Category Archives: Celebrity Rand Fans

The Light Hand of Alan Greenspan

Bruce Ramsey has an interesting article in the Seattle Times titled “Maestro Greenspan wasn’t conducting all that much,” about Greenspan’s new memoir and his legacy as Fed Chairman.

He cites a passage from the memoir confirming a rumor I’d heard in the 1990s, which is that Greenspan’s goal was to informally peg the dollar to the value of gold. From the article:

He joined Richard Nixon’s campaign in 1968 as an adviser, and when he went to the Fed, he undertook to run the system as it was. He confesses in the book to a nostalgia for the gold standard, but he never campaigned for it. …

Greenspan’s job was to control inflation, and the numbers suggest he did. For years, it seemed he was running monetary policy as if it were a gold standard, and he confirms it in his book.

See the full article for more.

Background on Spiderman Co-creator Steve Ditko

The new Guardian article “The unsung hero behind Spider-Man” by Jonathan Ross contains some interesting background on Steve Ditko, complete with obligatory snide remarks about Ditko’s admiration for Ayn Rand:

[After he left Marvel comics], the mystique surrounding Ditko began to grow. His refusal to give interviews or to state why he bailed out just as Spider-Man was on the verge of becoming the biggest-selling comic in America only increased the fans’ curiosity. He went first to Charlton Comics, a small outfit based in Connecticut, and then surfaced at DC comics, where he created two of the weirdest books of the period. The first was The Creeper, about an oddball maniac whose costume came from a fancy-dress store and was finished off with a red rug on his back. The second was The Hawk and the Dove, a strange peace-v-war debate dressed up in superhero tights, which was presumably an attempt to appeal to the newly politicised students of the Vietnam era, but came from a right-of-centre perspective.

Neither was a big enough hit to keep Ditko at DC or to keep the books in print, and since then he has bounced around from publisher to publisher, creating books and intriguing characters, then suddenly leaving. Small independent companies published several of his characters, and it is in those books that you can most clearly see Ditko’s world-view expressed. As an advocate of the philosopher Ayn Rand, Ditko is a believer in objectivism, that peculiar school of thought that promotes hardline capitalism and the pursuit of individual, self-serving goals and personal happiness as the only legitimate and rational way forward for the human race. Hence such characters as Mr A, for example, a Randian vigilante dressed all in white and doling out a brutal, uncompromising form of justice. In the universe that Mr A inhabits there is good, there is evil, and there is nothing in between. Mr A not only perfectly illustrates the nutty extremism of objectivism but also perfectly sums up why Ditko is such an anomaly in the world of comics. If compromise is an unacceptable evil, how on earth can you work for big companies that are always going to insist on doing things their way, regardless of what a character’s creator wants?

I continued to buy Ditko’s work, and continue to love it, even as he bounced between the borderline lunacy of his small-press political rants and the slowly diminishing return that his superhero work provided. Because once you begin to absorb his drawings, once you fall in love with that beautiful line-work, the shading, the anatomies and those remarkable faces, well, you never really stop. And part of me loves him just as much for his extreme take on the world – his refusal to do things any way other than his way, and his decision never to talk about the past in print, never to press his association with those early characters even if that means missing out on the mountains of cash they now generate.

See the full article for more, including the story of Ross’s attempts to interview Mr. Ditko.

And then savor Ditko’s Henry Cameron-like response. Heh.

Alan Greenspan’s Memoir to Be Released Monday

Alan Greenspan’s new memoir is titled The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World and will be released this Monday, September 17, 2007.

If you would be interested in writing a thoughtful review of this book for the Atlasphere, please contact us ASAP.

It sounds like Greenspan discusses his friendship with Ayn Rand in the memoir. He posted the following comments about the book at Amazon:

I started thinking about what was to become â??The Age of Turbulenceâ? two years ago. My nearly two decades as Federal Reserve Chairman were coming to an end – a remarkable experience. After a lifetime observing how the world works as a business economist on Wall Street, it was exhilarating to be at the center of international monetary policymaking. Sure, Iâ??d been President Fordâ??s White House economic advisor in the mid-1970s, but nothing fully prepared me for what I faced when President Reagan nominated me Fed Chairman in June 1987. So, in the waning months of my Fed tenure, I started getting excited about having time to stand back and think about all Iâ??d been through â?? the frightening stock market crash of 1987, the boom of the 1990s, the trauma of 9/11, the climactic end of the Cold War, all told, a cascade of events propelling a new world forward at warp speed.

There was also a personal story to tell. Iâ??d known every president from Richard Nixon to Reagan, Ford, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. And what about all those other assorted characters from my childhood in New York, my years as a jazz musician, my complete career switch to economics â?? and my friendship with Ayn Rand? I wanted to make the leap from writing economic analysis to writing in the first person about what Iâ??d experienced. And after years of talking â??Fedspeakâ? in carefully calibrated congressional testimony â?? I could finally use my own voice!

