Atlas Shrugged: The Thin Red Line

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter X

Last time, Lee Hunsacker had mentioned to Dagny that he was the only one who ever beat Rand’s superhero banker Midas Mulligan. Now he’s going to tell us how:

“Midas Mulligan was a vicious bastard with a dollar sign stamped on his heart,” said Lee Hunsacker… “My whole future depended upon a miserable half-million dollars, which was just small change to him, but when I applied for a loan, he turned me down flat – for no better reason than that I had no collateral to offer.

…By what right did he pass judgment on my ability? Why did my plans for my own future have to depend upon the arbitrary opinion of a selfish monopolist? I wasn’t going to stand for that. I wasn’t going to take it lying down. I brought suit against him.”

“You did what?”

“Oh yes,” he said proudly, “I brought suit. I’m sure it would seem strange in some of your hidebound Eastern states, but the state of Illinois had a very humane, very progressive law under which I could sue him. I must say it was the first case of its kind, but I had a very smart, liberal lawyer who saw a way for us to do it. It was an economic emergency law which said that people were forbidden to discriminate for any reason whatever against any person in any matter involving his livelihood… and, therefore, we were entitled to demand a loan from him under the law.” [p.296]

We’re told that Hunsacker’s lawsuit initially came before Judge Narragansett, another of Rand’s ubermenschen, who sat silently through the trial and then ordered the jury to rule for Mulligan. (Er, since when can judges do that?) Hunsacker then won on appeal, but was never able to collect because Mulligan shut down his bank and vanished.

I wrote last week about people who believe that they’re living in this book, who think that things work the same way in the real world as they do in the world of Atlas Shrugged. There’s no better example of this than the libertarian response to the most colossal market failure of our era, the subprime lending crisis.

The root of this crisis was a classic speculative bubble where banks loaned huge amounts of money to unqualified borrowers, assuming that real estate prices would keep going up so that the houses could be resold or refinanced. What made this bubble even worse was the widespread creation of collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs for short, in which pieces of many different mortgages were sliced and diced and packaged into new securities that were resold to investors, who believed that in this way they could magically reap higher returns without greater risk. But as with every other bubble, eventually things came crashing down, as borrowers defaulted en masse, plunging the country into a recession it still hasn’t recovered from.

To most of us, the subprime mortgage crisis typifies the destructive herd behavior that’s inevitable in a market without government regulation and oversight. But that conclusion is unacceptable to Randians and other libertarians, who can’t accept that the free market could fail as spectacularly as this. They’re convinced that the government must be to blame somehow, and their usual scapegoat is a 1977 law called the Community Reinvestment Act.

The CRA was passed to combat redlining, the discriminatory practice of offering less favorable terms to equally qualified minority borrowers, or outright denying credit to people simply for living in minority neighborhoods. Nothing in the CRA requires banks to lend money to people who weren’t otherwise qualified – but that hasn’t stopped libertarian commenters and right-wing pundits from repeatedly asserting that it’s a real-life version of Hunsacker’s law:

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) set all this in motion. It forced banks to make loans to low-income individuals with poor credit ratings. Should we be surprised when quite a few of these people default on their loans?

This was a result of excessive government regulatory oversight rather than too little. Banks wouldn’t have made these risky loans if the Fed and other institutions weren’t forcing them to.

The libertarian need to fit everything that happens into a narrative where government is the only source of evil in the world leads them to overlook some obvious holes in this. To name just one, if the banks were being forced by the government to make risky loans that they didn’t expect to be repaid, they’d have made their process slow and meticulous. They’d have required stringent terms and extensive documentation. And the free market (which is never wrong according to Rand) would have rated these loans as the toxic junk debt they were, and no one would have been willing to buy them.

In fact, what happened was the opposite. In the last days of the subprime boom, mortgage lending became a wild, speculative frenzy. Former loan officers have testified that they were under tremendous pressure to approve as many loans as possible, as quickly as possible. No documentation was required; gardeners and mariachi singers who claimed to have six-figure incomes were approved without question. And as fast as the banks could mint these loans, the rating agencies were happy to stamp triple-A ratings on them, and other investors snapped them up.

We have ample historical evidence showing that this kind of reckless, greed-driven behavior, leading to the inflation of bubbles and ensuing economic collapse, is what inevitably happens in a market with insufficient regulation and oversight. From tulip bulbs to railroads, from subprime loans to the 1929 market crash that precipitated the Great Depression, we’ve seen it happen over and over again. A government watchdog is the only way to keep these kinds of bubbles in check, or at least mitigate the damage they do – but because Rand and her followers refuse to learn from history, they oppose all government intervention, and therefore make it more likely that economic bubbles will continue to form and catastrophically burst.

Image: A 1936 map of Philadelphia showing minority neighborhoods targeted for redlining. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • GCT

    Not to mention that AiG would insure these CDOs and allowed anyone to apply for a policy to ensure the CDOs. So, when a CDO was sold, it would be insured multiple times by multiple companies that had nothing to do with it. That wouldn’t be such a big problem so long as the CDOs didn’t fail. When they started to fail, AiG had to pay out multiple times for the same failure, which tanked them.

    Also, the loan and investment companies knew the CDOs were trash, which is why they took out multiple policies against them. That way, they could sell them off for a profit, then when they failed they could collect insurance money for a bigger profit. IOW, they sold what they knew was crap so that they could reap the profits of it failing as they knew it would.

  • Hawker40

    But if a Libertarian (or Objectivist) were to admit to the truth of this, they could not continue to be a Libertarian.
    Which would be the short form of why I am no longer a Libertarian.

  • busterggi

    So in Rand World a panhandler can sue someone for not giving him a dime? And there are judges that would order juries to find in his favor?

  • John

    So I guess we can add civil court to the list of things Rand doesn’t understand…

  • Nancy McClernan

    Also the CDOs and the CDSs were sold over the counter so there was no public record of the transactions and so no telling which of the other financial institutes you were doing business with had dangerous levels of risk exposure. And govt agencies also had no idea.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Technically the example of the CRA, established in 1977 isn’t an example of things in Atlas Shrugged being thought to be the same as in real life – it’s an example of that other Randroid delusion, that Atlas Shrugged is prophetic.

    http://www.thefreepressonline.co.uk/news/1/2042.htm

  • GCT

    That’s an excellent point, because it touches directly upon the idea of a free market and exposes the lie that oversight is a bad thing.

