Skip to comments.FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, Atlantis
Posted on 06/06/2009 7:23:17 AM PDT by Publius
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But I'm more the Eddie Willers type, so I'm not sure I'll get an invitation. If you haven't started a steel mill by the time you're my age, then it's too late.
OK... I said I would spare everyone the comparisons... but I changed my mind. Some of my observations on the allegory from one of our email exchanges (my lib friend played for Arkansas in the 70’s, hence the SWC/Big 12 refences)...
Just as the rules committee would not call plays for a team, neither should the legislature dictate how a business operates.
The rules committee does not determine that one team has more talent than the other and enacts rules that only apply to the stronger team so the game is more fair.
Teams don’t lobby the rules committee to give them five downs and the other team three.
Teams are not required to recruit to match a defined racial mix. Players are not kept as starters if they don’t perform. The quarterback is not required to throw equally to each receiver. The team is not required to run an even mix of run and pass plays so that every player gets an equal chance to play.
Players play with pain and overcome all manner of setbacks.
The goal posts don’t move.
Sometimes the ball bounces funny... that does not call for a “do-over”
The referees are not free to change the rules.
There are players with more God given talent that excel and there are players that work harder than others who also excel. Not every player gets to play quarterback. Some don’t get to play at all. Players who were starters in 8th grade, sat on the bench in high school and didn’t play beyond high school have to find something else they are good at... and may end up designing a football stadium. (me, btw)
The rules of football are designed to provide boundaries in which the game is played but they do not micro manage play. Each rule is designed to answer a specific need.
The rules committee, the commissioner and the referees do not “play”. Adding another 250 referees on the field might get you better calls, but mostly they would just be in the way.
The fat, balding guys on the rules committee may be able to play the game, but not nearly as well as the players on the field. They should not even try.
Coaches are given a great deal of freedom within the rules to do things that are inventive... i.e. trick plays, the run and shoot, no huddle, the 3-4, the nickel. The old days of the ends next to the tackles and a full back and two running backs in the backfield have given way to all sorts of alignments and positions. In 93, Oklahoma came out in a set against A&M where the tackles were spread out wide. A&M got destroyed. They didn’t know what to do. Was that fair? I didn’t like watching it, but I have to admit that it was fair and we simply got out coached.
Everyone has the opportunity to start for a division one team... if they work hard and have the talent. If they don’t do both, they either play for a division II team or even lower... or they play in the band or sit in the stands.
You might bitch about them in the bar after the game, but when the team takes the field, you cheer for them with all your might. You NEVER hope that they lose... even if you do want a new head coach.
When a running back like L.T. comes along, you don’t add extra weight to his pads so he will be more equal to the other team’s running back. In fact, your second string running back will be better for the competition.
Players that have more impact - through a strong work ethic or raw talent or good luck - get paid more because they are worth more to a successful team. If the team is successful and draws fans to the stands and viewers to the set, the team makes more money and can afford to pay the third string guy more than if they were not successful. The stadium vendors and the tv crews and the parking lot attendants and the sportswear company and the training staff and everyone else involved in the game makes more, too.
When the game is over, you can still raise a beer with a fan from the other team... even t.u.
It's never too late... I hope your book deal proves it.
Beer and chocolate.
You can't have a civilization without beer and chocolate any more than you can have one without, um, baseball. Scratch that, you don't need baseball, I ought to know, I'm a Mariners fan. But beer and chocolate - whoa, think Mulligan would float me a loan to build a brewery? I could get the copper kettle from Francisco, the barley from some retired tractor tycoon, and send my minions - I'd have to get some minions - to the outside world for the hops. Ragnar Danneskjold would have to bring me the cocoa beans but he'd do it...for a price. Let's see, what else? Butter we got, maybe some aluminum for the little foil wrappers.
I'm gonna be rich. Rich, I tellya...
As long as I can be paid in gold.
giving something to someone who can afford to pay what its worth is not charity, its an insult. the point is that it is not immoral to charge a fair price for a good or service.
