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Tired of staring blankly when wingnuts talked about "Going Galt", I finally read Atlas Shrugged.  Sunday I posted Part 1 of this review.  It discussed how Rand and AS become the public face of libertariansism in the 50s/60s and her misrepresentation of libertarian philosophy.

Today we get to the fun stuff: Her epically bad writing.

A Very Short Synopsis Of A Very Long Book

In case you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged,  here’s the plot.  Except for America, every country in the world has been taken over by Commies.  America is teetering on the edge, about to go Commie itself.  Suddenly all the smart men start disappearing.  Since these are the men who know how to build and operate the systems that make modern life possible, the world quickly falls apart.

For reasons that aren’t clear until 600 or 700 pages in, people moan "Who is John Galt?" every time something goes wrong.

Railroad executive Dagny Taggart suspects that a conspiracy is behind the disappearances.  With her lover, steel magnate Hank Rearden, and her ex-lover, copper magnate Francisco d'Anconia, she tries to uncover the plot by sitting in offices listening to people talk on and on about the virtues of greed.  Along the way loathsome slime balls with names like Balph, Tinky and Mouch heap power and prestige on themselves while hastening America’s fall.

Over a thousand pages later, we find out who John Galt is, get a 56 page long introduction to Objectivism and witness Dagny’s accent in to paradise.

To get a taste of the quality of Rand’s writing, go here.

Ms. Rand, Your Pot Is Boiling.*

Atlas Shrugged has a reputation as a horribly written book and Ayn Rand has a reputation as a horribly bad writer.  This reputation is well deserved.  It’s not that any given paragraph is so bad.  Taken one at a time, they’re no worse than a Dean Koontz book I once  trudged through.  To her credit, Rand is a master of melodrama and has a flair for the language (though I’m still trying to figure out how molten steel can pour itself "arrogantly").

The problem is that Rand never stops at one paragraph.  She is famously long-winded and pounds at her points like she’s driving rail road spikes.  This gives the whole book a combative stance which might explain why certain types of people are so combative after reading it.

It also makes it very difficult to take Rand seriously when she does have a good point.  By the time Galt gets to his climatic-as-a-glacier speech, we’ve already heard other characters recite the same ideas at least a dozen times.  The repetition and verbosity blunts any impact her ideas could have had.  If she had used a scalpel instead of a 2x4, Atlas Shrugged would have been a much better book.

For example, at the wedding of James Taggart (Dagny’s worthless brother and titular head of Taggart Transcontinental) Francisco d'Anconia makes a five page long speech defending capitalism and the honor of selling your goods and services for a profit.  Nothing wrong with that.  I sell my goods and services for the highest profit I can get.  It’s how I feed and house my family.  But after 5 pages of Rand’s purple prose and chest thumping, I just want to go join a commune somewhere.

Compare that to the speech given by Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds, hero of Joss Whedon’s made-of-awesome, crypto-libertarian, sci-fi Western Firefly.  After a gun fight with a cheat trying to steal his pay-day, Mal points his gun at the cheat’s head and takes what is due him:

Whedon says in four lines what takes Rand five pages.  And he does an infinitely better job.

* It is unfair of me to imply that Rand wrote potboilers.  A true pot boiler is written quickly, just for a pay check.  Rand took 6 years to write AS and after the success of The Fountainhead, she certainly didn't need the money.  Galt's speech alone took her two full years.  I was surprised to learn she had taken so long on that speech.  Knowing Rand took amphetamines while writing, I had assumed the length was an effect of manic writing under the influence.

Romanticism Isn’t An Excuse

Rand’s defenders say that the overblown prose, mighty heroes and grand gestures are part of her style and her message.  Anyone who thinks her writing is bad simply doesn’t understand her Romantic Aesthetic.

This is obviously wrong.  It’s not that we don’t understand her Aesthetic.  The Romantic style is a staple of fiction and has given us many classic stories and unforgettable characters.   People love larger than life characters.  One of the archetypes of American fiction is literally named Superman.

The problem is with Rand, not with her readers.

Compare billionaire playboy (and my favorite whipping boy) Francisco d'Anconia with billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne.  Both are scions of old, rich and respected families.  Both are dedicated to a life-consuming mission.  Both lead secret lives. Both pretend to be worthless, idle bums to conceal their true nature.  Both cultivate reputations as ruthless womanizers, yet never indulge in the pleasures of the flesh.  Both run fabulously wealthy industrial firms and both are preternaturally gifted mentally and physically.

They are, in every detail, the exact same character.  The only difference is that Bruce Wayne never suffered under the pen of Ayn Rand.  Bruce Wayne/Batman is an enduring character who has remained relevant through 7 decades.  Competent storytellers like Tim Burton, Chris Nolan, Frank Miller, Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka have used the modern Bruce Wayne/Batman to tell deep and penetrating stories.

Francisco d’Anconia just inspires wanna-be geniuses to waste their youths on Objectivism.

Did She Get Anything Right?

No book could lasted over 50 years if it had nothing to offer.  Some parts of Rand’s opus really do shine.

Take the title, Atlas Shrugged.  It’s powerful.  It’s evocative.  It invokes dread. With just two words it delivers a very potent image of upheaval and danger.  It has the concise punch so lacking in the rest of the book.

Rand also knows her communism.  Growing up in post-revolution Russia, Rand lived through the horrors of forced collectivization.  Her father, a druggist, lost his pharmacy to soldiers of the people.  Rand had her clothing confiscated and redistributed in Soviet schools and suffered other indignities.  By the time she had escaped to America, her hatred of collectivism was genuine and hard-earned.

When writing from these first hand experiences, Rand’s prose takes on an entirely different tone.  The story of the decline of the newly socialized 20th Century Motor Company rivals Orwell.  The plotting of her "Aristocracy of Pull", the powerful men who control the increasingly feeble US economy, captures the cold calculation and horse trading the elite engage in when there is no check on their power.  "You help me screw this bunch today and I’ll help you screw that bunch tomorrow."

