What Would Ayn Say Now?
Iíve a habit of rereading a limited number of truly good books by good authors, some years after my previous reading(s). I do this because the concepts and underlying logic that helped form my belief structure as a result of earlier readings need to be reviewed periodically to see if they remain valid in light of new experiences and new knowledge. That process of re-examination is something I believe to be very important, and I know of no one else who speaks of formally engaging their innermost beliefs in that manner. Perhaps the process is highly personal and purely internal for virtually all of us who take the time to think and later rethink about life. I wonít waste any time in this article regarding those who fail to think deeply originally and to rethink and possibly change their beliefs as they live life, for they are the unsalvageable stupid among us.
At the present time I have been rereading a few books written by Ayn Rand. My reason was to go back and examine her tenets about capitalism to look for flaws or missing considerations in her reasoning. I did that because the evolution of capitalism by businesses chartered in the USA, since she died around 1980, has been overwhelmingly self-centered, with little similarity to her formal definitions about capitalism and the superior morality of capitalism vs. altruism. In numerous of my articles in the past five years I have used the term hyper-capitalism to describe and to define what I believe to be fundamentally immoral business practices that steal from common people instead of enhancing life for everyone willing and able to exchange value for value.
Todayís hyper-capitalists would argue vehemently that I am perverted by notions of socialism, and that I have forgotten that true capitalism demands optimization of business profits by any legal means. That is exactly the problem. "Any legal means" has become redefined in our laws and via our global, so called "free trade" agreements, to open the door to businesses becoming thugs. The game as played is to cause the common populations of different countries to work against each other just to have jobs. In the minds of the hyper-capitalists that is simply fair competition, that leads to optimal profits.
The missing link in the morality base of the hyper-capitalists is the foundation purpose for operating a country under capitalism as opposed to socialism or communism. That purpose is to support the life, liberty and pursuit of individual happiness. What has actually happened is that countries with substantially lower standards of living compared to the USA have been more than willing to have hyper-capitalists invest money to improve their standard of living through the creation of low paying jobs taken away from higher paid positions in the USA.
This is followed by freely importing cheaper cost goods into the USA and then selling them for prices somewhat below what they used to cost when made by USA citizens. Even a small difference in price, if quality is perceived to be equal, fairly quickly results and has resulted in the destruction of competing businesses who have not off-shored manufacturing jobs or a variety of white collar jobs. At the same time, as the profits go to business entities now chartered outside the USA, they are not taxed by the USA. These two realities yield very high profits for the businesses while destroying the quality of life for the unemployed, and those remaining employed people in the USA whose proportionately unfair tax burdens go in large part to support non-contributors.
It is rather obvious that none of this could have happened without the collusion of the USA federal government, via the Congress and ultimately via the office of the president, in signing into law freedoms to corporations to offshore jobs and to not pay taxes on most of the profits. Thus, the immorality to which I refer has to include directly the wrongs committed against the common contributive USA citizens by past Congresses and the involved past presidents of both parties.
From all of this evolution since the 1990ís, which I as a self-centered USA citizen prefer to identify as devolution, I wondered what Ayn Rand would have to say about "capitalism" as practiced today, globally and in terms of results in the past ten years in the USA? Let us remember that Ayn was an ardent capitalist, and an ardent hater of anything that squealed of altruism (socialism). This means we have to consider the application of her reasoning across the entire global population currently engaged in global trade. That means it is likely wrong to consider simply or only the citizens of the USA or any other individual capitalist country, for if the philosophy is valid then it is extensible by definition to include all areas of the world engaged in capitalism.
I also wondered how Ayn would respond to the reality that having adequate income for the good life in the USA now demands that both husband and wife work fulltime jobs, entirely unlike periods prior to the early 1980ís? Altruism in any form is the taking of values created by one individual and giving them to individuals who have not created values, or who have a vastly different (lower) proportionate contribution in values provided. Can the doubling of required labor time imposed on common USA citizens to have income adequate to live the good life be considered to be altruism that feeds the greed of both those who presume to be simply capitalist business owners, and those who are avowed socialists who create little or no economic values, but only consume values (taxes paid) created by others?
I believe Ayn would be thoroughly embarrassed, were she alive now, to see that applied capitalism in the past thirty years since her death has worked in concert with altruism to destroy the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for common working/contributive USA citizens. I further believe that globalization and extension of the profit motive to include the entire but unbalanced income world would cause her major embarrassment. The problem, as I see it, is a missing dimension related to morality that was simply not considered in Aynís arguments and reasoning for capitalism vs. altruism. She did not consider capitalism as subject to cancerous evolution.
In short, the active offshoring steps taken by USA based companies, with full collusion by the USA federal government, have diminished the quality of life in the USA for many innocent citizens, who gave their loyalty to their companies and to their government in return for equitable pay and job security. They have lost both.
There is then an absence of morality in the actions of the socialists (altruists), the capitalist businesses who have destroyed the USA job market, and the government that has played both ends of this destructive game by diverting tax money to non-contributors while permitting a tiny subset of USA citizens to become exceptionally wealthy at the expense of the common working USA citizens.
I believe Ayn would be appalled. None of her arguments or reasoning in her books were invalidated, yet disaster has resulted in the largest capitalist economy in the world. It resulted from the devolution of business and government into criminal acts, which by definition are those acts that hurt the wellbeing of contributive common USA citizens.
Nothing less than revolution is adequate to address and to resolve these wrongs, for nothing less than revolution will work. I believe Ayn would be in the forefront demanding the removal of our politicians and the jailing of many corporate presidents and boards of directors and bank executives. It turns out that it isnít even fair to consider assigning any guilt for what we have become to that ardent and moral capitalist, Ayn Rand. Government and business did not follow the rules, but instead made up self-serving rules and proceeded to ruin we common contributive USA citizens.
I think what I got most out of rereading Aynís books was the commitment to moral behaviors, those based on value for value and contribution not collectivism or thievery. Those moral considerations underpin my present and future thoughts and efforts to right the wrongs perpetrated on contributive common USA citizens. I thank Ayn, yet again, for that most valuable reminder that underpins purpose with right.