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Dear Atlas,

Fucking SHRUG already. The suspense is killing us. We, the Ninety Nine Percent of all American citizens, who are now in OPEN REVOLT against what is no longer a democratic government answerable to the People, have been waiting for the so-called Productive Citizens, alleged Producers, much ballyhooed Wealth Creators and all around Engines of America to keep their word to pull up stakes and abandon ship like some captain off a luxury liner that he just ran ashore onto some oil-stained beach. Isn’t that the dream of Ayn Rand, The Martin Luther King of Selfishness? That those Americans who have triumphed, who have stradled Industry like Collosus, will find the lower classes no longer in awe of them, and will evacuate the world to live lives of splendor in some mountain fortress, or more likely some fucking Caribbean island within a jet ski’s ride of the Caymans? Book your tickets. We’ve seen how you greeted the end of the Cold War, your smug, head-shaking disappointment that the triumph of capitalism also meant surrendering to the aeon of the One World Sweatshop, where dignity means working in a tarpaper shack in Indonesia for pennies an hour so we can have rubber pigs to squeeze while we wait for our YouTube to load. And soon the Cult of Rand will release an ass-humping documentary to honor their founder’s vision, and to toast the production of the immaculately panned big-screen adaptation of Atlas Shrugged, a work based on The Shittiest Novel Ever Written. A tale of how the most beneficent Americans, her industrial titans, find they have fallen from favor in the eyes of the common squeezemop. They then flee and hide behind a holographic forcefield (Jesus wept) as the world that would not kiss their all-white asses collapses under the unsucked fat of its own indolence. (“Impossible! ” you cry.  “Surely the Industrialists had made every effort to keep the middle class healthy, excercised great sobriety in their adventures in high finance, and held to an ethos of not intruding in the People’s government?” Yes, but such was the Dystopia they found themselves in.) The documentary is Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged, a title worthy of J.K. Rowling. (Coincidentally, Rowling DID achieve excellence in the field of novels and became richer than the Queen, and yet somehow she doesn’t make us want to cut her throat for it.) It is the latest call for American’s to worship the gilded hem of the robes of Those who think they were carved from God’s own foreskin: The One Percent, they who would threaten to Shrug. So Shrug. Swing those shoulder blades up, up, UP! Go hide in the land of Star Trek like you promised. Because the Moochers, the Looters, the Users, the Takers, the Unproductive Citizens–The Ninety-Nine Percent of us who aren’t raking in the green in Everest-sized heaps, the ones who didn’t become a Rowling–that’s exactly what we’re asking you to do. Take a hike. We’ve heard enough about the rich and their sacred juices, about a paradise where Americans are entitled to all that the Corporations leave for us before they head for the stars, which judging by the size of their stomachs will be a few crystals of sodium. Wait! I think I hear Wealth’s patent-pending response! “You own a cell phone /iPod /iPad/ Kindle/ wristwatch, so what the hell are you so angry about?” Yes, thank you for selling us our toys. And how exactly does that entitle you to use copious fraud and racketeering to nosedive the economy into a mountainside, then mushroom the public debt to pay for the catastrophe while you keep pulling down salaries the size of Powerball payouts? By all means, strike. I mean, you aren’t still pretending that we haven’t seen behind the curtain, are you Oz old buddy? The Wizard of Oz? Why, that’s another book with a message about the Great and Powerful. I’m surprised you haven’t read it.


  1. Vic Sage

    Wait, the majority of ultrawealthy are Randians? That is news to me, and probably news to the Randians, and definitely news to the majority of the ultrawealthy.

  2. Alai

    No doubt you’ve seen it, but just in case you haven’t: http://www.angryflower.com/atlass.gif

  3. venomsamurai

    You know I did a little research on the numbers of people who are actually supporting your cause. The funny thing is….not alot still support it. Don’t believe me just check this out:http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2011/11/occupy-wall-street-favor-fading.html

    JY: Movements don’t move based on polling data.

  4. Gus

    Fucking brilliant.

  5. Malachi

    Anyone who reads Rand, reads the same story of that unique inventor held back by unproductive slugs. Reality sees visionaries cheated or in ditches rotting because their vision would cut profits, think Tesla (although not in a ditch was ruined by those who owed him). This is where the OWS and Tea Partiers are now singing the MSM blue, their similarities are closer than you think after you dump the MSM and partisan division wedge. Both see the system as dysfunctional, needs fixed, and unfair; both are portrayed as ignorant of how things work, both are supported by aspects of Quo when they support their political way, which both parties end with the same results while crying it was the others fault. Machievelli is a piker compared to the puppet masters who back both sides to control the great unwashed, while making those who serve them think they are equals while sipping Dom ’96. As Malcolm X found out, your time is over when you can unify. So “why can’t we all just get along” and recognize why the Czech people are joining the hungry hippo EU, when they don’t want to. Let us listen to Ron Paul when he says, sure I think it should be this or that, but if the people want somthing it will be there or Newt Romney Obama who know better than us foolish nosepickers. Remember if you are holding your nose to vote you are wasteing your vote more than a vote for that third or forth candidate who has less chance than me getting laid at a Lesbian convention while only hitting on butch babes wearing a tee shirt with the slogan, “ahhh for the good old days when women were in the kitchen and kept their mouths shut except when on their knees before their Master”. So have a great day.

  6. Legion

    It’s not that the majority of the ultrawealthy are Randians, it’s that the majority of Randians are venal, money-grubbing, sociopathic whores who can only comprehend life as a zero-sum game – they simply cannot imagine a world where they can be happier or better off than they are today unless someone else becomes worse off.

    I doubt many of the ‘ultrawealthy’ even give it that much thought, but the majority of people who want desperately to _become_ ultrawealthy find great comfort in Randian philosophy. It tells them that the only reason they’re _not_ ultrawealthy is because other, lesser people are holding them back. Which gives them the moral justification they seek to piss all over anyone below them, and brown-nose the colon out of anyone above them. That’s all Randians are good for.

  7. Jody

    What Legion said.