Corrupt union boss Fred Kinnan and Cuffy Meigs, the first overt gangster to join the Aristocracy , have more depth than most of Rand’s secondary heroes.  Meigs, who carries a rabbit’s foot and a gun, embodies the combination of force and stupidity Rand hates so much.  With their banal evil, these two do more to drive home Rand’s message about collectivization than all the multi-page long speeches in the book.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, we may have lost some of our revulsion to the ideology of the "looters".  But in Rand’s time, half the world lived under the looter’s rule.  In America, only two decades had passed since the National Recovery Administration had arrested people for selling chickens the wrong way and New Dealer Rex Tugwell had set up a real collective farm in Arizona (a collective farm which worked every bit as well as its Soviet counter-parts did).  As several commenters pointed out commenting on Part 1, reading Rand in this context explains a lot of what we may see as hyperbole today.

Even the speeches, though often mocked (including by me), have their high points.  Galt would have been smarter to have started his long treatise with "A Man owns himself" instead of "A is A", but the other messages in that 56 pages are worth repeating.  It’s OK to sell your skills at a profit.  Competency should be rewarded.  The lure of personal gain makes our modern lives possible.

The Plight Of The Little Guy
Commenting on Part I, Kossak Jay Elias made a very good point: The reader is suppose to identify with Eddie Willers.  Eddie is Dagny's hard-working and competent assistant.  He does a journeyman’s job filling in for her when she's away from the railroad and is in every way her right-hand man.

But he's not a genius.  He's merely good.  He's too pure to become a looter himself but not great enough to deserve elevation into Rand's pantheon.  He strives and suffers for what he thinks is right throughout the book and ends up prostrate on the tracks in front of the corpse of Taggart Transcontinental.

While reading AS, I made exactly the mistake Jay exposes.  I found Eddie to be an irritating plot device.  He'd show up when Rand needed to make a statement or have someone to talk with the brilliant but unnamed track worker in the Taggart cafeteria (one guess who that turns out to be).

But if you read the story from Eddie's point of view, Atlas Shrugged becomes much clearer.  Pull him out of the background and you see the fate of the common man in the world Rand warns us of.  He can't advance through his own ability and labor because this world has no opportunities for an honest, hardworking man.  To get by, you have to be a genius or a looter and there are way more looters.

If Rand had writen AS without her Romantic heroes, Eddie Willers could have been her Winston Smith.  That could have been a much better book.

Am I Too Old To Read Ayn Rand?

In one obvious way, I am.  I had to borrow my wife’s reading glasses to even attempt the book (plastic horn rims with a pink lizard skin pattern.  I made those look good.).  To keep Atlas Shrugged from ballooning to 1,500 or 2,000 pages every standard edition uses a tiny typeface.  If there’s a large print edition, I couldn’t find it.

The typeface aside, I wonder if there is a brief window between late adolescence and early adulthood when people are most open to Atlas Shrugged and Rand.  When I was a Trek obsessed 15 year old who wanted to be a Vulcan, Objectivism’s illusion of a perfectly rational way to live and a world ruled by logic would have been very attractive.

Given what high school is like for 15 year old, Trek obsessed, faux-Vulcans, having all the smart people abandon the world for Galt’s Gulch would have been a beautiful dream.  15 year old VACL would have probably been quite taken by Atlas Shrugged and may even have become an Objectivist ass himself.

Thankfully, that was not to be.  It took another 32 years before that VACL finally cracked open Atlas.  In that time, I’ve out-grown Vulcans, gotten over high school and settled into the very practical concerns of making a living and raising a family.  I may still have a bit of Professor Frink in me, but I’m no longer Comic Book Guy.  Rand’s attraction has fallen away sharply as I grew-up.

My libertarianism is grounded in the Mid-Western farm values of independence and hard-work I was raised on.  Experiences working with the Federal government soured my naïve believe in modern liberalism.  After soaking in the left-leaning libertarianism of Playboy, Wired and Silicon Value through the ‘90s and a chance encounter with the Cato Institute, I realized that my "fiscally conservative, socially liberal" politics were the mainstream of "respectable" libertarianism.

I hope this more mature path to libertarianism has made me a better advocate for it than the Randians.

Was It Worth It?
Yes, with a big "but" .

If for no other reason than to understand why Atlas Shrugged is still such an influential book, after 50 years, politically active people should read it.  It can still sell 200,000 copies a year.  Whether those purchasers ever finish it or not, that’s a lot of people.  If you want to engage with them, you owe it to the debate to know what Rand really said, instead of depending on second hand accounts of her writing.

Should you try to read it as a valuable political book in its own right?  No, there just aren’t enough good ideas here to make it worth the time and too many other, more talented writers have covered the same territory better.

You want a cautionary tale about how well intentioned socialism can spin out of control?  Rand can’t touch Orwell’s Animal Farm.  Want a visceral feel for the terrors of living in a totalitarian state, 1984 is still the best. (Orwell again, of course).  Worried about the effects of hammering down the "nail that sticks up"?  Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron tells that tale well and it won’t take you 8 days to read.

If Rand had had a bit more talent and a better understanding of how a good editor can improve a book, Atlas Shrugged could have been a very good story.  At 400 or even 500 pages, Rand could have still indulged her Romantic Aesthetic and laid-out the roots of her philosophy.  Without the sledge hammer philosophical repetition and relentless parade of human vermin, the story would have been better and her message would have been much clearer.

Unfortunately, not everyone gets to be Tolstoy.

