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#1 Old 5th May 2011 at 9:07 PM
Default Ayn Rand, and all that lovely stuff
Ayn Rand Mike Wallace Interview 1959 part 1

So, apparently Atlas Shrugged, the behemoth monstrosity novel, as I saw in a blog comment sum it up as "practically the conservative manifesto, designed to be the yin to Marx's Communist manifesto Yang," has been turned into a movie. And is BOMBING. It's going down faster than the late former-President Harrison's presidency.

And you know, I was watching Colbert Report, I love the show. And from what I have read before, Ayn Rand was all free-markety, in that "free"-markety way that conservatives and the likes are (business good, government bad, darwinism yay yay yay).

But they played a clip I had never seen before. That made me realize not only just how ridiculous Ayn Rand must've been, but also just how... ungodly ridiculous it all must be.

Quote:
RAND: First my philosophy is based on the concept that reality exists as an objective absolute. That man's mind reason is his means of perceiving it. And that man needs a rational morality. I am primarily the creator of a new court of morality which has so far been believed impossible. Namely, a morality not based on face, not on faith, not on arbitrary whim, not on emotion, not on arbitrary edict, mystical or social, but on reason. A morality which can be proved by means of logic. Which can be demonstrated to be true and necessary.

RAND: Now may I define what my morality is, because this is merely an introduction. My morality is based on man's life as a standard of value. And since man's mind is his basic means of survival, I hold that if man wants to live on earth, and to live as a human being. He has to hold reason as an absolute. By which I mean, that he has to hold reason as his only guide to action. And that he must live by the independent judgment of his own mind. That his highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness. And that he must not force other people nor accept their right to force him. That each man must live as an end in himself and follow his own rational self-interest."

It's completely bullshit. The human mind cannot function on reason alone. It cannot. I needs that randomness, that, uh, emotional response, to operate. What she is going for is not just ridiculous, it's against the very processes of natural creation. Morality cannot simply be based in logic, because that makes utterly no sense. It basically becomes a massive labyrinth of mental bureaucracy (since I get the sense from her that, basically, screw cultural norms; otherwise, I'd say "mental or cultural bureaucracy"). Nor does what she even make any sense in practice. So you're trying to achieve happiness. Now people have different concepts of happiness. But you're not supposed to force yourself onto others, nor accept them forcing themselves onto you. She wants absolute self-reliance. An while that may be great individually, you cannot make a society based on that idea. What you'd get is basically a checkerboard of people, each in their own space, doing their own thing, independent of others. And expecting "reason" to save the day should something come up, or something, I don't even know what, because like I said, it makes no sense.

What, you just expect people to help each other out because it may benefit them? No. In situation like this, it'd be beneficial for them not to help each other. If they helped each other, that might limit resources based on individual. And that's always bad. Because even if there may be a surplus, what if there is an unexpected event in which a surplus may help alleviate that situation, so why give away resources unnecessarily. However, helping may create good relations between our two families. But then I may be expecting of them to offer me help in a time of need, which I should not do, because it would be reliance, even if situational, on another, which is bad. So I gain no benefit by helping. - Yeah, now imagine that as an entire nation.

Quote:
WALLACE: May I interrupt now?

RAND: You may.

WALLACE: Because you put this philosophy to work in your novel Atlas Shrugged. You demonstrate it, in human terms, in your novel Atlas Shrugged. And let me start by quoting from a review of this novel Atlas Shrugged that appeared in News Week. It said that, "You are out to destroy almost every edifice in the contemporary American way of life. Our Judeo-Christian religion our modified government regulated capitalism our rule by the majority will." Other reviews have said that, "You scorn churches, and the concept of god." Are these accurate criticisms?

RAND: Ah.. Yes... I agree with the fact, but not the estimate of this criticism. Namely, if I am challenging the base of all these institutions, I'm challenging the moral code of altruism. The precept that man's moral duty is to live for others. That man must sacrifice himself to others. Which is the present day morality.

WALLACE: What do you mean sacrifice himself for others? Now were getting to the point.

RAND: Since I'm challenging the base, I necessarily will challenge the institutions you name, which are a result of that morality. And now what is self-sacrifice?

WALLACE: Yes...What is self-sacrifice? You say that you do not like the altruism by which we live. You like a certain kind of Ayn Randist selfishness.

RAND: I will say that, "I don't like" is to weak a word. I consider it evil. And self-sacrifice is the precept that man needs to serve others, in order to justify his existence. That his moral duty is to serve others. That is what most people believe today.

WALLACE: Yes.. .We're taught to feel concern for our fellow man. To feel responsible for his welfare. To feel that we are as religious people might put it, children under god, and responsible one for the other. Now why do you rebel? What's wrong with this philosophy?

RAND: But that is in fact what makes man a sacrificial animal. That man must work for others, concern himself with others, or be responsible for them. That is the role of a sacrificial object. I say that man is entitled to his own happiness. And that he must achieve it himself. But that he cannot demand that others give up their lives to make him happy. And nor should he wish to sacrifice himself for the happiness of others. I hold that man should have self-esteem. And cannot man have self-esteem if he loves his fellow man?

WALLACE: What's wrong with loving your fellow man? Christ, every important moral leader in man's history has taught us that we should love one another. Why then is this kind of love in your mind immoral?

RAND: It is immoral if it is a love placed above oneself. It is more than immoral, it's impossible. Because when you asked to love everybody indiscriminately. That is to love people without any standard. To love them regardless of whether they have any value or any virtue, you are asked to love nobody.

WALLACE: But in a sense, in your book you talk about love as if it were a business deal of some kind. Isn't the essence of love, that it is above self-interest?

RAND: Well, let me make it concrete for you. What would it mean to have a love above self-interest? It would mean for instance that a husband would tell his wife if he were moral according to the conventional morality, that I am marring you just for you own sake, I have no personal interest in it, but I'm so unselfish, that I am marrying you only for your own good. Would any woman like that?

WALLACE: Should husbands and wives tally up at the end of the day and say, "well now wait a minute, I love her if she's done enough for me today, or she loves me if I have properly performed my functions?

RAND: No, you misunderstood me. That is not how love should be treated. I agree with you that it should be treated like a business deal. But every business deal has to have its own terms and its own kind of currency. And in love the currency is virtue. You love people, not for what do for them, or what they do for you. You love them for their values, their virtues, which they have achieved in their own character. You don't love causes. You don't love everybody indiscriminately. You love only those who deserve it.

WALLACE: And then if a man is weak, or a woman is weak, then she is beyond, he is beyond love?

RAND: He certainly does not deserve it, he certainly is beyond. He can always correct it. Man has free will. If a man wants love he should correct his weaknesses, or his flaws, and he may deserve it. But he cannot expect the unearned, neither in love, nor in money, neither in method, nor spirit.

WALLACE: You have lived in our world, and you realize... recognize... the fallibility of human beings, there are very few us then in this world, by your standards, who are worthy of love.

RAND: Unfortunately.... yes... very few. But it is open to everybody, to make themselves worthy of it and that is all that my morality offers them. A way to make themselves worthy of love although that's not the primary motive.


