[FoRK] Ayn Rand-loving CEO destroys his empire

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Dec 16 09:31:45 PST 2013

I read a few Rand books 20 years ago. First, I filtered them through the fact that they were conceived / written in the 50s/60s 
by an immigrant Russian.  There were few cases of 1990's+ level intellectual depth back then and none of the benefit of 
intervening history.

Most of people then had very simplistic views of Communism, Socialism, and the then-current American paternalistic system that 
was perhaps socialism lite.  The core ideas she was trying to get across to readers of the time were around a clear argument 
that those who weren't creating, weren't pulling their own weight, or otherwise were more of a sink than a source of human 
resources didn't have a right to demand ever increasing support and riches from the technical maker class who had to work harder 
and harder to keep some marginal reward.

The points involved are:
   o Property rights
   o Fair taxation for best common purpose, not waste, graft, or taking as much as possible because you can outvote the 
technical class
   o Efficient government
   o Encouraging people to be productive and self-improving rather than encouraging welfare and gaming the producers
   o Inspiring people to become technical class and makers through romantization and highlighting the driving value to society
   o Relationships based on equals rather than producer/consumer (but maybe also on accolade/accolyte)

Tax rates were then or shortly thereafter up to 70%-90%.  Various transformations were mid-cycle.  Seems reasonably on point for 
the time.

The problem with interpreting and using Randianness is that it is easy to be overly simplistic, especially if you are someone 
who is immature, underdeveloped in some way, a sociopath, or otherwise fails to fully understand the connectedness of society, 
indirect effects, etc.  Rand philosophy can stand in for an ideal, but going directly for a simplistic interpretation of it Tea 
Party style is fairly dumb.  Rand is often first read early in college, with many college students seeing the world through a 
pure, simplistic lens for some time.  I first read Rand when a young, pretty coworker who had a crush on me suggested it.

I think her simple contrasts, painted by her short (Fountainhead) and long books (Atlas Shrugged), are instructive to think 
about, but you have to think a bit before trying to apply them.  Once you add a fractal version of "enlightened self-interest" 
and "pay it forward" and a few other concepts, you can pretty much support a modern moderate liberal / Liberal viewpoint.


On 12/16/13 6:41 AM, Gregory Alan Bolcer wrote:
> It's funny.  I'm not a Rand nor anti-Rand anything.  I'm familiar with the popularity of the books, but have never read any of 
> them, seen the movies, nor really engaged in any discussion about them more than a few words.  I understand the concept of 
> wealth creators. Hell, I even know who Harrison Bergeron is. From my simple reading, it seems both the Rand and anti-Rand 
> crowds both see the world as zero-sum.
> Greg
> On 12/16/2013 6:32 AM, Bill Kearney wrote:
>> Agreed.  It's the whole "blame in on Rand" nonsense that's ridiculous.
>> While her fiction has it's issues, it certainly doesn't deserve the
>> association with this idiot's screw-ups.

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