said servitude.

dewstarpath

November 18th, 2009
2:36 pm

- dbm –

November 18, 2009
10:49 am

You know exactly what I meant. It is impossible to steal
something with out suppressing the indivdual’s right to
claim credit for that invention. Kearns did not automatically
go to court when he learned of the theft – not counting all
of the years it took to defend his patent rights in court. You
researched Kearns. I researched the patent process. In its
current form, it does not work in favor of the lone inventor –
it is a long and arduous process that only lasts twenty years,
and is virtually impossible to implement w/o the team efforts
of an employer, legal counsel and/or a team of investors.
In any case, a better mousetrap has to stand on its own
merits, and has to depend on previous inventions to be
successful. The USPTO website (www.uspto.gov) always
lists the patent numbers of previous similar inventions at
the start of a particular filing, as well as the actual document
itself.
Even if a patent is successful, the inventor does not operate
in a vacuum.

dbm

November 18th, 2009
4:45 pm

neo-Carlinist

November 18th, 2009
1:56 pm

We do not say or imply that reason and logic exist beyond one’s mind. We say they are tools for dealing with reality and therefore there are right and wrong ways to use them.

We do not say humans always act rationally. We say they can and should. We also say that in a truly free market, irrational people’s power to harm others is limited.

Unfettered capitalism has never existed. Therefore it is impossible to show any example of it producing anything, good or bad. It is possible to learn something from the mixed examples that have existed if we are careful enough about analyzing them.

Ayn Rand may not have given a detailed design for a better mousetrap, but she did give the basic principles we need to design one. Detailed design is someone else’s job. Albert Einstein did not do any of the engineering work that enabled people to benefit economically from his ideas, but without his ideas the engineering work would have been impossible.

dewstarpath

November 18th, 2009
4:53 pm

- dbm –
4:45 pm

Engineering owes its successes to many that came before,
to be sure. But Albert Einstein’s greatest breakthrough was
in the field of physics, not engineering. And he was preceeded
by the German physicist Max Planck, who initiated many of
his ideas on quantum physics.

dbm

November 18th, 2009
5:01 pm

dewstarpath

November 18th, 2009
2:36 pm

The car companies did not successfully suppress Kearns’s right to claim credit. He did successfully claim credit, although he had to prove his case.

Someone with a good new invention can find investors or another source of backing. It is possible that the patent process needs reforming; I do not claim to be an expert on this, and our current mixed-economy statist system tends to create corrupting alliances between large businesses or business groups and people in government that can produce all sorts of distortions.

What point are you trying to make with your comments starting with the better mousetrap?

The distinction between suppressing an invention and stealing one is relevant to this discussion. Suppressing an invention means preventing it from being made or used at all. It is impossible without the participation of government. Stealing an invention means making it and benefiting economically without paying royalties. Anyone can steal an invention. You or I could probably steal several inventions, with choice as to which, if we were so inclined. But any person or organization that steals a properly patented invention is vulnerable to a lawsuit.

dbm

November 18th, 2009
5:04 pm

dewstarpath

November 18th, 2009
4:53 pm

Einstein’s breakthroughs in physics have served as the basis for engineering triumphs, but engineers had to make this happen.

What point are you trying to make by mentioning Max Planck?

neo-Carlinist

November 18th, 2009
5:27 pm

dbm, ask the people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki about putting Einstien’s ideas into action. seriously, you are proving my point (and others); Rand was a dreamer and idealist. if reason and logic can be used “rightly and wrongly” who defines “right” and “wrong”? People “should” act rationally? were Einstein’s actions rational? How about Hitler’s? Who was more “rational” and “logical” Mother Theresa or Charles Manson? every individual has his/her view of reality and none is more valid or less valid than Rand’s, and at the end of the day, in my humble opinion, Rand’s observations are more fantasy than reality. Rand’s best work was fiction.

dewstarpath

November 18th, 2009
6:46 pm

- dbm –
You’re obviously forgetting the point of the forum.

