Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Fatal Flaw


Lou Hough

It was disappointing recently to hear a young congressman say he and his wife gave up their own goals to "save the country" -- a self-appointed savior who now wants to destroy our education system.

It was frustrating earlier to watch a president ignore the wishes of a large number of his people and ignore the vote of a world council to enter an unprovoked war because the other country might be a threat to America's security.

It is unconscionable that a senior congressman said his party's number one priority was to see Barack Obama was a one term president.  Worse, he and his party wasted years of potential law-making and taxpayer's dollars in that endeavor.

Once again refer to Rick Santorum's words while electioneering -- he told a group of blue collar workers it was snobbery to want a college education available to all Americans.  Yet, he does not deny educations to his own children.

One congressman did a little twirl on television and thrilled that there was no inflation, so Social Security recipients would get no cost of living adjustment that year.  He continued making a little speech about how we are a nation of whiners to expect something just because we had been promised it.  Retirees who had shoveled out years of taxes and insurance involuntarily for old age security were whiners because he and his ilk wanted to reduce or destroy the Social Security system.  But, he will be collecting lifetime dollars at taxpayer expense himself. 

It was extremely irritating to hear a wealthy man, with a smug look on his face, tell a television interviewer that, of course, he deserved his great wealth because he had the idea and he took the risk.  He said it as if he had single-handedly made each part of each product by himself.

An arrogance that says congressmen are the elite and therefore entitled.  An arrogance that says the rich should get more because they are rich -- and conversely that the poor should get less because they are poor!  Elected officials suffering from a god-complex and acting as though the masses that elected them are worthless; unnecessary.

Recently a friend posted an article onto her Facebook page.  It seemed to be a 2009 review of two biographies of Ayn Rand.  Besides being filled with personal resentment, the article showed a lack of understanding of Rand's philosophy and work.  The reviewer seemed to believe Rand's books were about the virtues of being rich, but they were more about the virtues of being valuable.  Immediately, Congressional elitism and arrogance and implications the rich were totally responsible for their wealth sprang to mind.  What if generations of greedy, self-serving, arrogant people were a product of reading or misreading Rand.

Rand's philosophy of Objective Ethics -- watered down into a nutshell says man, as a goal-setting, conscious individual is responsible for his own survival.  Anything that stands in the way of that survival is evil.  She recommended a rational selfishness that man should concentrate on his own survival to the exclusion of interfering incidents or purposes.  But the selfishness was not to be based on desires, whims or aspirations.  It was only to enhance survival.  Man had to take responsibility for this goal. 

She said human good does not require human sacrifice and cannot be achieved by sacrifice.  She said rational interests of man do not clash.  As long as men don't make sacrifices or accept sacrifices, but give value for value they can achieve a proper trade. 

Trade, is the principle of justice.  She said a trader earns what he gets.  He does not treat others as masters or slaves.  A trader expects to be paid for achievements.  The exchange must benefit both, not just one. 

Rand saw philosophies based on altruism to be the antithesis to her survival philosophy.  A person who sacrifices himself or herself to others is not being a trader -- not someone who gives and gets value in a trade. 

She was also an athiest -- her position, not mine.  This author is as much a Bible reading, devotional writing, Virgin Birth believing Christian as Rand was athiest.  That said, she has had a firm baptism in helping other people.  One Southern Baptist minister recently said he believes that neglecting the poor and downtrodden is dangerous business for Christians because Jesus' sympathies are so tied to helping them.  Perhaps a balance of altruism and self-protection might serve mankind better.  I'm sure Jesus didn't mean to turn generations into foot rugs. 

This article is not meant to support or defame Rand's position.  It is simply explained to show how a misinterpretation of her meaning might have inspired greed, exploitation and neglect of one's fellow man.

If one interpreted trading value and the virtue of selfishness to mean soak the public for all you can get . . . or if seeing avoiding altruism to mean it was to work your employess for less than they need to support a family . . . or if they read being valuable to mean being rich, then we might just have found the fatal flaw that has ruined our economy and is tanking this country.

All of you Rand readers out there, reread her work knowing she meant value for value, not exploiting others to be rich.  After all, Rand did say that parasites and looters can be of no use to a human being and she defined masters who exploit their "slaves" as being some of those parasites.

We might better have taken lessons from our Native Americans who believed in taking only what they needed to survive and sharing that with the others in their camps.  But we didn't do that, did we?  Had business owners also interpreted Rand correctly, they would have traded real value to those who gave them the value of their time and their work.  But that didn't happen.  The American way became that of a business owner's bottom line and any means to achieve it. 

For our country and our people to survive, it seems important to learn and use Rand's challenge to engage in even trade.  Had our bottom-line crowd done this, instead of turning employees into servants, our system of capitalism might be working.

Henry Ford is said to have wanted his workers to earn a decent wage and be able to afford to buy his product.  He made it happen.

Had other business owners followed his lead, today's programs the Republicans are calling "socialism" would never have been necessary.  It is not socialism, of course.  We would not want to think that our leaders were so uninformed that they don't know socialism is a system that gives the community control of all industry, land and capital.  But they don't think we know that.  They view us as uninformed, nonthinking masses of parasites who will respond to their cries of socialism with fear and confusion.  They mean to manipulate us to flock to the polls in November to vote out the liberals.  They want us not to see the wisdom and compassion that brought about Public Education, Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, the Affordable Care Act.  They want us to give them the reins over it all so they can cut spending on valuable programs so they can fill their pockets with more wealth and line their retirements with more taxpayer dollars.  But we have caught them at their game.

It is disrespect from the Chiefs for the Indians that has been the fatal flaw.  Let's hope it's not too late to change the program.

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