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FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Man Who Belonged on Earth
A Publius Essay | 28 March 2009 | Publius

Posted on 03/28/2009 7:39:14 AM PDT by Publius

Part II: Either-Or

Chapter I: The Man Who Belonged on Earth

Synopsis

At the State Science Institute, Dr. Robert Stadler reflects on the harsh winter just ended. There had been rail incidents that affected society, a five day power outage at the Institute and talk about conserving fuel. What irks Stadler is the book on his desk, Why Do You Think You Think?. It demeans logic and rational thought, questions the very nature of reality, is written by Dr. Floyd Ferris, Top Coordinator of the State Science Institute, and is published under the Institute’s aegis.

Dr. Ferris arrives half an hour late due to a car breakdown and the inability to find an open gas station on America’s empty roads. Stadler complains that Ferris is spending too much time in Washington and asks what is going on with the oil shortage. Ferris says the Institute has taken over the reclamation of the Wyatt oil fields while explaining to the country that Wyatt had never fired his fields but had perished in the accident that set them ablaze. The government is now operating those fields. Reclamation is going well, and Wesley Mouch has agreed to a larger appropriation for the effort with the concurrence of three other bureaucracies. But other than getting one well to give up six and a half gallons of oil, the effort is not a success.

One of Stadler’s concerns is Project X. Ferris explains that “X” stands for “xylophone”, and it would be most inadvisable for Stadler to mention this top secret project.

But Stadler is most concerned with Ferris’ book, characterizing it as “indecency”. Ferris says it is a best seller. Stadler calls it the work of a drunken lout, leering with its hatred of the mind; it can be summed up by one word: “Obey.” He is furious that it has come from the Institute. Ferris says the book is not for scientists, but for the general public. Stadler is upset that Ferris has taken the work of Simon Pritchett and given it legitimacy by turning it into science. Ferris says that people don’t want to think and that they will bless anyone who takes the obligation of thinking away from them; Wesley Mouch himself is pleased by the book. Stadler is unable to permit himself to think that the things suggested by the book are possible in a civilized society. Ferris says, “That is admirably exact ... You cannot permit yourself.” Ferris tell Stadler to stick to his science. Stadler heads to New York for a meeting with Dagny.

Dagny scratches a Colorado freight train off the Taggart roster as she has struck so many others. Lawrence Hammond has retired and disappeared, and Hammondsville will no doubt dry up and blow away as have the towns of Wyatt Junction and Stockton. With Wyatt’s fire, new operators had claimed the oil business until prices rose to the point where large customers turned to coal, and the government rationed oil and levied a special tax to subsidize out-of-work oil hands. Then the government subsidized the oil operators but just those with connections. Coal briefly became king until Andrew Stockton retired, closed his foundry and disappeared. The only thing that Dagny can discover is that somebody spent most of the night talking to Stockton before he vanished.

With the oil shortage, Dagny is running coal burning steam locomotives and depending on Ken Danagger for coal. Jim is getting a government subsidy for every train running, and those subsidies produce more revenue than Dagny’s operations. Jim brags that he is responsible for the best six months in the railroad’s history.

Wesley Mouch has unfrozen the nation’s railroad bonds but only to certain people. A whole new profession of “defreezing” has been created by young wonders just out of college who know how to fill out the government paperwork – and who have connections.

Dagny’s engineers, who searched the abandoned plant of the Twentieth Century Motor Company, found nothing; they interviewed people who worked there and learned nothing. The Patent Office was yet another dead end. Dagny’s friend at the Taggart Terminal cigarette stand can’t even locate the brand of Hugh Akston’s dollar sign cigarette.

Dagny’s attempt to find an engineer to reconstruct the motor encounters people who don’t think it will work, don’t care if it will work, want too much money to make it work, or believe that if the motor works, it should be suppressed because of the harm it would do to the egos of lesser scientists. She decides to approach Dr. Robert Stadler.

Stadler is happy to see Dagny, but remembering her last meeting with Stadler, Dagny is extremely formal. Her statement that Stadler is the only great mind left in the world touches him deeply. Showing him the incomplete specifications of the motor, Stadler quickly becomes the consummate professional and is beside himself with excitement as he perceives what the designer has wrought. But Stadler can’t think who could have designed the motor, why he would have designed it – making a massive scientific breakthrough in the process – at a factory in rural Wisconsin, and he is even more shocked that the designer didn’t seek him out. His statement that even a greedy industrialist with no brains would have taken the motor to make a fortune prompts a bitter smile from Dagny. She asks him to recommend someone who could work on the motor, but Stadler tells her he can’t even find the kind of simple talent possessed by a decent garage mechanic. He asks to see the motor.

Dagny takes him to the underground vault. Upon seeing the motor, Stadler is thrilled to see a great new idea that isn’t his. He condemns the mediocrities who fear anyone with an idea better than their own and who envy achievement. He and Dagny briefly experience a meeting of the minds. Stadler recommends a young engineer named Quentin Daniels who works at the Utah Institute of Technology; he has no desire to work for the government but only for his own wealth. Utah Tech has gone under, but Daniels is still there.

As they walk through the underground warren, they hear a frustrated rail crew working on a repair, and one of the men says, “Who is John Galt?” Stadler doesn’t like the expression but says he once knew a John Galt, now deceased. Had he lived, the whole world would have talked of him. Dagny points out that the whole world is talking of him. Stadler reacts in terror: “He has to be dead.”