Originally posted to VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 04:30 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Absolutely brilliant review (8+ / 0-)

      Thanks so much for this. I LOVED this book when I read it the first time as a teenager. When I read it again as an adult, I realized how bloody cold-hearted and discompassionate it was. It's seductive, to be sure, but it's narrow and ill-informed about the realities of life in Western society. Easily digested by small minds but it misses the mark by a mile.

      Great review and great writing. Tipped and highly recommended.  

      "He's one of these people who doesn't need much, much less much more."

      by Eclectablog on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:05:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not a bad comment either (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nailbanger

        Ive never looked at this book, it didn't look good to me. If I want long novels with heroic people in them I turn to Michener or Leon Uris,and not because theyre both liberals either.
        Thanks---now I don't have to read this.

        Happy just to be alive

        by exlrrp on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:14:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  So where is the... (0+ / 0-)

        ...Reader's Digest Condensed version of ATLAS SHRUGGED?

        "I never asked you to trust the government...No one should ever trust the government, people should use their rights as citizens." -- Barney Frank, 2009

        by rdbaker43 on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:15:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  She demonized those she disagreed with (3+ / 0-)

        Fortunately I didn't read it as a teen-ager. As a 20-something, I was old enhough to recognize the cold-heartedness, e.g. she praised the farmers who died under their loads trying to get their goods to market -- but her heroes let them die anyway.

        But I noticed another thing. Everyone she disagrees with is nasty and disgusting. I particularly noticed the social worker, who was full of hatred and bile and privilege, without any of the attitudes that mark the kind of person who is willing to work for low wages to help the lowly.

        I slogged on until the Galt speech, then I counted the number of pages I had to go (just to get through the speech) and gave up. I have no idea how it comes out. Or whether I'm remembering the above quite accurately. But then, it's been a long time since I was 20-something.

        •  Check out Atlas Chugged. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Aranfell

          I posted this half way through the book.  I'll post an updated version tomorrow.

          To save you the last 140 pages.  Dagny stupidly leads the government agents straight to Galt's door.  He's captured and Mouch's gang try to force him to tell them how to fix the world.  This part actually has some pretty good scense in it.

          Finally, they torture Galt to try to force him to tell them what he just spent 56 pages telling him. Dagny, Hank and Fransico rescue him.  Meigs is blown up by the death ray and the world goes completely to Hell.

          Eddie dies in the dessert when the last Comet breaks down and Dagny flies to Galt's Gulch.

          That's it.

          Results count for more than intentions do.

          by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 06:26:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I was captivated by the book at 17 (8+ / 0-)

    then Nailbanger Shrugged.

  •  I read Atlas Shrugged (6+ / 0-)

    the way most people read it.  I got the point after a few hundred pages, and skipped to the big ending.  Then I read the first few dozen pages of the Big Ending and I was done.

    Why don't you try reading the rules, Shankopotamus?

    by bugscuffle on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 04:41:10 PM PST

  •  Hmmm... (9+ / 0-)

    ...

    If she had used a scalpel instead of a 2x4, Atlas Shrugged would have been a much better book.

    Not a book, but maybe a pamphlet.

    Rand's consistent refusal to acknowledge the actual workers who pour the steel, and build the railroads speaks to her elitism; Cold, callow and merciless, even reptilian.  

    "We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart." - Blaise Pascal

    by Dixie Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 04:44:56 PM PST

  •  Trekkies vs Rand freaks (6+ / 0-)

    Having observed the young neo-con twerp in his native environment (translation:  I was a student at Dartmouth in the 80's), I'm convinced that neo-Cons are basically Trekkies who read Rand instead of watching The Original Series.  There's not a hell of a lot of difference otherwise.  Really, the difference between wanking to fantasies of Dagny Taggart versus wanking to fantasies of Uhura is, well, pretty much non-existence.

    Obligatory snark aside, what I find amusing is that all wingnuts prating about "going Galt" more resemble those Aristocracy of Pull and related goons than the heroes of Rand's book.

    When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it's a wonder I can think at all.

    by Dan E in Blue Hampshire on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 04:45:11 PM PST

  •  I think it's the name (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, Dem in the heart of Texas

    Compare billionaire playboy (and my favorite whipping boy) Francisco d'Anconia with billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne...

    They are, in every detail, the exact same character.  The only difference is that Bruce Wayne never suffered under the pen of Ayn Rand.  Bruce Wayne/Batman is an enduring character who has remained relevant through 7 decades...Francisco d’Anconia just inspires wanna-be geniuses to waste their youths on Objectivism.

    "Bruce Wayne" is a lot shorter and more memorable than "Francisco d'Anconia", which is just way too involved and precious for people to remember.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 04:47:08 PM PST

  •  Atlas Shrugged sucks in every (4+ / 0-)

    literary way.  As you describe.

    I read it after The Fountainhead and even in high school I recognized that TF was reasonably good & AS was not.

    I blame Rand: I suspect an editor worked on TF, and that Rand's ego was entirely too large to allow anyone to touch her "precious" prose by the time AS was published.

    This is only a hunch, but it's based on what I know of writers and the publishing industry.

    GOP: Turning the U.S. into a banana republic since 1980

    by Youffraita on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 04:51:54 PM PST

  •  I applaud you for posting a thoughtful review (7+ / 0-)

    from a perspective that is distinctly in the minority on Daily Kos, but if I ever get around to reading Ayn Rand, I can tell you based on your own descriptions that I would probably have strong disagreements.

    Socialism has nothing whatsoever to do with authoritarianism.  Nothing.  They are totally independent political dimensions.  

    Furthermore, while it is correct that absolute collectivism is functionally moribund, a fact few libertarians will acknowledge is that the opposite pole is equally moribund: Attempting to implement libertarian ideology in the real world simply results in gangsterism, aristocracy, and ultimately fascism when the people are so crushed by the former that their only immediate hope for basic material progress is populist dictatorship (e.g., Caesar).