And what if being a "sacrificial animal" is what makes that person happy? What, does she assume that cannot be possible because she wills it so? I will say right now, in my opinion: this is hedonist garbage. She's saying find your own happiness, but again, how is that possible lest you live, basically, as a hermit? Now I may not know her history, but I am curious. Did she build her house by hand? Did she harvest the resources to build it? Did she make the paper her books were printed on? Did she print them herself? Did she drive there herself, in a car that she made her self, with metal she smelted and mined herself? No. She did not. She is relying on the work of others for her own sake. She is relying on their sacrifices, on their work, on their efforts.

And as for me, I don't love everyone unconditionally. There are some people who I would love to put a blade through. Yes, I have a self-interest in my relationship, but so does she, she has that same self-interest. But it is more than merely being self-interested. It is more complicated than that; it is not so black-and-white. I do things to make her happy, and sometimes, those things make me happy in return. Sometimes, they don't. Yes, I have a self-interest in making her happy, but sometimes, I try to make her happy even if it doesn't benefit me, or sometimes, even when it's a strain on me. Her idea of love is a farce, a fallacy, a simple and underestimated interpretation. And the idea that weakness just, well. I'm not sure how to express it in ideal words. It's almost, nay, perhaps even is, disgusting. This idea that you must better yourself by yourself, it's just... I'm at a loss for words. Her "morality" is a disaster. A naive, arrogant, egotistical, self-centered, nonsensical ideology that would lead to the sacrifice of those who are "weak", whether by their own faults or not, whether they can help it or not.

If this is her idea of morality and life, then Ayn Rand is a cold-hearted, black-souled bitch. There is no virtue in that. There is no honor. The idea sickens me. And as far as I'm concerned, that may well be what Randism or Objectivism, or what have you, is nothing more but her attempts to rationalize away that she is a bitch, so she can stay a bitch.

A while ago, I forgot when, I was coming out of the local store. I was in the parking lot when a man approached me as I was heading towards my car. He said that he and his wife were from down south, and came up to visit someone, but ran out of gas, and didn't have money. He asked if I could spare any. I'll admit, I was a little reluctant, and, all I had was a $20. For all I know, even to this day, he could have been lying. But you know what I did? I said, well, I only have a twenty, but I suppose I could go get get some change. So we walked into the store, I asked a cashier if I could get it broken into two $10s, and I gave him one of them. He said thank you, god bless you, and that was it. I said sure thing, got to my car, and left.

By this idea of absolute reason, I should not have helped that person. It was their fault they didn't have enough money, or didn't realize how much gas they had, or what ever. If I lent money, I would lose money, which is not beneficial to me. According to this idea, I should have left because, I have no reason to care about this person, and should not even bother helping. So why did I do it? Well, for one thing, I'm not an insufferable asshole. But seriously though, caring about others is not a bad thing, no, it is a necessity thing for a strong society. But even then, caring about the welfare of others as an individual is not bad. What she has said is like someone who cannot accept that you can't help everyone. Like I said, she's basically set up a black-and-white conflict, then found some grand ideology for it. The ideology is flawed, the conflict is flawed, everything about it is flawed. If you use the wrong math equation, you're going to get the answer. If you want it so badly where there's a selective few, a society based on social Darwinism, and that is what it is, and everyone else can go suck it, then we might as well be back with feudalism, repressing government-interested peasants and not voting for kings.

And as for the movie? 'Atlas Shrugged' producer: 'Critics, you won.' He's going 'on strike.'

What did he expect? It was going sweep the nation like the freaking word of Jesus or something? Dude. It's not the fault of the critics. You made a steaming pile that could probably only comparable to Uwe Boll.

Is that a shillelagh in your pocket, or are you just sinning against God?
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#2 Old 5th May 2011 at 9:23 PM
I'm down with a objectivism as realism, but Rand's version of rational self-interest doesn't fly with me at all. Rational self-interest isn't being a selfish asshole, it's recognizing that the whole of Mankind is larger than the parts and that selfish assholes aren't functioning members of society, they're blights on society. Yes, we cannot escape our inevitable self-interests. We operate under a thin skein of respectability that's our complicated and necessary social structures. But that strange, tenuous spiderweb of social relationships is what separates humans from animals. It's not just part of who we are, it's the most important part of any of us. Essentially Rand invested her life in creating this philosophy, but she was such a stupid cow she didn't understand the real implications of what she was proposing. A man living simply for himself accomplishes absolutely nothing. No art, no science, no nations...nothing. A man apart from others isn't bravely seeking his ego, he's less than a wild animal, he's self-culling himself away from the herd.

But maybe that's why it's supposed to be the counterpoint to Marx? Because Marx had some ridiculous notions about who people really were too, at least in the translations I've read. Maybe he's more compelling in the original language.
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#3 Old 5th May 2011 at 9:31 PM
I don't know. But what I have heard about his writings, if I heard right... yeah. I mean, there's some good ideas, but a lot of it was pretty ridiculous, definitely. Like, from what I understand, he thought people would just give up power once the time was right. Yeah, no. Not gonna happen.

Is that a shillelagh in your pocket, or are you just sinning against God?
Scholar
#4 Old 6th May 2011 at 12:37 AM
First, there are few philosophies that aren't based in reason. Those that try not to be based in reason, try to be based in empiricism, though it is typically difficult to achieve normative ethics through empirical means. Now, the purpose of basing ethics on reason and not on emotion or whim is because morality is supposed to be universal. When you say that something is 'good' or 'evil', you are saying that it is something that should be celebrated/deplored regardless of who does it. Saying that something is good for you and not necessarily good for someone else has very little weight and ends in a pointless, non-information-bearing state. So what she is saying is that she is attempting to use universally accessible reasoning to come to a universal ethical standard. Her basis for her ethical theory is really a very broad statement that could be applied to most other philosophers. She wasn't writing for the ivory tower, though, so she doesn't always state things in excruciating detail.

Emotion does come into play once the standard is determined. Those who react emotionally to good and bad things appropriately are more likely to follow the moral law. Theoretically, one should be able to train oneself to react appropriately, the way Aristotle said that virtue is a matter of habit. According to Aristotle (whom Ayn Rand admired), one cannot be virtuous until virtuous behavior flows freely from one's character. Any hesitation or second-guessing is considered to be a sort of stain on one's virtue. The best way to habituate oneself to behaving virtuously is to feel positive feelings toward good and negative feelings toward bad. Notice that she didn't dispose of emotion in her description of her ethical theory: she referred to pursuing one's own happiness. Now, happiness in Aristotle doesn't necessarily refer to the emotion, but more to the state of living a good life, but one should theoretically be happy when living a good life.