  • Shawn

    Judges actually can order a “directed verdict” after the close of evidence in a civil trial upon the motion of one of the parties if the judge concludes that no rational jury could possibly make a contrary finding, or if the party has failed to provide evidence on some element required to recover. These days it’s somewhat rare for a judge to actually do that, since if the case is that clear cut then that side of the case would have probably asked for summary judgment before the trial even began. The rules of civil procedure are much different now than they were 40 or 50 years ago and allow more pre-trial disposition of cases. I don’t do much criminal law but I understand that a judge can also direct a jury to acquit a criminal defendant under certain circumstances. (A judge in the US system can never order a jury to convict.)
    Whether Judge Narragansett’s application of directed verdict here was appropriate was up to the appeals court . . . That would actually be an interesting opinion to read, since it could be either that he misapplied the law or for other reasons. But Rand thinks he’s right, so that’s all we’ll get, of course.

  • Jeff

    This is a fine example of the excessive strawmanning that Rand did in
    her book. I can’t imagine anybody in reality thinking that something
    like the Hunsacker rule would be a good idea in any way, because it’s so
    obviously a bad idea. Yet the heavy-handed morality must be pushed, so
    the “liberal” lawyer used a “progressive” law to force this bad idea into reality, because that’s what liberal, progressive people *do*. It happens all throughout the book – government agents and liberal types make horrifyingly bad decisions without even considering basic arithmetic, because they must be made to look bad.

  • decathelite

    Ok, I’m a bit confused – Midas rejects loaning money to Hunsacker, but he has made loans out to other entities. But then he’s able to collect on those loans and close up shop in a relatively short time (the duration of Hunsacker’s lawsuit, which is at most on the order of a few months). Which means that at the time of Hunsacker’s lawsuit, Midas has only loaned money to people who are able to repay it in that short time. Right? Which means Midas would have to 1.) charge exorbitant interest rates to make any kind of decent money and 2.) could only loan money to entities who were capable of liquidating enough assets to repay the balance of their loan money in those few months after the beginning of Hunsacker’s lawsuit. Which eliminates Midas doing business with the vast majority of businesses that require longer terms on their loans. Where is Midas making his money?

    One would think that any business that needed a loan (like Hunsacker) would go to another bank that offered a lower interest rate or better terms, or put another way, the Objectivist should argue that the free market would drive Midas out of business.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I think the scenario is symbolic, whether it could technically happen in real life. Rand did not trust the will of the people – which is why she’s no fan of democracies. So the only way to prevent bad decisions is to have one of her übermensch, in this case Narragansett, make the decision.

  • Pierre Cloutier

    So some Libertarians are saying that that the government forced banks to make loans to low income people. That is an obvious lie. However those that utter it of course know it is a lie and are quite deliberately lying. There is lying for Jesus and now there is lying for the Free Market.

  • Nik Pfirsig

    I find it odd that the factory isn’t considered collateral for the loan.

    During the housing bubble,a lot of loans were issued to real estate flippers based on the estimated future value of the property rather than it’s current assessed value.
    This primed the machinery for the same type of scam used in the S&L crisis of the 1980s, where a relatively worthless property would be financed, then sold and resold between players, inflating the loan with each transaction, until the loan was valued at the mortgage interest far exceeded the value of the collateral property, when the loan account would be sold to a legit finance company which would then be bailed out b the FSLIC

  • X. Randroid

    Similar questions came up in the last thread … I think Rand was assuming Mulligan was selling his loans to third parties (rather than collecting) to get the money to pay off the depositors. Of course, that has problems too, as previously discussed.

    In any case, it’s clear that Rand did not understand banking. I recall hearing that Rand was opposed to fractional-reserve banking, although Greenspan may have changed her mind. The “morality” of fractional-reserve banking is still debated in Objectivist circles. (Google it if you’re interested.)

  • Jeff

    Yup. At the very end of the book he can be found singlehandedly altering the US constitution to make it more business-friendly.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Sure enough:

    The rectangle of light in the acres of a farm was the window of the library of Judge Narragansett. He sat at a table, and the light of his lamp fell on the copy of an ancient document. He had marked and crossed out the contradictions in its statements that had once been the cause of its destruction. He was now adding a new clause to its pages: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade . . .”

    http://www.epubbud.com/read.php?g=6HHZBNV9&tocp=33#chapter33

    Galtsland uber Founders! Rand must have had an orgasm when she wrote that part.

  • X. Randroid

    This is because Rand believed she was exposing the “true” motive of liberal/progressive regulators — i.e., to destroy the wealth-creators. “The public good” is just a myth they invoke to conceal their real motive. Her fictional regulators act quite consistently with this motive.

    Real-world regulators don’t, of course. Rand and her followers rationalize away the discrepancies with the theory that the fictional regulators are doing what the real-world regulators would do, if they thought they could get away with it. They never ask, “What if Rand was wrong about the motives of the regulators?”

  • Nancy McClernan

    Yes, at one point there is a conversation between Dagny and Rearden in which they express their belief that the parasites (i.e., the majority of humans) are only pretending to care about what they claim to care about. But like Lillian and Ivy Starnes their true motive is simply to be eeeeeevil.

    That’s the level of psychological and socio-political nuance you get from Ayn Rand. And that’s why Rand kills them off slowly throughout the book and then in one big mass by the end of the book, while Narragannsett re-writes the parasite Constitution.

    Rand found most people’s motives incomprehensible and alien, and so she assumed they must be evil, and “Atlas Shrugged” is her lashing out at the world in self-defense. And of course revenge against her mother for giving away her mechanical chicken.

  • J-D

    In a different sort of book, Mulligan (or the character in that position) would have brought suit against the appeal court that found against him on the basis that its judgement against him constituted an act of discrimination against him in a matter affecting his livelihood; and then he would have sued the legislature that enacted the statute on the grounds that the statute itself constituted an act of discrimination against him in a matter affecting his livelihood and was therefore a self-undermining violation of its own terms.

    In that sort of book, there’s no knowing what would have happened next. Possibly the whole universe would have disappeared into a vortex of logical contradiction.

