THE IDIOCY OF AYN RAND

“The machine, the frozen form of a living intelligence, is the power that expands the potential of your life by raising the productivity of your time. If you worked as a blacksmith in the mystics’ Middle Ages, the whole of your earning capacity would consist of an iron bar produced by your hands in days and days of effort. How many tons of rail do you produce per day if you work for Hank Rearden? Would you dare to claim that the size of your pay check was created solely by your physical labor and that those rails were the product of your muscles? The standard of living of that blacksmith is all that your muscles are worth; the rest is a gift from Hank Rearden.”

– John Galt’s speech, “Atlas Shrugged”

Ayn Rand was obviously a brilliant thinker. The fact that she used and worshipped reason puts her far above the average human being, especially in the U.S. these days. But she had a severe weakness. She had a terrible scar from her childhood growing up in an authoritarian society. Authoritarianism is the most damaging weapon against an intellectual, which is why intellectuals are commonly atheists or, like Rand herself, passionately anti-religion. And so, while she meticulously pieced together a relatively strong philosophy she called Objectivism, she allowed herself to be blinded by that trauma into always arguing from the extremes.

Rand saw nothing in between good and evil. Whereas evil, by definition, requires bad intent, she defines anything that is not good – that is, does not support your natural goal of life and happiness – as evil. Misjudgment, then, is evil. Mistakes are evil. She, and all free marketers, argued from an idealized fantasy world where, if you don’t like your job, you go get another. If there are no other jobs, tough luck. You should have been smart enough to build a factory.

But if workers get together and decide they won’t work for the wages offered, and get voluntary support from others to tide them over until the factory owner must either raise wages or close down, and the factory owner finally signs an agreement with the workers to pay a set wage, and the government steps in to enforce that contract – the only role of government according to Rand; enforcing contracts – THAT is wrong. Actually, in Rand’s eyes, it is “evil.”

While Galt demonstrates that the blacksmith working in a factory produces tons more product than he could produce on his own, Rand consistently refused to see that the same is true for the factory builder. The factory builder – IF he knew how to work iron in the first place, which today is rare – could not produce any more product than the blacksmith on his own. It is only working TOGETHER that the production is exponentially increased. Should the factory builder be rewarded more than the laborer? He had the vision to make the factory a reality. That’s a major contributions to society.

But, per Rand’s own philosophy, no individual owes him anything for that “contribution.” In fact, he “contributed” nothing. He built the factory for his own self interest, not to better the lot of his fellow citizens. To have done so would have been to commit the sin of altruism. A sin which, according to Galt, has already been committed. Rearden apparently paid the blacksmith more than he was worth, and thus had given him a “gift.” Immoral bastard. If those laborers are only worth a $5 bar of iron per day by their own muscles, that is all they should ever be paid, again lest you commit the most heinous sin of altruism.

But if the laborer’s value is always set at only what he can make with his own hands, it is irrational to think that the value of the factory builder’s contribution is limitless. It is also irrational to think that the blacksmith is going to accept the same rate of compensation as when he was solo. He is producing more, he should receive mor, he will think. If he received $5 per bar of iron on his own, why shouldn’t he receive $5 per bar now that he is producing 10x as many as before? That was the value to customers of that bar then, and that has not changed. His higher paycheck a gift?? Let Hank Rearden make his own damn iron bars, then.

The majority of middle class people in the US are pretty much happy with their standard of living. Are people begging these entrepreneurs to increase productivity? To provide new products? To improve the standard of living? No. The industrialists pretty much follow Rand’s philosophy and only do it for their own self interest. So don’t expect any gratitude, let alone hero worship. Just give me a cheeseburger and a cheap gallon of gas, and kiss my ass, Rearden. Oh. And by the way. We ain’t coming in to work anymore unless we get that 10% increase.

– Bill

WHAT TYPE OF JOBS ARE COMING?

Recently, The Herald-News printed an article about FedEx opening a distribution center that is to bring 400 jobs to the area.