You stated that “government would be needed to
suppress an invention” (Nov. 17, 10:22 am)
First, my point is that throughout history, no-one has
ever just SUPPRESSED an invention. There is no difference
between someone STEALING an invention and
SUPPRESSING it. Because of the due diligence
required to protect a patent, you suppress an invention
by stealing it, therefore denying the inventor a profit.
I’ve always said – “That which is easy to make is easy to
steal (or copy)”.This is why there is so much software
piracy in the world, despite the availability of encryption
tools. You have to have a high-quality product (a better
mousetrap) not just to attract customers, but to prevent
your product from being easily duplicated.

The point about Max Planck was to illustrate the
relevance of history and how it relates to achievement.
Einstein did not come up with the theory of relativity out
of thin air. He expounded on the works of those who came
before him. Period. This is true of all those who have
achieved something in life. It is common knowledge –
which is why a lot of so-called “conservatives” espouse
things that don’t work or are not relevant to the situation
(flat tax (Bush 43), F-22 earmarks (Chambliss), et al.)
Welfare, marches, SDI, free markets, enough already.
Those that achieve things that are significant do not
spend an inordinate amount of time defending politically
biased views AT ALL, liberal or conservative.

dewstarpath

November 18th, 2009
6:48 pm

- dbm – Also, engineering (especially classical) was
around a long time before Einstein.

dbm

November 18th, 2009
9:15 pm

neo-Carlinist

November 18th, 2009
5:27 pm

A hammer can be used rightly and wrongly, not because anyone defines right and wrong, but because some ways of using a hammer give good results and some give destructive results. It is, however, possible to identify what these are. The same applies to logic and reason.

For the most part you seem to be missing the point.

dbm

November 18th, 2009
9:32 pm

dewstarpath

November 18th, 2009
6:46 pm

Did you read my explanation of the difference between suppressing an invention and stealing it? My original comments on suppressing an invention were a response to stevieb, who seems to think that a corrupting alliance of “big oil companies and the boot-licking politicians that live off them” could and would suppress (not steal) a battery that would create competition for the oil companies. I was making the point that for any such suppression to have any chance of success, government would have to participate.

I certainly did not say, imply, suggest, or assume that Einstein came up with the theory of relativity out of thin air. I mentioned Einstein to make the point that the originator of theoretical ideas is usually not the person who translates them into practical application. This was a response to neo-Carlinist, who seems to expect Ayn Rand to play both roles. Also, please note that I am a libertarian, not a conservative.

dbm

November 18th, 2009
9:34 pm

dewstarpath

November 18th, 2009
6:48 pm

I certainly did not say, imply, suggest, or assume that all of engineering flowed from Einstein’s work, only that some of it did.

neo-Carlinist

November 19th, 2009
7:09 am

dpm, no; I think you are missing the point. there are NO absolutes in life (beyond death). a hammer could be “used” as a weapon (self-defense). a hammer could be “used” in an art installation. a hammer could be used as firewood (in a pinch). ergo, self-interest can be just as destructive as it cab be constructive, and all I am saying (as a student of History), the fact seem to suggest that the THEORY or idea that self-interest produces a “healthy” society has not been proved (beyond the pages of a work of fiction, written by a woman who made her bones polishing scripts in Hollywood). I do not dispute that excessive government meddling in markets or socialism have produced a “healthy” society, but Rand is a typical writer of fiction; she starts with a concept or idea, creates characters and presents a narrative. as I said, for an atheist, her work is almost Biblical, and her DISCIPLES are zealots, who accept one view as “reality”.

dgroy

November 19th, 2009
7:52 am

Zimbabwe…….’nuff said.

dbm

November 19th, 2009
9:24 am

neo-Carlinist

November 19th, 2009
7:09 am

Do you understand the distinction between rational self-interest and someone believing something is in their self-interest?

Do you understand the distinction between the purpose of ethics and the standard of ethics?