  8. Gaeasson

    Dear WhatisDeepFried

    We are already shrugging. Just a few of us, and just a bit, but I’m still surprised you hadn’t noticed. All those empty stores. All those people out of work. We’re not investing as much. We’re not expanding our businesses. We’re not loaning. We’re certainly not starting new ventures like we used to.

    It’s not that we don’t want to. We are selfish bastards after all. We LIKE producing. The thing is that we only like to produce when doing so expands our ability to produce… and we think long term. Right now we’re not sure what the government is going to do. Tax rates aren’t horrible, but we keep getting told they “might” go up significantly… so we have to plan for the worst. We’re watching our trading partners across the globe drop like flies from the insolvency of their social programs, even as our own government tries to enact the same measures that are killing our neighbors.

    We don’t want to drop the world, but if we continue to hold it as high as we have, we’ll expend our strength, only to be crushed beneath it. If we lower it just a bit, maybe the world will learn that it can’t simultaneously ride on our shoulders and drain our blood.

    Funny thing, Legion. If you talk with us, we often start by expressing what you say we don’t know. It’s not a zero sum game. You earn prosperity by creating value. You multiply that value by trading for mutual benefit and by mutual consent. The more value you create for yourself, the more is created for those around you.

    You deride sefishness because you use your own sefishness to define the term. What you don’t seem to get is that “selfishness” for a producer is production. We don’t aspire to hot tubs, yachts and endless idle time. We aspire to creation, innovation and independance. I have a broad community of people I care for personally. I move the world to make life better for myself and for them, not because I’m obligated to, but because I enjoy creating and sharing the product of that creation. The more resources I gather, the more I can enjoy doing for others.

    The only time I really get annoyed is when people who won’t create value for themselves decide they have the right to dictate how to allocate the value I created. They seem to think that both my diligence and by annoyance are signs of some moral failing on my part.

    Signed, Atlas, Son of Gaea.

    JY: Was that you, bucking the world like a bronco in 2008? Well, you did make voting Republican that year seem equivalent to snorting drain cleaner, so I guess you created some value after all.

  9. OhNoMyEquity

    The problem with \when people who won’t create value for themselves decide they have the right to dictate how to allocate the value I created.\ is that you’re making an appeal to a select authority, one that shares your desire to hold onto as much value as possible (it’s called retained earnings for a reason, yes I’m an accounting student).

    You’re also forgetting another important matter: ultimately, wealth is created not by the producers, but rather by the consumers. You can make as many widgets as you want, but if nobody can/will buy then all you’ve produced is some useless lumps of metal/plastic/whatever. A market system that maintains a reasonable equilibrium between prices and wages can function ethically for all, however ours has dipped well below that point.

  10. Jeddy

    Here’s the thing one percenters…as far as I’m concerned, you can earn as much money as you want and spend it on a crystal tower across the street from a homeless shelter so all the teenage runaways and disabled veterans can watch you bone prostitutes on a pile of money. Doesn’t matter to me. Your money, you can do whatever you want.

    But here’s the problem…and it’s the one people like Gaeasson keep trying to sidestep by making it sound like I’m complaining about what I just said up there. You have to EARN the money. And making money with methods that should be illegal, and spending a big chunk of that money making sure that those methods remain just this side of legal, that’s not earning the money.

    And no, I’m not talking about the environment, or unsafe business practices, wah wah wah. I’m talking about banks with their toxic mortgages and manufacturing giants shipping all their jobs overseas so they can charge artificially low prices and run all their small competitors out of business, all without having to pay any kind of tariffs or import fees. I’m talking about corporations being treated like ‘people’ and keeping all their assets out of the country to avoid taxes, yet still enjoying status as an ‘American’ company.

    Let’s just be honest here…you don’t REALLY want the government to leave business alone, you never have. You want what you have now…making up your own regulations and passing them off to be rubber-stamped by the elected officials you’ve payed off. And now that more people are catching onto the trick, you’re shocked that we’re all pissed off!

  11. Piddles the Clown

    First off, I want to say that I admire Gaeasson’s bravery in standing up for his belief. I’d wager that JY and most of his readers (myself included) are not supporters of Rand, and are not afraid to be vocal about it. Gaeasson, by standing up for your Randian beliefs in a strongly anti-Randian conversation, you have earned my respect.

    On the other hand, I do think that your ideas are wrong, wrong, wrong (with all due respect, of course). Let’s start at the beginning:

    In your first paragraph, you note that “we are already struggling”, and then you seem to include in the “we” category “All those people out of work.” Technically, according to your belief, it would seem that these people are not producing (how can they be? they’re out of work), and that therefore they can’t be said to be carrying the world. If anything, they would be parasites on society, relying on it for unemployment checks, or at least for police and military protection. Now, you might assert that they are unemployed because socialist policies devalue innovation and the will to create, but the fact remains that some people remain employed, and that of the employed some people are creating and innovating. It seems that in the dichotomy of workers and parasites, the unemployed would pretty much have to be considered parasites, relative to the workers who have managed to keep their jobs.

    Second paragraph, you note that tax rates seem to be a problem in limiting growth. But the US has some of the lowest taxation among developed nations, and indeed has some of the lowest rates in the past several decades. If America could have its economic heyday under higher taxes than what we have now, what happened?

    Kind of a nitpicky thing, but in paragraph four, you say “If you talk with us, we often start by expressing what you say we don’t know.” But you started your comment saying what you did know (that currently there are disincentives to investment, holding back innovators like you from investment), and you follow the aforementioned statement with an explanation about the creation of value and expansion thereof by trade (which I actually thought was the best part of your piece). In any case, you definitely never said “I don’t know X”. Which is okay; I won’t do it either.

    In paragraph five, you seem to be making two conflicting points. On one hand you say things like “We don’t aspire to hot tubs, yachts and endless idle time,” and “I enjoy creating and sharing the product of that creation.” This seems to indicate that you work for works sake. Not to get hot tubs, but because you genuinely want to create whatever it is you create. On the other hand, you also say things like “The more resources I gather, the more I can enjoy doing for others.” Resources, I’ll assume, would mostly mean money.