Getting into the meat of her ethical theory: if ethics are universal and other people are worthy of your concern and aid for their betterment, why are you not worthy of that same concern and betterment for yourself? I think this is one way of approaching Rand's theory. You are worth at least as much as everyone else. To take it further though, there are three main reasons why you should be concerned about yourself first: if everyone is so concerned about everyone else, there is no one who is especially concerned about them, because everyone's concern is so shallow and spread out that no one has someone who is primarily responsible for him/herself. There is no one to take care of you because to everyone else, you aren't particularly special. You are special to yourself, however, so you must take care of yourself. The second reason is that moral responsibility relies on self-responsibility. If everyone is responsible for everyone, who is to blame when someone commits murder? Practically speaking, the one who committed the murder is the one who is to blame and the one to target for correction. But if everyone is responsible for that murderer, everyone has to be blamed and punished to deter future violence. This is a nonsensical, inefficient system of responsibility and punishment. The other reason is because, if you want to help others, you have to make sure that you are in the condition to do it. If you give all of your money to charity, you won't have enough to cover your own needs and you will find it harder to make more money to give to charity. If you spend all of your time helping others, you will have no time to help yourself and, again, you will find it harder to help others when you don't spend the time to do things like keeping yourself healthy. Even the Bible, which is supposed to be all about love thy fellow man, has a story about taking care of yourself first so that you are able to help others. I'm probably going to recall this poorly, but Jesus asks someone if his brother had a splinter in his eye and he had a beam in his own, which problem should he take care of first? The man answered with the feel-good answer of removing the brother's splinter first, but Jesus told him he was wrong because he would be unable to remove the splinter from his brother's eye while there is a beam in his own. You probably know that I'm not religious, but for a religion that is supposedly all about loving everyone equally and being self-sacrificing, to have such a story is meaningful. It shows that even that kind of feel-good mindset recognizes the necessity of taking care of oneself first.

This doesn't mean that I completely agree with Rand. I don't think that it is wrong to do a kindness for a stranger, though I think that excessive self-sacrifice is wrong, as she does. I also agree that love becomes meaningless when it is so freely given to anyone and everyone. I don't think that it is possible for us as humans to truly love everyone. We have self-interests, whether we want to or not. We will emotionally grow closer to some than to others. The free love sexual revolution was not reflective of the way we choose mates, because we will develop preferences for one (or maybe a few) over others. Beyond not being able to love everyone equally, I don't think we should even strive for it. Love is meaningless when it is a background condition. When it is the assumed state of affairs, there is no value to it. I think that love should be valuable. That doesn't mean that I think we should be assholes to the average guy on the street, but you don't owe that average guy on the street anything other than not trampling over his rights to pursue his own happiness.

I haven't read enough of Rand's writing to be able to say exactly what she means by pursuing one's happiness over others', but I think that your examples, Nekowolf, are examples of pursuing one's own happiness. If that person wants to be a "sacrificial animal" and give of herself and that is what makes her happy, she is pursuing her own self-interest in doing so. If you felt like a better person for giving that man gas money, you pursued your own happiness in doing so. I don't think Rand is opposed to the idea of giving of yourself to certain others, either. I don't think that she thinks we should be hermits with no friends or family. I think she thinks we should have a group of friends who are worthy of our affection and that it is alright to give of yourself to them, because friends make us happy and are part of pursuing our own self-interests. Further, it is possible to interact with people in a self-interested way, without being friends, but also without making enemies. If Rand wanted to hire someone to build her a house, it is in her self interest to do so. It is in the self-interest of the contractor to charge her for it. As long as the price isn't excessive, it is still in her self-interest to pay it. Both parties benefit from the transaction, but there need not be any love between them. This is how pure capitalism works.

Finally, I'm not surprised that the movie isn't doing well. Rand is not a very good fiction writer. I read Anthem and it violated one of the main rules of storytelling: show, don't tell. Her characters almost literally stand on soapboxes and preach. Atlas Shrugged is almost universally made fun of for having possibly the longest monologue in fiction. I think she should have stuck to writing non-fiction, but she probably wanted to disseminate her ideas among the masses through fiction.
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#5 Old 6th May 2011 at 2:35 AM
Quote:
First, there are few philosophies that aren't based in reason. Those that try not to be based in reason, try to be based in empiricism, though it is typically difficult to achieve normative ethics through empirical means. Now, the purpose of basing ethics on reason and not on emotion or whim is because morality is supposed to be universal. When you say that something is 'good' or 'evil', you are saying that it is something that should be celebrated/deplored regardless of who does it. Saying that something is good for you and not necessarily good for someone else has very little weight and ends in a pointless, non-information-bearing state. So what she is saying is that she is attempting to use universally accessible reasoning to come to a universal ethical standard. Her basis for her ethical theory is really a very broad statement that could be applied to most other philosophers. She wasn't writing for the ivory tower, though, so she doesn't always state things in excruciating detail.

I agree that, in a sense, morality does often try or become "universal." But not universal in the sense of being world-wide. That's just not possible. It's universal in the sense of specifics. A specific nation. A specific culture. A specific region, or religion, or even something small, like tribes. The thing is, when I say something is "good" or "evil," yes, I'm saying that it should be celebrated or deplored regardless of who does it... based on my interpretations of what good and evil are. And those interpretations can be different amongst all those things I said above. There is no set definition of what is good, and what is evil. For that, you would need a god or something of equal measure, that everyone believes exists, because for that standard to become the world-wide universal, it would need either all people to be under the same norms, or for there to be some outside force who dictates the rules. Nor is reasoning on the concepts of ideology also universally accepted. It's universally accepted by those who agree with her. Those who don't, like me, find her reasoning flawed. I do not accept it, so how can it be universal if there is dissent, if there is disagreement? To say it's universally accepted would mean it is without question, and which is not the case.
Sorry, I misread "accessible" as "accepted" for some reason. Oh, but I will say this, since I reread the comment. Saying something is good for you, but perhaps detrimental to someone else (as that is how I mean it) does not have "very little weight and ends in a pointless, non-information-bearing state." If I go around fucking other people, in spite of my fidelity to my girlfriend, because it makes me feel good and (as you are apparently trying to say) I don't need to care about her feelings, how does that not bear weight? It bears a great deal. It is certainly not pointless. And non-information-bearing, well, that really doesn't even make any sense. Information is information. If you learn something, or realize a variable, that is information in itself.

Quote:
Emotion does come into play once the standard is determined. Those who react emotionally to good and bad things appropriately are more likely to follow the moral law. Theoretically, one should be able to train oneself to react appropriately, the way Aristotle said that virtue is a matter of habit. According to Aristotle (whom Ayn Rand admired), one cannot be virtuous until virtuous behavior flows freely from one's character. Any hesitation or second-guessing is considered to be a sort of stain on one's virtue. The best way to habituate oneself to behaving virtuously is to feel positive feelings toward good and negative feelings toward bad. Notice that she didn't dispose of emotion in her description of her ethical theory: she referred to pursuing one's own happiness. Now, happiness in Aristotle doesn't necessarily refer to the emotion, but more to the state of living a good life, but one should theoretically be happy when living a good life.

