A $1 million gift from the BB&T Foundation to Western Carolina University has raised basic questions about academic freedom versus funders’ ability to affect curriculum decisions.
The gift agreement stipulates that WCU’s College of Business will use the money—plus another $500,000 in matching funds it hopes to obtain from the state Legislature—to create a new “BB&T Distinguished Professorship in Capitalism” and develop a program exploring “the moral and ethical foundation of capitalism,” according to the school’s Nov. 17 announcement. While the new program will encompass “all points of view,” the agreement specifically focuses on just one, “the philosophy of objectivism as portrayed by Ayn Rand in her classic novel Atlas Shrugged and in her essays,” the announcement states. (See sidebar, “Private Ambition, Public Benefit.)
In accepting the gift last month, Western joined some 40 colleges and universities in North Carolina and across the Southeast receiving similar grants from the philanthropic arm of the Winston-Salem-based BB&T Corp. Although the specifics vary, the agreements apparently share an emphasis on—and sometimes require outright—incorporating Rand’s philosophy into the curriculum. The grant recipients include Appalachian State, N.C. State, UNC-Chapel Hill and six other members of the state university system, along with such private institutions as Duke and Wake Forest universities.
The WCU agreement has sparked criticism both on campus and beyond. Jennifer Washburn, the author of University Inc.: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education (Basic Books, 2005) describes BB&T’s philanthropic program as “one corporate funder—a large banking chain—waging a strongly ideological campaign to directly shape and influence the academic curriculum and the development of new academic programs and centers across 40 different colleges and universities simultaneously.” Such commercial grants “violate the basic principle that faculty—not outside funders—should control all internal academic matters,” says Washburn, a fellow at the New America Foundation (www.newamerica.net). The nonprofit, nonpartisan public-policy institute is based in Washington, D.C. “If universities continue down this path—allowing corporations and private donors to exert excessive influence—they will undermine [the] public trust and the very reason for their existence,” she told Xpress.
Ronald Johnson, the dean of WCU’s College of Business, actively sought the funding and says he’s fine with the philosophical implications. “Not that we want students to come out and be ardent supporters of objectivism,” he notes, “but we want students to come out and not be automatons, which is what happens in the colleges of business where there is no intellectual foundation.”
A firm foundation
BB&T’s John Allison, who’ll be stepping down as chairman and CEO at the end of this year, has been an unabashed proponent of such study programs—and specifically of Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged. In speeches and interviews, he has often mentioned his own encounter with Rand’s philosophy—which greatly influenced his business ethic—when he was a student at UNC.
The novel “offers something other books don’t: the principles that apply to business and to life in general. I would call it complete,” said Allison, as quoted in The New York Times last year (“Ayn Rand’s Literature of Capitalism,” Sept. 15, 2007). Another Rand fan, the article notes, is free-market guru Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.
But Rand’s books stirred a good deal of controversy even during her lifetime, and their influence is still strongly felt today (see sidebar).
Meanwhile, affected faculty members at some schools have not taken kindly to BB&T’s push to have Atlas Shrugged included in their courses of study. Meredith College in Raleigh, for example, turned down roughly half a million dollars in 2006 because of faculty unhappiness over a donor’s so directly affecting curriculum decisions. Similar criticism has arisen at UNC-Charlotte and at Marshall University in West Virginia, according to a March 2008 report in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Johnson, however, says he’s comfortable both with Western’s new course of study and with the potential inclusion of Rand’s writings. In fact, Johnson says he sought out the BB&T funding shortly after taking the reins at the business school in July of last year.
Johnson came to Western from Texas Southern University, where he held the JP Morgan Chase Chair in Finance in the Jesse H. Jones School of Business. He’s also taught at Florida A&M, Northeastern and Howard universities. Earlier in his career, Johnson worked as an economist for the International Monetary Fund and was division chief of domestic financial markets for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
That varied background may help explain why he deems it important for students to understand diverse economic philosophies. Johnson believes it can help them arrive at their own point of view—and know how to defend it. And he has no problem with including Ayn Rand in the mix.
“We … really want to have a discussion in terms of the marketplace of ideas,” Johnson explains. “As a businessperson, you have to have a set of principles—or a philosophy—because markets and production can be uncertain at times, and you have to then have some foundation from which you operate. Those people who do not have a firm foundation … are not likely to be very successful.”
For his part, says Johnson, “The base of my philosophy is wealth maximization.” That, he explains, entails prioritizing “customer benefit” rather than merely focusing on a company’s own profit. A significant challenge in business, he notes, has been that without a philosophical bent, “people will look at the end and that drives what they do.”
Despite the new program’s impressive-sounding title, however, there has so far been no public mention of broader ethical issues, such as worker health, environmental responsibility or larger community impacts. It remains to be seen whether such concerns will be included in the curriculum alongside Rand’s work.
Off the books
But the road to Western’s agreement with BB&T hit a detour. After Johnson met with Allison in October 2007 to gauge his interest in the school, Johnson formed a committee that drafted the agreement signed by both parties last March. According to Johnson, it contained “no requirements” such as those that touched off a “hue and cry” at UNC-Charlotte soon thereafter.
BB&T’s $1 million gift to that school came with the stipulation that Atlas Shrugged “be included in a course as required reading,” according to a March 30, 2008, editorial in The Charlotte Observer. The editorial took issue with “letting—or appearing to let—a donor prescribe a university’s course content” and called for a systemwide policy for the state’s universities.
If Western’s agreement with the bank did not literally cross that line, it did stray pretty close. And when the general faculty learned about the agreement (which didn’t happen till late spring, according to Richard Beam, WCU’s Chair of the Faculty), some weren’t happy about it.
Two statements, in particular, sent up red flags about the “relationship of gifts to the curriculum,” said Beam. One was a decree that the BB&T Distinguished Professor of Capitalism “shall work closely with the Ayn Rand Institute” and have a “reasonable understanding and positive attitude” toward Rand’s philosophy of objectivism.” Another encouraged a “thorough discussion of the moral foundations of capitalism portrayed via Ayn Rand’s philosophy, objectivism,” and strongly urged the college “to make Atlas Shrugged … part of the required reading in at least one business course each semester.” It also required the school to give all business majors a copy of the book in their junior year.
Both of these flash points were subsequently retooled in a memorandum of understanding signed in August. The latter document gives a nod to the “guiding principles of [Western’s] accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools,” which place primary responsibility for “content, quality and effectiveness of curriculum with its faculty.”
In place of the stipulation concerning the Ayn Rand Institute, the memorandum merely states that the professor “shall maintain open communications with the donor concerning his or her role within the College of Business and the university and the implementation of the gift agreement.”
The second change calls for a more generalized “creation of undergraduate and graduate courses on the moral and ethical foundation of capitalism through established faculty-governance processes.” It also states that the university “will ask each faculty member” assigned to those courses to consider, “in their sole and unfettered discretion, the assignment of portions of Atlas Shrugged and other pro- and anti-capitalist perspectives.”
The original agreement caused “considerable concern and fairly widespread discussion among faculty,” Beam recalls. “The WCU Faculty Senate did discuss the questions which had been raised, and at the suggestion of [Chancellor John Bardo], a faculty task force was created to attempt to address those [concerns and the overall] relationship of gifts to the curriculum.” Beam says the task force met several times in early summer and made specific suggestions for revising the agreement, as well as proposing a university policy concerning gifts and curriculum decisions.
Johnson, meanwhile, hopes to develop the requirements for the new faculty position this spring and start advertising the position next fall, once the funding is in hand. He’s also optimistic about getting the additional $500,000 for his program from the Legislature. Speaking about the General Assembly’s budgeting process, Johnson notes: “It becomes dicey, I believe … in the second biennial year. And so it’s hopeful that we will get a proposal and approve a match in this year.” (The General Assembly holds “long” and “short” sessions in alternate years, and 2009 will be a long session.)
Even if the school cannot secure the state matching funds, however, the BB&T money, which is to be paid out in increments through 2014, would still cover the $1 million endowment for the faculty position, says Johnson.
A nasty time for higher education
Washburn of the New America Foundation takes issue with the whole notion of corporate funding for universities and with BB&T’s philanthropic campaign in particular. Nonetheless, she notes, “strings attached” funding has become increasingly common at schools nationwide.
“Universities are desperate for funding,” says Washburn, citing two examples of the kinds of problems that arise. One school, she says, recently allowed a corporate donor to “bar professors from publishing or talking about their research.” Another allowed a donor to interview (and presumably vet) candidates for corporate-endowed faculty chairs.
Catherine Warren, an associate professor of English at N.C. State, is working with Washburn to create a national project studying the issues surrounding corporate involvement on American campuses. Warren is active with the American Association of University Professors, and formerly served on the UNC Faculty Assembly, which approved a resolution this summer concerning donor-influenced curriculum. Crafted just as Western’s agreement with BB&T was being reshaped, the resolution states:
Private ambition, public benefit
Ayn Rand, who died in New York City in 1982, created a philosophical stir with her two major novels, The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957). Through her writing, Rand—the ultimate free-market proponent—glorified “the right of individuals to live entirely for their own interest,” according to an article in The New York Times marking the 50th anniversary of the latter work’s publication. The article called the 1,200-page tome one of the “most influential business books ever written.”
Rand’s message, the Times notes, was attacked by intellectuals at the time and “dismissed as an homage to greed.” But it also won allegiance—often lifelong—from a host of today’s top corporate executives who first read the book in college, absorbing the premise that, in the Times’ words, “there is no conflict between private ambition and public benefit.”
Rand was born Alissa Rosenbaum in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1905, she studied philosophy and history at the University of Leningrad before emigrating to the United States in 1926. Once here, she changed her name to Ayn Rand and pursued a career as a screenwriter and novelist, gradually assuming the public role of controversial philosopher. The success of Atlas Shrugged, in particular, elicited spirited feedback and passionate allegiances for its depiction of Rand’s vision of “objectivism,” which stresses “the critical importance of reason, individualism and capitalism,” according to The Atlasphere (www.theatlasphere.com), a Web site dedicated to connecting admirers of Rand’s two major novels.
Rand’s high-profile fans include former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and former President Ronald Reagan, the Web site notes, plus assorted celebrities. Among business leaders, BB&T CEO John Allison is joined by James M. Kilts—cited by the Times as the leader of turnarounds at Gillette, Nabisco and Kraft—who says he found Atlas reassuring “because it made success seem rational.”
Rand, says the article, “set out to show how desperately the world needs prime movers and how viciously it treats them” and to portray “what happens to a world without them.” The book’s hero, John Galt, “calls for a strike against government interference” to save the economy during a time of recession. Businesses shut down; riots break out.
But critics at the time “were unstinting in disparaging the book,” says the article, with conservatives seeing the “promotion of godlessness” and liberals seeing it as sending the message that “greed is good.”
A half-century later, the controversy continues. Rand’s major works still sell well, and their influence has been considerable—thanks, in part, to the nonprofit Ayn Rand Institute, which distributes thousands of free copies of Rand’s novels each year. Founded in 1985 by Leonard Peikoff, Rand’s heir, the institute has been a beneficiary of the BB&T Corp., according to the nonprofit’s tax records.
And though Rand herself had little use for the libertarians of her day, she became “something of a cult figure in libertarian circles” during her lifetime, according to her New York Times obituary, and her writings have had considerable influence on today’s libertarians and conservatives.
Meanwhile, BB&T’s practice of linking the study of Rand’s philosophy to funding agreements with colleges and universities seeks to keep Rand in the minds of both today’s and tomorrow’s leaders—including such as the students at Western Carolina University and the growing list of other schools receiving BB&T’s substantial grants.
“Established principles of academic freedom include the prerogative of faculty and faculty curriculum committees to determine academic curricula and select curricular materials free from the influence exerted by external entities.”
The resolution further authorizes the UNC Faculty Assembly to work with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the UNC Division of Academic Affairs to establish a set of guidelines for the entire university system.
Taxpayers, says Warren, believe that private funding for universities replaces support that would otherwise have to come from tax revenues, and faculty members believe corporate grants can help them do their work. But, she cautions, “It’s a more complicated picture than that.”
Private money actually leverages public funding, says Warren. Many such gifts, she notes—including Western’s—involve matching grants. So public money is still going into the university, only now, “It’s also going to fulfill [corporate] goals, not broader societal goals or even the goals of North Carolina citizens.”
Meanwhile, continues Warren, a decreasing number of tenured faculty positions at schools nationwide may be robbing higher education of an important voice that could speak up for curricular independence. “These external funding pressures, combined with steady declines in state and federal support for higher education, are threatening the core academic values and public-interest missions of America’s universities,” she asserts.
Arden resident Jane Helm sees things differently. The former vice chancellor for business affairs at Appalachian State, Helm currently serves on BB&T’s board of directors.
“My feeling in general is that if a donor wants to make a donation, he has a right to specify how that money is to be used,” Helm states simply. “The recipient can accept it or not. I have absolutely no problem with it.”
UNCA economics professor Shirley Browning agrees that it’s not uncommon for donors to follow what’s called “giver’s choice,” meaning the recipient must decide whether to accept the terms—“be it capitalism or kumquats.”
But while he acknowledges the intense pressures all universities are facing these days, Browning draws the line at letting donors decide what goes on in the classroom.
“This is a really nasty time right now for higher education, because states are cutting back,” he notes. And that makes it a “fantastic strategic time for somebody to come to a university … [and] wave that check in front of them. It is really hard. How can you rationalize taking the money, maintain faculty control, make the donor happy?
“But … curriculum is a faculty matter—that’s the end of it right there. If Western can finesse this into something that makes sense for their faculty, bless them. I hope they can.”
195 thoughts on “Capitalism on campus”
It’s too late now…
This is a very good thing, and will contrast nicely with all the communists on our campus.
If WCU does not feel it should agree to the terms of a generous donation from a successful business enterprise that practices what it preaches, then, by all means, they can refuse the money.
As the article correctly states, this practice is “not uncommon.” So, why is it an issue now? Is this part of an ongoing series of articles on university donations?
