American capitalism gone with a whimper
By Stanislav Mishin | Pravda.Ru
By Stanislav Mishin | Pravda.Ru
It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American decent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people.
True, the situation has been well prepared on and off for the past century, especially the past twenty years. The initial testing grounds was conducted upon our Holy Russia and a bloody test it was. But we Russians would not just roll over and give up our freedoms and our souls, no matter how much money Wall Street poured into the fists of the Marxists.
Those lessons were taken and used to properly prepare the American populace for the surrender of their freedoms and souls, to the whims of their elites and betters.
First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather then the classics. Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas then the drama in DC that directly affects their lives. They care more for their “right” to choke down a McDonalds burger or a BurgerKing burger than for their constitutional rights.
Then they turn around and lecture us about our rights and about our “democracy”. Pride blind the foolish.
Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different “branches and denominations” were for the most part little more then Sunday circuses and their televangelists and top protestant mega preachers were more then happy to sell out their souls and flocks to be on the “winning” side of one pseudo Marxist politician or another. Their flocks may complain, but when explained that they would be on the “winning” side, their flocks were ever so quick to reject Christ in hopes for earthly power. Even our Holy Orthodox churches are scandalously liberalized in America.
The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money printing has been a record setting, not just in America’s short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more then another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Wiemar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe.
These past two weeks have been the most breath taking of all. First came the announcement of a planned redesign of the American Byzantine tax system, by the very thieves who used it to bankroll their thefts, loses and swindles of hundreds of billions of dollars. These make our Russian oligarchs look little more then ordinary street thugs, in comparison. Yes, the Americans have beat our own thieves in the shear volumes. Should we congratulate them?
These men, of course, are not an elected panel but made up of appointees picked from the very financial oligarchs and their henchmen who are now gorging themselves on trillions of American dollars, in one bailout after another. They are also usurping the rights, duties and powers of the American congress (parliament). Again, congress has put up little more then a whimper to their masters.
Then came Barack Obama’s command that GM’s (General Motor) president step down from leadership of his company. That is correct, dear reader, in the land of “pure” free markets, the American president now has the power, the self given power, to fire CEOs and we can assume other employees of private companies, at will. Come hither, go dither, the centurion commands his minions.
So it should be no surprise, that the American president has followed this up with a “bold” move of declaring that he and another group of unelected, chosen stooges will now redesign the entire automotive industry and will even be the guarantee of automobile policies. I am sure that if given the chance, they would happily try and redesign it for the whole of the world, too. Prime Minister Putin, less then two months ago, warned Obama and UK’s Blair, not to follow the path to Marxism, it only leads to disaster. Apparently, even though we suffered 70 years of this Western sponsored horror show, we know nothing, as foolish, drunken Russians, so let our “wise” Anglo-Saxon fools find out the folly of their own pride.
Again, the American public has taken this with barely a whimper…but a “freeman” whimper.
So, should it be any surprise to discover that the Democratically controlled Congress of America is working on passing a new regulation that would give the American Treasury department the power to set “fair” maximum salaries, evaluate performance and control how private companies give out pay raises and bonuses?… This only affects companies that receive government monies, but it is retroactive and taken to a logical extreme, this would include any company or industry that has ever received a tax break or incentive.
The Russian owners of American companies and industries should look thoughtfully at this and the option of closing their facilities down and fleeing the land of the Red as fast as possible. In other words, divest while there is still value left.
The proud American will go down into his slavery with out a fight, beating his chest and proclaiming to the world, how free he really is. The world will only snicker.
Source: Flopping Aces || Pravda.ru
Is Rand Relevant?
Yaron Brook | Wall Street Journal
Yaron Brook | Wall Street Journal
Ayn Rand died more than a quarter of a century ago, yet her name appears regularly in discussions of our current economic turmoil. Pundits including Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santelli urge listeners to read her books, and her magnum opus, "Atlas Shrugged," is selling at a faster rate today than at any time during its 51-year history.
