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Ayn Rand Knew It All Along

March 3, 2010

I will let reality speak for me, it usually does…

There is no doubt that Ayn Rand’s popularity and influence tripled or even quadrupled last year because of the statist policies

Obama's new pet is GM...

Obama's new pet is GM...

and excessive controls of the Obama administration that parodied a fictional frantic, statist government in her bestselling book Atlas Shrugged published in 1957. President Barack Obama and his Democratic-dominated Congress has been issuing interventionist policies that breached free market principles. However, it turned out that Obama’s trillion dollar bailout that was intended to prop up the economy and to save mass unemployment proved to be futile, as it caused more job losses and even hurt the economy so badly. Indeed, Ayn Rand’s best endorser is White House.

So why are so many people now turn to Ayn Rand who died in 1982? It’s simply because she offers the best explanation to what is happening today and the best defense of the most abused, defiled, distorted word in the dictionary- Capitalism. The degree of people’s ignorance and hatred of capitalism explains why there are still many people today who hate Ayn Rand for her honesty, virtues and uncompromising ideas. But like she said: “I will let reality speak for me, it usually does.”

The very reason why I believe in and love Ayn Rand is because of her intellectual honesty. She was a philosopher with no hidden agenda. When she said, “you own your life,” philosophically, she meant that “man is an end in himself and not the means to the ends of others,” and personally, she had no desire to rule over you. It is her honesty and integrity that blast the dishonest accusation spread by her envious, unprincipled detractors that she was a leader of a “secular cult.” These people simply don’t

The woman who carries the world on her shoulders...

The woman who carries the world on her shoulders...

understand that her philosophy of Objectivism is immutable and as solid and firm as the “Rearden Metal.” They simply don’t understand that there should be no compromise on fundamental ideals and moral principles. The series of breaks that started in the 1950s when Ayn Rand was still alive up to today’s tutelage of Dr. Leonard Peikoff, Ms Rand’s intellectual heir and executor, was simply to protect the integrity and immutability of the philosophical movement of Objectivism. Just look at what’s happening to the organization founded by Economist Ludwig von Mises (Mises.org) which had been hijacked by the heirs of Murray Rothbard who are advocating for anarchism in America. A movement, whether political or philosophical, must be protected against infiltrators, hijackers, mediocre intellectuals and people with dishonest agenda.

I am very pleased with what’s going on in the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI), the only organization that represents Ayn Rand and

Objectivism. Dr. Yaron Brook, current president of ARI, and Don Watkins, an analyst with the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, wrote a brilliant Op-Ed published on many online news websites. The Op-Ed entitled “Apple vs. GM: Ayn Rand Knew the Difference. Do You” tells about the relevance of Ayn Rand’s philosophy and ideas today.

Here’s the article published on the website of The Christian Science Monitor:

By Don Watkins and Yaron Brook / March 2, 2010

Washington

The House Ways and Means Committee is now reviewing President Obama’s “Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee,” a bank tax that will fall on some institutions that never asked for money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, never took TARP money, or already paid back TARP money. In promoting the measure, supporters have been invoking widespread anger over bank bailouts, brazenly ignoring the fact that this punitive tax would punish businesses that eagerly fed at the public trough in the wake of the crisis as well as those that did not.

Since the advent of capitalism, businessmen have been denounced for the corrupt actions of a few political profiteers. To help understand that there is a distinction, consider two characters in Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel “Atlas Shrugged.” In the book, Rand describes two opposite kinds of businessmen – those she calls the “producers” and those she calls the “looters.”

The producers, such as Hank Rearden, inventor of a new metal stronger and cheaper than steel, work tirelessly to create products that improve human life. The looters are basically pseudobusinessmen, like the incompetent steel executive Orren Boyle, who get unearned riches by getting special favors from politicians. Their business isn’t business, but political pull.

It is the producers who make life possible: who keep grocery shelves stocked; who discover new lifesaving drugs; who make computers faster, buildings taller, and airplanes safer.

The looters, on the other hand, leech off the wealth created by producers.

The novel rejects the widespread notion that both the producer Reardens and the looter Boyles are fundamentally united by a desire for profit. Only the Reardens, she argues, deserve to be called profit-seekers, because they earn rewards through productive effort; the Boyles are antieffort parasites seeking unearned loot.

But it’s not only unearned wealth the looters want. In “Atlas Shrugged,” Boyle uses his influence to throttle Rearden with progressively harsher government controls and regulations, because he can’t survive except by hindering the competition.

Producers, however, don’t need special favors, only freedom: the freedom to produce, to trade voluntarily, and, if they succeed, to keep the profits. As a country becomes less free, it creates and unleashes more and more Boyles, who succeed at the expense of the Reardens.

America, today, is still a land of producers. Our country is full of industrialists, managers, and financiers who display the ruthlessly high standards, exceptional intelligence, and extraordinary work ethic that are characteristic of a producer.

When Apple was nearly ready to release the first iPhone, for instance, CEO Steve Jobs looked at the enclosure design and announced to his team, “I just don’t love this. I can’t convince myself to fall in love with this.” Mr. Jobs was asking his team to toss out a year’s work and start over. “And you know what everybody said?” Jobs later noted. “Sign us up.” That is the mentality of a producer – the commitment to settle for nothing but one’s best. It’s a mentality you can still find in many sectors of the economy.

But the Boyles are on the rise, growing fat on bailouts, handouts, and other sundry opportunities for political profiteering. For every producer like BB&T bank’s John Allison, who opposed Washington’s bailouts and was forced to accept government money, there seem to be 10 like former General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, demanding tax dollars to prop up their failing companies.

Meanwhile, today’s real-life Boyles constantly lobby for government restraints on their more able competitors. Remember when the überproductive Bill Gates started giving away free Web browsers to his customers, and Netscape ran to Washington demanding that Microsoft be shackled via antitrust laws?

Yes, it can sometimes be hard to tell the producers from the looters. As government becomes more entangled in our economic affairs, even the Reardens of the world are forced to lobby Washington – not to reap unearned rewards, but to protect themselves from the Boyles. (It’s no accident that before Microsoft came under antitrust fire, it spent virtually nothing on lobbyists, while today it spends many millions.) What’s more, many businessmen are mixed cases – part producer, part political profiteer.

However difficult it may be to classify individual businessmen, though, it’s crucial to keep the two categories separate when praising or condemning the businessmen who appear in the headlines and before congressional panels. If we don’t, it’s the Boyles who benefit and the Reardens who suffer.

Yaron Brook is president of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. Don Watkins is an analyst with the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.

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