Dear Ayn Rand
I posted often in the past about my distain for Ayn Rand and her theories – for that matter those who follow her lead, especially those in positions of power that enable policies to be adopted by our government.
The following link is to an article that seems to sum up much of her flawed selfish ideals
Bottom line is that once one moves past the initial thought of personal freedom and begins to confrom the reality of such a system, it becomes clear that she is completely wrongheaded in her logic. I think it is unfortunate that many Americans have jumped on to her bandwagon and have, in part, led us into the polarized position we find ourselves where it is well nigh impossible to get much of anything intelligent accomplished because of ideological extremes that cannot or will not find a meeting of the minds
“No government except the police, courts of law, and the armed services.
No regulation of anything by any government.
No Medicare or Medicaid.
No Social Security.
No public schools.
No public hospitals.
No public anything, in fact. Just individuals, each looking out for himself, not asking for help or giving help to anyone.”
The last sentence is purely the author’s conjecture. In fact, the other conditions existed for some time in early America, and despite this, people were NOT overwhelmingly selfish. Quite the opposite. I would suggest that when socialism prevails, people become less charitable. After all, we have programs for those things, don’t we?
Now here’s my point: the author says this would be a horrible, Darwinian world.
Why should it be anything else? After all, if survival of the fittest led to the ever-increasing intelligence and ability of mankind, why would we, as a society, want to begin to undo this progress?
The fact of the matter is that less capable individuals, regardless of species, are a drag on the rest. Why should these individuals not only be allowed to reproduce, but actually be given assistance in doing so?
I’m not saying I agree with this line of thinking, but it is the elephant in the room if you want to talk about the long-term effects of socialism. The movie “Idiocracy” comes to mind.
This is where the argument for statism breaks down. To do “good”, the state must resort to violence, all the while expecting to have a complete monopoly over said violence. The problem is, it doesn’t work.
Let me give you an example from CA on at least one area where government is superfluous: medical marijuana. There is a HUGE economy, flourishing, DESPITE the complete lack of any regulation. Any qualified patient has easy access to the highest quality cannabis in the WORLD, tested to be free of all pesticides, fungus, molds, and verified for potency. Why? Competition. Dispensaries compete with each other for patients, growers compete with each other to get top-dollar for their produce, and patients have access to clean flowers, in more varieties, strains, and modes of consumption than was ever available on the black market. In fact, right now ground-breaking research is being done, not with government grants, but by individual doctors interested in the un-tapped possibilities of this plant. Check out “project CBD”. All the government had to do was get out of the way.
The calls for regulation of MM aren’t coming from patients, they are coming largely from people that see dollar signs, and want a cut, or think that somehow regulation will get the Federal government off their back (it won’t).
The author of the article conveniently fails to discuss major projects that were NOT built by government. How about the whole railroad system of Great Britain? Or the Great Northern railroad?
Then there’s the nonsense about non-profits disappearing, and health care. Anyone with google is capable of learning the history of charitable organizations before the advent of US socialism, if they choose. These organizations were not perfect, but neither is any other system which involves humans.
The author decries the oligarchy that Ayn Rand’s world would surely be, but what the HELL do we have now?!? How many millionaires do we have writting our laws for us? More government and regulation won’t change the fact that rich people are also powerful. Sorry, welcome to earth!
While I believe Ayn Rand to be largely capitalist propaganda, this is nothing but socialist propaganda, and only effective on those properly indoctrinated to ignore even the recent history of this country.
after several readings at different times in my life I’ve always come to the same daydream: Remember being picked or a sport team? In Rand’s world Who would pick? Who wouldn’t be picked? Who is to make sure the military remains on task?
That’s what was always missing for me… WHO is the WHO in the WHAT WHEN WHERE and WHY (sounds like an Abbot and Costello skit!)
For USA it is easy.
Follow the constitution.
Amend it if necessary.
nothing else to it.
I have said before I am not a big fan of Rand. She might get a few things right but she gets quite a bit wrong and she is personally such a flawed person it makes it hard to take her philosophy totally serious. However this article is nothing but a series of shallow arguments.
If the authors points were true, why do families in societies without social safety nets, remain close and often have multi-generational cohabitation? Why is it that before there was this system of transfer payments, there was a far greater sense of community and people were far more willing to help each other out. Could it be because now that job has been outsourced to the government and payments are extracted using force? Is it really that surprising that this leaves people feeling these issues are no longer their problem because they have already done their part by paying taxes and now it is the governments responsibility to take care of those in need.
Does the author even consider the possibility that regulation often gives far more illusion of security than actual security? Is it possible that if people realized that these regulated industries are still very dangerous, they would be far more careful with their actions and investments? To worry about Wall St becoming “Let the buyer beware” seems almost quaint in our world of bailouts, MF global looting, flash crashes, 0% prosecution of financial fraud. At this point the rule of law is just a fairy tail to tell school kids about because it is clear that laws will be changed ex post facto, if is convenient for TPTB.