    Now, I might be misinterpreting you here, but one way that I read this is that you need the money so you can invest in further improvements. But then how would you explain purchases of luxury goods… the hot tubs and yachts that SOMEONE is buying (it sure ain’t the poor), or even just the slightly nicer car of the not-Ramen dinner that you treat yourself too once in a while? Surely they aren’t necessary to improve your productivity, but are rather necessary for your enjoyment of life (luxury). If you truly valued production for production’s sake, you would need the bare minimum to survive… think of Ebenezer Scrooge, who subsisted on thin porridge because, more than luxury, he enjoyed making money (production). Okay, maybe you can say that he valued having money more than making it, but he definitely is a good example of someone who doesn’t love hot tubs.

    Another interpretation, which is somewhat less generous but appears more likely, is that you don’t actually enjoy production for production’s sake, or at least that the enjoyment of production is minimal compared to the enjoyment of the fruits of your production (money to buy hot tubs and such).

    In conclusion, the only time I really get annoyed is when people who have benefited from an entrenched economic hierarchy decide that the poor have no right to demand fairness in their government. They seem to think that both compassion and desire for equality are signs of some moral failing.

    Signed, Piddles the Clown.

  12. Steve


    Hey JY, will we soon see a Tim \The Tank\ Thomas cartoon/commentary? Or this shit old hash south of the 49th?

    “You are DUMB! That reCAPTCHA response was incorrect.”
    Yes, I hate captcha, it takes the spontaneity out of a comment. At least you should be able to read the damned things >:(

    JY: If Thomas the Tank Engine wants to stay on the Island of Sodor and pass up a chance to “accidentally” body check the President, that is his who-gives-a-fuck-I-have-never-watched-a-single-hockey-game-in-all-my-life decision to make.

  13. “Dear Atlas,” | The Hackenblog

    [...] your tickets.” Dear Atlas,, by Jason Youngbluth, January 22, [...]

  14. ZJSimon

    Love the image, and I agree with the sentiment, for the most part, save that Rand wrote bad novels. As I understand it she never wrote a novel, just a series of essays that hid behind ‘novels’ about as well as Nietzsche’s stash made him look like Santa (The essay ‘For the New Intellectual’ is most interesting in that it dismisses Nietzsche like so much brutish sideshow when I expected her to exalt his rare combination of anti-church AND anti-state).

    This false choice between blaming avarice and blaming sloth for stunting humanity only makes the sin-spinners and, specifically, the end-timers, happy. We’re up against eons of ‘keep my flock humble and I’ll keep your barn big’ quid pro quo. The problem at hand is convincing the aristocracy to trade allegiances from the clergy to the (whatever you wan to call secular artists and intellectuals). Before that can happen, however, that later type needs to do a better job (or any kind of job) convincing the working stiffs that secular artists and intellectuals are a better investment than churches and sports teams.

  15. Steve

    JY, with all the detail you make to Schulz’s work and story lines within your own, I’m a little surprised (though there is no reason for me to be so) that you never watched a hockey game. It was a large part of Schulz’s life (and yes, you are not him, but I have read all of his work and a good deal of yours which I enjoy both equally for far different reasons), in fact Schulz was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy by the NHL in 1981 and he was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993 along with the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2007.

    Then after reading your commentary on the Occupation movement, I guess I thought it may blip on your radar (shit hit the fan north of the 49th regarding Tim’s snub almost to the point of another ‘Losing the Stanley Cup Vancouver riot’).

    Well that’s that, I’ll just impatiently wait for the next Clarissa.

    Captcha same aletere

  16. venomsamurai

    You know JY? You’re right. Movements don’t move on polling data. By the way, when are you going to give away your tax refund cause according to your cause if you keep it, you’re a hypocrite. However, if you give it away, you’re an idiot for giving away the money you’re getting back from those evil government bastards. Let’s also take a look at who mainly supports the OWS. It mainly consists of young men and women, all around the age of 18 to 25, who don’t work and still have boques of money because their mommies and daddies are footing the bills for em. I happen to be part of the 99% you guys claim to stand up for, but I work a living. Granted it is for one of those evil corporations that you guys absolutely loathe, but the money I make is MY money. Is the government taking more than it’s fair share? Of course it is, but only because we have a moron running the show who thinks you can solve a problem just by throwing money at it. His national debt, according to recent studies, is more than all 42 of the presidents who came before him COMBINED. JY, lets face it, there is never gonna be the “perfect” world that Rand, who still made boat loads of money of her novels by the way, is going to exist. Why? As Gordon Gekko would put it, “Greed is good. Greed works.” Greed is part being human and until we all get lobotomized by the governments of the world, we are all humans. All this is about is you don’t want to give up your money to help the rich get richer. I can understand that, but in order for you to do that, you would have to basically become a farmer and stop having fun. As a farmer, you produce your own goods and have no need to buy food or clothing if you learn how to make thread. You can’t own any of them new fangled electronics devices cause their made by the big corporations and then where would we be? There’d be no adventures of Chuck, no Beepo and Roadkill, no Clarissa, NO DEEP FRIED. But hey, you can always lead by example and be the first to give up your worldly posseisions and live the Randian dream.

    JY: As an actual entrepreneur myself, that is to say, a private contractor and artist, with intellectual property of my own design that I daily bring to market, I could just as easily declare myself the prime mover of the world since it is my inventiveness that justifies things like paper and electronic media. Without words and pictures, TV, movies and books are just blank screens (yes, books are screens now).

    Of course, the creativity of those who invent drawing ink, printing presses and ebook readers is just as vital to my existence as an artist as the role of the farmer who grows the food that keeps me alive is to both of us. The only one who is declared “valueless” in the libertarian capitalist world view is the fruit picker, who in the final analysis, is the indispensable linchpin of the entire operation. My worldview says until you create a system where profit requires no human labor but your own, you better recognize that we are all in this together.

    I don’t dispute the big dog’s right to eat first and best, but in American capitalism the big dog now thinks he is entitled to the lion’s share, the hippo’s share, the elephant’s share— all the way up to the cylindrical space whale’s share.

    Check your own scalp for a lobotomy scar: who is it that is being threatened with a higher tax burden? You, or your employer? Who is it that is trying to back out of paying the check for two wars, for the tax cuts paid for with Social Security benefits, for TARP? Whose water are you carrying?

