Category Archives: Politics

Avatar: The Atlas Shrugged of the Left

A new article by Nick Rizzuto at TownHall.com begins:

For 52 years now, Ayn Randâ??s Atlas Shrugged has stood alone as the shining example of political allegory. Rand’s novel has long been considered to be essential reading for American individualists and advocates of free markets. The American left on the other hand has not had a work of fiction that definitively embodies their worldview. Avatar might just fill that void. While the two stories are powerful, their messages are diametrically opposed.

See the full article for much more.

The Whole Foods alternative to ObamaCare

Celebrity Ayn Rand fan and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has a great article in today’s Wall Street Journal with his recommendations for free market based health care reform (though I take exception to his dietary advice). It’s one of the best articles I’ve seen, in terms of making positive recommendations about how to actually improve the quality of health care in the United States.

Doctors on strike for freedom in medicine

From Atlasphere member Gregory Garamoni:

Doctors Support Proposed Florida Amendment to Protect Rights of Doctors and Patients

Doctors on Strike for Freedom in Medicine today applauded the Florida State legislators who proposed an amendment to the State Constitution that would thwart Washingtonâ??s plans to impose socialized medicine.

Dr. Gregory L. Garamoni, Founder of Doctors on Strike for Freedom in Medicine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRLog (Press Release) â?? Jul 29, 2009 â?? Doctors on Strike for Freedom in Medicine, a private organization that champions individual rights and freedom in medicine, today applauded the several Florida State legislators who on Monday proposed an amendment to the State Constitution intended to stop the federal government from taking over medicine.

â??Washington politicians are poised to inject a massive, lethal dose of statism into the heart of healthcare–one that would violate the rights of doctors and patients to make personal, private, and independent healthcare decisions,â? said Dr. Gregory Garamoni, founder of Doctors on Strike. â??This ‘statist medicine’ would induce grave waves of arrhythmia – inflation, price controls, lower quality, doctor shortages, waiting periods, and rationing.â?

â??Doctors, patients, and law makers must stand together now to bring a halt to this leftist-led, lemming-like leap into healthcare hell,â? Garamoni said. â??We urge legislators all over the country to follow Floridaâ??s lead by creating political firewalls in every state to protect us from any further federal infringement on statesâ?? rights and individual liberty. â?

State Senator Carey Baker (R-Eustis) and State Representative Scott Plakon (R-Longwood) filed legislation (HJR 37- Health Care Services) on Monday to amend Florida’s Constitution â??to prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system; permit person or employer to purchase lawful health care services directly from health care provider; permit health care provider to accept direct payment from person or employer for lawful health care services; exempt persons, employers, and health care providers from penalties and fines for paying or accepting direct payment for lawful health care services; permit purchase or sale of health insurance in private health care systems; and specifies what amendment does not affect or prohibit.â?

“Today, we’re drawing the line in the sand. It is bad enough that our federal government wants to choose your doctor and ration your treatment,” Senator Baker said. “But to do so virtually in secret and in such a rush proves that the goal is not to get better health care but to get socialized health care.”

â??The federal government and its bureaucracies dictating who, when and what kind of treatment you receive is not reform at all,â? said Representative Plakon. â??We believe this unprecedented power-grab by President Obama and Congress is clearly not in the best interests of the citizens of Florida.â?

â??The proposed constitutional amendment may be the only way left to prevent the destruction of the independent practice of medicine that has served us so well for so many centuries,â? said Dr. Garamoni.

# # #

Doctors on Strike for Freedom in Medicine has the mission of preserving, protecting, and promoting freedom in healthcare. Our organizationâ??s most pressing goal is to defeat HR3200 and other statist healthcare reform proposals now circulating in Washington. To this end, we are actively encouraging doctors and patients to put intense political pressure on legislators during their deliberations on healthcare reform. We supply doctors and patients with the intellectual and political ammunition to do this. We are calling on doctors to be prepared to go on strike against more government-run healthcare. We want doctors to let the country know – now – that if the President signs any legislation that establishes another government healthcare plan, they will “go on strike”: Doctors will refuse to participate in any new government healthcare plan, and they will resign from all government healthcare programs, including, but not limited to Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE.