Have you read any of Ayn Rand’s non-fiction?

dbm

November 19th, 2009
11:14 am

neo-Carlinist

November 19th, 2009
7:09 am

Please define “absolutes”.

neo-Carlinist

November 19th, 2009
11:21 am

seems to me that your question(s) is moot. as I understand it, the concept of rational self-interest redundant. that is to say, rational self-interest only exits when the individual believes his/her action to be rational if it furthers his/her self-interests. I can’t believe you guys (Rand disciples) can say that with a straight face. back to my point, if each of us sees the world differently (reality) and as such our “self-interests” are unique to our respective realities, OUR ideas about what is “rational” (or logical) are not universal. AGAIN, Mother Theresa and Pat Buchanan are both Catholic, but even they part ways when it comes to ethics or standard of ethics. Einstein and Hitler were both German; but they did not share a common definition of what is rational or logical. inevitably, self-interests will compete/collide and historically, this “competition” has led homosapiens to do some pretty inhumane things. again, Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged and Hitler wrote Mein Kempf. why can you not accept that Rand’s world view is a fantasy; a fairy-tale. frankly, I put more stock in the observations/non-fiction of my lord and savior George Carlin, who opined, “power does what it wants.”

dewstarpath

November 19th, 2009
12:24 pm

- dbm –
Suppression by companies of a patent or design
is an assumption by conspiracy theorists. Progress
will occur whether or not the companies want it. It
doesn’t matter if the patent or desing is unpopular,
particularly with conservatives, e.g. stem cell research.
Another country will pick up the slack. Invention is
impossible to stop, so suppression is irrelevant.
I DID read your explanation, because I obviously
recited it back to you. And I know the difference between
libertarians and conservatives. Libertarians are more
pragmatic (like the religion of Presbyterianism), and
they’re not as hypocritical as conservatives.

dewstarpath

November 19th, 2009
1:38 pm

No offense to Presbyterians intended-

[i] I’m just making a point.

dewstarpath

November 19th, 2009
2:00 pm

CORRECTION:

I’m just making a point.

dbm

November 19th, 2009
3:38 pm

neo-Carlinist

November 19th, 2009
11:21 am

You seem to be saying that if different people see something differently, either there is no underlying actuality or the underlying actuality is unknowable. This does not follow. It is not the approach scientists take to disagreements within science.

dbm

November 19th, 2009
3:47 pm

dewstarpath

November 19th, 2009
12:24 pm

Did you read my post of 5:01 PM?

Maybe we don’t disagree as much as we thought. When you say “not as hypocritical”, do you mean “more consistent”?

neo-Carlinist

November 19th, 2009
4:36 pm

dbm, what I am saying is that as I understand Rand’s definition of rational self-interest; “if you think therefore it am”. Ayn Rand was not a scientist, she was a writer. She proferred ideas and theories; she did not prove or disprove them (beyond her fiction). Her body of work is closer to Sam Cooke (”…Don’t know much about history; don’t know much biology. Don’t know much about science books… don’t know much about the French I took. But I do know that I love you, and I know that if you love me too, what a wonderful world this would be…” than, say Albert Einstein. She was critic and observer, not a scientist. Her writing was infantile (narcissistic). Sure it would be nice to think all humans could be self-motivated and self-sufficient, but it has never happened and never will. So, Rand and her cabal of faux-libertarians can throw tomatoes at the big bad wolf of Government, Socialists and Dabney Taggart’s useless brother; but until she presents a viable “plan” for social order, I’ll continue to view her musings as little more than an Objectivist Fairy Tale and nothing more.

dbm

November 19th, 2009
10:52 pm

neo-Carlinist

November 19th, 2009
4:36 pm

Ayn Rand would definitely disagree with the idea that anything exists because someone thinks it does.

You should read The Objectivist Ethics, included in her book The Virtue of Selfishness, before presuming to say that you understand her definition of rational self-interest or that she did not prove or disprove any ideas.

dewstarpath

November 20th, 2009
8:06 am

- dbm –
I mean “not as hypocritical”.

neo-Carlinist

November 20th, 2009
8:46 am

last comment – I was specifically referring to the definition of rational self-interest (Rand’s concept). as I understand it, rational self-interest exits when the individual believes his/her action to be rational. seems like we can add contrarian for the sake of being contrarian to Rand (and her followers’) resume. I return to the “better mousetrap” metaphor. what did she offer as an alternative? A work of Utopian fiction and fantasy with no connection to reality. just because our “system” is flawed and self-destructive does not mean she predicted. for the last time; RAND WAS A WRITER, and a creative one at that. her observations are no more valid or applicable than those of Bruce Springsteen, Glen Beck or any other whining gadfly. Like it or not, we are social creatures. CONTRARY to Rand’s code, we MUST rely on each other. the 800 lbs. gorilla or proverbial turd in the punch bowl is the fact that the majority of Americans are un-educated, dim-witted, mindless lemmings who have neither the motivation or capacity to think independently and critically. Rand was close, but the bottom line is, she wrote to the the lowest common denominatore (Limbaugh, Palin, Beck, Springsteen, et al) and offered weak and shallow solutions (if any) to very complex and serious problems.