    Based on your description, if the character Meigs is a gangster, Rand was clearly engaged in  arbitrary and selective perception failing to recognize that such people are often products of individual initiative "freed" from social responsibility.

    I laid out a comprehensive theory of liberal government philosophy here, and explained why libertarianism is ultimately a negative influence.

    "To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea." --Henry David Thoreau

    by Troubadour on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 04:55:30 PM PST

    •  Quick comment on Socialism and Libertarianism. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Void Indigo

      Then I'll go read your link.

      While Socialism and Authoritarianism might appear to be on independent dimensions, in its implementation socialism has a strong tendency to drift to authoritarianism.  As socialism shades into communism, that tendency is overwhelming.

      BTW, I'm talking about real socialism with public ownership of significant parts of the economy.  The kind Rand wrote about, not what we call socialism today.

      Centrally planned economies can't work.  As that becomes clear in a socialist society, they can either give up socialism or try harder to make it work. Trying harder leads directly to authoritarianism.

      I'll read your link and comment here.

      Results count for more than intentions do.

      by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:41:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Quick question. (0+ / 0-)

        Who are you quoting in the block quote?

        Results count for more than intentions do.

        by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:45:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm back. (0+ / 0-)

        Interesting.  Not surprisingly though, I disagree.

        There is a strong strain of "Free Market Anarchist" or "Anarcho-capitalism" in libertarian thought.  They believe that all functions of the state, including defense and police powers, can be provided by the market.  I think these are the kinds of libers you are writing about and I agree with your assesment of them.

        But they are a minority.  The larger body of libers are constitutional republicans and believe in demoncratic election of government.  In that respect, we're fairly close to what's described in your quote.

        We do claim Jefferson and Madison as intellectual forebears for a reason.

        On slavery, you're just totally wrong.  The Scottish Enlightenment philosophers who set the stage for libertarianism also provided the moral and intellectual horsepower of the British abolition movement.  Slavery was termed "man-stealing" because it violated the most core libertarian principle, that a man owns himself.

        Jefferson, the great promoter of liberty, was also a slave-holder.  This is a contradiction we have to confront head on.  But it doesn't negate the power of the ideas.

        Also, I won't call Rome a libertarian society at all.

        Results count for more than intentions do.

        by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:59:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Slavery versus peonage (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil, Troubadour

          As a practical matter, slavery is a part of capitalism.  You can't draw a hard distinction between a person who is involuntarily made a slave, and a person who "sells" himself to a boss because there is no other available alternative.  This is because we live with the social consequences of our forefathers' decisions.  Serfdom, peonage, sharecropping all can be said to be different from antebellum-style slavery because they are voluntary, but if the causative debts are inherited the children are preordained to be serfs.  That is why the South changed so appallingly little when it was forced to convert from a slavery system to a sharecropping system.  Yet by the classical liberal ideology of the 1870s USA, blacks were now "free".

          And I would argue that when the entire system of serfdom has been rigged to privilege white serfs so they will keep black serfs trapped in place even at their own detriment, then the system will endure even if the debts are not inherited.

          •  Slavery is not part of capitalism (0+ / 0-)

            I think you're stretching those words beyond the point of meaning.

            In post-civil war America, large numbers of black immigrated to the North because it offered better opportunities.  They were not still slaves, even in your sense.  The ones who remaind behind were still slaves in all but name because the old power structure wasn't dismantled after the war, not because the South suddenly became capitalist.

            Sean Wilentz's The Rise Of American Democracy is a very good history of how aristocratic Southern plantation owners used the poor white "peons" to keep slavery in place, to their own detriment.

            Results count for more than intentions do.

            by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 06:53:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Capitalism as theory or fact? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil

              It is only a theory that human rights exist, unless government has the power to enforce them.  No other institution is required by market forces to do so.  When the government would do nothing, then certainly slavery has been a part of capitalist economies.  The southern colonies were set up by English joint-stock corporations.  They literally were for-profit operations.  Indentured servants (temp slaves) were part of the business model, but when they became part of Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, the model had to be revised, using slaves from the West Indies.  But the West Indies colonies were ALSO created by private corporations.

              So I don't see how you can say slavery is not regionally compatible with capitalism.  Everything that subsequently happened in the South was due to the English corporations being supplanted by local family ownership of slavery, but that was probably due to what current greed-pimps would call a "shorter decision-making loop".  The imposition by those families of the bullshit white supremacist/tribalist ideology of the South, which lives on in the modern Right, was thus an act of self-interest and social engineering that many modern corporations seem to find very much in their pro-GOP interest.  If the original corporations had stayed in control of the South, they would have attempted likewise.

              Hey - Fox is an English corporation!

              •  In theory and in fact. (0+ / 0-)

                Libertarian philosophy condones free trade and condems the use of (non-defensive) force to achieve ones ends.

                Stolen property is not legitametly obtained, so trading in it is not a free trade, even if it is done for a profit.  Since slavery is literally man-stealing (since every man owns himself), slave trading is not capitalism.

                I hope that doesn't sound like a tautology.  That's the thinking.

                Results count for more than intentions do.

                by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 07:37:21 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Capitalism is what it is (0+ / 0-)

                  Not what libertarians say it is.  For you to say that half the colonies that founded the USA are not capitalist, or that any businessman or corporation who got rich by doing something awful is not a capitalist, is like a Christian saying that any time other Christians murder people or start wars, they're not really Christians.

                  The East India Company, Standard Oil, the slaveowners, the robber barons, the monopolists, and Dick Cheney are part of the story of the lust of capital for power.  They happen over and over again.  Why is that?  Because power is not something created artificially by governments.  It is the asymmetry of leverage in the relationships between rich and poor, boss and job-seeker, man and woman, brainwashing advertiser and brainwashed consumer, superpowers and 3rd world states.  The relationships create power and that power is either regulated or it runs its inevitable course of self-amplification and social destabilization.  

