Ayn Rand in Uganda

Libertarians should be careful what they wish for.

Social solidarity is the first human law; freedom is the second law. Both laws interpenetrate each other and, being inseparable, constitute the essence of humanity. Thus, freedom is not the negation of solidarity. On the contrary, it represents the development and, so to speak, the humanizing of it.

– Bakunin

Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.

– Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank

The Tea Party protesters have been accused of incoherence, but increasingly, a single cult-philosopher is unifying their vision.

The signs are appearing at Tea Party protests across the country. In New York, one of them reads, “Ayn Rand Was Right”. In Boston, a sign references the hero in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, “Where is John Galt?” Immediately next to that sign: “Atlas is Shrugging”. A little girl dressed in colonial garb is also holding a sign. It reads: “When I grow up, I want to be free”.

The Ayn Rand Institute boasts that sales of Atlas Shrugged have tripled in the last year. Internet sites with names like aynrandteaparty.blogspot.com are popping up across the web. If the Tea Partiers have a guru, her name is Ayn Rand. So who is she, and why has she captured the spirit of rebellion amongst the populist right?

It would be difficult to establish that Ayn Rand’s importance derives from any philosophical breakthrough or literary talent. On the latter point, her more well-read acolytes will agree. Philosophers and political scientists have dismissed her theory of “Objectivism”, citing so many fallacies and contradictions that anti-Rand critique has evolved into something of a sport.

Her personal life was a train wreck. Described in biographies as cruel, megalomaniacal, ungrateful and tasteless, she surrounded herself with a cult of loyal followers. She made a cuckold of her husband and humiliated him in public when he began suffering from dementia. She was addicted to amphetamines. By all accounts, she was not a very nice person.

The key to understanding why Ayn Rand became a famous philosopher in the United States has nothing to do with the merits of her work and everything to do with its utility. Like her political descendant, the gynecologist turned Congressman Ron Paul, she is widely described as a “libertarian” or sometimes “Minarchist” (an advocate of small government). Paul has stated that Rand “contributed immensely” to the libertarian movement and that “all of her novels are worth reading”.

Paul is by no means alone. Other notable Rand fans include former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, and SEC Commissioner Chris Cox. During the ‘50’s, Greenspan was a member of Rand’s inner circle. Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is a great admirer, as is Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas is such a fan of Rand’s Fountainhead, in fact, that he requires his clerks to read it. And you thought your boss was an asshole.

There is a big difference between a Ron Paul and a Milton Friedman. Free Market ideology is useful for the ruling class because it can be used to discipline the poor. While the rich cooperate and receive subsidies by the state, the poor are told to compete and pull themselves up by their bootstraps. It is doubtful that very many people in Washington actually believe in the “free market”. Paul is an exception.

A consistent opponent of war, corporate welfare and unconstitutional legislation such as the Patriot Act, Paul actually believes what he says He is marginalized by the political establishment, yet allowed to appear on Fox News. Why is he tolerated at all? And why is libertertarianism taken seriously as a political philosophy?

The answer lies in its utility. For Paul and his supporters, corporatism is a bastardization of the free market upon which America was built. (The question of whether such a market in fact existed, or is even possible, will be addressed shortly. For now, the important point is that Paul believes, like all libertarians, that freedom is tied up with property rights and the ability to sell labor.)

You might say that Marx’s nightmare is Paul’s utopia. According to Marx, the defining characteristic of capitalism is the commodification of human labor. He described this arrangement as “transitory serfdom”. According to libertarians, not only is the sale of one’s labor power not exploitative or serf-like, it is an expression of human freedom. American anarchist Voltairine De Cleyre called this “freedom” a “mysterious wetness” unconnected to anything tangible or real; others, that it represents the “freedom to starve”. The relationship between the capitalist and the worker is similar to the relationship between an armed robber and his victim. A mugging victim has the choice not to turn over his wallet, but the power imbalance is so severe that the decision is mostly made for him. The same analogy can be drawn to workers under authoritarian communism.

Although it is unlikely the establishment would ever allow someone like Paul to assume power, libertarians serve a useful purpose in that they equate freedom with wage slavery. Their insistence that nearly all forms of public ownership (or “collectivism”, as they like to refer to it) are evil, and that pure capitalism would produce a legitimate meritocracy, are also useful myths.

Capitalist markets must always produce large wealth disparities, which in turn consolidate power into the hands of the few. This power is then used to create even larger wealth disparities. Call it corporatism, monopoly capitalism or just capitalism, it is the natural and entirely predictable end result of market competition. As the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon famously remarked, “Competition kills competition”, resulting in monopoly.

The only way we have of redressing this power imbalance is collective action, which explains why libertarians are opposed to democracy. To libertarians, democracy is not the rising up of the common man to his proper place at the table, it is the lowering down of the justly elite to the lowest common denominator. In place of solidarity, we should embrace “rational self-interest”. The idea that community and common ownership could actually enhance individualism by correcting the power imbalance is not considered, despite numerous studies and anthropological examples, and despite the dismal trade record of capitalist “individuality”. In No Contest: The Case against competition, Alife Kohn argues convincingly that cooperation and wealth sharing are the result of “rational self-interest”, not its antithesis.

Rand’s philosophy is not difficult to articulate. It can be summed up by the title of one her books, The Virtue of Selfishness. For Rand, the very characteristics that human beings tend to most admire about ourselves – compassion, empathy, altruism, cooperation, egalitarianism and other “higher angels” – are actually the most dangerous elements of our nature. A free society will evolve when individuals look out solely for themselves.

It should be noted, at this point, that Rand’s philosophy represents a revolt against human nature. Not only are we hard-wired to feel emotions like empathy, it is precisely our ability to share, commiserate and act collectively that allows us to survive as a species. Moreover, recent data suggests that the great bugaboo of libertarianism – equality of outcome – is actually the single most important determinant of health and happiness in society.

British epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson looked at dozens of different countries and measured them on the basis of life expectancy, mental illness, teen birthrates, violence, the percent of populations in prison, drug use, and other factors. What he found was surprising. It wasn’t material wealth or social mobility that created happiness; it was the relative equality of people living in each nation.

In The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, co-written with Kate Pickett, Wilkinson details the “pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, encouraging excessive consumption.”

In fact, in more unequal societies, these problems aren’t higher by ten or twenty percent. There are perhaps eight times the number of teenage births per capita, ten times the homicide rate, three times the rate of mental illness. Huge differences.

If happiness has something to do with freedom, then not only are libertarians barking up the wrong tree, they’re not even in the right forest.

Whence Rand’s bizarre philosophy? It is likely that she developed her ideas in response to events in her own life. In many ways, she was a child of the Bolshevik revolution. Growing up as a privileged member of Czarist society, she witnessed the expropriation of her father’s factory by the state. It was not uncommon in Czarist Russia for children to be permitted to whip their adult servants. For Rand to see the master-slave relationship turned upside down would have been deeply distressing.

It is also likely that Rand, were she alive today, would be diagnosed as a sociopath. Indeed, she expressed open admiration for a serial killer active during her lifetime.

After William Edward Hickman kidnapped and dismembered a 12-year-old girl, she wrote admiringly of the state of mind that could engage in such an atrocity:

Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should”. Hickman had “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.’

As noted by Mark Ames in his article on the subject: “This echoes almost word for word Rand’s later description of her character Howard Roark, the hero of her novel The Fountainhead: ‘He was born without the ability to consider others.’”

How could so many Americans have come to embrace Ayn Rand? Especially considering that her philosophy is diametrically opposed to the message of Jesus Christ? The answer lies in the evolution of the “libertarian” movement.

Many American readers will be surprised to learn that the term “libertarian” was originally used to describe a specific strain of socialism. In America, the word first appeared in an article published by the French anarchist Joseph Dejacque. “Libertarianism” has traditionally referred to anarchism, sometimes described as “libertarian socialism” or “participatory democracy”. Its appropriation by advocates of free market capitalism has caused considerable consternation in anarchist circles.

If Ayn Rand is the most visible and widely read figure in the libertarian movement, the economic justification for “free market capitalism” has its roots in what is commonly described as the “Austrian School”. Leading proponents have included Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard and Friedrich Hayek. Rothbard, the founder of the modern libertarian movement in the United States, described his meeting with Ayn Rand as “akin to being Icarus, and flying too close to the sun.”

Like Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, the Austrian school has emerged as the proverbial punching bag of political scientists across the spectrum.

Feminist Susan Moller Okin demonstrated that Nozick’s theory of rights and rule of acquisition “results in children being non-persons owned by their mother.” Mike O’Mara points out that, in principle, there is very little difference between a land lord and a tax collector: “In cases where the origins of such constitutions or deeds were based on confiscation of territory, does the passage of time eventually make them legitimate?”

Anarchist firebrand Bob Black remarked of the libertarian’s theoretical opposition to coercion that

To demonize state authoritarianism while ignoring identical albeit contract-consecrated subservient arrangements in the large-scale corporations which control the world economy is fetishism at its worst…Your foreman or supervisor gives you more or-else orders in a week than the police do in a decade.

The problem of land ownership is particularly acute for libertarians. Since libertarianism is defined by property and the “freedom” this entails, the question of who should own what and by which set of criteria becomes something of a conundrum.

Ayn Rand solved the problem by avoiding it. Using the equation A = A, she said, in essence, what is is. If there were a mathematical equivalent of “let them eat cake”, this would be it.

There are so many problems with libertarianism that it would require a set of encyclopedias to elucidate them. It should be sufficient to note that were a theoretical “free market” ever to come into existence, it would quickly succumb to monopoly. Capitalism has never existed without a strong state to protect wealth disparities and maintain stability in markets, nor could it, for the simple reason that most human beings resent hierarchical relationships and will always act collectively to oppose them. Orwell dismissed the libertarians as follows:

[What Hayek] does not see, or will not admit, [is] that a return to “free” competition means for the great mass of people a tyranny probably worse, because more irresponsible, than that of the State. The trouble with competitions is that somebody wins them.

In the absence of rational or moral justification for much of what constitutes property ownership, many libertarians recede to the bosom of the Founding Fathers. A great many liberal scholars have stressed the fallacy of viewing the Founders as “libertarians”, yet there is perhaps more in common with the two groups than many would like to admit.

There is very little difference between Ayn Rand’s comment that the United States should be a “democracy of superiors only” and John Jay’s remark that the “People who own the country aught to govern it”. Madison’s statement that a primary purpose of government is to “protect the minority of the opulent against the majority” is similar to the libertarian concept that the state’s role should be limited primarily to self-defense and the enforcement of property contracts. Alexander Hamilton’s reference to the people as a “great beast” needing to be tamed by the forces of law and order approximates Ayn Rand’s dismissal of the mass of humanity as “parasites”, “refuse” and “imitations of living beings”.

In two notable instances, however, the founding father-libertarian relationship breaks down.

A popular quotation (often attributed to Ben Franklin) amongst libertarians is that “democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner”. Viewed through the prism of “representative” democracy under capitalism, this makes a certain amount of sense. Yet Franklin also remarked that:

[In Native American society] all property, indeed, except the savage’s temporary cabin, his bow, his matchcoat and other little Acquisitions absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the creature of public Convention. Hence, the public has the rights of regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the quantity and uses of it. All the property that is necessary to a man is his natural Right, which none may justly deprive him of, but all Property superfluous to such Purposes is the property of the Public who, by their Laws have created it and who may, by other Laws dispose of it.

Thomas Jefferson also noticed the relationship between common ownership and freedom of the individual. Employing the wolf/sheep metaphor in a different sense, he contrasted Native American society to that of Europe:

“Under presence of governing, [Europeans] have divided their nations into two classes, wolves and sheep”. Whereas, amongst Native Americans:

Every man, with them, is perfectly free to follow his own inclinations. But if, in doing this, he violates the rights of another, if the case be slight, he is punished by the disesteem of society…Whenever there is, in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so extended as to violate natural right.

The reference to property and “natural rights” is especially interesting in this respect, since libertarianism equates inviolable property “rights” to “natural rights”. Jefferson turns the equation upside down. When the “laws of property” have been “so extended”, the “natural rights” of man become non-existent.

Ayn Rand was notoriously, embarrassingly ignorant of anthropology. Speaking of Native Americans, she remarked:

They didn’t have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using …. What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their ‘right’ to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or a few caves above it. Any white person who brings the element of civilization has the right to take over this continent.

So much for property rights.

She loved bad architecture as much as she hated Native Americans.

“I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York’s skyline. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need?”

More than one commenter has remarked on the disturbingly Stalinist vibe one draws from Ayn Rand’s descriptions of architecture. Comparing the Fountainhead’s architect Howard Roark to Le Corbusier, Anthony Daniels writes: “The very idea that a house ‘needs’ things while the desires of human beings can be disregarded is one that would occur only to someone with a reptilian mind.”

Would a pure “free market” resemble Stalinism? Is modern day America an example of the logical endpoint of libertarianism? Yes and no.

Libertarianism evolved as a revolt against socialism. The United States has never had anything approaching a “free market”, yet the myth of “rugged individualism” is essential to the American dream. If communism was the height of tyranny, then pure individualism would be the height of freedom. In the 20th century the American ethos was characterized by what Dr. King described as a “morbid fear of communism”. Thus did libertarianism evolve as the logical alternative. The problem isn’t free market philosophy, it’s not enough free market philosophy. The solution to the health care crisis isn’t that the government is failing to provide for its citizens, it’s that the government is involved in health care at all. The solution to the failure of privatization is more privatization. And so on.

What would such a society look? Since any “free market” would quickly produce monopoly and statism, we are only able to catch glimpses of Ayn Rand’s utopia. For example, Howard Zinn notes of Colorado mining towns at the turn of the century that:

“Each mining camp was a feudal dominion, with the company acting as lord and master. Every camp had a marshal, a law enforcement officer paid by the company. The ‘laws’ were the company’s rules. Curfews were imposed, ‘suspicious’ strangers were not allowed to visit the homes, the company store had a monopoly on goods sold in the camp. The doctor was a company doctor, the schoolteachers hired by the company … Political power in Colorado rested in the hands of those who held economic power. This meant that the authority of Colorado Fuel & Iron and other mine operators was virtually supreme … Company officials were appointed as election judges. Company-dominated coroners and judges prevented injured employees from collecting damages.” [The Colorado Coal Strike, 1913-14, p. 9-11]

Yet there is an even better example.

In his classic study, The Mountain People, anthropologist Colin Turnbull describes a society ruled by naked self-interest. It makes for supremely disturbing reading.

The Ik people in Northern Uganda, displaced from their traditional hunting grounds and forced to exist in extreme poverty, devolved into a society in name only. Children were forced out at the age of three and made to fend for themselves; intricate fences were built around each home; the elderly were mocked as they were dying; theft, rather than sharing, became the rule; family members were robbed by other family members; displeasure was expressed by Ik defecating on one another’s doorstep; people were held down and made to vomit so that others could eat their vomit.

What is perhaps most disturbing is that the Ik did not abandon their society of “rational self-interest” after returning to comparative plenty. According to Turnbull:

I learned a few other new things, but the main objective was accomplished far more readily, for it was obvious from the outset that nothing had really changed due to the sudden glut of food, except to cause inter-personal relationships to deteriorate still further if possible, and heighten Icien individualism beyond what I would have thought even Ik to be capable of. If they had been mean and greedy and selfish before with nothing to be mean and greedy and selfish over, now that they had something they really excelled themselves in what would be an insult to animals to call bestiality.

In his closing remarks, Turnbull explicitly compared the devolution of Ik society to that of our own.

The individualism that is preached with a curious fanaticism, heightened by our ever growing emphasis on competitive sports, the more violent the better, and suicidal recreations, is of course at direct variance with our still proclaimed social ideals, but we ignore that, for we are already individuals at heart and society has become a game that we play in our old age, to remind us of our childhood.

We would be wise to consider the example of the Ik, and whether this is where we want to go as a society. Ayn Rand’s belief that true freedom could only obtained by “setting men free from men”, by abolishing the idea of a “public” or, in Ms. Thatcher’s words, of “society” itself, is not only absurd, it is profoundly dangerous. There is no reason to believe that Western society could not become even more barbarous than that of the Ik. We are well on our way.

Scott Noble is a documentary filmmaker and wage slave. His films are available at his website Metanoia-Films.org. Read other articles by Scott.

117 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Charlie said on March 13th, 2010 at 10:29am #

    I don’t know how anyone can read Atlas Shrugged and not remember Dorothy Parker’s quip (about some other work), “This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

  2. Don Hawkins said on March 13th, 2010 at 11:29am #

    Scott very nice and progress on that new way of thinking. Did anybody happen to notice the rain in the Northeast US climate change of course not that’s still 100 years away maybe even if it is real.

    The last major glacial thaw was 10,000 years ago, which means that the Earth is scheduled to head into another ice age. Whether human influences could reverse this, Huybers was hesitant to speculate. Other researchers have found evidence that the process of climate warming can set up conditions that create a global chill.

    “What we have here is a great laboratory for seeing how climate changes naturally,” he said. “But this is a 100,000-year cycle, whereas global warming is happening a thousand times faster.” science

    Humm 10,000 years ago and 100,000-year cycle and global warming is happening a thousand times faster. The last major glacial thaw was 10,000 years ago. The number they didn’t mention was the little fact we are now putting CO 2 into the atmosphere at about 10,000 times the natural rate. Can you do the math? A great laboratory and the grand experiment. Oh yes watch your parking meters and listen to your leaders who I might add come from all walk’s of life on the third planet from the Sun not just policy makers a question what is the roll of money in politics and that is exactly what a few want to bring back to normal small government a controlled government it’s just better that way am not to sure of that. One thing for sure human’s are now in control of the climate if nothing else. Can I have a cup of coffee please strong.

  3. Don Hawkins said on March 13th, 2010 at 12:07pm #

    Did anybody happen to see Glenn Beck on Fox New’s all those highly intelligent people and the show he did on what are children are learning in school these day’s? He said our kid’s are learning that the Earth is over human’s left wing radical Al Gore stuff. Brilliant Glenn because as we all know human’s are now over the Earth sort of he read the founding fathers more than once am sure. USA USA drill baby drill. What would Ayn Rand do or George Washington we have to ask ouselves these questions and why do we need to do that it’s the right thing to do.

  4. bozh said on March 13th, 2010 at 1:59pm #

    Teorists today do theorize a lot, but never, as far as i know, ab the most important phenomeon: that humans of 100- 20k/10 yrs ago may have not theorized as people do now at all; yet survived; so that we can have such bastards today.
    If they had any theories, they were probably ab spirits-gods’ will to make people sick or end life or causing some miseries.

    And, nevertheless, gone on with surviving. And in order to survive, they cld have not had such iniquitous societies as we’ve had for the last 12 to 8 k yrs ago.
    It is a bit puzzling to me that one wld leave out evaluation of the present iniquitous societies on life of the poor people???

    That US society is an extremely unjust society can be seen with naked eye. To which one can, at least in theory, attribute all societal ills: wife beating, pedophillia, theft, one party system of rule, drugs, anger, stressors, loneliness, selfblame and self belitelments, warfare, cult of personality, constant warring, cia terror, miseducation, schooling; denial of right to healthcare and education/right to be informed, etc.

    Do i care what ron paul or ayn rand say if they leave out our true or quite realistic analyses which i have just posited. By “our”, i meant that of a minority of people and not solely mine!
    Majority of peope in US cannot come up with such an analyses because their ‘teachers’ render them semanticly blind to see the obvious. I, too, had been quite blind; so i know, what it is to finally just look and see; that’s all that is needed!
    No MSM medium had ever printed such an analyses. Why? Do i need to explain? I’ve written to US msm hundreds of letters but none ever appeared.
    That is just another proof that that analyses are correct! tnx

  5. Hue Longer said on March 13th, 2010 at 3:53pm #

    Great Read…

    Hollywood really helped her PR

  6. John Donohue said on March 13th, 2010 at 5:27pm #

    “Ayn Rand was notoriously, embarrassingly ignorant of anthropology. Speaking of Native Americans, she remarked:
    [...Rand's quote...]
    So much for property rights.”