dbm

November 20th, 2009
10:32 am

neo-Carlinist

November 20th, 2009
8:46 am

Believing ones action to be rational is NOT sufficient to make the action rational or an example of rational self-interest. “Rational” means that the individual made proper use of his or her mind in arriving at the decision to perform the action. This definition may be harder to apply than yours, but it is the right definition.

Sure we must rely on each other, but not by giving or demanding sacrifices or using force. Our relationships and interactions must be based on reason and on voluntary cooperation for mutual benefit. This is what Ayn Rand is saying about politics and business.

If “the majority of Americans are un-educated, dim-witted, mindless lemmings who have neither the motivation or capacity to think independently and critically”, then politicans will be chosen by such lemmings and will be under much pressure to do as such lemmings demand. This will result in a very dangerous government, and if true is a good argument for limiting the power of government as much as possible. We had better leave the minority of educated, smart humans as free to function as possible.

If “the majority of Americans are un-educated, dim-witted, mindless lemmings who have neither the motivation or capacity to think independently and critically”, then we had better do what we can to make the ideas they accept uncritically be good ones.

Ayn Rand did not write to the lowest common denominator. She wrote to those of us who make good use of our minds. (I hope this includes you.)

Ayn Rand should not be evaluated on whether she designed a better mousetrap any more than Einstein should. Both should be evaluated on the quality of their ideas. In both cases, it is someone else’s job to design the metaphorical mousetrap.

dbm

November 20th, 2009
1:28 pm

neo-Carlinist

November 20th, 2009
8:46 am

Ayn Rand may have been a writer, but that does not stop her from being a thinker or from being a philosopher.

neo-Carlinist

November 20th, 2009
2:52 pm

DBM, again, as are Glenn Beck, Bruce Springsteen, my lord and savior George Carlin, and departed “philosophers” like Dr. Suess, Charles Dickens and as noted, Adolph Hitler. and I guess we now have to include Sarah Palin in the writer/philosopher. I simply find her particular brand of “philosophy” to narcissistic and a dead end. she certainly perfect the craft of writing (Kool-Aid), but I personally have found greater substance in the works of Hemmingway, McMurtry, London, Dickens, and my lord and savior George Carlin.

dbm

November 21st, 2009
7:42 am

neo-Carlinist

November 20th, 2009
2:52 pm

You’re defining “philosopher” so broadly we might all qualify.

You never did say whether you’ve read any of Ayn Rand’s non-fiction.

JoJo

November 21st, 2009
4:33 pm

It really seems simple……One man, one vote…. The producers are now outweighed by the takers (eating all that Gov’t cheese). Since the cheese eaters have been bribed to get off the couch to vote, the choice seems clear. Go on strike or eat cheese.

neo-Carlinist

November 22nd, 2009
8:53 pm

dbm, do you truly believe the American people “choose” politicians? I do not find such comments like; “…then politicans will be chosen by such lemmings and will be under much pressure to do as such lemmings demand…” as if “We the Lemmings” have influence over what goes on on Capitol Hill or Pennsylvania Avenue. To your later point, YES we are ALL philosophers (save the aforementioned lemmings who feel more comfortable clinging to someone else’s “philosophy” – like for example some disciples of Ayn Rand. I have read her fiction only, and I have to say, I couldn’t handle it. I find some of her (non-ficiton) musings appealing to my libertarian sensibilities, but her delivery (Atlas Shrugged) came across like and adolelcent diary or journal.