  • Shawn

    Oh, no doubt. The thing about the Constitution was that it was written by a bunch of people who fundamentally disagreed about many important things, they nearly didn’t succeed in doing it, it took months and it still contained a bunch of flaws. When Rand’s heroes want to write a Constitution, they have one guy do it in a shack overnight because it’s not like anyone (who matters) could disagree on what it should say. Yeah, right.

    Nonetheless, I’d be curious to know if Narragansett was properly applying the law and it was the appellate court that was full of fuzzy-headed communists, or if the law allowed Hunsacker his relief and the judge simply didn’t care to follow the law if he didn’t like it. Since the result is the same either way I get the impression that Rand didn’t care which it was, but I at least think that they’re pretty different scenarios.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    I’d guess the conclusion Rand wanted us to draw is that laws can and should be disregarded if they interfere in any way with the glorious pursuit of making money, and Judge Narragansett was simply putting that higher principle into practice. (Judicial activism!)

  • CynicalBrit

    Seems as logical as anything else we’ve seen.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Well to be fair it wasn’t really one guy in a “shack” – it was one guy in the library of a house which I’m sure was built on the best Objectivist principles and designed by Howard Roark.

    Fun fact: in spite of Rand’s contempt for Native Americans one of her Ubermensch shares his name with a Native American tribe.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narragansett_people

  • J_Enigma32

    They’re called “Free Market Fundamentalists” for a reason. The lies stay the same – from “Original sin” (their view on poverty) to the Inerrancy of the Free Market – but the language masking them changes.

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

    Strange as it may seem to you, they don’t know it’s a lie. I know, being a former libertarian who issued exactly this explanation. The “will to believe” is very strong, whether religious or political.

  • X. Randroid

    This is actually quite telling. If Judge Narragansett were the man of principle Rand wants us to think he is, he’d have declared the law an unconstitutional violation of individual rights (the right of free association comes to mind) rather than ruling on the merits of the particular case. The appellate court might still have reversed him, although in that scenario, they would have ordered a new trial on the merits rather than awarding relief to Hunsacker.

    But Narragansett did not take a principled stand; he went with “how dare you peons try to apply your petty little laws to a Midas Mulligan!” This, I think is evidence that Rand (her assertions to the contrary) never got over her “Nietzsche phase.”

  • X. Randroid

    Oh no, it wasn’t designed by Howard Roark. That would be second-handed and dependent! Every striker in the valley designs and builds his own house. (See Part III, Chapter I.)

    Every house looked as if it had been put up by the labor of one man, no two houses were alike, and the only quality they had in common was the stamp of a mind grasping a problem and solving it.

    I keep picturing what a house “put up by the labor of one man” would look like. A few boards leaning against each other, maybe?

  • Nancy McClernan

    Good catch. But unlike parasites such as ourselves, I’m sure each of the strikers could single-handedly design and build something that looked like Howard Roark did it.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    To most of us, the subprime mortgage crisis typifies the destructive herd behavior that’s inevitable in a market without government regulation and oversight.

    -Since when was the Federal Funds Rate set by the free and unfettered market?

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

    Yep, not just by Objectivists-libertarians in general. Hatred of the Fed is common, and by extension banking as it now exists, since they all have fractional reserves. As Greenspan went on to chair the Fed, obviously he didn’t agree.

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

    Mechanical chicken? Seriously?

  • Azkyroth

    What.

  • J_Enigma32

    Which is funny, since in my experience, most of them have no idea what it is the fed does – just that it’s this nebulous organization, like COBRA or the Legion of Evil, that takes *their* money.

    As I understand it, most don’t realize that the Fed is there to keep the currency elastic and prevent bank runs, like the ones that slammed the economy in the severe 1907 Panic.

    What’s more, (again, my understanding; may be prone to error) they’re the first to bleat about a return to the gold standard (usually in conjunction with their whining about the Fed, which serves double duty in condemning a flat currency). This shows a *staggering* ignorance of how currency is supposed to work; as production capabilities and the number of employed go up, the amount of currency produced should as well, to accommodate this new wealth. Since the value of flat currency is pegged against the production of the nation, you can do this with it. But you *can’t* with gold (because there’s only so much gold), so by switching to a gold standard, you’d be dragging the economy down. It couldn’t rise to meet production, and you’d end up with a situation where new wealth couldn’t be created as easily as it could with a flat currency.

    They whine about a flat currency’s worth being “subjective” without realizing the same thing is true of gold. Just because humans are like crows and enjoy shiny things doesn’t mean the value of gold is consistent. In a famine, gold is useless. I want food, not gold. I can’t eat that, so the value of gold goes down as the value of food goes up.

    But then again, this is coming from people who’s understanding of property hasn’t been mainstream since the 1800s and was trashed by Jeremy Bentham as “Nonsense on Stilts.”

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

    From what I recall, the major objection was that fiat currency allowed the government to print however much money they wish and thus devalue it. Of course, that doesn’t make the gold standard right. As for natural rights, I don’t think Jeremy Bentham’s critique really refuted the idea so much as just mocking it, not that I’m convinced of them.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Could I make that up?

    When Rand was five or so, she recalled, her mother came into the children’s playroom and found the floor littered with toys. She announced to Rand and Rand’s two-and-a-half year old sister Natasha, that they would have to choose some of their toys to put away and some to keep and play with now; in a year, she told them, they could trade the toys they had kept for those they had put away. Natasha held onto the toys she liked best, but Rand, imagining the pleasure she would get from having her favorite toys returned to her later, handed over her best-loved playthings, including a painted mechanical wind-up chicken she could describe vividly fifty years later. When the time came to make the swap and Rand asked for her toys back, her mother looked amused, Rand recalled… (and) explained that she had given everything to an orphanage, on the premise that if her daughters had really wanted their toys they wouldn’t have relinquished them in the first place.

    – Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller

  • Nancy McClernan

    The scenario of a mother making her five-year-old give away her favorite toy shows up not once but twice in the writings of Ayn Rand. First, in Atlas Shrugged, after John Galt’s big speech. The speech inspires the “better men” among the masses to express their Objectivism:

    The attendants of a hospital in Illinois showed no astonishment when a man was brought in, beaten up by his elder brother, who had supported him all his life: the younger man had screamed at the elder, accusing him of selfishness and greed—just as the attendants of a hospital in New York City showed no astonishment at the case of a woman who came in with a fractured jaw: she had been slapped in the face by a total stranger, who had heard her ordering her five-year old son to give his best toy to the children of neighbors.

