WSJ: Remembering the real Ayn Rand

Writing at the Wall Street Journal, Donald Luskin has an excellent article “Remembering the Real Ayn Rand” that begins by discussing the new movie:

Tomorrow’s release of the movie version of “Atlas Shrugged” is focusing attention on Ayn Rand’s 1957 opus and the free-market ideas it espouses. Book sales for “Atlas” have always been briskâ??and all the more so in the past few years, as actual events have mirrored Rand’s nightmare vision of economic collapse amid massive government expansion. Conservatives are now hailing Rand as a tea party Nostradamus, hence the timing of the movie’s premiere on tax day.
When Rand created the character of Wesley Mouch, it’s as though she was anticipating Barney Frank (D., Mass). Mouch is the economic czar in “Atlas Shrugged” whose every move weakens the economy, which in turn gives him the excuse to demand broader powers. Mr. Frank steered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to disaster with mandates for more lending to low-income borrowers. After Fannie and Freddie collapsed under the weight of their subprime mortgage books, Mr. Frank proclaimed last year: “The way to cure that is to give us more authority.” Mouch couldn’t have said it better himself.

See his full article for much more, including a sensible discussion of the ways in which big businessmen are often no friends of capitalism and the ways in which Rand was neither a conservative nor a liberal.
Mr. Luskin is co-author with Andrew Greta of a new book, scheduled for publication next month, titled I Am John Galt: Today’s Heroic Innovators Building the World and the Villainous Parasites Destroying It. Judging from this article, I guessing it’s pretty good.

Avatar: The Atlas Shrugged of the Left

A new article by Nick Rizzuto at begins:

For 52 years now, Ayn Randâ??s Atlas Shrugged has stood alone as the shining example of political allegory. Rand’s novel has long been considered to be essential reading for American individualists and advocates of free markets. The American left on the other hand has not had a work of fiction that definitively embodies their worldview. Avatar might just fill that void. While the two stories are powerful, their messages are diametrically opposed.

See the full article for much more.

Reason TV interviews Atlasphere founder Joshua Zader about Ayn Rand's legacy

Reason TV just published a video interview with me titled “Dating in the Atlasphere.”
In the interview, I discuss how the Atlasphere was founded, why Ayn Rand’s legacy is so important, and my own ideas about applying Objectivism to one’s personal life.
The footage is actually from last year, but they delayed publication so they could publish it together with their many other interviews (this week and last week) addressing Ayn Rand’s legacy.
If you have comments, feel free to leave those over on my blog.

Washington Times BOOK REVIEW: Why Ayn Rand Is Hot Again

Review of Jennifer Burns’s Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand And The American Right by Reason Senior Editor Brian Doherty in The Washington Times:

Why is Rand, dead since 1982, so hot again today?  Ironically, big government, one of Rand’s betes noires, is stimulating her sales.  Her more than 1,000-page 1957 novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” sold 25 percent more copies in the first half of this year than it sold in all of last year, shipping a total of 300,000 copies so far this year – tremendous success for a 52-year-old novel.
Readers and pundits alike look at America and see a world scarily reminiscent of Rand’s government-choked dystopia in “Atlas.”  It’s a world with a struggling economy where political pull matters more than success in the free market, where the government blithely takes over huge transportation industries.

You can read the rest here.

The Whole Foods alternative to ObamaCare

Celebrity Ayn Rand fan and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has a great article in today’s Wall Street Journal with his recommendations for free market based health care reform (though I take exception to his dietary advice). It’s one of the best articles I’ve seen, in terms of making positive recommendations about how to actually improve the quality of health care in the United States.

Private Proprietary Cities Gathering Momentum

A brand-new experimental “City of the Future” is being built from the ground up in Abu Dhabi, financed primarilyâ??over 80%â??by private investors:

“We want it to be profitable, not a sunk cost,” says Khaled Awad, who is directing the development of the city. “If it is not profitable as a real-estate development, it’s not sustainable. Then it will never be replicable anywhere else.”
“We will no longer have to guess what the city of the future looks like. In Abu Dhabi, we will be able to see it with our own eyes.”