As an Ayn Rand Objectivist myself, I am of the opinion that the students of WCU’s business school will profit handsomely from the inclusion of an explicitly pro-capitalist study of political economics. Furthermore, I hold that capitalism is the only moral political-economic social system because it is the only one that fully recognizes, respects, and protects individual rights, and it’s about time someone began looking into the possibility of instituting just that kind of system in this country. Hopefully, within a generation.
Three cheers to BB&T;!
P.S. — Mr. Greenspan is not a “free-market guru.” He rejected the free market philosophy of Ayn Rand early in his career and even took a position as Federal Reserve Chairman — a stark contradiction to the philosophy of individual rights, limited government, and free markets that is embodied in the over-arching concept of Capitalism.
Socialists like Ms. Washburn don’t want students exposed to anything other than the Altruist/Marxist line. That’s why she’s protesting the inclusion of Ayn Rand in the curriculum. Perhaps she knows that Miss Rand is the pre-eminent defender of freedom, individualism, and capitalism–she just doesn’t want students to learn this. Altruism requires people to bow down, submit and obey. Freedom, individualism and capitalism allows people to stand up and stand-out.
By the way, anyone wishing to learn more about Objectivism, the political concept of Capitalism, or wishing to start an Objectivist Club here in Asheville, can contact me.
The foremost reason for including Ayn Rand’s works in a university curriculum is that they are worthy of study–period. Ayn Rand’s ideas are revolutionary, both in regard to politics and basic philosophy. Her ideas conform to reality and are practical, in stark contrast to the many nonsensical, useless doctrines that my professors presented respectfully during my time at university. Educators should have sought to expose students to her work long ago. They should be embarrassed to have only done so in order to secure a generous donor’s funds.
P.S. The currently fashionable practice of calling Alan Greenspan an Objectivist is sloppy at best. Nothing Greenspan did or said in the past quarter century is consistent with Ayn Rand’s views. A cursory familiarity with her ideas is sufficient to know that, which indicates that the people putting the slur into print haven’t bothered to acquire even that much.
I agree with Ayn Rand that epistemology is central to the work of philosophy. I also agree with Ayn Rand in the importance of radical freedom. That is why I am a socialist. Ayn Rand’s moral values are the values of a sociopath, and only a sociopath would agree with her philosophy.
I have a feeling the students at universities will make short work of her half-baked philosophy. I don’t think there will be a problem with introducing this sort of crap at the university level, because I don’t think any of the students would even buy into Rand’s foolishness or take a class on her.
The real problem I see is that BB&T;is telling us taxpayers what ideology we should be supporting in higher education. It is not indirect. It is not a conspiracy. It is a direct, open and honest arm-wrenching of our society. It is for this reason that I say upcoming students should boycott all universities that sponsor Ayn Rand studies.
“Thad” wrote: “It is a direct, open and honest arm-wrenching of our society”
Certainly, oh thoughtful one, you can help us understand specifically in what way the offering of a donation and its acceptance is, as you so painfully put it, an “arm-wrenching.”
I’m all ears.
The Southern Highland Reader ran an editorial column on Dec. 23 on the need for more media scrutiny of WCU
“Western Carolina University and the press
by Bill Graham ~ December 23rd, 2008. Filed under: Blog, Business, Education, Media Notes.
CULLOWHEE–Western Carolina University lives in a media bubble, an anomaly of place, time and people that frees it from some of the pressures that come with media scrutiny.
In some ways, this serves the school well; lack of accountability equals freedom of movement. Sometimes, though, it seems ill-prepared to deal with big events, or tone-deaf to how its message-of-the-moment resonates outside of the ivory tower.
Great idea! They should re-name it the Bernard Madoff School of Business and inscribe, “There is no conflict between private ambition and public benefit”, above the entryway.
There IS NO shortage of liberal/socialist philosophy being taught without fear or retribution in most colleges today. Private colleges that have a conservative philosophy and creed such as Grove City College in Pennsylvania are likely outnumbered 20 to 1 by liberally oriented schools.
Free market thinkers and capitalist corporations hire their management from the graduates of these liberal “think tanks” almost exclusively. If the dribble that comes from many of these classrooms is so uncontested, why do the people like Thad (above) have so much trouble with an occasionally alternative point of view?
Even in the 70’s, most of my professors in the Social Sciences at good old Western (and some of them were excellent teachers) were highly liberal. Fortunately, I was able to – but not generally encouraged to – think beyond their views and form my own opinions.
If BB&T;has money to spend, and universities decide to accept it, I have no problem with it. This is NOT the end of publicly funded education. Far from it. There are grants from all sorts of organizations – both public and private that are accepted by colleges all the time. But when one comes from a conservative source – look out. The folks who yell the loudest for banning the curriculum are the ones who accuse conservatives of “limiting free speech.” Typical liberal hypocricy.
vrede wrote: “They should re-name it the Bernard Madoff School of Business”
I’m sorry, but I fail to see the connection. Perhaps you could elaborate.
Democrat political operative Bernard Madoff took advantage of the regulatory interventionist economic environment supplied to him by government interference in the marketplace. http://snipr.com/92uhz
These kinds of opportunities, favoritisms and manipulations cannot exist in a free-market capitalist political economy where there is a strict wall of separation between economy and state.
The only proper role for any government under Capitalism is the protection of individual rights against predation, force, fraud, and negligence — the very kind of acts being perpetrated in a marriage of convenience by the corrupt Mr. Madoff and the equally corrupted federal government.
“Sewer, Gas and Electric: THE PUBLIC WORKS TRILOGY” by Matt Ruff is a great satire of Ayn Rand’s half-baked, though entertaining, “philosophy”. Perhaps the students could read that as a compliment to Ms Rand’s nobel, yet inacurate portrayal of “capitalism”.
But I see no harm in students discussing and reading her works. Whats the harm in that? Few people I know who have read her fail to see many of the holes and inconsistencies in her so-called “philosophy”.
Although I personally find her books entertaining, at times partially true, and helpful for a conversation starter, anyone who has studied her background knows she was a hypocrite who violates many of her so-called virtues. i would imagine any instructor worth their jacket’s elbow-patches could refute her claims with little effort.
The (PFKaP) wrote: “i would imagine any instructor worth their jacket’s elbow-patches could refute her claims with little effort. ”
Wonderful! How about we start right here, right now?
Also, I couldn’t help notice that your above comments contain no substantial criticism of either Rand or the political concept of Capitalism beyond commonplace epithet and personal attack. I, however, remain hopeful. I am confident that you have it in you to offer a substantial refutation of something that is only “half-baked.”
Tim, I really doubt that is a topic relevant to the comments here on the article. I see you are chomping at the bit to defend your own hypothesis, but this conversation seems more relevant for the Forums. feel free to start the topic there!
In addition, if you take a few moments to actually *read* my succinct post, you will notice that I give ample credit to Ms. Rand, and bring up a book that deals with the topics you, yourself wish to debate. Mr Ruff’s novel in questions is as voluminous as Ms Rand’s “Atlas”, and obviously could not be summarized in a brief post on the MX blogs.
It would appear you may wish to choose your battles more wisely, as I am actually defending the notion of teaching “Atlas Shrugged” at ABtech, something that quite a few other folks seem dead-set against.
The (PFKaP) wrote: “It would appear you may wish to choose your battles more wisely,”
OK. I choose this one.
TIM PECK- again, for the record, I see no good reason why the school shouldn’t teach Rand’s books. I kind like her books, but, unlike some, I don’t think they have any more merit in reality than the Bible, or Lord of the Rings.
Feel free to click over thisaway and you can tell me why I am so misled about Atlas Shrugged.
-Captain of Dusting
(edit), I meant Western, not ABTech. Whoops.
-Captain of Dusting
The (PFKaP) wrote: “Feel free to . . .tell me why I am so misled about Atlas Shrugged.”
I am happy to engage any serious inquiry into the person of Ayn Rand, the philosophy of Objectivism, or the political concept of Capitalism.
Anyone wishing to expose themselves to an extended, definitive exegesis of the Rand novel in question can consult the excellent essay written by Andrew Bernstein entitled “Transfiguring the Novel: The Literary Revolution in Atlas Shrugged” published Fall 2007 in the philosophical journal The Objective Standard: http://snipr.com/9440a
PFKaP: If you don’t think The Bible has merit in reality, you are more naive than I thought. You don’t have to be a Believer to find plenty of documented history in that book, or how relevant it is to today’s society. And if you want to throw that one off the cliff, you’d better be ready to jump with it.
Ayn Rand’s theory is as bogus as the communist ideology she loathed. Both rely on human kind not trying to achieve an unfair advantage if left to their own accord, something history clearly shows is unrealistic to expect.
No system of economics or governance can or will survive long term without checks and balances, and a built in method to prevent entrenched interests from gaining undue control. Not one society in history has gotten it right yet.
It is worth including Rand’s work in any discussion of economics, as it is worth including most notable failed theories; so that we can learn from the mistakes of the past.
You are missing the “battle” you crave over at the forums.
WCU grad-I’m glad you like the bible. I live my life by Leviticus. And the 3rd Harry Potter Book.
4tees wrote: “Both rely on human kind not trying to achieve an unfair advantage if left to their own accord”
You raise a very good point.
Capitalism does indeed rely on ethical behavior and this is what makes it the only moral social system.
People can be dishonest or manipulating regardless of the political-economic system they live under. Their villainy is not a consequence of the system. This is a universal ethical issue, not a particular political one.
Capitalism demands that people abstain from violating the rights of their neighbors and is not properly constructed without reference to an over-arching and objective rule of law (over against the rule of man) which constrains, prohibits and penalizes predation and willful disregard.
This is the definition of free markets. Any market that is not constrained by the rule of law is not free. These enforceable constraints, along with the free market forces of supply and demand, are its “checks and balances.” Beyond this, individuals are free to conduct their voluntary, peaceable economic affairs as they see fit and to their own profit.
However, under a Socialist system, or an Interventionist system, which we have in America, the violation of individual rights is endemic to the system; and that infringement is perpetrated by the very institution established to guard their preservation: The government.
By your argument communism is an equally viable theory to capitalism. Both require ethical behavior, as you describe, to function as intended. If man could be expected to act in such a manner either form of society could flourish.
But man does not act in this manner. The laws required to ensure markets remain free markets would be very invasive and require a large external body (which is also subject to non-ethical behavior) to regulate and oversee said markets. This is counter to what supporters of free markets claim, and diametrically opposed to the irresponsible and anti competitive practices of their actions.
4tees writes: “By your argument communism is an equally viable theory to capitalism. Both require ethical behavior, as you describe, to function as intended. If man could be expected to act in such a manner either form of society could flourish.”
1. The ethical foundation of collectivist economies is injustice and the denial of reason and free will. The socialist state could not exist for one moment without the violation of individual rights. From the first day, Socialism alienates the individual from his right to property, his right to free trade, and his right to free association.
2. Pure Socialism is impossible. It can never calculate prices for commodities and must always rely to some degree on free market mechanisms to accomplish the simplist commercial exchanges.
3. Therefore, Socialism cannot be ethical nor can it flourish. The only political economy that is both ethical and flourishing is Laissez-faire Capitalism.
4tees writes: “The laws required to ensure markets remain free markets would be very invasive and require a large external body (which is also subject to non-ethical behavior) to regulate and oversee said markets.”
1. The protection of individual rights is not invasive, but in fact absolutely necessary to a free society. And it is for the protection of individual rights that governments are instituted among men.
2. The only way government (or “a large external body,” as you put it) can be “subject to non-ethical behavior” is in the case where it lurches away from Capitalism and toward Socialism; which is the case that obtains in America.
You have adopted the language of the Left (Karl Marx) when referring to the best economic system. Call it what it is: Meritism or Meritialism.
Tim, perhaps you should educate yourself. Here are some additional links about non-capitalist economies:
Tim Peck said: Pure Socialism is impossible. It can never calculate prices for commodities and must always rely to some degree on free market mechanisms to accomplish the simplist commercial exchanges.
NOT only that in a socialist system, but there is only the ability to produce based on previous information. There is no incentive to invent – because there is no profit to reward the inventor. Also there is no real way calculate changes in supply and demand. That is part of why there are consistent shortages of basic commodities in a socialist system and rationing is common.
So what are the benefits of a Socialist/Communist system? In a socialist system, the only way to wealth is political power – which in my opinion is part of why socialism is a popular philosophy of today’s US politicians.
Thunder Pig writes: “Call it what it is: Meritism”
Yes, but this NOT what it is. This definition isolates one part and uses it to refer to a complex whole. Neither is the concept of desert — that is, getting what you deserve — a phenomenon exclusive to the political or economic realms; as the author admits (par. 8).
Capitalism is more than this one characteristic.
Laissez-faire Capitalism is a complete political-economic social system of freedom that recognizes, respects and protects individual rights, is based on the private ownership of the means of production, derives its principles from the facts of reality, human nature in a social context, and the ethic of rational self-interest, and finds its expression in peaceable, voluntary exchange within a framework of justice and the rule of law.
Here are some resources for background:
What Capitalism Is
Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism
What Is Capitalism? [audio]
By Ayn Rand
Anyhoo, back to the article…
BB&T;, this “successful business enterprise that practices what it preaches”, as Tim calls it, just accepted a $3.1 Billion bailout (handout) from the Federal Government:
And will the money even go towards the intended purpose, increasing liquidity in the credit market? Not according to BB&T;’s spokesperson:
“It has essentially propped up a number of acquisition prospects that might have been available to us.”
They’re not even pretending – they’re taking taxpayer money and using it to buy other banks. Ayn Rands’ corpse is probably trying to pound its way out of the coffin right now.
These hypocrites don’t practice anything but the acquisition of power, and the restriction of free thought in education is one of the wet dreams held by neo-conservatives. All of you who genuinely believe in Ayn Rand’s theories? You’re being taken advantage of by cynical power-grabbers who want to see a return to the robber-baron era. Over the next generation, the middle class will continue to disappear, and you’ll blame those nasty “liberals”.
barry writes: “BB&T;. . . just accepted a $3.1 Billion bailout”
The article clearly states that the government strong-armed BB&T;into participating in the bailout, saying that this successful bank was “very strongly encouraged by the Treasury to participate.”
