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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Atlas Shrugged Revisited

I wasn't a teenager when I read Atlas Shrugged. I was teaching English in high school. What drew me into the story was the character Francisco D'Anconia. He was sarcastic, but in one of his rants gave one of the best definitions of money I read up to that time. It rang true. Money is a tool. The root of money is production. Money has to be made before it can be spent.
I didn't like the equation that churches and religion were "Mooching Mystics." I also can't understand the Moral Mafia preaching Atlas Shrugged and the Bible at the same time. Holy Cognitive Dissonance, Batman!
Lately Rand's become popular with the Tea Party and numerous libertarian politicians. They even ponied up the money for a movie, part one with supposedly two more to come. It was ghastly. Talk about stupid, they left our D'Anconia's diatribe on capitalism, the theme and major plot point of the the first part of the book. Without the definition of money the whole movie was meaningless!
I've also seen the movie on Ayn Rand's life portrayed by Hellen Mirren, well as an author I can tell you that trying to tie a novel into the author's life is rather silly. Her real life did not live up to her ideals, yes she took social security in her old age, so what.
 No real life person can live up to a fantasy. For the same reason basing monetary theory and the inner workings of macro-economics on a novel is just plain insane!
Communism didn't play out like Karl Marx envisioned, and there's never been a true Capitalism that followed Adam Smith to the letter and at least they were philosophical treatises not fiction.

Recently I've come across this statement used by Paul Krugman in his blog and as a sign on Facebook which just about sums up the stupidity of those trying to run the country along Randian policy:
 “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” — [Kung Fu Monkey — Ephemera, blog post, March 19, 2009] ― John Rogers 

Rand Paul's is one of Rand's devotees and says D'Anconia's diatribe is what inspired him as he proposed his budget for 2012 in 2011 his first year in the Senate: copied from Wikipedia
...cut $500 billion from federal spending in one year. This proposal included cutting the Department of Education by 83 percent and the Department of Homeland Security by 43 percent, as well as folding the Department of Energy into the Department of Defense and eliminating the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Seven independent agencies would be eliminated and food stamps would be cut by 30 percent. Under Paul's proposal, defense spending would be reduced by 6.5 percent and international aid would be eliminated. He later proposed a five-year budget plan intended to balance the budget.
 Paul Krugman has repeatedly pointed out that his math in balancing the budget is seriously flawed and all he says to refute criticism is "Trust me." How many people would die if this was actually passed and signed into law? But then like Scrooge in Dicken's A Christmas Carol: "Let them die and decrease the surplus population." How Christian of them.

However to defend Ayn somewhat, something that D'Anconia says in his diatribe rings true, but it applies more to her disciples than the "Looters" she was condemning.

When you see that money is flowing to those who deal not in goods, but in favors -- when you see men that got richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you from them, but protect them from you. When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming self-sacrifice -- you may know your society is doomed. -- Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged.

Just think back to the banking crisis of 2007-8. Wall Street doesn't deal in production it deals in gambling and when they lost the gamble on housing they got richer by graft and pull (too big to fail) and our laws protected them against the people who were losing their homes and livelihoods. Isn't it amazing those who espouse Objectivism and deify Ayn Rand are the real looters? 


Unknown said...

Atlas Shrugged is heavy reading, although it was assigned to us in junior high school. It seemed a foreign world to me. But then later, I overstepped myself as one of only two kids in high school who chose to read "Understanding Media" for a book report without 'understanding it'! :)

P M Prescott said...

I agree, Michael, it is heavy reading for high school, and extremely boring.