    Do you claim that the existing humans living in what is now the United States owned the entirety of that territory? Please give your estimate of the count of humans living in that exact space in 1492.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain said on March 14th, 2010 at 12:13am #

    That was an interesting quotation from Orwell. Of course competition,increasingly contrived and rigged, has nothing to do with achieving the optimum results. That is one of the robopaths’ more transparent lies. Competition is about dividing humanity into winners and losers, as few winners taking as much as possible,and as many losers, getting less and less, as tolerable. Rand was clearly a psychopath, as is plain from her admiration of the child-killer, and devotion to her hate-driven psychopathology clearly requires being of similar bent. The driving force of all ideology known,euphemistically, as ‘Rightwing’ is fear, dread and hatred, to varying degrees, of other people. Capitalism is simply the playing out in social relations of hatred of other people.
    It will be quite a coup if the forces behind the Tea Party lynch-mob (wouldn’t they just love to string Obama up on the White House lawn!) manage to infect the rabble with Randism. After all they are the very ‘moochers’ Rand so detested,and whose current economic distress was so carefully and meticulously plotted by Randians like Greenspan and all the other market fundamentalist psychopaths. Of course a society where large numbers rage against the provision of basic healthcare for the poorest. the normal everyday reality in more civilised, humane, societies, is morally and spiritually moribund, and we must add to that the barbarity of its foreign punitive expeditions (500,000 dead children in Iraq a price that was ‘worth it’ according to Madeleine Albright) and the unbroken history of interference around the world to ensure that economic policies based on the exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few, overseen by a grisly sequence of barbarous monsters from Pinochet to Suharto, all loyal, grovelling toadies of the Great Satan.
    I think that in reality Rand simply says what the parasite elites think,only in slightly hyperbolic form. Clearly her psychopathy is unadorned, whereas that of the parasitic ruling class that still has the planet under its boot, is more circumspect.But with both we have a clear manifestation not just of hatred for others, along class, race, gender and even generational lines, and the readiness, indeed eagerness, to act in ways detrimental to others’ lives, but a more general hatred of everything outside the individual, atomised, ego.After all the capitalist fundamentalist has no qualms whatsoever over destroying the natural world, and as the present upsurge in business directed climate change denialism shows, the pathologically avaricious do not care what happens after they are dead.
    All in all Rand, a derided fringe figure for so long, is just the philosopher-queen one needs to symbolise an era of human self-destruction driven by a tiny, greedy elite, fiercely hate-filled towards the rest of humanity if not existence, deluded by their spiritual illness into seeing themselves as a ‘Chosen’ elite set above the rest of humanity who they despise and would be happy to see exterminated. That, I fear, will be the next development,and it is getting a trial run in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza.

  8. siamdave said on March 14th, 2010 at 2:11am #

    - as for where is John Galt, he can be found on Green Island these days, where he went once he grew up, as do more intelligent children, and understood the shallowness of selfishness as a creed. All adults welcome – Green Island http://www.rudemacedon.ca/greenisland.html – government truly of, by and for We the People. Capitalist parasites not welcome.

  9. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2010 at 4:35am #

    Mulga it must drive these so called leaders we have today crazy they are no longer in control and yes like in the past if they can’t have what they want well this time the whole of life goes with them. That little bit bigger brain we humans have appears just enough to destroy ourselves. It is strange to watch here in the States a system and the people who want to keep that system going and how they do that. A couple of things they don’t use knowledge the real thing, reason, wisdom, imagination and do the people the average person see this oh yes they sure do. I have to admit what we see is so far from the truth it boggles the mind. Trying to hold on to an old way of thinking that got us to this point masters of the Universe I think not light years away am going out with all the marbles sure you are that fashion show in Paris where they flew in an iceberg tells a little story of just how far we have not come in 5k years or so. This summer and then the winter will show us much more and we almost there still time maybe and again that little bit bigger brain light years away. It appears we have the knowledge but can’t use it for some strange reason.

  10. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2010 at 5:13am #

    http://www.freep.com/article/20100314/FEATURES01/3140319/1025/Features/Climate-change-chic

    Here’s an article from the Detroit free press who are in the eye of the storm so to speak of our dear system. Very sure a few will find this shocking unamerican the very laws of nature and all done with that little bit bigger brain. Again we have the knowledge but for some strange reason can’t use it and let us turn on the TV new’s for another fashion show as we all go down the drain in not such slow motion but at least a few will be well dressed special in the known Universe. I wonder what will be the new spring fashion when the you know what hit’s the fan in a blink of an eye in human terms. It’s just better that way oh really. The free press an interesting concept and just that a concept and granted anything can be carried to far and it looks like a few do just that.

  11. oulawyer said on March 14th, 2010 at 7:43am #

    Good Article. The only issue I have is that you you called Ron Paul a Senator when he’s actually a Representative. Otherwise you do a great job of showing the logical incoherence of the Rand/Libertarianism/Free Market Fundamentalism movement. It seems especially odd that these ideas are so strong in a nation that still tries to call itself Christian.

  12. Rupert Pupkin said on March 14th, 2010 at 9:04am #

    The philosophy of libertarianism is the idea that physical force should be abolished from human relations. Anytime the government tries to “engineer” society, it must use threats of violence to attain this goal. Say, for example, it wants to build public housing. It must threaten people with jail time at the point of a gun if they don’t contribute money in taxes to pay for such a thing. If anyone is tyrannical, it is the people who support violence to attain political goals.

    There are extensive scholarly writings by serious economists addressing all of the economic criticisms of libertarianism that you make. For example, your idea that “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer” under capitalism has been proven false again and again. Your idea that there is a tendency toward monopoly under capitalism has been proven false. The problem of land ownership has also been addressed exhaustively by libertarians

    Your basic outlook on capitalism is basically, textbook Marxism. For example, you view the employee/employer relationship as if it were the same thing as the slave/master relationship. You paraphrase the Marxian Exploitation Theory in glowing terms. You repeat the same economic fallacies that have been proven wrong a thousand times. It is a shame that Marxism is still so influential today. How many more blood-soaked failed socialist states will it take for people to understand that it is both morally and practically wrong?

  13. Melissa said on March 14th, 2010 at 11:06am #

    Beautiful piece, Scott. Thank you for opening the discussion about the face of “freedom” that the TP movement is painting.

    We are in a precarious postition right now as a people. In the USA We need to unite and push forward ideas of human rights and 1st amendment rights QUICKLY as an alternative to the platform being laid out right now.

    The Federal Register dumped into my inbox in the wee-hours of Saturday morning. It was a Friday Bad News Dump.

    Look forward to dossiers on every citizen. I haven’t found out what the acronym AGE stands for, anyone else? The searchable database resulting from the collection of these public records obtained through expanded census law-making and breaking can be accessed for a fee. If you wish to access services of society, you need these transcripts for proof of age and citizenship. Papers, please?

    We may be looking at further restrictions on the movement of communications and advertising. There is a section in FR massaging defintions and authorities for Restrictions on Private Carriage of Letters. I don’t have a full grasp of what this means, there are too many 39 CFR references to be clarified, and I have not read any of the original statues that are amended. Perhaps it is not so alarming, but I have been paying attention for a bit now, and what I notice is small things cascading into a larger holding pen. Anyone else?

    Historical Preservation is another interesting blurb in FR. Apparently complying with the National Historic Preservation Act is in conflict with Navy. Vessels no longer useful, set for decommissioning, are subject to a process that decides if they shall be considered eligible for historical preservation, or destroyed, based upon characteristics outlined in FR.

    From FR: “Each year, qualified Navy historians with knowledge about Navy vessels will review each vessel in active service to determine which, if any, possess any of the characteristics described above, and integrity, and therefore, will be determined eligible for listing in the NRHP.” pp. 12247

    Now, that process is being refined. The shifts introduced in new language in FR seem to be more pertinent to keeping the information flowing through Naval command (history and deck logs, command op reports), as well defining the Navy’s right to deny such info for National Security reasons. It also explicitely states that the Navy can destroy any vessels which are currently active.

    “Specifically, the Navy shall employ, deploy, activate, inactivate, repair, modify, move and decommission such vessels without regard to their eligibility and without needing to consider effects to them under section . .” blah blah. pp. 12247.

    *We are losing access and tools to preserve history, accurately record what has already happened and what will continue to happen unless WE STEP UP and do the leg work. Many of the vessels the Navy employs are evidence of torture and false flag attacks. Don’t let this slide by.

    Sorry to veer off the article. I really do have something to say about it. First, I loved it. Second, a question?

    Do you think it is possible that Rand’s idea, or herself, could evolve? Perhaps some sharp edges could be taken off; we’re not in Cold War anymore are we? A little trust, your own resolve, a lotta love, a new way of thinking. And full sun exposure.

    “After all they are the very ‘moochers’ Rand so detested,and whose current economic distress was so carefully and meticulously plotted by Randians like Greenspan and all the other market fundamentalist psychopaths.” -mulga, well said, and the important perspective to retain. People have gotten confused about who contributes and who’s the real big drain. My neighbors aren’t the big drain.

    To the editors of DV and its niche readership. If you’re wondering who’s John Galt (so you can punch him?) I can tell you: it’s you. You are stopping the motor of the world by choosing alternative media, by choosing clean ag, by choosing dignity over misery.

    And Rupert Pupkin, please keep talking your truth. I agree with what you’ve said. Completely. I am in MN.

    As always,
    Peace, Resistance, Hope,
    Melissa

  14. bozh said on March 14th, 2010 at 11:17am #

    People[shamans-clergy, priestly kings, divine kings] began to built inegalitarian societies at the latest since 7k yrs ago.
    What is known of unrecorded history, leads to a conclusion that societies [probably living in small clans] were egalitarian with much or some veneration-respect for elders or elders-leaders.

    At certain point of time, people watching animals, assumed that we shld behave like them;i.e. started applying their theory that only the fittest, fastest, the strongest humans have best chance to prosper and survive and pass on their superior qualities to other people.

    Regarding people of the great migration during 300-700 ad period, germanics and slavs, historians claim that the ‘nobility’ [read please the evil caste] began to rule these people ca just 2 kyrs ago.

    This evil theory or science is strongly being applied in US. The ‘weak’ people are told to be independent, win, beat the other person in school, at work, etc.
    Yet the people who teach disorganized and unrepresented people to behave like animals are much more interdependent and cooperative with one another.
    And that’s why they are so strong; strength being in unity, cooperation, and interdependence.

    It is known that two or three evil, but well organized individuals can easily hoodwink thousands and rule them just like one does dogs.
    And that’s why there are people sleeping in cardboard boxes and others in mansions.
    To b’naires and multim’naires, a homeless person lives in the best and greatest country in the world; so, if u’r living under bridges, there obviously must be s’mthing wrong with u; it cldn’t be anything wrong with america where everybody get’s an equal chance to be great as america is.

    Unfortunately for people who are imposing animalistic behavior [which of course is right for them] on unwary victims, number of societies have strongly rejected that science promulgated by holliwood, media, schooling, congress, many ‘educators’.
    Let us note that professional sport represnets animalistic behavior; however people are not aware of it. I suggest, that builders of better societies ban all professional sports.
    All sport activities shld end in a win-win result. Enough of animal behavior for us humans!
    Time will tell who’s right; i.e., if fascists do not destroy these experiments in human behavior. tnx

  15. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2010 at 1:07pm #

    A few years ago human’s were told with 100% certainty that the Earth was the center of the Universe those were the day’s and then that the Earth was flat be careful when leaving to far from home. How many God’s do we have now and the true God is? In just the last 40 years what were the reasons for War running out of new ideas are we. For me to turn on the TV and just watch this or that and to see and hear why we should think this or that or buy this or that is let’s see what is the word I know nut’s. Forget long term but in just a few years I can only imagine what we will be told. I wonder in say Harvard business school do they have a course on all of this? I don’t know why but my favorite commercial now is the one for the antacid where a man is being slapped in the face with a chicken wing and gets sauce on his face and I guess if you take this antacid this will not happen to you, twenty ten people twenty ten March a Sunday.

  16. the socialist idealist said on March 14th, 2010 at 1:56pm #

    Great article. I’d like to add that there is a far simpler reason people like Ayn Rand, they’ve never read anything of hers. In fact, I’ve never read anything of hers. The same is true of most of America regarding the founding fathers. We are simply told things, like, “the founding fathers were great people” and we believe them. Or, in the case of the Tea Party protesters, “Ayn Rand was a libertarian just like you.” The only way to know otherwise, is to either be really literate, or to be open-minded enough to believe someone when they insist that everything you thought you knew about the founding fathers is a lie. Or, in the case of libertarians, they’d have to be open minded enough to listen when someone insists that Ayn Rand was so pro-selfish that she was probably a sociopath.

  17. An Individual said on March 14th, 2010 at 2:09pm #

    Ayn Rand is the “guru” of “the” Tea Party movement? For which you offer NO tangible proof, only the following alleged “signs”:

    “The signs are appearing at Tea Party protests across the country. In New York, one of them reads, “Ayn Rand Was Right”. In Boston, a sign references the hero in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, “Where is John Galt?” Immediately next to that sign: “Atlas is Shrugging”.

    And upon this foundation you base your entire article? Wow! Next time I want to “prove” that, say, socialists are driven by their devotion to, say, Hitler, I’ll simply claim to have seen similar “signs” at socialist gatherings “across the country” as proof of a troubling trend.

    Oh, and “Senator” (oops!) Ron Paul is Rand’s “political descendant”? Funny, how you go on to effectively disprove that very notion.

    Ron Paul is a Congressman and OB-GYN (not “gynecologist turned Senator”); his 2008 presidential campaign kick-started the grass-roots (“Tea Party”) movements.

    (Hats-off to Robert Pupkin at 9:04, for stating the other simply realities which are at odds with the author’s fallacious premises.)

  18. lichen said on March 14th, 2010 at 2:22pm #

    Mulga is right; libertarianism is an essentially violent ideology bent on stealing public resources from the commons and securing them into private hands; and in other words, stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. It seeks to create a total and complete corporate dictatorship, in which there will no longer be free schools, libraries, public or national parks, beaches. The poor made homeless, subsisting in sweatshops, would be mowed down by private security forces hired by the corporations if they revolted in a libertarian world. Capitalism is disgusting, and the entire reactionary right wing randite teabag movement is a disgusting farce; as is the idea that voting for a presidential candidate in one of the mainstream political parties somehow “revolutionary.”

  19. Hue Longer said on March 14th, 2010 at 3:09pm #

    #

    An Individual said on March 14th, 2010 at 2:09pm #

    “Ayn Rand is the “guru” of “the” Tea Party movement? For which you offer NO tangible proof, only the following alleged “signs”:….
    (Hats-off to Robert Pupkin at 9:04, for stating the other simply realities which are at odds with the author’s fallacious premises.)”

    An individual, I hadn’t heard that either but it sounded plausible and I took a look. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tNheAEHprI, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjwuGHPilwI&NR=1&feature=fvwp
    (the first clip I thought was from someone finding it frightening that her books were being fed to our kids…keep watching though and you’ll see that at least friends of the Rand institute believe the tea bag connection with Atlas Shrugged)

    Of course it’s plausible without videos from the Rand Institute or a Tea Bag beloved like Ron Paul… but the author outlines it just fine

    Robert Pupkin on the other hand only stated “simple realities” as you and he see them with no need to offer proof other than to think they are so simple they don’t need explaining.

  20. Don Hawkins said on March 14th, 2010 at 3:11pm #

    Atlas is not Shrugging off to the Stars and a good place to start is Fox New’s and some of our commenter’s I can tell watch the fair and balanced channel got to run as a friend just got flooded out in the Northeast and is it a 100 year storm we now see every 3 weeks now no up’s and down’s it’s normal Al Gore who also invented the Internet got this whole thing started to make more money the ice cap in the North is not melting a lie by Socialists and Communists there trying to take over the World to make more money and will do anything to get it. Twenty Ten March Sunday fair and balanced no new tax’s were’ re mad as hell and were not going to take it anymore. Cup of coffee nice game of checkers what are your thoughts on money in politics did human’s walk with the dinosaurs do you watch Fox New’s?

  21. Melissa said on March 15th, 2010 at 5:16am #

    “Robert Pupkin on the other hand only stated “simple realities” as you and he see them with no need to offer proof other than to think they are so simple they don’t need explaining.” -Hue Longer

    Thank you, for that. Thank all of you for that. Please keep talking to each other out there. Smile a lot too. It’s good for our health and overall wellness to show kindness and solidarity on core principle. Flesh this stuff out, already.

    As always,
    Peace, Resistance, Hope,
    Melissa

  22. Danny Ray said on March 15th, 2010 at 6:37am #

    Someone said: “In fact, I’ve never read anything of hers.” Well please read the book before you make a statement like “Or, in the case of libertarians, they’d have to be open minded enough to listen when someone insists that Ayn Rand was so pro-selfish that she was probably a sociopath.” If you had read the book, your statement would have had a great deal more credence. My guess is someone told you that Ayn Rand was selfish.

    Melissa, Thanks, Please try to keep both sides talking. I believe a great statsman said “Talk Talk is always better than War War”

  23. DirtyDennis said on March 15th, 2010 at 7:43am #

    While I am in accord with what, Mr. Nobel says, from time to time he would make assertions that made me uncomfortable. If he’s preaching to the choir (me), then I suppose it’s okay, but if he’s trying to establish a basis for discussion, then it is not.

    For example, he opines, “Capitalist markets must always produce large wealth disparities.” I’m no student of economics, but I do have a philosophical bent and the word ‘must’ in that statement rings of dogma rather than fact. ‘Armed’ with this truth, he goes on to make conclusions, conclusions which appear to be truth, but can’t be substantiated by his assertion.

    Later, he states, “The only way we have of redressing this power imbalance is collective action.” The ONLY way? While that may or may not be true, nothing he says convinces me of the truth of it.

    It both cases, he left me ‘wanting’ for substance. If I am going to carry the battle to others, I don’t think I’ll be quoting Mr. Nobel’s assertions, not that he wishes me to, until I can defend them.

    I doubt I’m the only one who would questions these points; for someone ‘on the fence,’ I am afraid they would be disinclined to join the fray on our side. I can’t think like a Libertarian, thank God, but I doubt they’re going to read Mr. Nobel’s treatise and say, “Leftist rhetoric,” and more on.

    I read Ms Rand whilst a puppy and my unformed mind enjoyed the tale. That Gary Cooper might play Roark did nothing to diminish my enjoyment. Therein, I suppose, lies the power of propaganda. Unformed (weak?) minds unknowingly absorb the message whilst partaking of the fruit.

    Lest I be misunderstood, I am in accord with Mr. Nobel’s essay 100%; I’m just not ready to parry the thrusts of Libertines with it just yet.

  24. kalidas said on March 15th, 2010 at 8:19am #

    Trouble is, now a days all the talk talk talk is about war war war.

  25. bozh said on March 15th, 2010 at 9:43am #

    I do not use the term slave-master to limn the relationship bwtn work-place owner and a hired hand.
    The hired hand i call a “dependency”; while the owner of work-place also partly owns the laborer.
    I also call such relationship “master-serf” relationship [and in order not to use the longer description each time]. It shld be noted that right to work is an essential human right and so-called job-giving a crime against humanities.

    This knowledge is no marxist, but an universal knowledge. We do not need saviors like jesus, marx, god, ghandi, KLM, nader, lenin to tell us this.
    Countless of individuals from our planet have been or may have been tellling us this for millennia.

    Do i care ab marx? Not a bit! Never read anything he said.

    We’ve had extremely iniquitous societies everywhere for millennia; iniquitous societies are responsble for all ills that befall us on int’l and interpersonal levels; US society is also much iniquitous; thus is cause of all ills that happen in US.