“Very strongly” means forced. Forced means involuntarily. Involuntary means against their will.
How this government coercion in any way invalidates Ayn Rand or her political philosophy escapes me.
Perhaps it is just a case of wishful thinking.
I absolutely LOVE this. BB&T;was FORCED to take $3 Billion of taxpayer money?? And were they also FORCED to earmark it for acquisitions? This is a stretch that even the most ardent defender of robber-baronisim will have to balk at.
And I never said that this “invalidates Ayn Rand or her political philosophy”. This means that these particular hypocrites absolutely have no business determining college curriculum. They or you can believe and espouse whatever you want. But offering (or “forcing”, to use your description) cash-strapped colleges money to push your agenda into the classroom, that’s unacceptable in a free society.
barry writes: “But offering (or “forcing”, to use your description) cash-strapped colleges money to push your agenda into the classroom, that’s unacceptable in a free society.”
Yes, the college was offered funding and they accepted it voluntarily. Unlike BB&T;, which was “very strongly encouraged” by the government to take dirty money at the point of a gun.
And did you miss the end of that article where they list the other banks that DIDN’T take government money? How were these smaller banks able to say no thanks to the “forced” handout, when the mighty BB&T;had to take it & then play victim? How was Ford able to say no thanks, when bailout money was “forced” on the Big 3 automakers?
Here’s the CEO of one of those other banks pointing out BB&T;’s hypocrisy:
“We’re well capitalized. We’re making loans. If we were going to do an acquisition, I certainly wouldn’t want to use taxpayer money to do it.”
How do you explain BB&T;using this “dirty money” to acquire other banks, when others refuse to?
Nobody put a gun to their heads. They are simply hypocrites, and they have no business telling colleges what to teach.
barry writes: “How were these smaller banks able to say no thanks to the “forced” handout, when the mighty BB&T;had to take it & then play victim? How was Ford able to say no thanks, when bailout money was “forced” on the Big 3 automakers? ”
1. I assume your questions are rhetorical since neither Henry Paulson nor Ford is a participating member of this forum.
2. Corporate welfare is not possible under Capitalism, which demands a separation of economy and state. That’s why it’s called laissez-faire.
3. BB&T;has every business disposing of its honestly-earned capital as it sees fit. The grant made to WCU, which WCU freely accepted, is perfectly in keeping with economic liberty and I applaud WCU for their eagerness to diversify the business school.
4. When the government uses intimidation to make an offer BB&T;can’t refuse, it is force and coercion at the point of a gun — the government’s gun. In other words, the alternative to accepting the so-called “offer” is punishment that only the government can administer.
5. “barry” appears to have issues that engender irrationality. I’ll be happy to hear from any one else going forward.
1. No, Tim, these questions are not rhetorical. You expressed an opinion on how this BB&T;bailout deal went down, & I was asking you to continue your explanation of it, and how it squares with their free-market views. Even if you accept that they were somehow pressured into taking this $3 Billion, how were they pressured to use that money for acquisitions, instead of increasing loans to consumers, which it was supposedly intended?
5. “Tim” appears to have a hard time answering that one, and therefore has to call me “irrational”. However, I won’t hold that against him, and will be happy to hear from him or anyone else going forward.
I agree with Tim. When The Government “strongly encourages” an institution to accept anything, they are implying – as the Mafia would – that if you don’t, there will be negative ramifications. This is the case in Education where if you don’t accept certain government policies, you will not receive government aid. And it goes in reverse as well.
We are WAY too far in to a Socialist society, and are headed MUCH farther down that road over the next four years. I hope those of you who eschew the fundamentals of Capitalism and a Free Market Society enjoy what you get – because it is coming – and it WON’T be prosperity for all.
What’s wrong with this situation is that WCU does not have the freedom to choose who offers $1 million.
BB&T;however, has the power to be self-serving through its own exploits and our faulty capitalist policies.
chops writes: “What’s wrong with this situation is that WCU does not have the freedom to choose who offers $1 million. BB&T;however, has the power to be self-serving through its own exploits and our faulty capitalist policies.”
1. The freedom that WCU does have is to choose whether or not to accept funding from a potential benefactor. This is not something that is “wrong.” If WCU would prefer not to receive the funding, and thereby not agree to its conditions, they are free to do so. BB&T;is under no obligation whatever to offer funding to anyone and WCU is under no obligation to accept any. That is freedom of choice.
2. There is nothing wrong with BB&T;being self-serving. In fact, this is their right: to use and dispose of their capital in any legal and peaceful way they see fit. Just like you and I.
3. Any profit that BB&T;acquires is done so entirely appropriately by offering valuable products and services that customers voluntarily want to purchase and use. Profit-making is a perfectly moral human activity. And all this is in spite of being heavily regulated under an Interventionist political economy, not a Capitalist one.
What I was getting at with my overly-snarky questioning of “Tim”, is: Why do you automatically believe the “government made me take it” story that BB&T;is putting out? I don’t believe it; other banks have declined to dip into the taxpayer’s coffers, and BB&T;claims to be financially healthy. And besides, to even be considered, you have to APPLY to the Treasury Department. Some banks have actually applied, been accepted, then decided that they didn’t need the money & turned it down.
(read Bailout Sleuth: http://bailoutsleuth.com)
BB&T;’s explanation of why they applied for & took the money boiled down to this, from their spokesperson: “The bottom line is we have an obligation to our shareholders to perform.”
So right after getting this bailout money, BB&T;announced it was raising their dividend to shareholders, at a time that most of their competitors are cutting or freezing theirs. They did this in spite of the fact that bailout recipients are not supposed to increase dividends without Treasury permission, getting through a calendar-year loophole:
Get it? Their shareholders didn’t want to hear that they weren’t going to get in on the gravy train, so management applied for & got a big pile of government money, which will water down their stock value in return for short-term gain.
This flies in the face of the free-market talk of CEO John Allison, who back in September sent an open letter to Congress railing against the “bailout of poorly run financial institutions.”
I’m not attacking free-market philosophy, Ayn Rand, or those who believe in it, despite what “Tim” says. I’m pointing out the hypocrisy of pushing these ideas onto under-funded schools, while lining up to the corporate-welfare trough in order to shore up your bottom line.
1. WCU does not have the freedom to choose who offers $1 million.
I believe that this is wrong.
Why? Because only those who benefit from our faulty capitalist economy can afford to offer $1 million. The exploiters have the power (as usual).
2. I believe that it is wrong to be self-serving. Agree to disagree. I would like to see an economy where business serves our community.
3. Freedom without responsibility is destructive and unsustainable. Here is the true reason why our economy will fail. Capitalism seems increasingly dysfunctional and alienating, and fundamentally conflicts with humanity’s noneconomic values.
But enough about that. Why does MountainX’s blog software insist on putting a semi-colon after BB&T;?
you are all tools arguing theoretical semantics that have nothing to do with reality.
Without profit, there is no incentive to raise one’s standards, no incentive for innovation (to profit from invention), and no incentive to produce. Labor and production become forced (usually by the government), and the society suffers as a whole – look at the socialist societies of the 20th and 21st century. The only true innovation and progress came from the “free” countries. There’s a reason for this and it’s called profit. The only example I can think of where there is an entrepreneurial spirit in a socialist state is Germany. There are always exceptions to the rule.
Barry: They think they’re being crafty by “fixing” HTML character codes (which normally start with an ampersand and should end with a semicolon), but they just end up looking cheap. Thank you, webmaster@!
1. And WCU has the power to reject the offer. Also, the only “exploiters” you’ll find in a mixed economy such as ours are those who believe they – or some specific demographic – are entitled to the product of others’ labor.
2. There is no need to “agree to disagree” – you are simply wrong. Business insofar as it freely and rationally interacts with members of the community necessarily benefits that community. By having your own profit margin as your only motivator, and acting within the confines of reason, you invariably provide the community with the fruits of your thrift.
3. “Capitalism seems increasingly dysfunctional and alienating, and fundamentally conflicts with humanity’s noneconomic values.”
Which capitalism is that? I have yet to see a society exhibit a truly free society. You would do well to read a few chapters of Henry Hazlitt’s excellent 1946 book, Economics in One Lesson, available online in plain text here:
The Lesson: http://jim.com/econ/chap01p1.html
The Function of Profits: http://jim.com/econ/chap22p1.html
Hazlitt’s book is excellent. I often recommend it to my friends. …And I am still a socialist.
Barry: I believe it think that anything following an ampersand is an HTML character code, which must end in a semicolon, so it thinks it’s fixing a typo.
Or Albert Einstein, the smartest guy on the planet, in his essay, “Why Socialism?”:
The software is probably designed to recognize HTML ampersand codes for representing special characters not on our keyboards, which are written out ending in semi-colons, like ampersandT; or &T; and is not a standard HTML code to my knowledge.
Einstein may have been a brilliant scientist, but he apparently was a fool when it came to other matters.
Yeah, you’re right about Einstein. Heck, the guy couldn’t match his socks to save his life.
This is a remarkably dishonest debate.
The fact of the matter is that the Left has almost complete ideological hegemony on America’s college campuses. They use bogus “process,” faculty governance and academic freedom arguments to prevent an expansion of ideas on campus. They do this because they know that they and their colleagues control the process and use it to ensure their ideological monopoly of ideas.
It’s entirely proper for donors to give money with strings attached just as it’s entirely proper for universities to accept or reject the money and the strings. It’s that simple.
Given the lack of ideological diversity on America’s college campuses, BB&T;should be praised for expanding the marketplace of ideas at taxpayer-supported universities.
Who could be opposed to exposing students to a broader spectrum of ideas?
Washburn and Warren, like the brown shirts of yesteryear, act as though they are the ideological thought police with the power to determine which ideas will be heard on America’s college campuses and which not. They are kindred spirits with the book burners.
WCU 75 Grad:
Without profit, perhaps one’s motivation to raise our standards and incentive for innovation and production would be simply for the betterment of the greater community. Love for “thy neighbor” is a very strong force: in a highly evolved society, it motivates people to volunteer and become activists, benefactors and philanthropists. (Think Katrina clean-up, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross) This kind of love serves both the individual and the community. It also rears children and promotes peace. One could also rightly say that it shows more responsibility to the environment (but let’s not go down that path).
I concede that we have not seen a successful model of this economic practice in our history, but I argue that we have not seen a successful model of capitalism either. I am just pointing out that an *ideal* public economic policy would more closely resemble socialism, over capitalism.
One last thing, (in case I have not convinced you) this motivating factor – the one I am describing – can be found at the root of all organized religion. And that is a force to be reckoned with. The power of love outside of one’s self.
You’ve strung together a series of bald assertions. If you would like them to be considered seriously, you’re going to have to do more than appeal to emotion. You will have to provide some argument, evidence, or rationale, to back up each of your claims and show they are relevant to the discussion. You will also have to show the implications of your assertions – for example, that in a capitalist system people are not motivated to volunteer, become activists or philanthropists, etc.
As for religions, acknowledging their support has only made your argument that much less persuasive. The same religions that make passing references to brotherly love – without bothering to examine how such love is achieved – flood their texts with genocide, rape, and bloodlust on massive scales. I cringe everytime I hear a Christian talk about the blood of Christ – and I’m a regular blood donor! Such death worship invariably leads to *actual* death.
In anticipation of the next issue of the Mountain Xpress, I would like to thank everyone for an engaging discussion on this story and bid this one adieu with these final thoughts:
1. Socialism is both immoral and unsustainable.
2. Capitalism does not exist in this country, and never has.
3. Our current economic crisis is a failure of Interventionism, not Capitalism.
4. Congratulations to WCU for their wisdom in accepting the very generous donation from BB&T;. Congratulations to BB&T;for making it a condition of their generosity that WCU add Ayn Rand’s remarkable novel “Atlas Shrugged” to their required reading list.
5. Who has done more to increase the general prosperity and happiness of the poor? Mother Teresa (self-sacrificial ‘love’) or Bill Gates (self-interest and profit).
1. Capitalism is both immoral and unsustainable.
2. There is more Capitalism in the U.S. economy than there is Socialism.
3. Our current economic crisis reflects our failure to regulate greed.
4. Ho Hum.
5. Greed leads to irresponsibility. Bill Gates is only an exception. (Compare to the Walton family) Microsoft has mostly maintained immunity from the ugliness of American corporate culture, except maybe here: < http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/company-scores-plummet> Considering this, it is hard to decide.
Is this to quickly degenerate into a bickering match? Chops, I will once again say that if you would like to be taken seriously, you will have to provide some actual content in your posts – arguments, rationale, evidence, anything! Bald assertions like you have strung together in your last two posts have done nothing to further the discussion.
Brian-It would appear “Chops” was making a point by critiquing what Tim posted. Are you going to accuse Tim Peck of the same thing, since the body of his text is basically them same?
I thought not.
Brian – this Chops fellow has waged his arguments with the same degree of facts, content, rationale, etc. as anyone else in this thread, including you. Why attack him as someone not to be taken seriously? (Talk about “bickering”; when he stated a moral belief that corporations ought to include something other than self-interest in their decisions, you swatted aside his acknowledgement that some might disagree – you stated that his moral beliefs were “simply wrong”. And then made a laughable statement of your own: “By having your own profit margin as your only motivator, and acting within the confines of reason, you invariably provide the community with the fruits of your thrift.” Insert the name “Enron” into that argument, and see if it holds up.)
Just like “Tim” calling me irrational and refusing to acknowledge my questions, I suspect you simply don’t want a genuine dialog if it looks like it might lead to you question your own assumptions or even lose a debate.
Tim bowed out after presenting nothing more than overblown rhetoric, why don’t any of you “capitalists” chastise him for providing no evidence of his assertions?
