Skip to comments.FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Moratorium on Brains
Posted on 05/09/2009 7:41:37 AM PDT by Publius
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What an excellent point! I hadn't thought in those terms before. Well, maybe the wealth creation vs. currency thing, but not means of production vs. Rand's method of curing the disease.
OTOH, I guess I can envision an AS world where the looters are in such firm control politically that society will stagnate and probably die anyway, there's nothing to lose by extreme measures to kill the parasites even if it puts the host at risk in the process; the parasites were going to kill it anyway. Like chemo for example. Most of it is incredibly toxic to people, but the idea is that hopefully it's fractionally more toxic to the tumor.
I think the US still has the world's best industrial plant, just by a much smaller margin than previously. So you're exactly right, lop the looters off the top, reining in unreasonable and unreasoning levels of environmental and employment regulation, tort exposure, and meddling from the doofus class in general, and the US could become vastly more competitive overnight.
Two caveats however. People have to be inspired, to really believe it will work, otherwise just telling them to go back to their old jobs is like implementing directive 10-289 -- decreeing by fiat that production will resume some historical level. The other issue I see is the erosion of skilled labor. The wealth may still exist, but if all the tool and die makers "die" off (or whatever flavor of people who know how to do stuff) there's going to be a heck of a learning curve akin to chimps finding a laptop.
They taught me that too, but I never really understood it. Most pieces that make up a lathe don't look like lathe parts to me, or even lathe-able parts. But I could see making a mill on a mill. Do you have a more in depth explanation that would help me understand their viewpoint?
I don't want to belabor the point because at some level I know what you mean and certainly agree with you. But the point I was trying to make ( inarticulately I'm afraid ) was that real wealth in the real world is concrete. It sustains life. Food, clothes, cars, computers.
Men long ago using their minds invented the lathe. And today a man AND a Lathe produces new wealth. So you can't say it is only the man, and not the lathe with the man, that creates the wealth. Yes, all of the tools of our modern world were created by men. And men can do it again. But if we destroy them physically we will have to return to the task of reinventing everything. What can a farmer do without a tractor?
Which is why I have to reject destroying physical wealth to keep it out of the looters hands.
In the news today we have a real life example of looters taking over wealth. Venezuela. But after the looters get it they run it into the ground and produce less and less products. But to destroy those businesses and engage in a literal scorched earth policy like Ragnar worldwide would set mankind back too far.
Maybe Galt and his men in the Gulch should invent a Neutron Bomb to kill all the looters and leave the physical wealth intact. It is after all the inheritance of mankind is it not?
The key part of a lathe is the spindle which spins at a fast RPM to allow machining and inside the spindle at the front end is the collet which opens and closes and grips the work. The spindle has a whole thru it to receive either bar stock or rods. All of this is held inside a casing. The spindle,casing and the collet can be made on a lathe.
In the front of the turning spindle and collet holding the work is the tool holders and tooling which ride back and forth on a machined track. There is also a shaft that controls the two & fro of the tooling holders (In and Out) to machine the work held by the collet. All of these items can be made directly on a lathe. And the tools like a drill and a tap ( for making inside threads ) can be made on a lathe. And a handle is attached to the turret which rides on the saft and track to go back and forth to do the work. All of these can be made on a lathe.
Of course, the sheet metal and motor can't. But hey, I wasn't about to question my foreman!
I'm a little rusty but I think I got the essentials. But if I'm wrong I know the Freeper technical police will set me straight.
Well, all the round parts, sure. Those are what I’d call “lathe parts”. But what about the ways? And I’m not talking about the base casting but about the machining of the ways into the base casting. It seems to me you can make round stuff on a mill a lot easier than you can make long straight stuff like the finish cuts on the ways, on a lathe.
Yeah, a lathe that primitive would still be incomplete just because you couldn’t make a leather belt on the lathe to connect the new lathe to the lineshaft! ;-)
But a lathe still isn’t a lathe without the ways.
At the risk of being labeled the technical police ; ) the usual method of machining a flat surface with a lathe is to insert a shell cutter in the spindle and mount the workpiece in the tool holder, opposite of what is normal. Moving the cross slide will machine the part.