    Do you realize that the the quantity of resources needed to maintain a full-time publicity blitz against Obama– radio, TV, think tank conferences, shit slinging books like Coulter’s and Beck’s, “guerilla” video hoaxes like Veritas– and therefor, against letting the Bush tax cuts sunset as they were designed to do, is only a sliver of what a modest tax hike on the One Percent would cost them? Do you think your loyalty can’t be bought?

  17. Atomic

    I think it’d be a good idea to just throw out this simplistic crap. Pointing at something as ambiguous as “the 1%” and blaming it for our problems is just about as bad as claiming that “captains of industry” cause the world to rotate.

    No, if anything income disparity is a symptom, and not a disease in itself. I think what’s really happening is that old systems of power have finally been exposed in ways that can’t be reigned in, and that people in general are more inclined to take notice. Make no mistake, corruption and criminal incompetence are nothing new. This cycle of democracy to oligarchy is nothing new.

    What *is* new is that the vast majority, the people, suddenly have voices to speak with, and information flows effortlessly everywhere. It’s suddenly very difficult to keep secrets, I think it’s changing the way this kind of power cycle works.

    I guess I’m just a terrible optimist, but I think the world is going to change very soon, and for the better. Maybe we’ve got a headache, but humanity is waking up.

  18. Confused Rabbit

    Piddles the Clown-

    I think what the pro-Atlas guy is trying to say is that he doesn’t aspire to the yachts as an end themselves. He aspires to be a producer and the yachts and hot tubs are simply fringe benefits.

    It’s kind of like a guy who says, “I didn’t marry my insanely hot and brilliant wife just because her pussy’s tighter than skinny jeans on a 500 lb man and because she has tits like a Frank Cho drawing; I married her because she’s fun to be around, she’s totally into me, and she’s funnier than Robin Williams on cocaine.” It isn’t a conflicting point because while it’s awesome that his wife fucks like a girl scout and has the body of a pinup, those two traits alone weren’t enough to convince him to marry the girl, just like the yachts and hot tubs, while nice, aren’t the goal.

    But what do I know? I’m just a small, gray rodent with long ears.

  19. Gaeasson

    Responses to good points in random order:

    No Mz Rand couldn’t write good fiction to save her life. She was an economic& political philosopher with delusions of authorship, but in my opinion what she had to say carrys more weight than the skill with which she said it.

    OhNoMyEquity: I think the increase in value actually happens between the two. If I can take my resources and make something more valuable to you than those resources are to me, then value is created for both of us as we trade. I can still make value for myself… but the market is kinda small.

    Jeddy: I’m right there with you on a lot of that. Some of the high income earners aren’t actually producing a thing. They are creating illusions of value to trick people into making financial decisions irrationally. It’s sleazy, but there is a very real slippery slope here. Every commercial you see has the same moral failing. As to offshoring jobs. Shift your perspective and consider. Would it be fair if the one-percenters reserved the jobs for their friends and family? Is it more fair to hire any person who will do the best job for the lowest price? Do the morality of those questions shift if you replace “friends and family” with countrymen?

    Piddles: Thank you. I’m also pleasantly impressed by the quality of the discourse here. As to Taxes: There are a couple traps in high-level correlation of stated tax-rates to economic growth. Back in the 50s for instance top marginal tax rates were VERY high… but there was such a web of deductions and loopholes that a lot of rich folks wound up paying effectively nothing. When top marginal rates were lowered, but the loopholes were closed, effective tax rates went up, investment went down, the economy took the hit and Carter gave us a speech about “malaise”. In the 90s we were all collectively drunk on the economic boom surrounding the explosion of the internet as a brand new major economic sector. When the bubble popped post-2000, taxes were lowered, which helped, but wasn’t enough. Right now, we’ve got the worst of both worlds as far as tax revenue goes. Businesses plan based on expected market conditions not current ones, and since 2008 we’ve been told, “we’re likely to expire these tax rates within 2 years”. This is the economic equivalent of “good night Wesley, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning”. Also recall that although we have a relatively low individual income rate compared to other countries, we have a relatively high corporate income tax rate which discourages investment simply by making any investment less potentially profitable.

    As to the hot-tubs. Don’t get me wrong: I’d like one. But getting one isn’t the point. I could go buy one right now, but I’d have to take money away from an investment (out of someone elses pocket), in order to put it into the pocket of the hot-tub merchant. Either way it’s good for the economy. Really, the only bad money is cash in a box somewhere. But whenever I give in and buy the hot tub, those funds stop working for me and start working for someone else.

    To put this in perspective… I’m not a 1%er. But I am at least anecdotal evidence that an attitude of selfish service to my fellow man is more than so much moralizing. Back in ’92 I was homeless in Atlanta through a series of my own youthful mistakes. I asked for help from friends rather than stewing in my own pride. I re-payed that help several fold. I never took public assistance, though I could have. I looked at every employer as a customer, and tried to deliver ever greater service. I collected skills and trades. I grew my most lucrative trade into a career. I took side jobs where I could. Now I’m in the top 25% of income earners in the country. It’s sure as hell not easy, but the door is open. Had I been more focused I could be a 1%er, but that wasn’t my goal. I’m selfish enough that I enjoy living life more than making money, I just wanted to make enough to make my family comfortable, and I have. But I rely on those 1%ers. Their continual reinvestment creates the markets necessary for me to ply my trades. The harder it is for them to produce through investment the harder it is for me to produce through industry. The point here is not self congratulation. The point is that I’ve personally walked the long road from ghetto to board room, and what I’ve learned is that there are no villains, or at least darn few. The rich and the poor are both just trying to get by and make their world a better place. The difference is that the rich have learned how, while the poor haven’t, and often believe they can’t. The rich (in general) want the best for the poor, but know that jobs for the best of them will help the community more than a gift to all of them. They also know that if they deplete their resources by running to long at a loss, the less they can do to help anyone (whether with a job or a hand out). So if the climate for business gets bad it’s better to keep more resources in low-yield safe investments than

    Ayn learned all this watching the Soviet revolution. I learned it on the streets of Atlanta. It’s a hard lesson, at odds with the gentle communism we all learn in kindergarten, but there it is. It works for individuals and for nations. You have to create more than you consume. Give joyously, but only from your surplus. Receive cautiously, never taking enough to harm the giver. Don’t borrow what you can’t repay. Don’t lend what you can’t loose. And the big one is that nobody but you can rightly make these decisions for yourself. In the end, the only things you have a right to are your own mind, body, time, and the products thereof.