                  Your definition of capitalism, without those scoundrels, is as irrelevant as the theory that in perfect markets, profits will always dwindle to zero due to perfect competition.  Well, if profits were always zero, where would capitalism be today?  It is the imperfection that harnesses and amplifies human greed - meaning the hope of getting away with it.

    •  Someone has to drive the train... (0+ / 0-)

      Socialism has nothing whatsoever to do with authoritarianism.  Nothing.  They are totally independent political dimensions.  

      No matter what system is used, someone is driving. otherwise it is anarchy. Who ever is in charge has Friends and connections that cause abuse of the system.

      "No man deserves to be praised for his goodness unless he has strength of character to be wicked." La Rochefoucald

      by Void Indigo on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 06:23:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right, but the question of who's driving (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dixie Liberal

        has nothing to do with the range of motion the steering wheel allows.

        "To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea." --Henry David Thoreau

        by Troubadour on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 06:40:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "The World runs by itself" (0+ / 0-)

          Does anyone have to drive?  Can anyone really control a system as complex as a national economy?

          Hayek described an economy as "that which is the result of human action but not of human design".  He coined the term the Fatal Conciet to describe people who would attempt to control what they could not understand.

          Governments should set and enforce rules that create a level playing field for competitors, but they should pick winners and they shouldn't be on the field themselves.

          Results count for more than intentions do.

          by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 06:57:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  They can't help but pick winners. (0+ / 0-)

            Property is a legal construct.

            "To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea." --Henry David Thoreau

            by Troubadour on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 07:13:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Meant "they shouldn't pick winners" (0+ / 0-)

              By picking winners I mean distorting the market place to drive money/business to one company or sector.  For example, in the early days of the EPA they had to set regulations to clean up coal burning power plants.  Some plants had cheap access to cleaner burning anthracite coal and could have easily met the standards with inexpensive modifications.

              Other plants were closer to deposits dirtier lignite coal.  To meet the expected standards, they were going to have to install expensive and complex flue gas scrubbers.

              Instead of accepting that disadvantage, they lobbied the EPA to mandate that all plants install the expensive regardless of fuel source.  Three decades later we have dirtier air, mountain top removal and all sorts of other badness.

              The same thing happened with the catalytic converter.  When the EPA was setting rules on NO and NO2 emissions, Honda was already working on a cleaner burner engine.  The Big Three had invested in more expensive catalytic technology which required rare earth metals and added hundreds of dollars to the price of the car.

              Again, instead of competing with inferior technology, the Big 3 lobbied the EPA to require catalytics on all cars.  That killed clean engine research.

              I don't mean to pick on the EPA.  I actually like them as a gvt agency.  I just remembered those examples off the top of my head.

              Results count for more than intentions do.

              by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 07:26:52 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Honda (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VA Classical Liberal

                The Honda CVCC engine remained in the Civic throughout the 1970s, even though all American cars used catalytic converters.  The CVCC was only replaced when tougher standards were imposed in the 1980s.  Yes, Detroit probably lobbied for those standards for exactly the reason you discuss, but they could not create a mandate for converters, just as they could not stop Honda from getting around import quotas by building a US factory.

                The more significant lesson is that instead of whining about government regulations, like Detroit always does even when it is writing the regulations, Honda adapted and got ever stronger.  The pollution standards kept getting tougher, but Honda has taken more and more US market share due to its superior engineers, who have continued to research ever-cleaner engines.

              •  I can't argue with your specific examples (0+ / 0-)

                not knowing the background, but I've run into such arguments far too often with little or nothing behind them but the default assumption that corporations naturally do what they should and government "interference" naturally hinders that.  

                Speaking broadly, whether or not Honda was working on a cleaner-burning engine has no bearing on whether it would eventually have introduced it in the marketplace, and whether or not they introduced it has no bearing on whether it would have become standard.  The point was to mandate lower emissions, because clean air is a public good with inherent value, and choice of an internal component that most consumers have no knowledge of or interest in is not in any plausible sense.

                There is no unregulated or virtually unregulated, industrialized region on the planet where "voluntary" pollution controls have proven effective.  Not one, ever.  There is no profit in internalizing the expense of a public good, and massive profit in externalizing the cost of ignoring it.  Econ 101.

                "To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea." --Henry David Thoreau

                by Troubadour on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 07:41:58 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I missed my own point. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Troubadour

                  Those examples were about picking winners in the market, not about achieveing clean air.  

                  The point was to mandate lower emissions, because clean air is a public good with inherent value

                  My point, which I could have made better, is that the EPA should have simply set emissions standards which applied across the board to all power plants or cars.  Then Honda and GM and Western and Eastern power plants would have had to fight it out on who had the best solutions.

                  Instead the EPA picked winners by mandating particular technologies according to political pressures.  In doing so, they hampered innovations and raised costs to the consumer.

                  That's the difference between picking winners and simply setting the rules.

                  Results count for more than intentions do.

                  by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 07:48:12 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Point taken. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    VA Classical Liberal

                    I definitely agree it's better to mandate a result and then let the private sector choose the method.  However, there are times where the private sector's "method" is to simply choose the "solution" least agreeable to the consuming public in order to generate political resistance to the rule - e.g., building tiny, shitty cars instead of building better engines - and in that case it's perfectly reasonable to get tougher and more involved.  

                    "To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea." --Henry David Thoreau

                    by Troubadour on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:02:48 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Agree with point but not with example. (0+ / 0-)

                      The politics of air quality and EPG are subtle and fascinating.

                      The Big Three didn't just build shitty, little cars.  They lobbied to have light-trucks carved out as as seperate CAFE catagory and invented the SUV.  They built shitty little cars domestically to average out the SUVs and meet the overall CAFE standards.