I can't offer any opinions on Aristotle at the moment. I should reread my philosophy textbook. Anyways, I disagree that "any hesitation or second-guessing is considered to be a sort of stain on one's virtue." Many times, things are both good and bad together, sometimes you have many options that are so muddled. I do not see hesitation as such a bad thing; sometimes, you should process your options and their consequences. Nor do I think second-guessing is so bad. Sometimes, you make a mistake. You should learn from the decisions you make. The idea of no hesitation, no second-guessing is almost robotic, and simply, I don't think, is truly possible. You can try, but that's about it.

Anyway, I also disagree that she disregards emotions. "He has to hold reason as an absolute. By which I mean, that he has to hold reason as his only guide to action." That sounds pretty clear to me. Only reason should hold any sway.

Quote:
Getting into the meat of her ethical theory: if ethics are universal and other people are worthy of your concern and aid for their betterment, why are you not worthy of that same concern and betterment for yourself? I think this is one way of approaching Rand's theory. You are worth at least as much as everyone else. To take it further though, there are three main reasons why you should be concerned about yourself first: if everyone is so concerned about everyone else, there is no one who is especially concerned about them, because everyone's concern is so shallow and spread out that no one has someone who is primarily responsible for him/herself. There is no one to take care of you because to everyone else, you aren't particularly special. You are special to yourself, however, so you must take care of yourself. The second reason is that moral responsibility relies on self-responsibility. If everyone is responsible for everyone, who is to blame when someone commits murder? Practically speaking, the one who committed the murder is the one who is to blame and the one to target for correction. But if everyone is responsible for that murderer, everyone has to be blamed and punished to deter future violence. This is a nonsensical, inefficient system of responsibility and punishment. The other reason is because, if you want to help others, you have to make sure that you are in the condition to do it. If you give all of your money to charity, you won't have enough to cover your own needs and you will find it harder to make more money to give to charity. If you spend all of your time helping others, you will have no time to help yourself and, again, you will find it harder to help others when you don't spend the time to do things like keeping yourself healthy. Even the Bible, which is supposed to be all about love thy fellow man, has a story about taking care of yourself first so that you are able to help others. I'm probably going to recall this poorly, but Jesus asks someone if his brother had a splinter in his eye and he had a beam in his own, which problem should he take care of first? The man answered with the feel-good answer of removing the brother's splinter first, but Jesus told him he was wrong because he would be unable to remove the splinter from his brother's eye while there is a beam in his own. You probably know that I'm not religious, but for a religion that is supposedly all about loving everyone equally and being self-sacrificing, to have such a story is meaningful. It shows that even that kind of feel-good mindset recognizes the necessity of taking care of oneself first.

So I'm going to take this part piece by piece; apologies if some of it seems a bit disjointed, I'll try to correct that.

So firstly, the first point of why you should be your primary concern. It's ego-inflation. "I'm special!" Yeah, like you said, you're special to yourself. But you are not special. Not really. By the way it sounds, you are saying you are inherently special just by existing. But that, in itself, is nothing special. If you want to be special, some people are born with it, yeah, but you could also try working for it. Isn't that one of the core ideas here; working for what you want? So if you want to be something, an icon or whatever, you should have to work for it instead of seeing yourself as someone of importance just because you exist. Really, the biggest flaw in this is that, again, black-and-white. What you're arguing over is if everyone is concerned with everyone else, or if you are concerned only about yourself (or rather, you are the highest priority; admittedly, it's not a true black-and-white scenario, but it's bordering the line). You can look out for yourself, as well as balance concern for others. You can sacrifice some things, just try not to sacrifice too much. Also, if everyone is concerned about everyone else, then that would mean everyone would be concern about you, so while you may not take yourself into account, everyone else is.

The second part, you're using an example that does not fit. "If everyone is responsible for everyone, who is to blame when someone commits murder?" The killer. Even under the idea that everyone is responsible for everyone else. You are mangling the idea of "everyone is responsible for everyone." You are saying they are all responsible of other peoples' actions. That is not the case. What they are responsible for is the attempt of safety, of trying to help when needed, of administering justice as needed. They are responsible for peoples' welfare, for their society, these abstract ideas directly influence by the people in it. If my sister kills a person, I am not responsible because I am not my sister. But what you are arguing is that I am responsible in spite of me not being my sister. It makes no sense. The only thing people are responsible for is the influence of the environments around that murderer, and perhaps a few people of his life directly. But only he could pull that trigger, or, whatever weapon he used, only he was the one who used it.

And again, you can balance both your needs, and the need or want to help others in the way Rand suggests. And what is it she suggests? "I say that man is entitled to his own happiness. And that he must achieve it himself. But that he cannot demand that others give up their lives to make him happy. And nor should he wish to sacrifice himself for the happiness of others." You should not sacrifice yourself for the sake of others. Again, I think it's pretty clear what she means. You are the end-all, be-all.

But even then, the funny thing is, this idea of capitalism is completely ass-backwards. She saying, well, you should not rely on others. And yet, how do you make your products? On the backs of others. You are demanding that others sacrifice their time and effort for you. Sure, you pay them for it, but that does not change the fact that they are giving themselves up to you, and you are accepting that they do.
"I say that man is entitled to his own happiness. And that he must achieve it himself. But that he cannot demand that others give up their lives to make him happy." And that is exactly what employment is. Giving up yourself to a business, a business ran by a person or a group. They make a profit off of your work, they become wealthy off of your work, so they are not achieving it themselves, and they are demanding the sacrifice of others.

Quote:
Further, it is possible to interact with people in a self-interested way, without being friends, but also without making enemies. If Rand wanted to hire someone to build her a house, it is in her self interest to do so. It is in the self-interest of the contractor to charge her for it. As long as the price isn't excessive, it is still in her self-interest to pay it. Both parties benefit from the transaction, but there need not be any love between them. This is how pure capitalism works.


Okay, and that may be great and all, if the price is not excessive. And that is where things fall apart. What if it is excessive? What if it is unreasonable? What if they all are? It is not in her self-interest to pay a price that steep, but she has no other options. It's pay the price, or don't have a house.

No, better yet. Take the current gas prices. The lowest in the area is $4.23 per gallon. It is NOT in my self-interest to pay that much. But I have no options. I live out in the rural, so biking is not an option unless I want to bike for miles to the cities (the nearest is like... I forget. Five miles? Seven miles?). I can't ride a bike anyway. My leg never formed straight, and my balance is off. I don't have enough money to move, so I'm stuck where I am. The buses go out my way. So I absolutely need gas in my car. It is not in my self-interest to pay those prices, just a week ago, those prices were below $3.00, and I do not really benefit from the transaction because while, yes, I get the gas I need, the sheer cost of it is damaging, and as it increases, it consumes more money, making my own net profits even less, so therefor, it is detrimental. Only one party is really benefiting, and that is the oil industry. That is "pure capitalism." I'm stuck without options, while they profit on my necessity for their products, and I don't have a damn say in it because, guess what, it's a necessity.

Is that a shillelagh in your pocket, or are you just sinning against God?
Scholar
DELETED POST
6th May 2011 at 6:06 PM
This message has been deleted by Oaktree. Reason: won't post text
Mad Poster
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#6 Old 6th May 2011 at 6:29 PM
The only way this discussion could be more tl:dr is if Ayn Rand had written it. :P

(Edit: If I have a point here it's that this seems a lot of effort exerted over a woman who could spend 400 + pages inelegantly chronicling the horrific day-to-day struggles of the heroic ultra-wealthy trying keep the poor in their deservedly miserable place.)

