Ayn Rand believes government is inefficient. She wrote book called Atlas Shrugged to let us know. Of course, if you feel the need to confirm the sentiment, just take a trip to the DMV. As horrid as that might be, it would save you the bother of suffering through 1,200 pages in pursuit of a parallel state of utopia that is as unrealistic as the one she’s against. I offer here an explanation of the irrationality that brought her to us.
I had long been intrigued by the cover of this book and the unusual name that went with it. As blindsided market economics grew in popularity, the unusual name really began to resonate and my curiosity peaked.
I picked up her first novel, “We, the Living.” Loosely based on her escape from the newly formed Soviet Union, I was doubly hooked. Meaning, I’ve always had a fascination for Russian History – being well versed in the atrocity that was the Bolshevik State.
Less attuned to the sheer violence, this was a study in how the pursuit of the communist ideal led the country into crippling backwardness. Incrementally detailing the descent, the tragic ending of the main character served as a victory to the human spirit nonetheless.
And if I don’t say, one of the most amazing finishes I’ve ever read. Atlas Shrugged was clearly in my future.
In real life, Ayn Rand’s escape was far less dramatic, but the experience obviously drove her life’s work. Unfortunately, it influenced her to the point of irrationality. I know the feeling.
Not nearly of the magnitude of Rand’s experience, an incident in my life can sometimes suspend the equal consideration that all should be addressed with. Prejudice. I was wronged by a group – an occupation – and I find myself lumping the entire field to the individual who crossed me. Nonetheless, I am aware of this and keep it in check but it is valuable to see how people succumb to this emotion.
Hello Ayn Rand.
The Soviet Union was its brother’s keeper. On an individual basis, the results – at best – are mixed. Playing them out across an entire society is looking for trouble. The catastrophic incidences are too numerous to list.
Thus ensconced in the opposite extreme, Rand’s irrationality remained nowhere near in check but that doesn’t mean “objectivism” doesn’t contain rational purpose. “Great men” took risks and made super human efforts to cross the oceans, build the railroads and link the world together by transatlantic and coaxial cables. And she’s correct in saying that societies often unfairly criticize the virtue of those efforts – especially in consideration of the riches it brings them.
Dagny Taggert and Hank Rearden are the primary victims of the stagnant economic ideology that over took the world. The two characters and those of their literary ilk want to produce and earn based solely on their ability to meet demand. I say, God Bless ‘em
Unfortunately, this does not sound like the present day “destroyers” who brought down the world economy. In practice, too many seek unfair advantage over competitors, and often in at the expense of the public, through the purchase of politicians.
Or they’ll just break the law. HSBC is under investigation for laundering drug money for Mexican cartels and they’re not the first. The government will settle and the fine will be insignificant in comparison to the profits.
Why? Because the banks are armed with lawyers that will drag out the process and make the government look bad. I doubt Hank Rearden would approve.
Rand then turns to an industrial class that has gone on strike. They feel the world does not appreciate enough the wealth and opportunity provided through the ages. But can the same be said of the Apple subsidiary Foxconn. It was forced to place netting around the housing of its semi-enslaved Chinese workers to cut into the suicide rate bore of horrendous conditions.
In turn, sweatshops and dire working conditions go unreported around the world in compliance with a media that protects the overlords. Right here, a Florida Super Market Chain called Publix, among others, employed Human Labor Trafficking practices to increase its bottom line.
On the other hand, the unfettered system of capitalism that companies enjoy outside American borders does lead to the general uplift of those host societies, as Alan Greenspan would tell you.
This sounds awfully like the speak of other Utopian visions. But, at the same time, adding up the pluses and minuses may just justify the pain. Given the unfortunate state of the human condition, across the landscape of history and its horror, all possibly go under the heading of the price of doing business.
Why then can she not extend a similar analogy to the operation of government and the check against excess?
Did I mention irrationality, which I estimate is the reason Atlas succumbed nonviolently to the said dystopia. In this, she’s warning of the most likely manner in which our democratic system would fall to communism. The Bush tax cuts in serious consideration of repeal, we can only resign to our sealed fate.
Aside from the inefficiency and waste that goes with government programs, increasing taxes helps the government dole out political power – thus amounting to poor use of capital and distorting values in the market place. (Of course, I don’t see Exxon/Mobil or the nuclear industry deferring on the Corporate Welfare that Ayn Rand thinks they would.)
Given the human condition across the landscape of history, this amounts to the price of doing business. In case that doesn’t sound familiar, let’s just say, business needs government to save itself from itself and government needs business to save itself from itself.
Despite the straight forward concept, it’s understandable how Ayn Rand’s irrational experience tainted her work. But the Tea Party and all those who think Atlas Shrugged should be viewed as a biblical blue print for all economic consideration – God help us.