This is a striking example of an accelerating social-evolutionary shift, first identified in the early twentieth century by inventor and philosopher Spencer Heath, from the traditional non-proprietary (political-coercive-bureaucratic) administration of communities and societies, towards the proprietary (economic-voluntary-entrepreneurial) administration of communities and societies.
Looks like Mulligan’s Valley is gradually becoming reality, and in some of the most unexpected places. On April 15, 2008 libertarian and PayPal founder Peter Thiel pledged $500,000 to the new Seasteading Institute co-founded by Patri Friedman, son of economist David D. Friedman and grandson of economist Milton Friedman.
Further examples include the explosion of private residential communities, private industrial parks, private entertainment worlds (such as Disney World and Las Vegas entertainment complexes), etc. which now number in the tens of thousands. What is more, these fledgling proprietary communities are increasing in scale and becoming fully generalized communities that provide the full spectrum of community infrastructures and services. The bottom line: traditional not-for-profit bureaucratic political administration is gradually being crowded out by for-profit entrepreneurial economic administration.
Suggested further reading: “The Quickening of Social Evolution” by Heath’s grandson Spencer Heath MacCallum.

Campus socialists: Afraid of a little competition?

New Individualist editor Robert Bidinotto has one of the best responses I’ve seen to the brouhaha about BB&T’s donations to college campuses.
He wrote to The New York Times:

I have never heard any howling about common university course requirements that have students read environmentalist or socialist “literature” — material often prepared or pushed by various “nonprofit” advocacy groups.
Would any of the protesters here complain about the classroom use of materials created by, say, the Sierra Club, NRDC, or St. Al Gore?
What’s the matter, folks? Afraid of a little competition in the marketplace of ideas?

I think this observation gets at the heart of what’s so ridiculous about certain professors’ protestations. The “academic autonomy” thing is mostly manure, because no one is being forced to do anything against their will.
See Robert’s full post for more.

Bloomberg News: "John Galt Plan Might Save U.S. Financial System"

Thanks to Johann Gevers for forwarding this fantastic citing of Ayn Rand in the media:

John Galt Plan Might Save U.S. Financial System
Commentary by Caroline Baum
March 10 (Bloomberg) — Let’s face it: The Federal Reserve must be scared to death as it watches the financial system unravel.
Unravel would appear to be the operative word as leverage proves to be as toxic on the way down as it was intoxicating on the way up.

And later:

Galt’s Solution
The following day, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke encouraged mortgage servicers to write down a portion of the principal on home loans, which would give owners some equity and discourage foreclosure. He advocated a bigger role for the Federal Housing Administration, a Depression-era agency that insures mortgages. Congress envisions an even larger role for the federal government.
Any day, I expect some government official to unveil the John Galt plan to save the economy.
Galt, the hero of Ayn Rand’s magnum opus “Atlas Shrugged,” stops the world by going on strike. He and the “men of the mind” literally withdraw from the world after watching their wealth confiscated by the looters (the government).
Toward the end of Rand’s 1,000-plus page novel (or polemic), the economy is in shambles. Desperate, the looters kidnap Galt and prod him to “tell us what to do.”
Galt refuses, or rather tells them “to get out of the way.”
Road Is Cleared
You probably can sense where I’m going. Today’s economic and financial crisis would resolve itself more quickly and efficiently if the government got out of the way. Yes, there would be pain. Some banks would fail. Others would clamp down on credit to atone for the years of lax lending standards. Homeowners-in-name-only would become renters. Housing prices would fall until speculators found value.
That’s not going to happen. The bigger the mess, the more urgent the calls for a government solution, the more willing government is to oblige.
We want laissez-faire capitalism in good times and a government backstop against losses in bad times. It’s a tough way to run an economy.

See Baum’s full commentary for more.