                      They couldn't just import the quality little cars they built in Europe because the UAW had lobbied to have imported cars count in yet another CAFE catagory.  So we got stuck with the SUV craze, more pollution and crappy, expensive little cars.  (This is from memory, so I might be off on a detail.)

                      If they had followed K.I.S.S's law, they would have just raised fuel taxes and have let the market fight it out.  

                      Results count for more than intentions do.

                      by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:11:34 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  The problem with consumption taxes (0+ / 0-)

                        is that they're inherently regressive for anything average people use.

                        "To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea." --Henry David Thoreau

                        by Troubadour on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:14:47 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  True, but we're talking about lesser evils here. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Void Indigo

                          Are poorer people better or worse off because of government programs as a whole?  Rent control is great, if you are in one of the rent controled apartments.  Not so good if they stop building apartment buildings.  We pay farmers in the South, where it rains, not to grow cotton because the market is flooded.  Then we subsidize water for farmers in the CA dessert, so they can profitablly grow cotton in a flood market.

                          The impossiblity of measuring the effectivness of all these programs interacting with each other is a strong reason to favor K.I.S.S solutions.  If you can't even measure the results of what you are doing, how do you know it's working?

                          Results count for more than intentions do.

                          by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:20:58 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  The poor are worse off since 1980 (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Troubadour

                            The New Deal era was from 1933 to 1980.

                            The poor are worse off since the "end of welfare".

                            The poor are worse off since the deregulation of the banking industry.

                            The poor are worse off since an endless series of tax cuts that favored the rich (under Eisenhower the top tax rate was 91%)

                            The poor are worse off ever since the real economy was brought closer to market theory via globalization.

                            Sometimes, it's just class warfare.

                          •  Subsidies should be done more carefully (0+ / 0-)

                            but regressive consumption taxes are not "the lesser of two evils," they're just the more libertarian of two tax possibilities - and the less beneficial toward the objective.  Unless it were accompanied by increased progressive taxation used to fund better public transportation and infrastructure, all you're doing is letting rich stockholders continue to externalize the cost of their profits.

                            "To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea." --Henry David Thoreau

                            by Troubadour on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:46:38 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm not following you here. (0+ / 0-)

                            Are you refering to fuel taxes specifically and the objective is mobility for lower income people?

                            In general I agree that taxes shouldn't be regressive.  But when trying to internalize costs of things like polution, how do you avoid a regressive cost?

                            You can use a consuption tax, which is explictly regressive.  Or you can institute a command and control or cap-and-trade like regulations, in which case the costs are passed regressively on to consumers.

                            You could try to make these tax neutral with earned income credits.

                            Results count for more than intentions do.

                            by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:59:41 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

  •  I feel better now (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Timaeus

    I never read it as a kid, but I tried to read it a couple years ago (in my early 40s) and couldn't make it a few pages before I was teetering between bored and disgusted.

    Thanks for this analysis!  Now I know why my dad loves Rand - he is the perfect synthesis of the comic book guy and Prof Frink.  It all makes sense now!

    I'm also rec'ing this because you've pointed me in the direction of a Vonnegut novel that I've never read!  I thought I had read 'em all.  I'm in total agreement that Vonnegut and Orwell are fantastic authors - I love everything I've ever read by both.

    So - thanks!

    Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

    by Dem in the heart of Texas on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 04:58:08 PM PST

  •  Gotta love capitalism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, Dixie Liberal

    You get up in the morning and go to work.  They tell you what to do and what to think.  You go home and tune into the corporate media for more of the same.  Look on the bright side, you're still free in your dreams.

    Die energie der Welt ist constant; die Entropie der welt strebt einem Maximum zu. - Rudolf Clausius, 1865

    by xgy2 on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:01:15 PM PST

    •  addendum (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, bunk, Dixie Liberal

      For those who are wondering WTF?  Think about what that means. Think about how many times you've been told "there's no I in team".   Collectivism is quite profitable for the select few.  Wealth does not oppose collectivism, it opposes relinquishing control.

      Die energie der Welt ist constant; die Entropie der welt strebt einem Maximum zu. - Rudolf Clausius, 1865

      by xgy2 on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:32:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What's your alternative? (0+ / 0-)

        If you're comparing capitalism in the real world with a utopia, of course your utopia wins.

        What real world alternative is better?

        Results count for more than intentions do.

        by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 06:00:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Denmark (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil, Liz Eleanor

          Yes, your definition of socialism above excludes Denmark, but the point is that if it were not for utopian socialists, Denmark would not be the way that it is.

          Balance of terror.  Capitalists will try to create a much fairer society with workers holding a gun to their head, but the workers have a gun to their head in the form of getting fired by the capitalists, which is pretty easy in Denmark.

          In America's real world, it is accepted that only one side has the gun - or even worse that it is not a gun, but a wonderful beneficial magical pony that happens to only run to the Right.  Libertarians share with liberals an utter inability to accept the role of power, blackmail, bribery and balance of terror in defining normal social relationships - including the inherently unbalanced labor market with few buyers and far too many sellers.

          The official ideologies are only self-serving laundry lists.  The details are in the negotiated settlement  But in America, as we see every day in the health care debate, it's a one-sided negotiation.

    •  If you think that's Capitalism... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VA Classical Liberal

      You're doing it wrong.

  •  Thirty years later... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Timaeus, Tonedevil, Dixie Liberal

    I have to thank the librarian at my high school, Sister Clotilda, for saving me from Atlas Shrugged when I tried to check it out of the school library when I was an impressionable, Trek obsessed 15-16 year old. I knew nothing about it other than it was some standard and was curious about what the big deal was. She saw it in my hand and suggested that I'd be bored by it.

    I never ended up reading Atlas Shrugged and it wasn't until the "going Galt" thing got so loud earlier this year that I realized exactly what a service she had done for me.

    •  That's a wonderful comment! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mlharges, Tonedevil

      Sister was wise, and you're even wiser to acknowledge that now.

