Category Archives: Commentaries

Bloomberg News: “John Galt Plan Might Save U.S. Financial System”

Thanks to Johann Gevers for forwarding this fantastic citing of Ayn Rand in the media:

John Galt Plan Might Save U.S. Financial System

Commentary by Caroline Baum

March 10 (Bloomberg) — Let’s face it: The Federal Reserve must be scared to death as it watches the financial system unravel.

Unravel would appear to be the operative word as leverage proves to be as toxic on the way down as it was intoxicating on the way up.

And later:

Galt’s Solution

The following day, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke encouraged mortgage servicers to write down a portion of the principal on home loans, which would give owners some equity and discourage foreclosure. He advocated a bigger role for the Federal Housing Administration, a Depression-era agency that insures mortgages. Congress envisions an even larger role for the federal government.

Any day, I expect some government official to unveil the John Galt plan to save the economy.

Galt, the hero of Ayn Rand’s magnum opus “Atlas Shrugged,” stops the world by going on strike. He and the “men of the mind” literally withdraw from the world after watching their wealth confiscated by the looters (the government).

Toward the end of Rand’s 1,000-plus page novel (or polemic), the economy is in shambles. Desperate, the looters kidnap Galt and prod him to “tell us what to do.”

Galt refuses, or rather tells them “to get out of the way.”

Road Is Cleared

You probably can sense where I’m going. Today’s economic and financial crisis would resolve itself more quickly and efficiently if the government got out of the way. Yes, there would be pain. Some banks would fail. Others would clamp down on credit to atone for the years of lax lending standards. Homeowners-in-name-only would become renters. Housing prices would fall until speculators found value.

That’s not going to happen. The bigger the mess, the more urgent the calls for a government solution, the more willing government is to oblige.

We want laissez-faire capitalism in good times and a government backstop against losses in bad times. It’s a tough way to run an economy.

See Baum’s full commentary for more.

Ed Cline: Remember William F. Buckley as He Was

Erika Holzer points us to a very insightful article by Ed Cline, titled “The Philosophic Postmortem of William F. Buckley, Jr.“:

William F. Buckley, Jr. died in Connecticut on February 27. Most Western newspapers and news media have bid adieu to the intellectual major-domo of American conservatism with glowing, admiring salutations.

And every one of those salutations has missed the point: That Buckley was a vile man who rescued the Republican Party from the self-destruction of irrelevancy and a just demise. Because of him, the Party was saved the task of rethinking or at least remembering the meaning of its name, republican, that is, of the Party which in the late 18th and early 19th centuries struggled to preserve a government charged with protecting and upholding individual rights to life, liberty, property, and happiness.

Read the whole thing.

TIA Editor Robert Tracinski Endorses Rudy Giuliani

The 2008 elections are coming into full swing, and prominent Objectivists are beginning to weigh in with their perspectives.

The Intellectual Activist Editor Robert Tracinski has formally endorsed Rudy Giuliani. I could not find the text of this endorsement on his web site to link to, so I’m pasting below the message I was forwarded.

TIA Daily — January 3, 2008

Vote for Rudy
Support the Defense of Freedom over Religious Politics
by Robert Tracinski

With the opening of the primary season — tonight’s Iowa caucus isn’t a real primary, but it is the first test of candidates’ support among grass-roots activists, and thus it will have an impact on the primaries to come — now is the time to give TIA’s official endorsement for the Republican primary.

I say that this is my official endorsement, because it has been clear where I’ve been leaning, unofficially, for most of the past year: I support Rudy Giuliani as by far the best candidate for the Republican nomination. He is the only candidate who will promote the influence of what I call the “secular right”: support for free markets, a strong national defense, and strict separation of church and state.

Giuliani is famous for his stand on the War on Terrorism and for his firm and dignified performance as mayor of New York City following the September 11 attacks. But perhaps the best example of his virtues on this issue is more recent: his response to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. While Mike Huckabee embarrassed himself by offering empty pabulum about appreciating the peaceful transition of power in America — indicating that Huckaabee was unprepared to say anything important about what is going on in the rest of the world — Giuliani replied: “Her death is a reminder that terrorism anywhere — whether in New York, London, Tel-Aviv, or Rawalpiindi — is an enemy of freedom. We must redouble our efforts to win the Terrorists’ War on Us.”

