Monday, April 18, 2011

On Third Thought

This has nothing to do the the first or second thoughts below. That is how thoughts work. The actual relevance to the original problem or idea deteriorates as the thing travels through the mind. In my mind, it often takes a sudden turn, or jumps over to another dimension altogether.

In this case, the idea came that great people (what I consider great) do not tie themselves up in trivial concerns. I noticed it when I worked for people who had formed their own companies and achieved success. They employed many people, steered their companies to growth and expansion, and created really awesome work environments.

You always have personality conflicts and all that but the force behind the productive firm always seemed above the trivial conflicts. Their attention was on what mattered. Even when driving, I noticed that they did not take it personal when people did what they do on the highway by being inconsiderate or stupid. Just another obstacle to avoid or get around.

At the time I was more in the mode of wanting to rag on about "that idiot, bablabla". Then I realized that the most successful people in the vehicle were focussed more on where we were going and why, and chose not to waste energy on incidenta trivial resentments. Who knows if it totally carried through to their personal lives, but the focus on the important things in their careers was different from the average person.

And that brought to mind, however big a stretch, a video from 1959 which was recently brought to my attention between Mike Wallace and Ayn Rand. Mike was puffing on a cigarette.

Many people instantly tighten up and recoil at the mention of Ayn Rand or her book, Atlas Shrugged. I'm not one of those, although I understand why some people feel that way. It has a lot to do with how you look at it, and what you understand is the message. Like a lot of things, I take what I consider the best and leave the rest.

The remarkable thing about the interview is that she expressed a view that I have tried to express, yet Mike refused to acknowledge what she had said, framing the next question with the assumption she espoused the exact opposite. What she said was that when companies use and team up with government it is the worst of all systems. I agree with that.

What gets painted as capitalism is actually more a fascist condition. She described it some other way but it was clear that she held those who use government to facilitate their companies' gains in as much contempt as outright dictators. Companies, on their own, restricted from using force or fraud, do not have the ability to oppress and do all the things many associate with mean dirty CORPORATIONS.

To many people, just the word "corporation" has become a negative epithet. That is because what we have are companies which, due to the lack of limits on the power of government, have gained the power to influence when and where our military is used, influence how regulations are written--usually resulting in less competition, and to influence any manner of domestic policies and projects.

I found it interesting that Rand suggested that government had no business involved in economics. I kind of agree. So, where people have been given the idea that her books and philosophy throw a vote of approval to such corporations as GE and many others which are so entwined with government that one could never figure how to begin untying the knot, they have been mistaken.

It was kind of gratifying to me because I like it when someone says things with which I agree. I had never actually read or heard the sentiment so plainly stated in that interview. The issue of companies using government to help bully the public and competition is never discussed when history is taught or related matters are discussed. Instead, the idea that highly successful business is by nature evil and dishonest is put forth without drawing the distinction between outfits that simply do what they do well, and those which gain power and governmental favor.

We've gone so far down the road of control that it is not easy to find companies of size which can exist without the lobbyists and governmental gamesmanship. I've always thought it was not a good thing that government has become the biggest player and concern in most business operations.

The result is not the positive thing I've been told. Even charitable efforts have to filter through government approval due to the tax system. Individual initiative to help someone because that is what you want to do is actually discouraged because it pays better to drive past the guy bleeding in a ditch and throw some money at mosquito nets through an official charity. Of course, I do not believe it is the job of government to reward or punish free choice charitable efforts, or much else for that matter.

Anyway. Atlas Shrugged, in my view, was not intended to be the heartless, hateful outlook that many interpret it as being. The bottom line is that you don't have the right to force people to do what you want, or to take from them what is theirs by force, and that is what we've been doing while painting it as humane and beneficial. It is just a friggin book which had an uncanny sense of the language and attitudes that would become part of our culture. It held the view that these developments were an affront to human, individual rights. Many hold the view that these things somehow promote human rights.

In any case, I am surprised at the emotions Rand and her books trigger in people. But I am surprised by a lot.
Link to interview. There are two or three parts

It seems odd the fact that she escaped Russia at its worst is glossed over. I think she had a great fear of such a state.

1 comment:

  1. Is it possible for you to post the interview of which you write? I'd love to view that one.


Can't make comments any easier, I don't think. People are having trouble--google tries to kidnap them. I'll loosen up one more thing and let's see. Please give it a try

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