Free market economist Peter Schiff may run for U.S. Senate

From Atlasphere founding editor Andrew Schwartz:

Peter Schiff, an economist known for predicting the current financial crisis, and a liberty-minded individual who lists Ayn Rand’s Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal on his recommended reading page, has announced that, pending sufficient support from other liberty-minded individuals around the country, he will run for senate.

He says his polling indicates that he has a real shot of winning against incumbent Democrat Chris Dodd – if he can win the Republican primary.

Schiff is a remarkably clear explicator of economic ideas, and an inspiring personality who does well in front of crowds [note, video's a bit dicey and includes some not-so-great stuff interspersed with Schiff talking to the crowd, but I think it's the only video there is showcasing this particular natural talent of his]), and well in popular media outlets [excellent, excellent video btw].

He says his polling indicates that he has a real shot of winning against incumbent Democrat Chris Dodd.

To make donations to his campaign (which will be returned if he decides he hasn’t enough support to run), visit schiffforsenate.com.

UPDATE: I just made a donation myself. Schiff has impressed me for a long time with the clarity of his thinking. If you’ve not seen the videos of economists laughing in his face when he predicted the financial crisis, they’re a must-see.

British Tribute to Ayn Rand: Godless Prophet of the Capitalist Revolution

Don’t miss “Ayn Rand: Godless Prophet of the Capitalist Revolution” by Simon Heffer, in Standpoint Magazine. It begins:

One of the latest hits on YouTube is a nine-minute compilation of clips from King Vidor’s 1949 film of Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead. It is titled “Howard Roark makes a case against Barack Obama”. Roark, somewhat bizarrely played by Gary Cooper, is the hero of Rand’s novel: an individualist architect who serves as a metaphor for the battle against the evils of welfarism and its parent, socialism. Roark will not submit himself to serve others, but nor does he expect others to serve him. His welfare, his progress, the creation of his wealth and reputation are matters for him alone. His moral view is that it is better for society that things are ordered in that way, for it makes every man his own master.

He is a visionary architect. He designs buildings that he believes in. They are only to be built not just if they find clients, but if those clients agree that the integrity of the design (and therefore the integrity of Roark) must be sacrosanct. When Roark’s design for a public housing project is chosen, but built with modifications of which he does not approve, he blows the building up. He is put on trial after a hate campaign against him by a newspaper that crusades against individualism. After an electrifying courtroom speech defending his principles and his ideology, he is acquitted.

His reputation is made and his individualism respected. Those who have sought to add him to the list of men enslaved by self-sacrifice, that they might themselves wield power, are roundly vanquished. In Rand’s world, intervention by the state is a fundamental evil. The coercion into self-sacrifice is an abomination. There is to be a ruthless selfishness balanced by a strict morality: and the philosophy in which this morality is to be rooted is one of rationalism and not of any theology. “It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.” As Roark puts it at his trial: “I have come here to say that I do not recognise anyone’s right to one minute of my life…It had to be said. The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing.” The story can be seen as one of almost laughable extremes, but it has become regarded in the last 60 years as a parable of the American way. When a new president is tearing up that way and imposing what some of his critics have called “socialism”, it is easy to see how the conservative element in America has seized on Roark as a beacon for these disturbed times.

That, though, is not the limit of Rand’s influence on the current debate. Her novel Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, was in one 1991 survey voted the second most influential book in America, second only to the Bible. Rand would have seen an element of challenge in this. Her militant atheism was unconcealed. Faith was not merely a rank superstition, it also claimed the authority of a higher being over man. Rand could not accept that any man, or any entity, had power over the individual. This has handicapped some on the Right in America from embracing the rest of what, to them, would normally be a highly compatible philosophy: she showed them the cloven hoof and her adherents today in the institute that bears her name continue relentlessly to do the same. The victory of ideas is not won by appeasement.