    And then in her essay “Art and Moral Treason” in “The Romantic Manifesto” -

    If parents attempt to inculcate a moral ideal of the kind contained in such admonitions as: “Don’t be selfish – give your best toys away to the children next door!” or if parents go “progressive” and teach a child to be guided by his whims – the damage to the child’s moral character may be irreparable.

    It should be noted that Rand had nothing to do with children her entire life, and certainly not child-rearing. She had this notion that there were hordes of altruist mothers forcing their children to give their favorite toys away.

    The fact that Rand has a “better man” break a mother’s jaw for telling her child to give away a toy is a pretty good indicator of how filled with rage she still was, decades later, over the mechanical chicken incident.

  • X. Randroid

    I have to confess that I feel some sympathy for six-year-old Rand here. If something like that had happened to me when I was six, I’d probably have felt betrayed too.

    That said, I’d like to think that somewhere between six and fifty-six, I’d mature enough to understand that my mother never intended to give away my favorite toy or hurt me in any way, that she just underestimated my capacity for delayed gratification. But Rand, it seems, never got to that level.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    What do you mean?

  • Nancy McClernan

    Are you suggesting that the Federal Funds Rate existed in the Netherlands in the 1600s?

  • Nancy McClernan

    Not only did she not get to that level she took it and ran with it – she generalized from that incident into a hatred for “altruism” which she then proceeded to associate with irrationality and Communism. In the third paragraph of the afterword to Atlas Shrugged Rand said:

    I have held the same philosophy I now hold, for as far back as I can remember. I have learned a great deal through the years and expanded my knowledge of details, of specific issues, of definitions, of applications—and I intend to continue expanding it—but I have never had to change any of my fundamentals. My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

    Right there she says that she held “the same philosophy for as far back as I can remember.” I somehow doubt she can remember much prior to when she was five years old, and what she could remember probably had little to do with “philosophy.”

    And she admits she has never changed the fundamentals of that so-called philosophy since as far back as she could remember. So it seems pretty clear that Ayn Rand developed her “philosophy” when her mother pulled that dirty trick on her (or perhaps it was miscommunication that Rand believed was a successful attempt by her mother to loot her chicken.)

    It’s the philosophy of an angry five-year-old. That explains so much about the book and Rand’s worldview.

  • jo1storm

    That’s actually one of the scariest thoughts I sometimes have, at, say 3 am: What if, when I have a child of my own, I make such big “mess up” that my child despises me for the rest of his/her life because of it? I mean if such a little thing could have an influence on a child to become Ayn Rand sort of writer and actually write what amounts to little more than “Ode to selfishness”, who knows what other sorts of twists you (read I) can inadvertently put into the child?

  • jo1storm

    Pretty much since before the existence of “Federation”. And it was horrible…

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

    I do have to say that seems pretty cruel. That, along with her experience during the Russian Revolution (her father had his business confiscated, as I recall) surely explains her views.

  • eyelessgame

    I’m just kind of interested that Ayn and Natasha were siblings but the author refers to one by last name and the other by first…

  • Nancy McClernan

    It is really a bizarre scenario, the way Rand described it. I’d love to see the transcription of the original taped interview where Rand talks about it, which is where, I believe, Heller got the story.

    I have to wonder if what really went down was something along the lines of Rand’s mother telling the girls they didn’t need all those toys and to pick ones to give to the orphanage, and somehow Rand (who of course was still Alisa Rosenbaum at that point) thought they were just loaning them out. And for some bizarre reason decided to loan out her favorite toy.

    Although while I’m sure Rand had no doubt she remembered the scenario exactly as it happened, it’s unlikely that she did. But it’s clear that her view of what happened was a huge influence over her conception of the world, with moochers trying to get your stuff by playing on your sympathy and looters trying to get your stuff by taking it through greater force.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Maybe because Rand’s name at the time of the incident was Alisha?

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

    Yes, it definitely could have been misremembered, our memory being faulty as it is (especially at that age). Of course, assuming her mother had just said “We’re giving some of your toys away for orphans) that would have been equally bad in Rand’s later view.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I guess it depends on whether Rand’s mother asked them to do it voluntarily or not. But in Rand’s memory of it, there was an element of being tricked – she thought it was only a loan but then her mother said she must not have really wanted it or she wouldn’t have given it away.

    One aspect of Rand’s portrayal of the moochers/looters is their tricksiness. Check out this scene of Rearden and his mother:

    She got up. Her head was drawn into her shoulders, and the righteous bitterness of her voice seemed to push the words upward at his tall, straight figure: “That’s your cruelty, that’s what’s mean and selfish about you. If you loved your brother, you’d give him a job he didn’t deserve, precisely because he didn’t deserve it—that would be true love and kindness and brotherhood. Else what’s love for? If a man deserves a job, there’s no virtue in giving it to him. Virtue is the giving of the undeserved.”

    He was looking at her like a child at an unfamiliar nightmare, incredulity preventing it from becoming horror. “Mother,” he said slowly, “you don’t know what you’re saying. I’m not able ever to despise you enough to believe that you mean it”

    The look on her face astonished him more than all the rest: it was a look of defeat and yet of an odd, sly, cynical cunning, as if, for a moment, she held some worldly wisdom that mocked his innocence.

    The memory of that look remained in his mind, like a warning signal telling him that he had glimpsed an issue which he had to understand.

    But he could not grapple with it, he could not force his mind to accept it as worthy of thought, he could find no clue except his dim uneasiness and his revulsion—and he had no time to give it, he could not think of it now, he was facing his next caller seated in front of his desk—he was listening to a man who pleaded for his life.

    Now this sly, cynical cunning goes nowhere. Mother Rearden never actually does anything with this “wisdom.” Her entire existence is for the purpose of whining about selfishness. She’s never even described. So what’s the point of even mentioning it?

    I think this is more evidence that Rand had unrecognized Asperger’s syndrome and she interpreted neurotypical behavior as a kind of in-joke that they used against Ubermensch, part of their moocher/looter malevolence.

    And her mother was the model of all neurotypicals to come, always trying to trick her or guilt trip her into giving her stuff away to people who didn’t earn it.

