Monday, November 14, 2011

i'd like to shrug

i spent nearly all last january-may reading ayn rand's 'atlas shrugged'. don't get me wrong, the book is a beast, it would have taken anyone 4 months to read it; but i read every word of it, trying to fully understand the complexity of what rand was trying to say - and what she really meant. i had read 'anthem' almost a year before, it really got the brain going, thinking about a world where people were not awarded based on the their minds but based on what whoever was in charge thought was a good fit. i next read 'the fountainhead', along with every single architect alive, and i began to think about conviction and standing one's ground even if it meant not getting properly awarded for your work and being ignored because you had failed to think inside the box that was nothing more than smoke + mirrors. 'atlas' added to this thinking. what gives someone else the right to take what they have not earned from someone else? this is where i begin to be spilt. i am not wealthy, in fact i am by most standards buying time before i am poor, so it becomes difficult to think that it's ok for people to make endless amounts of money and then not give back to the process that helped them do so. in my working life i have helped bring in money for my bosses. i have waited tables, smiled at customers and told them the large OJ was totally worth the 5 bucks.. and in fact it was, because my boss did not produce shit, he produced top notch, high quality, products. i made him money because he gave me the ability to be honest about his products and in turn i was able to sell them based on facts.. are you following me here, even a little?

now with this all in mind, think about our current economy.. it's barely hanging on and people are quick to say 'we must provide an atmosphere that enables 'job creators' to work their magic' and then there are people who are saying that those 'job creators' aren't paying their fair share - and in fact BOTH sides are right... and both VERY wrong.

i am not a economist, nor do i pretend to be, and my words are my opinion, and some times the opinion isn't all at informed... so bare with me while i expose my thoughts

many people out there say ayn rand is a quack.. and maybe she was... but they say this because they believe her 'characters' lack human emotion, which is incorrect. her characters always fall in love so if you're gonna say they're emotionless cold-hearted people, you might want to look up some of those words in a dictionary (i don't care which one, you pick). second, her characters are workers, hard fucking workers that feel pain and sadness but do not let this stop their work, they turn it into fuel (yah, yah, i'm disobeying the law of thermodynamics but you know what i'm trying to say!) and use their minds to accomplish tasks. none of her characters had ever finished college and yet turned out to be successful because they worked hard.. not because they knew the right people but because they produced products that were needed and high quality.. these products were not meant to fall apart so producers could simply produce more of the same shit.. no, they were created to be the best, satisfy the need in the market and then something else would have to be invested/created/produced.  summary: people's work matters, and who you know should only be secondary, if at all.

i don't want to rant about this, i honestly think people just need to read 'atlas shrugged', and read it OBJECTIVELY, before you go around bashing or supporting ayn rand. she was an absolute supporter of capitalism, real laissez-fair 'let them work', capitalism... but she also did not believe in absolutes... and furthermore, she was a libertarian, not a 'conservative' as it is known by today's standards. she was an atheist, who had emotions, but believed they did not belong in the work place. can you separate the two?

i am not here to say ayn rand is right but i am also not about to say she is wrong. we cannot wrap our heads around her philosophy because we do not live in a world that could support this type of economic system. we do not pay the true worth of anything and rand would require that we did. there are no such things as subsidies, there are no regulations... and there is NO invisible hand. she was not a neoclassical economists. if people truly want to use ayn rand's words then you have to know she wouldn't let deforestation happen because the market value of a tree's worth would be measured, clean water would be measured. Are you still following me? everything would have an economic value, a true value. we wouldn't be producing, digging, scheming for oil because it wouldn't be cost effective to do so.. not in a regulation-less market place and we also wouldn't have subsidies or hand-outs.. this part is always left out of the conversation.

one last thing.. we need 'job producers', the last thing we want is a 'moratorium on the brains'... but we cannot pick which parts of ayn rand's philosophy we support. there would be no income tax because that is taxing what someone has produced (same thing goes for why property taxes are bullshit, it punishes someone for maintaining their home.. how about a land tax that punishes you for speculation and allowing a piece of land to stay undeveloped? that's pretty fucking wasteful.. and by undeveloped i don't mean we should BUILD on every piece of land but a park/open-space is development, it's creating a productive landscape - but that's a different topic). so yeah, back to taxes, either we don't have them and we find a new way to pay for services.. i.e. if everyone is paying the true price for goods this is possible, yah? and if people are paid wages that are representative of the work they do, most people would receive a livable wage... - or we have taxes that are fair and accomplish something.

but this misses the point that there are way too many externalities at play. people have disabilities, people get sick, PEOPLE ARE GREEDY NON-SELF REGULATING SELF-CENTERED CREATURES... and this is why ayn rand's philosophy is lost on us.. if people can't keep themselves in check this economic system will not work... and we're seeing this now. our economy is the result of picking-and-choosing different philosophies and putting them in a blender and calling it a day (amongst other things, of course). we have no convictions, we're just moving through the system, looking to fill our wallets.

this became a much longer post than i had intended... and it's not very thought out, which isn't fair for anyone who is reading this.. but it is what it is. maybe you agree, maybe now you're pissed off.. whatever, at least now you're thinking.  there's a lot wrong with our system but there's hope and there are good people out there who respect the world and its resources and their employees, and those are the type of job creators we need.. people like you and me... people with brains.. and hearts.

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