    The problem is [oh, what a discovery] that 98% of americans are strongly in favor of just such a society; which, to them, just needs a bit tinkering or some cosmetic change and america wld be once again great.
    Meanwhile, they s’mhow forget or have never seen that the america the great had slavery.
    It extirpated indians; incinerated people of hiroshima; waged some 180 wars; waging wars now and cripling-killing children, etc.

    Yet the 98% worry only ab taxes; how they are collected-spent and argue ab this on and on yet do not see america’s enormous crimes! Only in america is this possible! tnx

  26. PipingHotSoup said on March 15th, 2010 at 2:27pm #

    Wait a minute here. I’m having trouble with all these comments that say competition leads to monopoly. Let’s look at Wal-Mart, since they’re probably the closest example we can get to. A lot of my friends mention what a horrible store Wal-Mart is for driving out local businesses, but they never mention, say, how much time and money the common person can save by getting his power drill, new pair of jeans, and some potato chips all at the same place for lesser prices. Wal-Mart succeeds by giving other people better deals on a great number of things. Nobody is forced at gunpoint to buy there.
    Another section I had a problem with was this: “usually this occurs when uppity workers start demanding a more equal share of the pie via progressive taxation or some other atrocity.” I’m not sure what I think about progressive taxation, but I hate the idea of the “pie”. Say I start a new company and am selling cheap bicycles. I have an assembly line with 3 workers who I pay $5 an hour to put the bikes together, and then I sell them. I get profit from my bicycles, my workers get paid, and customers get bikes: everyone’s happy right? So say I do so well the economy grows. Everybody has my cheap bike now and can move around faster, meaning they have more TIME. That’s time working, traveling to other stores to spend money, or just being with loved ones.
    Now that the economy has improved, a couple things seem to happen…
    1. My workers want more money. A lot more. I would rather reinvest the money in a new plant with 3 more workers. If they unionize and threaten to quit, why shouldn’t I just let them and instead get 3 more guys who are WILLING to work for $5 an hour (they want it more, why shouldn’t they have it?)
    2. Alternatively, they collectively vote to pass a law forcing me to pay them $5/hr more. Because I have to do that, I can’t build my new plant. While these few have succeed in securing themselves a “larger piece of the pie” they don’t have to deal with the UNSEEN consequence here. Three other people are now jobless because I can’t expand my plant.
    Anyone have a counter point here? I gave very basic examples so feel free to expound on them.

  27. lichen said on March 15th, 2010 at 2:47pm #

    Walmart stocks it’s stores with foreign sweatshop products and pays poverty wages and affords terrible working conditions to it’s domestic employees. If you shop there, your supposed ease (more like laziness) and cheapness are taking advantage of other people. Furthermore, your example of the bikeshop is idiotic, because you don’t mention that you, as the boss, most definitely were paying yourself more than the miserable, laughable, illegal (in most states) poverty wage of 5$/hour.

    The obvious solution is a law that forces all employers to pay their employees a living wage, and an economic structure that supports employee owned cooperatives more than it does people who want to become their own little corporate king. In fact there are already economies in the world that employ these principals and are very successful. You shouldn’t be able to go somewhere else and take advantage of someone elses desperation to pay employees less; there needs to be a law to end scabbing and slave labor all across the planet; but we can all start where we are.

  28. PipingHotSoup said on March 15th, 2010 at 3:16pm #

    Well- that was a little more hostility than I expected for an honest question. Maybe you should talk to Melissa. Anyway, first thing’s first: I don’t shop at Walmart. If you’re going to accuse those who shop at Wal-Mart of laziness you need to point your fingers at the exact people you seem to be trying to defend here: minimum wage workers.
    Secondly, my example with the bikeshop was just that- an example. Let’s talk about the theory behind what I said, not my numbers, as my bike assembly line would probably have more than 3 workers too.
    Sure I’d pay myself more! I have an MBA and lots of human experience behind my job. I had to take a risk and start the business in the first place, which could have crashed and been a big loss of money.
    You didn’t really address my main point, though: if I’m required to pay what you call a “living wage” to my employees, (significantly higher than how much they would agree to be paid by choosing to work at my plant) then I can’t afford to hire more workers- perhaps someone in even more desperate need of my money than the guy already there. If I want to hire a worker to do, say just a small job, like sweeping the floor, but can only afford to give him $5 an hour for that task, bumping the required wage up isn’t going to make me pay him more. It’s going to make me not hire him.

  29. dan e said on March 15th, 2010 at 3:58pm #

    well, mr piping hot, that was actually a lot LESS hostility than I would express if I had time. But one question: where is the evidence indicating minimum wage workers to be lazier than you & your pal “melissa”?

    “The theory behind your numbers” is simple: it’s the monopoly on violence plus the Snowjob Apparatus (aka Technology cum Tricknology) that created and maintains the conditions in which some people have no choice but to work for five bucks or less per hour, providing exploiters the opportunity to pocket the difference between what they pay out to the workers plus to suppliers of raw materials/parts etc and whatever they can sell the finished products for, on the “free market” maintained by said monopoly on violence plus the pro-Capitalism ideological bunco game.
    “Liberty” to Thos Jefferson meant he was free to own slaves, to Andy Jackson that he was free to kill “Indians”, and to the whole capitalist/petty capitalist social stratum, that they are free to prosper off other peoples labor and suffering.
    Your arguments assume a lot of stuff which only came about through organized violence and only continues because so many fail to see through the reams of lies peddled by apologists for capitalism.

  30. PipingHotSoup said on March 15th, 2010 at 4:27pm #

    @dan e: I’m guessing you didn’t take the time to actually read all the replies on this page, which is why you put Melissa’s name in quotes. She’s a person on this thread that has responded with civility and genuine interest to everybody’s posts and has kept this from degenerating into a flame war, which is I guess what it looks like you’re trying to do from your first statement. I put laziness in quotes BECAUSE lichen did, to emphasize that hi accusations of my “laziness” for shopping at Wal-Mart are misplaced: I actually don’t shop there, the minimum wage workers do, which didn’t help his point. I’m sure you have some kind of a point from what you said, especially about the raw materials market. I’m sure some I’d agree with, some I wouldn’t. However, a quick Google search on every term you capitalized or put in quotes yielded nothing but a jarbled mess of results. Snowjob Apparatus? Cum Tricknology? Maybe you should wait to respond until you have a moment when you aren’t so pressed for time. Then you can try and organize your thoughts.

  31. Don Hawkins said on March 15th, 2010 at 4:46pm #

    Piping your thoughts are right out of the how to succeed in business and win friends and influence people. What are your thoughts on money in politics and where does that money come from the fact that Capitalism is sending us all down the drain in not such slow motion. Now just on the off chance this thinking is correct what system could work that’s just on the off chance. Here’s where a new way of thinking and imagination could be helpful. You know just on the off chance we are going down the drain in not such slow motion.

  32. lichen said on March 15th, 2010 at 5:11pm #

    No, I don’t think that the human rights of every person to good employment with a living wage, benefits, paid vacation should be left to business people; while yes, you should be legally bound to pay all workers a living wage with good benefits and working conditions, you’re not being able to employ more workers should actually be a good thing because the community and/or government can step in and create much better jobs that aren’t dependent on a for-profit top-down model. You do not deserve to make a higher wage than anyone else does; and yes, there is the option to pay yourself a little less and invest that money into employees and opening a second bike store; the fact that you refuse to do that shows elitism, and clearly it is your fault and no one elses that you don’t have more money for workers.

    It isn’t only minimum wage workers who shop at wallmart; plenty of people who could afford to shop elsewhere but make a cynical and/or uninformed choice do. My use of the word laziness was because you claimed it was “easy” as if it wasn’t also easy to walk into a cooperative or local store where they are; it is just like people claim fast food is somehow “easier” when the same amount of time could get you something healthier. But if you apparently care so much about minimum wage workers that you take such overblown offense to the word laziness, than perhaps you shouldn’t try to pay them illegal poverty wages, and not profess this cynical approval of taking advantage of slavery so you can buy more junk.

    I prefer solutions that help everyone; that don’t involve one set of people profiting off the uttery misery of another set.

  33. PipingHotSoup said on March 15th, 2010 at 7:06pm #

    I REALLY don’t want to sound like the annoying English Nazi cause my last post said this too, but I am really having trouble understanding. I guess the jist of your post is “Capitalism is sending us all down the drain quickly”? Maybe you can give me a couple examples so I have something to work with? I feel like “No it’s not!” is all I can say here. Capitalism is a voluntary exchange of goods that benefits all parties involved. Before you say anything about the military being involved: I completely hate war and the trouble it causes for nations and think it has no place in foreign policy. My political thoughts are complex, as I’d imagine are most everyone’s- being too quick to categorize people makes it hard to have a good thoughtful exchange!
    Anyway, I still maintain what I said in my earlier posts.

  34. Hue Longer said on March 15th, 2010 at 10:00pm #

    Hello PipingHotSoup,

    In your hypothetical, I don’t think the guy making 5 bucks an hour looks (or should look…indoctrinated sycophancy is amazing) at the guy paying him as a man from their ranks who did everyone a favor and took brave risks- because of course he is not.

    organized labor threatens workers only because organized ownership makes it so through organized money. The grocery strikes in California 8 years ago is a good example; The grocery stores teamed up with other grocery stores to bust a Union that only pulled locally because the others nationally were threatened to experience the same controlled and predictable loss.

    Your examples of blaming the victim may make sense if the hypothetical owner actually profited the same as the worker or in accordance to real risk (not monetary risk that could be replaced or endured without the same risk that a employee making 5 bucks would endure were he to lose a strike against the owner).

    After participating in or benefiting from driving these wages down by ability to appeal to other victim shoppers while punishing everyone looking for a five buck gig, to then claim everyone is happy with the arrangement due to the after fact that they are willing to work for five bucks is insane.

    Also, I’m assuming that the article lured you for it’s mention of Ron Paul and or Ayn Rand and or Tea Bag…Stick around here for a bit and read and engage and I think you’ll find that many don’t think these people have complex so much as confused political thoughts…the author made mention of this when he pointed out Rand’s logical conclusion shut down.

    Cheers

  35. Deadbeat said on March 16th, 2010 at 12:24am #

    PipingHotSoup writes …

    “Capitalism is sending us all down the drain quickly”? Maybe you can give me a couple examples so I have something to work with? I feel like “No it’s not!” is all I can say here. Capitalism is a voluntary exchange of goods that benefits all parties involved

    This is THE challenge for the Left.

  36. bozh said on March 16th, 2010 at 5:05am #

    Also democracy, constitution, laws written by awful THEM are destroying people and the planet and not just capitalism. Unless capitalism, to a person, subsumes all the above.
    But timocracy [a rule by honest people] backed by laws written by all of us wldn’t not be destroying the planet nor make life so difficult for most people.

    Democracy in US and most lands has been very biocidal. More so in US than some other socalled democracies because US is much heterogeneous which makes ruling it much easier for the minortity of people which actually possess it and rules-manages it.

    In lands that are much homogeneous, the ruling class doesn’t get away with as much dishonesty-lying as in heterogeneous societies. tnx

  37. Don Hawkins said on March 16th, 2010 at 5:34am #

    “Capitalism is sending us all down the drain quickly”? Here’s where Mr. soup needs to use that little bit bigger brain. 100 years when compared to just the time we human’s have been on the Earth is a blink of an eye. When compared to the age of the Earth doesn’t even show up on the old time line. In very simple terms Mr.soup we human’s have been very busy little beavers and now live in mumbo jumbo distorted as the mumbo jumbo by itself didn’t work as well as it did. We are making some progress on mumbo jumbo but the forces of the darkside who have been using it the last 5k years see the illusion crumbling before there very eye’s and there answer is……………here’s where you need to use that little bit bigger brain Mr. soup think outside the box a new way of thinking try it you can always’ go back to how to succeed at business in a blink of an eye and if you use imagination even faster.

  38. DirtyDennis said on March 16th, 2010 at 7:25am #

    In the interest of clarity/accuracy, I don’t believe Mr. PHS is making that claim. Here’s what he said, “I guess the jist of your post is “Capitalism is sending us all down the drain quickly”? ”

    Perhaps it’s because Mr. PHS misspelled ‘gist.’ But in that sentence, at least, he’s clearly attributing the drain analogy to another poster.

    Perhaps THIS is the gist of the problem, inability to understand what it is others say. I believe in my youth I was counseled that the responsibility for understanding was that of the one communicating. That’s a handy rule of thumb, but not ALWAYS the case.

    I don’t defend Mr. PHS’s position, but I don’t think it was all as radical and myopic as some of his critics allude. It WAS an example; how much he allocates to pay his employees is irrelative. It’s HIS example. His imagined company might have been set in the 50s for all we know.

    I am left with the sense that most of the blame is being placed on the system, which doesn’t make sense. Systems are merely extensions of human behavior. And since humans are particularly complicated, their extensions, systems, are equally complex. What IS capitalism? You want the Smith version or the Keynes? Free Market? Where?

    The same can be said for the heath care proposal. Everyone wants a perfect bill. Not possible. Pass ‘something’ then get to work on improving it. Capitalism, per se, is a workable concept, it, like the humans that begot it, need parental care and discipline.

  39. Don Hawkins said on March 16th, 2010 at 8:16am #

    Capitalism, per se, is a workable concept. I disagree 100% there is no per se about this present system not the way it work’s or as we see the way it doesn’t work. The argument is academic with half of that little bit bigger brain. Can the system allow carbon to be taxed and return that tax back to the people can the bank’s allow being regulated to save our ass will the system allow a total focus on the problem at hand of course not granted anything can be carried to far and that’s just what the present system does do we see the changes needed no just more mumbo jumbo so far not much has changed the system doesn’t allow it and who is in control of the present system nobody the system is in control and ignorance is not strength. A few are still trying to bring the present system back to normal and that’s called insanity with the knowledge we now have and they don’t have a say in the matter any longer a fact the few don’t want to many people to find out so just more mumbo jumbo on a grand scale and boring this will not be.

  40. bozh said on March 16th, 2010 at 8:36am #

    yes, don,
    a biocidal democracy with a much heterogeneous society; each ethnos going own way, cannot work for most people. As i said, US society appears most biocidal and, i add, homicidal towards own soldiers and ‘aliens’.

    And worse is yet to come; followed by the worst for some peoples. tnx

  41. PipingHotSoup said on March 16th, 2010 at 8:55am #

    Well Dennis, you’d be right, but I was quoting Hawkins in the first place. As for everything else: brilliant. I was giving a simple model, true. And all humans need some collective oversight, as that’s how we’re programmed to work.
    In response to Hawkins: I’m sorry, but my little brain must be just too small to believe there are “forces of the darkside” actively trying to oppress the common man. It’s a little cynical to refer to the entirety of the last 5k years of human progress as “mumbo jumbo”, as if you have something better to offer. You keep alluding to some great obvious solution, but don’t choose to reveal it.
    For bozh: It doesn’t matter where you are on earth, people will find ways to stratify themselves. I disagree with democracy being biocidal, which I guess you mean as detrimental to life, or deadly. When democracy and basic forms of government are set up, people get basic rights protecting themselves and their property. Sure these are abused, but I believe it’s far better to have the rules set up and an occasional abuse than to have no rules at all.
    Hue: Thank you for a well-thought out post.
    “…did everyone a favor and took brave risks- because of course he is not.” Yes, he is.
    Organized labor does not threaten workers. It offers pay for what the market values it at. Organized money makes it possible for the common man to do so. My average guy couldn’t have opened his business if he didn’t take out a loan. You know, I find your grocery strike example both interesting and hilarious. All of the workers said “Hey these small stores aren’t giving us enough money, let’s strike!”. Two groups actually end up benefiting: the very poorest workers who really need a job and are willing to work for anything, and Wal-Mart(they aren’t on the strike list). They certainly weren’t thinking about the long term.
    Just because they say they aren’t happy doesn’t mean they aren’t happy: actions dictate preferences. Let me justify myself: I can go to the store and say, “Man… six dollars for that Chipotle burrito… that’s too expensive.” But I bought it, which means it actually wasn’t TOO expensive. Of course workers would be happier with more pay. We all would!
    As for lichen: After you imposed your “living wage” laws on businesses and drastically reduced their income, forcing most to shut down, what would you do then? You said you would have the government create jobs? There’s a bit of a problem here, because the government needs money to create jobs. It gets this money from taxing those of us with real jobs. So your government would have to jack up taxes to make just enough jobs that your living wage laws destroyed(assuming you don’t want to destroy the economy). This massive increase in taxes would be a further detriment to business, creating a vicious cycle. Why the hell wouldn’t somebody who started a business pay themselves more than their workers? That’s their whole incentive for starting a business in the first place. Why would I go to school for 4 years, take out a loan, file permits, buy a location and go to all that trouble, and then get the same reward as the guy who just walks in one day for a job?? Do you realize how insane that is? It’s easy to say “Oh well YOU’RE just greedy.”, but that’s how businesses get started. Nobody would do what you’re suggesting! Why would anyone start a business, or even go to school if they had a “guaranteed” job? Where would the money come from for your guaranteed jobs? Your solution is called communism. And it would make everyone utterly miserable.

  42. Don Hawkins said on March 16th, 2010 at 10:05am #

    Mr. soup I see you don’t get it and your not alone. What people have had to listen too on TV from so called leaders on just the health care bill is what? It’s called foolishness nothing more than illusion and the roll of money in politics is what? If the health care bill didn’t pass it doesn’t mean the end of the human race as a start next is the climate bill still a joke on the human race and if you liked health care crazy talk stay tuned for the climate bill and again the system is still in control now just on the off chance climate change is real and moving much faster than first thought and the system now out of control what is the answer? Change the system everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler work together don’t let the system tell us what to do change the rules. See any problems with that like it got us this far well that would be my point exactly. Oh persuading people what is best for them with 100% bullshit is not the answer. What is the answer well the opposite of bullshit is what? It does appear the system requires much bullshit think not let’s just watch the next months as the people are already on there way to Washington DC some already there just a new brand of bullshit with checkbook in hand I guess those rules you talked about and how will it play out not well. Shocking isn’t it.

  43. Don Hawkins said on March 16th, 2010 at 10:45am #

    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Global-Warming/Even-the-Sun-cant-save-us-from-global-warming-/articleshow/5691268.cms

    Read this and we have been told and told and told then the darkside tell’s us mumbo jumbo over and over again and who’s winning nobody. One of Bush’s people was at the last meeting of the IPCC and asked the question if the ice melts it will come back right. That’s true and human’s and most other life will not be here Maybe if we got lucky say .00001% could make it. I take that back maybe .000001%. Who am I most afraid of the system the government, communists, socialists, China, Iran, Republicans, democrats, war, the Universe little green men no knowing we can change we have the knowledge and only a few will stop that think not watch the next few months and am not alone in that.

  44. Hue Longer said on March 16th, 2010 at 11:09am #

    PHS (if you’re cool with that…it’s easier),

    Thanks

    I mentioned and will go further on how the risk wasn’t for the hypothetical “guy” (usually lots of guys getting together) who most always never comes from the ranks of the working class, can get loans because he already has capital to cover it and won’t be subjected to 5 dollars an hour if his risk doesn’t pay off…That he has capital to risk doesn’t mean that his relative greater capital loss is more loss than the guy who’s used to 5 bucks an hour; Again I refer to the article concerning compassion in this regard

    I also showed how organized labor DOES risk the workers because of the threats of organized capital. In my Grocery example, the strike was about health bennies being wiped altogether or being wiped clean for on-coming employees- risking positions for longer employed folks. This was to “stay competitive with Wal-Mart” and had nothing to do with greedy employees trying to gain ground. Of course, the organized grocery store’s appeals to keeping ground with Wal-Mart was important but as you believe it’s deserved because “they take the risks”. If Wal-Mart was unionized, well then maybe the CEOs of Wal-Mart would have had to deal with not making hundreds times more than the smallest workers and been subjected to the unfair risk compensation of the CEO’s of Grocery stores (making hundreds times more than the lowest workers) battling with Unions?