    Now of course logically, Rand didn’t earn the mechanical chicken either. It was given to her. But as Rand also makes clear in the afterward to Atlas Shrugged, she was completely self-made – nobody ever helped her:

    “I decided to be a writer at the age of nine, and everything I have done was integrated to that purpose. I am an American by choice and conviction. I was born in Europe, but I came to America because this was the country based on my moral premises and the only country where one could be fully free to write. I came here alone, after graduating from a European college. I had a difficult struggle, earning my living at odd jobs, until I could make a financial success of my writing. No one helped me, nor did I think at any time that it was anyone’s duty to help me.

    So Rand could both discount the fact that someone helped her get the mechanical chicken while hating the orphans – the moochers on whose behalf Rand’s mother looted her chicken.

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

    Yes, from what I gathered Rand thought all altruism was a scam, that no person actually honestly believed in it. So it follows they would attempt to trick others by claiming “selfless” motives when actually they were too stupid/lazy to achieve for themselves and wanting to mooch off those who were achievers.

  • eyelessgame

    A log cabin with a thatched roof, maybe. Though even a log cabin generally requires cooperation of several able-bodied adults to leverage logs into place, particularly as they get higher up on the walls. One could imagine a genius putting in the extra work to build a system of levers and pulleys so he wouldn’t have to ask for help.
    But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s the labor of many person-months to put up a house that’s decent protection against snow. And this was … Colorado, right? Where’d they live while building their respective houses on their own?

  • Nancy McClernan

    Yes – this part of the novel supports your view. This is Rearden and Dagny expressing their utter bafflement:

    “Dagny, they’re doing something that we’ve never understood. They know something which we don’t, but should discover. I can’t see it fully yet, but I’m beginning to see parts of it. That looter from the State Science Institute was scared when I refused to help him pretend that he was just an honest buyer of my Metal. He was scared way deep. Of what? I don’t know—public opinion was just his name for it, but it’s not the full name. Why should he have been scared? He has the guns, the jails, the laws—he could have seized the whole of my mills, if he wished, and nobody would have risen to defend me, and he knew it—so why should he have cared what I thought? But he did.

    It was I who had to tell him that he wasn’t a looter, but my customer and friend. That’s what he needed from me. And that’s what Dr. Stadler needed from you— it was you who had to act as if he were a great man who had never tried to destroy your rail and my Metal. I don’t know what it is that they think they accomplish—but they want us to pretend that we see the world as they pretend they see it. They need some sort of sanction from us. I don’t know the nature of that sanction—but. Dagny, I know that if we value our lives, we must not give it to them. If they put you on a torture rack, don’t give it to them. Let them destroy your railroad and my mills, but don’t give it to them. Because I know this much: I know that that’s our only chance.”

    She had remained standing still before him, looking attentively at the faint outline of some shape she, too, had tried to grasp.

    “Yes . . .” she said, “yes, I know what you’ve seen in them. . . .

    I’ve felt it, too—but it’s only like something brushing past that’s gone before I know I’ve seen it, like a touch of cold air, and what’s left is always the feeling that I should have stopped it. . . . I know that you’re right. I can’t understand their game, but this much is right: We must not see the world as they want us to see it. It’s some sort of fraud, very ancient and very vast—and the key to break it is: to check every premise they teach us, to question every precept, to—”

    The discussion ends there, BTW, because it gets them horny and the description of their sexual encounter that follows is the least violent in the entire Rand oevre.

    It was at this point in the novel that I realized that Atlas Shrugged was not actually about politics, in spite of the explicit references to Marxist slogans and liberals.

    The non-Ubermensch are fraudsters – and the fraud is described as “ancient and vast.” Communism was not “very ancient” – the Manifesto had been published a little more than a century before Atlas Shrugged. And do even the most fervent anti-Communists believe that its adherents are a bunch of fakes who don’t really believe what they say about the proletariat and the bourgeoisie?

    And this part – is Dagny talking about Bolsheviks or ghosts?

    “like something brushing past that’s gone before I know I’ve seen it, like a touch of cold air,”

    This is the strongest evidence, I believe, that although Rand aligned Communism with neurotypicality in her mind, thanks to her family’s misfortunes at the hands of the Bolsheviks, what she is really raging about in Atlas Shrugged is that she lives in a world where the vast majority of people have perceptions and assumptions and communication modes that she does not understand, and she has no idea why – and so she concludes that the answer is that they are all in a conspiracy against Ubermensch like herself, pretending to care about sympathy and group-bonding so they can trick them.

    I think that many of the novel’s early critics got how bizarre Rand’s mindset was and so Atlas Shrugged was pretty much dismissed by intellectuals for decades. It was manifestly the work of a crackpot, so who could be bothered about it?

    And because it was never really analyzed, and all these peculiarities haven’t been aired out, Atlas Shrugged has had a second life as a political tract – because there are a few references to politics and economics and references to lazy bums who don’t want to work. But as we’ve seen thanks to this ongoing analysis, those references don’t add up to anything. The government and economic system that Rand describes makes no sense, and the way that the people behave makes no sense and there are random miraculous inventions thrown in for no good reason.

    One thing the early reviewers did get was the seething hatred of “liberals” thanks to the infamous Taggart Death train incident, which we won’t be discussing in this analysis for a long time, at the present rate of weekly postings. Even a casual reader of Atlas Shrugged can’t miss the homicidal rage expressed there – but the rage is based on bafflement and fear, which Rand expresses throughout the book.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    No. See http://www.econ.ucla.edu/thompson/Document97.pdf for how the Dutch government exacerbated the Tulip mania.

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

    Hmm, that’s very interesting, but I’m not sure that just Asberger’s explains her view. Without being an expert about these conditions, I’d offer another, unoriginal guess: anti-social personality disorder. Like Asberger’s it appears to be genetic, with symptoms that include a highly selfish attitude, with callous disregard for other people. Obviously this fits Rand well. Naturally, it could be she had both of these conditions. Armchair analysis of a woman long dead, especially by a non-expert is not very exact, but it seems like a possibility to me.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Why don’t you quote exactly what it says?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    [citation needed].

  • Nancy McClernan

    So let’s just cut to the chase – you believe that all problems in the market are caused by government, in one way or another.

