We Need All the Brainpower We Can Get

I don't believe, as some people fear, that economic growth has come to an end.This is equivalent to saying that we'll never be any richer, more prosperous or more technologically advanced than we are right now; that you and me, the people alive today, are living through the zenith of human civilization. I find this implausible. Innovation and change have been churning away for thousands of years, and it's unlikely that we just happen to be living in the one era when it's all about to come … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Wealth of Nations

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsThroughout Atlas Shrugged and her other works, Ayn Rand valorized human ingenuity and drive. In her eyes, the individual ability for achievement is our supreme glory. But where do these desirable character traits come from? What makes one person a productive capitalist while another becomes a shiftless moocher?This is a question that Rand was staunchly incurious about. For all that she glorified brilliance, she never addressed what its origins or … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Almighty Dollar

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsWe're almost to the end of our epic journey through Atlas Shrugged. I've reviewed the whole book and all three movies, pointing out the logical holes and untenable assumptions as they were spotlighted in each scene. In this post and a few more to follow, I want to step back and look at Rand's philosophy as a whole. We'll see some broader themes that deserve more attention.One of the cornerstones of Objectivism is that laissez-faire capitalism is the only … [Read more...]

Useless Money: A Humanist Sermon

This is 432 Park Avenue:It's the newest addition to the New York City skyline, an ultra-luxury residential skyscraper in midtown Manhattan. With a top height of almost 1400 feet, it's the tallest residential building in the world and the second tallest building in all of NYC, ahead of the Empire State Building, behind only the new One World Trade Center.Despite its neck-craning height (it actually required approval from the FAA), 432 Park Avenue has only 104 apartments. The first … [Read more...]

Have We Hit the Limits of Growth?

Ever since the Great Recession and the grindingly slow recovery that's followed, it's become an especially urgent question whether we can expect the future to be more prosperous than the past. Singularitarians and other techno-utopians predict that technology will make economic growth an ever-upward exponential curve, bringing undreamed-of material abundance and making each generation's life vastly better than the one that preceded it. On the other hand, skeptics argue that minimal or zero … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Exeunt Omnes

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter XAfter three years and 160(!) posts, we've finally come to the very last scene of Atlas Shrugged. In our previous installment, Ayn Rand lowered the curtain on Eddie Willers, inexplicably abandoned by his closest friends to die in the desert. In this closing scene, she takes us to Galt's Gulch to show what the capitalists are doing instead.It's a quick scene, with just a few lines devoted to each of the protagonists. But in those few lines, like a … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Civil Rights and Corporate Power

The American corporate sector is becoming more liberal-friendly territory than ever, and it has the potential to split the conservative coalition that's prevailed in our politics for decades. That's the topic of my new piece on the Guardian, Businesses are powerful allies on LGBT rights. The left should embrace them.This column expands on my recent post "Beating the Religious Right with Corporate Power", and presents new evidence that businesses may even be progressive allies on some … [Read more...]

Beating the Religious Right with Corporate Power

Red-state legislatures around the country seem as if they're competing to pass the cruelest and most inhumane laws. But even by that standard, North Carolina's HB2 stands out. Rushed into passage with the haste and secrecy of a coup d'etat - it was introduced in the legislature, voted on, sent to the governor and signed into law all in a span of less than twenty-four hours - it can only be described as deliberately mean-spirited and spiteful. It bans transgender people from using public … [Read more...]

How the Right-Wing Scam Economy Created Donald Trump

The rise of Donald Trump has bewildered and dismayed pundits, especially conservative pundits. Many of them are treating it as a freakish fluke, a black-swan event that nobody could have predicted. But the clues were always there, for anyone who knew how to spot them.In his last, doomed line of attack, Marco Rubio accused Trump of being a "con artist" who peddles hazy fantasies and handwaves as a solution to our most pressing problems. He wasn't wrong about that, but Trump is hardly the … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Golden Parachute

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter VIIIThe looters have captured John Galt. Given their incompetence at everything, including villainy, you might think they'd construct a prison that he could just walk out of, Idiocracy-style, or even one that he could stage a daring escape from. However, because the narrative now demands it, this turns out to be the one thing they're good at:Three floors of the Wayne-Falkland Hotel had been evacuated and transformed into an armed camp. Guards with … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X