But if you fixture it into a mill configuration, it isn’t a lathe anymore. The thing you describe sounds like the world’s largest Shopmaster more than it does a lathe.
True, but I’d hate to have to do something as long as lathe ways in that kind of setup.
You are right, thunkit. Didn’t think of that. Which is why I went to the Inventory Control Dept. as soon as possible. :)
Let me put it a little differently. I personally would have a greater confidence of succeeding in making a lathe on a mill than I would in making a mill on a lathe. Maybe it’s more of an issue with me personally.
I had the same reaction to the Lathe comment as you. I worked with lathes and milling machines working my way through college in the 70s in a machine shop.
The lathe can create parts, but it can’t create the electric motor that runs it.
And a foot powered lathe is not going to create high finish machine tools.
Apart from that, the lathe was the most satisfying machine to operate based on what you could create.
I was taught by a navy machinist that the idea was to keep the number of machine tools on a ship to a minimum. They could rebuild most battle damaged parts with basic equipment. Damn good machinists in the navy.
If you want me to respond make an objective point.
A gratuitous insult is not objective.
Rearden would understand this discussion and probably add to it, that is what he does.He deals with rational processes.
OTOH, Jim Taggert wouldn't, he doesn't use concrete, rational thought as a way of solving a problem.
The clash of these two distinct thought processes is the basis of AS.
As a machinist, you couldn't consider emotion in the design and manufacture of a part.
Jim Taggert couldn't design and build a part because he would have to include irrational elements thus spoiling it's intended use.
Taggert could, however use others to build it for him.
To do so he needs to make them feel as if they are indebted to him in some manner.
That is what the looters and moochers do.
If you look at my previous posts, I'm sure that you'll see that I don't agree with Ragnars destructive actions, I'm with you on this. The destruction of wealth is not condoned by the producers because they understand that it is a regression that will have to once again be overcome if they can continue living as they do.
How can we deal with irrationality in a world that we view as rational? Something has to give.
Correct. It's back to basics.
...it seems the whole structure of financial wealth ie:401k's,etc. is what is being wiped out because it is based on debt as money.
Correct again. Likewise, our whole fiat currency system is based on debt, which has exploded out of control.
...even if GM goes bankrupt the Machine Tools and Dies and Blue Prints remain.
Correct. And what medium of exchange do we use to restart the business, pay the employees and sell the cars? The current fiat money supply is based on unsustainable debt. How do we start again? (You can see what I'm leading to.)
Read Maximum Feasible Misunderstanding, by Daniel Patrick Moynihan
I think Ragnar's actions square with Galt's principle that force may (must) be resorted to when force has been used against one, in this case, through unjust tax law backed by the government's guns. As you say, his fellow strikers disagree with his methods, but primarily because they pose an unwarranted danger to him personally. But, of course, he is free to pursue his understanding of the correct action.
I was on a Yahoo group once that had to do with Peak Oil, and the expectation (hope on many people’s part...) that running out of oil would bring the world back to the medieval and a huge percentage of the world’s population would die as a result of lack of medicines and other essentials.
I was thinking at the time what I would do if anything approaching a pandemic like this were to happen, and the “things” didn’t matter so much as the know-how. And to what I think is one of Rand’s points, if people know how to build things (steel, rail, tools, etc.), then it WILL come back once the impediments are removed. I actually found myself wanting to stock up more on old-time How-To books to be able to maintain my own tools, buildings, equipment, and also how people constructed their basic tools back a couple of hundred years ago. I’m a bit concerned about the fact that SO MUCH of our industrial plant has moved to China and wonder if we could restart at this point. I think so, but am not fully confident of that fact.
Another generation gone and we might not. For instance, I can keep my old Mercedes diesel going forever if I have the basic parts available, and they would be for some time to come. Most of my children’s generation couldn’t. We are really losing the knowledge of doing for ourselves, one generation at a time.
Of course, necessity sometimes is truly the mother of invention, and my son’s generation may have to learn how to restart, and those who can will percolate to the top. The others will either go away or be poor.