Joshua Lipana

November 22nd, 2009
10:20 pm

I also hope he succeeds. Nice article.

dbm

November 23rd, 2009
10:39 am

neo-Carlinist

November 22nd, 2009
8:53 pm

Fundraising is an important part of the incentives for politicians, but it is a means to getting votes, and funds do not automatically translate into votes. To succeed, a politician must please both contributors and voters. If voters had no influence, why would anyone care about how things look to them or about polls?

neo-Carlinist

November 23rd, 2009
4:57 pm

dpm, what world do you live in? excuse me, where do you attend High School? There is no “fundraising” per se in politics. there is the selling or peddling of influence. why do you think Bank of America, or Haliburton, or Merck or Goldman Sachs contribute to candidates from BOTH parties? they don’t care who wins because they own both candidates? the two party system is Tweedle Dee vs. Tweedle Dumb. Polls? Polls don’t mean a thing. Polls simply determine which politicians get the aforementioned “contributions” and which do not. Ask the gentleman whose name appears at the top of this blog about polls, and choice and the “two party” dog and pony show we call our political process. and WTF do you mean by; “to succeed a politician must please both contributors and voters…” you’re half right (guess which one they have to “please”?). George Bush displeased millions of voters when he invaded Iraq. Barrack Obamma is displeasing millions of voters with his impotent attempts to reign in Wall Street or to “reform” the health care system. What any of this has to do with Ayn Rand escapes me.

dbm

November 24th, 2009
10:40 am

neo-Carlinist

November 23rd, 2009
4:57 pm

My post of 10:39 AM 11/23 was to clarify a point raised in your post of 8:53 PM 11/22. This latest excahnge started with your comment about lemmings, which could reasonably be said to have nothing to do with Ayn Rand. Let’s try again on the motivations of politicians and contributors.

Contributions started out not as an attempt to own politicians but as “protection” payments to politicians, who have a lot of power over businessmen. In our modern heavily statist mixed-economy system, it is difficult to sort out paying “protection” to politicians from buying them.

If “Polls don’t mean a thing”, why do they “determine which politicians get the aforementioned ‘contributions’ and which do not”?

Are you saying that some businesses are buying the President’s “impotent attempts to reign in Wall Street”? Which businesses would those be?

Politicians do sometimes do things for reasons other than trying to get elected, either because they are not 100.0% corrupt or because they think they have to or because they have a personal ax to grind.

neo-Carlinist

November 24th, 2009
11:54 am

dbm,

you cannot be serious. “politicians have a lot of power over businessmen”? you’ve got it backwards. POLITICS is about property owners (and I mean business interests) protecting their investments through business-friendly legislation. why do you think lobbyists run DC? of course “polls matter” to lobbyists and politicians, but they do present evidence of any “power” on the part of the electorate. perhaps I am not being clear; businesses ARE behind the “impotence” of Obama’s efforts to regin in Wall Street. as with healthcare reform he “promised” to be an agent of change and campaigned on a platform of “hope” but when push comes to shove, a politician will defer to the business interests that bankroll his/her campaign. so, we get the “lip service” of hope, but when all is said and done, any “reform” of Wall Street or Healthcare will be token at best, and more than likely written/OK’d by the lobbyists representing Big Banking, Big Insurance, Big Med, etc. And as I said, it was no different with Bush. his “policies” were driven by Big Oil (Haliburton, ExxonMobil, etc.) and Big Defense (Blackwater, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, etc.). This is how the USA “rolls” baby. I’m not saying it is right or wrong or good or bad, but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking politicians are anything but pimps (and guess who they’re pimping? it ain’t big business. Big Business are the Johns).

Brian Prince

November 26th, 2009
3:24 am

to all of those attacking Mr. Brook (i feel comfortable speaking for him):

he is living for himself. not all Objectivist’s goals are to make the biggest pile of cash possible. we pursue happiness as rational men. why do you think he is giving speaches to all of these students (who he says is his favorite audience)? Because they are eager and open to learn. Mr. Brook is out there to influence people (for HIMSELF). Why? To live in a society not ruled by a gun. Where one can make a big pile of cash (freeley and without the use of fraud or force), or be a hooker, or a teacher. So long as you do not violate the rights of others.

I am extremely sorry if I misinterpreted Mr. Brook and please do not take this as his word.

dbm

November 26th, 2009
11:35 am

neo-Carlinist

November 24th, 2009
11:54 am

Businessmen just control some money and property, to the extent that government recognizes their rights. Politicians control force, which makes them much more powerful.