    I’m not telling you this because I want to hold you down. I want all of you just as successful as I am if not more so. I want you competing with me to keep me sharp, and buying from me to help grow my business. This is not class warfare, this is symbiosis. Your health and welfare feed mine. Mine feeds yours.

    I’m sorry, that was WAY more of a rant than I’d planned. I guess I had that building up for a while.

    Gaeas Son

  20. Gaeasson

    Confused Rabbit is not confused. You grok.

    Also, unfinished paragraph should have read “…safe investments than to risk it all when the market itself has gone unstable”

    VenomSamurai: I think you are a hair breadth from a startling revelation. You know that the fruit picker is the indispensable foundation of the structure. He creates real, essential, universal value in the form of tangible goods. All you are missing is that money is a marker not of value consumed, but value NOT consumed. As long as I DON”T buy the hot tub I keep getting richer. I’m not eating the other animals food. I’m not even eating all of mine. If I buy everything I want as soon as I can afford it ( or before I can afford it with credit) I get and stay poor. Robbers and grifters aside. You don’t get really rich by working, but by letting someone else consume what you have earned, leaving you with an interest bearing IOU or a promise of a share in what they produce with your help.

    When I lived in the techwood projects in Atlanta there were a LOT of Big screen TVs and high ticket cars with spinny hubcaps. When I visit the houses of multi-millionaires (usually as a contractor) they are generally pretty sedate split ranches with older model pickup trucks parked out front, and a 5-year old computer under the desk. Instead of buying “stuff” their money goes back to making more money, incidentally keeping hundreds or thousands of people employed.

  21. Baughbe

    We read Atlas Shrugged and the Communist Manifesto in the same year. Both struck me as works of delusion pretty much both based on the same delusion. The essential error in both systems is value being given to non-producers. Rand’s system is the owners (being non-producers) getting value for ownership. Ownership produces no actual value. So when ownership gives value to the owner, you have an unbalanced energy equation. Marx believed all members should be given a minimum value even when the work produces less than minimum value. Again unbalanced energy equation. In the US. Owners are greatly overvalued and over compensated. Atlas will shrug, but not for the working class getting more than its share. Just as Soviet communism failed for non-productive members getting more than their share. Both same flaw, both same result. The only difference is the time it takes to collapse and that was due to the momentum of resource wealth available. The Soviets didn’t have piss for resources. The only system that is sustainable in the long run is one that balances the energy equations and manages its resources. And currently, there is no such system functioning in the world today that fits both requirements. Atlas will shrug, he has a bad back after all. And he will fall in the same pit of history all of his predecessors fell in.

    Gaeas Son, Tell you what, why don’t you explain this bit of personal history for me using you viewpoint. I worked as assistant manager for a large chain restaurant. I worked on average between 60 to 80 hours a week, when I wasn’t doing books I was cooking, waiting tables and training other assistant managers. My manager worked about 10 hours a week and mostly all he did was make out the work schedule and ‘borrow’ money from the cash register. 5 assistants I trained under me were promoted to managers before me. (two of them immediately after I trained them without any working time after training) When this happened the fifth time, I demanded to know why. The answer I got was that I was too valuable as a trainer in my current position to allow me to be promoted to manager. Now you tell me, who the FUCK was getting the value for my work here? And before you answer, understand this, I got a salary that was 1/2 of that of a manager and when you worked over time on salary, you got paid extra using an convoluted equation where the more you worked the less you got per hour. For that final hour when I worked 80 hours a week, I got four cents. Needless to say, I quit. And as of yet, I have yet to find any job where I got good value for the work I did. Currently I am working as a data analyst (with 2 degrees and still crushing student debt), at 1/3 the national pay rate for the job just to stay alive. So you tell me, how is my getting this value helping you get yours? Hmmm? I’ve worked my ass off and have almost nothing to show for it. Other than food and underwear I haven’t bought a single new thing in years because I can’t afford it despite working myself to the point (and beyond) of physical illness. Face it, you got lucky in there somewhere. Or there is something you aren’t admitting to. Hard work does not equal reward. Wealth does not mean it was earned by those who have it. And from my experience, wealth usually comes from taking value from someone else and leaving them to hang in the wind. Few are the exceptions who actually produce value and get it returned like our hosting artist here. My father was one such as well, until his business partner embezzled everything, burned the building down and left the country. Even tried to frame my dad for it but failed. Understand the bastard lived a very wealthy life on what he stole. (my father being one of 10 different business men done by this guy at the same time) But now-a-days he could do that and stay in the country, as regulation of such behavior would be bad for the economy.

  22. Jody

    ….aaaand there we have Geasson’s not-too-subtle racism. He just had to hide it behind several thousand words of bullshit is all.

  23. Jeddy

    Gaeasson: If you truly do practice what you’re preaching here, than good on you. The problem is the people that I, at least, am against, are most certainly not. I’ve got nothing to say about anyone’s particular business practices…no matter how cutthroat, or even sleazy they might be. I think it would be ideal if everyone could play nice with each other, but barring just a gigantic shift in human behavior from the ground up I don’t think it’s going to happen. Until that rolls around, I think capitalism is a much more realistic model.

    What I’m railing against, what makes me throw in with the OWL crowd (and incidentally makes me think they’re probably occupying the wrong place) is the amount of power that Big Business (which I know is a cliche term, but it’s the best I can come up with for the banks, multinational corporations, etc. that I’m talking about) has over the government’s policy making. And here’s where I think we clearly differ…what you most likely see as the first steps towards a massive amount of over-regulation by the government I see as the first steps towards ending a long-standing trend of Big Business subverting the process to favor themselves and (and this is the biggest sticking point) making it harder for potential competitors.