There's a reason. In "Atlas," Rand tells the story of the U.S. economy crumbling under the weight of crushing government interventions and regulations. Meanwhile, blaming greed and the free market, Washington responds with more controls that only deepen the crisis. Sound familiar?
The novel's eerily prophetic nature is no coincidence. "If you understand the dominant philosophy of a society," Rand wrote elsewhere in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal," "you can predict its course." Economic crises and runaway government power grabs don't just happen by themselves; they are the product of the philosophical ideas prevalent in a society -- particularly its dominant moral ideas.
Why do we accept the budget-busting costs of a welfare state? Because it implements the moral ideal of self-sacrifice to the needy. Why do so few protest the endless regulatory burdens placed on businessmen? Because businessmen are pursuing their self-interest, which we have been taught is dangerous and immoral. Why did the government go on a crusade to promote "affordable housing," which meant forcing banks to make loans to unqualified home buyers? Because we believe people need to be homeowners, whether or not they can afford to pay for houses.
The message is always the same: "Selfishness is evil; sacrifice for the needs of others is good." But Rand said this message is wrong -- selfishness, rather than being evil, is a virtue. By this she did not mean exploiting others à la Bernie Madoff. Selfishness -- that is, concern with one's genuine, long-range interest -- she wrote, required a man to think, to produce, and to prosper by trading with others voluntarily to mutual benefit.
Rand also noted that only an ethic of rational selfishness can justify the pursuit of profit that is the basis of capitalism -- and that so long as self-interest is tainted by moral suspicion, the profit motive will continue to take the rap for every imaginable (or imagined) social ill and economic disaster. Just look how our present crisis has been attributed to the free market instead of government intervention -- and how proposed solutions inevitably involve yet more government intervention to rein in the pursuit of self-interest.
Rand offered us a way out -- to fight for a morality of rational self-interest, and for capitalism, the system which is its expression. And that is the source of her relevance today.
Dr. Brook is president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.
Source: Wall Street Journal
1959 Ayn Rand Interview
"Today, people are beginning to understand that the government's account is overdrawn, that a piece of paper is not the equivalent of a gold coin, or an automobile, or a loaf of bread—and that if you attempt to falsify monetary values, you do not achieve abundance, you merely debase the currency and go bankrupt."
— Ayn Rand, "Moral Inflation,"
— Ayn Rand, "Moral Inflation,"
Source: Virginian Rebel
'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years
Stephen Moore | Wall Street Journal
Stephen Moore | Wall Street Journal
Some years ago when I worked at the libertarian Cato Institute, we used to label any new hire who had not yet read "Atlas Shrugged" a "virgin." Being conversant in Ayn Rand's classic novel about the economic carnage caused by big government run amok was practically a job requirement. If only "Atlas" were required reading for every member of Congress and political appointee in the Obama administration. I'm confident that we'd get out of the current financial mess a lot faster.
Getty Images: The art for a 1999 postage stamp.
Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that "Atlas Shrugged" parodied in 1957, when this 1,000-page novel was first published and became an instant hit.
Rand, who had come to America from Soviet Russia with striking insights into totalitarianism and the destructiveness of socialism, was already a celebrity. The left, naturally, hated her. But as recently as 1991, a survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that readers rated "Atlas" as the second-most influential book in their lives, behind only the Bible.
For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.
In the book, these relentless wealth redistributionists and their programs are disparaged as "the looters and their laws." Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the "Anti-Greed Act" to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel's promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the "Equalization of Opportunity Act" to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the "Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act," aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn't Hank Paulson think of that?
These acts and edicts sound farcical, yes, but no more so than the actual events in Washington, circa 2008. We already have been served up the $700 billion "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act" and the "Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act." Now that Barack Obama is in town, he will soon sign into law with great urgency the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan." This latest Hail Mary pass will increase the federal budget (which has already expanded by $1.5 trillion in eight years under George Bush) by an additional $1 trillion -- in roughly his first 100 days in office.
