Human Nature

What Happens When You Believe in Ayn Rand and Modern Economic Theory

The reality of unfettered self-interest

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By Denise Cummins

“Ayn Rand is my hero,” yet another student tells me during office hours. “Her writings freed me. They taught me to rely on no one but myself.”

As I look at the freshly scrubbed and very young face across my desk, I find myself wondering why Rand’s popularity among the young continues to grow. Thirty years after her death, her book sales still number in the hundreds of thousands annually — having tripled since the 2008 economic meltdown. Among her devotees are highly influential celebrities, such as Brad Pitt and Eva Mendes, and politicos, such as current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

The core of Rand’s philosophy — which also constitutes the overarching theme of her novels — is that unfettered self-interest is good and altruism is destructive. This, she believed, is the ultimate expression of human nature, the guiding principle by which one ought to live one’s life. In “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal,” Rand put it this way:

Collectivism is the tribal premise of primordial savages who, unable to conceive of individual rights, believed that the tribe is a supreme, omnipotent ruler, that it owns the lives of its members and may sacrifice them whenever it pleases.

By this logic, religious and political controls that hinder individuals from pursuing self-interest should be removed. (It is perhaps worth noting here that the initial sex scene between the protagonists of Rand’s book “The Fountainhead” is a rape in which “she fought like an animal.”)

The fly in the ointment of Rand’s philosophical “objectivism” is the plain fact that humans have a tendency to cooperate and to look out for each other, as noted by many anthropologists who study hunter-gatherers. These “prosocial tendencies” were problematic for Rand, because such behavior obviously mitigates against “natural” self-interest and therefore should not exist. She resolved this contradiction by claiming that humans are born as tabula rasa, a blank slate, (as many of her time believed) and prosocial tendencies, particularly altruism, are “diseases” imposed on us by society, insidious lies that cause us to betray biological reality. For example, in her journal entry dated May 9, 1934, Rand mused:

For instance, when discussing the social instinct — does it matter whether it had existed in the early savages? Supposing men were born social (and even that is a question) — does it mean that they have to remain so? If man started as a social animal — isn’t all progress and civilization directed toward making him an individual? Isn’t that the only possible progress? If men are the highest of animals, isn’t man the next step?

The hero of her most popular novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” personifies this “highest of animals”: John Galt is a ruthless captain of industry who struggles against stifling government regulations that stand in the way of commerce and profit. In a revolt, he and other captains of industry each close down production of their factories, bringing the world economy to its knees. “You need us more than we need you” is their message.

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To many of Rand’s readers, a philosophy of supreme self-reliance devoted to the pursuit of supreme self-interest appears to be an idealized version of core American ideals: freedom from tyranny, hard work and individualism. It promises a better world if people are simply allowed to pursue their own self-interest without regard to the impact of their actions on others. After all, others are simply pursuing their own self-interest as well.

So what if people behaved according to Rand’s philosophy of “objectivism”? What if we indeed allowed ourselves to be blinded to all but our own self-interest?

Modern economic theory is based on exactly these principles. A rational agent is defined as an individual who is self-interested. A market is a collection of such rational agents, each of whom is also self-interested. Fairness does not enter into it. In a recent Planet Money episode, David Blanchflower, a Dartmouth professor of economics and former member of the Central Bank of England, laughed out loud when one of the hosts asked, “Is that fair?”

“Economics is not about fairness,” he said. “I’m not going there.”

Economists alternately find alarming and amusing a large body of results from experimental studies showing that people don’t behave according to the tenets of rational choice theory. We are far more cooperative and willing to trust than is predicted by the theory, and we retaliate vehemently when others behave selfishly. In fact, we are willing to pay a penalty for an opportunity to punish people who appear to be breaking implicit rules of fairness in economic transactions.

So what if people behaved according to Rand’s philosophy of “objectivism”? What if we indeed allowed ourselves to be blinded to all but our own self-interest?

An example from industry

In 2008, Sears CEO Eddie Lampert decided to restructure the company according to Rand’s principles.

Lampert broke the company into more than 30 individual units, each with its own management and each measured separately for profit and loss. The idea was to promote competition among the units, which Lampert assumed would lead to higher profits. Instead, this is what happened, as described by Mina Kimes, a reporter for Bloomberg Business:

An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company’s leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance.

Instead, the divisions turned against each other — and Sears and Kmart, the overarching brands, suffered. Interviews with more than 40 former executives, many of whom sat at the highest levels of the company, paint a picture of a business that’s ravaged by infighting as its divisions battle over fewer resources.

A close-up of the debacle was described by Lynn Stuart Parramore in a Salon article from 2013:

It got crazy. Executives started undermining other units because they knew their bonuses were tied to individual unit performance. They began to focus solely on the economic performance of their unit at the expense of the overall Sears brand. One unit, Kenmore, started selling the products of other companies and placed them more prominently than Sears’ own products. Units competed for ad space in Sears’ circulars…Units were no longer incentivized to make sacrifices, like offering discounts, to get shoppers into the store.

Sears became a miserable place to work, rife with infighting and screaming matches. Employees, focused solely on making money in their own unit, ceased to have any loyalty to the company or stake in its survival.

We all know the end of the story: Sears share prices fell, and the company appears to be headed toward bankruptcy. The moral of the story, in Parramore’s words:

What Lampert failed to see is that humans actually have a natural inclination to work for the mutual benefit of an organization. They like to cooperate and collaborate, and they often work more productively when they have shared goals. Take all of that away and you create a company that will destroy itself.

An example from Honduras

In 2009, Honduras experienced a coup d’état when the Honduran Army ousted President Manuel Zelaya on orders from the Honduran Supreme Court. What followed wassuccinctly summarized by Honduran attorney Oscar Cruz:

The coup in 2009 unleashed the voracity of the groups with real power in this country. It gave them free reins to take over everything. They started to reform the Constitution and many laws — the ZEDE comes in this context — and they made the Constitution into a tool for them to get rich.

As part of this process, the Honduran government passed a law in 2013 that created autonomous free-trade zones that are governed by corporations instead of the countries in which they exist. So what was the outcome? Writer Edwin Lyngar described vacationing in Honduras in 2015, an experience that turned him from Ayn Rand supporter to Ayn Rand debunker. In his words:

The greatest examples of libertarianism in action are the hundreds of men, women and children standing alongside the roads all over Honduras. The government won’t fix the roads, so these desperate entrepreneurs fill in potholes with shovels of dirt or debris. They then stand next to the filled-in pothole soliciting tips from grateful motorists. That is the wet dream of libertarian private sector innovation.

He described the living conditions this way:

On the mainland, there are two kinds of neighborhoods, slums that seem to go on forever and middle-class neighborhoods where every house is its own citadel. In San Pedro Sula, most houses are surrounded by high stone walls topped with either concertina wire or electric fence at the top. As I strolled past these castle-like fortifications, all I could think about was how great this city would be during a zombie apocalypse.

Without collective effort, large infrastructure projects like road construction and repair languish. A resident “pointed out a place for a new airport that could be the biggest in Central America, if only it could get built, but there is no private sector upside.”

A trip to a local pizzeria was described this way:

We walked through the gated walls and past a man in casual slacks with a pistol belt slung haphazardly around his waist.  Welcome to an Ayn Rand libertarian paradise, where your extra-large pepperoni pizza must also have an armed guard.

This is the inevitable outcome of unbridled self-interest set loose in unregulated markets.

Yet devotees of Ayn Rand still argue that unregulated self-interest is the American way, that government interference stifles individualism and free trade. One wonders whether these same people would champion the idea of removing all umpires and referees from sporting events. What would mixed martial arts or football or rugby be like, one wonders, without those pesky referees constantly getting in the way of competition and self-interest?

Perhaps another way to look at this is to ask why our species of hominid is the only one still in existence on the planet, despite there having been many other hominid species during the course of our own evolution. One explanation is that we were cleverer, more ruthless and more competitive than those who went extinct. But anthropological archaeology tells a different story. Our very survival as a species depended on cooperation, and humans excel at cooperative effort. Rather than keeping knowledge, skills and goods ourselves, early humans exchanged them freely across cultural groups.

When people behave in ways that violate the axioms of rational choice, they are not behaving foolishly. They are giving researchers a glimpse of the prosocial tendencies that made it possible for our species to survive and thrive… then and today.

With permission from the author, originally published here.

2016 February 17


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  • Duncan Cairncross

    I have found that most “Randites” are people with massively exaggerated ideas of their own competence and importance
    They don’t understand that in a Randite world they would be the slaves not the masters!

    They also believe that while they themselves are supremely competent most people are not.
    They have the idea that if the 0.1% was abducted by martians that the world would collapse,

    Instead in the real world if the top 5% disappeared then society would cope with almost no major disruption

    • DJEB

      Minor critique: “Randroid” is the preferred term.

    • I find that most people have a lot to say about Randites without really knowing what they are talking about. Starting with referring to us as Randites…

  • Michael Pokrass

    This article misrepresents libertarian ideals and presents Rand’s philosophy too simplistically in my opinion. Using Hondurus as an example of a libertarian state is improper. It is a failed state and certainly not one known for economic freedom. Lawlessness or a criminal state does not qualify as libertarianism — the rule of law and enforcement of property rights is imperative (not the case in Hondurus which is one of the most dangerous places in teh world). It seems that the author believes that co-operation is anathema to libertarianism, but this is not so. Co-operation can in fact be “selfishly” motivated. Humans have co-operated since the dawn of time especially in the division of labour. The ideas of Ayn Rand should be taken in the context of her biography and the formative period of her life: a Russian dissident Jew who’s family suffered under Bolshevik rule. Her experiences of the Soviet State colour her understanding of the world and she presents the opposite extreme of government involvement in the life of the individual. As a counterpoint to Soviet Russia in the 20s and 30s it is a valid view.

    • Uji

      Libertarian ideals, as we’ve seen in the US, thanks to some prominent senators like Paul Ryan are very simple. In fact they are so simple they boil down to one short phrase, and that phrase, that so perfectly sums up all of libertarian ideology, is this: “I’ve got mine, f*ck you.” (I could be less vulgar and say screw you, but the ideal is not nice. It is a vulgar, debasing, and utterly inhuman ideal.)

      Libertarianism is the mind set of teenagers and sociopaths.

      • destinal

        Caricaturing the views of those who disagree with you is easy; any child can do it. It takes a bit more work to try to understand the actual arguments of those opponents to realize that often, even if you disagree with someone, they actually do have a reasoned argument and philosophical basis and do believe that their goals would help other people.

        • jayrayspicer

          Unfortunately, destinal, for the vast majority of self-proclaimed libertarians, Uji has it exactly correct. It isn’t a caricature or a strawman if the bulk of those adhering to a philosophy have an unsophisticated understanding of their own ideology.

          And while I’m sure you think of yourself (and Rand) as enlightened, her work *is* simplistic and she was clearly a psychopath. I’ve read enough of Atlas Shrugged and Anthem and about her personal life to know that Rand had a completely twisted, unrealistic view of human nature. Rand’s worldview may well be “a counterpoint to Soviet Russia in the 20s and 30s”, but that hardly makes it valid. On the contrary, her worldview was just as warped as the Stalinism that repulsed her.

          Michael Pokrass, libertarianism in practice inevitably leads to failed states, or government by mafia. When contracts are enforced by “law enforcement” paid for by donations, that’s just a protection racket. This is why the history of the world has never seen a functional modern state “governed” by libertarian principles. Libertarian principles *are* lawlessness. That’s the *point* of libertarianism. It’s no more than giving yourself permission to not give a damn about anybody else.

          • destinal

            I’m not a big Ayn Rand fan, and most libertarians that I know actually don’t really care about what Rand said that much. She wasn’t a great writer, though some of her non-fiction was better than her fiction. What libertarianism in practice do you mean, specifically? You’re lying to yourself if you think elected officials give a damn about you.

          • jayrayspicer

            So you’re an expert in not giving a damn about people? Elected officials are people. Some of them are bad, some are good, all are part of a system corrupted by corporate power. That would be fantastically worse in a libertarian utopia.

          • destinal

            My argument is not that there are some bad apples here and there, but that as a whole, your rulers, essentially all of them are out for themselves, and they don’t particularly give a damn about you except in pretending to give a damn about you to get elected.

          • jayrayspicer

            Oh, I got your point. It’s clearly ridiculous. I suppose you think the moon landings were faked, too? GWB personally lit the match to bring down the WTC towers? If you really think that all elected officials have precisely one (evil) motive, then you’re just as delusional as Ayn Rand.

          • destinal

            No, I think that they’re greedy and self-interested.

          • jayrayspicer

            Not everybody is a libertarian.

          • destinal

            No, unfortunately they’re not. Libertarians want you to be free to do what you want so long as you don’t hurt anyone else, and think they only deserve your money if they can provide you something you value more and thus will voluntarily trade it for. Statists think they know better than you and should take it from you.

          • jayrayspicer

            Libertarians want me to be free to do whatever my feudal lord tells me to do. They certainly never articulate a credible mechanism to ensure that people don’t hurt each other or that trades are voluntary. Libertarians think they know better than everybody.

          • destinal

            A feudal lord is the state personified. Libertarians are against the state and anyone having special legal powers to use aggression / violence against anyone.

          • jayrayspicer

            While providing no meaningful check on the power of “anyone having special legal powers to use aggression/violence against anyone.” Libertarians always duck this problem completely. What exactly in the fantasy libertarian utopia would effectively prevent gangs from assembling and asserting their combined power to take what they want or even change the laws to make it legal to take what they want? How could a system relying on individual voluntary restraint deal with policing those who refuse to restrain themselves? What if voluntary contributions to the police force are inadequate to contend against the “voluntary” contributions bulking up the mafia’s “protection” racket? What would prevent corporate thugs from exerting private domination over all the neighbors? Until libertarians have a believable answer to this problem, they’re just blowing hot air. And of course, any workable answer to this question converts libertarianism to some other form of societal structure, with, you know, an actual government.

          • Mick McDick

            hey, they will FORCE you to be free. Who will free us from the libertarians?

      • Paul Ryan is no libertarian. You also have no idea what you are talking about.
        Teenagers and sociopaths? Obviously you got that from someone else’s commentary because you’ve no studied libertarian thought to any extent to make a cogent critique.
        Learn more about unfamiliar ideas before you critique them.

    • obadiahorthodox

      it is interesting that she took social security payments at the end of her life

  • Vicente Ulive-Schnell

    There are many problems with Ayn Rand’s approach (I wouldn’t call it a theory), reasons why “Libertarianism” isn’t taught in schools of Philosophy as a proper school of thinking (Or “objectivism”, if you prefer). The Academic answer is that Ayn Rand completely misunderstood Nietzsche and attempted to rationalize and “objectify” his “Will to power”, by inserting a half-baked re-reading of Aristotle.
    Unfortunately, her theoretical pastiche just gets worse when you try to insert extra-economic values into her reading. Because she tried to peg the “Open to the world” Human (Lebenswelt, as Nietzsche said) to worth -worth understood as an economic transaction. In “the virtues of selfishness” she tries to present an ethical approach based on said “what is it to me”, sort of maxim.
    As you correctly state and as Anthropologists have found, many “actions” exerted by humans are not done for a direct gain. It’s not even about the monetary factor -many human actions are para-linguistic and cannot be rationalised à la Aristotle (paradoxically, Nietzsche was one of the most staunch critics of language and rationalisation in Philosophy).
    To put it in other words, according to Rand’s theory, Van Gogh was a terrible painter since he never even sold one. His “value” to society was close to zero. However, the amount of tourists flocking to Paris to hang out in the neighborhoods he lived in is huge, and they certainly inject money into the economy. Ayn Rand’s theory cannot account for these kind of things, the surplus brought by unemployed artists to Paris, for exemple, or the change in zeitgeist that makes an artists despised, then loved.
    I live in France. It never ceases to amaze me how this half-baked theory still interests people in the United States. We should be over this by now.

  • David Whitlock

    Ayn Rand had no descendants. Her life is an “evolutionary fail”.

    Markets and trade can only work when there are no unpriced externalities. This holds for each transaction. Any transaction that has an unpriced externality cannot be regulated by any type of market. The party who bears the cost of the unpriced externality will lose (relatively) in each transaction.

    If there is “enough” surplus value in a transaction such that the unpriced externality borne by one party doesn’t drop the value they receive in the transaction below zero, then the transaction is still possible. If there isn’t enough surplus value such that both parties can gain after the unpriced externalities are accounted for, then the transaction is not mutually beneficial and is not sustainable.

    The “cost” of enforcing “rule of law” and “property rights” is an unpriced externality that applies to each and every transaction. The cheapest way of paying for this “unpriced externality” is by getting people to voluntarily follow them. The cheapest way to get people to voluntarily follow the “laws” and “property rights” that constitute that unpriced exterinality is by making society “fair”.

    My experience is that Libertarians don’t really want fair market transactions. They want to burden the other with as many unpriced externalities as they can. This can only work in the short term, until the social conventions the society had been built on have been “liquidated” (as in not equitably maintained or supported by the two parties to transactions). Once the idea of following the “rule of law” and “property rights” has been “liquidated”, then each individual needs to supply their own enforcement; as with weapons.

    Any state that cannot support itself is a “failed state”. Causing the state to fail by depriving it of revenues seems to be the main goal of Libertarians.

    • advancedatheist

      Many famous economists had no children, either.

      • Mankind Global Media

        That’s probably for the best in the long run.

    • destinal

      What externality costs 50% of the economic output of your country? Can you think of any? Because that’s what the state steals.