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GON OUT, BACKSON, BISY BACKSON
Scholar
#7 Old 6th May 2011 at 6:36 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nekowolf
I agree that, in a sense, morality does often try or become "universal." But not universal in the sense of being world-wide. That's just not possible. It's universal in the sense of specifics. A specific nation. A specific culture. A specific region, or religion, or even something small, like tribes. The thing is, when I say something is "good" or "evil," yes, I'm saying that it should be celebrated or deplored regardless of who does it... based on my interpretations of what good and evil are. And those interpretations can be different amongst all those things I said above. There is no set definition of what is good, and what is evil. For that, you would need a god or something of equal measure, that everyone believes exists, because for that standard to become the world-wide universal, it would need either all people to be under the same norms, or for there to be some outside force who dictates the rules.


But you are still saying that there are things that you think should be universally celebrated or deplored, whether you think it is practical to try to make every society believe the same thing. You may feel that you don't have the right to demand that another culture believe something you believe, but by merely stating that something is good, you are making a normative claim. You are saying, whether you intent to or not, that everyone should consider that thing to be good. Ethical theories are not about practicality; they are about providing a sort of natural law for human behavior.

Quote:
Sorry, I misread "accessible" as "accepted" for some reason. Oh, but I will say this, since I reread the comment. Saying something is good for you, but perhaps detrimental to someone else (as that is how I mean it) does not have "very little weight and ends in a pointless, non-information-bearing state." If I go around fucking other people, in spite of my fidelity to my girlfriend, because it makes me feel good and (as you are apparently trying to say) I don't need to care about her feelings, how does that not bear weight? It bears a great deal. It is certainly not pointless. And non-information-bearing, well, that really doesn't even make any sense. Information is information. If you learn something, or realize a variable, that is information in itself.


I honestly don't see where you're getting the idea that I'm saying it's okay to cheat on people. I'll try to rephrase what I was saying; maybe you didn't quite get what I meant. If you say that a particular act is good when you do it and bad when someone else does it, you are making a very weak claim that bears no information because there is no logic in saying that the same act under the same circumstances can be both good and bad. A person who wanted to know whether the act was good or bad when he/she did it would have nothing to go on because there is no accessible reasoning in that argument. If you want to use the example of cheating, if you say that it's good for you to cheat on your girlfriend (I'm not saying you would say this, but this is just an example), but that it's bad for everyone else to cheat on his/her significant other, what reasoning makes it okay for you, but not for others? There is a contradiction in that argument, because you are saying, whether you mean to or not, that cheating is both universally good and universally bad.

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I can't offer any opinions on Aristotle at the moment. I should reread my philosophy textbook. Anyways, I disagree that "any hesitation or second-guessing is considered to be a sort of stain on one's virtue." Many times, things are both good and bad together, sometimes you have many options that are so muddled. I do not see hesitation as such a bad thing; sometimes, you should process your options and their consequences. Nor do I think second-guessing is so bad. Sometimes, you make a mistake. You should learn from the decisions you make. The idea of no hesitation, no second-guessing is almost robotic, and simply, I don't think, is truly possible. You can try, but that's about it.


Aristotle was saying that it is non-virtuous to hesitate to do the right thing. If there is one option that clearly wins out over another, but you hesitate to take that option, you are not virtuous, according to Aristotle. Don't worry too much about it; Aristotle believed virtue to be a rare thing, and something that most people aren't capable of achieving until mature adulthood, like maybe around 30.

I'm not sure what Aristotle thought about choices between two evils. I imagine that it would be justifiable to hesitate somewhat when confronted with some choices, but it's been a little while since I've read Nicomachean Ethics, so I couldn't tell you for sure.

Quote:
Anyway, I also disagree that she disregards emotions. "He has to hold reason as an absolute. By which I mean, that he has to hold reason as his only guide to action." That sounds pretty clear to me. Only reason should hold any sway.


You may be right there. Like I said, I don't completely agree with her. I think she was a bit too extreme, even if she was generally on the right track.

Quote:
So I'm going to take this part piece by piece; apologies if some of it seems a bit disjointed, I'll try to correct that.

So firstly, the first point of why you should be your primary concern. It's ego-inflation. "I'm special!" Yeah, like you said, you're special to yourself. But you are not special. Not really. By the way it sounds, you are saying you are inherently special just by existing. But that, in itself, is nothing special. If you want to be special, some people are born with it, yeah, but you could also try working for it. Isn't that one of the core ideas here; working for what you want? So if you want to be something, an icon or whatever, you should have to work for it instead of seeing yourself as someone of importance just because you exist.


That's not quite what I meant by special. I apologize if my term usage is a little hazy. Philosophers often use terms in very strange and unusual ways and I've been taking a lot of philosophy this semester.

What I mean is that someone has to be responsible for you, in two main senses of the word 'responsible'. Someone has to take praise/blame for your actions and someone has to make sure that you survive and thrive. The two are linked. If you can be held responsible for your actions, you can also be held responsible for taking care of yourself, and vice versa. Consider the state of affairs if everyone were responsible for everyone else. You would become a face in the crowd, a meaningless piece of a larger mass of humanity. Your individuality would not matter, because you do not even view yourself as an individual and no one else is able to view you as an individual when everyone else is required to focus on humanity as a whole. While it may be accurate to say that you are not particularly important in the larger scheme of things, there still has to be a value to each individual life. The larger mass of humanity is made up of individuals, not a hive mind. To disregard the worth of the individual is to disregard the worth of human life in general. You can excuse any number of individual sorrows or deaths, so long as the larger group is happier for it. I think this is a bad thing. I don't think that itís excusable to harm even one innocent individual in service of the 'greater good'. The repercussions of allowing that are too abhorrent, because it takes responsibility out of the picture entirely. If a person can be punished for something that he/she is not responsible for, punishment becomes illegitimate and ineffective. Punishment only works when it is a threat for bad behavior. If it becomes a constant threat, regardless of behavior, people lose one of the best deterrents of immoral behavior. That's not to say that everyone will become an immoral asshole, but it would certainly be worse for society than a system in which the individual has worth.

Quote:
Really, the biggest flaw in this is that, again, black-and-white. What you're arguing over is if everyone is concerned with everyone else, or if you are concerned only about yourself (or rather, you are the highest priority; admittedly, it's not a true black-and-white scenario, but it's bordering the line). You can look out for yourself, as well as balance concern for others. You can sacrifice some things, just try not to sacrifice too much. Also, if everyone is concerned about everyone else, then that would mean everyone would be concern about you, so while you may not take yourself into account, everyone else is.


I think you're misinterpreting me to get a black-and-white situation. I never said that you had to be solely concerned with yourself, just that you had to be concerned with yourself first. If you are concerned with yourself first, you hold yourself responsible for yourself and others responsible for themselves, but you can still look out for the interests of others, just to a lesser degree than you would if you were completely self-sacrificing.

