Archive for March, 2009

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“Atlas Shrugged” History

March 16, 2009

Looking up something else I ran into a page that describes how Rand’s novel developed. You can find it here. Nothing else for today – got other stuff to do!

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“Atlas Shrugged” Quote #5

March 15, 2009

golden-mic-smallThe whole radio speech of John Galt is worth re-reading. It runs 60 pages in the Plume edition. It, like the whole book, could have used more editing. (Although I seriously doubt that any editor could have forced Rand make changes she didn’t want to make!) Still it is a masterpiece of philosophical argument. Here’s one piece of it:

“The source of property rights is the law of causality. All property and all forms of wealth are producted by man’s mind and labor. As you cannot have effects without causes, so you cannot have wealth without its source: without intelligence. You cannot force intelligence to work: those who’re able to think, will not work under compulsion; those who will, won’t produce much more than the price of the whip needed to keep them enslaved. You cannot obtain the products of a mind except on the owner’s terms, by trade and by volitional consent. Any other policy of men toward man’s property is the policy of ciminals, no matter what their numbers.  Criminals are savages who play it short-range and starve when their prey runs out – just as you’re starving today, you who believed that crime could be ‘practical’ if your government decreed that robbery was legal and resistance to robbery was illegal.

“The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man’s self-defense, and as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law. But a government that initiates the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of armed compulsion agains disarmed victims, is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality: such a government reverses its only moral purpose and switches from the role of portector to the role of a criminal vested with the right to the wielding of violence against victims deprived of the right of self-defense. Such a government substitutes for morality the following rule of social conduct: you may do whatever you please to your neighbor, provided your gang is bigger than his.”

from Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

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Tea Party Protest

March 15, 2009

boston_tea_party317204916_stdMy wife copied me an email going around telling people to send a tea bag to the White House before April 15, with the idea that it will send the administration a message that people do not like the way their taxes are being spent. Nice idea, but the last I knew all the mail for the White House, the Congress, and many other government agencies is still being diverted to an “undisclosed” post office location so it can be scanned for things like anthrax. I got that information from the instructions the Copyright Office gives out for submitting documents for copyright. They say the time it takes for processing is increased because of the safety scanning of mail.

So I doubt the tea bags will get through. I think it’s a great idea, but I don’t think Obama will ever even see them. It’s a pity, though…

By the way, there is a New American Tea Party, which is a different group, not the sponsor of this sort of protest. I do recommend them to you for your consideration.

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Basic Economics

March 13, 2009

I’m listening to Jason Lewis from Minneapolis, who filled in for Rush yesterday, on the Rush podcast right now. If you are not a member of Rush 24-7 it’s worth it just to hear his description of the economic issues we are grappling with right now.  He stresses the point that government doesn’t produce anything. Therefore, a job created in government is coming from either (a) more taxes, therefore most likely eliminating a private-sector job in the process, or (b) just by printing more money. Printing more money without a corresponding increase in GDP causes what? Inflation.

Also, the writer of the “Who Is John Galt” blog has a good explanation of why there is really no such thing as capitalism. It was a word created by Karl Marx as the opposite of his socialist philosophy. Basically, what capitalism boils down to is maintaining the rights of individuals to their own property, and freedom – that’s it. He says, “it’s just what happens when free people exercise the property rights that make them free, working to turn more and more of their labor into more and more value. ” Both are things the current administration is chipping away at, much faster even than it had been done in the past.

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May 1 General Strike?

March 8, 2009

a-call-for-a-general-strikeHere’s another John Galt site. The writer is calling for a general strike of all producers, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and creators on May 1, 2009. The site is www.johngaltfla.com.

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A lot of people don’t get John Galt…

March 7, 2009

I’m continuing in my “Atlas Shrugged” vein here for a while. I’m about three-quarters of the way through the audio book.  I’ve noticed that a lot of the stuff I’m reading shows a very imperfect understanding of the themes of the book. An article in the New York Times gives a number of writers’ comments on “going Galt.” Most appear to not have read the book.

I’ll probably do a few posts on these themes.

Here are a few of them: basic lassez-faire capitalism versus socialism; socialism as a means of controlling the populace; the importance of individual freedom; propaganda and memes as tools to control the populace, and the importance of high achievers to the overall well-being of humanity.

First, John Galt is about independence. Not that people must exist in a vacuum – Rand knew that was ridiculous, and talks about the interdependencies of businesses a lot in the book. There’s a whole section about the lack of rail cars making it impossible to move the wheat from Minnesota, causing a cascading set of through the eastern half of the country.

Still, it means that a person should be able to stand on his or her own two feet. To do this, we need to make sure we don’t create obstacles to their progress. That’s about it…and that’s what capitalism and individual freedom are all about. Individual freedom to excel, without being held back, is what has driven this country since its founding. More than any other place in the world the people who came to America did so to do what they wanted to without interference. Now we find ourselves in an increasingly restrictive nanny state, and finally, some people are complaining and refusing to be a part of it. Yes, that’s a “tea party” in concept.

Please remember that the reason some people are now criticizing the book is not because it is flawed or poorly written – it’s because they know it is dangerous to their goals.

To be continued…

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“Atlas Shrugged” Quote #4

March 4, 2009

trombones “That is the payment I demand. Not many can afford it. I don’t mean your enjoyment. I don’t mean your emotion – emotions be damned! – I mean your understanding and the fact that your enjoyment was of the same nature as mine, that it came from the same source: from your intelligence, from the conscious judgment of a mind able to judge my work by the standard of the same values that went to write it – I mean, not the fact that you felt, but that you felt what I wished you to feel, not the fact that you admire my work, but that you admire it for the things I wished to be admired.”

– composer Richard Halley, in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

One of the best rationales for why we should teach music in schools I’ve ever heard. Do you want to know what the composer wanted you to get out of the music? Then learn what music is about, instead of only trying to appreciate it on a superficial level. Aaron Copland was too generous when he called that superficial level the aesthetic level of appreciation. (Read What To Listen For In Music, by Aaron Copland.)

And if there is music today that sounds like the music Rand describes as Halley’s, it’s Stephen Melillo’s.