      I actually read the damned book about age 17--in those days I was reading 10 to 20 books a week--and I ALWAYS thought it was crap.

      But I was also scared about how it had mesmerized my mother.

      The book is SO AWFUL I can hardly believe people are still talking about it.

      Who is John Galt?  A BIG ASSHOLE!

  •  I've tipped and rec'd this diary. (2+ / 0-)

    It is much better than 95 percent of the diaries here.

    I've read it all, and it was an interesting read.

    And still I must say: Anybody who identifies as a "Libertarian" is basically a half-assed Republican.

    This is a blog devoted to electing Democrats! I'm happy to see you posting good essays like this here.

    But what is your opinion on voting for Democrats?  (Apologies if you've spoken about this in the past and I missed it.)

    •  I donated to and voted for Obama. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Timaeus

      I disagreed with many of his stated policies during the campaign, but the ones we agreed on were more important.  Plus the alternative sucked, doncha know.

      And still I must say: Anybody who identifies as a "Libertarian" is basically a half-assed Republican.

      What do you think libertarian philosophy is?  We really don't have that much in common with Republicans.  The mainstream is for civil rights, ending the drug war, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and many other liberal policies.

      We differ mostly on economic and spending issues.

      BTW, it's libertarian with a small 'l'.  Big 'L' is the Libertarian Party, which doesn't represent the whole of libertarianism.

      Results count for more than intentions do.

      by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 06:13:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  P.S. In Part I (0+ / 0-)

      I talk about how Rand has shaped the public face of libertarianism.  Your impression of it comes straight from her impact.

      She didn't do us any favors.

      Results count for more than intentions do.

      by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 06:16:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Huh? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, Aranfell

    Did She Get Anything Right?

    For the last 30 years America has been her Utopia, less government regulations and inspections.  Our water supplies are unfit to drink.  Eat steak at your own risk.  Even the peanut butter can make you sick.  Thank you for the no government interference, Ayn would have loved it.

    Ayn would have loved the no-bid contracts free of inspection in Iran.  You know the ones KBR built/maintained.  You know the one where soilders have been electracuted in the shower and some aren't fit for human occupation.

    Right now we live in a time where sane people are trying to undo the mess that rethugs small government, "let the people who know how to do it, do it without pesky government interference", caused.  Guess what it didn't work, it was almost as big of a disaster as Ayn's "big government will be a destroy us all theme".

    No I haven't read the book but I have read enough reviews of the book to understand her theme, and I completely reject it.  Maybe she was a victim of a mob rule society, but that does not mean that setting standards for roadways, bridges and buildings is a bad thing.  Setting minimum construction standards with government oversite is actually a good thing.

    Okay I'm done now carry on "Comrades".

    Fox News is Not a Real News Outlet

    by bunk on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:28:36 PM PST

    •  Rand would have called KBR "looters" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Void Indigo

      Rand would have put KBR, Blackwater and Halliburton firmly in the "Aristocracy of Pull".  The Aristocracy is made up of people who make their living off their connections to government power, not off any talent or ability.  They are the villians of AS and Rand hated them.

      Say what you like about the rest of her thinking, she got that one right.

      Results count for more than intentions do.

      by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 06:19:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Kevin Phillips (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bunk

        Kevin Phillips' "American Theocracy" and his subsequent book on finance argues that aging empires strongly tend to replace the productive industries that originally built their power with financial chicanery - the FIRE sector of finance, insurance, and real estate.  His examples are Spain, the Netherlands and Britain.  However, it also happened in Rome.

        So the "Aristocracy of Pull" is simply the inevitable product of a country able to make a living off of foreigners.  The problem is, that is exactly the goal of  a nation-state that engages in foreign trade.  The capitalists commit crimes overseas (East India Co. in China & India), then demand that the military protect private property from rebellious natives.  Bingo, you've got an empire.  Halliburton CEO Cheney was very entrepreneurial in recognizing this and creating his own war to bring it about.

        It's as inevitable a feature of private property systems as the polarization of wealth and the failure to properly price non-renewable resources.  No one has invented a form of capitalism that avoids these problems barring government interference, because its advocates worship inequality as proof of virtue.

        •  East India Co in the Colonies too (0+ / 0-)

          It was their attempt to chisel some extra profit out of the colonists, while seducing them into paying the government tea tax, that led directly to the real, original Boston Tea Party.

          The revolt was not just in Boston. Several other major ports persuaded or forced the consignees to resign, so there was no one to accept the tea and the ships had to return to England still fully laden. (This might have happened in Boston also, had the Royal Governor been less pigheaded and less insistent on forcing the tea on an unwilling public.)

          If it's
          Not your body
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          AND it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 07:23:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  East India Co was not a capitalist enterprise. (0+ / 0-)

            It was government chartered, had a government granted and enforced trade monopoly and government granted police powers all its own.  Nothing capitalist about that.

            The system super390 is describing is colonialism with a side of mercantilism.

            Results count for more than intentions do.

            by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 07:29:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  They're all the same (0+ / 0-)

              There is no practical difference between the EAC and the American corporations that terrorized Latin America before 1934.  Standard Oil and United Fruit were perfectly capitalist enterprises within US borders.  And all corporations have government charters.  

              Wealth > bought legislators > imperialism.  It doesn't matter where the wealth came from.  You either build a firewall between the wealth and elected officials, or you tax the wealth so it cannot concentrate political power in the hands of the rich.  We did some of the latter in this country from about 1934 to 1980, then we gave up.

              Kevin Phillips' argument still stands.

              •  You can't keep wealth and power apart. (0+ / 0-)

                You can't pile $3T in Washington DC and expect powerful interests to leave it alone.  And since they are the ones with the best access to the power they are the ones who will build the firewalls and set the taxes, you're going to lose.

