Ayn Rand’s vision of idiocy: Understanding the real makers and takers

Who Is John Galt?
Who Is John Galt?

Feeling lazy right about now1, so I’ll simply point you toward this…

For those who haven’t had the great misfortune of reading “Atlas Shrugged,” the book is premised on the idea that if the world’s “creative leaders,” businessmen, innovators, artists (i.e., the “makers”) went on strike, our entire society would collapse. These strikers hide out in a utopian compound in the mountains of Colorado while the rest of us despondently wail and gnash our teeth and beg for them to once again bestow their creativity upon us.

The book mirrors in many ways the more lefty “Elysium,” where to escape the environmental degradation they have wrought, the wealthiest go off to form their own society in the sky. The rest of the human population remains mired in slum-like conditions, because the only thing standing between humanity and savagery is Bill Gates. But have no fear! Rather than collectively solving our problems, humanity needs a salvific “Jesus” in the form of (who else?) Matt Damon to make us citizens of Elysium and thereby save humanity. These two, very disparate tales of woe both have common elements (what I will call the “Randian vision”): society relies on the wealthy; collective action through government is either meaningless or detrimental; and a few individuals (“great men”) should be the center of social change and innovation. But all of these assumptions are false.

The arts are largely supported by public funding, not private donations. And many businesses are less self-sufficient than they imagine, requiring bailouts and competition between states to support them. Many corporations, like Walmart, dump poor employees on to government largess rather than pay them enough to feed themselves. And who builds the roads and takes out the garbage?

Were the richest .01% to venture out and form their own society, the rest of us would not devolve into violent conflict; rather, without the expensive burden of the wealthy tapeworms siphoning our common wealth, we could begin to solve our problems. So to the rich who threaten to leave New York, I say, “go.” If the rich somehow manage to form their own planet, we can start fixing the problems on ours. We are the makers, they are the takers.

(click here to continue reading Ayn Rand’s vision of idiocy: Understanding the real makers and takers – Salon.com.)

Continue reading “Ayn Rand’s vision of idiocy: Understanding the real makers and takers”

  1. probably due to this, and this []

Randslide and Its Discontents

Frank Rich discusses Rand Paul, and Paul’s hard-core Libertarianism:

Everybody's Gonna Be Happy

Paul is articulate and hard-line. When he says he is antigovernment, he means it. Unlike McConnell, he wants to end all earmarks, including agricultural subsidies for a state that thrives on them. (He does vow to preserve Medicare payments, however; they contribute to his income as an ophthalmologist.) He wants to shut down the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve. Though a social conservative who would outlaw all abortions, he believes the federal government should leave drug enforcement to the states.

It’s also in keeping with this ideology that Paul wants the federal government to stop shoveling taxpayers’ money into wars. He was against the war in Iraq and finds the justification for our commitment in Afghanistan “murky.” He believes that America’s national security is “not threatened by Iran having one nuclear weapon.”

No wonder he didn’t get Cheney’s endorsement; Paul also opposes the enhanced government surveillance mandated by the Patriot Act. The Tea Party is a rolling rebuke to the neocons’ quarter-century dominance of the G.O.P. Only three months ago, Ron Paul, who shares his son’s un-Cheney national security views, won the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, ending Mitt Romney’s three-year winning streak.

With Rand Paul, we also get further evidence of race’s role in a movement whose growth precisely parallels the ascent of America’s first African-American president. The usual Tea Party apologists are saying that it was merely a gaffe — and a liberal media trap — when Paul on Wednesday refused to tell Rachel Maddow of MSNBC that he could fully support the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But Paul has expressed similar sentiments repeatedly, at least as far back as 2002.

His legal argument that the federal government cannot force private businesses to desegregate is the same used by Barry Goldwater, a frequently cited hero of Paul’s, when the conservative standard-bearer voted against the Civil Rights Act at its inception. It’s all about the Constitution, not race, you see. Under fire, Paul ultimately retreated from this stand — much as the new Republican governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, finally withdrew his April proclamation saluting Confederate History Month. But not before both men’s messages reached their intended demographic.

(click to continue reading Frank Rich- The ‘Randslide’ and Its Discontents – NYTimes.com.)

I have a slight amount of sympathy for a couple of Libertarian ideas: the government shouldn’t be involved in “moral” issues (drugs, sex, religion), but beyond that, I laugh at their precepts. Businesses benefit from having electricity, water, roads, and customers who are alive still because of government involvement in pollution regulation and the like; claiming as the Libertarians seem to often do that we should return to the Robber Baron era of the 1870s is ludicrous. If the Libertarians want to live in a country like that, perhaps they should move to Somalia, or even Afghanistan.