    Don’t get me wrong…I know that Big Business doesn’t exist in a vacuum here. Believe me, I’m against the amount of power that ALL lobbies have gained over the government, even the ones that champion causes I myself favor. Full disclosure…I’m certainly not ending my support for those lobbies at this time…if the lobbies that were going for things that I liked disappeared, then the ones going for things I don’t like would only get stronger. The ‘Lobby’ problem would be unchanged, and other issues would be, in my opinion, much worse off.

    The reason that Big Business receives my ire more than the others is firstly, they have, on the whole, way, way more capital to throw around, and thus much more pull. Secondly, they can hide their activities much more effectively through Super PACs and the like. And finally, and most importantly, I do believe in capitalism, and they are derailing it.

    As you said yourself up there…you want people competing with you, to keep you sharp. The giant banks and huge, inscrutable multinational corporations have ‘evolved’ beyond competition. The banks, in particular, act in concert with one another, realizing that if they ALL make things harder on the people they are supposedly trying to compete for, those people won’t have any choice but to take it.

    Let’s look at the offshoring thing again…in it’s purest, ideal form, capitalism makes an assumption that the people getting paid to make things are on a comparable economic footing with those that will buy said things. In other words, people who get paid in dollars per day or week should not be making things for people who get paid in dollars per hour. That is why, if your manufacturing base is in such a place, you should have to pay import fees. Smaller manufacturers may not be able to shift their base of operations overseas, and if no import fees are paid than the bigger guys can charge such artificially low fees that the smaller, growing competitors cannot compete, or lose any chance of growth by keeping their prices down to that point.

    If import fees were paid, of course those who offshore could still charge lower prices, but not so low that questions about quality, etc, would be ignored. In other words, actual competition.

    And again, don’t get me wrong…I hold government and big business equally culpable and corrupt in this. That why I said OWS was protesting the wrong place. It’s not that I don’t think that it’s possible for ‘The People’ to effect change from the business side of things…it’s just that I’m cynical enough to realize that ‘The People’ probably aren’t going to figure out how to do that. Hell, I’m barely able to hope that they might create that change through the government, whom they have more direct control over.

    So, for me, I’m not at all advocating that people try to cut back their profits, or back off on cutthroat competition, or any of that. Like you said, competition makes everyone sharper, and the sharper the competition, the sharper everyone becomes. What I’m against is Big Business using their hold on government to forgo the need for competition and keep themselves propped up, not by making themselves better, but by making sure everyone else is *worse*.

  24. Jody

    Baughbe: Funny thing about Randoids, they only acknowledge anecdotal evidence that reinforces their own worldview.

    Hence, ramblings about “those inner city types” buying “rims and big screen TVs” is acceptable, whereas personal experience is not.

  25. Jeddy

    By the by…I’m also fairly impressed at the level of discourse here. Apparently somewhere between Yahoo comments and 4chan, reasonableness can exist.

    According to captcha, the iMabit Saviour agrees.

    JY: tits poop tits wieners titty penis

  26. venomsamurai

    You can’t have it both ways. You can either be the capitalist pig making money on the backs of others, or the socialist pig stealing money from the capitalist pig. Which brings me to a good point. This world that our president has us living in reminds me less of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and more of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”.

  27. Mordecai

    Rand was a fairly delusional pseudo-anarchist who even spat at reasoned capitalist thinkers like Hayak. Using her to denounce capitalism is one degree away from a straw man argument. No one outside of the far fringes of libertarianism or young naieve teens who are taking their first foray into political thought really take her seriously.

    You will find almost everyone across the political spectrum, from Politico and New Republic on the Left to National Review and Heritage on the Right, denouncing “crony capitalism”, in which large businesses and politicians circumvent the free market through legislation, back room deals, etc. It is a consequence of the creeping power of the Federal government since the 1930s, in which new “powers” were “discovered” in the Constitution, allowing the majority party to wield power–and restrict political and economic liberty–in favor of its supporters.

    Class warfare is not going to solve this problem. And frankly, most of the middle class, who have earned a good living despite the flaws of the system, are not going to support a group of listless college students and neo-Communists no matter how loud they get. The real danger is that, out of fear of losing what they have earned and the further loss of economic freedom, they will support whatever politician promises a backlash against such a movement. Ironically, trading liberty for security when loss of liberty created the very circumstances of the moment.

    For the OWS crowd, I would remind them that those who prioritize egalitarianism over liberty usually end up with neither. But most of them are too young to have any memories of the USSR to drive that home.

    JY: If I can bring anything to the discussion of #OWS (by the way, is the hashtag now an official letter of the alphabet?) it is a better understanding of what has inspired it, and what continues to motivate it. Your own take is misguided, Mord, although it is at least a better critique than that which the conservative chatterers bring to the table. They mostly seem to obsessed with the protestors’ odor.

    Well, you’ll get a bit of stink on you when you aren’t afraid to shake hands with the homeless. The canard that egalitarianism cannot bunk with liberty is typical of the right, but I am afraid that it will not avail them much longer. Although the Tea Party movement is not the philosophical companion of the Occupy movement, both share a common root: the usurption of the People’s government by antidemocratic powers has grown so obnoxious that no one in America can deny it any longer.

    You are right: class warfare is not going to solve the problem. Class warfare is the problem. But if you can get a majority of American’s of all persuasions and income levels to recognize that the sliver of people at the top of the ladder are now so many rungs above them that they could tickle God’s big toe, then that realization may finally allow us to detach capitalism’s fangs from from Our government’s throat.

  28. Gaeasson

    @Baughbe : I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe luck does have something to do with it. My life seems to have a much lower asshole population than yours. In your world they seem to make up the majority. Over here, they’re few and far between. Or maybe I’m just better at insulating myself from them and ignoring the rest. I don’t know.

    Jeddy & Mordecai: I agree with most of your points, pleased to meet you.

    Jody…. yeah, man. I got nothing for you. If me being a racist makes you happy, just go with it.

    Either way, I’m bailing out of the thread. It’s been a real pleasure trading words. Thank you for a good and thought inspiring conversation.

  29. Jeddy

    *tips hat* Via con dios, Gaeasson. Always nice to meet someone who can hold a conversation, even if (or maybe especially if) they’re on the other side.