My concern is what kind of jobs will those be?

Are people aware of the problems in the existing warehouses, a “perma-temp” system? Poverty-level jobs, wage theft, discrimination and abuse, lack of benefits and unsafe working conditions are some of the problems these workers face. Companies seem to get around their responsibility to their workers by contracting out to temp agencies.

While I applaud the work that must have been done to secure this facility in the Will County area, attention must be made to the working conditions of our fellow citizens. A job that doesn’t pay a living wage is hardly a job at all.

Elaine Torrence

COMPASSION AND EMPATHY IN A FREE MARKET

In his last paragraph of his letters to the editor (1/20/2012) Mr.Barron appears to indicate that “cooperation…empathy and tolerance” are alien to what he considers an impersonal and democratic market. The market is not impersonal nor is it democratic. Moneyed interests intervene daily to destroy their competitors in order to increase their market share. They have been so successful in their efforts that we are presently faced with oligarchy. In almost every sector of our economy there exists a group of large corporate entities that control the market and collude with each other to increase their political power,destroy their competitors, and decimate labor. This is oligarchy pure and simple and it is a direct threat to democracy.

Lastly, Mr.Barron objects to my “fascinating request for cooperation, compassion, empathy, and tolerance. “Evidently Mr. Barron sees the world as a Darwinian survival of the fittest. People are isolated, alone, powerless, and pitted against each other in an “impersonal and democratic market”. This,as I have shown,is pure ideological fantasy, probably derived from the discredited theories of Milton Friedman or from Ayn Rand’s tales from netherland.

A new paradigm is gradually replacing the above Darwinian ethos and at its core is the Judeo-Christian ethic of Jesus: that whatever you do to the least of my brethren you do unto me. Cooperation,empathy,compassion, and tolerance are integral to our cultural and religious belief system and can be historically traced from Jesus, to St.Francis of Assisi, to more contemporary humanists. Albert Schweitzer’s embrace of the sanctity of all living creatures and ML King Jr’s “beloved community” are testaments to humankind’s progress toward a world in which tolerance,empathy, and love shape our lives and institutions.

Donald Torrence

The above letter published in the Joliet Herald is in response to an individual who believes compassion and empathy are useless commodities in a free market.

STOP CRETE DETENTION CENTER

The Village of Crete Illinois is in negotiations with both Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and Corrections Corporation of America, a private company, to build a 750 bed combined maximum and minimum security prison. Mayor Michael Einhorn and the Village Trustees can stop this by withdrawing from all negotiations on the prison. We’re calling on the Mayor and the Trustees to listen to and stand with the citizens of Crete and the surrounding towns that would be adversely affected by this project.

That’s why I signed a petition to Michael Einhorn, Mayor, which says:

“Stop the Detention Center project in Crete”

Will you sign this petition? Click here or copy and paste –

http://signon.org/sign/stop-crete-detention?source=s.em.cp&r_by=1239389

Thanks!

Michael Andrew Anthony

Happy Birthday Citizens United

Two years ago last week the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Constitution case that corporations are persons and have the same First Amendment rights as do, well, real people. Essentially the court declared that money is free speech and is protected by the First Amendment. Under the Citizens United decision the definition of a corporation is no longer limited to business constructs such as Exxon-Mobile, G.E. etc. who, with no disclosure obligations, are now allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. A corporation may also be formed by a group of individuals with a vested interest in an issue or candidate. The function of these pseudo corporations is not to make money, but to actually give away money with the sole purpose of influencing the political process.

The most fundamental way for an individual to effect change in our political system is to vote. An individual can organize, ring doorbells, make phone calls, etc., but voting is at the core of our representative government. Our path to full suffrage, which always came through our legislative bodies, has been long, contentious and tedious. It took three amendments to the U.S. Constitution and numerous federal and state statutes over two-hundred years to bring us close to full suffrage. By taking the legislative path these changes were debated, argued over, editorialized, and allowed for public comment and, in the case of statues, were subject to judicial review. The changes were accepted by the citizenry as law because the country, as a whole, agreed they would add to the common good.