                The better alternative is to not have the $3T pile in the first place.  Then there is less incentive to lobby at all.  This is what the Anti-Federalists and the Jeffersonians wanted after the Revolution and we did stay fairly close to that standard until the New Deal.  There were exceptions, like the canal and railroad give aways, but we were at least close.

                That changed with the New Deal and WW II.  The NRA had full control over how you sold your poultry, how you grew your wheat and whether you could hire or fire someone.  Then WW II put us on an explict command economic footing with the rationing and black (e.g. free) market that always goes with it.

                Results count for more than intentions do.

                by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 07:55:41 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  NRA got flushed by the Supreme Court (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Dixie Liberal

                  As for World War II, that was an extreme emergency situation. A non-command economy might have achieved the same results - though considering that a number of ultra-rich corporate heads had been working hand in glove with Nazi Germany (some of them continued to do so until forced to divest by the US Government during the war) and that several of them had, allegedly, tried to mount a fascist coup d'etat against FDR in 1933, that is highly doubtful.

                  If it's
                  Not your body
                  Then it's
                  Not your choice
                  AND it's
                  None of your damn business!

                  by TheOtherMaven on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:13:24 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  But then there was the "Switch in time" (0+ / 0-)

                    that saved 9.

                    After the NRA was struck down, Rooseevlt tried his court packing scheme.  Roberts caved and the NRA was replaced by a bunch of other programs.

                    though considering that a number of ultra-rich corporate heads had been working hand in glove with Nazi Germany (some of them continued to do so until forced to divest by the US Government during the war)

                    Wasn't one of those guys named Bush?  Prescott or something like that.

                    Re: the command economy.  I have faith that if the government was handing out millions to build tanks, someone would have built tanks without out-right and gloved nationalization.  

                    Results count for more than intentions do.

                    by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:28:43 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Wrong - the bad America was before 1933 (0+ / 0-)

                  Sorry, but I can't stay polite.  The America of Herbert Hoover was hell.  It deserved a leftist revolution.  If I were living back then I would have been building bombs.

                  America was extremely corrupt before the New Deal.  Besides the aforementioned use of the Marines to enforce the dictates of Standard Oil and United Fruit in Latin America, the National Guard was called out an average of twice a year between 1865 and 1940 to put down labor protests and strikes.  The National Guard was controlled by governors.  Who do you think got the governors elected?

                  Movies were cut to ribbons by church-run censorship boards in small towns across the US.  Asians were forbidden to marry white people in California, just as blacks were in much of the rest of the country.  In the winters, poor people froze to death because the private utility companies would hike rates just in time for extortion season.  A private volunteer militia, the KKK, still ruled much of the heartland.  Abortion and homosexuality, of course, were illegal.

                  Triangle Shirtwaist Pinkerton Sacco & Vanzetti Palmer Raids do I even have to go through this list of names over and over?  You surely know about these things.

                  So are you going to sit there and claim that all these forms of tyranny and oppression were an aberration in your idealized small-government society, or accept the fact that all the above is EXACTLY how conservative property elites have run every country on earth, and how they have tried to run American since Reagan's ascendancy, and how Palin intends to run it in the future, EVERY ONE of them spouting free enterprise and limited government and states' rights as an integral part of this tyrannical system?

                  You can't cherry-pick the 19th century.  The things you profess to hate about it were absolutely integral to the things you love about it.  Cultural tyranny was required to defend the inherent polarization of wealth that characterizes every unregulated system of private property.  We only have the choice of whether the government will be in the hands of the rich, or the rest of us.

                  •  Then I can't stay in the coversation. n/t (0+ / 0-)

                    Results count for more than intentions do.

                    by VA Classical Liberal on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 08:29:08 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Fantastic (0+ / 0-)

                      You didn't even have to admit that all those things happened during the pre-1933 paradise.  You just walked away like Palin.

                      I tried to be polite with the initial remark about Denmark because I thought you really were serious about your sig line.  Yet whenever I point out results that make private property look bad, you wrap yourself in libertarian intentions to avoid responsibility for what capitalism actually has done.  But when others made arguments for the morality of egalitarian ideals, you attack with examples (inaccurate in the Honda case) of how in the real world government always fails.

                      Your America never existed.  Your capitalism never existed.  There is no country where there are no programs to deal with the pervasive abuse and mistreatment of the poor, except Somalia and maybe Haiti, yet you keep saying if we would just get rid of such programs the poor would be better off.  There are 200 countries, we have had civilization for 5000 years, and you can't prove there's one place where things worked out the way you claim they naturally would.

                      I don't see any practical difference between yourself and Ayn Rand.  You're just critiquing her prose style.

      •  She got it right for the wrong reasons (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil

        because she never understood that she was viewing the world in a funhouse mirror - distorted and backwards.

        If it's
        Not your body
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        AND it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 07:14:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Speaking of "Going Galt" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, Aranfell, Dixie Liberal

    I wish the Wall Street Bankers who think they need seven digit incomes would "Go Galt", the would be a better place.

    Fox News is Not a Real News Outlet

    by bunk on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:39:54 PM PST

  •  I haven't read any Rand (yet)... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VA Classical Liberal

    and did not know she was of Russian heritage.  That does explain a lot, the Russ are quite famous for long, tedious, depressing novels....   ;>)

  •  Ironically Enough the Things You Hate Are... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VA Classical Liberal

    what makes the book work. The book appeals primarily to two types of people: the egotistical and the sheeple. I mean, come on, who wouldn't love to think that they're so important that the world will stop running without them? Especially when they're young and dumb enough to think they know everything. And the sheeple don't get shit unless it's repeatedly thrown at them, hopefully without them realizing it until its too late.

    BG

  •  What woke me from liberalism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VA Classical Liberal

    was the novel Salt.

    I realized it wasn't about left or right, it was about human nature and working to improve it in everyone.  

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