Her gods are living and they are men like Roark and the hero of Atlas Shrugged, John Galt. These are men who lead by example and in whom the milk of Judaeo-Christian human kindness is replaced by a stiff cocktail of realism, integrity, individuality and self-help. The world is told to accept such people on their own terms – terms that strive not to force one man’s will upon others, but to make others see that the will of the individual, exercised morally, is to be respected and fostered. In the first seven weeks of this year, sales of Atlas Shrugged trebled in America. They have even risen in the UK, where until Penguin published an edition of the novel a couple of years ago (along with copies of other of Rand’s works, including The Fountainhead) they were harder to obtain than Mein Kampf – such, presumably, was deemed to be their ideological offensiveness to the British people. Last year, 51 years after its first publication, the novel sold a record 200,000 copies in the US. Sales have been further boosted by the recession.

See the full article for much more. Thanks to Bob Hessen for the link.

Amity Shlaes: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Is Shrugging with a Growing Load

Writing for Bloomberg, Amity Shlaes has an interesting article about Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged. It begins:

Imagine a novel of more than a thousand pages, published half a century ago. The author doesnâ??t have a talk-radio show and has been dead for 27 years.

As for the storyline, it is beyond dated: Humorless executives fight with humorless public officials over an industry that is, today, almost irrelevant to the U.S. economy – - railroads. The prose itself is a disconcerting mixture of philosophy, industrial policy, and bodice-ripping: â??The wind blew her hair to blend with his. She knew why he had wanted to walk through the mountains tonight.â?

In short, you would think â??Atlas Shruggedâ? might be long forgotten.

Instead, Ayn Randâ??s novel is remembered more than ever. This year the book is selling at a faster rate than last year. Last year, sales were about 200,000, higher than any year before that, including 1957, when the book was published.

Some assumed the libertarian philosopher would fall from view when the Berlin Wall fell. Or that at least there would be a sense of mission accomplished. One Rand fan, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, wrote in his memoir that he regretted Rand hadnâ??t lived until 1989 or 1990. Sheâ??d missed the collapse of communism that she had so often predicted.

But â??Atlas Shruggedâ? is becoming a political â??Harry Potterâ? because Rand shone a spotlight on a problem that still exists: Not pre-1989 Soviet communism, but 2009-style state capitalism. Rand depicted government and companies colluding in the name of economic rescue at the expense of the entrepreneur. That entrepreneur is like the titan Atlas who carries the rest of the world on his shoulders — until he doesnâ??t.

See the full article for much more.

Thanks to Greg Feirman for the tip. Greg also says Shlaes’s book The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression (2007) is a good read, for anyone interested in the topic.

BusinessWeek: The Economy Needs Ayn Rand

BusinessWeek‘s “Debate Room” published a for-and-against piece on the topic: “Author Ayn Randâ??s philosophy of rational self-interest is more relevant todayâ??amid the flurry of government bailoutsâ??than ever. Pro or con?”

Onkar Ghate takes the affirmative position, which begins:

If Ayn Randâ??s philosophy of rational self-interest is irrelevant today, then so is the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration gave sanction to selfishness: to the moral right to live your own life, to exercise your liberty, to pursue your happiness. No more taking orders from king or society. Each was free to live for himself.

Christina Patterson takes the negative position, which begins:

Youâ??d think it was a joke, when the global economy was collapsing because of greed, that anyone might turn seriously to the purple prose of crypto-fascist Ayn Rand and think it was the answer to anything. How could her so-called philosophy of â??rational self-interestâ?â??in other words, a crude kind of dog-eat-dog laissez-faire capitalismâ??seem like the route out of this obstacle-strewn labyrinth into which weâ??re all now locked?

See the full piece for more.

(Thanks to Top Gun‘s Greg Feirman for the tip!)