“Civilization is always only one generation away from barbarism.” - Roland Bainton
I interpreted Ragnar’s car having a “million dollar engine” to mean that, like everything else, the Strikers work at perfection. Ragnar or someone else would keep the engine of the car in tip-top shape because that is what they do. Not that it was the mystery engine. The creator would never have let a working model out amongst the Looters. Too much risk. Also, Rand is setting up a metaphor here. The “engine of the world” powering a rust-bucket jalopy.
I have a theory that I've used often in raising my boys and running my little production shop. I call it the "Coin of the Realm" theory. When my boys would complain that they had a bad teacher, they weren't learning anything or they were bored I would ask them, "You're in school, what's the coin of the realm"? And they would answer "grades". Correct. Their mother wouldn't agree with me. She would say "learning". And I would say in a perfect world that would be true. But grades are what determines going to the next level. Getting into college. It would be nice if along with good grades you would get some education into their thick heads. But in the end you are judged in school by your grades. Stop bitching and accept the reality of the situation. You are in a school. Get the grades up. The Coin of the Realm.
In my shop the Coin of the Realm is quality production. I tell new guys that they don't have to kiss my ass or suck up to me or anyone else. I don't even have to like them. And I point out one of my best employees that has a nasty personality that nobody cares much for but he gets the job done better than anyone. That's all the counts. Just produce good parts as fast as possible and you will make your money and get along just fine. In my shop production is everything. The Coin of the Realm.
Which brings me to money and Francisco d'Anconia. He correctly identified that money, properly understood and representative of value ( honest work. Production of life sustaining goods and services) is a moral good. Just like grades, properly understood and representative of value ( honest study, knowledge )is a moral good.
The proper Coin of the Realm in an economy is honest money. Earned by honest, productive, quality labor.
But if the grades are given out by favor or influence they cease to be a moral good. If money has been created out of thin air by a privileged elite and given out to other privileged elite bankers, The Coin of the Realm has been subverted. That's where we find ourselves. The Coin of the Realm in our economy isn't production and honest labor but Pull and Who You Know. Just look at the days newspapers to see who is getting subsidies and fiat money. Atlas Shrugged has come home to roost
And as many of us have pointed out, this system is drowning in it's own poison. What will and should replace it ? Gold coins? Paper currency backed by precious metals? I don't think that solves the problem. Because even if we back the currency with some solid commodity yet allow the creation and control of the Coin of the Realm to stay in the hands of the politicians ( Legal Tender Laws come to mind) and bankers we will never return money to the moral good it should be as described by d'Anconia.
IMO the only true "money" - I shall, as Rand would say, define my terms- ie:a store of value and a medium of exchanges.....will come into the market naturally after the production of wealth begins again. Maybe through script that represents gold coins or bullets or water. In the end honest bankers will emerge to hold the "savings" of the producers and issue receipts that can be traded. They would be true stores of value and reliable mediums of exchange
And presto! in short order The Coin of the Realm will be real money representing honest labor and real goods and services.
On the Day After, when nobody will take fiat greenbacks anymore, there will still be farmers and miners and makers of things that people need, who will be producing wealth and trading tit for tat. That is how I believe the workers will be paid and supplies purchsed. And little by little, The Coin of the Realm will emerge. Freely given and freely taken.
"The only domestic beneficiaries from the existence of anonymity-providing currency are the criminal fraternity: those engaged in tax evasion and money laundering, and those wishing to store the proceeds from crime and the means to commit further crimes. Large denomination bank notes are an especially scandalous subsidy to criminal activity and to the grey and black economies. There is no economic justification for $50 and $100 bank notes, let alone for the 200 and 500 bank notes issued by the ECB".
There it is in a nut shell boys and girls! If we leave the Establishment, Valuation, and Control of "money" to ANYTHING except the Free Market we are doomed to the chains of tyranny these folks have already forged for us.
Talk about A Moratorium on Brains. If we do that it will be a Crematorium of Brains!
Thanks for your observations. Very thought provoking!
Mick, I always enjoy reading your posts.