Tim is correct that laissez-faire capitalism has never existed, but he is wrong in thinking it ever will. Laissez-faire capitalism is a fantasy, just as is its antithesis communism. Both THEORIES are unbelievably unrealistic (although communism takes this unrealism to a higher level) and become quickly corrupted into something that embraces the inverse of the morals and ethics they claim to espouse.
This does not mean capitalist theory does not contain a lot of truths, because it does. The good parts can and should form the basis of our economy and society. However, the propensity of “believers” to treat their theory dogmatically prevents any discussion of how to discard or overcome the negative traits.
It also means that other systems like Socialism should not be dismissed out of hand. FDR, whom many consider our greatest President, saw that socialist theory contained many ideas to correct the flaws caused by unchecked and unrestrained capitalist ideology run wild. By integrating the best aspects of socialism into our badly broken capitalist system, he kick started our economy and led the way for the most prosperous and progressive decades in American history.
I would call this “Americanism”; the intelligence and foresight to adapt or adopt the best of ANY theory or ideology, or if no answers reside there, create our own new ideas and ideals to make and maintain our status as the envy of the world. We have forgotten how to do this, and therefore run the risk of becoming another former great nation of history.
4tees, it is not that capitalism is not possible – in fact it is quite easy to accomplish. It is simply that your expectations of what capitalism is supposed to accomplish are not possible. The “goal” of capitalism, if you can call it a goal, is the unimpeded freedom to trade as you please, without violating others’ freedoms. This can be accomplished by a government whose sole purpose is to uphold and protect individual rights. And that’s it. The likely reason you believe capitalism “won’t work” is that you ascribe to it a different goal, your own goal, the goal of a central planner.
“FDR, whom many consider our greatest President, saw that socialist theory contained many ideas to correct the flaws caused by unchecked and unrestrained capitalist ideology run wild. By integrating the best aspects of socialism into our badly broken capitalist system, he kick started our economy and led the way for the most prosperous and progressive decades in American history.”
On the contrary, FDR was one of our worst presidents, and delayed economic recovery by several years. You should read one of the books by the leader of his “Brain Trust”, Raymond Moley, who was the chief architect of the New Deal, and later became its chief opponent, after understanding and seeing the consequences of their policies. Start with his first book, “After Seven Years” (1939).
As for good/bad presidents, it’s relatively easy to tell who is good and who is bad. The more well-known a president makes himself (except in times of national defense, such as a war), the more likely he is to be a bad president. Calvin Coolidge, for example, was a great president. What did he ever do? Nothing, and that’s exactly what made him great. He did, however, supply us with this reassuring quote:
“If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you.”
The so-called “laissez-faire capitalists” will never have any effect on reality, which i suspect is their hope anyway, because that way they can maintain their ideological fantasy without being sullied by the real world. no different than the die-hard Communists.
“Capitalism”, or whatever phrase you want to call what controls the American and World economy, does not exist in a bubble of theory–a fact that seems lost on many on this thread.
It would obviously behoove us to utilize whatever practical applications *actually work* in the context of a currently existing system, instead of arguing theory on the internet or a coffee shop. That’s kind of like GW Bush lauding the “free Market” while he hands out “bailouts” to multi-million dollar companies.
Everyone else can go live on an island somewhere where they can test out their theoretical ideas of how an economy “should” work.
I would be interested to know which socialist ideas you think are both good and true.
“Brian-It would appear “Chops” was making a point by critiquing what Tim posted. Are you going to accuse Tim Peck of the same thing, since the body of his text is basically them same?”
The difference being that Tim Peck has actually put content in his other posts. His final post, which you criticize, is simply a summary of his other posts, whereas Chops has never put forward an argument to date.
I am not sure if this will get posted, only about half of my posts seem to actually clear mod approval, and I receive no explanation as to why.
“The so-called “laissez-faire capitalists” will never have any effect on reality, which i suspect is their hope anyway”
Maybe there are people like that. I’m not one of them. If you want to remain relevant to the discussionn, you will have to reply to my comments, not to some imagined opinions of “so-called capitalists”.
“because that way they can maintain their ideological fantasy”
Which fantasy is that? Certainly if you try to ascribe your ever-popular central-planning goals to capitalism, you will fail, but those are not the goals of capitalism. In that respect capitalism is entirely different from all the attempts at central planning out there in that it *can* actually work according to its stated goals, indeed very easily.
““Capitalism”, or whatever phrase you want to call what controls the American and World economy”
That is not capitalism. It is socialism (or in some cases communism). We have yet to see a totally capitalist system simply because no government has adopted a constitution that fully restricts its ability to manipulate the economy. The US came the closest but did not succeed, and has since its inception expanded those limits farther and farther beyond what was planned. The irrational temptation of money and power – divorced from wealth and justice – is definitely high.
“It would obviously behoove us to utilize whatever practical applications *actually work* in the context of a currently existing system”
This is called pragmatism and despite its popular appeal is doomed to fail for the same reasons you have already stated. Attempting to cherry-pick what appears to “work best” in the short-run will simply sacrifice the future to the price; attempting to select what will work best for a specific group simply sacrifices all other groups; and so on… None of those plans can “work” because their goals are impossible. Central planning cannot succeed according to its stated goals. Capitalism can succeed according *its* stated goals.
“That’s kind of like GW Bush lauding the “free Market” while he hands out “bailouts” to multi-million dollar companies.”
Indeed. All you’ve shown though is that people like to co-opt phrases that have appeal to certain voting blocs.
Brian – If your posts aren’t getting through, don’t whine about it – get some corporation to “offer” Mountain Express $1,000,000 to publish your posts ahead of anyone else’s.
“Brian – If your posts aren’t getting through, don’t whine about it”
Who’s whining? If they do not get through, it is your loss, not mine.
The ethical philosophy of Ayn Rand is completely insane. According to Rand, an individual acts rationally only when he or she acts in ways that promote his or her own life. This is ethical egoism, and there doesn’t seem to be anything ethical about egoism. Ethics involves the study of how one being treats other beings. Since an ethical act always involves more than one person, ethical egoism can hardly be called any sort of ethical philosophy. In fact, it seems to me that Rand’s philosophy is the philosophy of a psychopath. It is also inconsistent for the world of laissez faire capitalism. Rand believed that the only social system consistent with her version of egoism is one that protects the individual rights of everyone. This means the egoist would not support slavery, a system in which a person profits from the labor of another person. Yet, laissez faire capitalism is the epitome of a system where one person profits from the labor of another person. The employee will receive some compensation, but the surplus value created through the employee’s labor benefits investors who did nothing more than loan money to the entrepreneur for capital. Sure, they took a risk, but risk-taking is not labor. It is a gamble, and if the gamble doesn’t pay off, the bust affects far many more people than just the investors, which likewise infringes on other people’s rights. There are far better ways to keep students from being automatons than making them read Rand. I recommend that if WCU is looking to
incorporate some intellectual foundation for a better business
curriculum, perhaps they could start by educating their business students about alternatives to free-market capitalism, particularly local exchange trading systems, participatory economics and syndicalist economic planning.
OK – if any of you have mellowed your opinion in the slightest during the course of this discussion, raise your hand. Ah. I didn’t think so.
What I think we can glean from this interesting group of comments is:
1) WCU has the right to accept the $1M from BB&T;and to help students study alternative ideas. They can choose to accept or reject those ideas – just as we all have in our educational process. Not all of us will agree.
2) The US has a mix of Capitalistic and Socialistic policies in place. There is freedom to be entrepreneurial, and make a profit, but there are many restrictive laws in place to limit a purely laissez-faire form of government. Not all of us will agree.
SO – why are we arguing so vehemently? Those of us who are more capitalist oriented are frustrated with the government being so invasive. Remember – financial institutions didn’t loan money to unqualified mortgagees before Congress threatened them with “redlining” sanctions. All of a sudden – the restrictions were removed – opening the door for greed over sound practices. Those same members of Congress deny plausibility and throw blame at “Wall Street.”
Those of you who are more Socialist leaning feel that there were not enough restrictions to keep the “Greedy” from trying to profit from this.
NO system is perfect, but our blended system has been regaled for over 100 years as one of the only places that real freedom (of personal rights, financial rights, and social rights) rules in the world.
Oh – and by the way – Chops: Bill Gates is FAR from the only philanthropic entrepreneur around. AMERICA is made up of the MOST giving people in the world. Ref: http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20081224/columnist/812240317&tc=yahoo
Happy New Year one and all.
Thad wrote: “I recommend that if WCU is looking to incorporate some intellectual foundation for a better business curriculum, perhaps they could start by educating their business students about alternatives to free-market capitalism, particularly local exchange trading systems, participatory economics and syndicalist economic planning.”
Hey Thad: How about a system that allows the individual to choose if he/she wants a local exchange trading system, participatory economics, etc? Oh – that’s right – we already have that….
“This is ethical egoism, and there doesn’t seem to be anything ethical about egoism.”
So rather than provide an argument, you’ve decided to define the opponent as wrong from outset. While that may settle your conscience, it’s not likely to persuade anyone.
You’ve defined ethics/morality outright as a series of “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” in terms of dealing with others. Thus, someone living on a deserted island can do no wrong, for example. Rand defines ethics/morality as a guide to man’s choices – similar to what you’ve said, but distinctly different, and with universal applicability. Whereas your morality cannot respond to a man on a deserted island who asks, “what *should* I do?”, Rand’s can. And the answer is nothing fanatical or lunatic, it is simply that you should use your reasoning capabilities of your mind to determine what goals and actions will further your life and your values.
“Yet, laissez faire capitalism is the epitome of a system where one person profits from the labor of another person.”
In fact it is the exact opposite of such.
“The employee will receive some compensation”
…an amount freely and voluntarily agreed upon by both the employee and the employer.
“investors who did nothing more than loan money to the entrepreneur for capital.”
Nothing more? Then you’ve shown how limited your knowledge of economics is. Members of the econ dept at WCU are probably emailing around your post for a bit of quick wit.
Investors and prospectors add information to the market by showing where the best, most economical, and most efficient businesses and products can be had. If a new invention comes along and could revolutionize the world, investors do the research necessary to determine its usefulness, and let the rest of the market know of its benefit by investing in it. Contrary to your ignorant smear, investors and prospectors add stability to the market by researching investments. The more they research, the more stability is added to the market. Without them, we’re shooting in the dark.
“NO system is perfect”
Except, apparently, your system of denying the competence of all other systems, no? You’ve defined all systems as flawed without providing any evidence or rationale to back up the claim. You’re simply working on the assumption that the “middle ground” is always the best option – a system in and of itself. The middle ground is in fact the worst option in the sense that it takes the most time to realize your mistakes. Whereas by taking one extreme – the wrong one – you realize your mistake quickly, and whereas by taking the other extreme – the right one – you immediately benefit from your choice, thus by taking the middle ground, you forever confuse and praise/blame the two extremes. It’s like breaking your leg – if the bone heals correctly, you’ll be fine in no time, but if it doesn’t, you’ve got a permanent limp.
“but our blended system has been regaled for over 100 years as one of the only places that real freedom (of personal rights, financial rights, and social rights) rules in the world.”
You’re talking in relative terms. Of course, *relatively speaking*, the US has in certain periods had better economies than the rest of the world. This is NOT one of those periods. If everyone else gets a D, you’d settle for a C, but I’m aiming for an A.
Theoretically, ANY system is perfect. There has only been one perfect example of anything in history, and many would deny He was either perfect or even exists.
To have a perfectly working economic system, like having a perfectly working watch, it requires NO outside interference or conditions that could change the perfectly working system.
I did NOT “deny competence” of all other systems – I said they are not perfect. Can you put together an argument against that statement?
Brian writes: “Of course, *relatively speaking*, the US has in certain periods had better economies than the rest of the world. This is NOT one of those periods.”
What major country is doing better than the US right now? I would argue that the US is still better off than most countries during this down economy. If the government stops bailing everyone out and lets the free market decide whether we still need buggy whips (or $80/hr laborers), the capitalists in this country will hire folks at a fair wage to produce new products.
“Theoretically, ANY system is perfect.”
I am not talking about theory.
“To have a perfectly *working* economic system…”
Actually, it simply depends on what you mean by “working”. Your definition and mine, in case you haven’t noticed, are different. Your interest is only in the ends, regardless of the means. For me, the means are everything, and the ends never justify the means. So for me, and for all other laissez-faire capitalists, the system that “works” is the one with the most freedom, the one that upholds and protects individual rights. This would simply require a government limited to that role and *only* that role, and does not pressure or persuade anyone to enter into any contract or agreement. This is quite simple to achieve, and the US has indeed been close to achieving this result in the past, but the temptation by those in government to gain power and influence has been great. For you, what “works” is something that benefits everyone all the time. Your goal is a centrally-planned economy. This is completely unlike anything proposed by capitalism. The goal is not in the ends, but in the means.
“What major country is doing better than the US right now?”
Give it a few months to a year. It is physically impossible for us to recover given the government’s plans and our current course. I could have been clearer what I meant by that, you’re right.
I’ll just remind folks about this article – the day it came out was the same day that BB&T;was in the news trying to defend taking a $3 billion handout from the federal government, money that they claim they didn’t want, didn’t need, and that violated their ‘Randian’ principles..
Yet they took it anyway, and openly said they were going to spend it on acquisitions & increased dividends, not lending to consumers. The hypocrisy is mind-boggling. And these are the people pushing schools all over the Southeast to teach Ayn Rand?
And for those who claim that a genuine free-market will cure our woes? As a previous poster said, it’s a fantasy. There will always be an “interventionist” system as long as the government provides, even in part: a stable currency, laws, courts, police, military, interstate highways, schools, etc. Remove these things from the private sector, & see how rich you get selling rocks to your neighbor.
sorry, should have said “Remove these things from the >public< sector..."
“The hypocrisy is mind-boggling.”
By your argument, any “Randian” is also a hypocrite if they use public roads or libraries, or buy any food or items that are taxed (ie, everything), or have a job for which income tax is taken out. Correct? Again by your argument, for any “Randian” who is held at gunpoint and told to do things against their will, they are a hypocrite if they do anything but immediately run away or try to fight back, right? If they accept the gunman’s offers in order to buy time to reason with them, then they are a hypocrite, no?