This all reminds me of the Frédéric Bastiat essay called “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen”.
In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.
There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.
Yet this difference is tremendous; for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa. Whence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.
While I do not agree with Rand, it does not mean that socialism in the extreme is right either. It seems that much of what is said in terms of fairness and fairplay gets lumped into a deadly plot that will sink us all in a sea of socialist mud.
Our founding fathers, including George Washington were careful to state that we will survive as a free Republic “only as long as there shall remain any (public) virtue in the body of the people” (Washington quote from the Washington Papers, Harper Row, 1955) Scholars generally accept that “public virtue” can be defined as a principle similar to the Golden Rule, where each man is persuaded to submerge his personal wants into the good of the whole. The willingness of the individual to sacrifice his private interests for the good of the community – patriotism, love of country and well being of his neighbor – defines public virtue. The 18th century minds of our founders were imbued with the idea that a popular based government cannot be supported without such virtue. A concept that is quite the reverse of Randian thought and in direct opposition of Walll Street and the Corporatocracy that has taken control of our country in the name of a bastardized form of Capitalism.
I ask, where is our public virtue in our world today – the only answer I hear is a faint whisper now and then seldom heard over the din of the selfish “me” ranting
So the point of this thread is just to bash Ayn Rand and her work? How productive.
I will just state I own and have read every Rand book, so at least I can say I know what I am talking about. First off, Rand’s books (most importantly the novels Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead), were written for the exact purpose of juxtaposing one of the most extreme forms of government that could arise from the social engineering that started in the 1940’s and 1950’s, against her idealized version of a group of people who held her beliefs, and who were a very small minority in such a society. Rand grew up in and was a refugee from communist USSR, so I have no doubt her versions of what happens in societies where government’ runs howwild nuts are based on a good amount of personal experience.
I can personally sympathize with much of Rand’s work because I see the destruction of wealth caused by government almost every single day. The following are just a few examples. For purposes of context, I work in the operations side of a private school in Central America that’s well established and has a strong reputation. Yet this is the run-of-the-mill stuff we have to deal with:
· Yesterday, I received a notice from the Enviro-Nazis where I live, refusing us permission to build a retaining wall to protect our school from a river that outgrew its banks in a 100-year storm and caused some serious damage. The only problem is, the storm occured 18 months ago. It took us 12 months to get the permits to build the wall. We had to hire a consultant just to navigate the maze of Bullsweet to get the permits, whose cost alone raised the cost of the whole project by 15%. Then while we built the wall, the project was closed twice during construction by the Municipality for no reason. It was finally built, with all the permits, but we are still getting notices (in this case to not proceed – er, it’s already done, idiots), which we have to spend lawyers, time and money on, answering. In the meantime, one of our stakeholders has been charged criminally for invading the river, again by Enviro-Nazis who sit at a desk somewhere and just issue pieces of paper and have not even been out to our site to even understand what they are trying to pine about.. Nevermind the President of the country issued an emergency decree after the storm declaring all normal permitting processes for repair work to be temporarilly lifted.
· Two days ago, we received a notice from the National Institute of Infancy, informing us that we must obey the Order # such and such from the Ministry of Health and give the Mnistry of Infancy alist of all our students and which ones don’t have vaccinations. If we don’t I could go to jail. That is almost literally what the notice says. Nevermind there is no such l;a that requires anyone to be vaccinated in the country where I live, or for private schools to have to obey any of this nonsense. So de we take it to court and waste thosuands of dollars, or do we comply with the latest
government MORON who has decided to knock on our door to see what bribes he can extract?
· Last year, we were informed we ahd to submit an emergency evacuation plan for our cafeteria in order to re-obtain our food operating permit. What are the specifications, minimum requirements, and format for an emergency plan? Nobody could tell us, but they only would accept one from o ne predetermined authorized, official, emergency plan guy, and it costs $1,500. What he wound up submitting I could have created on a simple word processing program in my spare time. I am 100% sure someone at the Municpality shared his fee.
· We are audited constantly by the tax authorities. They ALWAYS find something – it is impossible for them not to. The laws are too poorly written for there to be clarity so if you are complying with one, you are breaking another. I am positive they are written like this on purpose.
· Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Education informed us that we would HAVE to send one or two of our physical education staff to some or othe conference they are having, and thjat we will be expected to participate in the future. Nevermind that the Minsitry has absolutely ZERO power over private schools. The law gives them the right to ask for our list of teachers and for the square footage area of our labs. Why that is I don’t know, but we are bombarded by requests completely outside their authority ALL the time. That Ministry, like all the others here, is packed with aparatchiks who know only one thing: meddle meddle meddle, destroy the private sector, try to get bribes, at the very least harrass as much of the private sector as possible.
This list could go on for page after page, and I could easily add a story to it at least every other week. I dedicate at least 50% of my time not towards improving the school, but fighting aparatchiks in government who do nothing to add value to our society (and whose salaries we pay for!).