If what you say is true, isn’t it another reason to limit the power of government?

Brian Gates

December 1st, 2009
7:19 am

Just finished Atlas Shurgged and it’s the most enlightening book I’ve ever read. It presents the kind of philosophy I’ve always sought, but have never held explicity. Ayn Rand’s insights are piercingly accurate. What the world is experiencing is not an economic crisis or a political crisis, but an intellectual crisis. People don’t know how to identify the facts of reality and deal with them in a logical way. Everyone is obsessed with politics, but nobody checks their intellectual framework. Only when people learn to think rationally will our economic, political, and humanitarian problems resolve. Until then, it’s straight downhill.

Divisionhis

December 6th, 2009
7:41 pm

Advice Demand,spirit main brief remind mistake twice match expect international build door depend appear key take shoot attitude someone new yeah scheme west library better neck month adult dream human expect adopt company here employee measure base contribution nose family partly title recommend walk without question position he single soil secondary form personal total design thus campaign alone record sleep former would current stone consequence belief about sleep academic suggestion victim beneath more touch building water damage like few influence worth large work pay would demonstrate difficulty achieve join appoint past

Robert Littel

December 7th, 2009
4:58 pm

When I was sixteen, I read everything Ayn Rand wrote, right down to her lousy play, and was most impressed. Fortunately, I grew up, and within a year I realized the implications of what she was saying, that a greed driven over-class should arise and horde unto themselves the means for their own survival at the cost of everyone else. It is the justification (much of it after the fact) for the concentration of 1/2 of all the wealth in this country in the pockets of about 4000 individuals, who control everything, most notably the entire Republican Party and a good portion of the Democratic Party. From this advantageous position, they have structured our economy and our government to facilitate the flow of wealth from the bottom to the top. 315 million of the rest of us have to make due with the other half of all wealth in America and that half is skewed toward the top few fortunate of that group, who act as the willing buffer between the marginal haves and the poor (kept that way as convenient pawns to absorb blame for the “unfairness” the middle class feels at the inequity enforced from above), and the truly wealthy at the top. Rand’s piece,”The Virtue of Selfishness” has become the basis for our economic system and those who would use it to continue the sham they have perpetrated and are now fighting so hard to maintain. “Atlas Shrugged” is the propaganda piece to make the believer think that only the elite few need be protected and that because you can steal wealth, only you deserve it. Ayn Rand only said one thing that ever made sense and she said it shortly before her death on the “Tomorrow Show” when Tom Snyder asked her her opinion of religion and her one word answer was the only truth she ever spoke, when she said, “Rubbish”.

dbm

December 9th, 2009
1:35 pm

Robert Littel

December 7th, 2009
4:58 pm

I don’t think you really understand either Ayn Rand or the way our political and economic systems are working.

If a few people are using control of political parties to structure things to their unjust advantage, isn’t this an argument for limiting the power of government?

Robert Littel

December 9th, 2009
6:28 pm

dbm – Oh please, as a lifelong and now retired political and social theorist, I think I have a healthy understanding of what Ayn Rand was saying and how that has been perverted to justify the take-over and rape of the economy by would-be (wannabe) inheritors of the John Galt myth. The government is the enemy myth has been supplanted by the reality that 4000, or so, individuals now in control 1/2 of all the wealth in the country and have been using the government to make the economy their own personal ATM, looting out what they can before a total collapse, which they will conveniently blame on the poor, allowed and maintained just for that purpose. The interpretation of what she meant, is being carefully crafted to cover all contingencies and are in place to justify the crash the ultra-rich (the above mentioned 4000) are allowing to happen because it would take effort to do the actual work to avoid it, which would negatively affect their bottom line. It would surprise me NOT, if the ultra rich already have their gated hide-aways ready (in Argentina perhaps) and waiting in anticipation for the collapse they are planning and hope to leave when they pick up the pieces and start the cycle all over again, in their favor of course.

dbm

December 9th, 2009
9:00 pm

Robert Littel

December 9th, 2009
6:28 pm

So you admit that our 4000 enemies are using government to milk us dry. If government were properly limited in what it could do, they couldn’t do it.

By using the word “perverted”, you also admit that they aren’t really following Ayn Rand.