      • jayrayspicer

        Really, destinal? Where do taxes go when the government steals them from you? Oh, that’s right, directly back into the economy in the form of government spending. I always find it amusing to encounter people who think the government just takes our money out back and burns it. Government is one type of producer/employer in the economy. Private enterprise is another. They both do the same thing: give consumers products and services in exchange for money, and then spend that money on wages, goods, and services. Weird that libertarians don’t understand that. It’s almost as if they can only see things from their own perspective.

        • destinal

          Government still wastes all those productive resources. All the time that people spend doing what government wants instead of what other individuals want and all the resources those projects consumed are actually consumed. They cannot be used for other projects, other desires and needs that individuals have. Thus things that people want end up costing more and becoming less available than otherwise, capital investments that would meet those actual needs if they had responded to market forces cannot be made, and we are all that much further from prosperity.

          • jayrayspicer

            Wow. The government spends money providing services that taxpayers want. Just like private enterprise, but with a different board of directors (us). How is that wasting resources, exactly? Government is just a different means of delivering consumer goods and services. Government is better at some stuff, private enterprise at other stuff. Again, nothing is “removed” from the economy by channeling it thru government.

          • destinal

            It’s the involuntary nature of this that bothers me, people having their money taken from them against their will to then be spent to redirect private resources that could better be spent responding to market needs. (ie what people voluntarily trade for)

          • jayrayspicer

            Again, we are the board of directors (if we could convince ourselves to get off the couch and vote). The government is providing *wanted* services. Not all of them by each citizen, but wanted. If it makes you feel better, think of government as a market mechanism, but instead of voting with their dollars, people are voting with their votes. I know, weird, right?

          • destinal

            You cannot consent for other people. Even if 90% support a given policy (basically unheard of in politics), if 10% oppose it and do not give consent for the state to make these kinds of decisions on their behalf, then it is wrong. Just as the kids on your neighborhood can’t justly vote to take one of the kids’ bike, and a street mostly populated by men can’t justly vote to take turns raping the pretty woman on that street, because a majority cannot consent on behalf of a minority that did not.

          • jayrayspicer

            Ah, I see. We finally get to the bottom of it. So democracy is only OK if it’s unanimous, right? Everybody in the country has veto power over every shared decision? Sure, no problem. Of course, what you’re really saying is that you’re an anarchist, democracy and government and nations are morally reprehensible, and nobody should be allowed to ever tell anybody what to do. Got it. You realize that’s completely unworkable in practice, right? You also realize that’s the political philosophy of a spoiled brat, right?

          • destinal

            What I’m saying is that theft is wrong no matter whether government puts a stamp on it and calls it taxes. Murder is wrong whether or not government calls it “War” (note that defending yourself is not murder so please don’t think I mean defensive wars). Slavery is wrong whether or not government calls it “the draft.” Locking people up in cages for harming no one is wrong whether or not government calls it “justice” or “punishment for a drug crime”. We have rights, and violating them is wrong even when the majority agrees with it.

          • jayrayspicer

            destinal, it’s painfully clear what you’re saying. You’re saying that the only social contract you’ll sign onto is one that gives you veto power over every decision involving other people. This has nothing to do with rights. Rights are meant to protect us from the tyranny of the majority and from abuse of government power. You’re just whining about your civic responsibility to support the society that supports you. You can’t weasel out of that by objecting to some of the things that happen in your name. If you don’t like certain government actions, work to get them changed, but you’re on the hook whether you like it or not.

            And don’t bother rolling out the self-made-man crap. You didn’t build any infrastructure, and if you were a billionaire, you wouldn’t volunteer to, even if you could own it and charge for its use. Why? Because even you know perfectly well that you wouldn’t be able to purchase all the necessary rights of way in voluntary and fair transactions in a “society” full of people who think like you. You can’t have civilization without publicly owned infrastructure and publicly provided services. It’s way too late for us all to live in blacksmith cottages with a pasture and garden out back.

            destinal, earlier you said, “Caricaturing the views of those who disagree with you is easy; any child
            can do it. It takes a bit more work to try to understand the actual
            arguments of those opponents to realize that often, even if you disagree
            with someone, they actually do have a reasoned argument and
            philosophical basis and do believe that their goals would help other
            people.”

            I’m glad we had this conversation. Your defense of the “sophisticated” version of libertarianism leaves the streak unbroken. Those who argue against libertarianism aren’t knocking down straw men. There is no sophisticated version of libertarianism. Only people who think there is. You have no answers to the many practical problems that would arise in your utopia, starting with the impossibility of “voluntary” enforcement of the rules, and ending with the refusal to recognize that your responsibilities to your fellow citizens extend beyond not consciously hurting them.

          • destinal

            I’m saying the social contract is sophistry, because contracts require consent. You can’t manufacture consent with platitudes like “you could always leave, and you didn’t leave”

          • jayrayspicer

            Sorry, destinal, but no. We all are born into many, many unwritten obligations to our fellow human beings, from taking care of our children and elderly to respecting our fellow citizens’ rights, including doing our share to maintain the commons. It’s called morality, and it’s grounded in the evolutionarily successful survival strategy of helping others to increase the odds they’ll help us.

            The sophistry is your assertion that you have no civic responsibility because these obligations are not “voluntary”. But your objection, on supposedly moral grounds, to bearing your share of the burden is clearly just an immoral attempt to shift more of the burden to others by pretending that morality itself doesn’t exist. Feel free to try to build a morality, an economy, and a polity on the principles of psychopathy, but don’t be terribly surprised when most people call bullshit. It doesn’t even cohere internally; you can’t argue against morality on moral grounds.

          • destinal

            I bear my share of the burden by paying for the things I use. (and in a voluntary society as I propose, everything people use would be paid for voluntarily, since there would be no one stealing money and claiming I owe them in return for them having spent it)

            I bear *more* than my share, actually, because in addition to paying for the things I use, I donate to charities, volunteer at non-profits, contribute to open source projects, and do many other things to help others that I receive no monetary or material reward for.

            If someone didn’t make promises to spend our money against our will, they wouldn’t need anything from me as “my share” of that.

          • David Whitlock

            So who pays to support infants and children? Infants can’t support themselves. According to your “voluntary society”, parents are free to abandon children to die in the gutter, or to sell them for food, as Jonathan Swift proposed.

          • destinal

            Parents have an obligation to their children, created when they procreate. They created those lives and put those children in a position of vulnerability and they have a responsibility to support them and teach them. If parents fail their children, which IMO is morally despicable, charities and other voluntary organizations would be humane ways to save those children.

          • David Whitlock

            What if there are no charities and voluntary organizations? Euthanize them and render their bodies to pay for it?

          • destinal

            There are always charities and voluntary organizations until the state destroys them. Human beings care about other human beings, which is why you find the government even pretending to care about them. Read De Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” if you want to learn more, he praised how much better voluntary associations worked in the early United States compared to equivalent government functions in Europe.

          • jayrayspicer

            Sorry destinal, but the reason we have a government social safety net is precisely because voluntary charities can’t borrow when the economy goes south, but the government can. Private, voluntary charities were completely overwhelmed in the Great Depression, almost instantly in 1929. What should the US have done with the 25% unemployed in 1930, ’31, and ’32? Nobody had anything to donate to private charity, but government could and did step in to help.

            Failed states are great natural experiments as well. The only functional private charities in failed states come from outside the country. And comparing voluntary associations to the rudimentary government social safety net of Dickensian Europe is completely bogus, especially considering that both private and public safety nets were grossly inadequate in the 19th century.

          • destinal

            Why can’t charities borrow when the economy goes south? Or why can’t people borrow money to fund charities? If anyone thinks they are a good credit risk, they will choose to loan them money. What you mean is private charities can’t steal money from all the people of a geographic area when things go south as the state does. They have to engage in voluntary transactions just as the rest of us do. All anarcho-capitalists are saying is there shouldn’t be anyone with an exemption to morality. No one has the right to rob from and dominate others. So, if you just phrase it like, “how will you help the poor and starving if no one can violate everyone’s rights with impunity” it sounds as silly as it really is.

            Saying that in a voluntary society without government, private institutions wouldn’t have been able to handle a proper response to a government created crisis that the government dragged on for over a decade is pretty amusing, though.

          • jayrayspicer

            Who would lend money to a charity? How would they pay it back with interest? The goal of a charity is to give away their capital to the needy, not use it to make money. It makes no sense for a charity to borrow. In any case, they do not, in actual emergencies, borrow. Moreover, when the economy goes south, existing donors stop giving because, you know, the economy. Only government can bridge this gap.

            As for the government creating the Depression, that’s the laughable idea. As though the previous dozen great panics in American history under the prior laissez-faire regimes never happened. It’s libertarian economics that cause an economy to stagger from boom to bust. People are simply not rational nor predictive enough to prevent it. Government regulation hasn’t had a whole lot better track record, but at least it’s an attempt to solve the problem instead of the libertarian “oh, well” approach.

            In any case it’s your libertarian free-ridership that’s robbing the populace, but you think that’s a good thing. Morality *is* looking after your fellow humans. Only looking after yourself is amorality, at best.

          • destinal

            Regardless, stealing money isn’t the solution to a financial crisis.

            Yes, the depression was created by government, and turned from a sharp 12-18 month correction into over a decade of misery by ongoing government intervention.

            See: http://fee.org/articles/the-depression-youve-never-heard-of-1920-1921/ for the depression you’ve never heard about, a panic in 1920 that faced a sharp correction and recovery within a year with government doing nothing. Absent government intervention, the depression would have been a similar panic rather than a lost generation.

            Government makes the fraud of fractional reserve banking possible and manipulates interest rates, both cause unsustainable booms and then the bust is the correction. (See the Austrian Business Cycle theory that Hayek won the nobel prize for)

            Note that when you look back, Canada did not have most of these panics. And no, there was never a real laissez-faire period in american banking, there has always been fractional reserve banking and government interference.

          • jayrayspicer

            Only libertarians imagine taxation to be theft, and they do so for entirely self-serving reasons. I’m not going to bother reading any revisionist libertarian historical fantasy. Fractional reserve banking makes perfect sense. It’s stupid to keep all the money in the bank if it can be used to accelerate increasing the standard of living. The Austrian School is nonsense on stilts, because it’s based on a complete lack of understanding of how humans actually behave. And I suppose you think we should go back to the gold standard, which is thoroughly asinine for way too many reasons to list here.

            Look, you don’t even believe in the social contract, so you don’t even have a basis for your complaint that taxation is theft or a reason for anybody to entertain your goofy notions about how to organize society. If there’s no social contract, then there can’t be any such thing as theft, and nobody owes any kind of social organization to anybody else. Of course, if you admit that there is an unwritten social contract, then you refute your own arguments. So good luck with that.

          • destinal

            Nonsense. “Thou shalt not steal” predates social contract theory by thousands of years. A social contract is nonsense, because as we’ve discussed before, contracts require consent, and you cannot consent for anyone else but yourself. Anyone who has not consented, is bound to nothing but not harming others because others have rights. (which is what negative rights like life, liberty and property are all about)

            Taking someone’s property without permission is theft because it is a violation of their right to their own property, and special badges or authorization from a majority do not make theft anything other than theft, any more than my neighborhood can form a democracy and vote, as a majority of my neighbors, to “redistribute” my house or car.

          • jayrayspicer

            So a theory of a phenomenon must exist prior to that phenomenon coming into existence? The social contract has existed since long before homo sapiens. Working together with your community is just what you do to survive, at least for many species. It’s much less clear that rights exist in nature without governments to enforce them, but by admitting that you are obligated (without your consent) to not harm others, you admit that there is, in fact, a social contract. I’m mystified why you don’t want to call it that, except that just don’t want to accept any responsibility for the world around you.

            And of course your neighborhood could form a democracy and vote. It’s called an HOA. Or a town council. Can you make an HOA or town council that supersedes the rule of the larger government that you’re already within? No. But if you weren’t already in a larger governmental body, you certainly could.

          • destinal

            Admitting that there is moral right and wrong is not the same as a social contract. Rape is wrong whether or not your society says it is. Murder is wrong whether or not your society says it is. Slavery is wrong whether or not your society says it is. Theft is wrong whether or not your society says it is. These are basic human truths endemic in the nature of humanity and they transcend opinion and consensus. If 99 men and 1 woman lived in a community and there was a 99% vote to make rape legal, even designate rape officers and rename it something noble like “public service,” it wouldn’t make it any less a violation of her rights.

          • jayrayspicer

            Right. Because those things are part of the social contract. If the social contract didn’t exist, you would have no basis for claiming those things are wrong. The social contract *is* morality. Morality *is* the social contract. If other people didn’t exist, neither would morality. There would be no need for a social contract. There’s no meaningful distinction between morality, respect for rights, and the social contract. You seem to want to draw such a distinction, but it’s a mystery where and why you draw the line.

          • destinal

            What’s important is where the violation comes from, and it comes from aggression, initiating force against someone else. That’s what is at the core of all these things. You are justified in using force to defend yourself or others from aggression but not to achieve any arbitrary goal for some supposed “common good”

          • jayrayspicer

            You are morally obligated to help sustain the society that helps sustain you. If you don’t like the way things are going, you can work to change them, but you don’t get to opt out unless you have your own planet.

          • destinal

            You are morally obligated not to violate the rights of others, not to aggress against them. Nothing more. Now, we’re human beings and most of us are compassionate and giving and want to help each other. That doesn’t mean it’s right for anyone to coerce us to engage in any involuntary transaction.

          • jayrayspicer

            Voluntary donations have never been adequate to sustain the commons. You’re free to imagine that no such thing exists, but you’re not free to evade your civic responsibility. That’s called free ridership, and you don’t get to do that. You benefit tremendously from the society you live in. You just don’t want to pay for it.

            You’re desperately trying to make a virtue out of irresponsibility. That’s not going to work.

          • destinal

            People voluntarily working together just isn’t enough to maintain society. We’ve just got to beat more people over the head. Really? That’s pathetic and despicable and leads me to believe either you don’t understand the violence inherent in your solution, or if you do, you’re pathetic and despicable yourself.

            If someone’s robbing you at gunpoint, it doesn’t matter that it’s necessary or that they’re going to do something with the money that you benefit from. If you don’t consent to give your money it’s still wrong for them to threaten or use force to take it. In polite society, if we want people to help build things that they and others will benefit from, we try to convince them with our words. It’s not okay to kidnap people and put them in cages (and beat or kill them if they resist) for your brilliant and necessary public works project. That’s brutish and uncivilized behavior. It’s morally reprehensible.

          • jayrayspicer

            Sure, why force others to pay their share, when you can just sit back and ride for free on their efforts? Well except that your way, everybody has to put up with a much lower standard of living.

          • Mankind Global Media

            In polite society, if we want people to help build things that they and others will benefit from, we try to convince them with our words

            Exactlty what Democracy is.

          • Mankind Global Media

            That doesn’t mean it’s right for anyone to coerce us to engage in any involuntary transaction

            Actually as long as you use public services and enjoy the protection of the police & military, the government has every single right to tax you. With the exception of a prior agreement made with the government that you are too poor to pay. Not paying for services rendered is called THEFT.

          • destinal

            So someone who breaks into your house and vacuums your carpet, you’re obligated to pay him, because he rendered you a service? No. Consent is key.

          • Mankind Global Media

            The analogy falls apart because 1) Most people in society are consenting. 2) The places services are offered are for the most part in public spaces or are at least connected to them, so there is no “breaking into your house” to force you to accept anything 3) If you don’t clean up your property, you can become a public health hazard and be required to make your violation of others space through smells and potential diseases. If you opt out of public sewer system, your property could also become a health hazard in that way.

            Totally just and no consent needed. So your ownership property is by no means sacrosanct.

          • Mankind Global Media

            You are morally obligated to help sustain the society that helps sustain you

            ABSOLUTELY

            That should be elaborated more on and philosophized more at length. Property rights do not exist without a society to agree, sustain and uphold them.

          • Mankind Global Media

            arbitrary

            There is nothing, I repeat NOTHING arbitrary about making sure everyone has access to basic services regardless of their ability to pay.

          • Mankind Global Media

            You are justified in using force to defend yourself or others from aggression but not to achieve any arbitrary goal for some supposed “common good

            This is actually wrong on several different levels. The most obvious is that the taxation and provision of services [we’re assuming the local level here, because at the Federal level, taxes do not fund spending.] – these things are in general agreement by most of the public and only a tiny minority of ideologues who culminate around comments section are even bothered by this arrangement. I don’t consider the Don’t Walk signs by my house to be “forcing” me to cross the street safely because I already intend to do just that. OTOH, some idiot who thinks he’s standing up for his individual rights could rush out into the intersection and cause a wreck. So it’s good that those things are there that limit freedom because not everyone uses freedom responsibly.

            Because you are focused on Individualism as a paradigm, you’re missing the forest for the trees in terms of how larger systems function and work together. For example, let’s say you work a 40 ww and the little old lady next door gets Social Security. One day she sees a burglar in the neighborhood and calls the cops. You BOTH benefited from the fact that she’s being supported, although at the Federal level your tax dollars do not in any way provide for her whether she be on SSI or SSD. True fact. Google “Taxes do not fund federal spending.”

            If the poor are not helped on at least a base subsistence level, several negative consequences will arise: The economy will be harmed by the fact that there is less spending overall. Spending by the poor rings those cash registers and keeps people employed. Also, not receiving assistance could cause some to turn to crime, resulting in prostitution which can result in increased STDs, general infections, & unwanted pregnancies. Also, it increases the likelihood of trafficking [which the Netherlands recently found out their legalization of sex work caused, much to their surprise.] There could be a spike in robberies, murder and general violence as well as drug use out of control more than it already is.