What I’m doing now I consider “reasoning with the gunman”, in a sense.
“And for those who claim that a genuine free-market will cure our woes? As a previous poster said, it’s a fantasy.”
The “fantasy” is in your presumed goals of the free-market. The goals you believe to be claimed by the free market are not so. You have been misinformed, or are misinforming yourself.
“There will always be an “interventionist” system as long as the government provides, even in part: a stable currency, laws, courts, police, military, interstate highways, schools, etc.”
A government is necessary to uphold and protect individual rights. And that’s it. As long as it remains limited to that role, it will not interfere in the economy.
“Remove these things from the private sector, & see how rich you get selling rocks to your neighbor.”
What are you going on about??
This thing has gotten way off track. I am in favor of capitalism, and please don’t put words in my mouth about me believing the ends justify the means. That is so far from the truth…
My only point is that I don’t believe that pure capitalism, in the dictionary sense, is any more realistic than pure communism. Although I’d take pure capitalism any time I can get it.
We live in a country where I think you pointed out – the system wasn’t designed by the forefathers to be purely capitalistic.
We can argue how to make it more so – but it happens in drips and drabs – either more towards capitalism or more towards socialism – depending of the political landscape – and current events which always drives public opinion and power brokers to react. And many times not correctly.
I stand in favor of capitalism and a free market economy as the type of system that is best for all in a society. The fact that we aren’t there and likely won’t get there doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to improve the system on a daily basis.
“My only point is that I don’t believe that pure capitalism, in the dictionary sense, is any more realistic than pure communism.”
So do words now have multiple meanings? Capitalism yes!… but not *pure* capitalism??
The only way I can make sense of your opinion that capitalism cannot “work” is that you must be ascribing to it some other goals (represented by “work”) than the true goals of capitalism. That is why I have repeatedly said that you must be putting the ends over the means.
“We live in a country where I think you pointed out – the system wasn’t designed by the forefathers to be purely capitalistic.”
Right. While there were some in favor of it, they ended up resorting to compromise, the middle ground, the same middle ground you promote, to get the support they needed.
“We can argue how to make it more so – but it happens in drips and drabs”
But you see, it need not. Just because it happens slowly doesn’t mean it must, and for capitalism, it can indeed happen overnight, for the goals lie in the ending rights violations, rather than in some imagined economic utopia. The minute rights violations stop occurring, you have capitalism. Of course it will still take much time for recovery, but that is a whole different discussion.
“By your argument, any “Randian” is also a hypocrite if they use public roads or libraries, or buy any food or items that are taxed (ie, everything), or have a job for which income tax is taken out.”
Not at all. Don’t try to turn my criticism of BB&T;into an insult against others. I’m singling out the management of BB&T;because they:
1) Promote Ayn Rand philosophy aggressively, which correct me if I’m wrong, says that government shouldn’t get involved in the “free market”;
2) Railed loudly and publicly against the bailout while it was being considered, and castigated those who might participate, calling it a “massive subsidy of incompetence”;
3) Then quietly applied for, received, and spent $3 billion of taxpayer money in spite of all that.
I’m sorry, but all that spells hypocrisy to me, especially when we’re talking about very wealthy individuals who have the wherewithal to significantly affect the debate, and the economy. I don’t include average people who are simply trying to explore economic and philosophic arguments while still living in the real world, in that criticism. Why are you trying so hard to misrepresent my argument?
There is nothing hypocritical about BB&T;being forced to accept the government. They had no choice in the matter. The government said to BB&T;: accept the money or else.
“Whereas your morality cannot respond to a man on a deserted island who asks, “what *should* I do?”, Rand’s can.”
A person can do all sorts of things that make perfect sense while alone on an island, but none of them qualify as ethical if that person is the only being on the island.
“In fact it is the exact opposite of such.”
How do you figure that?
“…an amount freely and voluntarily agreed upon by both the employee and the employer.”
That is beside the point. The point of my argument, as you well know, is the notion of the employee producing surplus value through his or her labor, and that the additional value is then harvested, as it were, by someone who owns the means of his or her subsistence.
“The more they research, the more stability is added to the market. Without them, we’re shooting in the dark.”
Hmmm. Perhaps that is true, and I have not actually considered that point. Thanks for that. However, the point you make is again not a counterpoint to the point I am making. Investigators who do the research are likewise employees who do their research for the companies for whom they work. They do not have the capital themselves, or, if they do, it is a tiny part of the capital available for investment. Thus, they are simply performing a task for the sake of those who have the capital in order for those who have capital to make a profit from investing that capital. The reason I know this is because I have made investments, and I in no way deserved the massive amount of profits I got in return. I think I’ll keep it all the same, but I know for a fact that people are making tons of money and not doing any work for that money. They simply make money because they have money. I have stock, for instance. I make a profit off that stock. My profits don’t all go to the company who handles my account. That is an example of the point I am making.
“Hey Thad: How about a system that allows the individual to choose if he/she wants a local exchange trading system, participatory economics, etc? Oh – that’s right – we already have that….”
LOL! Well, in a sense….
In another sense, I think that is exactly what we are talking about. I think individuals would be far more prone to choose these alternatives if they came into contact with them, but Branch Banking and Trust would never promote such ideas. Thus, students are certainly never going to come into contact with them at WCU. BB and T has nothing to gain from a bunch of business majors who want to build a cooperative economy that leaves BB and T out of the equation, and the collective I am part of doesn’t have enough money to make students have to learn about Mondragon cooperatives.
Peter- The government “forced” them to take the $3 billion? What do you base that on?
“The point of my argument, as you well know, is the notion of the employee producing surplus value through his or her labor, and that the additional value is then harvested, as it were, by someone who owns the means of his or her subsistence.”
And thus everyone from the laborer to the manager has an incentive to keep on working, as well as the means by which to stay in business. Where was your “point” exactly? All I see is a bunch of sentence fragments strung together.
I have found links where several CEOs claim that they were forced to take the money, ahd here is what one diligent digger reports:
And here is a list of recepients I found that is current to Nov14th:
The bad news is that most of the companies who have received TARP money have lost an equal or greater amount of money by their stock prices plummeting when word got out they had accepted the Federal money…so we can safely say that most of the money’s worth evaporated.
I thought we had learned the lesson Jimmy carter taught us…that just printing more money won’t necessarily help, and could make things worse. I guess the Misery Index will be coming back.
“The point of my argument, as you well know, is the notion of the employee producing surplus value through his or her labor, and that the additional value is then harvested, as it were, by someone who owns the means of his or her subsistence.”
So Brian responds:
“And thus everyone from the laborer to the manager has an incentive to keep on working, as well as the means by which to stay in business. Where was your “point” exactly? All I see is a bunch of sentence fragments strung together.”
So let me get this straight – you reprint his comment, obviously understand his point, respond to the substance of it, then claim it’s just sentence fragments strung together?
Jeez, I thought I was a jerk.
The whole banking bailout started when the CEO of the nation’s nine largest banks were told they must come to Washington within 48 hours. When they arrived they were all given a one-page statement requiring them to take the bailout. When several of the bankers refused and said they didn’t need the money, they were told they weren’t leaving until they all signed. This story is well documented.
They were all told that if they didn’t sign, government regulators would come into their banks and basically shut them down.
“This story is well documented. ”
“So let me get this straight – you reprint his comment, obviously understand his point”
I thought I might confuse some of you. It was clear he was trying to imply doom and gloom, so I followed it through to its logical conclusion, but at the same time realized that he didn’t really say anything in his post. He had not reached any point or conclusion, but had just put together a bunch of fragments separated by commas, hoping the reader would implicitly fill in his comment with a point.
I felt that even though he made no point, I might as well respond to what I thought he was hoping people would see as a point.
Here are the links that were on the post I linked to (why do people not read?)…I’ll walk this dog for you, then.
And this from the Wall Street Journal…
The letter refenced there is here…
The Legacy Media does not report this kind of news in a substantial way. I had to dig for these links, not one story linked to the letters to Paulson, although they were posted for download on the ABA website. Mainstream “Journalists” seem to have never caught on to the whole utility of the hyperlink, preferring to act as gatekeepers to the news instead of reporters or investigative journalists.
Mtn Xpress, despite my misgivings over her lefty slant, at least will post links in their online stories to resources elsewhere. They get it.
If you have links to other sources, I’d like to follow them because the more I investigate the bailout machinations, the uglier it gets.
This is what dialogue looks like.
I’ll make it easier for you, then, Brian:
Production results through the act of labor.
Wealth results through the act of production.
Therefore, wealth results through the act of labor.
In a capitalist society, one may either gain a certain wealth through the act of investment or through the act of labor.
If one has gained a certain wealth through the act of investment, one has not gained that same wealth through the act of labor.
In a capitalist society, some have gained a certain wealth through the act of investment.
Therefore, in a capitalist society, some have not gained a certain wealth through the act of labor.
Slavery is the process of gaining wealth from the labor of someone else.
If slavery is wrong, then one should not gain wealth from the labor of someone else.
Slavery is wrong. (I hope we are both agreed on this issue.)
Therefore, one should not gain wealth from the labor of someone else.
If society is agreed that one should not gain wealth through the labor of someone else,
then gaining wealth through the labor of someone else can be considered immoral.
Society has agreed that one should not gain wealth through the labor of someone else.
Therefore, gaining wealth through the labor of someone else can be considered immoral.
Capitalism results in some people gaining a certain wealth through the act of other people’s labor.
Therefore, capitalism can be considered immoral.
There ya go, Brian. Now maybe you can understand.
Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department in the Reagan administration and a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal:
“The control over the financial system that the bailout would give to the executive branch would mean, in effect, state capitalism or fascism.”
Your “argument” reminds me of the Russian revolutionaries who killed off industrial leaders on the assumption that the products could be made by anyone, only to quickly realize that there is quite a bit more to production than labor, that nobody knew how to run the factories, and that they were just going to have to do without.
“Slavery is the process of gaining wealth from the labor of someone else.”
Incorrect. You’ve confused a definition with a single characteristic of a concept. A definition is a statement that identifies the nature of the units subsumed under a concept; a definition identifies the characteristics shared between these units.
Now, the definition you attempted to provide is not sufficient to define slavery – i.e., it does not sufficiently identify the characteristics common among slaves, and set them apart from other concepts, such as “tree” or “car” -, and is thus not a definition of slavery.
It is one aspect of slavery, but not a defining aspect, in the same way that “red” is an aspect of “apple”, but you could not rightly say, “An apple is anything red.”
Barry: Well, it’s all history now. What worries me most, even worse than the $700B+ bailout, are the recent secret bailouts by the Fed in excess several TRILLION dollars ($6T+ to date).
They will not say who they are helping out, because they don’t want people dumping those stocks, and more importantly, they will not say what they are giving away as COLLATERAL. This reeks of corruption, and the only people who know what’s going on – the fed and certain congressional committees – are keeping their mouths shut.
Protecting the public interest, indeed!
Thad said: Slavery is the process of gaining wealth from the labor of someone else.
Whoa! You’ve got that one backward. Slavery is wrong because the slave is considered property and not a free man. It has nothing to do with how much is earned on the back of the laborer.
Basic laws of economics dictate that a PRODUCT is worth what the MARKET is willing to pay. That says nothing about PEOPLE involved in the production. The only way to earn a profit is to be able to produce something that will sell for more than it costs to manufacture. Everything else is irrelevant when it comes to profit.
And in our society – people are free to choose who their employer is. If they want to do better, they need to get a better education or put themselves in a position to have a better paying job or start their own business. This country encourages that model in many ways from nearly free community colleges to subsidized loans for small businesses.
There is nothing immoral about a free person working to produce something that someone else can sell at a profit. There have always been “drones” and there have always been entrepreneurs. Many – if not most – workers (myself included), choose to work for someone else who makes a lot more money than they do. To call me a slave because my boss makes more than I do is WAY off the mark. He is taking risks I am unwilling or incapable of doing. Would I like to make more money? Sure. But I’d better figure out how to be better or smarter or come up with something more profitable.
Well said, WCU ’75 Grad.
Yeah, all those links are from one article at http://www.scholarsandrogues.com/2008/11/25/banks-forced-to-take-bailout/
but it is all quite vague, with the author making conclusions i dont find any real factual backing for.
I see the line of thought, for sure, but to make a claim like that one needs more specific info than that.
The banks only appear to not want to take the bailouts under certain restrictions, which is quite different than the original claim that they didnt want the bailouts at all.
No, all the links are not from one article. I had to poke around with Google before I found the pdf of the actual letter sent to Paulson that all the other articles referenced.
I hope you like your government owning interest in the banks. The insanity will only get worse from here.
Oh TP. The assumptions you are making are funny. “My” government? Why do you even assume we are arguing different points? because I am asking for more documentation? You must see yourself as at odds with everyone, then, eh?
Again, all of those links come from the article i just posted. as I said previously, i follow the line of thought, but all I have found is vague reference, not documented proof. Its kinda necessary to make the connections, unless you just want to be a random guy spouting off unsubstantiated opinion. Me, id be more interested in documented “proof”.
Am I wrong in assessing that the banks “not wanting” the bailouts was based on certain government regulations, and not because they didnt actually want the money, as is being implied by the linked articles? Please provide me with a few articles where the banks say they didnt actually want the money.
This link DID NOT come from the article…
It is documentation that the banks were being forced to take the money.
Thanks TP– It’ll take wait until the end of my work day to get to it, but from what ive already read, it doesnt seem to give any proof. It is just Yingling’s opinion, without any real documentation. And that’s all ive been able to find in relation to this intruiging topic.
Of course the banks would claim they didnt want the bailouts. But what actual proof is there…?
Perhaps its there ,and i have missed it, but ive read most of what seems to be available and all i find are unsubstantiated opinion. Hardly anything i could present to a skeptic…
Then, this conversation no longer serves any purpose if you will just say it is all a case of “he said she said”.
There is nothing you will accept as evidence.
Foolish me for thinking there could be dialogue!