Have you read any of Ayn Rand’s non-fiction?

Robert Littel

December 9th, 2009
9:51 pm

dbm – The 4000 enemies using the government are the 4000 richest Americans, who are trying to concentrate as much wealth in their pockets as they can, not the “collectivists” you blame, while setting us up for the fall they have no interest in stopping. Ayn Rand was a hack writer with a narrow focused imagination who was probably toilet trained as a child with a gun to her head. If you assign any more to her “Objectivist” drivel, you share some of her traits, but with an added measure of gullibility and a need to have answers dumped in your lap, rather than understanding the world is a far more complicated place than Ayn Rand laid out in her childish philosophy and overly contrive narratives. Following Ayn Rand makes about as much sense as following Elmer Fudd on a hunting trip.

dbm

December 9th, 2009
11:51 pm

Robert Littel

December 9th, 2009
9:51 pm

I see plenty of vitriol in your post, but no proof.

Would the 4000 richest be able to do what you say they are doing if the collectivists hadn’t helped persuade people to accept an interventionist government?

You didn’t answer my question. Have you read any of Ayn Rand’s non-fiction?

Robert Littel

December 10th, 2009
9:10 am

dbm – You don’t read very well, do you? I stated, in my first post that at age sixteen, I had read EVERYTHING that she has EVER published, including her play “Night of January 16th”. I was impressed, because I was a child and had yet to expand my knowledge much beyond that point. I will grant that what she said made me even more interested in learning more about political and social theory and its application to reality. You, obviously, once having read her contrived and childlike scribblings, adopted their perspective as your own, using them as a template against which everything else was to be measured, and like any disciple of any hack pseudo-religious doctrine, you have closed your thought processes down once you found a “truth” that served to release you from the responsibility of further thought. Please, if you wish to duel with me, you are going to have to make the climb to a more intricate and complicated playing field than exists in your tiny reality.

dbm

December 13th, 2009
6:25 pm

OK, Robert Littel, let’s go back to your first post.

“The Virtue of Selfishness” is not the basis of our current economic system. In particular, the role of government in our current system is quite contrary to the essays “Man’s Rights” and “The Nature of Government” in that book.

“Atlas Shrugged” does not say or imply that only the elite few need to be protected. In fact, it indicates that they are more able than the rest to protect themselves if proper protection is not available.

“Atlas Shrugged” does not defend stealing wealth. It defends producing wealth.

If you want me to believe that you have refuted Ayn Rand, you need to begin by talking about Ayn Rand, not some straw woman.

Robert Littel

December 15th, 2009
5:53 pm

dbm – As the world was shutting down and John Galt’s mountain hidden camouflaged hide-away became the refuge of those who, “are more able than the rest to protect themselves if proper protection is not available”, we see that production and the well being of society became a secondary function to gathering enough for ones-self and sitting out a world gone crazy until they could emerge and establish a new order. That view is not far off from the reality we face, where those with massive wealth are trying to funnel as much of it as they can into their pockets, rather than contributing to fixing societal pressures that are leading us to the edge of collapse. I have no doubt that contingency plans exist for the protection of the rich and their wealth in case of what, without concerted effort they seem not interested in preventing, not because it is a collectivist conspiracy, but because it is easier to run and hide than deal with reality. The forces leading us to disaster are varied and monumental, but not least among them is the acceleration of the process by the selfishness of the ultra rich, in their effort to get as much as they can as fast as they can, and to hell with the consequences. The problems of the world are too large for them to face, so they loot what they can get as fast as they can get it, gutting the world economy and when the collapse occurs, they turn around and blame the poor, always and forever, the perfect victim and fall-guy. Ayn Rand created a fairy-tale reality and you are just gullible enough to swallow it, making you the patsy and probably a willing soldier to man the gates, when the rich need you to protect them from an angry world they were partly responsible for.

It has been 45 years since I was a sixteen year old impressed with the scribblings of your heroine, and just as long since I’ve read anything she had to say, because it became evident, upon reflection and wider exposure to the world, that she wrote nothing but fiction, and bad fiction at that.

dbm

December 16th, 2009
10:55 pm

Robert Littel

December 15th, 2009
5:53

There is a very big difference between going on strike and using government to drain wealth belonging to others.