Hank Rearden refuses an order from the State Science Institute for ten thousand tons of Rearden Metal for something called Project X. He has had problems with the Fair Share Law and ended up with an arbitrary government figure for what he could produce. He now has a backlog of orders for the next fifty years. The rights to Rearden Metal – what we would call “derivatives” today – are being bought and sold on a gray market by speculators with everybody making a profit but Hank. Those speculators who get the rights are those with connections in Washington.

The government has assigned him a bright young boy just out of college as his Deputy Director of Distribution; the plant workers call him the Wet Nurse. He offers Hank a shot at getting Rearden Metal to his friends with a little help from Hank’s wallet for “expenses”. Hank rebuffs him after the Wet Nurse’s lecture on moral flexibility in the absence of absolute standards. He warns Hank about his rejection of the Institute’s order.

Hank is visited by a paramilitary inquiring about Hank’s reasons for refusing the order. Hank won’t provide that answer and refuses to sell anything to the Institute for any purpose. The paramilitary explains that Hank must obey the law; Hank tells him to arrest him and steal whatever he wants from the railcars sitting in the steel mill’s yard. The paramilitary is horrified at how the public would react but tells Hank that he will regret his decision.

Hank gives Dagny a priceless ruby pendant, undresses her and puts it on her naked body. But his best gift is a fur coat he gives Dagny before they go out to dine in New Jersey. Hank tells Dagny that he is giving her these gifts for his own pleasure, and Dagny seconds that emotion. He tells Dagny that he was so cold and formal to her at the party at his house because he wanted her.

After a meeting with copper producers, Hank discovers that they are hamstrung by a sweetheart deal between the government and Francisco d’Anconia.

Hank visits Dagny at her apartment, and she updates him on her meeting with Stadler about the motor. Hank tells Dagny she should not have met with Stadler because he was seeking validation for what he had been before he sold his soul. Hank is now penetrating the heart of darkness. He and Dagny are the intended victims, and the looters seek the sanction of the victim, forcing him to face the world from the looters’ perspective.

Derivatives and Hank Rearden

A derivative is a security whose value is derived from another security. As early as 1792, when the New York Stock Exchange opened for business, derivatives were sold as bets on the rise and fall of interest rates. It started as a form of hedging but ended up as the source of our first government scandal.

Alexander Hamilton had bedded a woman who was involved in a badger game with speculators on Wall Street as accomplices. In return for her silence, Hamilton was to give her accomplices advance notice of the purchase and sale of Treasury bonds. To his credit, Hamilton fell on his sword, admitted his infidelity and saw his political career go up in flames. From his perspective it was a small price to pay to preserve the credit rating of the infant United States.

Rand makes an interesting point here. Hank Rearden is the inventor and developer of Rearden Metal; by rights the profits should go to him. But thanks to government interference, he is not reaping the benefits of his labors; Wall Street speculators are. These are people who neither sow nor reap but profit from their connections in Washington. It is the epitome of immorality.

What Chapter Are We Living In Today?

This question came up when this project was conceived; essays and newspaper columns likened our time to the book. Well, look what happened in Olympia, Washington.

Six Democratic legislators in the Washington State Legislature introduced a bill to prevent Boeing from threatening to move out of state. That's right. Threatening.

Our tale begins with a different bill, one that would have forbidden any company from requiring employees to attend a meeting about labor issues. It was called the “Worker Privacy Act”, and it violated federal labor law. Although Boeing maintained a respectful silence, its friends said that this would be the last straw that would cause the company to move its production facilities to North Carolina. But then the Washington State Labor Council got caught sending threatening e-mails to legislators about it, e-mails that opened a window into corruption in Olympia. The governor and Democratic leaders in the legislature then publicly killed the bill and sent the e-mails to the Washington State Patrol for investigation.

Organized labor and its allies in Olympia were livid, so six legislators introduced a bill that would make it illegal to threaten the relocation of manufacturing jobs, especially jobs involving commercial airplane manufacturing. Boeing could leave, but it could not threaten to leave.

Do you remember Bertram Scudder’s Public Stability Law, later enacted by Wesley Mouch via administrative law? We have arrived.

Some Discussion Topics

  1. Increment the body count by two. Andrew Stockton and Lawrence Hammond have both disappeared. And we now know that a mystery man sat down with Stockton for most of the night before he vanished.
  2. In an earlier chapter, I wrote of the concept of “rent seeking”, the pursuit of government subsidy for the sake of profit. Jim Taggart was chosen by the board because of his connections in Washington, and now he is making subsidies the lifeblood of the railroad. Where else is this going on today?
  3. They call it “defreezing”, and young college grads are going to work as consultants selling their services to investors to fill out the necessary bureaucratic paperwork to get reimbursed for the frozen railroad bonds. An individual defreezer’s success is directly proportional to his connections in Washington. Are we scenting the stench of the K Street sewer here?
  4. We first hear the expression “the sanction of the victim”. This is to become one of the main themes of the book. It might be premature to ask how this relates to today’s world, but it might not be a bad idea to start cataloging incidents that fit this concept.

Next Saturday: The Aristocracy of Pull

Next week’s chapter contains Francisco’s Root of Money Speech, one of the large set pieces of the book. It is a critical insight into Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and a good primer on capitalism. There are three ways one can handle the speech.