“Thank you for catching that. Better to catch it now before a publisher does. FReepers rock!”
Just tryin’ to help;-)
BTW, here’s another one: I think the “air money” you are referring to is found in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, which takes place on Luna, and is one of RAH’s real masterpieces, at least among his later works. It is either the source of or recalls Greenspan’s famous dictum “TANSTAAFL!”
Every FReeper should read it.
TANSTAAFL does in fact come from "Moon", and I've used it quite a bit in speeches about transportation policy.
“But I’m more the Eddie Willers type, so I’m not sure I’ll get an invitation. If you haven’t started a steel mill by the time you’re my age, then it’s too late.”
If I understand Rand correctly, it is not that your ability must be of the highest order in order to live in the Gulch, but that you must ascribe to and live by the principles represented by its inhabitants. Most especially “I swear by my life and my love of it... etc.”
I don’t think AR intended to foster elitism, it’s just that only the most acute thinkers and creators would grasp Galt’s point, at least in the beginning. After all, we have all had to be conditioned OUT of our natural self-interest, and it takes a powerful ego to swim against that stream. That’s why I’m glad I was spared the corrupting influence of kindergarten socializing;-)
Although I’m sure I’m not much fun to live with as a result.
“Heinlein worked his libertarian and objectivist ideas out the fullest in The Moon is a Harsh MIstress. But they also pop up in some of the Future History short stories, to include the last books he wrote. I think the “air money” concept was something that gestated over a period of decades.”
Right you are, but I’m hard pressed at the moment to think of any other references to “air money”. I re-read all his stuff (and re-re-read, and re-re-re-read... well, you get the idea), except for everything after “Time Enough For Love”. I think in his later years he begame almost Randian in his style, although not as good and with less to say. Having written an essay on how to write science fiction, he forgot what he had written.
I’ll pay closer attention now, just to satisfy myself;-)
“giving something to someone who can afford to pay what its worth is not charity, its an insult. the point is that it is not immoral to charge a fair price for a good or service.”
I didn’t insult anyone with my banana bread today. And I’m sure they all could have paid for it.
It wouldn’t be immoral for me to go into the banana bread business, of course not. But there should be room for daily, regular, course of life giving to others without keeping a tally sheet.
“And it is voluntary.”
And here is where we meet. It is VOLUNTARY. Socialism and communism are nothing but theft, and I do not support either.
But I don’t think someone who feels righteous due to the fact that they charge for every little thing is a person to be emulated.
“To return to Heinlein’s science fiction, prospectors on asteroids had no hesitation in giving air to someone in an emergency situation. However, once things were stabilized, it was customary to pay for the consumption of that air.
It has nothing to do with atheism.”
Well, we are dealing with sci fi, presumably air was a commodity, like gas. If I ran a gas station, I’d charge everybody for gas, at least normally. But every once in a while, if I felt it was the kind thing to do, I’d discount or give some away.
It’s the biblical principle of gleaning, I think. The legitimate land OWNERS and farmers are instructed not to get every last bit from their fields, but to leave some to glean. The poor could come and glean, and not pay. No hard feelings. That was God’s law, and the principle remains.
In re: gas, I don’t own a gas station. But my son told me he was unable to get to Sacramento this week, as he is out of money until the 15th. I told him, if he needs some gas money, let me know. I will give him some money, because I have some. No debt sheet, no interest, and I’ll probably forget that I did it within a few weeks.
Desperately toting up every little transaction does indeed have something to do with atheism. There is no concept of grace, no acknowledgement that ultimately all you have is God’s blessing to you; that you arrived here naked and without possessions, and will leave here the same way.
This is not to endorse the theft of socialism or communism. It is just to reject extreme self righteousness that Ayn Rand pushes so heavy handedly in her works.
>>But there should be room for daily, regular, course of life giving to others without keeping a tally sheet.