What, specifically, would you suggest that people with massive wealth ought to do?

Ayn Rand does not believe in conspiracy theories of any kind, nor do I. It is philosophical errors, not any conspiracy, that have gotten us into this mess. Philosophy is far more powerful than any conspiracy could ever be.

Big business gets blamed a lot more than the poor when things go wrong. It is not any one economic group, demographic group, or pressure group that is to blame, but rather the widespread tendency to look too much to government to do things. Widespread anti-business prejudice doesn’t help any either.

Atlas Shrugged deals with the role of the mind in man’s existence, a crucial fundamental issue. It does not purport to be an encyclopedic catalog of everything that was going wrong with our society at the time, let alone what may have gone wrong subsequently.

If it has been 45 years since you’ve “read anything she had to say”, then you can’t possibly have “read EVERYTHING that she has EVER published”. Also, you probably read a greatly altered version of her play that does not do it justice.

Robert Littel

December 18th, 2009
2:17 pm

dbm – I don’t buy ANY religion and you have clearly made this woman into one of your gods. Like all moral (or philosophical) absolutists, it is dogma that trumps the exigencies of reality, in your mind. I have no tolerance for delusional superstitionism (religion), or your particular doctrinaire deification of Ayn Rand and her rantings. Government is not the enemy, it is the battleground in the tug-o-war used by the rich to enhance their well being at the cost of the individual and it is the tool by which the individual attempts to defend against this elitist control. At any given time it is in the hands of one or the other of these two forces until the rich gain total control (where we are headed now) until those left out, rise up to make a correction (almost always violent). The resulting correction is ALWAYS blamed on the oppressed victims, who are only trying to redress the inequities handed down from above. That is what happens when 4000 individuals control 1/2 of all the wealth and they have a cadre of doctrinaire pseudo-religious automatons like you to do their bidding. They will cut you loose at the first sign of trouble, if you haven’t already martyred yourself in service to them already. Grow up, you have bought a pig in a poke.

dbm

December 19th, 2009
12:48 am

Robert Littel

December 18th, 2009
2:17 pm

You keep saying that I have made a religion of Ayn Rand’s writings and that I am blind to reality, but you offer no evidence of either.

I’m not saying government is the enemy. I’m saying it is a tool which has been heavily misused.

Robert Littel

December 19th, 2009
2:29 pm

Enter your comments here

Robert Littel

December 19th, 2009
2:42 pm

dbm – The entire Right-wing has become more of a dogmatic religion than a political entity, with deviation of any kind considered heresy against accepted doctrine. When it comes to dealing with real problems, flexibility and pragmatism has given away to blind adherence to myths and superstitions that can be easily spoon fed to the ignorant (ex. teabaggers), or just disinterested masses (so-called independent voters who often cluelessly walk into a voting booth not knowing whom they are going to vote for). For those of us who look at the world as something that must be saved, we have a hard time deciding whether it is the ignorant and clueless who are more of a threat, or the devout (like yourself) who are too lazy to make the effort to try, or too selfabsorbed to care.

dbm

December 21st, 2009
12:35 am

Robert Littel

December 19th, 2009
2:42 pm

“Right-wing” is a very vague, sweeping term. It can be very misleading. I am not involved in any attempt to condemn people as heretics or whatever. You haven’t proven anything about Ayn Rand or about me.

I agree with you that the world must be saved. What we disagree on is what it must be saved from.

Robert Littel

December 22nd, 2009
12:32 pm

dbm – It has to be protected from those who are the true leeches, who always find it easier to blame the victim instead of facing reality. I think it is easy to see that it is the small group (about 4000 individuals) that control 1/2 of all the wealth in the country, and who are perpetuating the “ever expanding pie” nonsense, that cannot be maintained indefinitely, are the ones who will bring us down as a nation, not those who are pointing out that the game is rigged to fail.

dbm

January 26th, 2010
1:36 pm

Robert Littel

December 22nd, 2009
12:32 pm

What the world must be saved from is bad ideas – philosophical errors – not any person, group, or movement.

dbm

March 8th, 2010
10:25 am

Perhaps I should make clear that the way to fight bad ideas is with better ideas, NOT with suppression.