            Also, Closed Borders and regulation of Immigration might seem like force and limiting of individual freedom, but the fact is the opposite is causing chaos right now in several parts of Europe. Libertarians such as Mises and Friedman would turn society into an Open Borders Insane Asylum world, which is why there is a backlash at the polls everywhere. And as Ha-Joon Chang has pointed out, decisions by the government to regulate or not regulate immigration means your wages are Politically Determined, like it or not.

            At the same time, you are not limited in what you can do if you don’t like these burdens laid upon you: You can go join an Amish community or move to Somalia. You can move out into the wilderness and live off the grid and off the radar screen. You can go to Canada and homestead your own property. You can whittle your income down to a bare minimum so you cannot be taxed. These might not seem like the most pleasant choices, but if you’re going to insist on your own self-reliance then society and the government from then on are under no obligation whatsoever to provide more choices for you. You’re on your own, which is what you wanted anyway, right? 😉

          • ICFubar

            You make some very sound arguments concerning consent. Government is of course, in a democracy, supposed to rule with the consent of the majority while also safe guarding against the tyranny of the majority. This supposed state of affairs has clearly gone by the way as most of our societal institutions have been perverted to serve the interests of a wealthy ruling class. How would an anarchist societal form stop the free association of a group who wished to monopolize a commodity vital to survival? This was most likely the cause of the rise of ruling classes when human kind first settled and began to build structured societies and civilization? What we have today are half formed democracies, as the newest form of societal organization. Perhaps more effort into perfecting democracy is needed with issues around consent being the cornerstone of
            of any democratic formation. Law and money are the bugaboo of humanity and when we get that right all the rest will fall into place.

          • destinal

            Thank you. As to how an anarchist society would stop free association, I don’t think they would, or should. That’s the point of the non-aggression principle: don’t use force against people except in defense against someone who initiates force against you. Generally speaking, individual rights are just a recognition that people are entitled to be left alone to pursue their own interests with their own lives and property, etc.

            What is a commodity vital to survival that it is possible to monopolize by homesteading? So long as you aren’t using force to deprive others of their own property, I don’t think there’s anything like that.

          • ICFubar

            I understand the non aggression principle but also understand that people can justify almost any position they take. My question is this; How would an anarchist society respond to the free association of a group that took possession of the water supply over a very large region with the intent to improve that supply [the justification] as a monopoly and then raised usage rates well beyond a justifiable profit as monopolies and some persons are want to do? I’m talking complete monopoly over all sources-bodies and delivery of water. .

          • Mankind Global Media

            These are basic human truths endemic in the nature of humanity

            No, I think they wouldn’t if people didn’t purpose to hand them down. Your bit about morals endemic to human nature is pure fantasy. Human nature is essentially selfish and corrupt.

            Cue “but-but-but then you’re governed by selfish and corrupt people” response 😉

            Yep, because I allow for paradoxes and because I think restraint is better than no restraint.

            If 99 men and 1 woman lived in a community and there was a 99% vote to make rape legal, even designate rape officers and rename it something noble like “public service,” it wouldn’t make it any less a violation of her rights

            At the same time, unless you like wars of regime change then you’re giving tacit approval for their right to create such “Rape Cultures.” Many parts of Muslim society have it, though not all, and I’m betting you would agree leaving them alone is better than the alternative.

          • Mankind Global Media

            “Thou shalt not steal” predates social contract theory by thousands of years.

            No, “thou shalt not steal” IS social contract.

            Taking someone’s property without permission is theft because it is a violation of their right to their own property

            No, refusing to pay for the service you use on a daily basis is theft. Taxation is a reasonable and legitimate onus placed on those who use roads, sewers, electric lines, schools, police, firemen, etc.

            And if you hate the government so much, get off the internet. You wouldn’t have it without RAND corp.

          • destinal

            I don’t believe we should “go back to a gold standard.” I believe we should have a free market in money, let people use whatever money they want to, and get the state entirely out of manipulating money and finance, minting and printing it. Money predates the state and it will survive its fall. Whichever forms of money win on the market will be the ones that best suit the needs of the people using the money.

          • jayrayspicer

            Again, I don’t see what’s keeping you from implementing your little utopia. Sounds like you’ve got it all figured out. And since the social contract doesn’t exist, you don’t owe anything to anybody, so go for it. I just can’t figure out why you’re bothering to evangelize it. You know, because without a social contract, you don’t need to care about anybody else’s welfare, so why waste your time?

          • destinal

            Why would an abolitionist want to free the slaves?

          • jayrayspicer

            Because of the social contract. Again, why do you care, if there is no such thing?

          • destinal

            Why would Neo want to free people from the Matrix? I’m trying to free people from the state, but convincing them to take the red pill can be a challenge sometimes, one I’m trying to improve my skills in.

          • Mankind Global Media

            We see your so-called Red Pill for the lie that it is. Btw The Matrix was a lousy movie.

          • Mankind Global Media

            The Matrix was a lousy movie. But apart from that, there is no “red pill” you have to offer because the “pill” you’re offering is a childish fantasy world of unreality. You’re trying to get us into</i< the Matrix, not out of it. The people who have woken up have discarded your nonsense gobbledygook a long time ago.

          • destinal

            The social contract, meh. Maybe he just wants people to be free for their own benefit and to reduce the amount of evil in the world?

          • Mankind Global Media

            The social contract, meh. Maybe he just wants people to be free for their own benefit and to reduce the amount of evil in the world

            Without society nurturing and passing on those values of “freedom” and “less evil” there would be no conception of these things to coalesce around. Therefore, they are the very definition of Social Contract.

          • Mankind Global Media

            Money predates the state

            So does theft, murder, rape and lying. That’s why we have a state.

          • Mankind Global Media

            I’m going to reply a little further to this notion that “money predates the state” because that is actually a false notion that Libertarians have been spinning for quite sometime now. It’s been proven wrong:

            http://cas2.umkc.edu/econ/economics/faculty/wray/papers/hudson.pdf
            http://arno.daastol.com/books/wray/Wray,%20Credit%20and%20State%20Theory%20of%20Money%20(2004)a.pdf
            http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_708.pdf

          • Mankind Global Media
          • ICFubar

            Very interesting discussion going on here with both sides making good points. Canada before the Great Depression was ranked in the top 15 economies, usually in the 10th spot, but must have fallen below the top 30 during those years as the data I looked at only showed the top 30 and Canada was not among them.

          • destinal

            “FDR’s policies prolonged Depression by 7 years, UCLA economists calculate” – http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/FDR-s-Policies-Prolonged-Depression-5409

            I think they’re still way conservative and he turned a 1-2 year panic into 15 years, but at least here’s evidence that it’s not as laughable as you think.

          • jayrayspicer

            Revisionist junk. They seem incapable of understanding that government employees are, in fact, employed. Kinda skews the results:

            http://www.salon.com/2009/02/02/the_new_deal_worked/

            Also, they were just wrong:

            http://lbo-news.com/2011/09/26/1930s-phantasms-from-the-right-how-to-make-up-stories-with-numbers/

            Plus, of course, they start from the same neoclassical position that this web site repudiates. Their axioms are wrong. Their analysis can’t be right.

          • destinal

            LOL, they disagree with me, so they can’t be right.

          • destinal

            All jobs are not created equal. Paying someone to dig a hole and fill it in does not actually make people, overall, better off. Government make-work programs, many of which FDR engaged in, actually keep things from restructuring around sustainable lines producing what people want and need, which is, after all, what this whole crazy economy thing is about.

          • jayrayspicer

            Most of the New Deal jobs created or improved infrastructure, which boosted national economic activity for decades.

          • Mankind Global Media

            The GDP continually improved under FDR (except for a hiccup when he tried to balance the budget.) Also, the GI Bill made sure there was no mass unemployment among post WWII veterans.

          • Mankind Global Media

            During the Truman, Eisenhower & Kennedy administrations, all of which determined to uphold the New Deal, poverty was literally cut in half over the years. If Ike didn’t build the roads I shudder to think where we’d all be right now.

          • SuperTech86

            “I think they’re still way conservative and he turned a 1-2 year panic
            into 15 years, but at least here’s evidence that it’s not as laughable
            as you think.”

            Doesn’t matter what you think it’s what the empirical data shows and the effects of the Great Depression spread to Europe which caused U.S exports to fall, then there was job loss and the downward deflationary spiral began.

            Cole is a revisionist and conservative whose remedy would have been to allow human suffering to continue while waiting for the market to naturally self-correct, economic scaring be damned.

          • Mankind Global Media

            That whole bit about FDR prolonging the depression has been felled:

            http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2016/05/stefan-molyneuxs-libertarian-myths-on.html

          • Mankind Global Media

            There are always charities and voluntary organizations until the state destroys them

            Wrong. The Catholic Church still exists. Libertarians are more likely to want to destroy that. Not that they can. 🙂

            De Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America”

            What was his take on the Indian Removal Program? Slavery? Only the aristocracy being able to vote?

          • Mankind Global Media

            Parents have an obligation to their children, created when they procreate

            Thanks for owning up to the Social Contract.

          • destinal

            Their parents are responsible for them and to them. And they have the same rights we all have, to life , liberty and property, moderated by their parents custody and care. Parents don’t own their children and harming them is no different from harming anyone. As to who would help take care of them, all of us would, in voluntary contributions and their rights would need protected the same way all individual rights must be protected to have a free society.

          • David Whitlock

            So how many children are you “voluntarily” taking care of?

            What level of voluntary contributions are you signed up for?

            What if there isn’t enough “voluntary” contributions to care for all that need taking care of?

            And what about the children who don’t have any parents, because they have died or been killed?

          • destinal

            This used to be handled by orphanages and other charities. I think the real problem today is that government has pushed out private charity and other voluntary societies. You can ask “where are they” but eliminating private institutions, even ones that do a better job and are more efficient is in the nature of the state. The charities I donate to are to help feed the hungry and another to provide medical care, especially to children with serious illnesses. If our money wasn’t taken from us against our will and if people weren’t indoctrinated into this concept that the state is there to take care of us, people would have a lot more money to donate as well as a lot more of the onus on them to push for what they wanted to be done to help these people.

            Do you donate any of your money or time to helping these people?

          • David Whitlock

            Cutting taxes will generate a flood of donations to charities?

            You mean like in Kansas?

          • Mankind Global Media

            I think the real problem today is that government has pushed out private charity and other voluntary societies

            Doubtful you could prove that. Such entities as the Catholic church are still operating in full force and very involved. The problems are likely just too big & complex without at least some Government involvement.

          • Mankind Global Media

            You give consent to the social contract every single time you use services:

            http://i.imgur.com/PDROqvv.jpg

            If that doesn’t work for you, contact the Mormon church and see if they can’t work on a retroactive pre-existence arrangement for you so you can be born on a deserted island 😉

          • Mankind Global Media

            Even if 90% support a given policy (basically unheard of in politics), if 10% oppose it and do not give consent for the state to make these kinds of decisions on their behalf, then it is wrong

            False. You have the option of moving away.

          • Gerard Schofield

            Ah no “shared intentionality” possible amongst human beings for the creation of both public and private goods and services as far as you’re concerned! Why not step outside your ideological cocoon and look around you, you’d be surprised how much of it is taking place under your very eyes, ears and nose.

          • destinal

            Yes, we do have vast networks of voluntary cooperation in the forms of markets and whatever voluntary societies the state has not yet destroyed. I’m not knocking shared intentionality, only those who would achieve it with force.

          • Mankind Global Media

            I’m not knocking shared intentionality, only those who would achieve it with force

            You’ve got it bass-ackwards. The “shared intentionality” leads reasonable people to adopt security forces for the preservation of the social order, so that said intentionality may function. If your AnCapistan fantasy were to ever materialize, it’d be followed up by a tax-supported Police force within 6 months to a year. If not much, much sooner.

          • BobSmith77

            This is an utterly ridiculous example and no representative gov’t (even a republic) could possibly function.

            You will almost never get even a smaller group of relatively heterogeneous size to agree on any topic or issue at 100% or even 90%.

          • Mankind Global Media

            if 10% oppose it and do not give consent for the state to make these kinds of decisions on their behalf, then it is wrong

            Incorrect. The 10% are still consenting based on the fact that they choose to live in such a society. I don’t want Trump as my president but I “consent” to him being as such because I support the Democratic process and I’m not a child who cries when he doesn’t get his way.

          • destinal

            In a market, we pay for what we want and we get it. So if I like chocolate ice cream and you like vanilla and there are a few other people at the shop, we don’t vote to see what ice cream we’ll all have to have. I buy chocolate, you buy vanilla, and we’re both happy. This is the great thing about markets and the lousy thing about democracy.

          • jayrayspicer

            Which is why we have private sector ice cream and public sector roads. Because roads need to be standardized and shared, whereas ice cream is an individual treat. Nobody is suggesting a government takeover of Ben and Jerry’s. Maybe not the best example for your case.

          • destinal

            It’s a reductio ad absurdum to illustrate the point that markets allow everyone to get basically what they want by voluntary mutually beneficial exchange, whereas democracy creates conflict by pitting one winner take all solution against another. Therefore as little as possible should be solved with democracy or by decree, and everything that can be solved with individual choice and free markets should be solved by individual choice and free markets. I argue that would be basically everything people are trying to “solve” with democracy. Education, Roads, Courts, Health Care, Medicine, Food, Water, Power, Heat, Quality Certification for any number of products, Security / Protection, Firefighting, and on and on can all be done in the market without resorting to winner-take-all political solutions which always victimize whoever is in the minority.

          • jayrayspicer

            Right, because all those things have worked so very well whenever they’ve been privatized. History is decidedly against your assertion. Almost all meaningful advances in medicine have come from the public sector. Roads are unworkable without government intervention to clear rights of way and set standards. Private courts are a nightmare to even contemplate, considering the infinitude of conflicts of interest that would be involved. Private schools don’t work very well unless they manage to steal public school money while continuing to refuse to take special needs kids. Food before the FDA was as likely to kill you as not. Municipal water has been a triumph of the public sector, occasional problems caused by libertarians who manage to take control notwithstanding. As to power, I have one word: Enron. I’ve already discussed private security/protection; no mafia, thank you. And private firefighting is just stupid, considering that a neighbor’s house fire threatens all the houses around it. It baffles me that any adult could think any of this would work without public sector support, if not outright control, but utopians emerge in every generation.

            Given it’s many obvious self-contradictions and clear historical pattern of catastrophic failure, libertarianism simply can’t be taken seriously. But hey, if you want to take a whack at it, feel free to go purchase an island somewhere and talk the rest of the Galt family into settling it. Let us know how that works out. I’m betting you’ll be begging a functional government somewhere to boatlift you safety in short order.

          • destinal

            “Roads are unworkable without government intervention to clear rights of way and set standards” [source? this can be negotiated and in the past, has been]

            “Almost all meaningful advances in medicine have come from the public sector” Only recent ones and only because of the massive amounts of public funding. But government interventions in medicine have also made it ever more expensive and constrained. Look at the advancements in LASIK to see what private medicine with competition can do to improve technology and reduce cost.

            “Private courts are a nightmare to even contemplate, considering the infinitude of conflicts of interest that would be involved” Actually private arbitration exists today and works well, this would just involve using binding arbitration and mutually agreeable arbiters for everything. Obviously you don’t use one with a conflict of interest relating to the conflict you’re trying to resolve. Contrariwise, government has massive conflicts of interest when they are the judge and the plaintiff or the judge and the defendant. And their judges rewrite the laws according to whim in clear contravention of the text of the laws, including the US Constitution. This would be better than that.

            “Private schools don’t work very well unless they manage to steal public school money while continuing to refuse to take special needs kids” Can you provide any evidence of this? There’s research conducted in poor countries showing that private schools beat public schools in both cost and quality (not too surprising as that’s what private industry does everywhere else) — see the research of Dr. Pauline Dixon – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzv4nBoXoZc

            “Food before the FDA was as likely to kill you as not. ” – I must have missed the reports of everyone walking over bodies in the streets to get to work and back, corpses of all the victims of poison sandwiches. Can you provide any evidence of this?

            “Municipal water has been a triumph of the public sector, occasional problems caused by libertarians who manage to take control notwithstanding” – There are no libertarians running Flint, MI, I can guarantee you. This was government screwing over its people to save money or work, knowingly poisoning the poor people of a community while buying its own people clean privately bottled water, and this kind of behavior, of screwing over the poor and taking care of the rulers, is not an isolated incident.

            “As to power, I have one word: Enron” – A financial scandal based on fraudulent activity by the CEO? That’s hardly an indictment of the private sector’s ability to provide power. It’s a much more damning indictment of federal regulators creating a false sense of security, because despite whistleblowers reporting fraud, they continued to endorse Enron long after their management’s misdeeds should have been obvious.

            See: http://www.publicintegrity.org/2011/01/28/2171/wikileaks-more-effective-sec-says-enron-whistleblower

            “And private firefighting is just stupid, considering that a neighbor’s house fire threatens all the houses around it” – Which means they’d have incentives to put out fires that might spread to those they cover. Yes, there might be some potential free ridership, but I doubt the people whose houses were kept from being caught on fire and paid a bit more for their policies would complain much.

            “It baffles me that any adult could think any of this would work without public sector support”

            It baffles me that people think that a monopoly on conflict resolution and legal violence that presides over all conflicts including conflicts between itself and its supposed “customers” and takes payment from them regardless of performance is at all workable and would ever have at heart the best interests of those it purports to serve.