  45. bozh said on March 16th, 2010 at 11:50am #

    Piping…
    U were saying “that no matter where the people are they wld stratify selves..” I am not sure what u mean by a society stratifying self? All of the members of a society willingly stratifying selves????? Really???
    Do u mean a society like in sumer under king-priests? or europena societes just prior to their migration west?.

    According to historians slavic and germanic tribes just centuries prior to their migration west were quite egalitarian; only splitting into a classful societies once they found out how greek and roman societies were ordered: into lower-higher nobility and serfs-slaves-peasants.

    Indigenous pops of redlands were also quite interdependent and thus also egalitarian as one cannot have one without the other.
    Even in mesopotamia, canaan, and egypt we had to have had egalitarian societies at one point of time; else if structured as now, we wldn’d have survived and if there had been usurpers some 20 k yrs ago of the idyllic societies they wld have been slaughterd in a instant and rightfully so.

    We can’t do this to indian, saudi, american ussurpers because they control army, spy agencies, police, money, and wealth.
    I don’t think that indians or americans wld stand still seing the criminal minds in control if there wld be no cia-fbi-army as part of the problem.

    Even so in india, yemen, somalia people are militarily resisting the greatest criminal minds there.
    How long before we see some domestic terrorism in US? And why? Well, because of the rule by criminals or gangsters and their most efficient homicidal and biocidal state.
    US not biocidal? I don’t know of country that isn’t; of course, each in a different degree!
    And most of them in quite a democratic way! God bless builders of an idyllic society in which we wld once again live like humans as god -nature intended and not in a society that is structured on the basis of animal behavior. Tnx.

  46. Deadbeat said on March 16th, 2010 at 1:41pm #

    bozh writes …

    Also democracy, constitution, laws written by awful THEM are destroying people and the planet and not just capitalism. Unless capitalism, to a person, subsumes all the above.

    Capitalism encapsulates all of the above. The reason to focus on Capitalism is due to the propaganda surrounding Capitalism. People like the Souper believes that Capitalism equates to Democracy. Many people believe the Reaganite mantra that Capitalism should allow “everyone” to be rich so that they can then “give back jobs” to the rest of us. You see this going on especially among the tea-partyers and Libertarians like Ron Paul who wants a restoration of “Capitalism” and away from “Corporatism”. This has been part of the Cold War indoctrination and the Left’s withdrawal from critiquing Capitalism.

    Words are very important because it shapes perceptions. Capitalism is not an “economic” system it is a political, social, cultural and economic system — a political economy.

  47. Don Hawkins said on March 16th, 2010 at 1:48pm #

    http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/future/index.html

    At the top you will see impacts click on that well check out the other stuff. Kind of a nobrainer and I have been watching c-span today the House on health care and people we so far are going down and going down hard.

  48. lichen said on March 16th, 2010 at 1:48pm #

    Yes, pippin, you are just greedy. And, further, some people are socially responsible, and just want a job with a good living wage, not to try and get rich, so no, socially responsible businesses would not be put out of business, or simply give up because they can’t get rich by exploiting others. As I said before, there are already living wage laws in many countries, and they have very successful, vibrant economies; so your hypothesis is ridiculous; my claims have been proven; living wage laws work; progressive taxation works; full employment with free college education also works well in many countries, and has already been proven. Cooperatives where everyone makes an equal wage and has an equal part in decision making are very popular, and are an overall better business model; so yes, people would and do do it. Staying in your little right wing american cocoon and pretending there isn’t a wide world out there that have done many very different things is extremely ignorant.

    Further, the community/government can create jobs very easily. Governments that control the money supply do have other sources of revenue in addition to progressive taxation; though free market fundamentalists have spread the myth that printing money causes inflation, it is actually a very sound, equitable practice.

  49. dan e said on March 16th, 2010 at 3:17pm #

    PHS: I do have to admire how neatly you sidestepped my question, which had nothing to do with quotes or absence of same. Here’s what you said:
    ” If you’re going to accuse those who shop at Wal-Mart of laziness you need to point your fingers at the exact people you seem to be trying to defend here: minimum wage workers.”
    The clear implication of the above sentence is that minimum wage workers are lazy. Do you now deny that was what you meant?

  50. PipingHotSoup said on March 16th, 2010 at 4:01pm #

    Dan, I don’t have to deny anything. You’re still completely misinterpreting what I said. From the mouth of lichen, who apparently has thrown himself into the position of being my arch-nemesis: “If you shop there, your supposed ease (more like laziness) and cheapness are taking advantage of other people.”
    From this statement we can guess he means that those who shop at Wal-Mart are lazy. I find this offensive. While I choose not to shop at Wal-Mart, I know plenty of good people who do. Saving an extra thousand dollars a year and lots of time shopping there gives them more time to pursue small goals of their own, and more money to put their children in extracurricular activities or donate to charity. Hence my response…
    “I don’t shop at Walmart. If you’re going to accuse those who shop at Wal-Mart of laziness you need to point your fingers at the exact people you seem to be trying to defend here: minimum wage workers.”
    My point was that he meant to call me out for being lazy, but instead called out every person in the lower income bracket who chooses to shop there. I’ll be awaiting your apology.

  51. Melissa said on March 16th, 2010 at 4:47pm #

    “Further, the community/government can create jobs very easily. Governments that control the money supply do have other sources of revenue in addition to progressive taxation; though free market fundamentalists have spread the myth that printing money causes inflation, it is actually a very sound, equitable practice.” -lichen

    Now you are touching on a very important piece of the whole debate, I think. For those of you who are more aware of comparitive economies, can you share with me some details about those countries? I am particularly interested in lichen’s statement about governments that control their own money.

    I agree that creating currency/credit is not inflationary. Debt-based currency is inflationary. And the gold standard thing just doesn’t sell with me either.

    Last question: How to get there from here? We can’t turn on a dime, we need some reasonable transition. And the transition should be managed without excessive re-distribution if we want to have a more cohesive society. More cohesion, less animosity. What would be the first steps? What would a transition plan consist of? I’m in favor of creating our own debt-free money to pay for our infrastructure (hey, jobs!) and our social programs.

    Your thoughts and criticisms?

    Peace,
    Melissa

  52. PipingHotSoup said on March 16th, 2010 at 5:00pm #

    Don: you’re rambling man. Find an issue to talk about. Everything you say sounds like one man screaming “doom!”. I don’t know where you pulled all this climate change stuff out of, but you should put it back. I’m relatively neutral on the issue and have no interest in debating it. By the way, the first “study” you posted was just a news article that didn’t even cite it’s sources.
    Hue: PHS is great :)
    According to the United States Small Business Administration, small businesses both represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms and also pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll. My example is not as far fetched as it may seem. What I meant to say with the grocery example is basically that any store that plans on paying it’s workers more than market wage, or giving it’s employees benefits just to be “responsible”, will not be a store for long. They will be forced to jack up their prices to pay for their employees, and people will shop somewhere else. They will fail as a business, because they put their employees ( a minority) before their customers( a majority).
    To Hue and lichen both: I have to go waaaay back when to my first post about the pie. If a CEO just happens to be a genius, makes executive decisions that fuel tons of economic growth, provide thousands of new jobs for his company, and significantly increase GDP as a direct result of his executive decisions, how can you say he is taking more than his share of the pie? They both originally got one share, but now the CEO gets one hundred shares of pie. What’s the problem if the CEO PRODUCED 6000 new pies for the economy? His making more doesn’t mean other workers earn less.
    lichen alone: Quit trying to pigeonhole me here. “Right wing American cocoon”. You don’t need to put labels on me (you left wing commie pinko nutjob, you ^^) And calling America “little” is kind of silly, since, considering GDP for a single nation, America still makes almost THREE TIMES as much as the next highest economy, Japan.
    Who is greedy? Why is it always the businessmen? People never call sports stars or actresses(who probably make many, many times more than my bike shop owner) greedy.
    What is greed lichen? How do you classify it? I have a friend who is an artist, and she spends long amounts of time during the day studying nothing but art and painting. Is she greedy for knowledge? Lots of athletes are greedy to win at sports, but nobody wants to ban them (except our friend bozh).
    Speaking of bozh: you are a very educated man historically. I was indeed referring to all the examples mentioned- Sumeria, Egypt, etc. After reading Guns Germs and Steel I believe that, almost as a form of natural selection, tribes that decided to stay equal with lots of hunter gatherers were superseded by tribes that had farmers, soldiers, doctors, priests, and kings. I am still having trouble with your term biocidal, but I’m guessing you hate the government as much as I do. We should be friends :)
    Why is it always business that draws everyone’s ire? In Haiti the Duvaliers lived in a palace and spent millions shopping while their people were starving. In the Philippines, Emelda Marcos TOOK money from people who could barely afford food, and used it to buy a yacht and thousands of pairs of shoes. If there is a poor business, people STILL have the choice to get a different job or move somewhere else or shop somewhere else if they repeatedly get bad service. If you have a bad government… sucks to be you. They have the guns.
    You make so many assumptions about me lichen. I am actually part of a co-op, believe it or not. I just don’t believe them to necessarily be superior to other forms of business.
    Are you really saying you think its ok for the government to just print out money whenever it needs it? Don’t Argentina, Germany, and the Confederate states of America prove this to be wrong?
    I’ll admit it- I’m relatively uninformed about guaranteed employment and living wage laws and free college education in other countries. Show me some data to peek at. You’ve talked this long, which means you care. I don’t hold any of my beliefs to be sacred, and I pride myself on always being open to change.

  53. dan e said on March 16th, 2010 at 5:53pm #

    PHS: apologize, to YOU? No matter how you try to weasel around it, you, not Lichen, are the one who said fingers should be pointed at minimum wage workers because they are lazy.

    Here you are pontificating, but haven’t done your basic homework. All your basic premises are wrong wrong wrong.

    For instance, re “printing money”: sounds like an echo of Andy Jackson who failed to appreciate the genius of the Hamiltonian system, which turned the public debt into the basis of capitalist prosperity.

    The very term “businessman” is a lie, part of the Snowjob Apparatus. Also known as the Capitalist State Ideological Apparatus, cf Louis Althusser, “Reading Capital”. Or maybe more easily grasped by a person struggling under as many misapprehensions as yourself, try Bob McChesney’s several works on Media. Of course the MSM is only one part of the Ideological State but it’s a good place to start.
    Don’t say “businessman” when you really mean Capitalist.

  54. Don Hawkins said on March 16th, 2010 at 6:52pm #

    The NOAA web site above is clear and this has been know for years now the weather in the Northeast the last week is because of what is happening in the North and yes El Nino. Each year from today we will see more hundred year storms or no storms just heat no rain and Mr. soup I hope you have some boot’s. Tonight on Fox New’s the Hannity Show the wise one himself Hannity said Al Gore blamed the storms in the Northeast on climate change and it’s what the scientists have predicted would start to happen. Then he said I guess Al never heard that April showers bring May flowers. Ignorance is strength is all they have left sad in many way’s

  55. PipingHotSoup said on March 16th, 2010 at 7:48pm #

    Don: I was referring to the first site, not the second. The NOAA one is very well cited.
    Dan: When are you going to stop beating your wife?

  56. lichen said on March 16th, 2010 at 9:43pm #

    Using the greenbacks to fund the war back then was very successful; argentina was the result of years, decades of neoliberal economics; I’m not talking about operating under that system. You show your immaturity in ridiculous name-calling; and your economic views clearly are right wing, straight out of the heritage foundation. It is a primary aspect of american exceptionalism to willfully ignore history and diversity in place of starting from blankness because you think that some brilliant inventive drive is endemic to being american. It isn’t. I’m not impressed, further, that you belong to a co-op but refuse to see it’s obvious merits as a superior buisness model; and ultimately, yes, it is the fault of the business owner, the corporation for not reducing the salaries at the top. There is nothing that makes those people ‘special’ and thus deserving of more wealth than anyone else. You are free to look up the information on how other systems work in your own time; instead of labeling everything outside of the american status quo ‘communism.’ That’s all I have to say to you.

    Melissa, I wish that the people in charge of the economy over the past forty years had decided to minimize the massive wealth redistribution upwards which took place; they didn’t care about animosity. As it is, many of the super-rich will react rabidly at anything that gets in the way of their endless consumption, so I don’t think they should be allowed to keep the bulk of their illegitamate fortunes. A small town in (I forget which state) recently started issuing it’s own currency for use in the community; a much wider application is possible.

  57. Deadbeat said on March 16th, 2010 at 9:43pm #

    Melissa writes …

    I am particularly interested in lichen’s statement about governments that control their own money. I agree that creating currency/credit is not inflationary. Debt-based currency is inflationary. And the gold standard thing just doesn’t sell with me either. Last question: How to get there from here? We can’t turn on a dime, we need some reasonable transition. And the transition should be managed without excessive re-distribution if we want to have a more cohesive society. More cohesion, less animosity. What would be the first steps? What would a transition plan consist of? I’m in favor of creating our own debt-free money to pay for our infrastructure (hey, jobs!) and our social programs.

    Some question to Melissa first:

    [1] What kind of society do you seek.

    [2] Why don’t you favor massive redistribution?

    [3] Why is money necessary?

    [4] What do you mean by “debt-free” money

    [5] What class do you think the government functions for?

  58. PipingHotSoup said on March 16th, 2010 at 11:39pm #

    I don’t know where you got your little idea about endemic American exceptionalism.
    What makes those people (CEO’s) special is that others in the corporation value them to be so. The board of directors realize that their pick of CEO is going to have a massive impact on the company’s future success or failure. Therefore, they need to reward him as such. I remember back when Ben and Jerry’s introduced “Caring Capitalism”. People applauded their efforts- a new CEO would be hired and, with their new condensed pay structure, he would only be given 5 times what their lowest paid worker would get. What happened? Their CEO performed poorly. He didn’t get the ice cream into markets where it was supposed to go. They fired him and hired a new guy for more pay, (I think it was 17 times what the lower paid guy made), who did better, but still not good enough. Finally they did away with the whole idea of equal pay, paid a CEO what he was worth to the company, and now I can enjoy my ice cream in just about every store I go to. Can you call Ben and Jerry’s a greedy corporation?

  59. Deadbeat said on March 17th, 2010 at 2:26am #

    Piping hot anecdote can be counterbalanced by the numerous CEO that ripped off the company’s stakeholders. Ken Lay, Bernie Madoff anyone?

  60. bozh said on March 17th, 2010 at 8:25am #

    Well, observers say pollution kills biota. That makes nearly all of us biocidal.
    I am talking ab division of people by other people into less- and more valued.
    Yes, we need engineers, doctors, teachers, scientists, geniuses, et al.
    They and we come all come from one genetic pool; in which we all are equal.

    Thus, as of necessary truth, we shld be equally-valued and powerful in a living pool.
    It takes mns of us to produce a genius. And ?all progress comes from geniuses and other ‘gifted’ [by us] people!

    ‘Nobility’ in nature have no more value than the ‘non-nobility’. Nor are they proportionately more inventive than the rest of us.
    So, why their higher status, more political powers, etc?

    A genius like mozart, pasteur,tesla is as much made as i am. In fact trns of people had to have lived and died to produce a few geniuses we’ve had.

    By saying, this i do realize that we probably wld never have a pantisocracy[equal rule by all. Nor do we must have it.
    However, timocracy [honest rule] is not only desirable but also easily achievable.

    We’ve never, until very recently, had that in recorded history; having been ruled by most unsane among us: priests, ceos, b’naires, aghas, other ‘nobility’, congress-people [read please, gangsters] tnx

  61. PipingHotSoup said on March 17th, 2010 at 11:01am #

    Bozh- please quit making up abbreviations that don’t exist. It’s difficult to understand your meaning. A search on “b’naires” on google brought up only more of your posts.
    I don’t know where all the talk on gifted and nobility is coming from. “Valued” is a relativistic term. I value the Tibetan center near my college, which is why I have made donations and attended yoga sessions there, but I don’t value them enough to give up everything else in my life to support their cause exclusively. What do you mean by we should be equally valued? We should all have the same rights? We should all have the same income?
    Deadbeat- I completely agree. Those men were liars and cheats who violated the first rule of being a corporation- take care of those who helped create your business.

  62. bozh said on March 17th, 2010 at 1:04pm #

    Piping,
    Some people understand the point i am making- u don’t; too bad. IMO, i had been quite clear on division of us into classes such as ‘nobilty’ and peasants, serfs, and slaves. [The words under single quotes denote their false symbolic value; more people shld use it and explain the use of it for kids or even some adults]
    There is nothing noble ab HBO, CEO, Clinton, agha, earl, boyar, an untimocratic pol or any ruler; all of them are criminals.

    U are not casting the widest look possible; thus, cannot ever learn from history.
    To understand and learn anything ab society, one must imagine a society as we once must have had: very egalitarian and interdependent.

    Starting the study of societies from the rise of america, egypt, persia, rome cannot proffer an example how to rebuilt nor recognize as iniquitous societies and obtain an idyllic society- and regardless whether we once had it or not.

    U have once said that people wld divide [?naturally] into classes or stratify selves. U have thought that because in recorded history it had always been thus; thus, u think it must continue to be that way.

    But forgotten ab socalled unrecorded history even tho anthtropologists know some of that history and how society were structured.
    So, i suggest, we have a role model to emulate and regardless whether we had it or not. It suffices, to merely disire it and compare it with a society such as in jordan, iran, iraq, or US.
    Apodicticly, there must be a solution available: which is either a timocracy [damn all democracies] or an idyllic society.
    If u cannot understand this, maybe s’mone can explain it to u! tnx

  63. Scott Noble said on March 17th, 2010 at 3:37pm #

    Thank you all for the comments.

    I will address a few of the critiques.

    John Donohue writes:

    “Do you claim that the existing humans living in what is now the United States owned the entirety of that territory”

    Well, that’s one of the interesting things about Native Americans: their ideas about property ownership were radically different from that of Europeans. Thus the question itself is framed the wrong way.

    In the article, I drew attention to the influence of Native American conceptions of property to the ideas of Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson concerning liberty and its relationship to common ownership. The influence is even more notable in the evolution of anarchism. Richard Heinberg has gone so far as to suggest that anarchist philosophy is essentially a European re-imagining of indigenous societies brought about through contact with “first peoples”. I wouldn’t go this far myself, but the influence is clearly there, especially in the work of Kropotkin (see “Mutual Aid”, for instance), and the anarchist differentiation between “possession” and “private property”.

    For anarchists, possessions are things which you acquire through your own labor and which do not threaten the liberty of others; “private property”, in contrast, is property that does negate the liberty of others, and which is usually acquired by theft, exploitation, monopoly, inheritance or some other contrivance. Libertarians do not make this distinction, even though it is clear that if person A owns, say, a giant forest, and person B owns nothing and is forced to rent himself to percent A in order to survive, then this relationship is not about “freedom” but coercion and exploitation. That person B usually ends up doing 99% of the work in this relationship, yet receives only a fraction of the profits, does not strike the libertarian as unfair. Bizarre? It certainly is.

    Anyway, getting back to the issue of Native Americans and property ownership, it would be a mistake to claim that they had no concept of property as such. The shameful history of land-treaties should make this clear enough. What is also clear, however, is that their ideas about property were severely at odds with that of Europeans. There’s no need to go into an elaborate treatise about the subject. John Trudell summed it up in his beautiful song “Crazy Horse”: “How do we sell our mother. How do we sell the stars. How do we sell the air. Crazy Horse We hear what you say.”

    The spectacle of Monsanto acquiring “ownership” of genetically modified pigs and seeds, and celebrities buying plots of land on the moon, should be enough to dismiss libertarian ideas about property ownership. They’re absurd, and that’s all there is to it.

  64. Scott Noble said on March 17th, 2010 at 3:38pm #

    oulawyer said:

    “Good Article. The only issue I have is that you you called Ron Paul a Senator when he’s actually a Representative. Otherwise you do a great job of showing the logical incoherence of the Rand/Libertarianism/Free Market Fundamentalism movement. It seems especially odd that these ideas are so strong in a nation that still tries to call itself Christian.”

    Thanks for the heads up. I’ve altered the text.