The speech is important to understanding what Rand is trying to get across, so it’s critical to pay proper attention to what she is saying. Take your time, read it, and prepare to discuss it thoroughly.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Free Republic; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: atlasshrugged; freeperbookclub; rand; z
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1 posted on 03/28/2009 7:39:15 AM PDT by Publius
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To: ADemocratNoMore; Aggie Mama; alexander_busek; AlligatorEyes; AmericanGirlRising; Amityschild; ...
FReeper Book Club

Atlas Shrugged

Part II: Either-Or

Chapter I: The Man Who Belonged on Earth

Ping! The thread has been posted.

Earlier threads:
Our First Freeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Theme
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Chain
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Top and the Bottom
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Immovable Movers
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Climax of the d’Anconias
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Non-Commercial
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Exploiters and the Exploited
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The John Galt Line
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Sacred and the Profane
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, Wyatt’s Torch

2 posted on 03/28/2009 7:40:39 AM PDT by Publius (The Quadri-Metallic Standard: Gold and silver for commerce, lead and brass for protection.)
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To: Publius

You do an excellent job of excerpting this story and comparing the events in Atlas Shrugged to our, real world, current events.

I think about this book so often when I look at what is going on in Washington, especially the demonization of business and the ‘Greedy” CEOs.

Thank you for taking the time to do this.

I have been enjoying these threads since you started the project


3 posted on 03/28/2009 7:46:56 AM PDT by CrappieLuck
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To: Publius
May I suggest an overlooked political science textbook written in 1935?

The Von Mises Institute has it online in PDF format.

It was written principally for post grad political science types, so its not simple in it language. It more clearly defines all the “isms” as they apply to the difference between government and the State.

Do not let the title frighten you, it is NOT about “black helicopters” or anything at all of that nature.

Hit the link and read just of few of the endorsements by critical thinkers of that time.

The book nails Oh-bummer cleanly.

http://mises.org/etexts/ourenemy.pdf

4 posted on 03/28/2009 7:49:41 AM PDT by sneakin (Remember, always pillage BEFORE you burn.)
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To: Publius

Wesley Mouch = Barak Obama


5 posted on 03/28/2009 7:55:20 AM PDT by demsux
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To: Publius

Exce3llent write up. Impressive.

“We first hear the expression “the sanction of the victim”. This is to become one of the main themes of the book. It might be premature to ask how this relates to today’s world, but it might not be a bad idea to start cataloging incidents that fit this concept.”

Removing tax exemptions from people who make “too much money” is an example, I think.


6 posted on 03/28/2009 7:55:24 AM PDT by patton (If Hawai'i seccedes, is Barack Obama still an illegal alien?)
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To: CrappieLuck

Take a look at the Amazon sales rankings for the two editions of Atlas Shrugged. People are getting the the parallels.


7 posted on 03/28/2009 7:57:37 AM PDT by Montfort
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To: Publius

The use of crisis situations for power hungry politicians to grab power (Cloward-Piven Strategy of Orchestrated Crisis) is disturbing in the book and even more disturbing to watch actually happening. The US government may soon have the power to seize financial institutions if they are deemed to be at risk of failure and could threaten the economy. I predict that the next to be targeted by the government looters will be insurance companies, health care providers, the auto industry, food production/distribution and transportation. The problem is (in AS and with the US leftists) is that their policies caused the crisis situations in the first place, they blamed the industrial “victims” or their misguided or purposeful policies, and then used the crisis for their own benefit. And only a small percentage of the population questions the obvious lies.


8 posted on 03/28/2009 8:05:08 AM PDT by MtnClimber (Bernard Madoff's ponzi scheme looks remarkably similar to the way Social Security works)
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To: Publius

Thanks for the Ping!

I’m posting Alexis de Tocqueville’s work today on another thread.

This new administration, as bad as it is, may be spurring a new revolution in political study.


9 posted on 03/28/2009 8:15:10 AM PDT by Loud Mime (The IRS collectes $1 trillion in taxes each year. Why not forgive all taxes for a year? Stimulus!)
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To: MtnClimber

Exactly right...my opinion is that BHO will target doctors and other health care providers with his “cap on compensation” due to the “health care emergency”.


10 posted on 03/28/2009 8:17:22 AM PDT by demsux
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To: Publius
I experienced an incident last year in Camden NJ that I have related before on another thread here at FR. It seems appropriate now in the context of "The Sanction of the Victim" discussion.

I own a small manufacturing company which was located in Camden NJ. We have been plagued by graffiti on our building painted there by the local gang bangers. It is a growing problem in Camden. I've repainted my building two times but after each repaint the boys go artistic once again. I finally gave up because the police would not do anything about it and business is bad and I could no longer afford it.

Enter the City government. The City passed an ordinance to require companies occupying graffiti stained buildings to clean it up at their own expense. I was visited by an armed inspector and issued a ticket to paint my building. I went to city hall and talked to the director and tried to explain to her that without proper police enforcement the only result would be a waste of money on my part and the graffiti would return. She just said the laws the law and they were cracking down in an attempt to clean up the city. Cracking down on the businesses not the punks doing it one should note.I refused again and was issued a second ticket for non compliance with the first order.