The current economic strategy is right out of "Atlas Shrugged": The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That's the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies -- while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to "calm the markets," another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as "Atlas" grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls."
When Rand was writing in the 1950s, one of the pillars of American industrial might was the railroads. In her novel the railroad owner, Dagny Taggart, an enterprising industrialist, has a FedEx-like vision for expansion and first-rate service by rail. But she is continuously badgered, cajoled, taxed, ruled and regulated -- always in the public interest -- into bankruptcy. Sound far-fetched? On the day I sat down to write this ode to "Atlas," a Wall Street Journal headline blared: "Rail Shippers Ask Congress to Regulate Freight Prices."
In one chapter of the book, an entrepreneur invents a new miracle metal -- stronger but lighter than steel. The government immediately appropriates the invention in "the public good." The politicians demand that the metal inventor come to Washington and sign over ownership of his invention or lose everything.
The scene is eerily similar to an event late last year when six bank presidents were summoned by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to Washington, and then shuttled into a conference room and told, in effect, that they could not leave until they collectively signed a document handing over percentages of their future profits to the government. The Treasury folks insisted that this shakedown, too, was all in "the public interest."
Ultimately, "Atlas Shrugged" is a celebration of the entrepreneur, the risk taker and the cultivator of wealth through human intellect. Critics dismissed the novel as simple-minded, and even some of Rand's political admirers complained that she lacked compassion. Yet one pertinent warning resounds throughout the book: When profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society, they start to disappear -- leaving everyone the poorer.
One memorable moment in "Atlas" occurs near the very end, when the economy has been rendered comatose by all the great economic minds in Washington. Finally, and out of desperation, the politicians come to the heroic businessman John Galt (who has resisted their assault on capitalism) and beg him to help them get the economy back on track. The discussion sounds much like what would happen today:
Galt: "You want me to be Economic Dictator?"
Mr. Thompson: "Yes!"
"And you'll obey any order I give?"
"Then start by abolishing all income taxes."
"Oh no!" screamed Mr. Thompson, leaping to his feet. "We couldn't do that . . . How would we pay government employees?"
"Fire your government employees."
Abolishing the income tax. Now that really would be a genuine economic stimulus. But Mr. Obama and the Democrats in Washington want to do the opposite: to raise the income tax "for purposes of fairness" as Barack Obama puts it.
David Kelley, the president of the Atlas Society, which is dedicated to promoting Rand's ideas, explains that "the older the book gets, the more timely its message." He tells me that there are plans to make "Atlas Shrugged" into a major motion picture -- it is the only classic novel of recent decades that was never made into a movie. "We don't need to make a movie out of the book," Mr. Kelley jokes. "We are living it right now."
Mr. Moore is senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal editorial page.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Why We Can’t Save the Planet and Shouldn’t Care About the Environment
September 10th, 2008
In order to bridge the gap between liberals and conservatives on the environment, we should look to Objectivism and frame the issues accordingly.
Who is Max Gladwell? If you’ve answered that question, then you know the name was partly inspired by Ayn Rand’s magnus opus, Atlas Shrugged, and her Objectivist philosophy. It’s fitting on many levels, especially as we consider the many issues associated with green living.
My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute. –Ayn Rand
We had a similar ideal in mind when we created Max Gladwell, which seeks to champion the idea that our social and environmental problems are solvable, that entrepreneurs will lead the way, and that technological innovation holds the key. Our philosophy also holds that reason is paramount to these ideals.
In further explaining Objectivism, Rand outlines it as follows:
- Metaphysics: Objective Reality
- Epistemology: Reason
- Ethics: Self-interest
- Politics: Capitalism
She then translates these terms into more familiar language:
- “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”
- “You can’t eat your cake and have it too.”
- “Man is an end in himself.”
- “Give me liberty or give me death.”
This is the foundation for the following argument that the ideas of saving the planet and caring for the environment are based on faulty reasoning…and ultimately undermine the true spirit and intent of saving the planet and caring for the environment.