  65. Scott Noble said on March 17th, 2010 at 3:41pm #

    Robert Pupkin writes:

    “The philosophy of libertarianism is the idea that physical force should be abolished from human relations.”

    I’m curious to know whether you’ve ever studied the history of, oh I don’t know, coal mining in the United States. If you had, you would realize that libertarianism is incompatible with your stated ideal. The market in 19th C America was much “freer” than it is now. Yet violence between capitalists and workers was endemic. Nine times of out ten it was directed by capitalists annd private mercenaries at workers and their families.

    “There are extensive scholarly writings by serious economists addressing all of the economic criticisms of libertarianism that you make. For example, your idea that “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer” under capitalism has been proven false again and again. Your idea that there is a tendency toward monopoly under capitalism has been proven false. The problem of land ownership has also been addressed exhaustively by libertarians”

    I would love to see some these “scholarly writings” by “serious economists”. As it is, I’m not willing to take your word for it, nor does “scholarly writing” do anything to mitigate the ACTUAL history of capitalist development.

    “How many more blood-soaked failed socialist states will it take for people to understand that it is both morally and practically wrong?”

    I’d hate to put words in your mouth, but I assume you’re referring to 20th century experiments such as the Soviet Union and Communist China. It might interest you to know that the vast majority of people who call themselves “socialists” are equally critical of these experiments, and are opposed to centralized state power, “dictatorships of the proletariat”, rule by bureaucracy and other proven failures. It might also interest you to know that Lenin himself referred to the Bolshevik system as “state capitalism”. His idea was to appropriate the means of production developed by capitalism in its “military imperialist stage” (his words), including “Taylorist techniques” of “scientific management”, and transform the “backward peasant society” of Russia into an industrial powerhouse.

    Libertarians are fond of the book “The Black Book of Communism”. Believe it or not I’m also a fan of the book. It demonstrates quite clearly the failure of what was termed “communism” in the 20th century. Yet there is also a book that has yet to written, namely, “The Black Book of Capitalism”. Chomsky notes:

    “Overcoming amnesia, suppose we now apply the methodology of the Black Book and its reviewers to the full story, not just the doctrinally acceptable half. We therefore conclude that in India the democratic capitalist “experiment” since 1947 has caused more deaths than in the entire history of the “colossal, wholly failed…experiment” of Communism everywhere since 1917: over 100 million deaths by 1979, tens of millions more since, in India alone. The “criminal indictment” of the “democratic capitalist experiment” becomes harsher still if we turn to its effects after the fall of Communism: millions of corpses in Russia, to take one case, as Russia followed the confident prescription of the World Bank that “Countries that liberalise rapidly and extensively turn around more quickly [than those that do not],” returning to something like what it had been before World War I, a picture familiar throughout the “third world.” But “you can’t make an omelette without broken eggs,” as Stalin would have said.”

    The Black Book of Capitalism is an ongoing affair, with millions of children dying every year from hunger and easily treatable diseases. There is more than enough food to go around, but capitalist food markets place profit before people, so people starve. Similarly, big pharma spends more on advertising and lobbying than R&D. Because the goal is to make money, not improve people’s lives.

  66. Scott Noble said on March 17th, 2010 at 3:43pm #

    Melissa wrote:

    “Do you think it is possible that Rand’s idea, or herself, could evolve? Perhaps some sharp edges could be taken off; we’re not in Cold War anymore are we? A little trust, your own resolve, a lotta love, a new way of thinking. And full sun exposure.”

    Yes, I do in fact. There are geolibertarians, for example, who at least recognize the problem of traditional libertarian conceptions of property ownership, and attempt to reconcile their philosophy with the ideas of Henry George and, to a lesser extent, Thomas Paine. There are also mutualists, who borrow from the work of Proudhon. I do not consider either philosophies viable, but they are a step in the right direction.

  67. Scott Noble said on March 17th, 2010 at 3:44pm #

    An Individual writes:

    “Ayn Rand is the “guru” of “the” Tea Party movement? For which you offer NO tangible proof, only the following alleged “signs”.”

    The signs are not alleged. I transcribed the text from pictures viewable online.

    The word “guru” refers to an “intellectual or spiritual guide or leader”. Note that Ayn Rand is the most widely read “libertarian” author. She is also the person who attempted to create a logical, philosophical and moral justification for “radical individualism” and libertarian economics. She would be the de facto guru for the Tea Party movement even if no one participating in these demonstrations had read her work. The overriding philosophy of Tea Partiers is radical pseudo-individualism defined by “free markets” in opposition to government.

    “Oh, and “Senator” (oops!) Ron Paul is Rand’s “political descendant”? Funny, how you go on to effectively disprove that very notion.”

    I do no such thing. Paul is clearly a great admirer of Ayn Rand, stating that she “contributed immensely” to the libertarian movement. Paul’s predecessor, Rothbard, described his meeting with Ayn Rand as “akin to being Icarus, and flying too close to the sun.” Paul “disagreements” with Rand are not stated, though I assume they have something to do with her “militancy” and hatred of religion. Paul’s son, Rand Paul, is also a big fan of Ayn Rand. He discusses it here:

    http://libertymaven.com/2009/05/20/rand-paul-talks-about-his-name-and-ayn-rand/5796/

  68. Scott Noble said on March 17th, 2010 at 3:45pm #

    Dirty Dennis writes:

    “For example, he opines, “Capitalist markets must always produce large wealth disparities.” I’m no student of economics, but I do have a philosophical bent and the word ‘must’ in that statement rings of dogma rather than fact.”

    Insofar as we’re ever permitted to make statements of any kind, I think the idea that capitalism produces large wealth disparities is a pretty safe one. Apart from a few anarcho-capitalists who share a bizarre belief that maximum competition will result in increased equality, libertarians are not opposed to large wealth disparities. Indeed, this is the Sine qua non of libertarianism. A small minority rises above the “common” man due their superior intelligence/ability, then the idiot “mob” attempts to take back this justly acquired wealth through dastardly collective action and impudence.

  69. Scott Noble said on March 17th, 2010 at 3:49pm #

    PipingHotSoup writes:

    “Wait a minute here. I’m having trouble with all these comments that say competition leads to monopoly.”

    It’s painfully simple. Competition results in “winners” who then CAPITALIZE on their advantage in order accrue greater wealth and power. The result is monopoly.

    The spectacle of libertarians arguing against “government power” is quite laughable in this respect, since the only way capitalists have of maintaining their advantage is a strong, violent state. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

    “Capitalism is a voluntary exchange of goods that benefits all parties involved”

    You neglect to mention that one of the “goods” involved here is the human being him/herself. Capitalism reduces human beings to the status of objects, forcing them to sell or “rent” their labor power to corporations in order to survive. The primary difference between slavery and capitalism is that the latter involves contract negotiations between the slave and the master. The claim that the presence of a contract negates coercion, and that this relationship has something to do with “liberty” is nonsensical and can be debunked by a simple thought experiment. Ask yourself whether anyone, anywhere wishes to work for minimum wage, and whether, if possible, such a person would like to have a part in the decision making apparatus of the corporation he or she works for.

    The latter point – that capitalism “benefits all parties involved” – is so absurd it belongs in the realm of satire, and requires no rebuttal.

    “After reading Guns Germs and Steel I believe that, almost as a form of natural selection, tribes that decided to stay equal with lots of hunter gatherers were superseded by tribes that had farmers, soldiers, doctors, priests, and kings.”

    The reference to “natural selection” here is an interesting one, and reinforces my belief that libertarianism has more in common with Herbert Spencer than Adam Smith. Spencer was a right wing thinker who twisted Darwin’s theory of natural selection to suit his own reactionary political beliefs. There is nothing in Darwin to suggest that intra-species competition is beneficial to the survival of the species. Indeed, for a social species, the opposite is true. War is competition writ large, and war is an expression of resource competition. We are reaching the point where war might spell the end of the species. Thus your “natural selection” argument is an inversion of reality. A few quotes are in order here:

    ”Darwin’s theory of the struggle for existence and the selectivity connected with it has by many people been cited as authorization of the encouragement of the spirit of competition. Some people also in such a way have tried to prove pseudoscientifically the necessity of the destructive economic struggle of competition between individuals. But this is wrong, because man owes his strength in the struggle for existence to the fact that he is a socially living animal. As little as a battle between ants of an ant hill is essential for survival, just so little is this the case with the individual members of a human community.”
    - Albert Einstein

    “This competition, this ‘struggle’, is a superficial thing, superimposed on an essential mutual dependence. The basic theme in nature is cooperation rather than competition—a cooperation that has become so all-pervasive, so completely integrated, that it is difficult to untwine and follow out the separate strands.”
    - Zoologist Marvin Bates

    “Competition is not the ubiquitous force that many ecologist have believed. Why, then, have they been so preoccupied with competition? Competition occupies a central position in Western culture—witness its expression in sports, economics, space exploration, international politics, or warfare. Little wonder, then, that community ecologists expected that the primary factor organizing communities would be competition.”
    - Biologist John A. Wiens

    The basic law of capitalism is you or I, not both you and I.
    - Karl Liebknecht

    “Competition, which is the instinct of selfishness, is another word for dissipation of energy, while combination is the secret of efficient production.
    -Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward, 1888

    “…the paradoxical belief of Americans that competition is natural—but only if it is constantly re-created by artificial systems of social roles that direct energies into it. First we are systematically socialized to compete—and to want to compete—and then the results are cited as evidence of competition’s inevitability.”
    - Sociologist David Riesman

    “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
    - MLK

    PipingHotSoup wrote:

    “Ben and Jerry’s CEO etc.”

    I’m not particularly interested in the Ben and Jerry’s example because the alleged under-performance of the corporation during their “experiment” in “caring capitalism” (an oxymoron, I should point out) can be attributed to numerous factors. There are far more scientific (and large scale) studies/examples demonstrating the benefits of participation and equal rights in human relations.

    Alfie Kohn outlines a plethora of studies in “No Contest: the Cases against Competition” and “The Brighter Side of Human Nature” debunking traditional capitalist views concerning work and reward. “Study after study after study”, in Kohn’s words, demonstrate that when people are given a task to perform and told that the goal is to “win” (or that they will receive a monetary reward) do an inferior job than people who are told that the goal is simply to work together and do your best. The same conclusions have been be drawn in studies involving children.

    Real-life examples are also abundant, and invariably point in one direction. The GE pilot program and other experiments in “workplace democracy” showed increased satisfaction and productivity in workers (the program was terminated when workers wanted to extend their decision making capacities into the actual running of the corporation, threatening profits). Studies also show that participatory work environments have numerous benefits to the community at large. Not only are workers happier, they tend to get more involved in community organizations, politics and other endeavors. The question of why – if workplace democracy increases productivity – capitalists do not embrace it, should be obvious. When people get a taste of freedom and equality they want more. People trapped in alienated work environments are less likely to become involved in activism. It’s a win win for the elite, a lose lose for everyone else.

    The essential problem with libertarianism is a mammoth hypocrisy. They condemn coercion and violence by the state, yet celebrate or obfuscate “identical albeit contract-consecrated” (Black) events in the market. True advocates of liberty would seek to minimize exploitation in all realms of human endeavor.

  70. PipingHotSoup said on March 18th, 2010 at 11:07am #

    Scott- I can throw together a bunch of quotes that seem to advance my point, too:
    “Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood.”- General George S. Patton
    “A competitor will find a way to win. Competitors take bad breaks and use them to drive themselves just that much harder. Quitters take bad breaks and use them as reasons to give up. It’s all a matter of pride.”- Nancy Lopez

    you make it sound as if a corporation’s goal is maximize profits AND oppress it’s workforce. Workplaces have to keep a delicate balance between appeasing their employees by offering them all kinds of extra non-monetary benefits, and still having productive workers. Neither extreme end of the spectrum will have optimal results, as benefits eventually have diminishing returns, but it doesn’t help to have workers so alienated they work somewhere else.
    The under performance of a company problem definitely can be attributed to multiple factors, but in this case, every time they increased the pay of their CEO, the whole company benefited, and so did all of the consumers. You imagine if they had some kind of a collective they could have produced a better product?
    I don’t think so. I think in groups of people without proper motivation, group action leads to less being done, not more.
    So, the real question here it seems, is what exactly is the most efficient way to achieve a goal?
    You bring up some good studies, and I’ll browse them this summer.

  71. bozh said on March 18th, 2010 at 6:23pm #

    One god 0r god 1 may or may not be good for person 1. However, god 1 [that of pope, let's say] cannot ever be good for person 2. Only god 2 may or may not be good for person 2.
    For person 1, only god 1 exists. For person 2, only god 2 exists. For person 3, only god 3 exists. For person X only god X can exist.
    Similarly no god 1, no god 2, no god 3 can exist for atheist 1, 2, 3, etc. I base this on a principle that no two people can be identical in all respects.
    Socialism 1, capitalism 1, democracy 1, timocracy 1, constitution 1, fascism 1 exists only for person 1;never for person 2,3,4, 5…
    By positing words socialism, communism, fascism, asocialism, capitalism, timocrat, democrat w.o. numerical suffixes we point out to similar traits in these phenomena and by adding suffixes 1, 2, 3, 4.. we indicate that there are always also different traits inherent in each.

    When a person talks ab capitalism, he’s talking ab what HE KNOWS ab it and not what u KNOW. Thus, it helps me to think of it a person 1 talking ab subject 1 and me thinking ab subject 2. Always expecting differences and upon discovering them one does not need to get angry; resorting to namecalling not only the person, but also what s/he KNOWS.

    And KNOWLEDGE 1 is not KNOWLEDGE 2. And knowledges never fight one another!
    This prevents anger and frustration! tnx

  72. PipingHotSoup said on March 18th, 2010 at 7:51pm #

    Bozh- That was probably the wisest thing said on these pages so far.

  73. bozh said on March 19th, 2010 at 6:07am #

    Piping, thanks for ur comment!
    I have learned this from others. It has calming effects. We hold the same-similar, but also some dissimilar views ab anything.
    This does not mean that we cannot eliminate the differences via an enlightenment. Or just let them be for time being.
    But nevertheless believe in melliorism; i.e., betterment!

    However, we may also disagree on what is a teaching and what isn’t. Adults are no longer tabula rasa; kids are. They can evaluate lies as truth and vice versa with equal effort.

    They shld be told to ask [in schools] just two questions: What do u mean, and How do u know?
    EG, What do u mean by saying that US flag also represents me and how do u know that?

    For a child can see another child living in a mansion and another in a basement. Or that cld be pointed out to her/him.
    That alone belies the professed meanings of a flag, law, constitution, etc. tnx

  74. Don Hawkins said on March 19th, 2010 at 6:37am #

    Mr. soup from your witting so far it does come right out of how to win friends and influence people. Did you find that wise well the best minds we have will keep trying on a new way of thinking not the old way of thinking that has got us to this point. Answers stay tuned.

  75. NatanPress said on March 22nd, 2010 at 1:07pm #

    I came to this article looking for some criticisms of Libertarianism. I consider myself a classical liberal, and American “Libertarianism” seems to be the most ideologically similar. However, I’m a pragmatist. I do not think “free markets” are the utopian dream some other seem to. That being said, this article doesn’t provide much ammunition against Libertarianism. Perhaps it could, however, if it worded things differently, or explained more.

    As I see it, Libertarianism does not equal completely free markets. Libertarian organizations that I’m familiar with consistently work AGAINST corporate interests. The thrust of Libertarianism these days is that “big government” is bad because it creates corporate oligarchies. In this way it seems that Libertarians and Greens, and others, actually have a lot in common.

    An example high in my mind these days would be from a conversation I had with a friend explaining the problems with Congress in general. I said, essentially, that Congress is drowning in corporate interests. I said that any time congress makes legislation, large or small, one will find corporate interests that enjoy the regulation. Though the regulation may claim to limit the power of the corporations, the legislation ALWAYS entrenches the largest of corporations, because they are the only ones that can deal with the cost of the regulation, thus reducing the potency of possible competitors (or, in some cases, become “to big to fail” and thus never have to compete even a little).

    To accentuate my point to my friend I said “I bet Wal-Mart loves the idea of universal Healthcare” even, or perhaps especially, if they have to pay for it. A quick google search proved my point. Wal-Mart, the great enemy of the workers, pushed for healthcare. This find made me more a believe the correctness of Libertarian ideas because it gave me an very clear instance where I was able to predict an outcome. According to Libertarians, Wal-Mart should love universal Healthcare, despite being so against providing insurance in the past. The guess was proved correct.

    Another aspect of Libertarianism that seems to be ignored here is that individual liberties are important. Individual liberties are not simply freedom from the government. They are also freedom from other individuals. The state is not evil, nor are other individuals. But (democratic) states are powerful because they are comprised of many individuals, and thus can lead to “tyranny of the majority.” Certainly, what one individual can to do another (punching someone), many individuals can do with more ease (ganging up on someone).

    Therefore, in my mind, the example given of the Ugandan society, or the coal miners, is not valid as a criticism of Libertarianism. “Ordered Liberty” is not free market chaos, or “everyone for themselves. I’m perfectly ok with the idea that Ayn Rand is an idiot. She takes certain ideas too far, to say the least. But that doesn’t mean therefore that all Libertarians are all about individual action and might makes right.

    For libertarians, as far as I know, might never makes right. Just the opposite. Everyone’s inherent right to their self, and their property, must be respected by everyone else. That means people cant just take stuff from each other, even if they win some competition. Therefore we have government, enforcing the law, to help people understand where that line may be drawn. It’s inherently a slippery slope. Too little and we have anarchic chaos, too much and we have the few making decisions for the many.

    The best example these days would be in the debate surrounding “eminent domain.” Can the government take from private owners, and give to other private owners, based on the argument that taking from the poor and giving to the rich helps everyone in the end (more tax revenue, more jobs)? Libertarians (see The Institute For Justice) are on the forefront of this debate. They are protecting the poor homeowners against the Donald Trumps of the world, who are saying to government that their money will bring more money, and the poor homeowners will simply let the land lose its potential. That seems to me to be the rich winning a competition against the poor, throwing their greater power against people with less. They gain even more power with the help of the government.

    The government, according to libertarians, should be protecting the right of the people to do with their property as they please, even if what they do with the property brings less money in to the economy than a parking lot for a huge corporate tower (or a plant for Pfizer). The government, on the other hand, says that it knows what’s best, and takes the property away…and then gives it to the corporation to do “better” things with it.

    Fighting this seems like a very pragmatic, productive, and progressive thing to me, and it’s libertarians that are doing it. Why are Liberals and Greens not on their side? It seems to me like they should be.

  76. Melissa said on March 22nd, 2010 at 1:40pm #

    NatanPress, I appreciate the comment you offered here.

    I suspect that Liberals, progressives and Greens do not get on board because Libertarians reserve rights and do not advocate undermining rights. Greens want to do away with rights and sovereignity (read the platforms) in the name of many well-intentioned goals, and the Liberal base marches along the same world governance path.

    I voted Green in the last presidential election because McKinney was campaigning on Constitutional Law, human rights, anti-war, 9/11 truth inquiry, and was educating as many people as possible about the COINTELPRO and other shady ops that influence so much of political action and elections. She didn’t advertise the UN goals quite as much.

    That said, I will not be returning to the Greens, but will pursue human rights, environmental justice and protection of civil liberties with others. I applaud the Greens for excellent organizing and challenging the status quo powers, and I am in awe and reverence for the courageous and lovely McKinney. But at the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves how much local control can be had if we are willing to adopt every UN resolution and strengthen a global governing body beyond our own. Misguided, I think, if we want real democratic processes and local control.

    The UN just isn’t the humanitarian outfit that we, and some involved with UN, want and need it to be. I see no reason to strengthen a corrupt organization.

    Libertarian ideas are not defined by Ayn Rand, Greenspan or any individual. Neither are they defined by Ron Paul or The Tea Partiers. Libertarians reserve the right to define themselves. Liberals and Greens look to be defined, and take their cues from the top in their top-down structured orgs.