Now it just so happens that the mercantile license was coming due ( talk about looters having the power over a productive enterprise! ). Well, the city refused to issue my company the license unless I painted my building. I refused again. This time the armed inspector came back with a "suit' who explained to me that if my license were to expire they would close my building and not allow me to operate. I decided that it wasn't worth the expense and signed an agreement to paint my building and was issued my license. Going out the door after my capitulation the head honcho woman said to me,"Now don't you feel better that you are contributing to the clean up of Camden". True story.

I fired the three neighborhood kids working part time, took my skilled people and moved the business out of Camden last fall. The building is empty and covered with graffiti.

11 posted on 03/28/2009 8:31:13 AM PDT by mick (Central Banker Capitalism is NOT Free Enterprise)
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To: mick
I fired the three neighborhood kids working part time, took my skilled people and moved the business out of Camden last fall. The building is empty and covered with graffiti.

A round of applause for you, Sir. _You_ are John Galt !

12 posted on 03/28/2009 8:48:23 AM PDT by whodathunkit (Shrugging as I leave for the Gulch)
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To: whodathunkit
No I'm not. I paid the protection money and moved out of town feeling like a sell out to my principles. And I was.

And in the final analysis that is the paramount evil of collectivism....you are faced with the hobbesian choice of either going down in flames for the "right" and taking your family and employees with you, or trying to survive. I do business in Ukraine and I can tell you that the compromises people in the old USSR had to make just to feed their kids is unbelievable to an American. The beauty of free market capitalism is that average people like me can prosper and maintain dignity. The first thing you lose in collectivism is dignity. And telling yourself you had no choice never makes it easier. I tell myself I ran away to fight another day. Maybe. Or maybe I just wanted to survive and save my ass.

13 posted on 03/28/2009 9:03:25 AM PDT by mick (Central Banker Capitalism is NOT Free Enterprise)
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To: mick

Good for you!


14 posted on 03/28/2009 9:03:34 AM PDT by patton (If Hawai'i seccedes, is Barack Obama still an illegal alien?)
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To: mick

Voting with your feet is never anyone’s first choice, but sometimes it is a survival skill.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.


15 posted on 03/28/2009 9:07:20 AM PDT by patton (If Hawai'i seccedes, is Barack Obama still an illegal alien?)
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To: Publius
Great thread, but you might be interested to know that there was a real John Galt.

John Galt, novelist, colonial promoter (b at Irvine, Scot 2 May 1779; d at Greenock, Scot 11 Apr 1839). While struggling to survive as a man of letters, Galt became involved with Canadian affairs, first as agent for those claiming losses in the WAR OF 1812, and subsequently (1824) as secretary of the board of directors of the CANADA CO.

He came to Upper Canada on several occasions, remaining 1826-29 as company superintendent and founding the town of GUELPH in 1827; the town of Galt (now CAMBRIDGE) was named after him. He had continual conflict with the directors and was eventually recalled and spent his last years in impoverished ill health. Galt's best-known fiction deals mainly with Scottish life, and his writings, except for his Autobiography (1833) and Literary Life (1834), show only a limited influence of his Canadian involvements. Two of his novels embody his idea of emigrants best suited to the US (Lawrie Todd, 1830) and Canada (Bogle Corbet, 1831).

The town of Galt, Ontario has been combined with some other municipalities to form Cambridge, Ontario. However, I believe there still is a shopping center called the "John Galt Mall".

16 posted on 03/28/2009 9:08:10 AM PDT by Former Proud Canadian (How do I change my screen name now that we have the most conservative government in the world?)
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To: mick
The beauty of free market capitalism is that average people like me can prosper and maintain dignity. The first thing you lose in collectivism is dignity. And telling yourself you had no choice never makes it easier. I tell myself I ran away to fight another day. Maybe. Or maybe I just wanted to survive and save my ass.

We have an awful lot of people today that haven't even realized they've sold their souls. They're the worst of the lot.

Your staying would have been far worse. You only paid the 'protection' money once and then left - that was a good move. Staying 20 or so years - that would've been giving in. Good thing you had a better place to move to - eventually, we may not have those choices.
17 posted on 03/28/2009 9:24:29 AM PDT by CottonBall
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To: Publius
What irks Stadler is the book on his desk, Why Do You Think You Think?. It demeans logic and rational thought, questions the very nature of reality, is written by Dr. Floyd Ferris, Top Coordinator of the State Science Institute, and is published under the Institute’s aegis.

Our education system is headed down this road. Secondary schools are there, but colleges will have to succomb soon (if they haven't already) because of the dumbed-down students they are handed. The liberal arts majors might be more dumbed down now than in the past and I know technical majors now require more liberal arts electives than they did when got an engineering degree, but I hope the technical classes' requirements haven't changed. I think those will be the last to go.

Ferris says that people don’t want to think and that they will bless anyone who takes the obligation of thinking away from them;

Again, dumbed down elementary and secondary schools have made this a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Who is John Galt?” Stadler doesn’t like the expression but says he once knew a John Galt, now deceased. Had he lived, the whole world would have talked of him. Dagny points out that the whole world is talking of him. Stadler reacts in terror: “He has to be dead.”

Why the terror? This isn't the first character in the book to be afraid when John Galt is mentioned, I believe.

He and Dagny are the intended victims, and the looters seek the sanction of the victim, forcing him to face the world from the looters’ perspective.

