Buying your way on campus

I want to compliment you on your excellent and lucid treatment of “Capitalism on Campus” [Dec. 23 Xpress]. You set the standard for clarity and objectivity on a newsworthy topic. Your article proved the meat of spirited discussion at our last coffee-hour gathering.

Atlas Shrugged was one among several books that shaped my thinking during my early years of intellectual awakening. It was a great novel and would be a worthy subject for a literature course.

I was so fascinated with Rand and her books that I traveled to hear her talk at McCormick Place in Chicago too many years ago. It was there that I heard about Nathanial Brandon and the project to turn Atlas Shrugged into an enterprise via the Objectivist—a magazine, institute or movement. That sounded perhaps exploitive to me. In any case, I checked the Objectivist Web site to learn of a controversy about a disconnection between Nathan and Ayn and the objectivist movement.

Regarding your article, I hold a doctorate in higher education, and I strongly resent the BB&T effort to buy their way into academia’s world of ideas via their money. What I am most troubled by is their plan to bypass what I would call academia’s due process. In Dimensions of Academic Freedom by Walter Metzger and others—a dated but still relevant book—Arthur DeBardeleben states that “faculty and students must have complete freedom to enquire and investigate, to interpret data and announce conclusions without fear of sanctions or controls.” This is the heart of the BB&T attack on that freedom with their money, at a time when higher education is so vulnerable to worries of fiscal restraints.

In short, they can try to stuff their corporate products in higher education’s Coke machines, but they must stay out of the classrooms. At a time when regulation is so necessary to the rampant abuses of unrestrained capitalism, BB&T wants to let loose a generation of young business leaders who would aspire to uninhibited freedom in their race to profit and investors’ prosperity—society and social responsibility be damned.

— Peter Olevnik
Asheville

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4 thoughts on “Buying your way on campus

  1. Dionysis

    A fine letter. If ‘objectivism’ had any real intellectual appeal, there would be no need for a corporation to buy its way into academia.

  2. Deathstar

    I personally feel that there are better authors to represent the case for free-market capitalism, namely Hayek and Mises. Ayn Rand kind accentuates the the negative aspects of free market capitalism, instead of allowing others to develop their own point of view from within the perspective of having a free market.

  3. rationalinfidel

    “If ‘objectivism’ had any real intellectual appeal, there would be no need for a corporation to buy its way into academia.”

    If free market detractors had any intellectual honesty, they wouldn’t make statements like this gem:

    “This is the heart of the BB&T;attack on that freedom with their money, at a time when higher education is so vulnerable to worries of fiscal restraints.”

    First, BB&T;”attacked” nothing and no one.

    Second, why is timing relevant? Is it wrong for the university to accept the conditional donation at one time, but not another?

    When you distort like this, you reveal the weakness of your position.

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