          • Mankind Global Media

            Private schools are great… if you want your kids steeped in Right-wing Christian Fundamentalism (nothing against Christians) and if you want them to be in a school with a joke of a science department and a social studies teacher who would give the same effect as plopping children in front of FOX news every night. I know, because I went to two of them. I went back to public at the 1st opportunity.

            http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/07/living/public-private-school-judgment-parents

            http://theweek.com/articles/464411/private-school-worth

            The school connected to the Church I went to in my teens was even snubbed by the kids of a doctor’s family who attended services with us. Their parents could obviously afford it, but their two kids made their own assessment (the son wound up going to Harvard!)

            ETA: This is what makes the difference, I think:

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3020099

            http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/parental-involvement-and-student-achievement-a-meta-analysis

          • Mankind Global Media

            It baffles me that people think that a monopoly on conflict resolution and legal violence that presides over all conflicts including conflicts between itself and its supposed “customers” and takes payment from them regardless of performance is at all workable and would ever have at heart the best interests of those it purports to serve.

            Would love to see how that would have worked under Jim Crow. Actually, there were likely plenty of makeshift kangaroo courts so it probably WAS Jim Crow!

          • destinal

            Jim Crow was a LAW. Enacted by the state. That same monopoly on conflict resolution and legal violence I decried.

          • Mankind Global Media

            Jim Crow was a LAW. Enacted by the state

            And supported by the general populace, until “the State” overrode it. Had Jim Crow not been codified, those Kangaroo courts would probably have still happened. In fact, that would be more likely the result of your version of society.

          • Mankind Global Media

            Btw, Attorneys are private entities, and you have to pay them regardless unless you find one willing to do it with the promise you’ll win lotsa cashola.

          • Mankind Global Media

            As far as your link about the SEC, if regulations we’rent a thorn in the side of Capitalists then they wouldn’t fight so hard to have them removed. The S & L Crisis was partly enabled by Reagan-Era deregulation:

            http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/06/bill-black-hayek-helped-worst-get-top-economics-ceos.html

          • Aldis Bernsteins

            Tell that to the people whos houses burnt down before there were municipal Fire Brigades…the time where you chose a fire service on the free market… your house burns…the alarms sounded..5 different brigades show up…unfortunately none of them are the one you contracted to, they are on another call and couldn’t make it… bit of bad luck,your house burns to the ground because of the free market. Public services should always be run by government.

          • destinal

            You still think that’s how it would work now, in the days where you can push a button on a Yelp app on your phone and get a usually very professional driver in a few minutes and pay him without needing to pull out your wallet?

          • Mankind Global Media

            You still think that’s how it would work now, in the days where you can push a button on an Uber app on your phone and the vast majority of the time get a very professional driver in a few minutes and pay him without needing to pull out your wallet?

            Yup. You could be denied service due to no insurance, and your house being on fire labeled a ‘pre-existing condition.’ Apart from that, fire departments don’t just “appear” the way a cab driver does.

          • Mankind Global Media

            In a market, we pay for what we want and we get it

            Ho-ho-ho-ho good one~! I want to have Windows 7 forever and not be forced to upgrade. I want my rights as a consumer be respected and not have Microsoft let older perfectly good systems go down the drain. So where do I pay for and get that?

          • Mankind Global Media

            Chomsky already took apart your “Markets” delusion quite nicely:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LvntriHLxA&feature=youtu.be&t=2m32s

            As long as capital is concentrated in the hands of a few, you cannot be certain you’re actually buying “chocolate.” The ad industry could be bent on making you buy Carob instead, and launch a major marketing effort to convince you to do so.

            That’s the great thing about Democracy and the lousy thing about markets. We vote in laws against false advertising.

          • SuperTech86

            Even Adam Smith did not have a problem with various forms of taxation including income, property and inheritance. There are only so many places that taxes can be levied on the supply and demand ends and Pareto efficient taxation is only found in papers written by academia, the real world is not perfect as in theoretical capitalism .

          • Derryl Hermanutz

            People don’t “trade” (voluntarily or otherwise) for anything. People buy/sell stuff, for money. Without spendable money in the hands of consumers, there is no demand market for the supply of stuff that producers produce “for sale”. Where does “the money” come from?

            Free market production of cash money (banknotes and coins) is called counterfeiting, which is illegal. Free market creation of spendable deposit account balances in bank accounts is called hacking, which is illegal. Free market creation of investible cash balances in brokerage accounts is called hacking, which is illegal. Even during the late-19th century height of the global gold standard (silver had been legislatively demonetized in the US after 1873), most of the spendable-earnable money supply was fractionally ‘gold-backed’ bank credit, not physical gold coins. “The economy” does not “produce” its own money supply by working. Yet “ownership” of everything that can be bought and sold — including human action and effort; and the ground you are standing on; and all of the economy’s productive infrastructure — is paid for with money.

            Governments don’t print and spend the money supply into existence. Governments are trillionaire bond-debtors, not rich money printers. Central banks create reserve account balances in commercial bank reserve accounts. Reserves are banking system money, not part of the government’s and the economy’s spendable-earnable money supply. The economy does not produce its own money supply. Governments and central banks do not create the economy’s money supply. So who does?

            About 3-5% of the total money supply is created by governments printing banknotes and minting coins (cash money: the currency). Almost all money is created by private commercial banks as loans of bank credit — deposit account balances. Banks create new deposit account balances (spendable/investible money) in debtors’ bank accounts, to pay for the banks’ purchases of the debtors’ new interest-bearing loan account balances and bond debts.

            When a bank makes a $300,000 mortgage loan, the bank types a new $300,000 credit into the borrower’s deposit account. The bank didn’t “get” the $300,000 from anywhere. Typing 300,000 into the “credits” column of your deposit account statement, creates $300,000 of new spendable/investible “money”. Typing 300,000 into the “debits” column shows that you have “spent” the money, and no longer have it. The borrower spends the new deposit account money, and the house seller earns the new deposit account money. Deposit account money is created in debtors’ deposit accounts, then transferred (by check, debit card, wire transfer, etc) into payees’ deposit accounts. Payees now “own” the deposit account money supply. Debtors owe the deposit account money supply “back” to their creditor-banks, as the debtors’ unpaid but still owing loan account balances (and government bond debts). Debtors pay interest on their loans of bank credit-money. The world pays annual interest to the commercial banking system for our use of bank credit as our “money supply”.

            We don’t have a government-issued fiat money system. We have a commercial bank-issued credit-debt money system. Why are the world’s borrowers/spenders/debtors drowning in a $100 trillion pit of debt? Why are the world’s earners/savers swimming in a $100 trillion tidal wave of money? The debt created the money. The money is owed as the debt. Why is the world’s credit/debt money supply system collapsing in illiquidity and insolvency? Because the people who owe the debt don’t have the money, and the people who have the money don’t owe the debt. And the people who have the money are “keeping it”, not “spending it”. So debtors can’t earn back the money and use it to pay their bank loans and bonds. So creditor-banks can’t collect the money they are owed by their debtors. So debtor-banks can’t pay the money they owe to their own creditors — their deposit account customers, the people and businesses who earned and saved all the deposit account money that banks created as “loans”, and debtors borrowed and spent.

            Debtors’ debts owed to their creditor-banks, creates earners’ deposit account money in banks. Try cashing out your deposit account balances for government-issued cash money. The banks don’t have it, and can’t get it. A run on “fractional reserve” banks exposes the banking system’s fundamental insolvency. Banks can’t “pay” the cash money they “owe” to their deposit account customers. Neither the banks nor the depositors ever “had” the cash money. It was all creation and spending-earning of bank-created deposit account balances: banks’ balance sheet deposit liabilities, which the world uses as its money supply.

            There is no free market in money. Commercial banks exercise a near absolute monopoly over money creation. Banks create new deposit account money (the bank’s balance sheet deposit liabilities) to purchase new interest-bearing loan account balances and bond debt (the bank’s balance sheet earning assets). Debtors owe all the money back to their creditor-banks.

            Within this zero sum credit/debt balance sheet money supply system: savers’ deposit account balances, make debtors’ loan account balances, arithmetically unpayable. “Saving” — rather than re-spending — the deposit account money that you earn, renders debtors’ debts arithmetically unpayable, which Crashes the commercial bank credit/debt monetary system (like 1929, and now). The business-as-usual ‘solution’ to banking system insolvency, is to un-create a significant portion of the deposit account money supply, which is the banks’ balance sheet deposit liabilities. Which means your ‘money in the bank’ will be exposed as the unpayable debts of an insolvent financial services business that possesses the legal power to create credit-money on its own balance sheet.

            In the 1930s thousands of banks were taken into bankruptcy, and after the liquidation sales there was no money left to pay the bankrupt banks’ unsecured creditors — their deposit account customers. Today depositors’ account balances will be “bailed in” rather than allowing the banks to dissolve in bankruptcy. Regulators will use your deposit account balance to buy — on your behalf — newly issued ownership shares in your deeply insolvent banks. Instead of “having money in the bank”, you will “own shares in the bank”. Woo hoo! You will become a “capitalist” owner of your bank! Good luck collecting any money-dividends, or selling your shares for money. “Investment” in bankrupt businesses typically does not produce any “income” for the investor.

            Money buys ownership of the world. The power to create and allocate money is the power to decide “what” will be built or produced by investing the money; and “who” will be able to buy everything, and who will not. Which is how “ownership” of the productive industrial infrastructure — along with all the capital income it generates (profits, dividends, capital gains) — originally ends up concentrated in the hands of a capitalist aristocracy of “owners”. Or did you think people acquire ownership of billions of dollars worth of productive assets by producing more carrots than they ate, and “trading” their surplus carrots for a billion dollars worth of other kinds of wealth?

            Even today’s tech billionaires didn’t become billionaires by saving the profits they earned by selling 10s of billions of products to “consumers”. They became billionaires by selling 10s of billions worth of shares in their companies to “investors”. IPOs organized by investment banks create tech billionaires. Most of their wealth exists on paper: as the current market price of the large blocks of shares they own. If they try to convert their shares to cash money by “selling them”, they will crash the price of their own “wealth” by flooding the buy-sell market with sell orders.

            You can raise your own chickens who lay eggs. You can whittle eating utensils out of sticks. Now try going into “the marketplace” and “trading” your eggs and utensils for something else you want. There is no marketplace and people don’t trade stuff they made for stuff other people made. That brainwashed delusion of “free market economics” is the main reason people don’t see and understand the tyranny of the banks’ monopoly of money issuance.

          • Kapricorn4

            Despite warnings, Woodrow Wilson signed the 1913 Federal Reserve Act. A few years later he wrote: “I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.” -Woodrow Wilson

          • That’s the thing with the economically ignorant, they think economic activity is all about the money.

          • Mankind Global Media
          • Mankind Global Media

            All the time that people spend doing what government wants instead of what other individuals want

            Plenty of government projects are shot down by voters. There was a dam project in my hometown that never got built. I’ve seen highway bypasses that are badly needed get put on hold because local businesses are crying they’ll lose customers. In Newberg, OR the DOT held just such a public meeting for a bypass when traffic was always bumper-to-bumper at 5 o’clock every day. Of course nobody ever stopped at those local businesses – they were to focused on getting home!

            Vancouver, WA to Portland OR only has TWO bridges total for the entire metro area to get across the Columbia River. They tried to extend the light rail over there to help people go to and from work. It was voted down.

            Eventually those with more and better information must override the wishes of others preventing progress, or nothing will get done.

            capital investments that would meet those actual needs if they had responded to market forces cannot be made, and we are all that much further from prosperity

            All you’re going to have there is proprietorship overriding the sharing of public goods. “I don’t like you, get off my road~!” 😉

      • Mankind Global Media
        • destinal

          The professor on the video, while he knows a great deal about some topics, really doesn’t understand Austrian economics as well as he thinks he does. Hayek, while prominent, is in no way the end-all of the Austrian school, and the professor misrepresents several of the tenets of the Austrians.

          • Mankind Global Media

            Doubt it. I think you’re finding his analysis too close for comfort.

          • destinal

            Based on nothing, apparently.

          • Mankind Global Media

            I could easily say the same to you, because you didn’t elaborate to support your own claim, either.

            Based on the fact that Equilibrium is their basic flaw and that’s where he hits the Austrians the hardest. You believe Economies are “Self-correcting.” Prof. Keen doesn’t.

      • CityCalmDown

        The “John Galts” of the earth that in your servile and supine manner you prostrate yourself before are moronic and incompetent mass-murderers.

        That which protects us from John Galt’s debauched and depraved predations – i.e. democratic government – is a vital and elementary survival mechanism.

        If only Atlas *would* disappear up his own penile opening, piss off and let we, the people, govern ourselves.

        “One should simply recall that the ideologico-political father of the long economic process that ended up in the 2008 meltdown was Alan Greenspan, a card-carrying Randian “objectivist.” Now we finally know who John Galt is—the idiot responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown and, consequentially, for the ongoing shutdown.”

        http://inthesetimes.com/article/15718/who_is_john_galt_now_we_know

        • destinal

          Did you read the book? John Galt wasn’t depraved or a predator.
          The people responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown work at the Federal Reserve Bank. A quasi-private arm of the US Government.

          • CityCalmDown

            Please Atlas, PISS OFF!!!

          • CityCalmDown

            John Galt was a psycho wanker.

            A non-“monster” in your Randroid eyes only.

            Wall Street banks engaging in BS “accounting” caused the 2008 GFC.

            Typical Lady Macbeth handwashing from a Randroid psycho who worships John Galt!!

          • CityCalmDown

            >>>”John Galt wasn’t depraved or a predator.”

            Awww, diddums. Someone took the piss out of your little heroes. Next you will say the same thing about Ellis’s Patrick Bateman.

            For Christ’s sweet sake, give it up you silly little infantile regressive. And no comrade, I (and anyone else with far better things to do) am not going to get into a page by page “literary analysis” of this bound tome of Randroid sub-artistic toilet paper.

            If you can’t see how Galt is an “ubermensch” psychopath then God help us all.

            Go away and read some Goethe or some Immanuel Kant for the love of all that is holy and valuable for human civilization.

  • destinal

    3. The Honduras special economic zones still have yet to materialize. So whatever terrible situation exists in Honduras that this writer encountered, it’s a result of the existing corrupt government, not special economic zones. Special economic zones might be the cure to the very problems that author complains of.

  • destinal

    1. Fairness. What is it? It sounds so simple but in reality that’s a very difficult question to answer. Sometimes the modern leviathan state seems to suggest that it is fair to want to take what other people have earned against their will (ie taxation, inflation, etc) in the name of being forced to “pay your fair share”, but unfair to want to keep what you have earned. I think instead that a fair world would consist of voluntary interaction, where force is used only in defense against aggression.

    2. Eddie Lampbert from Sears is an idiot. Creating capitalist level competition within your own firm is the same as trying to create it within your own family. A corporation is a small directed team (small by comparison with an economy). It exists in a voluntary hierarchy working in close coordination. Within a company you would be wasting resources trying to pit departments against each other. Choose the best means of production you can imagine and let the customer decide if your firm is producing the best.

    A market based society is an emergent order where people voluntarily cooperate through mutually beneficial exchange. It creates a kind of darwinian natural selection of the best means of production which in turn causes us all to live longer and better by using resources more efficiently.

    3. The Honduras special economic zones still have yet to materialize. So whatever terrible situation exists in Honduras that this writer encountered, it’s a result of the existing corrupt government, not special economic zones. Special economic zones might be the cure to the very problems that author complains of.

    http://blog.panampost.com/editor/2015/03/20/how-zedes-can-make-honduras-prosperous/

    • Thunder_Hole

      Special pleading with blinders on….

    • Hannes Radke

      1. You’d have to define what “earned” means, before you can porceed to “fairness”.

      • destinal

        Say “attained through original appropriation (by improving unowned property) or voluntary exchange” then. Most people know what it is to earn wealth. You do something to make it or you do something for someone who gives it to you in exchange.

        • Hannes Radke

          The notion of what one “earned” goes deeper than that, I believe. Especially if you take into account all the inputs that go into your personal history, the history of the things you modify, the history of the money, the history of your exchange partner. At the end you will identify so many distortions, limitations, unwanted neccessities, harmful externalities, illegitimately appropriated inputs, that your notion of earned, deserved and fairness could very well evaporate before your very eyes.

          • destinal

            Which is why I won’t bother with earned. Attained through original appropriation (ie homesteading) or voluntary exchange is a much easier and more consistent basis, and we do need a basis for what makes private property rightfully owned.

          • Hannes Radke

            But it doesn’t really capture the moral complexities of our world. It may not be advisable to ground an economic system, or even the analysis of one, on such over-simplifications. Much less so ones worldview. however logically coherent they may be. Classic logic is too crude a tool to use capture reality.

          • destinal

            What would be a better basis, then?

          • Hannes Radke

            Hard to tell. This website (evonomics) is a good start. I’d like to see very hard empiricist thinking all around. Getting good data, making good models and checking the models against even more data. Discarding the outdated. I understand this is not easy to achieve in everyday life, if it is possible at all (I guess the only morals we really need are “Don’t judge as long as you don’t have all relevant information” and “Don’t do unto others[…]”). But I’d love at least the powerful institutions, like government investing at least half it’s defense budget into massive feedback gathering and social sciences. That should catapult us far forward in this regard.

