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Atlas Is Shrugging

Summary:
March, 2020: simultaneously, hundreds of millions of people were forcibly put out of work while at the same time multiple-trillions of dollars were created out of thin air.  What could possibly go wrong when demand is stimulated while supply is depressed? The world is experiencing a computer chip shortage… Resin shortages are affecting production… Seat foam shortage could cut car production… Shortages in lumber, steel, electrical supplies and lighting affect the construction industry… Skyrocketing steel and lumber costs threaten to slow construction jobs… Price increases in fixtures and fittings…. Oil and gas prices increasing… Global food commodity prices rose for the ninth consecutive month in February… Add to this, mother

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March, 2020: simultaneously, hundreds of millions of people were forcibly put out of work while at the same time multiple-trillions of dollars were created out of thin air.  What could possibly go wrong when demand is stimulated while supply is depressed?

  • The world is experiencing a computer chip shortage…
  • Resin shortages are affecting production…
  • Seat foam shortage could cut car production…
  • Shortages in lumber, steel, electrical supplies and lighting affect the construction industry…
  • Skyrocketing steel and lumber costs threaten to slow construction jobs…
  • Price increases in fixtures and fittings….
  • Oil and gas prices increasing…
  • Global food commodity prices rose for the ninth consecutive month in February…

Add to this, mother nature: Weather slams the economy….

All summed up nicely by the Wall Street Journal:

Everywhere You Look, the Global Supply Chain Is a Mess: Winter storms and crammed ports in the U.S. add to disruptions of production and supplies during the pandemic

Meanwhile, government deficits and central bank balance sheets have the full green light to grow…to infinity and beyond.

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Taken from the Cliffs Notes book summary of Atlas Shrugged:

The country is in a downward economic spiral with businesses closing and men out of work.

Check.

Worsening the economic depression in the U.S. is the unexplained phenomenon of talented men retiring and disappearing.

Not exactly.

None of this is happening in our world because talented men are retiring or disappearing.  It is those believed to be the talented men – that our society rewards as the talented men – that are behind today’s reality.

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Francisco d’Anconia: If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders-what would you tell him to do?

Hank Rearden: I . . . don’t know. What . . . could he do? What would you tell him?

Francisco d’Anconia: To shrug.

It isn’t talented men that are shrugging.  It is something far more valuable and far less forgiving.  It is the natural law ethic, and the natural rights of private property that are derived from this.  Natural law is shrugging, and she is a far less forgiving master than was John Galt.

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Jeff Allen, citing John Galt: “‘I will put an end to this, once and for all,’ he said. His voice was clear and without feeling. That was all he said and started to walk out. He walked down the length of the place, in the white light, not hurrying and not noticing any of us. Nobody moved to stop him. Gerald Starnes cried suddenly after him, ‘How?’ He turned and answered, ‘I will stop the motor of the world.’ Then he walked out.”

It is the talented men that stopped the motor of the world, all right.  Not for any righteous, John Galt-type crusade, not for any noble purpose – and certainly not for the purpose for which man was made.  Their purpose is wealth, control, and power.  Their purpose could be even more sinister – population reduction and some sort of trans-humanism.

They are proving that they don’t need seven billion people in order to have their lives of pleasure and happiness.  They have just put hundreds of millions of people out of work, and at the same time seen their wealth explode.  Why support these hundreds of millions with government handouts and the like?  What use are they?

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My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose.

–          Anthem

Ayn Rand was both right and wrong about this.  Happiness is man’s highest purpose and highest end, but not the happiness as lived out by the heroes in her novels.  This is the superficial happiness that today’s society embraces.

If providing and being provided material goods was sufficient for man’s happiness, we would have no reason to complain about anything.  Ayn Rand’s heroes were exemplars of this type of happiness.  While we live in a world where our every material need and want is met, reasonably so, we are a very unhappy population.

Today’s superficial happiness is the happiness that allows today’s talented men to stop the motor of the world in order to increase the level of their happiness to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

Corruption, lust and greed

Define the new nobility

–          The Gift of Music, Dream Theater

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Happiness, as man’s purpose and as properly understood, is from the Latin, beatitudo; better translated fulfillment through other-regarding action: love.  It is that which gives a target to man’s aim, for his highest end.  It is kind of the opposite of the virtue of selfishness.

Love.  Even this term should not be taken as commonly understood.  There is no love without truth, there is no love without discipline, there is no love without responsibility – both from the one loving and from the one being loved.

This is man’s purpose – it is that which provides the target for natural law – an ethical law.  This, not to be confused with natural rights – limited to life and property.  Man’s ethical law expects of him to be charitable.  No man has a natural right to demand that another be charitable; he only has a natural right to his life and his property.

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Atlas Shrugged is not merely a novel. It is also — or may I say: first of all — a cogent analysis of the evils that plague our society…. You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: “You are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the effort of men who are better than you.”

Ludwig von Mises, letter to Rand (23 January 1958), quoted in Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism (2007)

This is quite true, and it is what gives the novel enduring value.  Unfortunately, the novel offers examples of talented businessmen that are nowhere to be found today.  Frankly, society would be better off if today’s talented men all went on strike.

When free-market capitalism is placed as the highest aim, the talented businessman will use any means to achieve the end of wealth creation.  What would stop him from doing so?  What virtue is higher than selfishness if wealth creation is the highest aim?

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(T)he idealized world Ayn Rand has created to facilitate her wishful theorizing has no more logical connection to our real one than a world in which an author has imagined humanity ruled by intelligent cups of yogurt. This is most obviously revealed by the fact that in Ayn Rand’s world, a man who self-righteously instigates the collapse of society, thereby inevitably killing millions if not billions of people, is portrayed as a messiah figure rather than as a genocidal prick, which is what he’d be anywhere else.

John Scalzi, What I Think About Atlas Shrugged, 2010

Scalzi is more right than he knows, but not for the right reasons.  John Galt and the others were right to strike, as those who went on strike were turned into the slaves of those who were benefiting from their labor.  So, Scalzi is not right for this reason, the reasons offered in Rand’s novel.

It is today’s talented men who are instigating the collapse of society, inevitably killing millions, if not billions, of people.  It is today’s talented people – the winners of the wealth-creation game – that are the genocidal pricks.

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Except as otherwise identified, all Atlas Shrugged quotes taken from here.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.

Bionic Mosquito
Why bionic mosquito? Some talking head on CNBC, when referring to Ron Paul, called him a “mosquito.” My reaction – if he is a “mosquito”, he is a pretty powerful one. Hence the name…. If there is one day a resurgence of freedom and liberty in the West, history will record that Ron Paul was the one individual most responsible for sparking the movement.

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