Our infrastructure is a disaster. Crime is rampant. Corruption is beyond anything I could ever possibly describe to anyone that hasn’t lived in a Banana Republic. Public services are a joke. Yet taxes are incredibly high, making all things incredibly expensive, and nobody knows where the money goes. Well I know – it goes to line the pockets of a parasitic class of leaches, which call themselves the government who live in exchange for the power they hold over the private sector, and not for anything productive or remotely beneficial.
Yet, this is all “democratic”. Yes, we voted for this, somehow or another. And this is what is ultimately defended when people call for “Public Virtue” because this is what ultimately arises. Every social program that was ever started here started out as “Public Virtue” and of course the politicians still sell it and defend it as that.
The problem is that, while there very well are people who could be publically virtuous, and there have been a few in history that humanity has been blessed to have had serve, once you create the platform for the publically virtuous to have power, it almost instantly is invaded my mouchers, fraudsters, and parasites who are not there to serve, but to be served. Such a class of people now rule the country where I live, and the US is on the very fast track to catching up with us.
Libertarians and communists and anarchists and socialists…. For one thing the extremes of BOTH sides are just s deeply flawed in their conviction that people will behave rationally. Libertarians and anarchists are convinced some how that if you simply leave people alone and give them freedom FROM government interference that they will all trot off happily to be self sufficient.
Truth is we are all dependant and we all are stuck wth one another. You get freedom from government, but what does your neighbor get to help them be free of you?
Socialists and communists suffer from the delusion that if only a strong government can protect the people from their own mistakes and protect the common good ie avoid the tragedy of the commons and protect the few from the many.
Truth is a strong government will often strangle the people. You get freedom from people destroying public good and from running roughshod over you, but you lose individual freedom to do what you want.
What our founding fathers were working on, and did not suceed at acheiving by the way, was a balance of freedom FROM and freedom TO.
Societies are all about instability. Like any other organic thing societies are not static, nomatter how erfect you think it is it will slide too far in one direction and then need to be pulled back.
Problem? Right now we have extreme government control of some things and a total lack of government control over other things. In essence both the libertarians and the socialists have lost and what we are left with it the worst of BOTH systems.
I suggest we try a new “ism”.
Libertarians and anarchists are convinced some how that if you simply leave people alone and give them freedom FROM government interference that they will all trot off happily to be self sufficient.
Truth is we are all dependant and we all are stuck wth one another. You get freedom from government, but what does your neighbor get to help them be free of you?
Libertarians/Anarchists are NOT CONVINCED that some how that if you simply leave people alone and give them freedom FROM government interference that they will all trot off happily to be self sufficient. That is a complete strawman. What they are convinced of is that power corrupts and therefore vesting absolute power with a single entity called government ( as opposed to dispersing that power across many entities ) is a mistake that will lead to massive amounts of misery and corruption.
It is true that we are all dependent on each other, but the real question is does that fact need to be legislated and forced upon us from above or could we find a more equitable solution if we were mostly left alone to work it out amongst ourselves?
Right now we have extreme government control of some things and a total lack of government control over other things. In essence both the libertarians and the socialists have lost and what we are left with it the worst of BOTH systems.
I could not agree more. What we have now is the worst parts of all these systems mixed together with a mass of humanity that is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Not a pretty sight.
WOW ! – I think that Land & Goes managed to encapsulate much of the background of the problems of our day in a few short sentences. I sometimes marvel at the insight forthcoming from the contributors on this site. I agree that much of what we see now is the worst of both the libertarian and the socialist views
Farmer B. – I had no intention os “bashing” Rand as such, but rather used her well defined thoughts to illustrate an extreme point of view that I happen to disagree with and believe that such views have led us badly in a wrong direction. I empathize with you at the frustration you are encountering when confronted by the heavy hand of bureaucracy. I often share your anger when confronted with such obstacles – however I don’t see these problems as necessarily stemming from “public virtue”, but rather from lack of wisdom & morality. While Randian principles might change who is meting out the restrictions and possibly the nature of them, it is just as likely that restrictions of some type will be imposed by the ones wielding authority. The latin countries that I have been involved with are rife with corruption in one form or another, and no matter what system or law is imposed on such citizens, this underlying lack of morality & virtue will guarantee bad outcomes until the citizenry at large change their thinking. My concern here is that in America, I see our collective morality & virtue as envisioned by our founding fathers slipping away into a grab what you can and as my Father would say, the devil-take-the-hindmost – a sort of I’ve got mine and I don’t care about you – and further, I don’t care about our Country and its future
In my experience, the “Bananna Republic” problems stem mostly from the original colonial aristocracy and the evolving power that still owns and controls most of them even now – so to a great extent many were at least partially founded on Randian principles. Certainly most of their rulers for several centuries have been sadly lacking in any form of public virtue and have practiced selfishness in the extreme without regard for anyone or anything except their own aggrandizement.