Brain and “WCU ’75 Grad,” you both seem to be under the impression that society needs an elite group of industrial leaders. I strongly disagree, but that is not part of anything I’ve said thus far. It is not relevant to my point. And WCU ’75 Grad, I’ve intentionally not made any references to employers per se. I’ve been talking about investors, not employers.
It seems that both of you think that though a slave enriches his or her owner through his or her labor, slavery is wrong because the slave is not free to offer his or her cotton-picking skills to the available demand pool of plantation masters so as to achieve the best possible benefits available for a cotton picker, and not because the slave owner is enriching himself off the labor of a slave. Fine. That sounds like a very small amount of freedom, but I’m willing to accept your counterpoint.
Since this is what you are saying, then it appears that you are admitting, Brian, that in a capitalist society, individuals enrich themselves through the labor of other individuals. I’ll call that slavery, but you can call it what you will. So, are you now willing to admit that your statement above, “In fact it is the exact opposite of such,” is wrong? I’m betting that you will not admit that. What you are going to tell me next is something like, “The investors deserve to profit because they take such risks! Where would we be without these glorious investors! God bless them!” And then you will say that I am irrational and that I am ignorant and that I am a Bolshevik killing those poor Russian barons.
So, allow me to jump ahead one step with your ongoing argument, which is the point that WCU ’75 Grad went ahead and made: that risk-taking deserves enrichment for those who take risks. I call risk-taking “gambling,” but you can call it what you like.
We are, then, dealing with an economic system in which gamblers profit from the labor of other people. Are we not? If we are all agreed that capitalism is the system in which gamblers profit from the labor of other people, then we can end the argument. We can end the argument, because that sounds like a really dumb system.
“Brain and “WCU ‘75 Grad,” you both seem to be under the impression that society needs an elite group of industrial leaders. I strongly disagree, but that is not part of anything I’ve said thus far.”
It is also not part of anything I’ve said thus far…
“individuals enrich themselves through the labor of other individuals.”
This is true of any transaction. The reason you buy something from someone, rather than make it yourself, is that they can sell it to you for cheaper than you could make it yourself, precisely because they have put in the effort of mind and body to increase efficiency of production. You are enriched by their labor.
[rest of non-argument snipped out and forgotten]
TP – I think there is dialog here, but it may not be going in the direction you want. I’m with The(PFKaP) on this: It goes without saying that many bank leaders, especially folks like the BB&T;execs, will protest loudly at participating in the bailout. It goes against many of their widely-espoused beliefs, yet they took the money anyway. It’s embarrassing, and it might give the impression to investors that their bank is not as healthy as it seems. (I’ll repeat that there are stories out there about banks that were offered & refused bailout money:)
“A sixth bank, Chemical Financial Corp. of Midland, Mich., said it was approved for $84 million but declined the money. “While Chemical Financial Corporation strongly supports the overall purpose and design of the Capital Purchase Program, our board and management felt that the CPP features did not align with our strategic goals,” said David B. Ramaker, the company’s chairman and chief executive.
“Chemical Financial’s management and board of directors decided that the restrictions imposed on companies getting government investment, and the potential dilution to existing shareholders, outweighed any potential benefits, Ramaker said in a statement.”
I think that if you read the statements from the ABA, BB&T;, etc., carefully, the only REAL “pressure” that these bankers refer to is the idea that their competitors might get money, and they won’t, putting them and their shareholders at a disadvantage. I’m not discounting that this is a consideration; especially when it’s quietly (or loudly, in the case of BB&T;) understood that many of these banks will use the money for acquisitions, not lending. I’m just saying that if this is their only real worry, that they’ll get spanked by their shareholders for not getting the ol’ snout up to the trough, or that Bank ‘A’ will have more takeover money to play with than Bank ‘B’, it doesn’t qualify as a “gun to their head” in my book. It points out the weakness in the de-regulation, ‘free-market’, growth-at-any-cost environment of the past couple decades. In a crisis, they are vulnerable to “pressure” that comes from unexpected directions, and their principles are the first thing thrown under the bus.
I’m not defending the bailout – I agree with Paul Craig Roberts, the former Reagan official – this is trending towards fascism. And the greed & excess of these ‘free-marketers’ is the weak point in our society where fascism is sneaking in.
Yeah, TP’s “evidence” really doesnt “prove” anything. I’m not sure why he’s so defensive.
I have stated a few times that i see his line of thinking, but i just dont see the proof.
All the links above do is state that the banks didnt want to be forced to accept certain regulations if they took the money. There is no proof, though, that the banks *had* to take the money. Only proof that they didnt want the money connected to any kind of rules or regulation.
If the proof is out there, i would love to see it. I think this could be a fascinating topic. But nothing posted so far is anything other than speculation and opinion. I’m not saying your theory is “wrong” TeePee, but you really havent offered “evidence”. In fact, the link I give offers more than yours, and that still is adds up to very little.
Or, you could just keep assuming you and I are having an argument.
The (PFKaP) et al:
You guys will get fascism for sure…while you are looking for it from the right, it will come from the left and be in complete control before you have a clue.
Fascists are leftists.
To clarify that statement I will define my terms.
a political/economic system characterised by heavily centralized political power presiding over a mixed private/state economy.
While much property is nominally in private hands, its usage is controlled and dictated by the state.
Fascist systems believe the individual is the servant of the state. All man’s efforts must be directed towards to “good” of the state, the collective, the leader.
Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer-One people, One State, One Leader-is the ultimate fascist motto.
Many, but not all, fascist states use racism as a unifying social force.
The Political Left
Collectivism, in all its forms.
Imagine a political continuum running from left to right.
On the far left you have extreme collectivism-Stalinism, North Korean socialism, Spartanism, Pharoahism, the Incan state, Plato’s beehive, left wing anarchy.
A little closer to the center-but not much-you have East German Socialism, Nazism, Italian Fascism, modern Chinese communism, Cuban socialism, Iranian theocracy, Putin’s Russia, most of Africa.
Further towards the centre you have the European Union, Sweden, modern South Africa, most of Asia and Latin America.
In the center you have the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, the UK.
To the right, you once had Thomas Jefferson’s USA, Disraeli’s Britain and 1980’s Hong Kong.
On the far right you would have right anarchy-a stable society with no government at all. A dream, but a very unrealistic one, at least for the next few aeons.
You can read this for further information
I also consider the State of North Carolina very fascist in nature, what with regulations squeezing the very life out of business, dictating where and when (and for how much) we can improve or work our property, and Asheville one of the most fascist in the state.
The government needs to get out of our lives and go back to the very limited role it was given permission to perform in the U.S. Constitution, not the nanny state it has grown into being.
TeePee: (et all?)
Where have i talked about “fascism” from the right or left? What could that possibly have to do with the topic we’ve been “discussing”? So much for the “dialogue” you claim to be desperately seeking. Or is that how you revert to a topic you feel comfortable with?
for the 4th time, I see the line of thinking as far as govt control of the banks go (no im not a raging “lefty”, sorry to disappoint) but the proof is not in the pudding. You claimed oyur links were proof, but they were merely speculation and opinion as covered by myself and “barry”. I have been reading up on the topic a bit, and dont see how one can make the conclusion youve come to based on anything other than assumption–not exactly information you can convert the masses with.
We *were* talking about that, before you entered into your bizarre diatribe regarding your fantasy world of partisan cliches, right?
I’ve always considered fascism to be less about right vs. left, and more about a breakdown of civil society, a cancerous outbreak where genuine government fails to hold at bay our baser instincts of fear, greed, and racism.
That being said, consider the 14 defining characteristics of fascism, as described by Lawrence Britt, who compared over a dozen classic fascist states and boiled down what they have in common:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
4. Supremacy of the Military
5. Rampant Sexism
6. Controlled Mass Media
7. Obsession with National Security
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
9. Corporate Power is Protected
10. Labor Power is Suppressed
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
14. Fraudulent Elections
How many of those resonate with recent Republican Party themes vs. Democratic Party themes (as the fairly lame representatives of rightist vs. leftist theory)?
We’ll see how you feel about this after Obama’s second term is over…8)
All you are really saying is that both the Dems and the Reps resort to pragmatism – ditching all principles when it is politically profitable to do so. That they would do that should be obvious, and that one should reject both of them outright for doing such should likewise be obvious.
Hey, don’t assume that I consider Obama some savior or anything – he’s already committed to continuing several things that I consider disastrous, and if he’s made the deals with the devil that most any other candidate has to to get elected president, it probably won’t matter what he really wants to accomplish.
The trends that contribute to an economic collapse of this magnitude AND the door opening to a fascist state; these are things that are bigger than one president, and the blame is definitely spread across both major political parties (although with the majority going to the Republicans, IMHO).
Excellent list, Barry. Economic organization is only part of it.
“When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.” — Sinclair Lewis
We seem to have lost the substance of the real issue here. So, let me repeat:
This is a remarkably dishonest debate.
The fact of the matter is that the Left has almost complete ideological hegemony on America’s college campuses. They use bogus “process,” faculty governance and academic freedom arguments to prevent an expansion of ideas on campus. They do this because they know that they and their colleagues control the process and use it to ensure their ideological monopoly of ideas.
It’s entirely proper for donors to give money with strings attached just as it’s entirely proper for universities to accept or reject the money and the strings. It’s that simple.
Given the lack of ideological diversity on America’s college campuses, BB&T;should be praised for expanding the marketplace of ideas at taxpayer-supported universities.
Who could be opposed to exposing students to a broader spectrum of ideas?
Washburn and Warren, like the brown shirts of yesteryear, act as though they are the ideological thought police with the power to determine which ideas will be heard on America’s college campuses and which not. They are kindred spirits with the book burners.
Peter, while I agree with your statements, I want to make sure we agree about what constitutes “the Left” – in short, the Republican Party has been as far to the left as the Democratic Party for at least the last few decades, precisely because they embrace pragmatism just as tightly as the Dems.
Brian, while I agree with your statements, I want to make sure we agree about what constitutes “the Right” – in short, the Democratic Party has been as far to the right as the Republican Party for at least the last few decades, precisely because they embrace pragmatism just as tightly as the Reps.
Forgive my snark, Brian. I hope you see that we may actually be close to agreeing on something. The two main political parties abandoned their core constituencies long ago. However, I disagree with your assessment of where on the political spectrum the Republocrats have landed. I contend things have moved further to the Right on many fronts over the past thirty years.
I contend that things have moved much farther to the left – to wit:
* acceptance of non-marriage, gay marriage, and other historically non-traditional definitions of family (pushed and typified by the left)
* nanny-state type culture including a “right” of free health care (not saying right or wrong – just a much more liberal value)
* government control of our income stream – gradual increase by percentage of Social Security and Medicare as well as tax on corporate profits and huge numbers of new fees and taxes imposed by fed, state and local governments – including lotteries
* acceptance of abortion as a normal form of birth control
* federal control of local education systems through carrot and stick funding measures
* federal elections similarly funded with carrot and stick approach (questionable fund raising tactics of Obama the exception)
All these things plus “tolerance” of all except white, conservative Christians in all forms of government and education across the nation.
Tell me we’re more right than left.
Barry: you are referring to “moving to the right” in the social sense… of course the Reps have done that, with their religious attachment.. but that religious attachment could easily shift over to the Dems and the left… I’ve read several suggestions that environmentalism will pave the way – ie, “this is God’s planet, and it must be protected”. My point is that fiscally, both the Dems and Reps are pragmatic, and even socially they are. While they do espouse certain core beliefs, they don’t ever adhere to those beliefs when it is not politically profitable to do so. In that respect they have been pragmatic for several decades.
Let’s make one thing absolutely clear: Those faculty at WCU who are opposing the BB&T;gift do so entirely for ideological reasons. The arguments from “process,” “academic freedom,” and “faculty governance” are entirely bogus. Such arguments are just a cover to enforce their ideological hegemony.
Peter – You speak as if you’re inside their heads. You know for a fact what these teachers motivation is? I should have you over for a magic show sometime.
I know it’s hard to accept the possibility, but you might entertain the notion that the reason Ayn Rand isn’t taught in schools is that her theories have been roundly discredited. Her books have been talked about for decades, and I get the sense that even most conservatives consider her an interesting diversion, but not academically worthwhile.
Anecdotally, you can’t deny that BB&T;’s response to the current crisis doesn’t look good to the Randians. Check out the discussion at some of their sites – BB&Ts;decision to grab federal bailout money is being called a betrayal by some. These are the standard bearers? Doesn’t speak well of the integrity of their theories that they chuck them under the bus so readily.
Barry: I think most people simply are confused about what Rand says, and write her off as a bitch. If you think there is evidence that she has been systematically refuted by academia in her time, I would be interested to read it. In fact I know of several professors and doctoral students in philosophy, economics, etc, at well-known schools throughout the country who are Objectivists.
Being rejected on emotional grounds is not the same thing as being refuted.
I am on the WCU Campus and I have heard several faculty voice their opposition to this “Republican Infiltration effort” as some are calling it.
People who don’t have tenure (or a powerful patron) have to be very careful about voicing political views that are not progressive in nature.
Almost every Objectivist I know would resent being lumped in with the Republicans. Many have voted Democrat in several of the most recent elections simply because the religious right was a worse alternative. The fact that Republicans are also resorting to pragmatism whenever it is politically profitable also sets them apart from Objectivists, who would never consider “bipartisanship” or “the middle ground” over principles.
You are joking, right?
The only kind of person who could suggest that those college professors (oh let’s say the ones at WCU or at UNC-Charlotte) who oppose this gift from BB&T;aren’t doing it for ideological reasons is either someone who has never stepped foot on a college campus and is therefore ignorant of the issue, or someone who spends a great deal of time on a college campus and is therefore dishonest.
It seems pretty clear to me that you are one of those people who will do anything to prevent Ayn Rand’s ideas from being taught on a college campus. If her ideas are so discredited, why then fear that they be taught?
Let the students make up their own minds. Let the marketplace of ideas work its magic.
TeePee-It must be hard being an oppressed, white, Christian Male.
