Writes Don Watkins, a fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute and Yaron Brook its president in Government tries to do too much: Opposing view:
Is today’s government dysfunctional? Of course. But not because it can’t get things done. The problem is that it does so many things that it shouldn’t.
Happiness, prosperity and innovation aren’t gifts from politicians. They are achievements of the free human mind. We need government to protect that freedom. When it instead tramples on individual rights in pursuit of whatever politicians feel is in the public interest, it abandons defined limits and becomes an enemy of freedom and progress.
The op-ed then goes on to list a plethora of government interventions which have nothing to do with protecting individual rights.
The question we need to ask, however, is not whether the government should do more or less, but what should it do.
For our money, that answer has already been supplied by thinkers such as Ayn Rand and the Founding Fathers.
“The sum of good government,” said Thomas Jefferson, is “a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”
Harry Binswanger utterly demolishes Obama’s Rawlsian inspired egalitarianism in his epic op-ed President Obama: Stop Damning The Achievers For Their Virtues. Some of the highlights:
Egalitarianism is not the (proper) advocacy of “equality” of rights. It is true that everyone has the same rights, whether a government recognizes them or not, because those rights are based on the nature of man. The same, one standard applies to every human being. What the egalitarians demand is not equality of rights but equality of condition. No one, they say, should be better off than another.
On “equality of opportunity”:
It is pointless to try to distinguish inequality of outcomes from inequality of opportunity. There is no more right to “equal opportunity” than to “equal outcomes.” An American child of wealthy parents has more opportunity than a Cambodian child of destitute parents. Does that mean the American parents must sacrifice their child’s future to increasing the opportunities open to Cambodian children? Yes, say the egalitarians. No, said the Founding Fathers, to the equivalent question in their time. And that “No” is why America is the wealthiest nation in the world. Only the protection of individual rights unleashes the productive energies of the wealth-creators, on every level of ability. That’s the lesson not only of American history, but of the more recent rise of the Pacific Rim countries, and the still more recent amazing growth of India and China, caused by their turn away from communism, socialism, and other forms of statism.
On the communist inspired collectivist “common pot” mentality:
The “gap” in the condition of the rich and the poor, says Obama, has widened. “The top 10 percent no longer takes in one-third of our income–it now takes half.” Note the language. He first describes income as being “taken in” and then slides into describing income as “taken.” The top 10 percent . . . now takes half.” “Half”–of what? The response would be: “Well, of the nation’s income, of course.” And thus what began as a simple statistical calculation comes out the other side as pure communism: collective ownership. The national income is regarded as a common pot. Then some groups “take” from that pot more than their share. In Obama’s world, if farmer Fred harvests 4 pumpkins and farmer John harvests 2, Fred has taken two-thirds of “the harvest” for himself. He should be ashamed. It’s unfair. It’s a crisis. Something must be done: “it challenges the very essence of who we are as a people,” says the President.
…and later he explains why those who are more productive should be admired. imitated and left free to produce:
Productive strength is a value to everyone. Weakness and self-defeat is not in anyone’s interest, neither the weakened one’s, nor that of anyone dealing with him. It is in your interest that other men be smart, healthy, productive, and free–not stupid, sick, lazy, and enslaved. To take a more realistic example, would you be better off if Thomas Edison had been stupid, sick, lazy, or enslaved? Would you be better off if the comer newsdealer were? It’s a man’s actual, non-comparative level of wealth that matters, not the existence of others with more than he. Except that he is better off to the extent those with whom he deals have money to burn.
…and the reason why the moral reason why the egalitarian hates the productive:
Other’s wealth can only benefit one in practical terms, which takes us to the reason why the campaign against inequality is vicious. The egalitarian hates inequality for a non-practical, non-venal reason: the sight of the successful and the happy stands as a reproach to him. It brings him face to face with his own failure and inner emptiness. Psychologically, emotionally, a man who is inferior can seethe with resentment at the sight of his betters.
Egalitarianism is a rationalization for the lowest of human emotions: envy. Not envy for what others have, but something much uglier: hatred of anyone for having achieved anything. Not “I’m upset because you have what I ought to have,” but “Punish those whose success makes me know I’m a loser.”