  30. Jody

    If you don’t want people thinking you’re a racist you might want to stop yourself the next time an opportunity to bash people in “the projects” buying big screen tvs presents itself. It sort of eclipses everything else you might have to say. That’s all the more I’ll say about that. Food for thought.

    And speaking as a guy that lives in a wealthy part of the country, makes a good chunk of change himself, and that knows quite a few 1%ers personally, I can assure you that tasteful modest living is NOT their forte. The word “entitlement” comes to mind.

  31. The Cat

    Was board, but could not help jumping on. Animal Farm? Good reference, I’ll be the cat, since she could give a shit less, but, may I pull from Herbert? If I recall, the man become worm, Leto II said it best. “Scratch a liberal and you will find a closet aristocrat.” The wheel, it never stops turning for us does it?

  32. Jor

    The only good thing to come out of Ayn Rand was Rush.

  33. King Ploobis

    WAAAAAAH!!! It’s big, bad society’s fault that I’m not the millionaire I know I could be if they just left me alone! WAAAAAAAAH!!!

  34. me

    Some valid complaints. And incredibly misplaced blame. “…but again, truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.” We’ve all become so complacent, perhaps we deserved Obama. The question is have we learned anything?

  35. venomsamurai

    Kudos to both of you, The Cat and King Ploobis. You seem to have a better understanding of the OWS’s arguments than most of the other folks on this thread. Especially Ploobis, he seems to have nailed it perfectly. That’s basically the argument that they all seem to be making. “Let’s hate the rich because they’re rich and we’re not and let’s get a huge group of easily led college students who’ll protest at the drop of a hat to help us out.” Give the Tea Party this much, at least they didn’t decide that violence by a few in the movement wouldn’t hurt their cause. Some pockets of the OWS have been seen using small children to blockade the doors of government buildings and have used themselves as human blockades on city streets. But they figure, ” Well, these small pockets of people won’t taint the image of the rest of movement.” Apparently, those of us on the right aren’t the only ones who live in fantasyland. Why the Knucklehead in Chief just gave a speech from there just recently. I was rather shocked not to hear him propose moving the capital there on the grounds of it being a more grounded area in reality.

  36. King Ploobis

    Venom… Were you Gaeasson so brainwashed by those lackadaisical homunculii you call “parents” into not having the mental capability to consider, for even a moment, that maybe you’re NOT one of the “special people”? Because that is honestly the one and only explanation I can fathom as to why ANYONE who is not already a multi-milllionaire would subscribe to the inane rantings of some petty, borderline-sociopathic twat-rag who was so willing to (albeit metaphorically, but who knows) fellate the neo-feudalists of her time that she went and, arguably, ORIGINATED the “Mary Sue” method of fan-fiction to compensate for the fact that she, herself, never amounted to ANYTHING!

  37. King Ploobis

    Mind you, I’m making such a judgment by the self-same standards presented by stated twat-rag. Tell me, honestly, what did she ever contribute for the sake of advancing society aside from poorly-written prose that would make your average fanficiton.net subscriber cringe but just happens to make losers feel good about themselves by offering them a convenient, intangible scapegoat upon which to shift the blame?

  38. gruaud

    I bet JY is reading Matt Taibbi avidly. I sure as hell am.

  39. venomsamurai

    Ploobis…I don’t even like Rand and don’t subscribe to her bullshit theories. I was just agreeing with your previous statement as that seems to be what these boneheads in the OWS seem to believe. I don’t have a single problem with the rich other than I want to join their ranks and by getting off my fat ass, I can accomplish that goal.

  40. JY

    First off, those of any persuasion who do not excercise common courtesy within their comments will receive a visit from Chuck and his favorite screwdriver, so keep the name-calling against fellow Blockheads to a minimum.

    Venom, I really don’t think you even know what the Occupy movement is about, although you are within your rights to make assumptions based on whatever man-on-the-street interviews you have seen Occupiers give. Obviously a movement in formation is going to consist of a lot of views, some more reasoned than others, and articulated by some who do not think well on their feet when they suddenly find themselves in front of a camera.

    This is to say that the Occupy movement is not one that is hostile to wealth or wealth creation or success or the good life. It is to point out that those who have achieved the most material gain are now, in many ways, a drag on the entire nation. The most visible sign of this is the One Percent’s rent seeking/regulatory capture agenda on display in Washington, the fruits of which have been the crisis of ’08 and the resulting depression.

  41. mudfoot

    I think entitlement is the correct word. The idea that there is a strata of individuals who are by their very nature are so special and irreplaceable that they can go “on strike” and not suffer for it (or be replaced possibly by someone even better) is as ludicrous when applied to owner as it is to labor. They (the current crop of plutarchs) know it, otherwise they wouldn’t be spending billions on bribery and chicanery to protect their entitlements.

    Studies show that all you need to guarantee resources accumulate in the hands of a few entities, be it money, game tokens, or bananas, is a limit on return of resources. In other words any system that allows accumulation wealth will result in scarcity for the majority and plenty for those individuals lucky enough to be initially able to garner sufficient resources to set themselves ahead of the pack. Perhaps ability has something to do with the initial success, but it has been shown time and time again to have very little effect after the initial stage.
    It’s basically random. Sorry to destroy the myth of the wealthy having some kind of special work ethic or super intelligence but it’s just not true. That’s not to say that they are stupid, you don’t very many stupid or foolish wealthy individuals. They have a tendency to hemorrhage wealth. But the idea that the wealthy are wealthy because they are somehow different or or smarter or “better” than your average joe is the most insipid elitist drivel since the idea of eugenics.
    Fortunately for everyone markets aren’t stable, and the rules of the system keep changing in the real world, so there are opportunities for new players to jump into the game and take advantage of new opportunities. Like the huge wealth accruing to the owners of tech firms in the past several decades. Eventually the market will adjust and there will be a period of stagnation, and then the rules will change again. And so on and so on. That’s why we have (ideally) a modicum of regulation, to smooth out the sea changes, to ensure some continuity to our society, and a higher quality of life for everyone.
    And that is exactly what the current crop of plutarchs is trying to prevent. They want to rig the wheel so that it stops turning. They want to use their wealth to try to change the rules of the game to stifle innovation that they cannot control or market, protect their vestments and status, and make accumulation and preservation of their wealth even easier and ultimately permanent. In effect they will have “won” the game.