Last August, I wrote an extensive analysis (which I have just put up on our website) of Giuliani’s foreign policy, and it is not as assertive as we might hope. But we can still count on Giuliani to keep his eye on the threat of radical Islam and to regard it as his top priority as president.

Giuliani does not have an established record as a staunch pro-free-marketer. In fact, he first made a national name for himself as a US attorney prosecuting mobsters — and prosecuting Wall Street financiers as if they were mobsters. (I mean this literally: Giuliani pioneered the use of vague laws against “racketeering,” originally designed to fight organized crime, as a tool for persecuting businessmen.) And yet Giuliani has campaigned as a free-marketer, not only in vague rhetoric but in some intellectual depth. A few months ago, the Washington Post carried an important article about a series of seminars organized for the candidate by Giuliani’s long-time friend and advisor Bill Simon. Dubbed “Simon University” by Rudy’s campaign staff, they amount to a course in the principles of free-market economics.

Most crucially, Giuliani has been excellent on a topic that is likely to be central to the 2008 campaign: socialized medicine. All of the Democratic candidates are proposing, and will campaign on, some form of nationalized health care — while Giuliani has come out in favor of a free-market >proposal based on tax credits that will make it easier for individuals to purchase private health insurance.

At the same time, Giuliani offers a break from the intrusion of religion into politics. It is not merely that Giuliani supports a woman’s right to an abortion, and that he has refused to alter his convictions on this issue to fit the needs of his campaign. More broadly, Guiliani has asserted that his religious views are private and a matter to be left between him and the priests.

In short, if you support a secular-right outlook, then Giuliani is clearly the top candidate.

Continue reading

Bush Signs Automobile Fatality Act

Ayn Rand Institute Press Release

Bush Signs Automobile Fatality Act
December 21, 2007

Irvine, CA–The energy bill that President Bush just signed into law is a significant victory for environmentalists, who have long pushed for such measures as expanded ethanol production. But the centerpiece of the bill–for which environmentalists have been agitating for years–is a major increase in automobile fuel economy standards, the first such increase since 1975.

The law forces auto manufacturers to increase the average mileage of cars, SUVs, and light trucks to 35 mpg by 2020. Currently, the standard is 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.2 mpg for SUVs and light trucks.

It might seem obviously beneficial to decree that cars must use less fuel. But according to Dr. Keith Lockitch, resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, “The new mileage standards will make cars more expensive and more dangerous and will cause many more traffic fatalities.

“Compelling automakers to achieve higher mileage forces them to compromise automobile safety. To achieve fuel economy, they are forced to make vehicles lighter and smaller. But lighter, smaller vehicles are much more dangerous in an accident. Because the car absorbs less of the crash impact, the passengers absorb it instead.

“The original Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, imposed in 1975, have already led to a substantial increase in traffic fatalities–an additional two thousand traffic deaths per year, according to a 2002 study by the National Academy of Sciences. With the new standard, manufacturers will be forced to downsize even further all cars, as well as SUVs and light trucks. But these vehicles will still be sharing the road with buses, delivery trucks, and massive commercial trailer trucks. One shudders at the thought of how much greater a risk Americans will face. Nevertheless, environmentalists have continued to fight for higher fuel economy requirements, consistently and cavalierly dismissing the risks and the tragic consequences.

“Despite the drumbeat of constant assertions to the contrary, it is far from a settled scientific fact that we face catastrophic dangers from climate change. Yet, under the guise of protecting us from the alleged dangers of global warming, environmentalists force upon us the very real, provable dangers of increased auto injuries and deaths. Clearly, what they value is something other than human well-being.”

Nigeria through the Lens of Atlas Shrugged? has a new article in which a Nigerian native sizes up his country, and its politicians, somewhat through the lens of Atlas Shrugged.

When I read the article at lunchtime, I stumbled over the phrase “disintegration of rational inquiry” — but I think the author is referring to the modern era’s decreasing respect for rational inquiry.

An excerpt:

One of my favorite authors, Ayn Rand, taught the virtue of selfishness and the disintegration of rational inquiry. Her best seller Atlas Shrugged is however one book that I return to every now and then. The book was written in 1957. Ayn Rand, a Russian migrant that lived in the USA and became a house-hold name for her teachings on objectivism, was probably the best known and perhaps widest read philosopher of the 20th century. She was a woman of substance.