    • Derryl Hermanutz

      Re: item 2: Modern corporations are not “small”. In 2008 Exxon posted revenues of $408 billion; and Venezuela’s GDP was $405 billion. Exxon’s private corporate economy was bigger than Venezuela’s national economy. Large corporation practice private management — “governance” –of nation-size financial, commercial and industrial economies.

      The naturally emerging market economy is based on individual humans working under their own power, pursuing their individual self-interest in competition with each other. Ganging up into collectives is “illegitimate”. Collective effort subverts the beneficent workings of the invisible hand. Why do Randians call political management “socialism”, but see corporate management as “free enterprise”?

      Commercial banks issue and allocate the financial credit that functions as the economy’s money supply. About 97% of a currency system’s (US$, pound, yen, etc) total money supply exists as bank credit, with the other 3% existing as central bank-issued banknotes and government-issued coins. Private corporations called banks exercise a near monopoly on issuance and initial allocation of “the money”; the money that buys everything in the world that is “for sale”. Money allocates ownership of the real wealth of nations. How can economies be “free markets”, when the credit-money everybody uses to conduct their buy-sell economic transactions is owned as the private property of a corporate oligopoly? When virtually the entire money supply is owed as “debt” to the private monopoly of money-issuers?

      Free market economics might work in a village economy where people produced technologically primitive trade goods with their own resources and efforts. But the large scale cooperative economies of “civilizations” have always been organized by managers, usually calling themselves “governments”. As was pathetically demonstrated by Mao’s backyard foundries during the Great Leap Forward, individual entrepreneurs are incapable of smelting metals and producing other high-tech fruits of corporate effort. Backyard foundries produced low quality pig iron that is useless as an industrial material.

      The free market populated by individual entrepreneurs has never existed as anything more than a utopian ideal. Real humans work together cooperatively, as families, tribes, nations, civilizations, and now as private corporations.

      United they stand, as strong corporate bodies: many individuals contributing their efforts toward their common cause.

      Divided we fall, as individualists who have been brainwashed by the false preachings of an “market economy” priesthood and the likes of Ayn Rand. Rand’s industrialist heroes would be producing worthless pig iron, without the support of the thousands of other people who contribute to their corporate industrial efforts.

      Teaching people to behave as competitive self-serving individualists — in a world that has been dominated by collectivist corporate power since the dawn of civilization — is how the unified ruling class teaches the divided masses that “democracy” is illegitimate gangsterism and “cooperation” is socialism.

      • destinal

        All I’m arguing for is freedom. Do as you like so long as you hurt no one, trade voluntarily, which benefits both parties because each gets something more valuable than the thing they have (by their own subjective values which is the only way value exists)

        I don’t believe you when you say that modern technology and industry needs government command and control to work. Just as a pencil comes together without a pencil bureaucracy, so can a steel rail or a train, through the aggregation of thousands or millions of individually mutually beneficial exchanges.

        This system of trade IS cooperation.

        And the reason that corporate activity is free enterprise and political activity is socialism / collectivism? The difference is the voluntary nature of the former. I’m for voluntary hierarchy the same way I’m for voluntary sex. Really that’s the best most fundamental moral principle, voluntary interaction. Have sex voluntarily, fine. Have it involuntarily, that’s called rape. Give property to someone voluntarily, fine. “Give” it involuntarily, that’s theft. Work a dismal job voluntarily, fine, if you like. Work for someone involuntarily, that’s slavery.

        Do you see the difference?

        • Derryl Hermanutz

          I didn’t say modern industry needs government command and control. I said corporate industry “is” corporate “governance”, which is private sector command and control of complex productive processes. Corporations acquire control of “nation size” resources and productive infrastructure, and operate it as their private property; as the Exxon-Venezuela comparison illustrated.

          If you’ve read Smith’s Wealth of Nations, you know he imagined his free market economy as an improvement over the state-corporate mercantilism that dominated the actual economy of 1776 England: the state selling corporate charters and granting Royal Navy-enforced monopolies to those early transnational corporations. Government has historically been an integral part of the ruling oligarchy of bankers, mercantilists and monarchs.

          People could voluntarily join together to form democratic government. As a unified corporate body, the democratic majority could counter the power that is historically exercised by a ruling minority of bankers, owners, and their public persona — “the government”. The feudal ruling class owned all the land in an agrarian economy. The capitalist ruling class owns the banks and commercial and industrial corporations in an inudstrial economy.

          The minority rules “by owning”. Ownership is not acquired “by earning”. It is acquired by violent conquest (e.g. European conquest of the Americas, Australia and New Zealand) accompanied by genocide and mass enslavement of the native population.

          Ownership of America’s industrial economy was concentrated into the hands of the modern American oligarchy around the turn of the 19th-20 centuries when, for example, JP Morgan “consolidated” over 200 “free market” steelmakers within the giant trust US Steel (1901). Consolidation of ownership is not accomplished by “earning”. It is accomplished by manipulating bank credit, stock issuance, and corporation law. Read Frederick Lewis Allen’s 1935 book, The Lords of Creation, for an insider’s blow-by-blow account of this oligopolization phase of America’s economic ownership and control.

          Were you voluntarily born into a world that is owned by a handful of global plutocrats, who operate the global economy as their private fiefdom? I am not seeing “freedom” here. I am seeing a ruling oligarchy of like-minded men exercising power in their own interest to serve their own purposes, contrary to the interest of pretty much everybody else. Democratic government — the unified corporate power of the majority population — is the people’s only available bulwark against predation by the powers who rule the world by owning it.

          • destinal

            The State is what empowers this oligarchy to be anything different from every other individual. Voluntary exchange is not power over other people’s lives. I’m arguing against conquest, which is what the state does. JP Morgan obtained those companies through voluntary exchange, ie he gave the owners of the companies things in exchange for the companies, and they chose to trade them to him. Many of those owners created companies and built them up specifically so they could be bought up by him.

            People should be able to *voluntarily* form democratic organizations so long as they don’t impose their will on anyone through force, or presume to speak for anyone who doesn’t explicitly desire to be part of that organization. That wouldn’t be a description of the state, which forces people who live here to be a part of it whatever they want, forces them to buy things they don’t want, enforces its arbitrary edicts through force, and so on. The state in the US, for instance, IS an oligarchy.

            A free market is an improvement over mercantilism precisely because it is a voluntary system. No one forces you to trade with any particular person or company. There are no monopolies as in mercantilism, created by the king and enforced through his armies. Therefore, to attain wealth, you must provide the most value to people.

          • jayrayspicer

            “All I’m arguing for is freedom.” No, destinal, you’re arguing for feudalism, because that’s what a fully libertarian society would instantly become. What sort of democratic, completely voluntary police force would prevent people from banding together to outcompete their neighbors and then forcing them to join the new fiefdom or get crushed? A completely voluntary police force paid for by donations from those with enough resources to afford it would simply be a private police force, aka mafia.

            Read up about the Pinkertons and tell me that the Robber Barons bought up their competition in voluntary exchanges. They were called Robber Barons for a reason. There would be a lot more resource transfers “at gunpoint” in a libertarian utopia than there ever have been in any democratic society, because every neighborhood strongman would be collecting taxes, er I mean protection money. No thank you, I’ll take my chances with a government that at least has a chance of being voted out.

            Libertarians like to pretend that government is the only thing that can create a monopoly, when in fact monopoly is the *inevitable* result of an unregulated market. I’m sorry, but the magical power of competition doesn’t work against underhanded competition, or even just competition with insurmountable economies of scale. Somebody’s gonna win and then he’s not gonna let anybody else play in his sandbox. Why do you think the mafia families fight over territory? Why do you think they put cops on the payroll? What could possibly prevent these things in a libertarian society? The FBI? Oh, that’s right, we wouldn’t have one of those.

            And taxation is not theft. Taxation is a non-specific user fee (because that’s more efficient than having a separate user fee for everything that government does for us). And yes, some of it gets spent on things you may disapprove of, because, and this is important, you’re not the only person on the planet. And that’s what libertarianism is, the ridiculous assertion that it’s OK to act like you’re the only person on the planet. I’m happy to say I’m a full-throated *civil libertarian*, because yes, people should be able to do what they want if they’re not hurting anybody, but political and economic libertarianism hurt everybody by replacing elected government with unelected mafias. No thank you. Stop pretending that it’s a viable option. It hasn’t ever worked anywhere because it can’t.

          • destinal

            I don’t care about the Pinkertons and I don’t think they would have thought of themselves as libertarians. To my mind they’re just more strong arm thugs that got special treatment because they had friends in government.

            Can you be specific about your so-called “robber barons?” So far you’ve just used a pejorative name some people gave them to essentially beg the question. IE, some people called them this, therefore they were evil and that supposedly shows why free markets are bad. Care to provide some examples of your “robber barons” and why those people in the examples were bad and show that free markets are bad?

          • jayrayspicer

            Of course you don’t care about a counterexample to your nonsense. The Pinkertons were *corporate* thugs. There would be an awful lot more of that in your utopia.

            It’s not my job to educate you about the underhanded tactics of the Robber Barons, but it’s remarkably naive of you to think they consolidated their power only thru fair exchanges.

          • Derryl Hermanutz

            As a “bank”, JP Morgan is licensed to create money. Commercial banks possess a legal monopoly over money creation. We don’t “trade” with each other: that is the underling delusion that makes people believe we live in a free market economy. We buy-sell stuff, for money. The economy does not “produce” its own money supply. We use commercial bank credit/debt as our money. The power to create money is the power to decide who will be given credit to buy stuff, which enables producers of stuff to sell it. Most bank credit is created to finance borrowers’ asset purchases, including capital assets like the industrial economy. Do a little research on monetary history. It will clear away the “free market” delusion.

          • destinal

            Derryl, what you’re talking about is problem created by government and benefiting the cronies of the powerful in government.

            The state is the violent monopoly on force enabling banks to create what passes for money today. Money pre-dates the state, and pre-dates banking, of course. The first forms of money were stable, divisible commodities that had other uses and thus you could trade what you wanted for the intermediate good so that you could trade that intermediate good for what you wanted. Salt, gold, silver, and many other things have been money. That’s what I want to go back to — a free market in money, no one forcing a certain thing to be used for legal tender, but the massive decentralized competition called the market coming up with the best standard based on everyone using what they like and what works until there are some common de-facto standards.

          • Mankind Global Media

            That’s what I want to go back to — a free market in money, no one forcing a certain thing to be used for legal tender, but the massive decentralized competition called the market coming up with the best standard based on everyone using what they like and what works for them until there are some common de-facto standards

            How can you go back to what never existed?

            we do trade with each other

            Government facilitates that, too. Example: Standardizing weights & measures.

          • destinal

            This artificial money creation is something government does by fiat through threat of force, with so-called “legal tender laws” There was real money in the market before government, it was salt, or gold or silver or other precious metals.

          • Derryl Hermanutz

            True, government-printed banknotes and government-minted coins are “legal tender”. And because the money value of the currency bears no relation to the commodity value of the paper or metal, modern currency (physical cash money) is “fiat money”.

            The alternative to fiat money is commodity-money: weights or volumes of useful physical stuff like salt, silver, gold. True commodity money is not actually “money”. You cannot have a buy-sell economy without money. You can only have a barter “trading” economy without money.

            In a barter economy, you trade something useful that you produced, for something useful somebody else produced. E.g. you trade the surplus food you grew, for the tailor’s surplus coat he made. The useful, tradable goods are “commodities”. When one commodity acquires a “special” status as a money-commodity, then the salt, silver or gold no longer has mere commodity value — valuable only to people who want the food or the coat — but now has universal value as money.

            People who have no use for salt, silver, gold will trade useful stuff for the money-commodity. People will hoard the money-commodity, to accumulate the economy’s money supply as their “financial” wealth. People don’t hoard the surplus carrots they grow or the surplus coats they sew. True commodities rot and rust and suffer obsolescence and lose their use value over time. Unlike surplus, economically useless (to their producer/owner) commodities that people try to get rid of by trading for something they want; people “keep” rather than “spend” money, to buy themselves financial wealth and security by “not” spending/trading away their money.

            Economics has been modeling and theorizing about barter economics, treating money as if it is just another commodity; or as if money is just an abstract numerical representation of the “value” of the real commodities we are each producing and trading with each other. But a barter “trading” economy works nothing like a buy-sell money economy. Especially when the money acquires purchasing power far in excess of its commodity-value. Then, whoever issues the money issues the power to buy ownership of all the real stuff.

            A growing population with a growing buy-sell economy needs a growing money supply, or else the economy’s producers will not be able to earn and accumulate money profit. Which is why every nation or empire that starts off with commodity money like gold or silver, eventually ends up increasing its money supply by diluting the currency with cheap base metals, or abandoning precious metals and minting their money with cheap metal that is worth far less than the face value that is stamped on the coins.

            Gold-bugs celebrate the deflationary effects of gold-money: as more stuff is produced, the relatively fixed supply of gold will buy more of the stuff. Which is great if you already possess a mutli-generational hoard of gold to spend. But which bankrupts producers who invest their gold to produce stuff for sale, but the more they produce, the less gold they can charge for their products. You’re better off sitting on your hoard of gold and letting other suckers produce stuff. You get richer just by being able to buy more stuff for the same weight of gold.

            My point in the comment is that most of the modern world’s money supply is not currency, not physical cash money that is printed/minted by governments as “fiat currency”. Most money is created by commercial banks as “loans” and exists as numbers in bank accounts.

            Not that many decades ago — before electronics — the numbers were typed or hand-printed into paper accounting ledgers by bank employees. The numbers in the accounts “are the money”. It is bank-created credit-money, which is payable in government-issued cash money. But fractional reserve banks create vastly more credit as deposit account balances, than they have cash money or central bank reserve account balances to “back”. So most modern money is bank credit (electronic digits) that is “backed” by government-issued fiat currency and by central bank-issued electronic reserves.

            So if you want to criticize “artificial money creation”, start by criticizing the commercial banking system that creates 95-97% of the artificial money in the form of deposit account balances; rather than focusing on the government that creates only 3-5% of the aritificial money as fiat currency.

          • Mankind Global Media

            salt, or gold or silver or other precious metals

            …are not “money.” They are commodities. They only way they became money is by fiat – i.e. someone stamps gold into a $1 coin. If you took such a coin to the store, guess what? It’s only going to get you $1 worth of goods. You can always see if you can sell it based on the value of the underlying precious metal. And you would be paid in… money.

        • Mankind Global Media

          Just as a pencil comes together without a pencil bureaucracy

          LMAO!!!

          All those places in the world from whence the “pencil” comes together have LEOs that keep people safe and toilets they can shit in when they need to. If they didn’t pencils would have a lot harder time.

          Just because you’re st00pid enough to fall for that one, doesn’t mean we are~!

    • Mankind Global Media

      Sometimes the modern leviathan state seems to suggest that it is fair to want to take what other people have earned against their will (ie taxation, inflation, etc) in the name of being forced to “pay your fair share”, but unfair to want to keep what you have earned

      Keep what you’ve earned all you want to. But if you drive on roads or walk on sidewalks or shit in your toilet, you’re using services. Therefore, you owe.

  • ksandvik

    Seems she could not become self-sufficient herself using her philosophy at her later age as she had to take Medicare and Social Security benefits.

    • Hannes Radke

      It’s like rain on your wedding day…

    • Um, she did have to pay into those systems. Was it not her money in the first place?

      Venezuela is now rationing food. Should opponents of the government then refuse a ration of food?

      • ksandvik

        As I said, if her self-sustaining philosophy didn’t give her enough resources to avoid social security checks, then her system failed miserably.

        • Possibly because she was required to pay into SS instead of investing or saving that money in a private account, so it is with many citizens.

          • ksandvik

            I doubt that had a bigger impact, social security payments are not that big and most benefit from the accumulated effect of the money saved long term. No, it’s a prime example of someone proposing an economical philosophy that didn’t help this individual at the end.

            It’s also interesting to read all her misery with her love life but that’s another story where objectivism turned into subjectivism.

          • She certainly got that wrong, not recognizing her own subjectivism.

          • destinal

            She could have gotten much more benefit saving on her own if that money was not taken from her by force.

          • ksandvik

            Sure, so why didn’t she then follow her own philosophy? Seems it’s sad that someone who states that objectivism is the way of live ends up dirt poor.

          • ksandvik

            Let’s see now, Ayn Rand subscribes self-suffiency and does earn so little money from her own philosophy that she has to accept social security at her later days due to being dirt poor. And I doubt she was even a financial genius as she could have done the objectivist way with her resources, even after social security — and provided a good living like most that know know to do it, mostly avoiding objectivism as it’s a good way to get poor.

          • destinal

            Do you have any evidence that she ended up dirt poor? The rich collect social security, too, you know.

          • destinal

            From what I can find researching online, it looks like she had a net worth of at least $500,000 at the time of her death, over a million dollars in today’s money if you adjust for inflation.

          • ksandvik

            Yes and she was afraid she would loose most of her money due to expensive operations due to lung cancer so she took social security instead. Good example where the founder of objectivism gives up when real things happen in life.

          • destinal

            LOL, I think she was just getting some of her money back.

          • Mankind Global Media

            Rand wasn’t “getting any money back,” because at the Federal level taxes do not fund Government Spending.

  • Thank you for that perspective. My work today in agriculture sustainability could not exist in Rand society. It, like many social issues, are wicked problems whose solutions rely on an higher level of interconnectedness. What I have experienced, in a nutshell, is “addressing wicked problems require a transdisciplinary approach that is supported by a shared governance model housed in a multi-sided [engagement] platform”. Each of these three concepts is highly dependent on social networks.