    This is a really bad idea, not just because it’s unjust, and unethical. It’s because it’s impossible. You cannot stop market forces by waving a magic wand or passing legislation. Good legislation can shape the market to smooth out the waves but it can’t damn the river. Try it and eventually you will get a disruption that will make the current recession look like a speed bump. That’s as bad if not worse than no legislation.

    The function of government, when it comes to the market anyway, is to smooth out the ripples and ensure a gradual return of the resources, i.e. wealth to the majority, Wait you say, that’s socialism?! No that’s government dumbass. Look at any government structure more sophisticated than an autocratic tyrant and that’s what they all are designed to do. Even feudalism. Some do it better than others. Some spread the wealth into specific classes while ignoring others. But they all provide a social contract that basically amounts to: The unwashed, will let the washed benefit from wealth as long as they get a little bit of return on the action, and the tiny bit of hope that there is the miniscule chance that the unwashed can become the washed. Otherwise the unwashed will rise up and cut the throats of the washed and civilization will burn.

    You should never underestimate the innate human desire to set something on fire and watch it burn just for spite. It’s happened over and over in our history, and I’ll be damned if I can understand why everyone seems to conveniently forget that every single one of us only is a few missed meals and a bad day away from being a peasant cheering at the guillotine.

  42. King Ploobis

    Sorry, Jace. It just really terrifies me how vehemently some people cling to the teachings of a woman who would consider Clarissa’s father to be in the right. Don’t believe me? Do a Google search for Edward Hickman and Marion Parker.

    I’ll wait…

  43. Aristophanes

    I’m a bit late to the game, but here I go:

    @Gaesson: I am sorry to see you bow out of the discourse so soon, though I do greatly appreciate the perspective that you’ve offered. However, I do think that you touch on a particularly important topic in your final post and say no more upon the subject. That subject, of course, is that of Fortune.

    Fortune, at one time, referred to the Fate one was designated by the Gods — whose machinations were as occult and finicky as those of the federal government may seem to us plebes — and over time developed a secondary meaning: material wealth. When we say that one has “made a fortune,” we mean to say that they have, presumably through their own sweat and toil, produced some material gains by which they will rightfully benefit. This meaning, sadly, is widely divorced from the original intent: the favor granted by the divine, or, for the more skeptical among us: dumb luck, or the simple rules of chance. This is, I think, the premise behind social welfare programs: the idea that sometimes, people will try very, very hard (as @baughbe seems to have) but find themselves no further along the corporate ladder than they began. Is this because they are lazy? Is this because they did not attempt to innovate or progress? Sometimes, yes, yes it is. But other times, (and I hope you are listening closely, dear Randians) the laws of chance make folly the plans of men, and very earnest people are given far less value than they’ve earned.

    I make no plea for those who would game the system, nor those who would choose a life of idleness over a life of earnest work, but I do profoundly believe that there are many crucial moments in the making of a career, where luck, fortune, happenstance, or simple privilege play a pivotal role.

    Certainly, Gaeasson, your achievements are your own, as is the sweat of your brow; I wouldn’t dare to say you haven’t earned your rewards. But, I wonder, what might have happened if your first supervisor simply didn’t like you? Or you found that you were unable to make use of your skills due to some kind of disease? Or accident? Either upon you or those whom you love? My own chances of graduating from college were jepordized when my mother fell ill, and were it not for a twist of fate, my own good fortune, I wouldn’t have been able to graduate — and thus pay back my student loans. Was I any less disciplined than my fellow students? Did I work less than them? No. I worked harder, knowing that mommy and daddy weren’t footing the bill — knowing that I, alone, was responsible for paying back the outrageous debts I incurred educating myself. I was more disciplined in my studies and my finances, knowing that there was no safety net to fall back on if I didn’t achieve — and achieve greatly.

    I do not mean to say, that the successful are driven solely by fortune (in either sense), but I do mean to remind everyone, that while men may plan, and work, and sweat, it is so often the ploys of the gods and fate, that choose the great and the meager.

  44. OhNoMyEquity

    Venom: It’s easy for Tea Partiers to eschew violence when all they do is come out for a couple hours of colonial cosplay while waving some signs, without cops getting up in their grill.

    Ploobis: I still hold the theory that Plato was the inventor of the Mary Sue. Where is Socrates’ birth certificate, hmmm? ;D

  45. Malachi

    To ONME, Plato played on Different Strokes and later died after taking a drug, just like Socrates. And think, why do both sides(OWS and Tea Party) think the others are hedonistic, self-centered, opinionated, myopic and silly?

  46. The Cat

    The only way we can have the perfect liberal world people is if we go beyond a post scarcity society. Give things some time folks. We will either end up like JY’s world (BTW sir, fantastic comic! You saved me from the hum drum rut that I was getting into with anime, not to say its (anime) is bad, but…yeah, great work!) or Bank’s The Culture. Sorry, optimistic technocraticish hobby.

  47. Dimbulb

    For what it’s worth, I’ve long since given up on having a real intellectual discourse with objectivists quite some time ago. Now I essentially troll, and the seething impotent rage and intellectual insults are usually a lot more entertaining than the conversations I’ve had with them.

    Once upon a time, I had a lot of respect (even if I didn’t agree) with objectivists for the focus on personal value, skill and creativity. But those things are actually hard to do, so most of what I see now out of them is the a sense of entitlement and the worst infrastructural and cultural awareness I have ever seen.

    Yes, entitlement. They’re just changing the variables that qualify that entitlement, but it’s still entitlement any way you look at it. And it’s a pervasive, oily, unchecked entitlement that permeates and corrupts more than I’ve seen in any political movement. And I’ve been to an IWW meeting.

  48. james

    i think this is what the god emperor of dune was getting at re:liberals: http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/04/07/misrepresenting-the-left/

  49. james

    also i move that the weapon brown book club should discuss god emperor of dune next

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