This is like the winpy RINOs in Congress accepting the Dem's premises as correct and then trying to fight them based on that false premise. Funny that it hasn't worked. /s We need to only look at our own perspective and stand firm.
18 posted on 03/28/2009 9:34:15 AM PDT by CottonBall
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To: mick
And telling yourself you had no choice never makes it easier. I tell myself I ran away to fight another day. Maybe. Or maybe I just wanted to survive and save my ass

Not to mix Rand novels, but my first employer told me "We all start out thinking we are Howard Roark, and we all end up realizing we are Peter Keating." I wanted to kick his ass. Now, 25 years later, trying to find that next project so I can still pay my employees, I realize that he was right.

19 posted on 03/28/2009 9:48:12 AM PDT by r-q-tek86 (The U.S. Constitution may be flawed, but it's a whole lot better than what we have now)
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To: Publius

I’m going to take the easy question. Currently, so-called
“green energy” requires subsidies in order to be “profitable.”

In a way, we’re not currently living this particular chapter. We’ve been living this chapter for several years now.


20 posted on 03/28/2009 9:53:11 AM PDT by stylin_geek (Senators and Representatives : They govern like Calvin Ball is played, making it up as they go along)
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To: patton
“We first hear the expression “the sanction of the victim”. This is to become one of the main themes of the book. It might be premature to ask how this relates to today’s world, but it might not be a bad idea to start cataloging incidents that fit this concept.”

Removing tax exemptions from people who make “too much money” is an example, I think.

I am going to respectfully disagree with you. I think the whole "sanction of the victim" refers to trying to manipulate the victim - in your example, the tax payer - into believing that the punishment being handed out is not only good, but deserved.

I think the concept is better displayed in what was done to the big banks. Several of them were strong armed into taking the TARP because the government was afraid that if the TARP ony went to a few, those banks would be stigmatized and investors would turn away.

Now the government is telling the banks that were forced to take the TARP, "you have to run your business the way we tell you... after all... you took the money".

21 posted on 03/28/2009 9:58:47 AM PDT by r-q-tek86 (The U.S. Constitution may be flawed, but it's a whole lot better than what we have now)
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To: stylin_geek
Currently, so-called “green energy” requires subsidies in order to be “profitable.”

Worse than that, they now want to add taxes to non-green energy so that green energy will be "profitable".

We’ve been living this chapter for several years now.

Yep.

22 posted on 03/28/2009 10:02:43 AM PDT by r-q-tek86 (The U.S. Constitution may be flawed, but it's a whole lot better than what we have now)
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To: r-q-tek86

See 11 and 13 - can we agree that that is a good example?


23 posted on 03/28/2009 10:03:19 AM PDT by patton (If Hawai'i seccedes, is Barack Obama still an illegal alien?)
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To: patton

That is a great example.


24 posted on 03/28/2009 10:05:09 AM PDT by r-q-tek86 (The U.S. Constitution may be flawed, but it's a whole lot better than what we have now)
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To: Publius

25 posted on 03/28/2009 10:36:35 AM PDT by Donald Rumsfeld Fan (Sarah Palin "The Iron Lady of the North")
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To: demsux

No, Barak Obama = Head of State Thompson, whom we will meet in a later chapter.


26 posted on 03/28/2009 10:45:23 AM PDT by Publius (The Quadri-Metallic Standard: Gold and silver for commerce, lead and brass for protection.)
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To: patton
Removing tax exemptions from people who make “too much money” is an example, I think.

Remember, the victim has to go along with it because the victim is induced to see the world through the looters' eyes and accept his moral code.

So maybe yes, maybe no.

27 posted on 03/28/2009 10:47:21 AM PDT by Publius (The Quadri-Metallic Standard: Gold and silver for commerce, lead and brass for protection.)
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To: mick
I grew up just outside of Camden, so I know what you're talking about. I left in 1971, but when I took a look at the city in 2005 I was horrified. Nothing was the way I remembered it.

You should have moved out after the lady said, "The law is the law."

28 posted on 03/28/2009 10:51:40 AM PDT by Publius (The Quadri-Metallic Standard: Gold and silver for commerce, lead and brass for protection.)
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To: Publius; mick

See the example related in #11, and the victim’s guilt in #13.


29 posted on 03/28/2009 10:52:40 AM PDT by patton (If Hawai'i seccedes, is Barack Obama still an illegal alien?)
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To: MtnClimber
The problem is (in AS and with the US leftists) is that their policies caused the crisis situations in the first place, they blamed the industrial “victims” or their misguided or purposeful policies, and then used the crisis for their own benefit.

There is a delicious illustration of this later in the book, but I don't want to post a spoiler to my own thread.

30 posted on 03/28/2009 10:54:58 AM PDT by Publius (The Quadri-Metallic Standard: Gold and silver for commerce, lead and brass for protection.)
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To: CottonBall
Our education system is headed down this road.

We began heading down this road in the Seventies, and even then, college students at many schools had to take a course called "freshman bonehead English" to be ready for first year studies. That trend has only expanded over the past 35 years.

Why the terror?

I don't want to post a spoiler. Dr. Stadler has every reason to fear that John Galt is alive and well.

31 posted on 03/28/2009 11:00:30 AM PDT by Publius (The Quadri-Metallic Standard: Gold and silver for commerce, lead and brass for protection.)
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To: stylin_geek

You can add ethanol to that, which is nothing but corporate welfare for Archer Daniels Midland.