As I wrote â??The Age of Turbulence,â? I tackled the personal part first, but then started unraveling the detective story about the economy: what did all the economic shifts we began to detect in the late nineties mean? At the Fed, I had at first focused primarily on monetary policy â?? interest rates and the forces that determined their appropriate levels. But as the years rolled on, it became increasingly clear to me that we needed to understand an entirely new range of factors to implement policy effectively. I had had inklings of this new world, of course, but as I raced from one policy meeting to another, I never had time to sit back and think about all this. Was this a permanent change or just another technological evolution that would, with time, come to an end? Would the growing income inequality that seemed to be associated with this new paradigm create a backlash to the forces of globalization? And wasnâ??t this a dangerous trend for our democracy?

My term as Federal Reserve Chairman ended at midnight, January 31, 2006. The following morning, I started to write. You would think after all those years at the Fed and my earlier decades as an economist that I would have learned about as much as I could. But halfway through the book I realized that the story was leading me in surprising directions. I needed to refocus much of what I had written in my original drafts.

The final chapter was to forecast how I thought the world would work in the year 2030. But until I spent a year researching and writing and thinking about â??The Age of Turbulence,â? I had little idea how it would turn out. In fact, I was having so much fun rethinking some of my earlier assumptions, I was as anxious to read it as I hope my readers will be. In the end, I can confidently say writing that final chapter brought meâ??and the bookâ??closure. It is not the grand finale of Beethovenâ??s Ninth, but for me, it hit the right chord.

And Amazon provides the following description:

In the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, in his fourteenth year as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Alan Greenspan took part in a very quiet collective effort to ensure that America didn’t experience an economic meltdown, taking the rest of the world with it. There was good reason to fear the worst: the stock market crash of October 1987, his first major crisis as Federal Reserve Chairman, coming just weeks after he assumed control, had come much closer than is even today generally known to freezing the financial system and triggering a genuine financial panic. But the most remarkable thing that happened to the economy after 9/11 was…nothing. What in an earlier day would have meant a crippling shock to the system was absorbed astonishingly quickly.

After 9/11 Alan Greenspan knew, if he needed any further reinforcement, that we’re living in a new world – the world of a global capitalist economy that is vastly more flexible, resilient, open, self-directing, and fast-changing than it was even 20 years ago. It’s a world that presents us with enormous new possibilities but also enormous new challenges. The Age of Turbulence is Alan Greenspan’s incomparable reckoning with the nature of this new world – how we got here, what we’re living through, and what lies over the horizon, for good and for ill-channeled through his own experiences working in the command room of the global economy for longer and with greater effect than any other single living figure. He begins his account on that September 11th morning, but then leaps back to his childhood, and follows the arc of his remarkable life’s journey through to his more than 18-year tenure as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, from 1987 to 2006, during a time of transforming change.

Alan Greenspan shares the story of his life first simply with an eye toward doing justice to the extraordinary amount of history he has experienced and shaped. But his other goal is to draw readers along the same learning curve he followed, so they accrue a grasp of his own understanding of the underlying dynamics that drive world events. In the second half of the book, having brought us to the present and armed us with the conceptual tools to follow him forward, Dr. Greenspan embarks on a magnificent tour de horizon of the global economy. He reveals the universals of economic growth, delves into the specific facts on the ground in each of the major countries and regions of the world, and explains what the trend-lines of globalization are from here. The distillation of a life’s worth of wisdom and insight into an elegant expression of a coherent worldview, The Age of Turbulence will stand as Alan Greenspan’s personal and intellectual legacy.

The book is available for preorder through Amazon.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal offers a review of the book, noting that Greenspan’s memoir is critical of Bush and the Republicans.

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey: “I Loved Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead”

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is among the few large corporate managers that actively blogs, on behalf of his company, without letting the PR and media relations staff turn his posts into mealy-mouthed generalities.

In his recent post “Whole Foods Market, Wild Oats, and The Federal Trade Commission,” Mackey very directly and publicly takes on the Federal Trade Commission for their recent complaint about the merger of Whole Foods and Wild Oats.

In the ensuing discussion, one commenter wrote:

You’re one of my heros now. I am so glad you responded as you did to this FTC nonsense. I bet you kinda feel like John Galt, but please don’t go on strike.

To which Mackey replied:

I loved Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. “Who is John Galt?”

For more about John Mackey and Ayn Rand, see our earlier posts “Interview with Whole Foods’ John Mackey” and, before that, “Notes on Whole Foods Owner John Mackey.”

Angelina Jolie: Atlas Shrugged Movie Moving Slowly

In a brief interview with Cinematical, Angelina Jolie provided this update on the upcoming Atlas Shrugged movie:

She had a little more to say about the adaptation of Atlas Shrugged, which is moving forward very slowly, despite having the Plan B powerhouse of Pitt and Jolie behind it. Angelina told me that the project is still on the table, but “the thing with Atlas is just, we all feel that it’s one of those projects where if you can’t do it right, you really can’t touch it. So we have not had all the pieces come together. There’s not been a director that’s right to come on, or all of those elements. So until it does, you know, I certainly don’t want to be a part of something that’s just put together to hit ‘this date.’”

When it comes to Atlas Shrugged, it’s hard to disagree with the perspective that “If you can’t do it right, you really can’t touch it.”