I know – let’s ask two of Ayn Rand’s original inner circle, who were around when Atlas Shrugged was being written, and Objectivism was taking shape.
Here’s Alan Greenspan, ripping the heart out of Randians everywhere, on C-Span less than two months ago:
(The 17-second version) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAH-o7oEiyY&feature=related
(The 6-minute version) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5lZPWNFizQ&feature=related
Now here’s Nathaniel Branden, Rand’s lover and psychologist: Objectivism…”subtly encourages repression, self-alienation, and guilt.”
OK, those were two pretty stupid examples, I guess. Check out the wiki page on substantial criticism of Ayn Rand’s theories.
I’ll repeat: maybe she isn’t taught in college because the people who devote their lives to examining these philosophies have weighed them & found them wanting.
Peter – You say that my disagreement with your point of view proves that I’m either ignorant OR a liar. How do you know I’m not BOTH! Ha! There – I’ve run rings round you logically!!
Until the candidacy of Ron Paul, that attitude of Objectivists (Objectionists!) has always puzzled me. Maybe they should form a party of their own.
Repressed?!? I prefer effervescent as a descriptive.
I am very amused at the brouhaha that has erupted over one donation from the right of the political spectrum. I think it is a perfect example of the utter intolerance of lefties every where because had this money been from a lefty institution for the teaching of lefty ideas…I very much doubt the cackling hens at WCU or here would be upset about it.
The Mtn X would not even have run a story on it.
Barry: do you think that’s really a solid argument? Do you think no Objectivist or person interested in Rand has ever considered what you’re saying? The fact that neither Greenspan nor Branden stuck with Rand’s philosophy would only count against Rand if they had provided some rationale to back up their claims… unless you are trying to construct an appeal to authority (and you consider them authority figures…).
“maybe she isn’t taught in college because the people who devote their lives to examining these philosophies have weighed them & found them wanting.”
And maybe some people need actual rationale to reject a philosophy, rather than the appeal to an imagined group of people who have supposedly rejected that philosophy. Is that all you need – the comfort that someone, somewhere, probably figured out what’s wrong with her philosophy, regardless of the context in which they claim her faults, and regardless of their intent in doing so?
For me, it is not surprising that in a society that consists almost entirely of religious beliefs, a philosophy that espouses atheism would be rejected by most…
TP: I think Objectivists are opposed to the whole idea of a party for their philosophy… although there was an Objectivist Party in the last election (though I think it was only started by a few people and gained no interest among Objectivists)
I raise the white flag. You’ve convinced me! You’re both ignorant and dishonest, which suggests that you must be an academic administrator.
Over five million people have read Atlas Shrugged and it was ranked only behind the Bible in a major poll asking Americans to identify the book that had most influenced their lives.
But no: let’s ban it, let’s burn it! Let’s use bogus “process,” “academic freedom,” faculty governance” arguments to keep it out of the classroom.
If no one wants to teach it, then it shouldn’t be taught. But as long as their is even just one faculty member who wants to teach it, it should be taught without the brownshirt intimidation tactics.
Oh, yes–you are right about another thing: you have run rings around me logically. How else to understand the following comment: “I’ll repeat: maybe she isn’t taught in college because the people who devote their lives to examining these philosophies have weighed them & found them wanting.” This is logically dizzying. Well of course anyone who has found Rand’s philosophy to be wanting will not teach her. But so what? This is just an evasion of the issue at hand. The real issue is this: what of those people who find Ayn Rand’s ideas to be important or interesting? You would apparently deny their academic freedom and ban Ayn Rand from campus.
Funny that you should link to Wikipedia criticisms of Ayn Rand. Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, is a great Ayn Rand fan. Apparently, though, he’s not afraid of the marketplace of ideas.
Ridiculous, Peter. Over the top. No one in this article or in this forum suggested banning Ayn Rand, burning her books or refusing to allow teachers who want to to teach her. Why do you have this need to leap to calling people ‘brownshirts’?
As I said, no one is burning books – but if you’d read this article, you’d know it’s not about being able to simply read Ayn Rand on campus. They are talking hiring a full-time professor who pledges to “work closely with the Ayn Rand Institute”, setting up an entire course of study around this one philosophy, and handing every single business student a copy of Atlas Shrugged & telling them it’s required reading.
They softened the language a little after the predictable outrage, but you can see their intent: not to “allow” the discussion of Ayn Rand, but force young students to be indoctrinated the day they step foot in business school.
Barry: All of that is true, and nowhere is force involved. In the same thread, if a Christian organization submitted a contract with a college to donate money in exchange for having the Bible taught as part of a course, I would be fine with that… and in fact there are countless colleges that do this. Nobody is forcing the college to accept the offer, and nobody is forced to go to that college. Where is the problem?
Just like nobody forced John Allison, the main force behind this Objectivism crusade, to throw Ayn Rand under the bus and take a $3 billion handout from the government?
And since BB&T;said openly that they will not be using any of that taxpayer money for consumer lending, how shall we calculate how much of it will go towards jamming a copy of Atlas Shrugged into freshman hands?
This is priceless – are Federal taxpayer dollars going to support buying Ayn Rand’s books for the classroom?
At the risk of opening a huge can of laser-wielding worms, what about Rand’s views on religion, or abortion? Are all you Randians out there on board with this statement?:
“Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?”
By your reasoning, anyone who promotes individual rights but also drives on public roads, pays taxes, or otherwise interacts with government programs that violate individual rights is a hypocrite. Is that right? What do you suggest one do if one wants to promote individual rights in a country run by a government that violates those rights systematically?
“This is priceless – are Federal taxpayer dollars going to support buying Ayn Rand’s books for the classroom?”
That depends. Is the federal government forcing people to hand over part of their income, to be distributed as the government sees fit, rather than as the taxpayer sees fit?
As for the entirely separate topic of abortion and religion, I am in agreement with Rand on those issues, and in fact have agreed with them for years before I ever read anything by Rand or had even heard of her. Your point?
You really do seem to have come unbuttoned by all this. Any push back or attempts to keep you focused on the issue leads to hysteria.
Nothing that I have written is over the top. The fact is that you and your friends are using bogus procedural arguments to keep Rand from being taught. It’s easy to hide behind the cover of “faculty governance” when you and your friends have ideological hegemony over the process. How convenient. It’s a form of banning by another name and by another procedure. This is particularly troublesome at a taxpayer supported university.
What is absolutely clear is that you will do or say anything to prevent students from being exposed to Ayn Rand’s ideas. If they are as bad as you say they are, then I’m sure students will figure that out.
Here is a particularly good article that disembowels the arguments of those who want to use subterfuge to ban certain books from America’s college campuses:
Hysterical is using words like banning, burning, or brownshirts to describe what’s happening.
“As for the entirely separate topic of abortion and religion, I am in agreement with Rand on those issues, and in fact have agreed with them for years before I ever read anything by Rand or had even heard of her. Your point? ”
I apologize for the leap to an unrelated tangent.
Let me get this straight. You want to FORCE taxpayers to support the ideas of those who are using their positions of power to FORCE students to accept the ideas of those in power. Wow! Now that’s dizzying logic.
No, I think my rhetoric is just right as evidenced by your response. This is like playing pin the tail on the donkey, or, to change the metaphor: Whoops, me thinks the emperor has no clothes and he’s feeling the cold.
Wow. What this boils down to (as has been pointed out numerous times) is: Should public colleges (i.e. WCU) be allowed to accept money from private institutions to teach controversial material? Am I right?
The response from the more politically conservative (Pete, Brian, TP and me) has been that this would not be an issue if it was a liberal philosophy being offered by another institution.
I think if I did the research, I could find voluminous information with those types of results. Certainly we can find funding of Private Individuals/organizations from PUBLICLY funded institutions (Nat’l Endowment for the Arts, NIH, UN, etc.) of VERY liberal, controversial, and sometimes offensive subject matter. BTW – that’s OUR tax money. Where’s the outcry?
At the core, this is a mostly free state, where Freedom of Speech is valued. The courts through the years have given us even MORE liberty with speech and thought – removing some of the old restrictions on what was thought to be offensive or even treasonous (pornography, political hate speech). Another example (see yesterday) of how the culture is moving more to the left.
I believe the hatred – or more likely – jealousy – of large corporations with lots of money, is at the bottom of this controversy.
You have lumped me under a response I have never given, because such a response is absurd and pointless. While it is quite popular for conservatives to whine about liberals, and vice versa, I don’t fall for it. My whole argument all along has been that nobody is being forced to accept the offer, and nobody is forced to go to WCU. Given that those are true, there should be no problem with it. The same goes for any other group that wants to persuade any other college to accept money in exchange for whatever agreement.
You also confuse the concepts “liberal”, “freedom”, and “the left”. The left as it is today is about *social* liberalism, whereas the right is concerned with social conservatism.
*Classical* liberalism, as you can find on Wikipedia for example, constitutes true freedom – as opposed to the convenient banner of “freedom” – but is no longer espoused by either the right or the left. Both groups have become so detached from principles that you can not easily lump followers of Rand into either category. They are atheistic, unconditionally support rights for all, are pro-abortion, pro gun rights, opposed to most environmental legislation, etc. The reason this seems contradictory is simply because the existing parties have picked arbitrary sides on these hot-button issues. It is in fact the two parties that have accepted contradictory conclusions, primarily because of their lack of starting principles.
WCU ’75 Grad,
I would slightly change the question to this: Do faculty at taxpayer supported universities have the authority to prevent the inclusion of new ideas on their campuses? Or, put differently, does the majority have the right to infringe on the academic freedom of the minority?
Honestly, think about it: Can you imagine that WCU students are opposed to expanding the marketplace of ideas?
“I am very amused at the brouhaha that has erupted over one donation from the right of the political spectrum. I think it is a perfect example of the utter intolerance of lefties every where because had this money been from a lefty institution for the teaching of lefty ideas…I very much doubt the cackling hens at WCU or here would be upset about it.
The Mtn X would not even have run a story on it. ”
I’ll give you that one, TeePee.
You are right. Should not have lumped specific people in with a political view. A particular ideology without political labels is what we seem to agree upon. I’m sure we disagree on some, if not many areas of the political spectrum. I apologize.
This week’s cover story in the Smoky Mountain News (http://www.smokymountainnews.com) is “The Battle for Academic Integrity,” discussing this same donation to Western Carolina University and adding some details regarding faculty dissatisfaction and action. Check it out.
The article that you link to here proves virtually everything that some of us have been saying about the situation. The intellectual dishonesty of some of the faculty at WCU is stunning. It’s interesting that it’s only faculty at third-tier universities that caused a problem about the BB&T;grants. These programs are thriving at Duke, Chapel Hill, UVA, Kentucky, West Virginia U., University of Pittsburg, and at the University of Texas.
I think the Wall Street Journal and FoxNews should be contacted, so that they might do an article or a show on how a few disgruntled faculty at third-tier universities are using bogus “faculty governance” arguments to silently ban certain ideas from campus.
Yes Nelda – to the BatPhone! Call Bill O’Friggin’ Reilly on these commies! (third tier)
I think the book shouldnt be taught because if the horribly-written sex scenes that appear far too often.
It flies in the face of our Mountain Values.
Watching you come unbuttoned like this suggests that you are WCU faculty member.
Mmm. Now let me get this straight: On the one hand, you have top-shelf faculty at top 10 philosophy departments (e.g., Pittsburgh, Texas, Arizona) who have a genuine interest in, and a respect for, Ayn Rand’s philosophy (not to mention a sponsored society at the American Philosophical Society), and, other the other hand, you have the bottom-shelf faculty (e.g., WCUs Darryl Hale) at a top 800 philosophy department who says that Ayn Rand shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Mmmm. Maybe Darryl Hale would be willing to have a public debate with one of the philosophy professors from one of these top 10 philosophy departments.
Barry expresses concern about “setting up an entire course of study around this one philosophy.” This prompted me to probe into some of the recent offerings of this great institution.
Spring 2008 Course Offerings in Cherokee Studies
ANTH 379-01 Cherokee Arts and Crafts
ANTH 493-51 Topics: Ethnobiology and Cherokee Medicine
ASI 697-01 Cherokee Studies Research Seminar
CHER 132-01 Elementary Cherokee II
Clearly Cherokee Studies are of utmost importance. Certainly more than a philosophy which lays the foundation for man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
Yes, we must do what we can to keep Rand’s ideas from interested students.
Note that interested students will be “handed” a copy of Atlas Shrugged according to Barry. I wish I had been “handed” each of the collectivist ramblings that I was forced to buy in order to satisfy one or another academic requirement.
I’d be SOO curious to know what you define as “collectivist Ramblings”.
Hear, hear Rational Infidel!!! I have been trying to make that point for about three weeks now.
But – the argument (and now this entire string) is for naught. Please read the article in Smokey Mountain News referenced above by Nelda. In there it is disclosed that the actual agreement has NO requirement for Atlas Shrugged to even be taught, and gives complete discretion to faculty as to the material taught in this class. Why didn’t Mountain Xpress get it right in this discussion?
I have thoroughly enjoyed the banter and exchange of ideas, but it seems like a moot point at this juncture. Status quo…..
The following link gives the lie to the likes of Barry and the WCU faculty who argue dishonestly and hypocritically that BB&T;is circumventing faculty governance. What complete and utter bollocks.
Of course it’s ok when professors at taxpayer-funded universities REQUIRE students to take courses in what is clearly ideological propaganda, but it’s not ok when a university accepts $1 million dollars in private money to expose students to one book.
I’ll try to satisfy your curiosity, PFKaP, but some of the memories still haunt me.
One of the worst of the collectivist ramblings I had to stomach was Industry and Empire by Eric Hobsbawm. It wasn’t so bad that I was required to purchase it, but I was expected to read it as well.
For those unfamiliar with Hobsbawm, I offer this excerpt from the sometimes-accurate Wikipedia:
“Hobsbawm joined the Socialist Schoolboys in 1931 and the Communist party in 1936, supporting both the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact and the Soviet invasion of Finland.”
