Monday, May 23, 2011

Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged

3 Fatal Flaws in Ayn Rand's Perverse

'Moral Philosophy'

It is astonishing that a 54-year-old book, based upon three patently false premises, has suddenly been resurrected. The Chair of the House Budget Committee requires his staff to read Atlas Shrugged.

Ayn Rand lived in a world of fiction, and it shows in her social analysis...

(Excerpt) By Catherine Burke | May 17, 2011

We cannot maintain a productive relationship with someone we cannot trust, or someone who is dishonest, cowardly, disrespectful, indifferent to our feelings or unfair. It is likely that we and other members of the group will seek to point out the negative behavior, but if it persists, the person will be actively excluded from the group. This reflects the basic need of any group or society.

From prehistoric times until the present, human beings have had to find ways to cooperate and work together in order to survive. Today, much of this cooperative behavior is supported by public services. Consider our need for education from kindergarten through universities, a stable monetary system, laws that protect property, courts to adjudicate disputes, rules to provide an even playing field in markets, hospitals, roads, airports, bridges, defense from predators whether criminal or military, development costs for technological innovations such as the Internet and modern medicines, libraries, parks and clean beaches.

"None of the goods provided through government come free," Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.”

The rich and powerful also rely on society for many of the goods of civilization, which are created through the cooperative efforts of all. Despite the arguments of Rand and the libertarians none of us can opt out of our need for society and its governing institutions.

Rand and other libertarians argue that markets are, and must be, “free.” Yet no market has ever existed without rules and referees, any more than you can have a football game without rules and referees. In the earliest markets in small, lightly populated villages, the rules were usually set by social custom. Someone who cheated would be ostracized, even exiled, if they did not pay back the person they had cheated and promise not to do it again.

Rand and her acolytes seem not to have looked at the human condition. Every business is a social system, and the values that bind humans together are necessary if the business is to thrive and prosper. Every community is a social system that requires humans to work together and cooperate.

However we demonstrate the core values, human beings are not, and cannot be isolated and survive. We are moral beings with a strong sense of what is fair, honest, trustworthy, courageous, loving and respectful of human dignity. Our survival and continuation as a species depends upon others. As David Brooks has written, cooperation is built into our DNA. Rand is wrong, and those who follow her have created policies that have been destructive of our economy and our nation.

Full Op-Ed Piece

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