Re:Will Everyone Please Stop Freaking Out Over Ayn Rand?!?
« Reply #1 on: 2009-11-18 16:30:45 »
[Fritz]Fountainhead was what inspired me to study Architecture ... as Howard Roark Standing on the ridge over looking my domain orange hair blowing in the wind .... though I do remember the socially sensitive students did want to expire her.
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.
Re:Will Everyone Please Stop Freaking Out Over Ayn Rand?!?
« Reply #2 on: 2009-11-18 22:42:40 »
For an example of the end results of libertarianism, one need only look at the wasteland of toxic environments, collapsing infrastructure, unemployable people and trashed financial system that is so much of America today. America had a thriving economy and strong manufacturing and agricultural base, as well as a steeply progressive 93% tax rate under Eisenhower, not the most liberal of Republican presidents. All of that has been disassembled since the introduction of Laissez-Faire Fascism under the original fiscal incontinent, Reagan, who appointed a Randroid, Alan Greenspan as Lord High Executioner at the Fed, and his belief that "enlightened self interest" would govern the banking system lead directly to the collapse of the US as an economic power (infra). The rusting component parts are now strewn across the remnants of the USA as a memorial to his beliefs. The libertarians recommend fixing it by implementing more of the same.
Historically the blinkers of Randism are worse, as it fails to acknowledge that the bastions of the capitalism it lauds established themselves by stealing land, minerals and water from the American Indians to create the vast farms and pay for the railroads providing service across the continent. American Industry had to wait for WW I to destroy the productive capacity of Europe to create the demand that enabled its development. A war exacerbated by America as it traded with both sides to its own massive advantage, before ending it on terms that left the USA a major beneficiary and sewing the seeds of WW II. The fact that the factories stand derelict, killed by resource limitations and a workforce that required high pay to balance the lack of social security, health and pension benefits enjoyed by all other industrialized nations; farms no longer productive, with soil now dead due to overintensive monoculture cultivation and confined animal operations; and a railway system destroyed, not as Rand predicted through government interventions, but through a lack of investment due to massive subsidies into competing modes and a lack of government support for programs to update the system so that it could remain as competitive as those of Europe, Asia and Africa.
What happens to the commons under Ayn Rand's policies, who processes the sewage, who sprays the mosquito breeding locations, who builds the railway system, who maintains the roads, and how these things are coordinated is left unexplained and likely inexplicable. Howard Roark did not have to deal with smelly drains. Hank Rearden didn't need to buy his raw materials from the Chinese. Dagney Taggart didn't have to compete with heavily subsidized airlines and roads with only the revenue from fading rail traffic. These were details with which Rand's uni-dimensional, monochromatic cast did not have to deal, they would have interrupted her facile philosophical diatribes borrowed wholesale from the Vienna school, and required literary skills she did not posses.
I strongly recommend What's wrong with libertarianism. It addresses many of the flaws of libertarianism in a comprehensive fashion. Greenspan Shrugged? Did Ayn Rand Cause Our Financial Crisis?
Source: wowOwow Authors: Deborah Jones Barrow (Editor-in-Chief) Dated: 2008-10-24
"Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself especially, are in a state of shocked disbelief."
So said former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan in his dramatic testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, as he was grilled by committee members on the causes of the nation’s financial crisis. Greenspan, whose laissez-faire capitalist leanings led him to reject decades of calls for more robust government oversight of financial markets, was repeatedly interrupted by the lawmakers in a contentious exchange that clearly shows the gloves are off in regard to the former chairman’s legacy.
In his startling admission, the former head of the Federal Reserve reveals that his long-held and controversial notion that enlightened self-interest alone would prevent bankers, mortgage brokers, investment bankers and others from gaming the system for their own personal financial benefit has, as the English say, come a cropper.
Bankers ruled by anything other than greed?
Where did Greenspan ever get that idea?
To readers of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s 1957 magnum opus, Greenspan’s hands-off philosophy of marketplace management sounds very familiar. At its core, the book supports a radically utopian political-economic system called Objectivism, which suggests that the morality of rational self-interest, as opposed to religious or government intervention, should be the foundation of the ideal political structure.
According to a short description of Objectivism given by Ayn Rand in 1962, "The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism … In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church."
In other words, Ayn Rand’s theory of the "morality of self-interest" exactly parallels Alan Greenspan’s testimony today about his now-shaken belief in the ability of "self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder’s equity."
Early in his career, Alan was an avid Rand acolyte, a frequent guest at the Manhattan salon of the novelist and philosopher, and those who gathered to hear the litanies of like-minded notables were loosely known as "The Collective." It was there that the Rand philosophy of Objectivism was discussed in the context of current events, world markets and religion.
Today, 40 years after the heyday of those gatherings, Greenspan surprised many with his "Yes, I found a flaw" response to a grilling from the Committee. Responding to the clear failure of the notion of "enlightened self-interest" to stop the cascade of financial catastrophies that have roiled world markets, he said, "That is precisely the reason I was shocked, because I’d been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”
Greenspan’s critics have long charged that his refusal as Fed Chairman to impose greater government regulations on mortgage lenders is one of the causes of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown.
Committee Chairman Harry Waxman (D-CA), in a heated exchange told the former Fed Chairman that he had "the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others, and now our whole economy is paying the price.”