Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Post 72c: Article of Interest from the Wall Street Journal

The following article is taken from the Friday, January 9, 2009 hard copy edition of the "Wall Street Journal." In light of all the talk about "socialism" during the presidential campaign, and our request for New Year resolutions as to what we, as individual citizens, can to do to collectively advance the long term positive interests of our nation, we found it thought-provoking.

The article was written by Stephen Moore and appeared in the Opinion section of the paper.


Some years ago when I worked at the libertarian Cato Institute, we used to label any new hire who had not yet read "Atlas Shrugged" a "virgin." Being conversant in Ayn Rand's classic novel about the economic carnage caused by big government run amok was practically a job requirement.

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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123146363567166677.html#

12 comments:

  1. You and I seem to be reading the same articles today. I blogged on this one too. BB

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  2. Brenda, you appear to be my female counterpart. I just read your bio at your blog. You outrank me by a few short years but we otherwise are quite alike.

    I suppose you could say I am unread fan of Rand. That is, I am a "virgin" according to Moore. I never read that novel. When I was in the Navy, a man who came to be a close friend tagged me as a "Randian" based on a few initial conversations. Yet I had not read any of her books or writings. I do not recall reading any to this day. But as I read critiques of her and her work, I find no reason to. I already agree with her and see no need to reinforce that agreement. Based on what I know about her, she might agree with me on that.

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  3. I've never read any of Ayn Rand's novels, but after reading this piece I definitely find myself agreeing. I strongly believe that the bank bailouts were enacted not to protect the banks, but to protect the Federal government's ability to continue to borrow money to pay for our politician's "right" to squander it.

    Had the credit markets not been deteriorating rapidly enough that some were quietly asking what would happen if people stopped loaning money to the government itself I really believe that Congress would never have been willing to hand even half of $700 Billion to an administration many of them have been working hard to put down for the last couple of years. In looking at how quickly, and recklessly, TARP was thrown together you almost cannot fail to see the overwhelming fear that drove these politicians to act.

    While I suspect that our new President and Congress will manage to patch together our economy this time, I believe in the long run they are setting us up for a larger and deeper recession (if not an outright Depression) on down the road. Rather than fix the fundamental problems of overly large debts and stagnating wages, they keep trying to convince people to go out and start borrowing (and spending) more to "fix" things. If it is too much debt and too many bills that drove us into this problem, I fail to see how trying to convince people to take on more is a good solution!

    For years America has been working on the theory that we can borrow our way into properity. The federal government continues to borrow more and more without making any appreciable effort to reign in it's spending and pay the soon to be $12 Trillion debt back. States and local governments do the same. And we as private citizens are all but ordered by our politicians to borrow our way deeper into the hole "for the good of the economy".

    Perhaps what is best for our economy, for the long term (something that has been forgotten by our country,) is a good, long, hard recession where a number of weak businesses fail and ultimately get replaced by new ones that are stronger. Perhaps a few years of people saving their money and paying off decades of accumulated debts (or going through a bankruptcy if they've gotten so far in that there is little hope of paying those debts off) is exactly what is needed. And maybe even our governments need to take a step back and start cutting back on programs (and staff) that aren't absolutely necessary.

    Nah, why fix a problem when we can put it off for a few more years and tell ourselves "all is well"?

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  4. Robert, did it ever occur to you that either they have no idea how to fix the fundamental problems or that they do but have decided it would be political suicide to even attempt it?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have been saying on my blogs for some time that we Americans need a long hard recession or depression in order to get our priorities straight once more. We are the most generous people in the world, but at the same time we are the most greedy and materialistic. I read blogs from all over the world and the Blogs from Asia often speak of their amazement at the "junk" they are manufacturing for the American market. Our society's obsession with "things" and the apparent feelings of entitlement to having these "things" amazes even Europeans. So yes, a good swift kick in the nether parts would do us a lot of good.

    Really, "Atlas Shrugged" is a good read whether you already agree or not. In fact I have just ordered the book from Amazon since I haven't read it again since being forced to all those years ago. On the other hand, you may be right that if you already share her values you needn't read her works.

    I very much needed to read her because of my blind passion for the so-called "underdog" at the time, and my belief that only the government could solve the problems of the poor and otherwise distressed. I have been a social activist all my life in that I have tried and continue to try to right social injustices and help those who have fallen by the way side either thru their own choices or natures fault. But I have long understood that government is not the answer and when government does get involved things just go from bad to worse. So reading and having to digest Rand was a necessity I am happy I was forced to undertake.

    I have put you on my "to read" list and will be checking out the view from your little window with you from time to time. Sincerely, BB

    ReplyDelete
  6. To all: Thanks much for commenting on our blog. We just acquired our new computer and should be back up to speed shortly.

    Good stuff thus far. Keep it going.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have read some of your posts and would like to revisit.

    If you like reading short stories from an Indian writer, then a visit to my blogs would be an interesting one for you.

    Naval Langa
    SHORT STORIES by NAVAL LANGA
    PAINTINGS GALLERIES

    Another Interesting Blog LIFESTYLE AND RELATIONSHIP

    ReplyDelete
  8. We chose to revisit the issues raised in this article, since it has been roughly 30 years since we read "Atlas Shrugged."

    Out of curiosity, for you libertarians out there, let's assume for the sake of argument that the citizens voted or took whatever steps to eliminate all government and stop paying any taxes, and started anew. What governmental services and agencies would you deem appropriate, other than the military? (Uh, uh, uh. Military does not include the police.)

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  9. Brenda: We very much appreciate your visit to our site and we apologize for the delay in visiting yours.

    We enjoyed your discussion of how your world view was changed through your introduction to Rand's work. If only we all could keep an open mind throughout the entirety of our lives.