First, let’s explore the nature of self-interest and egoism, otherwise known as selfishness. These terms have gotten a bad wrap, in part due to the misguided morality that is religion. Selfishness is generally frowned upon, and we’ve even been lead to believe that acting according to our individual self interest is somehow unethical. When, in fact, the opposite is true. If you explore the different combinations of selfishness vs. selflessness and ethical vs. unethical, only one of them makes any sense.
You can live unethically and claim you’re doing it for selfless reasons. Robyn Hood and eco-terrorists come to mind. Or you can live unethically for selfish reasons. Organized crime and Enron come to mind. When it comes to the person who claims to live ethically and selflessly, it is either that it is not selfless at all or else they are, in fact, living unethically. Because truly selfless behavior implies that you are subjecting yourself as a means to the ends of others rather than as an end to yourself. Therefore, the only virtuous and reasonable way to live is ethically and selfishly. These are not mutually exclusive. In fact, living selfishly follows necessarily from living ethically.
Rand describes ethics as follows:
“Reason is man’s only proper judge of values and his only proper guide to action. The proper standard of ethics is: man’s survival qua man–i.e., that which is required by man’s nature for his survival as a rational being (not his momentary physical survival as a mindless brute); Rationality is man’s basic virtue, and his three fundamental values are: reason, purpose, self-esteem. Man–every man–is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life. Thus, Objectivism rejects any form of altruism–the claim that morality consists in living for others or for society.”
This isn’t to say that one cannot perform acts of kindness or make contributions to charity. What it does say is that you are doing these things for your own selfish reasons, whatever those happen to be, and there’s nothing wrong with that. This key distinction implies that you are the end instead of the means. The fulfillment or reward you may derive from an act of kindness is the end.
This is where many misinterpret Rand’s philosophy. Some Objectivists embrace the rational self-interest part but forget about the ethics. What you get then is Enron, Abramoff, and Libby. You get a person who, contrary to Rand’s philosophy, “sacrifices others to himself.”
Though the nature of ethics and morality is a huge topic, for the sake of brevity we’ll limit it to three simple words: do no harm. This is the basic principle. But it should also be noted that morality is entirely a human construct and is the exclusive province of humanity. It cannot be extended to other forms of life or inanimate objects. And no other species shares a moral code because none possesses the reasoning capacity upon which it is based. All other animal species live exclusively by the laws of natural selection and survival of the fittest. Humans are alone in tempering these with ethics and morality i.e. the do-no-harm principle.
What constitutes harm in an organized society is ultimately defined by laws and mediated through a system of justice. But in the vast majority of cases, morality is more about not doing certain things as opposed to our duties to do one thing or another. Which is to say that there are few moral obligations that require us to act. We are not obligated to provide for someone in need. We are not obligated to “make the world a better place” or to sacrifice ourselves to help others. There are exceptions where it is clearly within our capacity to prevent a person from drowning, for example, where society agrees that non-action constitutes harm and one can be held accountable, but these are rare.
To put this into context, morality dictates that we are not obligated to protect endangered species, but rather to not destroy them if it would cause us harm. We are not obligated to develop cures to diseases, only to not willingly cause or spread disease. We are not obligated to feed the hungry but rather to not willingly starve others. We are not obligated to remove pollution from the air but rather to not cause pollution in the first place. We are not obligated to protect the forests or any other type of ecosystem, but we’d be prohibited from destroying them if doing so would cause us harm.
What’s expressly absent from the Objectivist philosophy is the belief that morality is grounded in anything but human thought and reason. According to Rand,
Man is a rational being. Reason, as man’s only means of knowledge, is his basic means of survival. But the exercise of reason depends on each individual’s choice. “Man is a being of volitional consciousness.” “That which you call your soul or spirit is your consciousness, and that which you call ‘free will’ is your mind’s freedom to think or not, the only will you have, your only freedom. [This is] the choice that controls all the choices you make and determines your life and character.” Thus Objectivism rejects any form of determinism, the belief that man is the victim of forces beyond his control (such as God, fate, upbringing, genes, or economic conditions.)