    As always,
    Peace, Resistance, Hope,
    Melissa

  77. Don Hawkins said on March 22nd, 2010 at 1:50pm #

    We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

    The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

    Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known. Carl Sagan

    Take a look that’s us.

    http://obs.nineplanets.org/psc/pbd.html

  78. jdelvane said on March 28th, 2010 at 2:59pm #

    It’s true political science professors have dismissed her theories because they are all Marxists and would never agree with any right wing philosophical thinker. Ayn Rand was brilliant and very influential in many people’s lives. One study found that when asked which book was most influential in their life, the two most common responses were the “The Bible” and “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand.

    Ayn Rand’s personal life was not a train wreck. She was extreme in her beliefs but not any more extreme than Marxists are in their beliefs. She did have followers, and she still does today. But they were all there because they thought she was brilliant and they wanted to learn from her. She did have an affair with a member of her following but she told her husband and the man’s wife what they were planning to do before they did it. It was probably a bad idea and it probably hurt the people involved, but at least she was up front and honest about it. Her husband did not suffer from dementia and she never humiliated him or was cruel to him. She loved her husband very much and other than the one infidelity I mentioned which she got permission for, she was loyal to him, she took care of him and stayed with him until his death.

    The heroes of her books did NOT engage in terrorism. No hero in her novel ever initiated the use of force. They only met force with force. When a hero was captured, the others came to rescue him. They were also fighting against a forceful regime. In this respect they were acting like the founding fathers in asserting the independence, defending their rights of life and liberty and they were fighting for the cause of Freedom which cannot be classified as terrorism.

    True capitalism is not the same thing as crony capitalism. True capitalism does not allow any class to receive favors from the government. The government is not allowed to make laws that favor a certain class or give tax exceptions that favor a certain class. It does not allow government to give any company an exclusive right to a certain part of the market or give it and exclusive right to operate within a given geographical area. This is what we call crony capitalism. Crony Capitalism is criminal activity. In true capitalism companies have to compete with each and they actually have to do a good job in order to gain and keep customers.

    Freedom is tied up with property rights. Would you consider a society free if it did not allow you own anything – to own what you earned?

    Yes, labor is a commodity. Yes, you own your labor. Yes, you can sell your labor to various consumers of labor in the market place. But this does not make you a victim. Quite the opposite. It is very empowering to own your own labor. It is not at all like the relationship between an armed robber and his victim. You have a choice as to who you will sell your labor to and at what price. You could chose to start your own business in which case you would be working for yourself. You could choose NOT to sell your labor to anyone at all. But if you chose not to sell your labor, that does not relieve you of the necessity to work. You would still have to work to produce for yourself the necessities of life. You would have to farm and/or raise your own game and/or hunt. You would have to build your own shelter, make your own clothes and figure out a way to produce enough energy to fuel all your gadgets. Marx and every communist in the world lament the indignation of labor and they all miss the simple fact that labor is an inescapable part of life. To gripe about the necessity to work is to gripe about the nature of reality.

    When people work for wages, Liberals/Socialists/Marxists call it wage slavery, but when people lose their job, they complain that they are being deprived of their wages. Well, which is it? Are wages a burden or a privilege?

  79. jdelvane said on March 28th, 2010 at 3:00pm #

    Competition does not kill competition. Even the corporations who have currently captured the highest percentage of the market (this is what we call a natural monopoly and there is nothing wrong with a natural monopoly), still have to be vigilant. They have to continue to innovate, they have to continue improve, they have to offer their employees the best benefits and wages in order to attract the best and most imaginative employees. If they don’t, there are always others waiting in the wings ready to swoop in and take away market share. Even those who do not have great wealth can start a business if they can convince others to lend them money on the basis that they have a great idea for an innovative product that people will want to buy in the marketplace or that they have an idea for an innovation of an existing product in the market. Anyone can start a business and create great wealth if they put energy into coming up with an innovation, do the leg work to convince others to invest in their business, work long hours to get the business off the ground, assume the immense financial responsibilities and potential risks of starting a business. Is this a difficult process? Yes! Is it impossible? No! The fact that making money is such a difficult endeavor tells you why people who have it are so protective of it and feel they have earned it. Liberals/Socialists/Marxists will either lament that making money when you have none is impossible or it is too difficult. Well, it is not impossible. And the fact that it is difficult should make you more appreciative of those who have made it and it should make you understand why those people who done the hard work and assumed the huge risks get the larger share of the profits than those who have not.
    Compare natural monopolies to government imposed monopolies where the government forcefully imposes an exclusive right to operate in a given market on behalf a corporation in exchange for bribes from that corporation. In this case the corporation does not have to provide good products or service because they can keep others out of their market by force.
    The only way to redress imbalance of powers is the free market. Collective action only shifts power by force rather than by improving productivity, prices and working conditions for employees. Collective action shifts power according to who is willing to be the most corrupt, aggressive and immoral.
    It’s true that Ayn Rand valued selfishness and thought that it was a virtue. And she was right. She was not against compassion or empathy. She was strongly opposed to altruism. Her position is that virtue is derived from promoting and supporting life. And evil is that which promotes or leads to death. According to Ayn Rand, “Rational self interest” (this was her phrase, although the author seems to steal it from her) is virtuous because it is virtuous to support and promote your own life. It is immoral to fail to support your own life because one of two things could happen. Either you die or you create a burden for others to take care of you and create/provide the things that are necessary to support your life. Both of these options are a step in the direction of death. The more burdens we place on people to take care of those who refuse to take care of themselves, the less resources those providers have to take care of themselves and the people they love. This is immoral. Altruism is immoral for the same reasons except that it is self-imposed. Instead of being forced to relinquish your own resources, people chose to relinquish their resources. Popular culture considers it moral to sacrifice your resources and well-being, for the sake of others regardless of who or what that might be. Ayn Rand would consider it immoral and irrational to sacrifice for people or for causes that are destructive of us. In other words, It would be irrational and unwise to help our enemies who are conspiring to destroy us. She would, however, consider it moral and rational to sacrifice for people we love and/or admire and/or respect. She would consider this rational self-interest or in other words virtuous selfishness.
    Ayn Rand’s philosophy was the first to clearly identify human nature and form a system morality based on this reality.
    So in other words the author is in favor the government forcefully imposing equality upon the members of society. I find it ironic that the author is criticizing Ayn Rand for being cruel when he is advocating force and Ayn Rand was an advocate for freedom.
    If equality promotes happiness in some people, then they are perfectly free to form egalitarian communities and ask others to join voluntarily, rather than forcing everyone to live in their idea of an ideal system. Note that this is only possible in a free market system of government. It is not possible in a totalitarian system of government or in a democracy because if the majority does not agree with your idea of what an ideal egalitarian community should be, then they could vote to stop you from forming such a community. Again note the desire to use force versus the idea of freedom so that everyone can decide for themselves what constitutes happiness.
    Ayn Rand’s family was not excessively wealthy. I believe they owned a pharmacy if I remember correctly. When the communists came into power their family business and home was confiscated. Her family never had servants. She never witnessed servants being whipped and she certainly never whipped any servants. Her philosophy was inspired from witnessing a violent and oppressive government stealing hard-earned private property and freedoms away from its people and she thereafter felt great sympathy and empathy for people all over the world who were being tortured and oppressed by violent, tyrannical regimes.
    She was not a sociopath. She would never have approved of a killer. She was an advocate of freedom and natural rights and private property rights. She was most famous for her assertion that no one has the right to initiate the use of force or fraud against another human being. Murder is the ultimate use of force. It deprives the victim of his life, his greatest and most valuable possession. The above quote about Hickman must have been twisted and taken out of context. If she said anything about Hickman, it would have been to express extreme disgust and disapproval of such a person. She never did anything to harm any human being. All her efforts were directed at helping people by establishing that freedom was a necessary condition of human life. She was acutely aware of her own accomplishments, but she had a right to be proud of them.

  80. jdelvane said on March 28th, 2010 at 3:02pm #

    The difference between an employer and government is that you can always choose to go work for a different employer. But when government makes illegitimate, unjust and oppressive laws, we have no way to defend ourselves. There is no force involved in an employer/employee relationship. There is much more potential for force in a relationship between government and the individual.

    The phrase “A is A” is not the equivalent of “Let them eat cake”. “A is A” means that reality exists and we must acknowledge reality and work within the confines of reality.

    Competition is not a problem for anyone. Everyone wins when competitors compete and when one player wins. The winning corporation gets higher revenue. The employees of the winning corporation get better wages and better benefits. The consumers get better products at a cheaper price. The losers of the competition get the benefit of the winning party’s innovations and increased standard of living. What’s to dislike about capitalism and competitions? If competition is not allowed we would get the exact opposite of these great result – lower profits, lower wages, worse benefits, worse products at higher prices, and decreased standard of living and less innovation (which I should add, includes life-saving technology).

    I am sure that Ayn Rand never said this because it is totally contradictory to her theory of freedom. If she said anything like this, she probably said that government officials should operate strictly within the limits of the Constitution to ensure that government does not grab any more power for itself and away from individuals.

    I have one question for this theory. What is superfluous?

    This philosophy is wrong on the principle of merit. If you work to create wealth, you have a right to that wealth regardless of how much or how little wealth you produce. The public did not create it. The individual creates wealth. At no point does society have a right to step in take away your earnings EVER. The believe that anyone has a right to confiscate the wealth of others is based on jealousy.

    Ayn Rand was right about native American land rights. They had none because they did not improve the land. They left it in its natural state. Europeans came to this continent and started working the land, making improvements. When there are no rules of land ownership established in a given region, then it’s first come, first serve. Whoever puts work into a piece of property and makes improvements upon it, earns ownership over that land. The improvements made on the land marked significant progress in civilization. If you don’t believe it constitutes progress, then you should be willing to go live in a teepee with a dirt floor, no bath or shower facilities, a campfire as your only source of heat and means of cooking food, hunting and gathering your food from the wilderness, making supplies only from materials found in the wilderness, no washing machine to do laundry, no car for transportation and no roads to make your travel easier, no electricity to power modern technological devices. Native Americans fought to preserve their way of life but they lost the battle . . . probably because they were not as technologically advanced. But that doesn’t make the Europeans evil. When you’re involved in a war and you’re defending your life and the lives of your loved ones, it is reasonable to use every advantage you have. What should the Europeans have done instead? Not use their guns and other weapons because the opposite side did not have the same tools? That’s ridiculous. When someone is trying to kill you and your family, you use all your resources to kill them first. We did not steal the land from the Indians. We won it in a war. Ayn Rand did not hate Native Americans. She simply pointed out that they lost a war and she prefers the higher standard of living brought about by civilization.

    All the residents of the mining town had the choice to leave the town and go work for someone else. They were probably there because they felt they could make more money in this venue than any other venue available to them at the time. But this does not negate the options available to them.

    The Ik people of Northern Uganda are not an example of capitalism or rational self interest. This is an example of the exact opposite – savage human beings, beaten down by desperation of poverty and hunger. You cannot be rational when you’re starving. This condition was created by “displacing them from their traditional hunting grounds and forc[ing them] to live in extreme poverty.” And we are surprised that they became irrational and brutal to their fellow man? Capitalism does not create poverty or starvation. It creates the greatest abundance we’ve ever seen in any society anywhere in the world any time in history. Even the poorest members of society have a better standard of living than any other society in the world. And their opportunities for improvement are limitless.

    The Ik people of Northern Uganda were in no condition to be rational after being deprived of food and their traditional way of life. They deserve our pity not our criticism. And it is certainly unfair to show this as an example of “Rational Self Interest”.

    This is a bad article full of lies, twisted facts and concepts. Ayn Rand was a great lady and huge intellectual thinker. Her intellectual accomplishments are legendary. They can be ranked up there with the great philosophers in history such as Aristotle. Freedom brings about peace and prosperity. Communism has only brought about death, destruction, stagnation, famine and hopelessness.

  81. Don Hawkins said on March 28th, 2010 at 3:46pm #

    And we all lived happily ever after.

  82. Don Hawkins said on March 28th, 2010 at 4:25pm #

    jdelvane here’s an idea or two. The media MSM The weather Channel, CNN, MSNBC, you get the idea well how do they make money? Let’s take The Weather Channel first they show us high’s and low’s and tomorrow they will show us flooding in the Northeast United States will they tell us the reason it’s been raining and raining and raining you know weather pattern changes due to climate change. The ice at the top of the Earth is melting and melting fast and not in twenty years but today it is changing weather patterns. Probably not as it appears something or someone is in control of there mind. CNN or MSNBC do the same thing on the weather and much more oh so much more. We get to watch well dressed fools tell us strange things that in reality make no sense what so ever. Now they make there money from advertising big this and that it’s the system stupid. Here’s an idea let’s say The Weather Channel step’s up and say’s people we are in deep do do and we are now going to start telling you the truth but when we do that big business or for that matter political groups no more money to us from advertising they don’t like the whole truth part so we are asking you the people all the people to sent what you can in the form of a donation to keep us going and we promise to tell you the latest science have on our channel real scientists real fact’s and damn it we do love you very very much.

  83. Don Hawkins said on March 28th, 2010 at 5:16pm #

    I didn’t put Fox New’s on my last comment because well that is a completely different animal all unto itself. Kind of headquarters for the well dressed fools. If we wish to survive it will take an enormous effort on many different levels reload or Obama is a Socialist repeal and replace the tea party is nonsense, foolishness on a grand scale.

  84. Deadbeat said on March 28th, 2010 at 7:14pm #

    Capitalist markets must always produce large wealth disparities, which in turn consolidate power into the hands of the few. This power is then used to create even larger wealth disparities. Call it corporatism, monopoly capitalism or just capitalism, it is the natural and entirely predictable end result of market competition. As the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon famously remarked, “Competition kills competition”, resulting in monopoly.

    This is absolutely true. What I thought was a ridiculous concept is “perfect competition” which is the basis for most economic models. They based their theories on a non-existent and unrealistic Utopian model. This is yet another reason why bourgeois economics cannot be trusted.

  85. jdelvane said on March 28th, 2010 at 8:20pm #

    Deadbeat, if competition kills competition, how do you explain all the companies who were formerly market leaders and are now a mere fraction of their former size. In the 1920′s A & P Grocery stores were the dominant grocers in America. They continued to prosper until 1970′s. Suburbinization with bigger parking lots, and the sale of more refrigerators and freezers made greater volume of sales possible. Other chains responded to changing market conditions, while A & P continued to do business as usual. They lost market share and now they probably have less than 10% of the market share. There are hundreds of expamples like this in Thomas Sowell’s book “Basic Economics”. Look them up.

  86. Don Hawkins said on March 29th, 2010 at 1:55am #

    Look them up. No no no just look up at night is a good time.

  87. Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:19am #

    NatanPress: “I came to this article looking for some criticisms of Libertarianism. I consider myself a classical liberal, and American “Libertarianism” seems to be the most ideologically similar.”

    There are some similarities, but there are so considerable dissimilarities. Remember that classical liberals were pre-capitalist. Chomsky has written extensively on this:

    “This is true of classical liberalism in general. The founders of classical liberalism, people like Adam Smith and Wilhelm von Humboldt, who is one of the great exponents of classical liberalism, and who inspired John Stuart Mill — they were what we would call libertarian socialists, at least that ïs the way I read them. For example, Humboldt, like Smith, says, Consider a craftsman who builds some beautiful thing. Humboldt says if he does it under external coercion, like pay, for wages, we may admire what he does but we despise what he is. On the other hand, if he does it out of his own free, creative expression of himself, under free will, not under external coercion of wage labor, then we also admire what he is because he’s a human being. He said any decent socioeconomic system will be based on the assumption that people have the freedom to inquire and create — since that’s the fundamental nature of humans — in free association with others, but certainly not under the kinds of external constraints that came to be called capitalism.

    It’s the same when you read Jefferson. He lived a half century later, so he saw state capitalism developing, and he despised it, of course. He said it’s going to lead to a form of absolutism worse than the one we defended ourselves against. In fact, if you run through this whole period you see a very clear, sharp critique of what we would later call capitalism and certainly of the twentieth century version of it, which is designed to destroy individual, even entrepreneurial capitalism.

    There’s a side current here which is rarely looked at but which is also quite fascinating. That’s the working class literature of the nineteenth century. They didn’t read Adam Smith and Wilhelm von Humboldt, but they’re saying the same things. Read journals put out by the people called the “factory girls of Lowell,” young women in the factories, mechanics, and other working people who were running their own newspapers. It’s the same kind of critique. There was a real battle fought by working people in England and the U.S. to defend themselves against what they called the degradation and oppression and violence of the industrial capitalist system, which was not only dehumanizing them but was even radically reducing their intellectual level. So, you go back to the mid-nineteenth century and these so-called “factory girls,” young girls working in the Lowell [Massachusetts] mills, were reading serious contemporary literature. They recognized that the point of the system was to turn them into tools who would be manipulated, degraded, kicked around, and so on. And they fought against it bitterly for a long period. That’s the history of the rise of capitalism.

    The other part of the story is the development of corporations, which is an interesting story in itself. Adam Smith didn’t say much about them, but he did criticize the early stages of them. Jefferson lived long enough to see the beginnings, and he was very strongly opposed to them. But the development of corporations really took place in the early twentieth century and very late in the nineteenth century. Originally, corporations existed as a public service. People would get together to build a bridge and they would be incorporated for that purpose by the state. They built the bridge and that’s it. They were supposed to have a public interest function. Well into the 1870s, states were removing corporate charters. They were granted by the state. They didn’t have any other authority. They were fictions. They were removing corporate charters because they weren’t serving a public function. But then you get into the period of the trusts and various efforts to consolidate power that were beginning to be made in the late nineteenth century. It’s interesting to look at the literature. The courts didn’t really accept it. There were some hints about it. It wasn’t until the early twentieth century that courts and lawyers designed a new socioeconomic system. It was never done by legislation. It was done mostly by courts and lawyers and the power they could exercise over individual states. New Jersey was the first state to offer corporations any right they wanted. Of course, all the capital in the country suddenly started to flow to New Jersey, for obvious reasons. Then the other states had to do the same thing just to defend themselves or be wiped out. It’s kind of a small-scale globalization. Then the courts and the corporate lawyers came along and created a whole new body of doctrine which gave corporations authority and power that they never had before. If you look at the background of it, it’s the same background that led to fascism and Bolshevism. A lot of it was supported by people called progressives, for these reasons: They said, individual rights are gone. We are in a period of corporatization of power, consolidation of power, centralization. That’s supposed to be good if you’re a progressive, like a Marxist-Leninist. Out of that same background came three major things: fascism, Bolshevism, and corporate tyranny. They all grew out of the same more or less Hegelian roots. It’s fairly recent. We think of corporations as immutable, but they were designed. It was a conscious design which worked as Adam Smith said: the principal architects of policy consolidate state power and use it for their interests. It was certainly not popular will. It’s basically court decisions and lawyers’ decisions, which created a form of private tyranny which is now more massive in many ways than even state tyranny was. These are major parts of modern twentieth century history. The classical liberals would be horrified. They didn’t even imagine this. But the smaller things that they saw, they were already horrified about. This would have totally scandalized Adam Smith or Jefferson or anyone like that….

    NatanPress: “The thrust of Libertarianism these days is that “big government” is bad because it creates corporate oligarchies. In this way it seems that Libertarians and Greens, and others, actually have a lot in common.”

    If this was the “thrust” of libertarianism then I wouldn’t have a problem with it. However libertarian ideology goes far beyond that. It demonizes social programs that aid the poor; it touts the “market” as the solution to most, if not all human ills; it advocates relentless privatization, putting public resources into corporate hands; it opposes virtually any form of common ownership; it stresses competition rather than cooperation, etc. etc. etc.

    NatanPress: “Another aspect of Libertarianism that seems to be ignored here is that individual liberties are important. Individual liberties are not simply freedom from the government. They are also freedom from other individuals.”

