Has Ayn Rand been good for America?
We now have a Republican Vice President-elect who is into Ayn Rand.
Once we had a Federal Reserve Chairman who was also (heavily) into Ayn Rand. Greenspan worked with Clinton and they took away Glass Steagall, which is all that separated investment banking from consumer banking and our great country from an economic melt-down. Greenspan was again in power under H.W. Bush, blamed for our mountain of debt, and banks too big to fail.
Is there a connection bewtween Greenspan’s Ayn Rand philosophy and his actions?
Once I went to University, a beautiful campus in Southern Africa perched on a high hill overlooking th Durban Bay. Flowering shrubs tumbled down the hill until reaching the water and the colored sail boats, all with their spectacular balloon sails bending to the wind – a truly beautiful place.
I was studying psychology. The little lecturer had shaky hands and a wobbly voice. A primary tenet of Psychology is that the world and others are stronger than we, and we needed to adapt and to be conditioned just like the rats we were studying.
Did Ayn Rand change me, yes she did. I quit psychology at the end of the year and graduated after four years in Education, Communications and Theater.
As I read at the back of that lecture hall, I discovered that Ayn saw ‘Man’ as a noble creature responsible for the world around him and I liked that idea better than what I was being taught. Her ‘Man’ was creative and able and honorable and deserving. He could change the world and make it work better for him and for others.
Much later as a small business owner and crucified by bureaucratic regulations and taxes, it was because I had read Ayn Rand, that I knew I did not owe the world a living. I would work (like Atlas who shrugged) to shed my shackles. If I worked hard and staid legal I could keep the fruits of my labor. I saw (still see) no need to carry passengers. I do not owe the world my ability. I resent that others want to tax me for their medical bills.
Let’s bring this full circle.
What Ayn Rand means by Capitalism is the full, pure uncontrolled and unregulated Laissez Faire capitalism, When Clinton (as advised possibly by Greenspan) set the economy free it zinged and we all profited from the increased speed of the unregulated distribution of goods and services. They made a few mistakes: They failed to differentiate between correct regulation and shackles.
Since Ayn passed in the early eighties, there has been a whole new digital revolution and we live in a global world wrought with inequalities. We remain a collection of nations with our trade and financial transactions flowing freely across state borders. The regulations and use of dictatorial force in other nations (like China keeping its currency value low) adversely affects free competition and gives them an advantage. Our Government needs to protect us from such.
One day we will be able to put in a free, market economy across the world but we are a long way from that right now. So gentle regulations to protect America are indicated.until we are able to craft a constitutionally free world government. My estimation bringing real freedom to the world will take all of the current century. We need a good government in America to hold the line lest all of our wealth trickles out and goes to the rest of the world or world dictatorship is ushered in. Good idea to also shed the burdens foisted on us. Why do we pay out so much in foreign aid when we are hurting? Why all the military bases across the planet?
Free market politicians (men of good will) need to also look at their responsibility to regulate the banking and pharmaceutical sectors, for neither is productive. First step bring in transparency. I see that as a valid function of government.
So when Greenspan and Clinton and G.W. Bush attempted Laissez Faire Capitalism there were some good effects for us but you have to see and know that it also bombed. We can trace the sub prime catastrophe directly to a failure to know when and how to regulate and when not to. In the same way we can trace the ‘banks too big to fail’ back to permitting a collapse of consumer and investment banking in upon each other, to the very same government malaise and it all could come back to Ayn Rand thinking.
So I really hope that Paul Ryan gets to read my blog.
If you decide to read her, know that Ayn Rand wrote for the story and you will have a good time. I loved her characters and I loved her plots I sat there in the last row of the psychology class oblivious to the lessons going on around me. I would read from dawn to way pastmidnight. Like Greenspan I was hooked. Like Greenspan I am grateful she came into my life for I could have ended up teaching psychology and having my students craft paper airplanes and shoot them down on me instead of on to a shaky man with his little wobbly voice who was hooked on rats and wanted me to adjust to my environment. I chose to stand tall and to help to change the world. it is decision we all should make and reading Ayn rand can help.
So here is a message for Paul Ryan, (if you get to speak to him) and also for Rand Paul; please know that it is now a whole new electronic, digital world and that needs to be factored into the Ayn Rand equation.
Quote of the Week
“Free Competition Enforced by Law”
A grotesque contradiction in terms. – Ayn Rand