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

    Well, she certainly showed no signs of “faking” things to fit in, so maybe it was just Asberger’s. On her book, I think she’d agree with you: it was all “philosophy.” In a sense I guess everything is.

  • Nancy McClernan

    That’s why I have to laugh when people say Rand was a psychopath – she was so bad at hiding what she felt and believed. The reason that accounts of psychopaths are so creepy is because they know how to fake feelings and use it to manipulate people.

    I think that basically Ayn Rand consider herself a neurotypical living in a world of psychopaths.

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

    Yes, I’d forgotten about that trait before, and that does seem like a decent summary of her worldview.

  • silentsanta

    So, six-year-old Rand’s mother set up this bizarro commodity system, and caused young Ayn to suffer unnecessarily, as a direct result of making over-broad, unwarranted assumptions about her motivations?

    Imagine if Rand had learned a very different lesson that day…

  • eyelessgame

    That makes a pretty interesting case. I spent a couple years coaching an extremely bright young Aspie on why it was that compassion and regard for others were important. I’m not claiming I’m very good at it, but then he wasn’t so terribly far along the spectrum either, and evidently it worked: today this young man is very nearly an (idealized) medieval paladin in his sense of fairness and propriety, and so good at it that he’s respected for it by his peers.

    But this has also been after, and during, years spent in tech academia and then decades in tech industry, where a lot of the people I’ve learned with and worked with (and learned from and worked for) have been on the spectrum, some of them have been fans of Rand, there’s (obviously) been a lot of overlap, and the misconceptions seem sometimes to align.

    In a way this gives me a more nuanced view of her philosophy: I can understand and sympathize a little better with some of her adherents, because I’ve concluded that some of their love of Rand is not their own fault. For some, it might be that Objectivism is their way of making sense of the world: having found it unusually difficult to understand and apply empathy, they are told it was wrong even to try. That must be a seductive and comforting lesson, and a hard one to resist.

    I’ve had some really fascinating encounters with Randites, though they get off the topic a bit. Over time I’ll probably find better places in this exegesis to bring up some of those stories.

  • Pacal

    So Rand says:

    “I had a difficult struggle, earning my living at odd jobs, until I could make a financial success of my writing. No one helped me, nor did I think at any time that it was anyone’s duty to help me.”
    From what I know about Rand’s life this statement is a lie, that she repeated over and over again in her life. The question is, is it a deliberate conscious lie or a lie of self deception. If it is a deliberate lie than her claims of moral superiority and honesty are damaged, if it is a self deceptive lie than her claims of superior rationality and objectivity are damaged. Either way Rand does not look good.

  • Azkyroth

    ……

  • Azkyroth

    WE’VE BEEN THROUGH THIS…..

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

    No doubt we have, and the discussion concluded. So why complain now?

  • Azkyroth

    Because Nancy’s obsessive need to demonize people with ASDs harms actual living people, and while it’s apparently incurable, you at least should know better than to chime in?

  • Azkyroth

    Adam, think about how you’d react – think about how you HAVE reacted – if an identical comment was posted framed in racist rather than ablist terms. What the hell?

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

    I don’t recall seeing her ever mention Asberger’s before, so I wouldn’t know “not to chime in”, and what she wrote, to me, didn’t seem like demonization.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    Nancy, step out of this discussion. This is not a request.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Which “discussion”? You want me to stop posting on the “Atlas Shrugged” series?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    No, this topic on this thread.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    OK, folks, moderation note. I’ve discussed this with Nancy already, but for the rest of us: Please don’t speculate on whether or not Rand had autism or Asperger’s. That sort of diagnosis should be made by a doctor who knows the person in question. That is all.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    This is an overly broad and unfalsifiable thesis. I tend not to try to defend such theses, as that would be pointless.

  • uykhvasdrvtjyku

    Why would the federal funds rate cause a bank to lend money with a negative return?

  • uykhvasdrvtjyku

    I think the point you made in the last thread was spot-on. There’s nothing theoretically unsound about a bank liquidating all its assets and then paying off its depositors and other creditors and then absconding with the proceeds. What’s unrealistic is holding a “fire sale” without crushing the value of those assets and freaking out would-be buyers and depositors and making the whole thing implode. In fact, that’s precisely what happened during the financial crisis and what happens in all financial crises.

    That’s exactly why the marketing arms of modern financial institutions work so hard to project an image of strength and permanency. Think of Prudential using the Rock of Gibraltar as its symbol, or Merrill-Lynch using a bull roaming through a China shop. Or Schwab and JP Morgan using their founders, who lived in a by-gone era, as evidence that they are here to stay. Because if people start thinking otherwise, the whole thing might go to shit.

  • X. Randroid

    Yep, it was Colorado. The town of Ouray (not far from Telluride) was Rand’s real-world inspiration. Winter would be tough on a house and even tougher on a guy who hadn’t finished building his house and had to camp out.

    I suppose later arrivals could have rented rooms from earlier strikers while they were building. But that leads to another spate of questions … maybe we should save them till Adam gets to that chapter?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    The greater fool theory is greatly exacerbated by the Federal Funds rate’s lack of responsiveness to demand.

  • GCT

    How is that relevant to the crisis and how financial agencies brought it about through their recklessness and greed?

  • GCT

    Again, how is that relevant?

    What I’m hearing is the Randroid’s canard that it wasn’t a lack of regulation that caused this, but too much regulation, because it’s possible to find any instance of regulation in the system, thereby somehow tainting the whole system. It’s bollocks. The deregulation that occurred allowed these banks to operate unchecked and to make any and all deals they thought could lead to short term gains, no matter the long-term expense because it would happen to someone else.

  • eyelessgame

    ok.

  • eyelessgame

    A question, so I don’t unknowingly violate blog rules moving forward (I’m new here; in this thread and the last one I was participating in the speculation along with Nancy): is it off-limits to discuss whether, and why, Objectivism might have particular appeal to people with poor social skills and/or on the spectrum (as, in my experience, it appears to have), or is that an inappropriate topic for discussion? I can see how it might lead to places we might not want to go, so I want to be sure to steer clear of that kind of talk as well if you’d rather not have that conversation go on here.

  • uykhvasdrvtjyku

    I agree that the Fed should have been a more proactive regulator. And that this might have at least ameliorated an irrational market.

    But I think this is exactly what Adam was trying to say. Market participants bid up prices to unsustainable heights in the absence of anyone trying to stop them.