    I agree that libertarians often have very positive positions on individual rights. Many advocate for an end to the drug war, the legalizing of prostitution, the end of the “Patriot Act” and so forth. The problem arises in the simplistic notion of property and its relationship to individual rights. I’d recommend checking out the geolibertarians (they’d refer to you as a “royal libertarian”, since your concept of property has more to do with monarchy than liberty). I’d also recommend checking out the mutualists. These groups at least ATTEMPT to reconcile libertarianism with the problems of private property.

    NatanPress:“tyranny of the majority”

    This is what capitalists call democracy. It’s interesting to note that without the “tyranny of the majority” you would probably not have a bill of rights in the first place. The bill of rights was the price the Federalists had to pay to ratify the Constitution, and was basically shoved down their throats by the more democratic elements of the society (primarily the anti-Federalists).

    The view that community and individual rights are antithetical is very strong in the United States. Yet you should at least consider the possibility that you might be wrong on this point. There is very strong evidence that equality of outcome, participation and common ownership increase individual rights and human happiness. I recommend Andrew Dinkelaker’s article “Reconciling Autonomy and Community”.

  88. Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:20am #

    Jdelvane: “True capitalism is not the same thing as crony capitalism. True capitalism does not allow any class to receive favors from the government. The government is not allowed to make laws that favor a certain class or give tax exceptions that favor a certain class.”

    Did you just say right that? Seriously? On what planet would a wealthy capitalist not seek to capitalize on their advantage in order to accrue greater wealth?

    It is precisely because of comments like this that I seldom argue with libertarians. Their inability to grasp power dynamics in even their most obvious form is legendary. Not only is your proposition absurd, it is contradicted by the entire history of capitalist development.

    “the State . . . and capitalism . . . developed side by side, mutually supporting and re-enforcing each other.” [Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets, p. 181]

    Capitalism could not exist without extensive state intervention, for several reasons.

    One, it would be less profitable:

    “Import substitution [through state intervention] is about the only way anybody’s ever figured out to industrialize,” development economist Lance Taylor observes: “In the long run, there are no laissez-faire transitions to modern economic growth. The state has always intervened to create a capitalist class, and then it has to regulate the capitalist class, and then the state has to worry about being taken over by the capitalist class, but the state has always been there.”

    Maurice Dobbs: “In short, the Mercantile System was a system of State-regulated exploitation through trade which played a highly important rule in the adolescence of capitalist industry: it was essentially the economic policy of an age of primitive accumulation.” [Studies in Capitalism Development, p. 209]

    “the road to the free market was opened and kept open by an enormous increase in continuous, centrally organised and controlled interventionism” by the state [The Great Transformation p. 140].

    Paul Ormerod: “advice to follow pure free-market polices seems . . . to be contrary to the lessons of virtually the whole of economic history since the Industrial Revolution . . . every country which has moved into . . . strong sustained growth . . . has done so in outright violation of pure, free-market principles.” “The model of entrepreneurial activity in the product market, with judicious state support plus repression in the labour market, seems to be a good model of economic development.” [The Death of Economics, p. 63]

  89. Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:21am #

    Jdelvane: Re: competition.

    I did not say that businesses are incapable of failing if they are run poorly or fail to adapt. I said that, overtime, markets consolidate power into fewer and fewer hands. Thus, “competition kills competition”.

    For people with little or no capital, entering competition is limited to new markets with low start-up costs (“In general, the industries which are generally associated with small scale production. . . have low levels of concentration” [Malcolm C. Sawyer, The Economics of Industries and Firms, p. 35]). Sadly, however, due to the dynamics of competition, these markets usually in turn become dominated by a few big firms, as weaker firms fail, successful ones grow and capital costs increase (“Each time capital completes its cycle, the individual grows smaller in proportion to it.” [Josephine Guerts, Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed no. 41, p. 48]).

    “[t]ransnationals arise because they are a means of consolidating or increasing profits in an oligopoly world.” [Keith Cowling and Roger Sugden, Transnational Monopoly Capitalism, p. 20]

    Over time a well-evolved structure of global oligopoly will appear, with a handful of firms dominating most global markets (with turnovers larger than most countries GDP — which is the case even now. For example, in 1993 Shell had assets of US$ 100.8 billion, which is more than double the GDP of New Zealand and three times that of Nigeria, and total sales of US$ 95.2 billion).

    In the words of Proudhon himself:

    “Moreover, though it should be admitted that competition does not yet exist in its integrity, that would simply prove that competition does not act with all the power of elimination that there is in it; but that will not change at all its contradictory nature. What need have we to wait thirty centuries longer to find out that, the more competition develops, the more it tends to reduce the number of competitors?”

  90. Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:22am #

    jdelvane: “Her husband did not suffer from dementia and she never humiliated him or was cruel to him. She loved her husband very much and other than the one infidelity I mentioned which she got permission for, she was loyal to him, she took care of him and stayed with him until his death.”

    You’re lying or simply ignorant. From a review in the New Criterion:

    “Rand’s hardness of heart was not only confined to the page. There is a chilling account in the biography of how she treated her long-suffering husband, Frank O’Connor, when he suffered from dementia:

    She nagged at him continually, to onlookers’ distress. “Don’t humor him,” she [said]. “Make him try to remember.” She insisted that his mental lapses were “psycho-epistemological,” and she gave him long, grueling lessons in how to think and remember. She assigned him papers on aspects of his mental functioning, which he was entirely unable to write.”

  91. Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:23am #

    jdelvane: “The heroes of her books did NOT engage in terrorism. No hero in her novel ever initiated the use of force. They only met force with force.”

    Here’s an excerpt from an article on the subject: “In one of her books (The Fountainhead), her “hero”, Howard Roarke, blows up a housing project he designed when a minor alteration is made and then orders the jury to acquit him (the fact that, as an architect, Roarke was presumably contracted for his work and therefore, it wasn’t “his” anymore piddles all over the supposed respect for property too)…When one of the strikers engineers a train crash (because they don’t just strike but commit acts of terrorism too), Rand makes it clear that she believes the murdered victims deserved their fate because they supported progressive taxation. A stewing hymn of Nietzchean will-to-power, misanthropy, failure to understand economics, feudalism and sexual politics verging on the obscene, Atlas Shrugged is full of this stuff. Her heroes spend their time both insisting that they are the heroic producers (and without labour, what are they producing exactly?) and bemoaning that others do not worship them as such.”

  92. Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:24am #

    jdelvane: Rand’s family as middle class

    From Ayn Rand and the Pervsion of libertarianism:

    “To understand Ayn Rand’s psychology it is helpful to know her
    background. She was born to a wealthy St. Petersburg family in
    1905. The position of her family in Czarist society must have
    been considerable. At a time when the lives of most Russians had
    changed little since feudalism, her family was wealthy enough to
    afford a French Governess and take regular vacations to the Cri-
    mea.”

    I did not say that Rand necessarily whipped her servants, only that it was “not uncommon” in Czarist Russia for children to whip their servants. Thus, it would have been “deeply distressing” for Rand to witness this power relationship turned upside down.”

  93. Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:25am #

    Jdelvane: “Yes, you can sell your labor to various consumers of labor in the market place. But this does not make you a victim.”

    It certainly victimized the original wage-slaves.

    Professors Jessica Wilson and Benj Hellie:

    “…the emerging class of capitalist landlords and rich farmers launched a battle to dispossess peasants of their lands. By driving up rents, disputing peasant ownership in the courts, and foreclosing on debts, English landlords forced hundreds of thousands of peasants to give up their lands. As rich farmers took over these plots, constructed large farms, and paid increased rents to landlords, they also hired landless peasants as wage workers. Still, large numbers of dispossessed peasants resisted entering the labour market. Many erected small cottages on the common lands, hoping to survive there than sell their labour to an employer. As a result, the emerging capitalist class launched a war against the common lands, turning them wherever possible into their own private property”

    “Once the rich and powerful had set in motion the destruction of the common land system (and the common rights that accompanied it), they sealed the process by turning to Parliament. There, in the midst of other rich landowners, they introduced private Enclosure Acts which enclosed the commons, gave legal title to it to rich landlords, and deprived the poor of vital sources of livelihood. Between 1760 and 1830, at least six million acres of common lands were enclosed by parliamentary decree (see McNally, Against the Market, pp. 7-14). These Acts often ignited a class war on the land as the rural poor fought desperately to preserve their livelihoods. But with the backing of Parliament, the courts, troops and superior weapons, the authorities crushed peasant resistance. The new capitalist order emerged, as Marx put it, “dripping from head to toe, from every pore, with blood and dirt”.

    “Only when they were thoroughly dispossessed of both land held as personal possessions (often on some kind of lease basis) and of access to what were known as common lands did large numbers of the English poor turn to waged work and submit to the disciplines of the labour market.

    “The creation of a landless class of wage workers—people who had no means of survival other than the sale of their labour—was at the very heart of capitalist development.”

    There was, however, one alternative to wage labor, and many peasants preferred it over surrendering their autonomy to capitalists and becoming slaves: begging. It became very popular. Thus:

    “In 1530, legislation decreed that sturdy vagabonds were to be whipped until blood streamed from their bodies, after which they could be imprisoned. A 1547 Act allowed a complainant to take anyone who refused work as a slave and to keep them in chains and whip them. According to a law of 1572, unlicensed beggars were to be brutally flogged and branded on the left ear (Marx, Capital, p. 896-7).

    “Capitalism emerged, then, through violent and bloody struggles against pre-capitalist forms of life. Only by driving peasants off their land, enclosing the commons, tearing down the cottages of the poor, criminalizing “vagrancy”, and erecting a new system of punishment was a capitalist labour market created. Rather than a natural form of life that evolved spontaneously, “free market capitalism” was built by destroying previous arrangements.”

    Over time, in the West, unions have made working conditions more tolerable from wage-slaves, but this doesn’t change the fact that the capitalist labor contract is fundamentally exploitative. It forces people to rent themselves to others, like prostitutes, rather than having a say in how their work is organized, nor are they permitted to keep the entire fruits of their labor.

  94. Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:28am #

    jdelvane: labor is an inescapable part of life. To gripe about the necessity to work is to gripe about the nature of reality.

    This is has nothing to do with work in itself but the specific conditions of work under capitalism. You may not be aware of this, but there are many different alternatives to “free market capitalism” and “communism”. Workplace democracy is merely one example, though an important one, because it demonstrates that there are forms of economic organization which not only increase productivity but worker happiness, equality, involvement in the community, individual as well as collective rights, and so forth. Additionally, while work may indeed be inevitable, the amount of work we currently undertake is vastly more than is necessary to sustain human life and happiness.
    Environmental destruction is another factor.

    There’s quite an interesting history here, actually. In the 20’s, there was a major crisis of capitalism brought about through overproduction of goods. Several solutions were suggested, including lowering the work week and increasing wages. Yet John E. Edgerton, president of the Association of Manufacturers, warned that such reforms could increase “radicalism”. “The emphasis should be put on work”, Edgerton stated. “More work and better work, instead of upon leisure.” The “solution” seized upon was advertising as we know it – selling products based on unconscious desires, and the idea that the perpetual accumulation of commodities is the road to happiness. Welcome to the consumer age.

    During the same time period, increased mechanization was promoted as a way of decreasing working hours. Needless to say this did not occur, because human considerations must be secondary to profit under capitalism. Increased efficiency simply meant more efficient exploitation. To the corporation, human considerations are secondary to profit, just as environmental destruction is an “externality”. The market does not serve us. We serve the market, our one and true “God”.

  95. Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:30am #

    jdelvane: Freedom is tied up with property rights. Would you consider a society free if it did not allow you own anything – to own what you earned?”

    Quite the contrary, it is the capitalist who denies people the fruits of their labor. Where do you think these massive profit margins come from? Trees? Capitalism continually siphons off the fruits of the majority’s labor in order to enrich the already enrich. It is perpetual property theft, disguised, strangely enough, under the term “property rights”. As indicated previously, there are many different forms of property. Possessions are things which you acquire through your own labor and which do not threaten the liberty of others; “private property”, in contrast, is property that does negate the liberty of others, and which is usually acquired by theft, exploitation, monopoly, inheritance or some other contrivance.

    jdelvane: “Well, which is it? Are wages a burden or a privilege?”

    Slavery is preferable to homelessness and death, obviously. That doesn’t mean slavery is desirable or inevitable.

  96. Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:31am #

    jdelvane: “The above quote about Hickman must have been twisted and taken out of context. If she said anything about Hickman, it would have been to express extreme disgust and disapproval of such a person.”

    How on Earth could you take the following out of context?

    “Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should”. Hickman had “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.’

    As noted by Mark Ames in his article on the subject: “This echoes almost word for word Rand’s later description of her character Howard Roark, the hero of her novel The Fountainhead: ‘He was born without the ability to consider others.’”

    I am not suggesting that Rand endorsed Hickman’s particularly brand of anti-social behavior; what I am suggesting is that it precisely the qualities Rand most admired about Hickman (his inability to consider others) that allowed Hickman to kill and dismember little girls. Randism, or libertarianism, is essentially the elevation of psychopathy to a political and economic system.

  97. Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:36am #

    Jdelvane: The Ik people of Northern Uganda were in no condition to be rational after being deprived of food and their traditional way of life.”

    You seem to have missed this part:

    What is perhaps most disturbing is that the Ik did not abandon their society of “rational self-interest” after returning to comparative plenty. According to Turnbull:

    “I learned a few other new things, but the main objective was accomplished far more readily, for it was obvious from the outset that nothing had really changed due to the sudden glut of food, except to cause inter-personal relationships to deteriorate still further if possible, and heighten Icien individualism beyond what I would have thought even Ik to be capable of. If they had been mean and greedy and selfish before with nothing to be mean and greedy and selfish over, now that they had something they really excelled themselves in what would be an insult to animals to call bestiality.”

    Thus, while it is true that extreme poverty caused the deterioration of Ik society, they did not change their culture of barbaric individualism when they were no longer starving. I do pity the Ik, just as I pity people like yourself, who unknowingly push our society to self destruction. Remember: war is competition write large.

    Your arguments about Native Americans are appalling. Your statement that the miners “could have gone somewhere else” is both ignorant and morally repugnant. Your own arguments discredit you better than I ever could. I think you’re pretty nasty piece of work.

    You can respond to this if you wish, but it is unlikely I will continue the debate. Arguing with Randians is like arguing with religious fundamentalists, minus the glimmers of compassion and noblesse oblige that sometimes surface in religious people.

  98. jdelvane said on March 29th, 2010 at 9:56am #

    “the State . . . and capitalism . . . developed side by side, mutually supporting and re-enforcing each other.” [Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets, p. 181]
    Capitalism could not exist without extensive state intervention, for several reasons.

    One, it would be less profitable:

    “In the long run, there are no laissez-faire transitions to modern economic growth. The state has always intervened to create a capitalist class, and then it has to regulate the capitalist class, and then the state has to worry about being taken over by the capitalist class, but the state has always been there.”

    You are wrong. This is an important point and I’m glad I stumbled across your major objection to Capitalism. Capitalism does not necessarily involve government favors. I know that many corporations seek government favors, but not only is this illegitimate activity, it is actually not in the best interest of the corporation and it is a step away from capitalism. When government is not allowed to make laws to favor one corporation, the market is competitive. This means that corporations must please consumers or risk failure. When corporations seek government favors, they may be safe from competition, but they are not safe from government anymore. When we allow government to make laws in favor of corporations, they will eventually make laws AGAINST corporations too. They will eventually use their power to justify government take over. Corporations risk losing everything they’ve ever worked for and they are compromising the environment which makes it possible for them make money. It is a move towards fascism or totalitarianism. It is not the state who has to worry about being taken over by the capitalist class. It is the capitalist class that has to worry about being taken over by the government. Corporations do not have the means to take over government. They are not in the business of warfare. They are in the business of making money. The state is the only entity in society that is given the legal permission to use force and it has the means to use force – the armed forces and the legal system and prisons. They make the laws. Whatever they decide is lawful will become forcefully enforced. The founders of this country knew this and tried to limit the power of the Federal Government by only giving it 17 enumerated powers. In the early 1900s government started ignoring the Constitution and started enlarging the powers of the Fed Gov. They’ve been chipping away at our freedoms ever since. We have to be very vigilant about what we allow government to do, what powers we grant government and we have to continually watch how much power they try to grab for themselves. Eventually all governments become too large and acquire too much power. That is what we are seeing today. The only way to protect private property is to keep government out of the market completely. Government should protect individual rights and private property rights – it should make laws to stop members of society from violating individual rights and property rights. But it should not be allowed to make laws in favor of any player in the marketplace. Now that means, they should not be allowed to make laws in favor of specific individuals either or groups of individuals or interest groups. People should be allowed to form associations freely based on mutual consent. And people should be free to protect themselves to the degree they feel comfortable. If we can agree that laws should not be used to favor any specific class or individual or class or individuals, then we might be getting somewhere, but I’m sure I can anticipate your response already.

  99. jdelvane said on March 29th, 2010 at 10:18am #

    Quoting Scott Noble Re: Competition. “Moreover, though it should be admitted that competition does not yet exist in its integrity, that would simply prove that competition does not act with all the power of elimination that there is in it; but that will not change at all its contradictory nature. What need have we to wait thirty centuries longer to find out that, the more competition develops, the more it tends to reduce the number of competitors?”

    I admited that entering competetive field is difficult. But I also showed that it is not impossible. The above quote is inaccurate. There are many competitors in a free market. But there are only a few hugely succesful competitors. This only proves that it is very rare for all the elements of huge success to exist at the same time in the same individual. That’s what makes competition competition. The dictionary definition of competition is “the act of seeking or endeavoring to gain that for which another is also striving.” If everyone was able to be hugely successful all the time, then it wouldn’t be competition anymore. It would be its opposite. The thersaurus lists the antonym of competition as “partnership, alliance, cooperation.” This may be what you prefer, but you cannot say that competition kills competition. You could say that competition kills cooperation. And even then you would not be correct. There is much cooperation in capitalism, not when it comes to players competing against each other but with people who are on the same team.

  100. jdelvane said on March 29th, 2010 at 10:45am #

    Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:22am #

    jdelvane: “Her husband did not suffer from dementia and she never humiliated him or was cruel to him. She loved her husband very much and other than the one infidelity I mentioned which she got permission for, she was loyal to him, she took care of him and stayed with him until his death.”

    You’re lying or simply ignorant. From a review in the New Criterion:

    “Rand’s hardness of heart was not only confined to the page. There is a chilling account in the biography of how she treated her long-suffering husband, Frank O’Connor, when he suffered from dementia:

    She nagged at him continually, to onlookers’ distress. “Don’t humor him,” she [said]. “Make him try to remember.” She insisted that his mental lapses were “psycho-epistemological,” and she gave him long, grueling lessons in how to think and remember. She assigned him papers on aspects of his mental functioning, which he was entirely unable to write.”

    I did not know that Frank started losing his memory late in life. But Ayn was not being cruel to him. When she said his lapses where psycho-epistemological”, she did not mean that he was psycho. She meant that she thought his lapses were within his control and she thought she could help him remember. She thought she could try to help him practice his mental function. We did not know as much about neuro psychology back then as we know now. (This must have been sometime in the 1970′s because she died in 1982.) These “lessons” were her desperate attempt to keep him with her mentally, to save his mental function because it was too painful to her to lose him. I have a friend who took his dying father to Africa because he thought they had a cure for his cancer there. His father died in Africa. People do desperate things to try to save loved ones. End of life is never an easy time for anyone.

  101. jdelvane said on March 29th, 2010 at 12:05pm #

    Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:30am #

    jdelvane: Freedom is tied up with property rights. Would you consider a society free if it did not allow you own anything – to own what you earned?”

    Quite the contrary, it is the capitalist who denies people the fruits of their labor. Where do you think these massive profit margins come from? Trees?