  • familyguy

    The examples in this article aren’t the best. The interesting thing is that libertarians and many neoclassic economists characterize “cooperation” as a self-interest theory (people cooperate in economic exchange because they gain something for themselves), whereas those with a broader perspective that involves anthropology and other social sciences describe “cooperation” in the economic sphere as something different than self-interest; some calling it altruism, or social capital, or unmeasurable externalities. Whatever it is, it isn’t accounted for in present economic models. And there is indeed no interest in “fairness.” In present economic parlance, fairness is whatever the market dictates and whatever parties agree to, even if there isn’t complete knowledge/information, or the negotiation is unbalanced by leveraged information, power structure, access to greater funding, or any other number of imbalanced and nuanced taking advantage of the other.

    Something beyond simple GDP and measuring value by income and transaction is truly needed in our national discussion about economic policy. Solutions need to be valued more than transactions. Actions that negatively impact many people need to be restricted (creating financial risks that jeopardize the financial well-being of the majority; damaging resources for the future, etc.). And larger social benefits need to be prioritized within the context of economic progress.

  • Kevin Denny

    If you are going to make judgements about economics then you should make at least some effort to understand the subject. Economics does NOT define rationality as self-interest. Quite obviously they are different things. There is no reason why someone else’s utility can not be an argument in ones utility function, for example. This is a cheap attempt to associate Economics with Rand – who has little or no support in economics that I am aware of.

    • Paulo Pinheiro

      Economics is the science of money replication – my money or other’s money to which I can a hand on (or at least some of it!).
      Daniel Dennett talks about memes as another kind of replicators besides genes. Well, my opinion is that money is another kind of replicators, often in competition with the original ones, the genes.
      There seems to be something peculiar about the human mind that likes to dwell in this game of replication with money, which hijacks on subconscious processes evolution gave us.
      Hey, I’m just speculating here!

      • destinal

        Economics is the science of human beings using scarce resources to achieve their ends. Money is just a part of it and one of the ways we economize, and not at all the point of economics in the first place.

        • Paulo Pinheiro

          It shouldn’t be (the way I described it), I totally agree with you.
          Your definition can be applied to any animal with a foraging strategy, and it can be argued that that’s the evolutionary root of economy.
          But when much of modern economy, at least by the side of big corporations (and many employers), is maximizing profit, I tend to wonder…

          • destinal

            I’m not even talking about people’s behavior, I’m just talking about what it actually is as a science. Geology is the science of the Earth. Economics is the study of humans, their means used to achieve their ends. Whether you sleep in or get up and go to the gym can be analyzed in economics as as exploration of what you value. It’s not all about money.

  • It seems sad that it’s even seen as necessary to argue against Rand. And why bother? Randians will not read this, nor be convinced. And pretty much any normal human being knows that Rand is shyster. Kind of like deconstructing Trump.

    • Randians are reading this. And laughing at it because it is the definition of a straw man argument.

  • DJEB

    I can see objectivists blowing a gasket should they ever study systems theory or complexity theory.

  • remmals

    I find the simplest example that creates the most cognitive dissonance with Americans is the National Football League–perhaps the most socialist big business/industry in the US–which many Americans perceive as the epitome of “rugged individualism.”

    Because the team owners realize that maintaining competitive balance is in their long-term collective self-interest, the NFL has revenue sharing, minimum salaries, salary caps, aplayers union for collective bargaining, and an “anti-trust” exemption which paradoxically requires the best college players turning pro each year to initially play for the team that drafts them (with the worst teams from the prior year choosing first) rather than contracting with the highest bidder.

    The team owners also benefit from a less than free market that limits the number of NFL franchises, which allows the owners to extort local taxpayers in their host communities by threatening to move their teams to other cities if the taxpayers don’t help pay for new stadiums (as has been the case in 30 of the 32 current host cities, with a major exception being the owner of the Rams, who apparently is going to pay for his own new stadium in L.A. after the Rams move back there next year).

    The league office, which had been considered a non-profit for decades–making NFL commissioner Roger Goodell the highest paid executive, by far, of any “non-profit” entity in the country–recently gave up its non-profit status due to the negative publicity it had generated in recent years.

  • RagnarD

    This re-hashed article has already been refuted by someone that is actually familiar with Ayn Rand’s arguments. It can be viewed at checkyourpremises.org.

  • Scott Campanaro

    LOL – I love finding these satire sites… can’t have too many “Onions”… Thanks for the laughs.

  • advancedatheist

    Ayn Rand wanted to live as a feminist degenerate with money, so she constructed her philosophy around that goal to rationalize her lifestyle. Given that she promoted the damaging agenda of modern feminism, namely women’s college education and careers, sexual freedom and sterility, from hindsight she looks like a leftist intellectual who held some contrarian views on economics and politics.

    • Please tell me who your dealer is, you are onto the good stuff.

  • dirkbruere

    Another possible example of an Ayn rand society – the Roman Empire

    • Really?
      Obviously you have no idea what you are talking about.
      Rand opposed the sacrifice of some to others, opposed slavery, opposed empire.
      Jeez, don’t take the word of people who hate Rand as to what she believed.

      • dirkbruere

        What an ideology facilitates and what its founders want are often two different things.

        • So let’s talk about the ideology of collectivism now, how it puts sociopaths in charge, and produces bureaucracies, armies and weapons oh, and corporations as well).

          • dirkbruere

            As opposed to Somalia?

          • Right, Somalia. The place where the government got so bad that when it collapsed things actually got better.
            To the best of my knowledge, there is no libertarian movement in Somalia. If they are suffering, it’s just withdrawal symptoms from dependence on political government.
            Warlords are not libertarian.
            Learn more before dismissing unfamiliar ideas.

    • Another possible example of someone who is ignorant of both Ayn Rand’s novels and the history of the Roman Empire.

  • ksandvik

    Here’s a good article where an Ayn Rand loving CEO (of Sears) destroyed the company.

    http://www.salon.com/2013/12/10/ayn_rand_loving_ceo_destroys_his_empire_partner/

  • Caroline

    I guess I’ve totally misunderstood her novels. To me they were not about individualism versus community or cooperation but about the resentment of mediocrity toward excellence masking itself as altruism.

    • I think you did understand her novels. Unlike 90% of people who opine on them, and at least you have read them.

      Strange how having read them seems to go together with not writing utter nonsense about them.

  • Consider the “wonderful world” of Amazon, whose tactics are a prime example of Randian economics. It has engaged in practices which, in an ideal world, would be subject to federal prosecution for fraud, contract violation, copyright infringement, and sacrificing its suppliers to its overarching need to eliminate competition; not only among it and its competing companies, but among its third party sellers; even sourcing direct to compete with those sellers. And yet, so many shoppers are daily brainwashed to believe that Amazon is the best thing to happen since sliced bread.

    Why? Because shoppers are in search of a bargain and cannot empathize with the sellers. Their self-interest has taken the place of the standard seller-buyer arrangement, where one expects that the price is already set at the lowest level possible. They don’t care about where their next widget will come from and for how much, because they have no sense of economics. Price drives demand in the 21st century, not the other way around. And being a reader or fan of Ayn Rand has nothing to do with it. I read Rand in my formative years and yet I disagreed with her philosophy. However, she was right in that the major industries are capable of steering the economic welfare of the country just by shutting down. They have already done so, as more corporations choose to outsource their industries to other countries. It happened gradually, not all at once. The Randites are wrong to think that such corporate behavior is right. It’s alright for an individual to practice self-reliance, but a collective must consider the well-being of all individuals in planning its business model.

    • The Amazon has a system of private property and privately owned labour? I was under the impression that they had a tribal system with collectively owned land and property.

  • RobS

    Yet another article about Rand that completely misconstrues her ideas. The nonsensical phrase “unfettered self-interest” was my first clue. It only got worse after that. The term Rand used was *rational* self-interest, thus self-interest would thus be very much fettered, fettered by reason. Sharing, cooperating, and the like are, or at lease can be, very much in one’s self-interest. It is very important to not conflate, as so often happens, self-interest with solipsism or hedonism or narcissism.

    There are several articles on this site that misconstrue Rand’s ideas and Objectivism. A shame at best and journalistic malpractice at worst.

    • Mankind Global Media

      She had a rapist as the main character of one of her books. And she said the Native Americans “deserved” to lose their land. All I need to know.

      • l’Bains

        50 shades of gray also has a rapist as a main character. Women like that, apparently.

        • Mankind Global Media

          Your point is?

      • Your point is?

        • Mankind Global Media

          Yours is on top of your head…

  • ExtroSpecteur

    A scary ideology backed up by pseudo-intellectualism. As Monbiot says, “a Manifesto for Psychopaths”: http://www.monbiot.com/2012/03/05/a-manifesto-for-psychopaths/
    Followers need to be considered in same league as being inspired by the writings of Hitler or Breivik…

    • Great review of the op-ed, but please tell us about Ayn Rand’s philosophy.

  • Kennon Gilson

    The article not only repeats long-debunked smears but has new outright lies, starting with Galt being a ‘captain of industry.’ Most of the commenters seem worse.
    For info on Libertarians and fans worldwide, see http://www.libertarianinternational.org For what Rand actually said on political economy see ‘Capitalism: The Unknown ideal.’

  • Jim G

    I don’t see how the Randian view doesn’t lead to a neo-feudalism and I really don’t see why rational beings would want to go there.

    • l’Bains

      Anarcho-capitalism does lead to feudalism. But Ayn Rand wasn’t an ancap. She believed in laws and government, just to make sure property rights stay enforced.

      • Jim G

        Even in feudal times there were property rights laws. They were pretty strict too.

        • l’Bains

          She believed in CENTRALLY ENFORCED laws. Laws enforced by the owners of said property are not laws at all, only guidelines for the use of violence. If I enforce my own property, I don’t need a law telling me to do so, the law only comes in when there is a higher authority.

          • Jim G

            Feudalism was built on property rights law and those laws were enforced by central authority in the form of kings and princes and prior to them the church. And really without threat of violence no law is enforceable.

          • l’Bains

            Absolutely not. Even as late at the 1300’s, the idea that the King was responsible for law enforcement outside the capital is ridiculous. Phillip IV could barely keep his lords from going to war with each other, for crying out loud.

            You don’t know the difference between feudalism and absolutism. In feudalism, you swear loyalty to a suzerain, and you gain authority over some land. The lord of that land decides how laws are enforced, not the king, even if he must obey the king.

            Absolutism, on the other hand, does have the king and his agents as legitimate law enforcers. A lord was a mini-king who was semi-independent, but the kings agents had no interests of their own, unlike the feudal lords. The idea of the Church enforcing laws is also laughable, outside the context of the pre-islamic Mediterranean of course.

            Of course, the fact that you even have to state that violence is needed to enforce laws shows that you are a tad unfamiliar with legal and political structures, so I shouldn’t be so hard on you.

      • Anarchism leads to feudalism. An-cap still has private property, so it won’t lead to feudalism necessarily.

        • l’Bains

          On the contrary, ancapism is a system where the individual is responsible for guaranteeing the security of his own property (even if he chooses to outsource that function). Feudalism is much the same, as that system was held together by complex contractual relations regarding property, almost none of which were actually enforceable.

          So while I have no idea how anarcho-communism would degenerate to feudalism (it would turn to shit quickly, but not to feudalism), ancapism is already fundamentally equivalent to feudalism, as there is no guarantor of property rights.

          • On the contrary, feudalism is a political system in which a lord owned all the land while vassals and serfs farmed it. Exactly like all variants of socialism and communism, of which Anarcho-communism is one. Any system with communal farming, or systems with communally owned property are feudal in nature.

            Anarcho-communism will not degenerate into feudalism. It is already feudalism without nobility and without noblesse oblige.

            Ancap will have private guarantors of property rights. It is fundamentally opposed to feudalism and communal ownership. At least that is the idea, though you raise a valid point, and one fundamental issue with all variants of anarchism.

    • Please explain how there can be feudalism when people own their own property.

      • Jim G

        Who owns the property? Who rents? Long term if you don’t have income to support your expenses you will sell your assets to compensate. Who buys them?

        • Who owns the property? If property is privately owned, you and I own the property.

          Who rents? If property is privately owned, you and I rent from each other.

          Long term, if you don’t have income, you do need to sell your assets. Long term, you would sell them to people who didn’t have property before, and who have now earned enough of a surplus fund to purchase property.

          Who buys them? I do. You do.

          • Jim G

            ou assume sufficient long term income to never have to sell assets. What happens if you don’t have that income or you have an expense that is far larger than that income. Suppose you have an aggressive cancer that requires a couple hundred thousand dollars of treatment or suppose you have a parent or child who needs long term nursing home care? Also there is your assumption that there will be long term demand for your services at a rate of payment that is sufficient to cover your expenses. Whereas say a billionaire has neither concern. The wealthy have a far easier time accumulating and maintaining assets and as people need to sell their assets to cover income deficiencies they will be willing to purchase those assets and rent them back . Might they eventually sell it back? Perhaps. It depends on the return on investment involved. Is renting it a better ROI for them than selling it?

          • You suppose that a billionaire remains a billionaire over the long term. This is not the case, as you can verify by seeing the make-up of the much maligned 1%. It’s not a homogeneous group and membership to this group differs greatly over time.

            It’s easy to play the suppose game, but single outliers won’t sketch an accurate overall picture.

            The wealthier do have an easier time, but how did they become wealthy? Certainly, nobody ever became wealthy by relying on social security and public health.

  • Andrei Radu

    This article makes perfect sense. If you think that self interest is synonymous with stupidity that is. To truly act in your best self interest you must know what is in your best interest. To know that is is to actually put some effort into projecting consequences of your actions. How will actions that hurt others truly benefit you and over what time frame. How will an act of destruction lead to a better life for you and what you appreciate in this world. To do that it takes intelligence, responsibility and knowledge. Instead, self interest is confused with pettiness, ignorance, corruption and tyranny. All characteristics of stupid people. People who are incapable to find in this world the tools to achieve happiness or more simply put, people who have no idea what’s in their best interest. As for bashing free markets using Honduras…well…why don’t you try bashing free markets using Germany, after WW2? What government intervention and coerced collaboration was necessary to suppress the “disease of self-interest” of men and transform a nation in ruin, ravaged by war, into the “economic miracle of the 20th century” ?

  • Gerard Schofield

    Unfortunately for Ayn Rand she didn’t live long enough to take stock of the findings revealed when the human genome was analyzed at the beginning of the 21st century. Although the human race and life as a whole on planet earth may have come close to extinction through the ravages of lethal viruses something still lying hidden in biological communication had come to life’s rescue and “de-fanged” the lethality of the viruses, even absorbing into genomes those elements of viruses that made a positive contribution to life’s persistence. The lesson from such findings would appear to be that Nature makes Individualism subordinate to Mutualism.

    • Mutualism is the way two organisms of different species exist in a relationship in which each individual benefits from the activity of the other.

      Kind of exactly what rational self-interest is about. Which is precisely the basis of Ayn Rand’s philosophy.

  • Reed Schrichte

    Atlas Shrugged: Dumbest. Book. Ever. I can write a synopsis in three words: I, ME, MINE.

    • I can write a synopsis of books I haven’t read too. It would be must as amusing.

      • Reed Schrichte

        Actually I kinda wish you were right, I regret the time I wasted reading it. If the uninitiated were so inclined, they could just skip to Jon Galt’s rant and forego reading the rest of the book with no loss. Or, the truly wise could avail themselves of my summary, and invest their time better elsewhere.

        • Yeah the summaries are good enough. It’s not my favourite novel by a long shot. As far as Rand’s novels go, the Fountainhead is better.

          • Reed Schrichte

            “The Secret of Our Success” by Joseph Henrich is the perfect response to John Galt’s infantile self-absorption.

          • And who makes up cultural participants if not for individuals?

          • Reed Schrichte

            If I disappeared tomorrow, would you miss me? I didn’t think so.

          • If Einstein and his entire legacy disappeared tomorrow would you miss him? What about Marie Curie? What about Norman Borlaug? Or James Maynard Keynes? Or Karl Marx?

            All individuals from vastly different cultures who’ve had a profound effect on the world.

          • Reed Schrichte

            “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” Isaac Newton
            “Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.” Albert Einstein
            The bottom line is that we do NOTHING alone. And the people who really make the world move, like Einstein, a) understand that they are a link in a very long chain, and b) rarely profit financially by it. The EXACT opposite of John “whiny little bitch” Galt.

          • You are being a whiny bitch all by yourself there, don’t blame Ayn Rand for that.

          • Reed Schrichte

            You’re right 😉 at least I didn’t fill up 70 pages.

          • You also neglected to mention that those giants are individuals too.

          • Reed Schrichte

            1000 apologies, somewhere in this thread I have lost your point. I’m an individual, and you’re an individual, and my daily social interactions pretty much confirm the existence of individuals to my satisfaction. I can also observe said individuals operating in social contexts following social constructs and using tools not of their own making, such as language. Humans are intensely social creatures. No man is an island. I believe we can fairly argue the balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of society. But to argue that there is nothing but the individual seems not only extreme but too easy to refute to be a serious position.

          • Nobody said there is nothing but the individual. The argument is that any group, any society, consists of individuals. The aggregate of that comes from individuals. Language too, comes from individuals. Take a look at any language that has developed over the past couple of hundred years, and you’ll find an individual doing the legwork.

            Does this mean that there is nothing but the individual? No, it merely means that it is irrefutable as you have shown by claiming it is too easy but not managing to do so – you can’t do so.