Hobsbawm described himself as an “unrepentant communist” in his autobiography.
It was this Marxist who was going to teach me about the industrial revolution. Other than the obvious irony, there wasn’t much to gain from the read.
I’m still reading through some of the earlier comments.
Up thread, chops writes, “I believe that it is wrong to be self-serving.” And further, “I would like to see an economy where business serves our community.”
One might think that Rand had chops in mind when she wrote the following:
“The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.”
Business shouldn’t serve me. It should voluntarily trade with me. It really isn’t a difficult concept. But it is most certainly a moral one.
Just imagine the mess of blindly accepted contradictions that would lead one to utter “it is wrong to be self-serving.” Do you realize, chops, that to be virtuous requires your death, and by your own inaction?
I now know that I shouldn’t have, but I read some more up thread and stubbed my toe on this gem from Thad:
“Yet, laissez faire capitalism is the epitome of a system where one person profits from the labor of another person. The employee will receive some compensation, but the surplus value created through the employee’s labor benefits investors who did nothing more than loan money to the entrepreneur for capital.”
As this particular Marxist glorifies labor, and they always do, note what he intentionally leaves out of the analysis: the creator. Or to put it another way: the thinker. You know, that person that went on strike in Atlas Shrugged (he really should read it).
Somehow, according to Thad, a laborer creates “surplus value” each and every time he lifts his calloused hand. In Thad’s view, this laborer’s effort doesn’t need to be directed properly toward the creation of some service or product that we, as consumers, will voluntarily purchase. They create profit merely by working.
What utter nonsense. And he calls Rand a “psychopath.”
If the creator – the thinker – is not required in the process, why don’t these exploited laborers just go out into the world and perform their labor without the creator. I’m sure that whatever they do or make will be warmly received in the marketplace. And they will surely be able to pocket Thad’s Surplus Value.
First, I am not a Marxist any more than I am Maoist or a Proudhonist or a ParEconomist or any number of other leftist philosophies.
Second, I do indeed wish everyone who is arrogant and elitist enough to think they are John Galt go on strike. Get the hell out of my society as soon as possible. Please, get out now! Nobody wants you or needs you. You people are nothing but an obstacle to the working person’s desire to control his and her own lives.
Third, Atlas Shrugged is FICTION! There’s a reason why.
Fourth, I realize that rational consumption is necessarily part of the rational economic process. Don’t put words in my mouth. I didn’t say anything about consumers.
Fifth, the laborers are moving closer toward possessing their own lives instead of letting other people who deem themselves worthy gamble with it. We workers are fed up with being the poker chips in other people’s wagers. We are working toward change in the workplaces. We are working toward self-employment, toward deliberative democracy in the workplace and toward participatory economics. We are forming collectives and co-operatives. We are taking back possession of our collective entrepreneurial spirit.
And you and people like you can get on board with us or go to hell. You can’t stop us.
*”I’ll try to satisfy your curiosity, PFKaP, but some of the memories still haunt me.
One of the worst of the collectivist ramblings I had to stomach was Industry and Empire by Eric Hobsbawm. It wasn’t so bad that I was required to purchase it, but I was expected to read it as well. “*
Wow. What kind of commie college did you go to?
Thad wrote: “Fifth, the laborers are moving closer toward possessing their own lives instead of letting other people who deem themselves worthy gamble with it. We workers are fed up with being the poker chips in other people’s wagers. We are working toward change in the workplaces. We are working toward self-employment, toward deliberative democracy in the workplace and toward participatory economics. We are forming collectives and co-operatives. We are taking back possession of our collective entrepreneurial spirit.”
Don’t you just love it when college professors dress up and pretend that they’re members of the working class? Yeah, the last time I was working on an assembly line all the other “laborers” were talking about “deliberative democracy.”
College professors of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but the chains of your nine-month jobs paid for by the real laborers.
God, I haven’t had so much fun in a very long time!!!
If you believe the employer superfluous, then quit. Talk all of your coworkers into quitting too, and start your own business. What’s stopping you? Nobody is forcing you to work for this useless employer, and clearly if he contributes so little that the employee’s labor is the only contribution to the creation of the product, then the employee should just do it himself, without the employer. Then he can make all the more profit. I don’t understand what the problem is. Your choices are open to you: continue working for your employer and providing him some profit; quit and do the same thing on your own; quit and do something else; quit and do nothing. You act like you have some revolutionary idea, when in fact the only similarity your talk has to revolution is the blood that you propose to spill toward nebulous ends.
Thad wrote: “And you and people like you can get on board with us or go to hell. You can’t stop us.”
I have to tell you, mate, this is just a little bit creepy!
My, my, Thad is really baring his fangs now. Rude though his words are, they do provide the reader a great service. They reveal the soul of a collectivist.
What are Thad’s sentiments toward the creator, the man or woman who, through the application of the mind, improves the lives of all of us? He advises, “Get the hell out of my society as soon as possible.” Take that, future Thomas Edison. You, too, future Marie Curie. Thad has no place for you in his Laborers State.
And then he continues: “Nobody wants you or needs you. You people are nothing but an obstacle to the working person’s desire to control his and her own lives.”
If the working person is not satisfied with the wage or the type of work that is offered to him, he need only apply himself to gain the skills that would improve his lot. In other words, he must take steps to increase his value to others. But Thad will have none of this. The worker should simply demand that which he desires.
“Atlas Shrugged is FICTION! There’s a reason why,” he reminds me. Well, yes. Good fiction tells us a bit about who we are and, more importantly, what we ought to be. I can certainly observe aspects of Thad in Atlas Shrugged. And it’s not in the characterizations of John Galt, Hank Rearden, or Dagny Taggart.
When I bring up the consumer, conspicuously absent from his analysis, he admonishes me. “Don’t put words in my mouth. I didn’t say anything about consumers.” Well exactly, Thad! Perhaps he should consider their wants and desires when all of his “workers” are busy “working” without the creators (thinkers). Or will Thad, instead, force the consumer, with a boot on his neck, to purchase whatever he happens to produce. I think we all know the answer to that one.
And then it comes, the threat that is always behind the collectivist argument: “And you and people like you can get on board with us or go to hell. You can’t stop us.” Actually, Thad, we can. And an important step is getting people – particularly college students – to read both Atlas Shrugged and collectivist scribblings like his here.
The rest will take care of itself.
I’m already a member of a collective, which means I am a downtown business owner. I practice what I preach. And I have a B.A., which doesn’t qualify me to teach anything. I run a printing press for a living. I’m an anarchist, not a communist, and there are a lot of us here in Asheville and in the world. We are going to win. You are going to lose. You better get used to the idea now.
I welcome my new Over Lords with glee because sabotage is my favorite past time…I’ll bring the whole infrastructure down around your ears should “the workers” ever win, that is…if you can manage it before I die of old age.
Anarchists are the guys throwing rocks and spray painting buildings at the G8 conference. Show me a society where successful anarchy didn’t precede a tyrannical dictator – please. And then explain how that is beneficial to a moral society.
Whoops! Accidentally sent the last post prematurely.
I hope Thad can explain to us how he can be both a socialist and and anarchist.
Peter: Try Wikipedia.
WCU ’75 Grad: You are hopeless.
Thunder Pig: You’re being facetious, I think.
Check out the yahoos at InfoShop to learn about these confused people: http://www.infoshop.org/ and be suree to click on the InfoShop News to see who their allies are. Quite a lineup of losers.
WCU ’75 Grad:
Anarchists are mostly useful idiots who provide shock troops that are used by other movements to “soften up” governments & societies before they move in and take over.
Most modern anarchists consider themselves socialist.
Here is a good dissertation http://a4a.mahost.org/guerin.html
and counterpoint from Stalin
You have no idea how fully I believe (and am invested) in a “Samson Option” for America should we stray too far from what our founders envisioned.
LOL! I will be the first to admit there are a lot of idiots in our movement.
Thad, at the website of your worker-owned business it states “we are committed to a not-for-profit model and we will reinvest 100% of our earnings in the community once we are able to pay a living wage.”
How much is that?
“Anarchists are the guys throwing rocks and spray painting buildings at the G8 conference.”
Or provocateur cops. It gets pretty hard to tell sometimes.
How much is a living wage? Or how much will we have left over? I dunno. We haven’t reached a living wage yet. I think the living wage is probably going to end up being something around $10 to $12 bucks an hour.
“I think the living wage is probably going to end up being something around $10 to $12 bucks an hour.”
How does it “end up being something”? I’m guessing you have a committee for that in your Workers State.
I’m wondering if all this discussion can result in ONE collective statement — or if that’s just out of the question, then TWO statements.
Here’s how we can do one or two, using a free web-based service at mixedink.com, which allows multiple speakers to collaborate on a statement, by drafting multiple versions, using parts of each other’s versions, and voting a favorite.
here’s a 3-minute demo of the mixedink: http://vimeo.com/2674991
Go to mixedink.com to start a new topic on which to draft the collaborative statement.
Pig. Are you threatening to commit domestic terrorism?
“You have no idea how fully I believe (and am invested) in a “Samson Option” for America should we stray too far from what our founders envisioned. ”
…right here on a public comment forum? Whatta bonehead! Thunder Pig McVeigh? Helloooo?
LOL. You watch too much 24!
I utilize non-kinetic weaponry and perceptional warfare methods.
“How does it ‘end up being something’? I’m guessing you have a committee for that in your Workers State.”
Maybe. We aren’t at that level of success quite yet, and I don’t know how my business qualifies as a state.
TPM: I don’t watch ’24’, the national security equivalent of Ayn Rand. (Although I just watched ‘Mirrors’, a horror movie where you can see Kiefer Sutherland freak out at his own reflection and then shoot at himself.)
As to the code names for your WMDs, I don’t want to know. Tell it to your buddy Jack Bauer while he’s giving you a swirly.
I make less than $600 most months (my own John Galt solution) and I live just fine in my own home on my property, and have a truck to get places in. Of course, I bought and paid for that stuff when I worked at a job that paid more before I got fed up with it all and made some decisions that put the least amount of my money into government hands, following their rules.
This, for me, is a “living wage”. People just have to learn how to live below their means, and not spend every dime that comes in, and learn how to convert their money into instruments that will give you a good return. Putting all of it in a mattress or turning it all into a metal is just stupid, and goes counter to everything Rand taught.
Use a dictionary (or google) if you need help with my last sentence, and concentrate on the methods that do not use chemicals, bullets or radiated energy to achieve an effect.
Keep slinging mud (WMD accusation, terrorist, etc), and maybe you’ll find something that sticks one of these days.
Swirlies? You crack me up! I haven’t heard that word tossed since the eighties.
To all (especially the gold mongers and the entitlement crowd):
Consider these words of Ayn Rand in her hymn to money (From Atlas Shrugged)…
But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but will not provide you with desires. Money is the scourge of men who attempt to reverse the law of causality – men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.
Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants. Money will not give him a code of values if he’s evaded the knowledge of what to value. It will not provide him with a purpose if he’s evaded the choice of what to seek.
TPM wrote: “Use a dictionary (or google) if you need help with my last sentence, and concentrate on the methods that do not use chemicals, bullets or radiated energy to achieve an effect. ”
OK thanks – that will narrow it down for Jack Bauer. We’re talking about biological weapons.
LOL, nor biological.
I guess Tim Peck did have the sense to leave the discussion before it went off in “left” field.
Silly me for expecting discourse instead of theater.
No seriously, if you want to see a fabulous bit of stunt-casting, see ‘Mirrors’. Keifer Sutherland plays a disgraced-alcoholic-former-cop-who-doesn’t-play-by-the-rules (whatta stretch) who gets terrorized and shot at by his own reflection. What is the point of this movie, you ask? Oh, but here’s a clue:
The filmmakers are F-R-E-N-C-H…
Truly, though, “24” is the “Atlas Shrugged” of the national security issue. A partisan fictional screed that serves to muddy the waters, gives pop-culture cover for outlandish policy mistakes, and makes genuine debate difficult-to-impossible.
Why should this crap be shoved to the front of the line in business school?
From what I’ve seen of the show (the nuke in LA was the last season I saw), I wish that we had agants out there like Bauer. But we don’t…becaue it is Television…entertainment…fantasy.
The frogs are messed up, that is true. I give you points for recognizing it.
“Why should this crap be shoved to the front of the line in business school?”
Because the crap they are serving now is Socialist?
I’ve read the same story over and over about liberals who cannot tolerate the idea of conservatism being taught alongside liberalism in our institutions of “higher learning”.
I remember the cackling hens in Colorado fussing over the creation of an endowed Professor of Conservative Thought and Policy.
I can guarantee that there would be not a peep out of the same profs for Chicano Studies, Lesbian Studies or a Che Guevara Distinguished Fellows program.
Thank you for proving my point – fictional portrayals like ’24’ are obviously (hey, it’s FOX – figure it out) designed to move the public debate in a way to benefit reactionary policies that are counter-productive. Don’t believe me? Take it from a Brigadier General who went to the set of ’24’ in 2007 to beg them to lay off the torture scenes, and the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence who says that he is “absolutely convinced…no good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that.”
And yet, some people still say, “Oh, I wish we had more good men like ‘Jack Bauer’ in the field, keeping us safe.” You’re the victim of a propaganda effort to protect the Bush administration, and even the experts quoted above, who say torture is worse than useless, they won’t persuade you.
Is it possible that the fantasy world of “Objectivism” is playing the same tricks on your mind that former Randian psychologist Nathaniel Branden warned about? He warned of “…alienation exalted to the status of a high-level virtue.”
As for the French filmmakers who held up a ‘mirror’ for Kiefer Sutherland to try to exorcise his ‘Jack Bauer’ demons, god bless ’em.
Although, ***SPOILER ALERT**** while he succeeds in saving his family from the demons, he himself winds up trapped forever in his own reflection. Bummer.
UPDATE – As if applying for & taking $3.1 billion in taxpayer money isn’t bad enough, BB&T;has announced their new CEO will become one of the directors of the Federal Reserve.
All Hail the Standard Bearer for Ayn Rand!