Facing New York – Rock & Roll Individualism

From the article “Striving for Individualism” in today’s San Francisco Examiner:

Facing New York has had plenty of opportunities to make more money. While music-industry people have offered lucrative deals in exchange for control over their work, the band members passed, wanting to remain true to themselves.

Howard Roark, a character in Ayn Randâ??s â??The Fountainheadâ? (an inspiration for the groupâ??s name) dealt with a similar struggle. Members of the group shared and admired Roarkâ??s control of creative decisions even at the expense of money, says guitarist, keyboardist and lead singer Eric Frederic.

From the band’s MySpace page:

Facing New York is a psychadelic rhythm & blues band from the year 2020. 2 guitars + 2 basses + 2 drum sets + 2 Fender Rhodes + 2 Roland Junos + 4 close friends = a band obsessed with â??nextâ? and hopelessly devoted to the black music and prog rock from the early 1970s.

Check out their site or their MySpace page for more info. Their song “Full Turn” opens with a cool guitar riff.

Mexican Billionaire Carlos Slim Slams Bill Gates & Warren Buffet’s “Santa Clause” Routine

From today’s New York Post:

March 14, 2007 — Carlos Slim, the Mexican tycoon just a hair from being the world’s richest man, scoffed yesterday at Bill Gates and Warren Buffett for “playing Santa Claus” to cure poverty’s ills.

Slim climbed on his meanie soapbox just days after his $49 billion fortune was ranked by Forbes as the third-richest behind that No. 1 Gates and No. 2 Buffett – only a few billion shy from eclipsing them both.

“Poverty isn’t solved with donations,” he said at the unveiling of his own health care initiative. Slim continued that building good businesses do more for society than “going around like Santa Claus.”

Slim wants to build huge hospitals in northern Mexico where the U.S. can ship tens of thousands of Medicare patients for health care that can be delivered at much cheaper costs.

Slim was unimpressed at how Buffett and Gates vowed late last year to combine their entire fortunes into the world’s largest foundation to do good works.

“Our concept is more to accomplish and solve things, rather than giving,” Slim said.

Slim, 67, has expanded his empire of telecom and energy assets faster than any of the other top billionaires of the world, growing at 64 percent last year.

Interesting. And very Randian-sounding. Could he be a celebrity Ayn Rand fan?

UPDATE: Then again, maybe not. Reader Ashley March at the Cato Institute writes:

According to our Director of the Center for Global Liberty and Proserity, Ian Vasquez, far from understanding Objectivism, “Slim is the biggest hypocrite and worst mercantilist in Latin America. Heâ??s one of the reasons mexico has not grown faster; among other things, heâ??s ruthlessly maintained a telecom monopoly in mexico, making it a huge bottleneck in the economy and one of the most expensive places to make calls.”

Travels and Travails of the “We the Living” Band

In November I finally bought a copy of the album Far from You and Your Everyday Noise by a new Wisconsin band called “The Profits” — since re-christened “We the Living” and scheduled to release their first national album under the We the Living name in March or so.

Their original album reveals an incredible musicality in their performances — mostly acoustic stuff in the vein of John Mayer or some U2 songs — and they happen to be Ayn Rand fans, too. In fact, lead singer and songwriter John Paul Roney is Sarah Saturday‘s younger brother.

Since buying their Far from You album, I’ve rarely taken it out of my CD player except to make copies for the kitchen and the car. It’s a delightful collection of songs, with catchy melodies, alternately witty and thought-provoking lyrics, and good production value for a first album.

Today I visited their blog and noticed this hilarious post from a few days ago, about their recent trip to the musical mecca of Los Angeles.

I plan to review their (old and new) albums soon for the Atlasphere. Meantime, give these guys a look. Their MySpace page has some good songs on it.

Better still, buy their album now and count yourself lucky to experience a truly talented and promising band while most of the world is still oblivious.

Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales Defies Chinese Censors

From a new article at the Guardian:

The founder of Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia written by its users, has defied the Chinese government by refusing to bow to censorship of politically sensitive entries.

Jimmy Wales, one of the 100 most influential people in the world according to Time magazine, challenged other internet companies, including Google, to justify their claim that they could do more good than harm by co-operating with Beijing.

Wikipedia, a hugely popular reference tool in the West, has been banned from China since last October. Whereas Google, Microsoft and Yahoo went into the country accepting some restrictions on their online content, Wales believes it must be all or nothing for Wikipedia.

Wales is a long-time admirer of Ayn Rand’s writings, so his unwillingness to suffer censorsorship at the hands of Chinese bureaucrats shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

Perhaps he will even be able to change their mind:

Wales will meet senior Chinese officials in an attempt to persuade them to allow the website’s 1.3 million articles to appear there uncensored.

‘One of the points that I’m trying to push is that if there’s a small town in China that has a wonderful local tradition, that won’t make its way into Wikipedia because the people of China are not allowed to share their knowledge with the world. I think that’s an ironic side-effect and something the people in the censorship department need to have a much bigger awareness of: you’re not just preventing information about Falun Gong or whatever you’re upset about getting into China, you’re preventing the Chinese people speaking to the world.’

Props to Jimmy. See the full article for much more. (Hat tip: Instapundit)