The only other alternative I can think of for a “restart” is from Asimov’s Foundation where they shorten an oncoming dark age from 30k years to a few thousand (I forget the actual #). They do this by enscribing all knowledge in a giant encyclopedia, as well as by seeding an alternate civilization on the other side of the galaxy. This other civilization acts as a capsule to safeguard all human knowledge.
The cause of the dark ages isn’t Randian looting persay (but I should re-read it to be sure) but is tied to corruption and an bureaucracy imploding under its own weight.
Interesting observation about the randian looters not being the direct cause of the collapse in Asimov's book. I've read a little Asimov’s Sci Fi and his Annotated Paradise Lost. Prolific writer. Smart guy. But I don't know the book you reference
But if we don't go crazy and actually physically destroy the accumulated capital of our civilization I don't think we need a Asimov type capsule containing all our knowledge to restart our society.
Today I just don't see the level of decadence and hopelessness present in the America of Atlas Shrugged. As I've said before I know plenty of men and women as tough and smart as our ancestors...but crippled by a monstrous dead hand of corruption and bureaucracy ( as you put it from Asimov's book )
And the poison the seeps into every crevice of our culture is the Fiat Money. I know I am starting to sound like a one tune band, but I believe this. All I know is that the immorality of having men create our money out of thin air, at their will, has given the national government such immense power over this society that nothing, not laws, not new leaders, can give us back our independence from their tyranny. We must destroy this beast. Or one by one every State in the Union will fall into insolvency. And the final pin to fall will be the Federal Gov. itself.
And I am afraid to say that you in California seem to be destined to be the first to reap the whirlwind. Kind of like a trial run through the Hurricane. Looks like you will get to try out some ideas before the rest of us after the vote on Tuesday for The Day After The Collapse. Good luck, FRiend.
Yeah I know what you mean about the Fiat Money. The Anconia speech about how money is really a valuation of man’s productivity really hit it home for me. If we could actually find an alternate currency that only us producers use amongst ourselves it would be a way to avoid this poison you speak of.
Now I finally understand why there are such strict laws about not allowing other legal tender in the U.S. And also why FDR confiscated everyone’s gold in the 1930s. Once the government controls money, they control how a man can measure his own worth. How scary.
Yeah thanks for the good wishes about being in CA. We’ll need it... The one good thing about it is that maybe finally the libs here will get “mugged” by their own stupid policies and finally wisen up.
Ah, but stealing is not always stealing. The enemy in Robin Hood was the government. It used its power to take what it did not deserve. When the government is the thief, there is no redress. One can either throw up one’s hands, or take back what was stolen in the first place. Robin of Loxley was a landowner whose lands were stolen by the Sheriff, with the monarch’s approval. Robin used similarly disenfranchised men as his troops. I call it justice.
Method one is to use robotics and computer controlled systems to maximize efficiency.
Method two is to manufacture a simpler product. This would not sell, or be allowed to be sold, in the first world. But if the first world went to hell, you could build a Model T with the technology that existed at the beginning of the 20th century. Given the things we've learned since then, you could actually build a very nice Model T, which would be safer and more reliable than the original. The cost of this plant wouldn't be prohibitive, especially if competition was limited.
What's the capital? I doubt it would be gold. Gold has a value only in societies that can afford it. Food and shelter would be the most obvious barter commodities, but I expect a system of money would spring up on it's own. The system of credits and debits to granaries goes back to Mesopotamia, which also began the use of coins and fixed the value of precious metals. It is in the nature of human beings to crave value. Something would become the currency of the realm.
I understand what you're saying and if I were to sit on a jury at Robin Hoods trial, I would invoke jury nullification and not convict him. That is one of the reasons that we have trial by jury here. It's not saying that he wasn't stealing, it is nullifying the law against stealing because of extenuating circumstances in a particular instance.
Justice, well yes, but partial at best. Complete justice would have restored to him his land, wealth and reputation.
You wouldn’t be on that jury. The trial would be arranged by the same people who stole the land. There wouldn’t be any justice through the courts because they were controlled by thieves.
That’s what I took away from Robin Hood.
This week's events in Congress brought this scene to mind once again, and todays push through on the vote...well...which miscreants are the republican elite?