Quote:
The second part, you're using an example that does not fit. "If everyone is responsible for everyone, who is to blame when someone commits murder?" The killer. Even under the idea that everyone is responsible for everyone else. You are mangling the idea of "everyone is responsible for everyone." You are saying they are all responsible of other peoples' actions. That is not the case. What they are responsible for is the attempt of safety, of trying to help when needed, of administering justice as needed. They are responsible for peoples' welfare, for their society, these abstract ideas directly influence by the people in it. If my sister kills a person, I am not responsible because I am not my sister. But what you are arguing is that I am responsible in spite of me not being my sister. It makes no sense. The only thing people are responsible for is the influence of the environments around that murderer, and perhaps a few people of his life directly. But only he could pull that trigger, or, whatever weapon he used, only he was the one who used it.[QUOTE]

As I said above, the two kinds of responsibility are linked. If you take care of yourself, you take care of yourself morally as well. You are responsible for any moral judgments that may fall on you for your behavior. If you believe that you are responsible for taking care of everyone else, you necessarily believe that you have some control over everyone else's life. If you didn't have control over other people's lives, you couldn't be blamed for a failure to provide for another. So because you have control over other people's lives, if they do something wrong, you are partially responsible. You could have prevented it, but you didn't. I don't think we have that kind of control over people's lives. If someone's life is screwed up, it may be simply a matter of bad luck (which is out of your control, anyway), but it may also be that that person did not make good decisions. You weren't capable of making those decisions for that person, so why should you automatically be held responsible for his errors? That is what is advocated in a system in which you are obligated to support others. It is far better to freely choose to help those in need, partly because it allows you to have moral character and partly because the responsibility is still on the shoulders of that person in need. That person can rightly be praised or blamed for their actions only when s/he is allowed to be responsible for them.

[QUOTE]And again, you can balance both your needs, and the need or want to help others in the way Rand suggests. And what is it she suggests? "I say that man is entitled to his own happiness. And that he must achieve it himself. But that he cannot demand that others give up their lives to make him happy. And nor should he wish to sacrifice himself for the happiness of others." You should not sacrifice yourself for the sake of others. Again, I think it's pretty clear what she means. You are the end-all, be-all.


I think she means sacrifice in the strongest sense of the term here. I think she is saying that you shouldn't run yourself into the ground for the betterment of others, not that you can't do anything to help others.
Scholar
#8 Old 6th May 2011 at 6:37 PM
Quote:
But even then, the funny thing is, this idea of capitalism is completely ass-backwards. She saying, well, you should not rely on others. And yet, how do you make your products? On the backs of others. You are demanding that others sacrifice their time and effort for you. Sure, you pay them for it, but that does not change the fact that they are giving themselves up to you, and you are accepting that they do.
"I say that man is entitled to his own happiness. And that he must achieve it himself. But that he cannot demand that others give up their lives to make him happy." And that is exactly what employment is. Giving up yourself to a business, a business ran by a person or a group. They make a profit off of your work, they become wealthy off of your work, so they are not achieving it themselves, and they are demanding the sacrifice of others.


I think that you have an overly pessimistic view of capitalism. You do benefit from the labor of others, but you are also laboring for the benefit of yourself and others and they are also benefiting from their own labors. They aren't 'sacrificing' their time and effort for your sake, they are using that time and effort for their own betterment, through receiving a paycheck. When you get a job, do you really think of yourself as going to go be a slave to some company, or do you think of the reward you get, in the form of some spending money? I've certainly never felt exploited by an employer. All of my employers have been downright civil and very understanding of the needs of their employees. This is because they know that happy employees are more productive. I know that not all employers are so kind, but people don't enter into business dealings (in this case, employment) unless there is some benefit to themselves.

What makes you think that you are entitled to becoming wealthy off of your work? No one is entitled to any amount of wealth unless they earn it, and you as an individual grunt worker in a larger company are not likely to be contributing so much to the betterment of that company that you might have gotten rich off of it. Even if you work hard, you arenít necessarily providing a service that is highly useful/in-demand. In order to earn wealth, you have to be skilled and shrewd. The people further up the chain are more important and usually contribute more, though they, too can suffer for providing a service not in-demand. Managers are necessary because, without direction, a slew of laborers can't get much done. And most of the profits that companies make go back into investing in the future of the company. It's not some CEO pocketing all of the profits. Not everyone can be rich. But everyone can labor to make a living, so long as businesses are given the freedom to grow.

Quote:
Okay, and that may be great and all, if the price is not excessive. And that is where things fall apart. What if it is excessive? What if it is unreasonable? What if they all are? It is not in her self-interest to pay a price that steep, but she has no other options. It's pay the price, or don't have a house.


If everyone is offering a particular service at the same price, it is strongly likely that that is the optimal price given supply and demand. In the example of a house, if there are few houses and the demand is great, the value of the houses on the market increases, and rightly so. If there is a large demand, a small supply, and a low price, that implies that the sellers are not taking the best offers, because people will offer to pay more if it increases their odds of securing a house. Those sellers are not only working against their own self-interest, but they are not providing the optimal economic stimulation that they could. When more money is injected into the market through private means, it generally improves the flow of cash, improving the economy.

What it boils down to is that, whatever you may feel about the price, if the price is at the point it should be at given supply and demand, that is the fair price and you have to work that price into your plans. You can't say that it is excessive to charge $100 for a house when that is well under the normal asking price. You have to be reasonable. And here is where you accommodate the interests of others. In paying a fair price for a product or service, you are allowing the person you are paying to pursue his/her own interests.

Quote:
No, better yet. Take the current gas prices. The lowest in the area is $4.23 per gallon. It is NOT in my self-interest to pay that much. But I have no options. I live out in the rural, so biking is not an option unless I want to bike for miles to the cities (the nearest is like... I forget. Five miles? Seven miles?). I can't ride a bike anyway. My leg never formed straight, and my balance is off. I don't have enough money to move, so I'm stuck where I am. The buses go out my way. So I absolutely need gas in my car. It is not in my self-interest to pay those prices, just a week ago, those prices were below $3.00, and I do not really benefit from the transaction because while, yes, I get the gas I need, the sheer cost of it is damaging, and as it increases, it consumes more money, making my own net profits even less, so therefor, it is detrimental. Only one party is really benefiting, and that is the oil industry. That is "pure capitalism." I'm stuck without options, while they profit on my necessity for their products, and I don't have a damn say in it because, guess what, it's a necessity.


It is in your self-interest to pay that price, as you have just explained. The product, gasoline, is valuable to you because you need to get somewhere and you don't have the option of other forms of transport. You may not like that you have to pay more for gas now, but you are not only in competition with other consumers who demand gas, but you also need to help pay for the cost of keeping the oil business running because those costs aren't magically met from nowhere, they are covered by the consumer.