None of this occurred with the Citizens United ruling because it came directly from the judicial branch of our government, bypassing the legislative process and leaving no avenue open for appeal. There is no precedent for such a major change to our political system becoming the law of the land in this manner.

The Citizens United decision, decided by a slim five to four vote, allows unlimited amounts of money to flow into an electoral process that is already awash with money, reeks of corruption and lacks the confidence of the country’s citizenry. This ruling devalues the individual vote and has the potential to transform the political landscape.

It should be seen for what it is, nothing but a brazen power grab by the highest court in the land which has the potential to disrupt the delicate balance of power between the three branches of government.

Ron Kurowski

You Really Should Have Been There

You should have joined volunteers on the corners of Jefferson & Larkin in Joliet, IL, on Saturday, January, 21, 2012, who stood in the cold for hours supporting Movetoamend.org to inform our fellow Americans about the effects of corporate money on politics. I mean you really should have been there to let the public know that on the two year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s insane 5-4 decision, Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, concluding that corporations are people and money is free speech, has really created problems for the entire democratic process, and, thus, the ruling needs to be amended.

Unprecedented amounts of money is pouring into candidate’s coffers. The sources of the money remain unknown. (Unknown, that is, to the public, but very clear to the candidates.) The money could have corporate origins. It could be drug money for all anyone knows. Or it could have foreign origins. Who knows? Only the candidates know who they are now VERY obligated to because they have been bought with these outrageous sums of money.

A by product of this Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC, is that any candidate currently in office who is not getting these scads of money must now spend more time soliciting contributions than actually serving the people who voted him/her into office. It is a lose/lose proposition.

Are legislators going to serve those who gave them the money or those who voted for them because of the ads purchased by the money?

Think about it. Are your needs as an American citizen being met? Does your State Representative/Congressman care more about Grover Norquist, to whom (s)he promised to never raise taxes, than you? Does your legislator refuse to raise taxes on the richest Americans while sticking it to working Americans? Could this be due to the fact that the wealthiest Americans have donated huge sums of anonymous money to a campaign that pulled the candidate up from oblivion? Do not imagine for a moment that there are no strings attached when anonymous donors hand out their cash!

Is this the way our government should work? Should America sell democracy to the highest bidder? If your answer is, “No” then, you REALLY SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE to inform the public about the outrageous Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC, that we must amend before our democracy ceases to exist.

Although you missed the opportunity to educate the public about the effects of corporate money on politics, it is not too late to sign the petition to amend Citizens United v. FEC at Movetoamend.org.

Midge Allman

National Defense Authorization Act/Civil Liberties

On January 17,2012, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now (www.democracynow.org) asked the renown author and journalist Chris Hedges and public interest lawyer Carl Mayer to give their assessment of the recently passed “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA). The act expands the power of the state to determine who is a terrorist. It permits the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world and hold them indefinitely and without due process or a trial in Federal courts. Military tribunals will adjudicate these cases. An American citizen could be subject to procedures which make a mockery out of our democratic principles.

The NDAA gives further institutional impetus to the militarization of American society. Traditionally and constitutionally the military has been kept from domestic policing. Under the NDAA, American citizens could be adjudicated by military tribunals which do not allow the same constitutional protections guaranteed in Federal courts.

Secretary of Defense Panetta and FBI director Mueller and others in the U.S. security establishment were against these unconstitutional additions to state power. The question, then, is who pushed for this augmentation of state power and the destruction of the constitutional safeguards guaranteeing the civil rights of American citizens? Chris Hedges stated that, in his opinion, it is the “corporate elites” who wanted these provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act. “They don’t trust the police” to keep order and protect their assets and want to be able to call in the army. This, according to Hedge’s, is the response of the “corporate elites” to the Occupy Wall Street movement and the challenge it poses to their socio-economic dominance. All citizens should be concerned about the far reaching effects of the assault on their constitutional rights posed by the NDAA.

Don T