32 posted on 03/28/2009 11:02:26 AM PDT by Publius (The Quadri-Metallic Standard: Gold and silver for commerce, lead and brass for protection.)
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To: Publius

I’d forgotten about ethanol.

Green energy is my pet peeve. It’s one of those things that tends to get me going, especially if someone starts spouting nonsense regarding wind or solar energy.


33 posted on 03/28/2009 11:14:47 AM PDT by stylin_geek (Senators and Representatives : They govern like Calvin Ball is played, making it up as they go along)
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To: Publius
Howdy Pub’!

Here we are at the beginning of the second section of Atlas Shrugged, entitled “Either-Or,” a reference, as we have seen, to Aristotle’s Metaphysics and to the dilemma Rand is beginning to flesh out for us: can a society both possess its achievers and exploit them to death simultaneously? It will be one or the other, but we’re not quite there yet.

The chapter title is “The Man Who Belonged On Earth,” an invocation of an individual yet nameless but whose identity we finally learn in this chapter, those few of us who haven’t figured it out by now. Why he “belongs” and certain others do not is a topic it will take the rest of the novel fully to explore.

Dr. Stadler is becoming aware of just how corrupt his assistant/minder Dr. Ferris is – he is, after all, a scientist who writes that knowledge is impossible - and how far he has bent the State Science Institute to the will of its political backers. Stadler has finally sensed that nature of his fall and he’s finding it difficult to deal with. He deals with Ferris’s book, however:

He picked up the book and let it drop into the wastebasket.

…And thinks of the Man Who Belonged On Earth:

A face came to his mind…a young face he had not permitted himself to recall for years. He thought: No, he has not read this book, he won’t see it, he’s dead, he must have died long ago…The sharp pain was the shock of discovering simultaneously that this was the man he longed to see more than any other being in the world – and that he had to hope that this man was dead.

Ambivalence doesn’t come any more perfect than that. Still no name for this man, though, this ex-student, this hypotenuse of the d’Anconia – Dannerskjold triangle. But he appears to embody something Stadler finds that he has lost, and misses bitterly. So, apparently, does Dagny Taggart, for Stadler makes his way to her New York office in search of nothing less than his soul.

[Stadler speaking] “…He [the missing engineer] arrived at some new concept of energy. He discarded all our standard assumptions, according to which his motor would have been impossible. He formulated a new premise of his own and he solved the secret…Do you realize what a feat of pure, abstract science he had to perform…?”

Intentionally or not – one hopes for the sake of humility that it was not – Rand is describing here what she herself is attempting to accomplish with respect to philosophy. A new paradigm, a structure built on first principles that leads in a direction entirely different from that of conventional philosophy. Whether she actually achieved that will be the topic of future controversies, but it is quite clear that she is aware that it is what she is attempting.

And this Man Who Belongs, Stadler’s and Akston’s ex-student, who Stadler found himself hoping to be dead? It is John Galt, of course.

“I knew a John Galt once. Only he died long ago…He had such a mind that, had he lived, the whole world would have been talking of him by now.”

“But the whole world is talking of him.”

He stopped still. “Yes…” he said slowly, staring at a thought that had never struck him before. “Yes…why?” The word was heavy with the sound of terror.

Who is John Galt? Ayn Rand is John Galt.

Meanwhile, Hank Rearden is watching how the bounty given to the world in the form of his metal has been expropriated, throttled, and redistributed in accordance with current political doctrine. It is not how fortunes are made, but it is how they are stolen:

He turned away without a word when anybody mentioned to him what everybody knew: the quick fortunes that were being made on Rearden Metal. “Well, no,” people said in drawing rooms, “you mustn’t call it a black market, because it isn’t, really. Nobody is selling the Metal illegally. They’re just selling their right to it. Not selling, really, just pooling their shares.”

Carbon credits, anyone? Rand was being exaggeratedly cynical with respect to metal; how incredulous would she be to learn that someone was seriously treating the very air we breathe as a commodity the rights to which may be bartered by those whose only power over them is granted by arbitrary statute? Had Rand placed that scam into Atlas Shrugged people would have laughed at its outlandishness. No one’s laughing now.

We meet briefly a young man known derisively as the Wet Nurse – a government representative empowered to see that Rearden Metal is distributed to the approved recipients. Earnest but deluded, a fully fledged product of the corrupt educational institutions of the day, he retains an innocence that Rearden finds amusing.

“You know, Mr. Rearden, there are no absolute standards. We can’t go by rigid principles…we’ve got to…act on the expediency of the moment.”

“Run along, punk. Go and try to pour a ton of steel without rigid principles, on the expediency of the moment.”

It is an engineer’s answer to some of the sillier excesses of post-modern philosophy – one may happily entertain the argument that there is no truth, that everything is contextual, a matter of interpretation between reader and word, and yet those of us whose lives depend on it would rather not drive over a bridge built on the assumption that the difference in tensile strength between steel and cardboard is merely a matter of opinion.

There is an entertaining cognitive dissonance there – I have personally heard an apparently sincere assertion that words have no meaning coming from the mouths of people who moments later were outraged that the pizza delivered to them was not the one they ordered. Amazing. Think of this when dealing with theory-bound friends – the principles that they actually believe aren’t the ones they asseverate; they’re the ones they act on. That isn’t hypocrisy, it’s the unacknowledged recognition of the existence of objective facts by persons who steadfastly deny them.