Even if gas is a necessity for you, that doesn't mean that you are entitled to it. Gas isn't free to extract or refine and someone has to pay those costs in the hope of getting a return on their investment. Unless you want to find some way to extract and refine it yourself, you have to figure out how much you need it and how much you are willing and able to pay for it, because there is no other reasonable way of distributing a product. Think of it this way: say you pass a homeless man on the way to work every morning and he asks you for five bucks so he can buy lunch, every morning. Food is a necessity. Does that mean that you are required to give him five bucks every single morning? No. That money is the product of your labor and he is not entitled to it. In the same way, gasoline is the product of the labors of the oil companies and consumers are not entitled to it.

(Sorry for the double post, it's too long to post in one post.)
Mad Poster
staff: retired moderator
#9 Old 6th May 2011 at 6:50 PM Last edited by kiwi_tea : 6th May 2011 at 8:03 PM.
Quote:
What makes you think that you are entitled to becoming wealthy off of your work? No one is entitled to any amount of wealth unless they earn it, and you as an individual grunt worker in a larger company are not likely to be contributing so much to the betterment of that company that you might have gotten rich off of it. Even if you work hard, you arenít necessarily providing a service that is highly useful/in-demand. In order to earn wealth, you have to be skilled and shrewd. The people further up the chain are more important and usually contribute more, though they, too can suffer for providing a service not in-demand. Managers are necessary because, without direction, a slew of laborers can't get much done. And most of the profits that companies make go back into investing in the future of the company. It's not some CEO pocketing all of the profits. Not everyone can be rich. But everyone can labor to make a living, so long as businesses are given the freedom to grow.


And herein lies the fundamental problem, right. That capitalism is a system that endorses destroying millions of perfectly capable workers because they're not of any use to the decreasing number of increasingly wealthy people. That, in this theory, is "fair" simply because it's the will of the markets. There is no assumption of a right to decent standard of living embedded in this, although there are some very unconvincing arguments that wealth would trickle down - arguments not borne out very well in real world economics, a fact generally excused because real world economies have never been free market enough yet.

It's true that the money a company makes gets reinvested, but you're making a total mockery of the situation by claiming that the ultra-wealthy don't ensure they pocket a disproportionate amount of the profit as their due - using the market as an excuse. Haven't "performance bonuses" morphed into "retention bonuses" during the GFC? Yes they have. To pretend that the market which sets wages is objectively "fair" or, goodness forbid "humane", seems to require a load of denial and huge leap of faith - profiteers have consistently demonstrated themselves willing to neglect human health and wellbeing in favour of higher profits. More worryingly, the pretence that the market is fair seems to start from the assumption that maintaining the purest form of capitalism is more fundamentally important than reducing human suffering.

Edit: But you know, setting aside the fact that Ayn Rand's free market ideology is effed up, and the fact that she opted to call her insane gut reactions to her surroundings "rational" to the point where they became known as "Objectivism", Ayn Rand was just a terrible thinker and a mean person - particularly to her husband and lovers. It's particularly sad that so many people want to model themselves on such a petty tyrant.

Edit: "But everyone can labor to make a living, so long as businesses are given the freedom to grow." And this just couldn't be less true in a million years. Widespread unemployment (and thereby suffering) is the most effective tool by a long shot for reducing wages. Employment of every able and deserving body is not remotely in the employers' interests. To say "everyone can labour to make a living" in a capitalistic free market takes gumption of a sort I seldom see. To say that wages would be fair is ridiculous, but to say employment would be obtainable to the deserving is truly beyond the pale.

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Scholar
#10 Old 6th May 2011 at 8:10 PM
When I was referring to use and demand I was referring to the demand of the market. The market is composed of more than just the wealthy; in fact, the vast majority of the market is composed of the common man. And no, there is no assumption of the right to anything other than fundamental freedoms. But that is the only way that things can be fair because a 'decent standard of living' has a lot more wrapped up into it than you'd think. It involves various goods and services that other people have to work to produce. People have a right to freedom and property, so you can't demand that someone give up one or both of those things for your benefit alone.

I've never said that the market is 'humane'. The market is not a person. It is made up of people, but the collective actions of people do not necessarily have the same qualities as individual members. However, I do think that it is as fair as can be accomplished. It is not fair to infringe on personal rights, so it is only fair if people are allowed to act in what manner they will, short of infringing on other people's rights.

There will always be human suffering, but that doesn't mean that we should add to it on the pretense of alleviating it. Infringing on personal freedoms is adding to human suffering. The only way that human suffering can be alleviated is if individuals are responsible for themselves and some individuals take it upon themselves to help others, without being forced to do so.

I agree that Ayn Rand was not the most rational of philosophers. I think that some of her ideas were really just based in her own personal feelings. Her hatred of homosexuality, for example. However, the fact that she's not a good person does not invalidate what things she did get right. And I hope you aren't trying to conflate all Libertarians/proponents of the free market with her brand of asshole.

When wages are reduced, profits are down. Businesses work for profit, so they want society to be affluent. There are only a few businesses that might possibly benefit from a poor society, businesses that deal in necessities. Even then, they would still probably see better profits in better times. Further, our market is inundated with luxuries, so those businesses would want to improve the economy. The problem comes when businesses are not allowed to set reasonable wages, or if they are forced to jump through hoops to hire employees. The vast over-regulation of businesses in our social democracy hurts businesses, which, in turn, hurts consumers and laborers.
Scholar
Original Poster
#11 Old 6th May 2011 at 8:59 PM
"The only way this discussion could be more tl:dr is if Ayn Rand had written it. :P" - Oh I don't know; I think we could probably drag it out even more; just takes a bit more literary effort. But yeah, I pretty much started it out of boredom. I can do odd things like that when I'm bored. I've thought about writing a serious report (to no one in particular) about pirates versus ninjas.

As for the rest of this stuff, I'll eventually comment on it once I slog through it.

Is that a shillelagh in your pocket, or are you just sinning against God?
Forum Resident
#12 Old 6th May 2011 at 10:38 PM
General observation: The funny thing about Objectivism, I think, is that, like its polar opposite of communism/socialism, the biggest flaw is that it presumes/requires people to be universally better than they actually are to actually function, especially on a grand scale.

It'd be great if everyone had all the stellar qualities of Rand's heroes (the self-respect and responsibility and so forth, not necessarily the selfish assholery) and the "looters" of money or affection could be effectively starved out into being productive members of society, but that's just not how people work, nor will they ever, if you consider the repetitive nature of human behavior for the last few thousand years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwi_tea
It's true that the money a company makes gets reinvested, but you're making a total mockery of the situation by claiming that the ultra-wealthy don't ensure they pocket a disproportionate amount of the profit as their due - using the market as an excuse. Haven't "performance bonuses" morphed into "retention bonuses" during the GFC? Yes they have.

To be fair, from what I understand of Rand's philosophy, the archetypal fat cats pocketing massive bonuses for nothing in particular are just as "evil" as the people expecting huge payout for no or mediocre work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oaktree
When wages are reduced, profits are down. Businesses work for profit, so they want society to be affluent. There are only a few businesses that might possibly benefit from a poor society, businesses that deal in necessities. Even then, they would still probably see better profits in better times. Further, our market is inundated with luxuries, so those businesses would want to improve the economy. The problem comes when businesses are not allowed to set reasonable wages, or if they are forced to jump through hoops to hire employees. The vast over-regulation of businesses in our social democracy hurts businesses, which, in turn, hurts consumers and laborers.