Years ago when I first read Atlas Shrugged I immediately contextualized it in Nigeria . But little did I know that a stalemate would result from a warped definition of objectivity, a dire need for a political philosophy and a shrug by an Atlas – Umaru Musa YarAdua. Atlas Shrugged is for me a book for all times. It groups objectivism, self-interest and capitalism all in one. In plain text, according to Ayn Rand herself – nature is to be commanded and must be obeyed, or wishing won’t make it so; you can’t eat your cake and have it too; man is an end himself; give me liberty or give me death.

Nigeria witnessed the disintegration of rational inquiry recently when Patricia Olubunmi Etteh’s power rangers insisted that she would be judge in her own case. Looking at what transpired in that dark period of the House of Representatives that culminated with the death of Dr. Aminu Safana, one would expect nothing to follow but recall, to rid the house of the pea brains that turned it into a house of horror. To think out of the box is one thing. But to think stupidly out of the box in order to justify the unjustifiable, for whatever reason, is sure enough reason for an elected representative to be shown the way out.

See the full article for more.

WSJ: Rand and the Right

Brian Doherty has published what looks like it might be an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal, titled “Rand and the Right.” It begins:

Because of her opposition to New Deal government controls, novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand started off thinking of herself as a conservative. By the time her blockbuster novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” was published 50 years ago this week, she’d changed her mind. She decided she was a radical — a “radical for capitalism,” that is.

Conservatives, she’d come to believe, were insufficiently principled in their defense of a free society and once the novel was out, the official conservative movement turned its back on her.

While “Atlas Shrugged” was a ferocious defense of certain values shared by many conservatives, then and …

Unfortunately, you must be a WSJ subscriber to read the full article.

Hudgins: Let’s Declare the Fourth of July a Tax-Free Day!

From a new op-ed by Ed Hudgins, executive director of The Atlas Society, published in the Washington Times and elsewhere:

On July 4, 1776, America’s Founders declared the country’s independence from Britain, largely as a revolt against excessive and unfair taxation. So in our nation, which is much more overtaxed than it was over two centuries ago, it would be fitting if, in recognition of our Founding principles, federal, state and local governments made July Fourth a totally tax-free day.

Many cities already suspend sales taxes for a few days a year on items such as clothing and school supplies, usually to garner the favor of overtaxed parents struggling to raise kids and to give mom and pop an incentive to frequent overtaxed downtown enterprises struggling to make profits. So wouldn’t it be appropriate for all of us who struggle every day to be allowed to keep our money on that day on which we celebrate our freedom?

The total direct tax burden on Americans – not counting the indirect taxes of regulations – is estimated at about 35 percent of our $13 trillion gross domestic product, or $4.5 trillion. That works out to more than $12 billion we would keep in our own pockets if we were truly independent on Independence Day.

We wouldn’t have to pay taxes on the hotdogs, beer and barbecue we purchase for Fourth of July picnics. And since for most of us this is a paid holiday, for that day we would receive our paychecks without income tax, Social Security taxes, unemployment insurance taxes and the like taken out.

Such a tax-free day would be the time to fill up large SUVs and save $10 a tank in various fuel taxes. Malls would soon see Christmas-season sized crowds as shoppers seek to stretch their dollars.

Continue reading on The Atlas Society website.

Nick Provenzo on the Founders’ College

We’ve mentioned the Founders’ College before on our blog (see here and here). Apparently, the project has received a chilly reception from at least a few proponents of Ayn Rand’s philosophy.

Nick Provenzo, on the other hand, provides a spirited defense of the project in a post last week called “Understanding the Founders College Vision” at the Rule of Reason blog.

Update: Wow, Lee Sandstead has taken some stunning photos at the site of the college. (I discovered this gallery from a link in Nick’s earlier post on this topic.)

Tracinski On Fox News – Rescheduled for Jan 8

Robert Tracinksi, owner and publisher of TIA Daily, is scheduled to appear on “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” a Fox News Channel program on Jan 8, time to be determined.

In a recent TIA Daily he outlined the three current strategies for Iraq under discussion by the Administration: “Going Big, Going Long, and Going Home.” He presents an alternative he calls “Going Wide.” This involves essentially looking beyond Iraq’s borders to the wider source of the problem, namely Iran and Syria.