  • uykhvasdrvtjyku

    Wait, didn’t Rand live with Russian relatives for several months after moving to the US, and end up owing them money that she never repaid?

  • raylampert

    I’ve been enjoying this review a great deal. One thing that Rand and her ilk are always going on about is the hypothetical “rational economic actor”, a strange person who always makes decisions based on pure logic and reasons. If you meet somebody like that, let me know.
    Ironically, although many free-market capitalists are against laws like the CRA or the ADA or the FHA or other laws that prohibit discrimination, these laws are designed to compel people to act in a more rational way. When making decisions about housing or employment or lending, a person’s race, sex, religion and so on should logically play absolutely no role. The only things that should matter are things like, “can they pay me back?” or “Can they do the job?” Without those laws, many people would act irrationally and deny opportunities to otherwise qualified people.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    The deregulation that occurred

    -What deregulation?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Had the interbank lending rate (more likely, rates, due to the likely multiplicity of banks’ reserve ratios in a free market environment) been set by the free market, it (they) would have risen in response to increased demand for bank credit. As it is effectively set by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, it did not, thus creating an artificial housing boom.

  • uykhvasdrvtjyku

    It sounds like you’re talking about a system completely devoid of a central bank or even reserve requirements. Whatever the merits of that system, stability would not be one of them. Bank panics were extremely common before the Fed stepped in as lender of last resort.

    And the idea that low interest rates created an “artificial” housing boom gets us right back to the first point. The Fed can no more cause people to pay too much for houses than it can cause people to set money on fire. A decrease in interest rates can cause a rise in prices, but it’s a one-time rise. A sustained rise in prices to irrational levels can only be caused by the foolish behavior of buyers and lenders. The Fed could have put the brakes on this by raising rates, but that’s as far as its complicity goes.

  • Pierre Cloutier

    Yes that is one of things that bugs me about people who oppose such laws. They talk constantly about the evils of collectivism and the rationality of the market yet they oppose efforts to combat the sort of collectivist, irrational thinking that distorts the operation of the market. They usually justify such a stand on the grounds that government restriction of freedom is worst and besides the unfettered operation of the free market will eventually get rid of these distortions. This is dogma belied by actual history.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    I’m OK with reasonable discussion about the social skills of Objectivists in general, but I think it’d be best to avoid speculating about the prevalence of the autism spectrum in this context. (Unless, of course, you have statistical or clinical evidence that bears on the topic.) Thanks for checking with me, I appreciate it.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    So wait – are you saying that the government is partially to blame for the subprime crisis because they didn’t do enough to stop people from making bad decisions?

  • eyelessgame

    No problem – your house, your rules.

  • eyelessgame

    They generally have a big problem with the idea of being “compelled” in general – as if our own physical nature didn’t compel us already, in a thousand ways. (Hunger, just to pick one “gun to the head”). Racism is a tribal reflex, one that used to be a necessity of survival (a rival tribe really would betray and kill you), but the reflex is still there, long after it’s become a poison. One of the functions of government is to *remove or counter* some of the compulsions and irrational impulses our evolved physical selves burden us with. Imposing effective counters to the impulse to racist discrimination makes us more rational and more free creatures.

  • GCT

    Seriously?

    Here’s a link with a handy graph that shows the levels of regulation over the decades…

    http://neq1.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/financial-deregulation/

    We could also look at Greenspan’s own words where he admits that the free market failed.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/27335454/ns/business-stocks_and_economy/t/greenspan-admits-mistake-helped-crisis/#.UwyEsPldUk0

    There’s some great quotes in there, like these:

    Greenspan, 82, acknowledged under questioning that he had made a “mistake” in believing that banks, operating in their own self-interest, would do what was necessary to protect their shareholders and institutions.

    He said the boom in subprime lending occurred because of the huge demand for investment opportunities in a global economy, and he blamed the crash on a failure by investors to properly assess the risks from such mortgages, which went to borrowers with weak credit.

    ….

    On the billions of dollars of losses suffered by financial institutions because of their investments in subprime mortgages, Greenspan said he had been shocked by the failure of banking officials to protect their shareholders from their bad loan decisions.

    “A critical pillar to market competition and free markets did break down,” Greenspan said. “I still do not fully understand why it happened.”

    SEC Chairman Cox told the House panel that “somewhere in this terrible mess, laws were broken.” And Snow said that lawmakers should have responded more quickly to his pleas for stronger regulation for mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were taken over by the government last month.

    In case you decide not to understand what he’s saying, he’s placing the blame squarely on the failure of the free market and the actions of the (banking) investors.

  • Science Avenger

    “…the only quality they had in common was the stamp of a mind grasping a problem and solving it.”

    And lots and lots of space. This cannot be emphasized enough. It’s easy to give appearance to the lie that “there are no conflicts of interest among rational men” when they are so far apart they rarely cross paths with each other, and then only when they choose to. Let’s see the Gulchers live in shared-area apartments and see how long it takes the rational men to find plenty to squabble about.

  • Science Avenger

    Indeed. Having looked down on that area from the peak of Mount Sneffels, the logistical problems of doing what Rand claimed they did, and with 1957 technology, could fill a book all on its own.

  • Science Avenger

    “This is because Rand believed she was exposing the “true” motive of liberal/progressive regulators — i.e., to destroy the wealth-creators. “The public good” is just a myth they invoke to conceal their real motive. Her fictional regulators act quite consistently with this motive.”

    And now we see this theme writ large in the discussion of the 1%.

  • Science Avenger

    “Which is funny, since in my experience, most of them have no idea what it is the fed does – just that it’s this nebulous organization, like COBRA or the Legion of Evil, that takes *their* money.”

    Indeed, listen to any discussion of the subject and invariably one of them will say, mockingly (heh) that the government doesn’t have a machine that just keeps printing money. Yet that is exactly what it does.

  • Science Avenger

    As a person with poor (natural) social skills who is on the spectrum, I say yes.

  • Science Avenger

    Ah, but prick a free-marketer long enough and you’ll find that they believe that a person’s race, sex, religion and so on logically play a role in making those determinations.