Reasonable wages? The biggest regulation I can think of in regards to wages is the minimum wage. I'm no economic policy expert for sure, but I can't think of anything limiting businesses as to how high they can pay workers (barring taxation sneakiness and such, but that only really starts being an issue at the upper echelons). Which makes me think you believe setting a minimum wage is holding businesses back and things would be better if it were done away with.

There was a time, not too long ago, when businesses were not held back by all these regulations. Society in general and the everyday workers were not, in fact, benefited. Companies, in fact, do not want an affluent society if it means they only make $100m in profit rather than $110m in profit. There's a reason a minimum wage (and other bothersome regulations) was mandated in the first place: it was necessary, otherwise the bulk of society (the working poor) would not only not have been affluent, they wouldn't have been able to support themselves at all and still have time for, say, sleep.
Scholar
#13 Old 6th May 2011 at 11:15 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tempscire
Reasonable wages? The biggest regulation I can think of in regards to wages is the minimum wage. I'm no economic policy expert for sure, but I can't think of anything limiting businesses as to how high they can pay workers (barring taxation sneakiness and such, but that only really starts being an issue at the upper echelons). Which makes me think you believe setting a minimum wage is holding businesses back and things would be better if it were done away with.

There was a time, not too long ago, when businesses were not held back by all these regulations. Society in general and the everyday workers were not, in fact, benefited. Companies, in fact, do not want an affluent society if it means they only make $100m in profit rather than $110m in profit. There's a reason a minimum wage (and other bothersome regulations) was mandated in the first place: it was necessary, otherwise the bulk of society (the working poor) would not only not have been affluent, they wouldn't have been able to support themselves at all and still have time for, say, sleep.


I wasn't referring specifically to minimum wage when I wrote that, but I'll bite. As I've explained before on threads of this type, minimum wage causes inflation and/or reduces jobs. Minimum wage doesn't force companies to give people a salary with more real worth, it causes the worth of of money to decrease, because it's not economically stable to pay people more than their work is worth and because the rest of the market will adjust their prices upward as the lowest rung of the economic ladder gets more money. Of course, the inflation doesn't seem to fully cover the discrepancy in value, which is what leads to reduced job availability. When a company has to pay one employee more than his/her work is worth, they have less money available to pay another employee. So sometimes they simply don't hire someone to cover that other position.

I was referring more to things like paperwork, mandatory healthcare, certain types of mandatory paid vacation, etc. Those things cost businesses money. Some business models find healthcare and paid vacations useful because it makes employees happy and it attracts a stable employee base. Some business models see no benefit to providing those things. It should be up to the employer what business model s/he wants to adopt. I doubt that an employer adopting a model without paid vacation and healthcare would have that much difficulty in finding employees, either. Young, healthy people often go without healthcare. If the money that the business would have put into healthcare instead goes into your check, I'm sure plenty of people would take that deal. Forcing employers to provide certain benefits takes away choice, not only from the employers, but from the employees, and there are situations in which the business might be more efficient given an alternative option.

If you have any amount of money, there is some business out there that wants to cater to your wants and needs so they can get that money. If a large portion of society consists of working-class individuals making a limited amount of money, there will be businesses that find a way to provide the necessities cheaply because they will compete for that large customer base. A business model that caters to the top 1% of society is inherently unstable, because your customer base is so small that a drought of customers can kill your business. If you choose to cater to 80% of society, you have a much more stable customer base because you will have a steady stream of customers even if certain customers here and there stop buying from you. Even though more money exists in that top 1%, businesses can often make more from catering to the common man. That is why prices will reflect whatever the majority of people can pay.
Field Researcher
#14 Old 7th May 2011 at 2:56 AM
This social Darwinist bitch died on March 6, which is also my birthday.
Scholar
#15 Old 7th May 2011 at 3:15 AM
All this talk about payment is ignoring the cheaper, more efficient options for true capitalism: Kill those that want to impose restrictions on your activities, enslave people with other ambitious capitalists, take what you want when you want it, and let the "market" be concerned with how much force you can apply to those less able to resist it.

That's the problem with "real" capitalism, the sort that ignores the vital role socialization and "useless" things like social constructs and contracts play in making the pretend capitalism that people like writers depend on because otherwise they're just chattel, a commodity that exists solely because someone willing to kill for such a thing allows it. Now, it's true that this absolutely does play into the whole notion of sovereignty and it's the basis for laws and all sorts of things, but for someone like Rand to think that she or any one of her so-called heroes could play at that game in any meaningful sense by mere concern for such abstracts as currency and value, is incredibly short-sighted. Objectivism is a deep thought sort of philosophy, sort of like "what if we're all dreaming that we're all awake," and I can appreciate it for that in the basics. But Rand practiced a shitty application of her own deep thought. She not only wasn't a particularly good writer, she was a lazy philosopher too.
Scholar
#16 Old 7th May 2011 at 7:29 AM
Questions that might or might not have to do with this debate:

1. Is Ayn Rand the middle aged women with the the cold hateful eyes, who looks like she badly needs to be hugged, in the pictures of the back of her books?

2. Is it normal to have her work in the Fiction section as opposed to the Philosophy section? Cause I spotted her work as such in one of the bookstores in Kuwait.
Scholar
#17 Old 7th May 2011 at 7:59 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Black_Barook!
1. Is Ayn Rand the middle aged women with the the cold hateful eyes, who looks like she badly needs to be hugged, in the pictures of the back of her books?


Yes. She's not the prettiest or cuddliest-looking person out there.

Quote:
2. Is it normal to have her work in the Fiction section as opposed to the Philosophy section? Cause I spotted her work as such in one of the bookstores in Kuwait.


Some of her work is fiction. I don't have encyclopedic knowledge of everything she's written, but I believe Anthem, Atlas Shrugged, and The Fountainhead would all be appropriate in either the fiction or the philosophy section (though I would argue for fiction, because she doesn't really make reasoned arguments in those books, she really just kinda preaches). The rest of her works, none of the titles of which come instantly to mind, belong under philosophy.
Test Subject
#18 Old 7th May 2011 at 8:25 AM
Quote:
It'd be great if everyone had all the stellar qualities of Rand's heroes (the self-respect and responsibility and so forth, not necessarily the selfish assholery) and the "looters" of money or affection could be effectively starved out into being productive members of society, but that's just not how people work, nor will they ever, if you consider the repetitive nature of human behavior for the last few thousand years.


The thing is, I've never even been convinced (upon reflection) that the stronger qualities of Randian heroes are good things. Every positive quality is taken to such an extreme that they usually have a negative side.

For example, I think Howard Roark is supposed to come across as incredibly principled and independent - but I honestly read him as being autistic (no hate to autism/aspergers, but I think few would call those unmitigated blessings).
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