The Germans call it “Schadenfreude.” The French call it “ressentiment.” Ayn Rand called it: hatred of the good for being the good. The inequality that the egalitarians actually hate and fear is moral inequality. They rebel against the idea that they are responsible for their own acts and for their own moral character–or lack of it. “Inequality is unfair” is the coward’s cry against the brave, the slacker’s cry against the producer, the hypocrite’s cry against integrity, the conformist’s cry against the man of independence. The demand for the wealth they didn’t earn is only the outward symbol. The root is the demand for virtue they didn’t earn.
He then goes on to quote Ayn Rand’s identification of John Rawl’s motive and error:
If you wish to know the actual motive behind the egalitarians’ theories–behind all their maudlin slogans, mawkish pleas, and ponderous volumes of verbal rat-traps–if you wish to grasp the enormity of the smallness of spirit for the sake of which they seek to immolate mankind, it can be presented in a few lines:
“When a man thinks he’s good–that’s when he’s rotten. Pride is the worst of all sins, no matter what he’s done.”
“But if a man knows that what he’s done is good?”
“Then he ought to apologize for it.”
“To whom? ”
“To those who haven’t done it.” (Atlas Shrugged)
Read the rest of President Obama: Stop Damning The Achievers For Their Virtues.
Forbes has the entirety of Ayn Rand’s essay “Racism.” Definitely worth a read.
Racism by Ayn Rand
Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.
Racism claims that the content of a man’s mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man’s convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the caveman’s version of the doctrine of innate ideas—or of inherited knowledge—which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science. Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men.
Like every form of determinism, racism invalidates the specific attribute which distinguishes man from all other living species: his rational faculty. Racism negates two aspects of man’s life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them with chemical predestination.
The respectable family that supports worthless relatives or covers up their crimes in order to “protect the family name” (as if the moral stature of one man could be damaged by the actions of another)—the bum who boasts that his great-grandfather was an empire-builder, or the small-town spinster who boasts that her maternal great-uncle was a state senator and her third cousin gave a concert at Carnegie Hall (as if the achievements of one man could rub off on the mediocrity of another)—the parents who search genealogical trees in order to evaluate their prospective sons-in-law—the celebrity who starts his autobiography with a detailed account of his family history—all these are samples of racism, the atavistic manifestations of a doctrine whose full expression is the tribal warfare of prehistorical savages, the wholesale slaughter of Nazi Germany, the atrocities of today’s so-called “newly emerging nations.”
The theory that holds “good blood” or “bad blood” as a moral-intellectual criterion, can lead to nothing but torrents of blood in practice. Brute force is the only avenue of action open to men who regard themselves as mindless aggregates of chemicals.
Read the rest.
Austin Shakes to Bring Stage Adaptation of Ayn Rand’s ANTHEM to Jerome Robbins Theater, Begin. 9/25
Austin Shakespeare will present the New York premiere of the new stage adaptation of Ayn Rand‘s novel ANTHEM. The production directed by Artistic Director, Ann Ciccolella, originated in Austin at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in 2011, where Austin Shakespeare is a resident company. Previews are to begin September 25 at the Baryshnikov Arts Center’s Jerome Robbins Theater in New York City – opening October 4 and running for a ten week run through December 1, 2013
Don Watkins has an excellent piece on Rand’s influence on today’s political landscape:
Rand has helped many people see that something has gone wrong in America. But they haven’t yet understood the source of the problem or Rand’s radical solution.
A political movement truly shaped by Rand’s ideas would not flinch, as Republicans and Tea Partiers do, from charges that it is the mouthpiece of the rich and the mean-spirited. It would declare that it is a movement for all producers, proudly embracing the innovative rich, the ambitious poor, and everyone in between. If you earn your wealth through production and voluntary trade, a Rand-inspired political movement would affirm that it is yours by right.
And instead of looking at programs like Social Security and Medicaid only from the recipients’ point of view, a Rand-inspired political movement would point to the great injustice committed against those who are forced to provide retirement and medical care to others. It would ask: by what right does the government seize wealth from some people so it can dole out unearned rewards to others? Nothing, it would declare, is more mean-spirited than depriving an individual of his property and liberty.
In other words, a Rand-inspired political movement would be a principled movement. It would champion laissez-faire capitalism—the total separation of state and economics—as the only system that fully protects the rational and productive individual, securing his moral and political right to pursue his own happiness. [Happy Birthday, Ayn Rand — Why are you still so misunderstood? | Fox News]