One is similarly irritated by the commonplace insistence that societal convention is merely a chain that the intellectually liberated may cast aside at a whim and must cast aside in order truly to be free. One seldom sees advocates of this overheated nonsense make a habit of running red lights at busy intersections. You almost wish they would.

Enough of that. Stadler does leave Dagny with a name, someone who just might be able to untangle the conundrum that is the motor, a young fellow named Quentin Daniels. He won’t, on principle, work for Stadler, which leads us to suspect that he just might be one of the good guys. Either way, it’s a lead that Dagny will follow up.

From this point in the chapter we digress into yet another Randian disquisition on human sexuality that frankly I am beginning to find a bit tedious. We see Dagny naked before a mirror with a blood-red ruby between her breasts (an image that appears, better done, in one of the most touching of Robert Heinlein’s Lazarus Long stories), Dagny half-naked and smothered in a blue fox cape, Dagny as a toy, as a kept woman, pretending to be all of those things she patently isn’t and the two of them turning philosophical somersaults to claim sensuality as the legitimate birthright of the virtuous. One is tempted simply to scream at them in frustration “Just shut up and…” ahem.

But there is, in the midst of all of this pre-coital slurping, a statement of one of Rand’s central theses regarding the maintenance of the corruption of society – that it requires the sanction of the exploited:

He [Rearden] leaned forward. “What he wanted from you was a recognition that he was still the Dr. Robert Stadler he should have been, but wasn’t and knew he wasn’t. He wanted you to grant him your respect in spite of and in contradiction to his actions. He wanted you to juggle reality for him…and you’re the only one who could do it…”

“Why I?”

“Because you’re the victim.”

It is a sanction that can be withheld, the result being that the looter no longer feels good about himself. For someone for whom self-esteem is deified that is a deadly blow. For the rest who really don’t care for anything but the loot – Orren Boyle, for example – other things must be withheld. What sort of thing might that be?

Well, we can’t complain that we aren’t being given hints. Industrialists are dropping out of sight at an increasing rate. (More impending notches on the Publius Body Count). Andrew Stockton the manufacturer for one, Lawrence Hammond the auto tycoon for a second. Ken Dannagger has his own game to play but he’s starting to look like the last man standing. The boys in Washington are busy dividing the loot from a rapidly dwindling pile. Wealth is being redistributed, but it isn’t being created. And the country is running down like a clock with a broken mainspring.

One side note before we wrap the chapter. Despite Rand’s notorious atheism not all of her characters appear to be of that theological bent. Hank Rearden expresses his approval of Ellis Wyatt –

…the words which he had not pronounced, but felt, were: God bless you, Ellis, whatever you’re doing!

It isn’t a slipup on Rand’s part, nor is the balance of Atlas Shrugged relentlessly anti-God. Far from it – as I have previously commented, many of her ethical dilemmas are foundational issues in all of the great religions, discussed at length by their intellectual giants. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism – all of these have to deal with the existence of evil and the true source of human ethics. These are fundamental issues that Rand will not be able to avoid.

I shall later take up the curious topic of a character written into the original draft of Atlas Shrugged but out of the final copy, a Catholic priest named Father Amadeus who was to be James Taggart’s confessor. One might expect him to represent the evils of modern religion to an unrepentant atheist such as Rand, and one would be wrong – he was, by all reports, a sympathetic character whose dialectical function would have been debate with John Galt himself. Rand explained that his presence would have made the narrative unnecessarily complicated, which it undoubtedly would. Perhaps, as well, she did not care to misrepresent her interpretation of Christian doctrine as the real thing. That may be intellectual cowardice, it may be scrupulous honesty, it is certainly prudence, and it spared us another 500 pages. At least.

Have a great week, Publius!

34 posted on 03/28/2009 11:26:47 AM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: mick
No I'm not. I paid the protection money and moved out of town feeling like a sell out to my principles. And I was.

I disagree with that assessment since you aren't still paying the protection money.

Had you truly sold out your principles, you would have remained in Camden and continued to pay. While having to pay the money one time may have felt like selling out, your moving out of Camden confirms that you certainly still have your principles.

35 posted on 03/28/2009 11:55:33 AM PDT by Bob
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To: Billthedrill

One of my co-workers is fond of saying,

“An optomist is one who sees the glass as half full;

“A pessimest is one who sees the glass as half empty;

“An engineer sees a glass that was designed twice as large as it was needed to be.”


36 posted on 03/28/2009 12:08:37 PM PDT by George Smiley (They're not drinking the Kool-Aid any more. They're eating it straight out of the packet.)
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To: Publius

You are right...Mouch is probably Rahm Emanuel


37 posted on 03/28/2009 12:25:55 PM PDT by demsux
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To: demsux

Bingo.


38 posted on 03/28/2009 12:27:59 PM PDT by Publius (The Quadri-Metallic Standard: Gold and silver for commerce, lead and brass for protection.)
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To: r-q-tek86

We have a local buisiness paper that I pick up sometimes.

Last week it was talking about the health of local banks...They were using not taking TARP money as advertising for their solidity.

This weeks article was about the staggering increase in FDIC insurance they were being forced to pay because of the trouble in other banks.

They weren’t part of the problem but they are paying for crimes of the looters.


39 posted on 03/28/2009 12:55:31 PM PDT by TASMANIANRED (TAZ:Untamed, Unpredictable, Uninhibited.)
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To: Publius
Barak Obama = Head of State Thompson

Absolutely agree.