But there is a tally sheet, whether you think so or not. If you have a group of friends, say 8 or 9, and one consistently never hosts a party, never brings anything to a party, never bakes, cooks, offers to clean-up...what happens? They don’t get invited because they are FREELOADERS (looters in Atlas Shrugged). This happens all the time.
“If you have a group of friends, say 8 or 9, and one consistently never hosts a party, never brings anything to a party, never bakes, cooks, offers to clean-up...what happens?”
Socially, you are correct. This is the usual course of events. This behavior shows ingratitude, and we don’t like that. The LEAST you can do is express appreciation, help clean up.
But I have done things for people who can never pay me back, and more often, people have done things for me.
For instance, my friend runs a horse camp. We can not and probably will not, for many years, be able to send my kids to horse camp. Waaaay out of our budget. She invites my girls a few times a year, no charge, so they can enjoy themselves. What is my contribution? Sometimes I send them with some cinnamon rolls. We say thank you. That is about it. It’s all I can do. She is not being “paid” equal to what she is giving, not by a long shot.
And what does Jesus say?
“But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:13
It should come as no surprise that some of Rand’s values stand in direct opposition to the teachings of Christ. Her atheistic values come out. Not all of her ideas are objectionable. But she has no concept of grace.
First of all, the men like Ken Dannagger know when to hire experts to do something they can't do. Hank Rearden's only failure is addressed in this matter. He hires the aptly named Wesley Mouch to lobby for him. Rearden also meets with Dr. Potter of the State Science Institute and Potter attempts to extort him. Rearden threatens to kill Potter over it. But then Mouch steals the money Rearden paid him to lobby for Rearden Steel, then helps to get a law passed that persecutes Rearden, then joins forces with the looters who are trying to destroy Rearden's fortune. Rearden does nothing.
This only exists as a plot device, and no matter how many times Rand tries to explain Rearden's psychology, it never convinces. Rearden is supposed to be a man who could mine iron ore, run a steel furnace, and build an empire across the scale from raw materials to finished goods. When he gets ripped off for tens of millions of dollars, he espresses no desire to get it back, nor to get even with those who stole it. He's supposed to be modeled after Nat Taggart. Nat Taggart strangled a banker who tried the same thing. Rearden doesn't even hire another lobbyist to try to get the law repealed, and the unemployed masses wander around asking about John Galt instead of venting their anger on the elected representatives.
In the real world, we have the recordings of Abscam Jack, who at least understands the meaning of jobs in his district. In the real world, no matter how noble a man, he is still subject to spite and hate, as well as irrational beliefs. Rand's world is a good way to illustrate a point, but it's also a Greek Tragedy. The lead players are supposed to be gods.
In general I align more with you.
But watching an interview with Rand, it seems she has no objection to people giving to others *of their own free will*. I don’t think it comes through in AS, but her general way of expressing it is if you think of it as a sacrifice, it really isn’t freely given.
I personally get a lot of satisfaction from giving to others when I want to. But giving because some government official tells me to, or some United Way rep comes around to my cubicle and tries to shame me into giving, no thank you. They support things I would never freely give to, so instead I give to things I value: the BSA or cancer research for instance.
I agree with you. And Rand's atheism hasn't seemed to be a factor in the story as much as it may be when she's discussing the straight philosophy in it's own regard (where her use of "rational thought" seems to carry hints that one should acknowledge nothing which is unproven).
But still, solid unbending objectivism could be nothing else, though that wouldn't necessarily exclude one from practicing morals and ethics like those taught in religion. And she may or may not have connected atheism with her other beliefs, I don't know. She must have known or expected her vision of society would have to be compatible with belief in God, since the vast majority of people do have some kind of religious beliefs.
Now that's food for thought. In Rand's world, the unions control votes. The looters control power via the bureaucracy. People like Hank and Dagny may hire lobbyists, but they don't have the clout to control poliicians. They don't set policy.
It's interesting that Rand didn't foresee K Street or the power of industry and high finance to own and operate politicians.
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