            Any group ultimately consists of individuals. Any human progress on the aggregate ultimately depends on individuals making those advances – whether they stand on the shoulders of giants, or reinvent the wheel.

            Progress on the aggregate is not inevitable. It depends on individuals doing the grunt work.

            “The history of science is full of revolutionary advances that required small insights that anyone might have had, but that, in fact, only one person did.” ~ Isaac Asimov.

          • Reed Schrichte

            Let’s both quit restating the obvious and get down to brass tacks. Annie’s point in Atlas was that since John Galt invented his super-steel, all of the benefits of that should accrue to him, and anybody else that laid claim to said benefits was a ruffian or worse. I think she’s about as full of shit as it is possible for any human to be.

          • No, the point was merely that they had no claim on his achievement. And they were right. How he shares his benefits is up to him, since it’s his achievement. Nobody has the right to stake a claim on his achievement.

            If he wants to open source his achievement, for example, or if he wants to make it available, in an environment free from coercion and based on voluntary cooperation, that is perfectly fine.

            Frankly, if you think you are due anything from someone else’s blood, sweat and tears, then you are the one full of shit.

          • Reed Schrichte

            I said that I was due no such thing. What is true is that everyone that came before Mr. Galt and made any contribution big or small to it has a claim on his achievement, since it is not his alone.

          • What is also true is that Mr Galt achieved something that is his alone. So his contribution, big or small, is his and his alone.

          • Reed Schrichte

            And Benjamin Franklin said it best. If it comes down to Ben vs. Ms. Rand, my money is on Ben. “The accumulation of property and its security to individuals in every society must be an effect of the protection afforded to it by the joint strength of the society in the execution of its laws. Private property therefore is a creature of society, and is subject to the calls of that society, whenever its necessities shall require it, even to its last farthing; its contributions therefore to the public exigencies are not to be considered as conferring a benefit to the public, entitling the contributors to the distinctions of honour and power, but as the return of an obligation previously received, or the payment of a just debt. The important ends of civil society, and the personal securities of life and liberty, these remain the same in every member of the society; and the poorest continue to have an equal claim to them with the most opulent, whatever difference time, chance, or industry may occasion in their circumstances. On these considerations I am sorry to see…a disposition among some of our people to commence an aristocracy by giving the rich a predominancy in government.”

          • Reed Schrichte

            Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t his super-steel used for railroads? Is there is a creature of the State more than a railroad?

            And your stooping to personal insult pretty much confirms the bankruptcy of your position. Game, set, match. Got a problem with that? Take it up with the IRS, see how your lovely theories play out in the real world.

          • I didn’t stoop to personal insult, I returned the favour. Anyway, you’re clearly just as informed on Ayn Rand as the author of this piece and frankly it’s too much effort to correct you when you’re wrong all the time. Read the book. Or a book.

          • Reed Schrichte

            I read her book for the same reason I listen to TV preachers, to find out what kind of idiocy people are being lapping up. Annie can be safely ignored, along with the Flat Earthers and Jehovah’s Witnesses, as can people who regard her bizarre self-absorption as something more than kindergarten silliness. Have a good life and good luck with your theories.

          • If you did read her book, then how can you get it so wrong? Oh. Right. We already established that the Dunning-Kruger is strong with you, with your eagerness to project your own shortcomings in the intellectual department onto other people.

          • Reed Schrichte

            My vote went to Ben Franklin, not to Annie, who compared to Mr. Franklin is a true nobody. Do I need to post this AGAIN? So be it…

            “The accumulation of property and its security to individuals in every society must be an effect of the protection afforded to it by the joint strength of the society in the execution of its laws. Private property therefore is a creature of society, and is subject to the calls of that society, whenever its necessities shall require it, even to its last farthing; its contributions therefore to the public exigencies are not to be considered as conferring a benefit to the public, entitling the contributors to the distinctions of honour and power, but as the return of an obligation previously received, or the payment of a just debt. The important ends of civil society, and the personal securities of life and liberty, these remain the same in every member of the society; and the poorest continue to have an equal claim to them with the most opulent, whatever difference time, chance, or industry may occasion in their circumstances. On these considerations I am sorry to see…a disposition among some of our people to commence an aristocracy by giving the rich a predominancy in government.”

            Benjamin Franklin

          • You seem confused. That was not a tirade against private property, or against capitalism, or against anything Ayn Rand said. It was but a suggestion that all voters should have equal say, and that everyone should contribute equally to taxes.

            You might want to read the full piece and try to keep an eye on the context

            http://deleonism.org/text/hd000004.htm

          • Reed Schrichte

            1000 apologies, I do not have time to wrestle with your personal demons. You will make a fine footsoldier in the Corporatization of America, with all your “shoulds”. Have a nice day.

          • No problem, but perhaps try to keep up next time you’re trying to school someone. Perhaps knowing what you’re talking about is a good place to start.

          • Reed Schrichte

            Funny! The world is so unfair to you, nobody will come down into mommy and daddy’s basement and offer you a $100k/yr job for being a Nintendo master. So you read a book, yoohoo! I need not school anyone who has been out in the real world and sees how it works. We can’t even make a nail or a pencil alone, it’s all teamwork and a fathomless accumulation of cultural knowledge that makes the world go round. John Galt has the mentality of a child who thinks the world revolves around him, and he appeals to childish people. Since you insist on the last word, take it, loser.

          • So we can’t make nails or pencils alone, but we should expect someone else to provide us with the nails and pencils because it’s all team work?

            Are you sure you’ve read any books in your life? But if you’re a product of video games in mommy’s basement, then it’s no surprise that you’re used to getting leg-ups from other people.

          • By the way, Hank Rearden invented the supersteel. John Galt invented a motor. But you knew that since you read the books…

      • CityCalmDown

        But you have yet to share with us your erudite synopsis of Rand’s genius.

        How would you sum it up?

        Milo Toyboy was the grandest and the most greatest thinker in the history of genius. But one day he got very huffy, he tired of Uncle Trump’s tweets of wisdom and decided to fuck off in paroxysms of self-stroking sulk. And so it came to pass that the world was much better off,,er, sorry… the whole world collapsed because liberty was lost and no-one shot the living NRA fuck out of each other any more.

        And there were no more alt-right, alt-fact Brietbart skinheads to roam the land to spread their “objectivist” enlightenment through the medium of their intergalactic schizoid paranoiac mystical visions.

        And so all Randroid doctrine was lost forever and humanity became extinct.

        A terrible cautionary fable of what would happen if solipsistic bourgeois wankers were no more.

        So vote Trump boys and girls or you’ll all be royally fucked.

        • So would you say being a pharmbro is acting within the bounds of rational self-interest? Or would you say that’s perhaps more on the not so rationally selfish side of things?

          I don’t have to defend Rand or Objectivisim. All I ask is that people who critique it at least be familiar with it.

  • martintfre

    “The fly in the ointment of Rand’s philosophical “objectivism” is the
    plain fact that humans have a tendency to cooperate and to look out for
    each other, as noted by many anthropologists who study hunter-gatherers.
    These “prosocial tendencies” were problematic for Rand,”

    false premise – win-win of capitalism/objectivism counts on it

    • l’Bains

      If people are naturally prosocial, I don’t see how that makes this system worse.
      What capitalism has going for it is that people don’t need to be social, but they can choose to be.

      • Exactly, which is entirely in tune with Rand’s system.

  • martintfre

    Looks like the collectivist paradise of Hugo Chaves’s Venezuela is collapsing under the weight of its collectivist anti-individual virtues.

    • Great collectivist state-owned health care, though.

    • Unfettered Fire

      Only the willfully blind would think that socialism is causing the crisis in Venezuela today. It has been under neoliberal Wall St attack for nearly two decades now. But, like Brazil, Latin American coups are fragile, the people have had it with US interventionism.

    • Mankind Global Media

      Collapsing under the weight of yet another US-backed CIA-implemented destabilization efforts, you mean.

  • Marcin Senderski

    I can’t come to terms with the fact that Ayn Rand and her followers have recently been overwhelmingly disparaged (Evonomics is not the first source that haunted me in this respect). I’m not a libertarian and Rand’s objectivism is indeed rather naive and simplistic, but gosh! I can’t recall when I’ve recently read any debunk of Marx, Lenin or Keynes on what is called a NEW (hell yeah) economics portal. With socialism being much more of a threat nowadays than some way outdated Rand’s prose…

    • And socialism is based on altruism.

      • Marcin Senderski

        Socialism is based on totalitarian state and concentration camps.

        • You can have a totalitarian state and concentration camps without socialism. You can’t have socialism without altruism.

          • CityCalmDown

            Socialism – and egalitarian formations in general – is based on very obvious principles of self-interest.

          • You lost me after saying socialism is based on self-interest.

            Socialism is based on collective ownership of the means of production. I cannot imagine a system that is more diametrically opposed to self-interest.

          • CityCalmDown

            Remember that time when you were seven years old and you shared your lunch with someone but then the next week no-one would share with you.

            Devastating commonplace experiences like this “proves” that socialism can never work.

            Universal Health Care can’t ever work.

          • spideyismydaddy

            I was just at a birthday party where all the kids shared their goldfish. I guess universal healthcare could work.

        • Unfettered Fire

          Capitalism purports to empower The Individual. Does it not make sense then, that a person belong to a worker coop, granting him/her vastly more autonomy than working for a corporation that operates from a totalitarian model?

    • dan

      How are you gauging that? And how are you putting Marx Lenin ano Keynes in the same category?
      Bizarre statements.

      • Marcin Senderski

        Well, name just one article here, where Marx or Keynes (no idea what’s wrong with putting them in the same category) are criticized. I can name a few with Ayn Rand being ridiculed.

        • dan

          Not Marx and Keynes, Marx, Keynes and Lenin.
          They’re not ridiculed like Rand for the simple reason, that, whatever they’re merits and flaws, they’re not simply ridiculous. Rand is.

          • Marcin Senderski

            Oh my, good to know.

          • dan

            Yeah, I know.

  • static

    Of course cooperation is self-interested- you point it out yourself in stating that there are negative consequences towards gaining a reputation for non-cooperation. Even a basic look at game theory and the study of cooperative games predicts this, and the whole idea working together was well covered by Ronald Coase’s theory of the firm in 1930s- this not some new economic insight, nor an evolution.

    To claim Sears failed because of business units and not changes to the retail market precipitated by online shopping is deceitful.

    Rand was not an economist, but rather one who suffered the obvious ills of a centrally planned economy, and escaped to the US to pursue economic freedom. Recognizing that self-interest is more complex than your straw-woman is probably beyond you.

    I feel sorry for anyone who believes this nonsense.

  • zip98053

    The best characterization I heard of Rand’s philosophy is that it what you would expect from a teenage boy as they tried to cope with their new, testosterone-fed psyche. Imagine accomplishing anything where it was everyone for themselves. It looks like the economic meltdown of 2008 but much larger.
    This libertarian approach to things simply does not work. It assumes that everyone has perfect knowledge. Imagine not having an FDA — it’s not that hard because the FDA was a relatively recent creation. Companies where allowed to sell drugs and make claims about their effectiveness without there being any proof. In many cases, the drugs had things that are harmful to people (like lead). We created regulations and a group to enforce those regulations so that not everyone had to become an expert on drugs.
    Not all regulations are good. The fact that there is a bad regulation doesn’t justify getting rid of all of them. We need to use a scalpel and not a hatchet to fix the problems in regulations. Of course, this takes work and I’m not sure that the congress that we have elected is willing to do that kind of work — there’s just no money in it for them.

  • Red Wine Please

    Possibly Sears suffered from tragedy of the commons. Without a head to regulate overall activities self interest became self-destructive. The invisible hand turned into an invisible punch.

    Individualism is a two edged sword. I don’t think AR would disagree. One edge can lead to inefficiencies and destruction, as above. The other, due to the benefits from division of labor, leads to efficiency and progress. Both recognize individualism. But the second benefits the individual contributors AND society.

    Progress in society is about minimizing the first but promoting the second. A difficult task but we seem to be doing something right.

    • l’Bains

      Tragedy of the commons is almost certainly what happened.
      That being said, there’s something to say for a decentralized corporate structure. The corporation only exists to give existing enterprises political cover. The problem is that there needs to be a foundation for divisions to act like firms, and that just wasn’t there.

  • David Alexander Technique

    I believe you are twisting Ayn Rand’s words. As far as I understand it, Rand’s philosophy includes the moral principle of working together as a form of self-interest. If it benefits you to help others, then you would be a fool to sit there doing nothing.

  • David Alexander Technique

    And one more thought: I do not believe that Rand advocates for self benefit at the detriment of others. I believe that her philosophy argues that harming others for your own benefit is not moral, and is not self interest.

  • BetterFailling

    Since I am somewhat familiar with what prompted her to think the way she did – I also grew up in a communist country – I’m afraid her reaction to what had happened to her was akin to jumping over a horse. She landed in the same mud from which she tried to escape, only on the other side of the horse.
    My experience has let me to the idea that altruism is not that much a ‘natural’ tendency, as implied in this article, as a trait that was fine-tuned through cultural accretion – by means of religious and political tradition.
    https://nicichiarasa.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/altruism/

    • If altruism were the natural tendency, they wouldn’t need to coerce you into being altruistic.

      • Mick McDick

        who is your “you” in this statement? is it me? or is it you? Randians never did excel at clear thinking. that is why they are Randians.

        • My statement should not baffle anyone capable of clear thinking, whether Randian or not.

      • BetterFailling

        most of us, most of the time, do not need outside coercion to behave at least somewhat altruistically.

        • Exactly. The reason for that being that cooperation is perfectly rational and in tune with self-interest.

  • Hugo Spinoso

    well altough true, it seems this eventualy reaches a contradiction, as self interest are also dependent on the group, or the action to be taken in wich case this becomes problematic as capacity might be taken over by many selfinterest, in wich case the problem is reversed.

  • Retiredbiker

    A recent Oxfam report found that the richest 8 people in the world control more wealth than the 3.6 BILLION poorest individuals in the bottom 50%. THIS is what Ayn Rand’s philosophy of unbridled selfishness and the Chicago School of economics has brought us. The wealthiest control not just the economy, but the politics of a nation (witness Trumps cabinet and advisors). What could possible go wrong?

    • l’Bains

      That might have something to do with the poorest having nothing.

      Although this problem would go away if you let the poor starve. That would certainly reduce inequality.

    • A recent Oxfam report. Which just means you need more credible sources for starters.

  • CityCalmDown

    “One should simply recall that the ideologico-political father of the long economic process that ended up in the 2008 meltdown was Alan Greenspan, a card-carrying Randian “objectivist.” Now we finally know who John Galt is—the idiot responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown and, consequentially, for the ongoing shutdown.”

    http://inthesetimes.com/article/15718/who_is_john_galt_now_we_know

    • @EinsturzendeNeubauten:disqus Like Denise Cummins you apparently lack familiarity with your our own argument. You need to check to see if Alan Greenspan was actually practising what Ayn Rand advocated. The fact is, he was a traitor to her capitalist principles. It’s a common phenomenon that people attack capitalism for everything that’s going wrong with an economy that is distorted to hell by socialist/collectivist policies.

      The 2008 financial meltdown began with Jimmy Carter’s policy of forcing banks to provide mortgages to potential homeowners in predominantly poor black communities. (The claim was that failure to provide such mortgages was racist.) The government guaranteed those mortgages (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) and the Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan kept interest rates artificially low.

      The consequence: $2.7 trillion in outstanding debts and loan guarantees. Printing more than $1 billion a month, the government engaged in the (Keynesian) practice of stimulating spending by printing paper money. Such an influx of fiat money into an economy creates the illusion that the economy is doing well and encourages spending when the proper response should be saving. Then prices climb because ‘money’ (which is actually counterfeit paper) _appears_ to be available, the economy _appears_ to be doing well. Years or many months after the fiat money ceases to stimulate spending the illusion fades & businesses begin to go bankrupt because they have overspent. Although Carter began the aforementioned process, the economic interferences of Obama and Greenspan were the exact opposite of what Ayn Rand and capitalist economists would have recommended.

      • CityCalmDown

        So what would Rand and co. have proposed then?

        How can any modern economy divest itself of some form of reliance on fiat money?

        See e.g. David Graeber’s account of money as debt backed up the state in his “Debt: The First 5000 years”.

        And once there how do you get rid of fiat money?

        And in particular the USA and the USD?

        • Firstly, let a bankrupt institute go bankrupt.

          How to divest from reliance on fiat money? Cryptocurrency, gold standard, black markets, bartering, there are many ways.

          Graeber’s account is interesting as a historical overview of debt but it does not really explain currency. It is an ideologically tainted approach, which to his credit he is very open about.

  • Brian H

    I doubt Ayn Rand studied game theory. The decision whether to cooperate or defect, which is often made along a complicated continuum, drives the economic behaviors. There is not a universal answer because there are not universal inputs to this decision. However, you can argue that in both cases, cooperation or defection, the decider is acting in their own (perceived) self-interest above all else.

    • l’Bains

      She at least understood the concept, since she talked about valuing relationships or even small acts of charity (though she was less favorable on the second subject).

      The idea is that economic transactions and law enforcement eliminate the need to self-sacrifice for any impersonal reasons, since people are capable of making agreements and enforcing them through the contract system.

      And no, Rand was not an anarcho-capitalist. She considered that system obviously retarded.

  • Robyn Ryan

    It is in everyone’s best interest to remove the garbage. Ask New Orleans how well Randism worked.
    Rand ism is the 1st world realm of the cossetted.
    For them, technology like flush toilest and frozen food are magical and mundane.
    Galt’s Gulch was doomed. Two hours after the booze and cigarettes ran out, it would be chaos.