ML/NJ

40 posted on 03/28/2009 1:11:18 PM PDT by ml/nj
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To: Loud Mime
I’m posting Alexis de Tocqueville’s work today on another thread.

I haven't seen your thread, but I hope it is obvious that the America de Tocqueville described was gone with the wind.

ML/NJ

41 posted on 03/28/2009 1:13:59 PM PDT by ml/nj
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To: ml/nj

Here it is:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2216858/posts


42 posted on 03/28/2009 1:26:05 PM PDT by Loud Mime (Things were better when cigarette companies could advertise and Lawyers could not.)
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To: CottonBall
Our education system is headed down this road. Secondary schools are there, but colleges will have to succomb soon (if they haven't already) because of the dumbed-down students they are handed. The liberal arts majors might be more dumbed down now than in the past and I know technical majors now require more liberal arts electives than they did when got an engineering degree

My experience is that you are wrong. I went to an engineering school (RPI) back in the 60s because I had no patience for anything that couldn't be expressed in a formula like F=Ma. Now I'm different and I think that taking a year of Atomic and Nuclear Physics was probably the most useless thing I ever did. I go back to the schools my kids attended and participate in "liberal arts" classes. To be sure I rarely, if ever, take a class in something that includes the word studies in its course title; and my kids did go to prestigious schools. My experience has been that the kids in those classes I've participated in are extremely bright, articulate, thoughtful. What other adjectives should I use. It is a dangerous myth that these kids are all mind numbed robots. That may be the way it is these days at CCNY, but it isn't that way at the schools the kids in the top ten of their HS graduating classes attend if they attended any sort of competitive HS.

ML/NJ

43 posted on 03/28/2009 1:30:03 PM PDT by ml/nj
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To: mick
No I'm not. I paid the protection money and moved out of town feeling like a sell out to my principles.

I very respectfully disagree with your self assessment.

I would like to point out a few relevant facts that I based my opinion on but there are rules about spoilers on this thread and I don't wish to be in violation.

To stay and fight would have taken your time and money, both being absorbed by the very beast that you wished to defeat. You would have lost even if you had legally prevailed.

44 posted on 03/28/2009 1:35:28 PM PDT by whodathunkit (Shrugging as I leave for the Gulch)
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To: Bob
Of course, that's the question isn't it. I had the wherewithal to escape. Plenty of good people without a means to get out are now paying the city. Are they less moral than someone who paid his way out? I don't think so.

I wanted to fight. I called my lawyer and asked him if they could link a business license renewal to this new law. And he said probably not. But they did. And fighting them would cost way more than the cost of painting the building. And the big companies, L3 and Campbell Soup could afford fences around their property and would not help. And they also had been contributors to the "community groups" petitioning for a cleanup.

And as my lawyer said, I was a suburban living, exploiter of the community refusing to paint my building....ha, I would be burned out probably.

So it was better to cut and run and leave the rest of my buddies to fend for themselves. This is prison camp morality I'm afraid...but it is reality in America today. Ugly.....but Ayn Rand captures it perfectly in the story of the Twentieth Century Motor Company.

45 posted on 03/28/2009 1:38:16 PM PDT by mick (Central Banker Capitalism is NOT Free Enterprise)
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To: whodathunkit

Probably. See post 45.


46 posted on 03/28/2009 1:41:38 PM PDT by mick (Central Banker Capitalism is NOT Free Enterprise)
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To: ml/nj

If you’re only talking about the top 1% of each high school, then you are excluding 99% of the student body. You can concentrate only on the ‘elite’, just as this administration does, but you do a disservice to the real working people that make this country run.

And you are ignoring the stats that show that a BA in almost anything is worth just the paper it is printed on. A technical degree, however, is in demand and pay for those majors far exceeds the easier degrees. (joboutlook.com is one such site)

You can just look at yourself and how it didn’t work out for you. And you can look at a handful of other people. But making a generalization out of a low sampling pool isn’t accurate. And you are pretty biased.


47 posted on 03/28/2009 1:59:10 PM PDT by CottonBall
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To: Publius
We began heading down this road in the Seventies, and even then, college students at many schools had to take a course called "freshman bonehead English" to be ready for first year studies. That trend has only expanded over the past 35 years.

That's the timeframe I've heard also - very coincidental that it's when the NEA started its stranglehold on schools....

In some areas, close to 50% of college freshmen have to take remedial math and english. Why they are even going to school is beyond me (other than that it is paid for with taxpayer money).
48 posted on 03/28/2009 2:01:53 PM PDT by CottonBall
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To: ml/nj
Now I'm different and I think that taking a year of Atomic and Nuclear Physics was probably the most useless thing I ever did.

Now I see the difference - sorry, I didn't catch this part and thought you mad a degree in physics. Majoring in it might have netted you quite a different story. I took 1 year of Russian and can't say that it benefitted me either. Most courses that didn't directly integrate into my major didn't likely benefit me, other than acquiring more general knowledge.
49 posted on 03/28/2009 2:03:58 PM PDT by CottonBall
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To: CottonBall

typo - ‘mad’ should’ve been ‘had’. My degree is obviously not in writing - or proofreading.

Anyway, I think the technical side of the majors would be dumbed down last because those are the least subjective.


50 posted on 03/28/2009 3:29:49 PM PDT by CottonBall
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