The notion of altruism is grounded in two types of belief systems. The first is communism, where the individual subjects themselves, willingly or unwillingly, to the State for the sake of the greater good. The second is religious mythology, where one subscribes to a moral code that is handed down by God. Religious faith is a morality not created by man but rather imposed upon him. As with communism, the individual subjects himself to a higher power. In both cases, man serves as a means to some external end.
To be clear, altruism is not defined as simply performing some good or generous act. Being a good neighbor or responsible citizen is not altruistic. Just as our view of egotism and self interest have been distorted, altruism has been presented through religion and communism as both moral and righteous. It’s not. On the contrary, for any free-thinking and reasonable individual, altruism is immoral. Which is to say that subjecting yourself to another person, organization, or being as a means to their ends necessarily does harm…to yourself. It is, therefore, immoral. Again, this does not preclude you from being generous and helping others, so long as it is of your own free will. At which point it cannot be considered altruism but rather generosity vis a vis your own self interest.
As an example, take JFK’s famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” How about neither? How about, “Ask what you can do for yourself that, as a byproduct, might also benefit your country and all mankind without doing harm to others?” Doesn’t have the same ring to it, but that’s how Objectivism works.
Steve Jobs is not an altruist. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t benefited from his tireless efforts to build and rebuild Apple. Jobs acted in his own self interest when he developed the Mac computer, iPod, and iPhone. It wasn’t to provide jobs or make the world a better place. Those were merely the byproducts, for better or worse, of his own motivations and egotism. We don’t know for sure what motivates Jobs. It could be money or fame or personal fulfillment. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that he didn’t do it for anyone else but himself.
Bill Gates is also not an altruist. Until recently, no one would have accused him of such a thing. But since donating tens of billions of dollars to his foundation, one might be tempted to label him with this supposed quality. Again, we don’t know his motivations. It could be a way to generate very expensive PR for Microsoft. It could be an effort to build his legacy, or it just might make him feel good. It doesn’t matter. Gates has his reasons, none of which are altruistic in any way. Is he one of history’s most generous philanthropists? Yes. But that doesn’t mean he’s altruistic.
This may seem like semantics to some, but the distinctions are rather profound, especially when it comes to environmental issues and policy.
Despite having a substantial Christian contingent, which ostensibly believes in altruism by way of religion, political conservatives generally understand and embrace the virtue of rational self interest better than liberals. Objectivism is woven into much of their political belief system, even though its adherents can tend to skirt the part about morality, often justifying it through religion. On the other hand, liberals tend to allow that we’re expressly obligated to serve our “fellow man” or the State itself, when no such duty exists.
We can all agree, however, that the continued health and prosperity of the human race is our single greatest priority. And this is precisely how so-called environmental issues should be framed and presented.
There is a chasmic disconnect when a liberal says to a conservative, “We have to save the planet and preserve the environment.” This seems to imply that we have a moral obligation to save trees, oceans, and animal species for their own sake and that we’re somehow threatening the planet’s wellbeing, as if the planet itself has moral standing. Our obligation to preserve the Earth’s ecosystems stems exclusively from our dependence on them for health and prosperity. We need to utilize the Earth’s resources to sustain us well beyond the foreseeable future. As Rand said, “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” We’ve not obeyed Nature, so we’re having one helluva time commanding it.
Just as liberal tree-huggers need to understand that we cannot make a case for altruism in any sense, least of all when it comes to saving the environment, conservatives need to understand that “saving the planet” is a euphemism for saving ourselves. It’s not the environment we’re actually concerned about. It’s our ego-driven selves, along with the future generations that will carry our DNA. And that’s the only compelling case we can make in taking any and all action to protect and preserve our vital ecosystems e.g. air, freshwater, forests, oceans, and the animals upon which they all depend. We have a moral obligation to preserve the integrity of the environment such that it does no harm to current or future generations of humans.
Source: Max Gladwell