  • Rational self-interest is not the same thing as unfettered selfishness. Rand makes this much very clear and yet here we see unfettered selfishness proposed as a relevant implementation of Rand’s philosophy.

    A coup d’état in Honduras is not a separation of the economy and the state, so it’s not even ran according to Rand’s principles either.

    Rand’s philosophy does not rule out cooperation or any of those, it explicitly condemns forced cooperation. In fact, Objectivism encourages cooperation that is voluntary, which is free from coercion, and mutually beneficial.

    If you want to write a critique of Ayn Rand, at least read it first.

    • No More Neos

      …”free from coercion”?? Tell me if this sounds at all sane:

      “If you’re not willing to kill everybody who has a different idea than yourself, you cannot have Frederick Hayek’s free market. You cannot have Alan Greenspan or the Chicago School, you cannot have the economic freedom that is freedom for the rentiers and the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) sector to reduce the rest of the economy to serfdom.” ~ Michael Hudson

      • No, that does not sound very sane. It’s also something that is contrary to Hayek, and Greenspan, and the Chicago School, which all held different economic views, and all employed their philosophies differently from their own views in practice.

        I don’t know who this Michael Hudson is, but perhaps he should read some Ayn Rand too.

        • Mankind Global Media

          He’s one of the most brilliant economists around. And he probably has read Rand. In any case, friends of mine who have read her usually advise “don’t bother.”

    • lala

      Regardless, try to imagine a game without rules. It inevitably leads to violence.

      • Ayn Rand is not opposed to rules. Why would you think that?

  • No More Neos

    Imagine if the human body operated from the Randian concept – organs vying for their own survival at the expense of other functions, then the infighting of cells within each organ. Randism is antithetical to life itself.

    • Unfettered Fire

      “The point I wish to make about the going entitlement myth, is that the dedication to the common good which arises from our human instincts, values, and virtues and forms the human covenant which enables joint power and prosperity is there for everybody to contribute to and, when the need arises, benefit from. If you want to call this “entitlement,” so be it. I’d rather call it a human right (like the right to receive care when one becomes wounded or sick), as well as a human duty for anyone wishing to live in a healthy civilization.

      I would call this alleged “entitlement thinking” nothing less than being human; and I would make the claim that something we all are “entitled” to in a healthy human society is no “entitlement” to begrudge those who have fallen on hard times or make up the weakest layer in our society. This mutual care is something we ALL have a right to benefit from when the need arises and a duty for us all to contribute to when we can. It is not an unjustified, special entitlement like the wealth and luxury available to only a privileged few in the upper class who did nothing to deserve it (or just enough to deserve merely a fraction of it, in the rarest of cases).

      In reality, it is the obscene luxury and wealth expectations of the billionaire class, and some of their millionaire disciples (say, in Congress), that merit the label of a disgraceful and wrongful “entitlement.””

      https://beanstocksworld.wordpress.com/2017/06/30/entitlement-happens-not-at-the-bottom-but-at-the-top/

  • No More Neos

    “There was an interesting article in the Financial Times on Monday (June 26, 2017) – Why US big business is listening to Bernie Sanders – which, despite the somewhat misleading and over-the-top headline, tells us a little of the way the full neo-liberal attack on workers is in regression. Not, I might add because of any philosophical or moral consideration. But, rather, the top-end-of-town is starting to work out that their headlong race-to-the-bottom approach over the last three decades is not actually in their best interests. The top-end-of-town is not that bright. More brutish than bright and it takes some time for them to work out what we have known all along. Globalisation mixed with neo-liberalism is poison. Globalisation mixed with social democracy is progress.”

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=36328

  • Unfettered Fire

    Words to live by:

    Do not confuse the economic – oikos nomia – the norms of running home and community with chrematistics – krema atos – the accumulation of money. ~ Aristotle

  • Unfettered Fire

    Humans are intrinsically anti neo-liberal

    “Collective will is tied in with the concept societal trust that the government will pursue a common well-being rather than serve one particular group (especially itself!) over another, or, more importantly, all others.

    While policy has shifted in the neo-liberal period to encourage us to behave more venally towards each other – a classic divide and conquer strategy to maintain the power of capital – it cannot be said to have delivered superior outcomes.

    The point is that the assault on collective will – from Ayn Rand to Milton Friedman to Richard Dawkins and their neo-liberal acolytes in the economics professions – is not based on any scientific basis.

    It was a strategic attack designed to undermine government intervention so as to tilt the playing field back towards capital after several decades of social democracy (based on collective will) had seen income inequalities drop and workers enjoy greater job security and working conditions.

    Social democracy was too successful in its pursuit of general well-being and it had to be undermined. How better than to conclude that it was anti-human – in the sense that it was working against our human nature.

    And by oppressing our human nature – our innovation and choice was subjugated and outcomes were thus diminished. It was a powerful narrative and, as we know, has penetrated deep into our ‘mass consumption-easy credit addled’ psyches.

    The elites no longer needed religion to render the masses mute – supermarkets and liberal credit did the trick and returned a neat return to capital, something that religion could not do very effectively.

    The only problem is that unfettered capitalism does not seem to be very closely aligned with our human nature.

    Developments in evolutionary science and behavioural economics have demonstrated categorically that far from being selfish, rational beings humanity is marked by a propensity to cooperate and seek equity and fairness.”

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=36068

    • CityCalmDown

      Brilliant. As well as quite simply commonsensical and intuitively obvious as should be evident to any human being who has actually *lived* and worked in any form of functional human – or any other type of animal – group. From intimate kinship family structures to international forums like the UN.

  • David A. Anderson

    Perfect antidote to Rand’s silly shite, simply read Kropotkin’s “Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution” and the supporting work of Stephen Jay Gould and many other contemporary evolutionary biologists.

    • So you’ve read Rand?
      You believe she didn’t understand that markets are cooperative networks?

      Selfishness doesn’t go away when political power is dominating society. Rand saw what happened in Russian after the communist revolution. She saw the most selfish people seize the reins of power.

      Rand opposed economic collectivism and advocated for the voluntary cooperation of markets.
      If you have read her work, you’d know that her villains were wealthy people, captains of industry.

      • Mick McDick

        “She saw the most selfish people seize the reins of power.”
        She sure did. and now we see her cohorts, the Randians/NeoLiberals/Libertarians have seized power selfishly for themselves with results just as bad. But they can justify their greed and monopolization as all for the Greater Good, thanks to their reductive pseudo-scientific philosophy. It is the best grift ever! All it requires is suckers…
        Communism is a bad system. But it did somehow rocket two agrarian empires from peasant societies to world powers in less than 100 years. WTF?
        And contrast: NeoLiberalism/Libertarianism has pushed the greatest world power of all time towards a fractured, low wage stratified class system in the space of 40 years. They say they need another 40 to finish the job properly, as we really have not been serious enough about Randianism to date. Too spoiled and dependent, i guess.

        • You assume she would not see the current crop of politicians also as villains. These aren’t her cohorts. Your perception of Rand is caricature constructed by her devout enemies on the left.

          What rocketed Russian and China into world powers was the devotion of energies into the military at the expense of the privation of the people who lived near the edge of survival for decades thereafter. Even North Korea manages to have an army and rockets.

          After the communist revolution in Russian, she went from being a net exporter of wheat into an importer. Russian had to buy wheat from the US with loans guaranteed by the US government on behalf of US farmers. Russia also bought tractors from the US because, aside from the military, their industrial output was quite poor.
          The only thing that worked economically in Russia was the black market.

        • You’re confusing Objectivists with Neo-Liberals and Libertarians. Those are three distinct groups of people that you conveniently lump together why? Do you not have access to google? Do you not know how it works? Perhaps you are behind some kind of firewall with a massive non-overlapping magisteria that filters out anything that doesn’t agree with the mismeasure of man?

          Communism didn’t rocket agrarian empires into anything until they started market reforms. The data is out there. Step outside your firewall and see for yourself.

          • Mankind Global Media

            Actually Neo-Liberalism is a descendant of LIbertarianism. Hayek was a forerunner in the establishment of ordoliberalism:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Eucken_Institut
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Eucken

          • Actually, you’ll see Libertarians fight tooth and nail not to be associated with Neo-Liberals. They are separate groups. Ordo-Liberalism in turn is Social Liberalism, which is a free market coupled with a strong state, much like Scandinavian Socialism.

            Neo-Liberalism is about privatising state-owned entities and resigning the state to a much smaller role.

            Libertarianism is yet more specific and a step further, which is more about individual liberty.

            Same with Objectivists. There are many Libertarians who got there by means of Objectivism, but Objectivism is a pop psychology coffee table philosopy movement.

            Point being it’s lazy and hazy generalisation to lump all of these groups together.

          • Mankind Global Media

            Actually, you’ll see Libertarians fight tooth and nail not to be associated with Neo-Liberals

            Whooooop ti doo 😉 Of course they do, no one wants a painful association such as that. But on key points, Neo-Libs and Libertarians think very much alike: Privatization, Cutbacks in social programs, Anti-Union, Open Borders, Austerity, Deregulation.

            Ordo-Liberalism in turn is Social Liberalism, which is a free market coupled with a strong state, much like Scandinavian Socialism

            Talk about an unfair association~! This might be true now after the EU got ahold of their brand of Socialism and ruined it, but I don’t think it was always so. You can find articles on MisesDotOrg dissing Sweden for clamping down on immigration and favoring Unions who are fighting to stabilize wages.

            Neo-Liberalism is about privatising state-owned entities and resigning the state to a much smaller role. Libertarianism is yet more specific

            Thanks for proving my point.

            Objectivism is a pop psychology coffee table philosopy movement

            ROFL!!!!!!!!

            https://media.giphy.com/media/tOvSJhOalnNss/giphy.gif

            Point being it’s lazy and hazy generalisation to lump all of these groups together

            Not really. Anyone with any sense would see where they do have things in common, recognize them for the poison that they are, and commit themselves for fighting for a Just and Fair society that will eliminate Libertarianism, Randianism, and Objectivism whilst exposing their motives for what they are.

          • Hasty generalisation is jumping to conclusions without considering all the evidence. Like lumping Libertarians and Neo-Liberals together.

            There is no such thing as Randianism. If you care for Objectivists, their motives are right there on page 1. There’s nothing to expose. You just need to RTFM

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivism_(Ayn_Rand)

          • Mankind Global Media

            I in fact *did* consider all the evidence. That’s why I lumped them together. Too bad, so sad 😉 On the 2nd point, you’re also wrong:

            https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Randian
            https://www.lewrockwell.com/1970/01/murray-n-rothbard/understanding-ayn-randianism
            http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Randian

          • Puerile smileys besides, you should read the Wikipedia article on Libertarianism sometime so we can see who is really wrong. But if you are in fact a child, then I am willing to explain it to you.

          • Speaking of considering all the evidence, let’s just inform you of what you are talking about first to move this along. Starting with Libertarianism:

            Some libertarians advocate laissez-faire capitalism and strong private property rights, such as in land, infrastructure, and natural resources.

            Others, notably libertarian socialists, seek to abolish capitalism and private ownership of the means of production in favor of their common or cooperative ownership and management, viewing private property as a barrier to freedom and liberty.

            An additional line of division is between minarchists and anarchists. While minarchists think that a minimal centralized government is necessary, anarchists and anarcho-capitalists propose to completely eliminate the state

            You can read Ayn Rand’s own take on Libertarianism here, to see how different they are, despite their similarities to the uninformed person:

            https://ari.aynrand.org/faq

          • Mankind Global Media
    • Speaking of silly shite, that is just communism in disguise. Gould is an ideologue first and his scientific work suffered as a result. Rather read up on sociobiology and how scientists with intellectual rigour debunked plenty of Gould’s social claims.

      Kropotkin is likewise a silly ideologue. Rather read Economics in One Lesson for starters, than anarchist agitprop.

      • Mick McDick

        garg you know nothing of sociobiology. You should read Denis Noble, who has effectively debunked Dawkins’ Selfish Gene theory. Yes, it has been debunked as a scientific theory. Selfish Gene theory is deeply connected to the Social Darwinism as espoused by the Randians. Steeped as you are in Randianism, i don’t expect you to read Noble or understand him. Good. Don’t go changing.

        • Denis Noble is known for systems biology and computational biology, not for sociobiology.

          He hasn’t debunked Dawkins’s Selfish Gene theory. Speaking on the Selfish Gene theory, he says that there is no empirical difference between these statements (Dawkins and his), and says that they differ in “metaphor” and “sociological or polemical viewpoint”. Great to have a conversation like that.

          There is nothing in Rand’s Objectivism that disproves of cooperation. In fact, voluntary cooperation is encouraged, provided that it is for mutual benefit and free from coercion. People keep seeing the selfishness part and keep missing the rational self-interest part, hence all the straw man arguments.

          For sociobiology, you might want to have a look at E.O Wilson and Steven Pinker.

          • Nordik Avenger

            But that’s the heart of the problem. How does a system, that lacks the minimum “number” of rational self-interested parties/actors, express the ideals purported by Rand’s philosophy without creating a dystopic system in which coercion by the powerful gets you to the top? This is something that no “Randian” can answer and until then I will remain skeptical.

          • Rand’s system does not lack rational self-interest parties and actors. Nor do the computational biology models, nor do game theory models. Something Randian already explains why and how a mutually beneficial cooperation would evolve.

          • Nordik Avenger

            So what you are saying is that we need to give it a chance to prove itself? And what about what happens in the interim while we wait for the system to take root?

          • No, what I’m saying is it has already proved itself. Use it, don’t use it.

          • Mick McDick

            you know alot about Denis Noble, do you Garg? your quick google search and wiki perusal has caused you to miss much. But missing the point is the sin qua non, the first principal, and chief line of defense for Libertarians and Randians. Miss the point and you are never wrong.
            “scientists with intellectual rigour” Garg? Did you know that Dawkins is not a publishing scientist? probably not. Noble is a highly respected scientist. Your quick internet search missed that. Posers must be outed, Garg.
            You probably know more about economics than biology and genetics. But did you know that Economics is not a science? and if much of what you know is wrong, and all metaphysical, what do you really know? are you more ignorant than you would be if you knew nothing about it at all? I will help you with that question: Yes, you are.
            Her is a nice quote from Noble, edited for you Garg:

            “…. all the central assumptions of the Modern Synthesis (often also called Neo-Darwinism) have been disproved.
            Moreover, they have been disproved in ways that raise the tantalizing prospect of a totally new synthesis…”

          • Wake me up when you wish to discuss sociobiology or even Ayn Rand.

      • kencarman

        Please name one country where “unfettered self interest” has created the perfect libertarian paradise.

        No more than communism has ever created a worker’s paradise.

        Both are models and there’s a whole lot of ground between these two extremes. The most successful systems have been a mix between such models. Rules/regs, but sane ones, not the idiocy that has a preschool director/owner shifting a fire alarm every week because the regulator changed their mind, just to provide one example. But also one that doesn’t allow a owner/director to have one teacher with 40 kids: no help, falling porch, hole in roof in several centers she owns. I’ve seen that too.

        I see no “Communism” to what she mentions here, just people helping each other. She doesn’t claim there should be no capitalistic element to anything, just limitations and people also interested in helping each other.

        Another example: areas where I’ve seen small breweries help each other, not act as if they’re enemies, small breweries do better. That doesn’t mean they don’t compete. But it’s not the us against them philosophy that I’ve seen kill the industry in favor of large, international, brewers.

        The writer has many valid points.Your personal skew seems to have provided blinders to them.

        • Please explain why are you and the writer are discussing unfettered self-interest instead of Ayn Rand’s philosophy.

          Perhaps referring to Ayn Rand’s own words would help speed this up. Start with her take on selfishness:

          http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/selfishness.html

  • patientman

    We have traversed an amazing transition between pragmatism and extremism. For almost 240 years, Americans have adopted ideas that make democracy work. Now, it is a matter of economics and survival by “I’m totally right” and your way is totally wrong. We used to borrow from this ideology over there, and make it work over here. What happened to pragmatism? When did a complete solid system work for humankind? We have always evolved. The static doesn’t work. How does such simplistic thinking provide for solutions that continually change. If you hold on to only one direction in a sail boat, you will surely run-aground. Embrace the slippery rocks of innovation. Search for higher ground, and learn from the past, but don’t embrace it as something to cling to. You will not survive.

  • Neither utopian socialism nor Ayn Rand’s utopian juvenile delinquent pulp fiction can be right,

    where the complete authority of a socialist state equals anonymous reductionist tyranny, and Ayn Rand’s pulp fiction .. I need not explain to any mature mind (the american enamoredness for her drivel, a horrible disaster to come).

    The rational and existential middle ground would be the, of course, classic intellectual republican mindset, for history repeats itself, where the groupthink of the educated takes on the authority of sovereignty, for there shall be order.

    The conundrum with utopia of course still is the philosopher king disagreeing with himself.

    Such is life.

    • Robyn Ryan

      “Tawdry bodice rippers “

  • so – what is ZEDE, no first mention in full

  • Gregg Connolly

    Self interest works both ways the starving man given no recourse in a chartiy-less, non-benovolent society will kill you for that hamburger on your plate, that is his self-interest

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  • Robyn Ryan

    So… what happens in Galt’s Gulch when they run out of booze and toilet paper?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5834319a141d4d7a3ab34250a133d6359e45f621c8565c276c215199c475d613.jpg