    Where do profits come from? No they do not come from trees. And No they are not created by the labor of workers. The workers are only able to work at a Corporation because someone created it in first place. I already talked about the process of creating a business. You have an idea for a product that you believe people will find useful and want to buy in the marketplace. Then, if you don’t have the capital to invest your own idea, you have to convince others to lend you money to produce the product, then you have to spend many 16 hour days working to find the raw materials at the lowest price to produce your product and you have to work on a production method that will be cheap enough so you can sell your product at low enough price that people will be willing to buy it. for the first few months or years, your business will probably just be able to break even, ie. your revenue will just about cover your costs. There may even some losses along the way as you perfect your product and method of production. Then maybe, if your are able to improve your production method enough so that you are able to get a little extra return on your investment, you may eventually get some net profit. What makes you think that workers are entitled to this profit? They did not do all the work that was necessary to create a thriving business. They are simply supporting its success once it is already successful. They deserve the wage they are being offered.

    Capitalism continually siphons off the fruits of the majority’s labor in order to enrich the already enrich. It is perpetual property theft, disguised, strangely enough, under the term “property rights”. As indicated previously, there are many different forms of property. Possessions are things which you acquire through your own labor and which do not threaten the liberty of others; “private property”, in contrast, is property that does negate the liberty of others, and which is usually acquired by theft, exploitation, monopoly, inheritance or some other contrivance.

    Exactly! Property is that which you acquire through your own labor. A corporation belongs to those who did the work and took the risks to create it. Workers at a coroporation do not own the product of that corporation because they did not create the means of producing those products. It is not exploitation. Workers agree to work for a corporation because they agree that it is their best option for work in the world as it exists. They are free to work for anyone else or to work for themselves or NOT to work at all like I said before. But they would have to deal with the consequences of their decisions.

    If people prefer “work democracy”, they are free to create a corporation where they can work according to their own rules. But these corporations do not grow on trees. They are not entitled to take corporations away from their rightful owners. They would have to create their own corporation. And good luck to them.

    jdelvane: “Well, which is it? Are wages a burden or a privilege?”

    Slavery is preferable to homelessness and death, obviously. That doesn’t mean slavery is desirable or inevitable.

    This is an important point.

  102. jdelvane said on March 29th, 2010 at 12:10pm #

    Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:31am #

    jdelvane: “The above quote about Hickman must have been twisted and taken out of context. If she said anything about Hickman, it would have been to express extreme disgust and disapproval of such a person.”

    How on Earth could you take the following out of context?

    “Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should”. Hickman had “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.’

    If you look, the above quote is broken up. That means that part of her speech is missing. So I state again, her words are taken out of context. Parts of her message are missing to make it look like she admires this monster. But Ayn Rand would never condone murder.

  103. jdelvane said on March 29th, 2010 at 5:12pm #

    Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:23am #

    jdelvane: “The heroes of her books did NOT engage in terrorism. No hero in her novel ever initiated the use of force. They only met force with force.”

    Here’s an excerpt from an article on the subject: “In one of her books (The Fountainhead), her “hero”, Howard Roarke, blows up a housing project he designed when a minor alteration is made and then orders the jury to acquit him (the fact that, as an architect, Roarke was presumably contracted for his work and therefore, it wasn’t “his” anymore piddles all over the supposed respect for property too)…When one of the strikers engineers a train crash (because they don’t just strike but commit acts of terrorism too), Rand makes it clear that she believes the murdered victims deserved their fate because they supported progressive taxation. A stewing hymn of Nietzchean will-to-power, misanthropy, failure to understand economics, feudalism and sexual politics verging on the obscene, Atlas Shrugged is full of this stuff. Her heroes spend their time both insisting that they are the heroic producers (and without labour, what are they producing exactly?) and bemoaning that others do not worship them as such.”

    In “The Fountainhead”, Howard Roark agrees to design a building for another Architect who does not have the talent and ability to do so on the condition that the builing is not altered in any way. The two architects sign a contract to that effect and Howard Roark makes the other architect procure a contract from his clients for whom they are designing the building, stating that the building will not be altered. The clients then ignore the contract and alter the building. That is the payment that Howard wanted for his work. He would not have agreed to do the work otherwise. His labor belongs to him and he can set any terms and conditions for his labor. He was not paid as agreed. The contract was violated. I already told you that it is very powerful to own your own labor. This is an excellent example. Howard Roark blows up the building because his contract was not honored. Extreme? Yes! Did he have legal and moral grounds for his actions? Yes!

  104. jdelvane said on March 29th, 2010 at 7:23pm #

    Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:23am #
    roes of her books did NOT engage in terrorism. No hero in her novel ever initiated the use of force. They only met force with force.”

    Here’s an excerpt from an article on the subject: “In one of her books (The Fountainhead), her “hero”, Howard Roarke, blows up a housing project he designed when a minor alteration is made and then orders the jury to acquit him (the fact that, as an architect, Roarke was presumably contracted for his work and therefore, it wasn’t “his” anymore piddles all over the supposed respect for property too)…When one of the strikers engineers a train crash (because they don’t just strike but commit acts of terrorism too), Rand makes it clear that she believes the murdered victims deserved their fate because they supported progressive taxation. A stewing hymn of Nietzchean will-to-power, misanthropy, failure to understand economics, feudalism and sexual politics verging on the obscene, Atlas Shrugged is full of this stuff. Her heroes spend their time both insisting that they are the heroic producers (and without labour, what are they producing exactly?) and bemoaning that others do not worship them as such.”

    In “The Fountainhead”, Howard Roark agrees to design a building for another Architect who does not have the talent and ability to do so on the condition that the builing is not altered in any way. The two architects sign a contract to that effect and Howard Roark makes the other architect procure a contract from his clients for whom they are designing the building, stating that the building will not be altered. The clients then ignore the contract and alter the building. That is the payment that Howard wanted for his work. He would not have agreed to do the work otherwise. His labor belongs to him and he can set any terms and conditions for his labor. He was not paid as agreed. The contract was violated. I already told you that it is very powerful to own your own labor. This is an excellent example. Howard Roark blows up the building because his contract was not honored. Extreme? Yes! Did he have legal and moral grounds for his actions? Yes! oh and BTW, the building was empty if anyone was wondering. Like I said Ayn Rand would never condone murder.

  105. jdelvane said on March 29th, 2010 at 11:00pm #

    Scott Noble said on March 29th, 2010 at 2:23am #
    When one of the strikers engineers a train crash (because they don’t just strike but commit acts of terrorism too), Rand makes it clear that she believes the murdered victims deserved their fate because they supported progressive taxation.

    The train wreck was not engineered by one of the strikers (ie. the heros of the book). In “Atlas Shrugged”, the chapter titled “The Moratorium on Brains” a train is derailed in Colorado just before an eight mile tunnel. Another diesel engine isn’t available until the next morning. They have a coal burning engine, but the engineeers warn that the tunnel does not have sufficient ventilation to send a coal burning train through. It would suffocate everyone on the train. There is a government official on the train who does not want to be delayed and he orders the train employees to send the train through, threatening them that he will have them arrested, even though the situation has been explained to him – that everyone will die if a coal burning train is sent through the tunnel. The superintendent orders a subordinate to send the coal burning train through. The scheduled engineer refuses to take the train through. A drunk engineer agrees to take the train through. Everyone dies. It is also important to know that at this point in the story, government has made it illegal to quit a job and illegal to refuse an order on a job.

    The important note is that the heros of the story did not engineer this catastrophe. Government officials sent the train through and the catastrophe was made possible by ridiculous laws which turned men into unthinking robots.

    Please get your facts straight. Read the books you make comments about. The article you quoted regarding the terrorist acts of the heroes in Ayn Rand’s books is printing plain lies.

  106. jdelvane said on March 30th, 2010 at 2:14am #

    To Scott Noble:
    While we’re on the subject of human rights violations, we might as well talk about the millions of people killed under Communist regimes in the world in the 1900s. Mao Zedong ruling China from 1949-1975 is widely credited with the death of 7o million Chinese people in times of peace. It was a direct result of his new experiment called The Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution which called for mandatory agricultural collectivization. Rural peasants starved to death year after year. In 1932-33, During the Stalin regime, the staunch Communist Tyrant thought he needed to teach the Ukranian individualist-thinking people a lesson by collectivizing agriculture. All agricultural product was confiscated. 12 million lbs of grains were confiscated and sold abroad to fund the Communist Party while an estimated 7-10 million Ukranians starved to death in one year. The total death toll of Communist regimes all over the world during the 1900s is estimated at around 100 million people. George Bernard Shaw, who is a great hero of Communist thinkers, was video taped to say that it would be desirable to call every citizen into a review board every 5-7 yrs and ask each individual to justify his or her existence. If they could not produce enough common goods to serve their fellow citizens, he said, they should be disposed of because society cannot afford to keep them alive. I saw the video.

    And your greatest complaint about Capitalism is that people have to work for wages? Your greatest complaint about Capitalism is that too many products were produced during the 1920s and it resulted in the consumer culture we have today, where presumably people derive enjoyment from the products they consume? During the 1900s, America experienced the greatest boom of abundence the world has ever seen while people around the world were starving or being shot to death for speaking out against Communist regimes. Please!!! The contrast is stagering. How could anyone chose Communism over Capitalism given the extreme contrasts. One produces prosperity and opportunity. The other produces genocidal mass murders. I find it incomprehensible.

  107. Melissa said on March 30th, 2010 at 6:25am #

    jdlevane says: You are violating the rules of commenting etiquette. Personal attacks are not permitted, remember? You can disagree with me, but it is uncivilzed to call me names. If you have valid responses then you should state them. Which point exactly was so appalling and morally repugnant? Perhaps the issue is that you do not have valid responses.

    I am seeing that too, jdlevane. The debate has been revealing, for me.

    I was interested in the thread from the beginning from a matriarchal standpoint. Patriarchical/surpressed matriarch themes seem to be influencing the dysfunction of all of our current systems. It’s not that the systems (motors, anyone?) don’t and aren’t working just fine, they marching along as intended, destroying with alacrity and false authority. They are consolidating power back upon the system, because the system is designed to protect the system. ???

    The female demonstrating the intellect, as the hero, but stifling the softer aspects of feminine IS striking in the book. Somewhere, someone said something about the stark/austere settings, a sense of bleakness. It struck me because of the extremity and heartwrenching-ness of it all.

    In the context of the central and heroic characters in the time that it was authored, this imbalance in the male/female energy, what does it say? I can’t know who Ayn Rand was, that is history, but I would be commenting on how glass ceilings are really broken. It ain’t by having reverence for unique feminine capabilites.

    Speaking of history. It’s a great background, and trying on every perspective is great when that knowledge is used to deliberate the present and future.

    But don’t get lost in the past. Or too passionate about a single perspective, from a single time, in a single collection of words. If we cannot find a way to use our collective knowledge to co-create something that reflects the sentience which WE ALL POSSESS, we will forever remain wandering, ululating, and stagnant.

    I’m at a place where I think that there is more to agree upon, the super important stuff too, than there is to find departure from each other. Don’t ever forget that corralling ourselves into points of departure is dumb-on-us doing the dirty work for the orchestraters of tyranny. We have to find a way to communicate with each other, with the intent of understanding. We have to learn to do this, because the division just doesn’t seem to advance us beyond the propaganda.

    Oh, and I have really enjoyed reading this thread. Thanks for throwing the ideas out, Scott, and *thankyou* to all of the people who also shared ideas.

    As always,
    Peace, Resistance, Hope
    Melissa

  108. bozh said on March 30th, 2010 at 9:11am #

    Crypto-communists can and probably do fail communism; which in principle suggests we build a more or much more an egalitarian society with a timocratic democracy.
    And many ‘socialists’ in canada, UK have marred socialism. In UK, we have tony blair as an example of deceiving socialists.
    True socialists are aiming to set up an idyllic society. It is an enormously difficult task building such a society because just ab in any country asocialists outnumber socialsits.
    In USSR asocialists probably outnumbered communists by a marging of 50 to one. This was one cause for end of socialism-building in USSR and e. europe.
    But even greater cause for end of socialism in europe had been US nuclear missiles emplaced on the borders of USSR.

    Obvioulsy, gorbachov saw US as i do: a fascist governance intent on destroying socialism. He, i assume, thought that any moment americans wld fire those missiles at his people that he loved more than socialism.
    Because of this constant threat and knowing that the fascist wld not stop at anything to destroy socialism, he gave in.

    Gorbachov saw what americans did to indigenes, cubans, vietnamese, koreans, japanese, et al; killing more people than any country ever did.

    The first thing, communists did was to nationalize everything; i.e., each person owned equally her/his country.
    Of course kulaks did not like it. They owned vast acreage. So only they were unhappy and not poor people.
    In fact, most people were quite happy that communist gave back to people what always morally belonged to them.
    Not by ‘laws’ which were written by robbers and deceivers. tnx

  109. Deadbeat said on March 30th, 2010 at 11:53am #

    jdelvane writes …

    Deadbeat, if competition kills competition, how do you explain all the companies who were formerly market leaders and are now a mere fraction of their former size. In the 1920’s A & P Grocery stores were the dominant grocers in America. They continued to prosper until 1970’s. Suburbinization with bigger parking lots, and the sale of more refrigerators and freezers made greater volume of sales possible. Other chains responded to changing market conditions, while A & P continued to do business as usual. They lost market share and now they probably have less than 10% of the market share. There are hundreds of expamples like this in Thomas Sowell’s book “Basic Economics”. Look them up.

    Thomas Sowell is a black right wing Reaganite who supported much of the rollbacks that aided the rich and harmed the poor. He has no credibility.

    As for your ANECDOTE A&P you PROVED my point about competition KILLING competition. A&P is out of business due to competition. There is whole host of companies that are now DEFUNCT due to competition like Alberson’s and many other small LOCAL stores. The supermarket chains today is even MORE concentrated than ever which means less choices for consumers, less jobs and greater PRICING POWER for the remaining players. And that is one of the many problem in Capitalism is that it CONCENTRATES wealth and POWER.

  110. jdelvane said on March 30th, 2010 at 12:15pm #

    Melissa said on March 30th, 2010 at 6:25am #

    jdlevane says: You are violating the rules of commenting etiquette. Personal attacks are not permitted, remember? You can disagree with me, but it is uncivilzed to call me names. If you have valid responses then you should state them. Which point exactly was so appalling and morally repugnant? Perhaps the issue is that you do not have valid responses.

    I am seeing that too, jdlevane. The debate has been revealing, for me.

    *************
    Thank you Melissa. I appreciate your civility. If I understand you correctly, you are saying that opposite philosphies should try to find a way to talk to each other. That is what I’m trying to do.

  111. Danny Ray said on March 30th, 2010 at 1:26pm #

    Bozh, Allow me to disagree with you regarding your post above about the Kulaks. They did not own vast acreages. to be declared a Kulak one had to own more that 24 acres or employ farm labor from outside the family. most kulak farms were under 100 acres. They were destroyed due to two conditions, they supported the whites during the revolution and in addition, many of these Ukrainians were of German ethnic origin they were the Volga Germans Empress Catharine brought in during her reign. Somewhere between 4 and 8 million died during the collectivizing of the Ukraine. So the statement that they were only poor and unhappy is somewhat of an overstatement.

    Thanks
    Danny

  112. bozh said on March 30th, 2010 at 3:05pm #

    Danny,
    Yes, i have said kulaks possessed “vast acreages”. Now i see, it shld have been vast acreage. In any case, i did not mean to say that kulaks owned a vast number of acres.
    But ur observation is correct. So, i shld have said kulaks were large land owners.
    U also make a valid point ab possibility of peasants not being happy about redestribution of land and collectivization.
    Regarding ukrainian farmers, i do not know how they felt ab collectivization. I have extrapolated from known facts [that landless peasants or peasants with small holdings usually welcome redistribution of land] that also most ukrainian peasants also welcomed it.

    It shld be noted that it is the western, strongly asocialistic media, which asserts that 4-8mn farmers perished because of the collectivization.
    Be it as it may, it is omitted how, when, why, where did such a vast number of people perish.
    Yes, i have heard of the holodomor or murder by imposed famine. But, sorry, i do not accept this as a fact; unless several socialist and asocialist historian wld be in agreement that death by hunger indeed had taken place [probably after '17?]
    There is no reports, as far as i know, of people dying in ukraine after collectivization. But as u point out ukrainians/germans fought with or supported white russians in the civil war and revenge was visited upon them.
    But killing that many [is it, men?] appears to clash with the fact that ukraine was the bread basket for europe and communist surely must have wanted it to continue to be that, killing 4+mn farmers was not the way to do it.
    Next time i visit the library, i’ll look for a book on early history of USSR.
    tnx

  113. jdelvane said on March 30th, 2010 at 10:07pm #

    bozh said on March 30th, 2010 at 3:05pm #

    Yes, i have heard of the holodomor or murder by imposed famine. But, sorry, i do not accept this as a fact;

    *********************

    Glen Beck had a special on his show last night detailing all the killing that went on in Communist countries around the world in the 1900′s. The part on the Ukraine included interviews with the current President of the Ukraine, where he tells stories about his wife’s family experience during the holodomor. There were also interviews with real Ukrainian citizens telling accounts of their memory of the year of the holodomor 1932-33. Every crop was confiscated and sold abroad by Stalin. There was no food in country at all. The report indicated that 7-10 million people died as a result of famine and this all happened within one year. It would have taken just 10 000 lbs of grain to feel the population. The country produced 12 000 lbs of grain that year, but the citizens were not allowed to keep any of it. If Stalin had left them even half of their crop, some of the victims could have survived, but he left them nothing. One story that was particulary gruesome. A survivor of the holodomor told the story about a lady who lived on the hill behind her house. Driven mad by starvation, she ate her own daughter. After she realized what she had done, she killed herself. Horrible stuff. It’s well documented. Feel free to look it up.

  114. Don Hawkins said on March 31st, 2010 at 2:59am #

    Who is Glenn Beck?

  115. Don Hawkins said on March 31st, 2010 at 5:13am #

    Here’s a good one,

    That oil company and those commercials here’s one.

    Were an oil company and we love you very very much. Many of you have probably heard about climate change and we put our best people on this and even if it is real and it probably isn’t our best thinkers have took us we human’s have not yet evolved to the point where we’re clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change, even if it is real and probably not. In simple terms for all you toothless hillbilly’s figure of speech we are just to stupid to solve it even if it is real. The best minds we have also said go shopping, fill-up one on every corner pay your electric bill listen to your leaders we are one of those and watch your parking meter’s. In many way’s ignorance is strength and let us all do are part. Because of the supreme court ruling we will have much more on all of this and maybe someday little green and red and yellow things beautiful colors can be seen in our oceans. We can now drill 50 miles down and we have found it’s very hot. We put our best minds on this and we love you very very much. We know why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to us. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s everywhere. It is all around us. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth and what is the truth stay tuned and remember we human’s have not yet evolved to the point where we’re clever enough to handle complex situation’s so we will try and keep it simple real simple.

  116. Don Hawkins said on March 31st, 2010 at 6:51am #

    The ADP numbers just came out we lost jobs again no big deal as the government will lie a little they learned how to that from the private sector and bingo DOW 12,000 the old perception of reality part. Planet Earth has it ever been boring maybe the eighty’s, “Rob the couch has been in the same place for 5 years now”. “Come over to the table we are looking at Life Magazine and then we can play monopoly and read some more of the US constitution we can start at the beginning”. “It was the best of times it was the worst of times wait that a different read”.

  117. bozh said on March 31st, 2010 at 9:21am #

    jdelvane,
    as an aside, do u remember the newscasts showing only rotund peasant russian women? And with no lipstic; all wearing babushkas?
    Guess how some people look like in canada andUS now?
    As i said already, i’ll try to find some books about murder imposed by hunger.
    Holod means hunger amd mor from verb umoriti, murder-kill. The word umoriti shares its root with latin and english, morto [mortal], and murder.
    respectively.
    Oh, i forgot ab beck. I did ask my small head if she heard anything ab him, but she says no.
    My small head is always cold;so, she welcomes any warmings including global or even only civitic. I think thats’ latin for “of the city”: from civitas.
    In passing, why wld that woman eat own dughter with 4+mn corpses to choose from? tnx