    You have a number of well thought out articles here. Nice, very nice. We'll visit with more frequency.

    If you do not mind, we'll add a link to your site from our blogroll. Let us know.

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  10. Robert, we appreciate your comments. We agree with you that our nation is probably in trouble for the long term, but due to somewhat different articulated, although related, factors.

    Quite simply put, the generation with a substantial number of citizens, who really learned to sacrifice and get by with little during the Depression, is about to die off. (An argument might also be made that by allowing the unfettered influx of illegal aliens, many of whom are willing to sacrifice and live and work under extreme conditions, we were actually improving the "work ethic" of the American work force.)

    Everyone else remaining has a unrealistic expectation of the "good life." Hobbies, multiple cars, big screen TVs, vacations, trips to foreign countries, expensive jewelry, leisure retirement, no child labor, only one or two families to one home instead of 5 or 6, etc.

    A society can not become more and more leisure and recreation oriented, and expect to last very long. Are multiple pairs of shoes, multiple suits, TVs in every room of the house, and houses with more bedrooms than people living in them, necessary?

    Perhaps it was the ascent of the middle class which doomed us. Back in the day when only the rich had the luxuries in society, and everyone else was poor, maybe we were better off.

    Do you think that we would be in this condition if employers were permitted to only keep those employees who were willing to work a minimum of 80 hours a week without overtime? Willing to work in dangerous conditions?
    Willing to perform certain back breaking physical work? Willing to inhale toxic and noxious fumes without the benefit of protection?

    Obviously we are being facetious. However, as we have often said, Americans are guilty of having our cake and wanting to eat it too.
    ["The Problems Associated with Having Your Cake and Eating it Too": http://theviewfromoutsidemytinywindow.blogspot.com/2008/07/post-no-29-problems-associated-with.html .]

    In America, we want it both ways, and this mindset will probably lead to our ultimate demise. One aspect of being responsible requires making decisions where you part with or lose some of those things you want or desire (costs), in an effort to acquire those things you actually need (benefits).

    Additionally, in theory, shouldn't every dog should have its day? Isn't it better that previously poor, developing countries have the opportunity to raise the standard of living for their citizens, than for a wealthy country to continue to bask in the sunlight? What makes us think that we should continue to enjoy prosperity indefinitely?

    Is the revolving nature of global power and wealth a prime motivator for those in less powerful countries to strive?

    Simply put, perhaps we're not hungry enough anymore. Just like the French, the British, the Spanish, the Egyptians, and the Romans before us, perhaps our time has run. Not pleasant perhaps, but maybe the truth.

    How about this for a plan: Establish a moratorium on all regulations and laws that we currently have affecting business in the environmental, safety, tort liability, and employment arenas, and allow corporations to become solvent financially, through greater profits, that we can become more competitive with foreign corporations? It would definitely lower the price of producing goods.

    What say yee citizens? Tell us what you're willing to give up so that we, as a nation, do not spend more than we make, thus necessitating our borrowing. All of us....

    ReplyDelete
  11. Douglas, you're a loyal participant. We appreciate your continued involvement.

    You inquired of Robert whether it occurred to him that perhaps they (we assume you mean politicians) have no idea how to fix the fundamental problems, or that they do, but have decided it would be political suicide to even attempt it.

    As most of us complain about the performance of our politicians and refer to their short-sightedness and selfishness, we wonder whether we give them too much credit in terms of their ability to address pervasive, structural, societal problems.

    What makes us think that they are equipped, and have the resources and vision, to run this 300 million person enterprise? (Possibly too many "leaders" is one problem.)

    We realize that we elect them and pay them a decent salary to work for, or serve, us. However, should we reasonably expect a bunch of lawyers and political science graduates to effectively manage such a complex entity? Isn't it more our responsibility AS CITIZENS to make the "right" decisions which are in the long-term positive interests of the nation. (Yes, we said the society's interests, not those advancing our individual interests.)

    There was a period in the Logistician's former life where he was involved in medical malpractice and medical products litigation. Someone would be rolled into the emergency room, with all sorts of problems, and then a team of dedicated professionals would do their best to assist the patient. On numerous occasions, the patient would expire because of a convergence of factors, and all of the health care providers would be sued for liability to some degree.

    As a general rule, very little responsibility was placed on the patient for having put themselves in that condition in the first place, as a result of decisions that the patient made.

    Someone once said that citizens deserve the government that they get. Perhaps that's true.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I have been saying on my blogs for some time that we Americans need a long hard recession or depression in order to get our priorities straight once more. We are the most generous people in the world, but at the same time we are the most greedy and materialistic. I read blogs from all over the world and the Blogs from Asia often speak of their amazement at the "junk" they are manufacturing for the American market. Our society's obsession with "things" and the apparent feelings of entitlement to having these "things" amazes even Europeans. So yes, a good swift kick in the nether parts would do us a lot of good.

    Really, "Atlas Shrugged" is a good read whether you already agree or not. In fact I have just ordered the book from Amazon since I haven't read it again since being forced to all those years ago. On the other hand, you may be right that if you already share her values you needn't read her works.

    I very much needed to read her because of my blind passion for the so-called "underdog" at the time, and my belief that only the government could solve the problems of the poor and otherwise distressed. I have been a social activist all my life in that I have tried and continue to try to right social injustices and help those who have fallen by the way side either thru their own choices or natures fault. But I have long understood that government is not the answer and when government does get involved things just go from bad to worse. So reading and having to digest Rand was a necessity I am happy I was forced to undertake.

    I have put you on my "to read" list and will be checking out the view from your little window with you from time to time. Sincerely, BB

    ReplyDelete

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