November 25, 2012

In Lieu of Review Corner

Waiting for my pal JC before I publish my review of "The Dynamics of Change" by Don Fabun. Next week I hope to do a second-time-through on Atlas Shrugged. But today? I got nuthin'. Ergo, bonus Atlas QOTDs.

My sagacious interlocutor of last weekend expresses discomfort with material success as a measure. Less sagacious friends on Facebook are at paties-in-a-wad-defcon-3 because of the rampant consumerism of Black Friday. But I want my nieces and nephews to have the wealth and innovation of 2012 and not 1970. Those who think it's okay to steal 1% of GDP growth a year to feather our nests fail to realize that it will probably be two. And a 2% cut in growth means that my kin will be half as wealthy in 35 years. That is generational theft.

Just material wealth? Dagny sees the power source in Atlantis:

She thought of this structure, half the size of a boxcar, replacing the power plants of the country, the enormous conglomerations of steel, fuel and effort-- she thought of the current flowing from this structure, lifting ounces, pounds, tons of strain from the shoulders of those who would make it or use it, adding hours, days and years of liberated time to their lives, be it an extra moment to lift one's head from one's task and glance at the sunlight, or an extra pack of cigarettes bought with the money saved from one's electric bill, or an hour cut from the work-day of every factory using power, or a month's journey through the whole, open width of the world, on a ticket paid for by one day of one's labor, on a train pulled by the power of this motor-- with all the energy of that weight, that strain, that time replaced and paid for by the energy of a single mind who had known how to make connections of wire follow the connections of his thought.

And the townspeople:
"Alone?" " Used to. But we've grown so much in the past year that I've had to hire three men to help me." "What men? From where?" "Well, one of them is a professor of economics who couldn't get a job outside, because he taught that you can't consume more than you have produced-- one is a professor of history who couldn't get a job because he taught that the inhabitants of slums were not the men who made this country-- and one is a professor of psychology who couldn't get a job because he taught that men are capable of thinking."

"They work for you as plumbers and linesmen?" "You'd be surprised how good they are at it."

'Atlas Shrugged' QOTD Posted by John Kranz at November 25, 2012 10:57 AM

Celebrated a belated Thanksgiving holiday yesterday at my in-laws new place even further into the rural Colorado plains than is my Atlantis. Spent over an hour disassembling, diagnosing and repairing a fifteen dollar toilet tank fill valve. Never regretted a moment of it because, perhaps mostly of many reasons, I was determined to figure out why it had stopped working and whether my diagnosis based on observed symptoms was correct. It was.

This explains the "You'd be surprised how good they are at it" quote. As for material success, theft of individual production, comparative prosperity, a few excerpts from the post-meal conversation with, I'll just say, a prospective family member.

He: "I don't agree with the point of view that someone's money is more important than someone's actual life. If 5 people need help to prevent their death and 5 other people have the means to help them, are you okay with not all of those five helping and some of the other five dying?"

Me: "Yes. Are you okay with government forcing those five to help or else go to jail?"

He: No answer.

More to the point of the original post, I also explained this cause for the oft lamented "growing gap between rich and poor" and asked if he'd rather be a king in the middle ages than a middle class citizen today?

Answer: "The king, because he was so much better off than other people of his era."

So despite his knowing that everyone is objectively happier and more prosperous today, he still would choose to live a shorter and more brutish life because it was better than all of the king's contemporaries.

This kind of irrationality is breathtaking. I'm still pondering what sense of life would permit such a selfish yet anti-self preference.

Posted by: johngalt at November 25, 2012 3:20 PM

I see many interesting Thanksgivings ahead...

I'll commiserate/share: a niece who is majoring in business posts on FB:

I can't decide what is worse. Negative political ad campaigns or Black Friday commercials that endorse camping out for sales and greed when there are people affected by sandy still without power living in tents and makeshift homes.

Posted by: jk at November 26, 2012 9:21 AM

Wait- Do the people camping out for Black Friday have power in their tents? Make them share!

Posted by: johngalt at November 26, 2012 11:57 AM | What do you think? [3]