  • raylampert

    I’m not sure that I exactly understand what you’re saying.
    But plenty of free-marketers will agree that people should not discriminate on the basis of unimportant things, but they will also say that the state has no business passing laws against discrimination at all. And therein lies the question, “What forms of discrimination or favoritism are acceptable?”
    In Randworld, the government apparently leapt off the slippery slope from outlawing race or sex discrimination straight to making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of ability. Even the most “progressive” “liberal” person would headdesk at a law like that.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I don’t think so.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I trust Greenspan as much as Gono.
    Of the four deregulations the paper you reference mentions, one prevented the spread of banking crises (the deregulation of branch banking), the other three exacerbated them. In any case, I don’t see how the three exacerbatory deregulations the paper you reference mentions can be seen as the underlying cause of the housing bubble.

  • GCT

    I trust Greenspan as much as Gono.

    Greenspan was a Rand acolyte and still is an advocate for the free markets that you seem to think magically solve everything. He admitted that the free market failed. I guess that’s why you don’t trust him, because he admitted that your magic beans didn’t work?

    Of the four deregulations the paper you reference mentions, one prevented the spread of banking crises (the deregulation of branch banking), the other three exacerbated them.

    Are you now admitting that deregulation made things worse? Thank you.

    In any case, I don’t see how the three exacerbatory deregulations the paper you reference mentions can be seen as the underlying cause of the housing bubble.

    As I said, they allowed the banks to operate without supervision. These people put their own banks at risk in order to reap huge short-term profits precisely because they worked in a mostly lawless environment. You seem to think that the problem was that they had too many laws imposed on them, that they weren’t free enough? That’s utterly asinine, as Greenspan (someone on your side) admitted.

  • Science Avenger

    “I’m not sure that I exactly understand what you’re saying.”

    I’m saying that many free market advocates discriminate by race, sex, etc., but claim they have perfectly rational reasons for doing so (blacks score worse on IQ tests, women spend less time at the office, blah blah blah), and therefore (they argue)it should be allowed. Thus we get Rand Paul questioning whether we should prevent businesses from discriminating by race.

  • raylampert

    Right. And even today, although there are certain legal protections against workplace discrimination, there is still plenty of room for companies or bosses to be irrational. A boss could fire you because his favorite team lost the big game, or because of what he read in the horoscopes, or because he tossed a coin and it came up tails, or any number of other stupid reasons.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Greenspan was a Rand acolyte and still is an advocate for the free markets that you seem to think magically solve everything.

    -So you can read my mind! And the Fed was created by the free market! [Guffaws.] [To be continued. I'm afraid of typing longer comments due to risk of Firefox crashing].

  • GCT

    You mean the Federal Reserve Act which created the Federal Reserve? Yes, free market at work. LOL. This is getting beyond ridiculous now.

  • eyelessgame

    And their touching, naïve faith in the Perfection of the Invisible Hand claims that any boss who ever behaved that way would be ruthlessly crushed by another who was more rational.

    Because of course, that’s exactly what we see happen in the real world. No successful person is ever irrational in any way. Bigotry and whim are always punished.

    Right?

  • Science Avenger

    Absolutely! Ask Henry Ford and Walt Disney, among many many others.

  • raylampert

    Ha ha, of course! Also, the larger an enterprise gets, the most likely being capricious and irrational will either be ignored or have no repercussions. A small business owner who acts that way is far more likely to go under than a department manager at a Fortune 500 company. As anybody who has worked in corporate America knows, there is a lot of pettiness and favoritism in large offices.
    On the other hand, in Randworld, the CEO/Owner is always personally involved in all the minutiae of his business and never needs to delegate decision-making authority to subordinates. He gives his orders and they are carried out.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    How the heck is Congress the free market? This is, indeed, getting beyond ridiculous now.

  • A Real Libertarian

    “I keep picturing what a house ‘put up by the labor of one man’ would look like. A few boards leaning against each other, maybe?”

    This:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coral_Castle

    Of course that was built by a man with a dream and determination, so obviously not an Objectivist.

    Plus, his magnum opus was only printed on the left pages so the reader could write down a counter argument.

  • A Real Libertarian

    “government agents and liberal types make horrifyingly bad decisions without even considering basic arithmetic”

    Huh, didn’t know Paul Ryan was a liberal.

  • A Real Libertarian

    “So let’s just cut to the chase – you believe that all problems in the market are caused by government, in one way or another.”

    Yes.

    If the government intervenes in the economy at all, then all economic problems are the fault of government meddling.

    If the government doesn’t intervene in the economy at all, then all economic problems are the fault of government not enforcing property rights.

    If the government doesn’t exist, then the upper stage of Marxism has been reached.

  • A Real Libertarian

    “Also, the larger an enterprise gets, the most likely being capricious
    and irrational will either be ignored or have no repercussions.”

    Which is why many large corporations support affirmative action, to act as a check on that behavior.

  • GCT

    I don’t even know what the hell you are trying to say.

    You’re trying to blame everything on the Fed when the evidence shows who is actually to blame. Keep putting your head in the sand and claiming you can’t hear us, but the rest of us will live in the real world and laugh at your willful ignorance.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I can hear you, I just don’t believe you. You have not shown my case in any way flawed.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I am trying to say the Fed cannot be considered part of the free market and that its low-interest-rate policy was the ultimate cause of the Great Recession.

  • GCT

    And the evidence shows otherwise…the vast amounts of evidence. We know what caused the recession, and it was lenders making risky investments that they passed on to others, while taking out insurance against them (knowing they’d fail) and the credit agencies looking the other way while rating them AAA. We know that. You are simply looking for any way to blame the government.

    You’re completely ignorant of deregulations that have occurred and how they’ve affected the market. You’re completely ignorant of the evidence. You’re completely ignorant of what people like Alan Greenspan have admitted was the cause. These things have been pointed out to you, but you persist in your unfounded beliefs and even go so far as to claim that your case is in no way flawed. Yet, the best case you can make is that the Fed is not the free market, so therefore it’s at fault. Sorry, but the free market is not actually free and it’s not magic. Again, your head is in the sand and no matter how much you claim you can hear us, you obviously aren’t listening.

  • GCT

    Just as I said, you’ve got your head stuck in the sand. Even when the evidence is overwhelming, you cling to your fairy tale that it couldn’t possibly have been the free market – since the free market is magical and never can go wrong. If you wish to deny the evidence that’s been presented, do so with more than hand-waving and appeals to magic.


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