November 25th, 2006

Rand on Money

Atlas Shrugged

As the sidebar indicates, one of the books I’m reading right now is Atlas Shrugged. It’s 1069 pages long and worth every minute of my time. Ayn Rand, the author, was one smart cookie. I’m only on page 400 or so right now, but the last few pages have been highly interesting. One of the characters, Francisco D’Anconia, just spent five pages talking about the nature and purpose of money, prompted when another person claimed that “money is the root of all evil”.

If you plan to never read the book, you can skip ahead and read the section about money at this page. But for those with an interest in literature, especially relating to all things political and societal, I highly recommend reading the book.

There were two sections of D’Anconia’s monologue that I found quite interesting:

Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims.

Sounds a lot like our current situation with fiat currency and the unconstitutional, privately owned central bank called the “Federal” Reserve.

Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion—when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing—when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors—when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you—when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice—you may know that your society is doomed.

Again, this quote is quite indicative of our current situation. Special interest lobbying groups, “consultants”, politicians and corporate big wigs change money around while actually producing nothing. Favors are promised, closed-door combinations created, contracts made—all making men “richer by graft and by pull than by work”. And the laws? Whom do they protect? Who takes advantage of the abundant loopholes? Is honesty a self-sacrifice in the corporate world? You bet it is.

According to Francisco, our society is doomed. I’m not sure that I disagree with him.

10 Responses to “Rand on Money”

  1. Kelly Winterton
    November 25, 2006 at 9:38 pm #

    Read the Book of Revelation chapter 18 in its entirety for the answer to your question.

  2. Connor
    November 25, 2006 at 9:58 pm #

    I wasn’t aware I asked a question. :) But yeah, that chapter (as well as several in modern scripture) are quite telling as to what awaits the world.. I hope to have a front row seat!

  3. Curtis
    November 25, 2006 at 11:39 pm #

    The Spartan society did quite well without money of any sort. Lycurgus essentially made it null when he made it too big for anyone to haul around! Now that’s my idea of a utopian society.
    Of couse, the classic book on wealth in the Church is Nibley’s, “Approaching Zion.” Highly recommended to all.

  4. Dan
    November 26, 2006 at 1:08 pm #

    One of the characters, Francisco D’Anconia, just spent five pages talking about the nature and purpose of money, prompted when another person claimed that “money is the root of all evil”.

    So the whole premise of this particular monologue is on an erroneous interpretation of scripture. It isn’t “money that is the root of all evil,” it is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil.

    Sounds a lot like our current situation with fiat currency and the unconstitutional, privately owned central bank called the “Federal” Reserve.

    Isn’t that a bit ironic seeing that Mr. Greenspan is an avowed Objectivist….

    I’ve got serious issues with Rand’s philosophies. There are many better books on raging against the machine, Connor.

  5. Connor
    November 26, 2006 at 1:24 pm #

    So the whole premise of this particular monologue is on an erroneous interpretation of scripture. It isn’t “money that is the root of all evil,” it is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil.

    I completely agree with you, and knew this fact before reading this section. It doesn’t change the effective points of the monologue, however, since Francisco talks about the principle and purpose of money. The other character who made this comment was wrong, as he points out.

    Isn’t that a bit ironic seeing that Mr. Greenspan is an avowed Objectivist….

    What does Greenspan’s own political persuasions have to do with it? It’s his actions that speak volumes. Even the wikipedia page discusses this fact:

    More recently however, he has been criticised by some Objectivists for his actions.

    … Some Objectivists find his support for a gold standard somewhat of an irony given the Federal Reserve’s role in America’s fiat money system and endogenous inflation.

    In 1966, Greenspan made the following comment about the gold standard:

    “In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holding illegal, as was done in the case of gold. . . . The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves. This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists’ tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth.”

    This tidbit was published in a newsletter called “The Objectivist” in 1966, and was reprinted in Ayn Rand’s Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

    Greenspan later changed his tune when tapped by the inner circles of the CFR-led shadow government to join the Fed’s ranks. As the editor of the Gilded Opinion points out:

    Can this be the same Alan Greenspan who today chairs the most important central bank of them all? Again, you might be surprised. R.W. Bradford writes in Liberty magazine that, as Fed chairman, “Greenspan (once) recommended to a Senate committee that all economic regulations should have fixed lifespans. Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) accused him of ‘playing with fire, or indeed throwing gasoline on the fire,’ and asked him whether he favored a similar provision in the Fed’s authorization. Greenspan coolly answered that he did. Do you actually mean, demanded the senator, that the Fed ‘should cease to function unless affirmatively continued?’ ‘That is correct, sir,’ Greenspan responded.”

    Bradford continues, “The Senator could scarcely believe his ears. ‘Now my next question is, is it your intention that the report of this hearing should be that Greenspan recommends a return to the gold standard?’ Greenspan responded, ‘I’ve been recommending that for years, there’s nothing new about that. It would probably mean there is only one vote in the Federal Open Market Committee for that, but it is mine.'”

    While Greenspan was once the objectivist laissez-faire capitalist we read of, such is no longer the case. So no, Dan, it’s not all that ironic.

  6. Jeff
    November 27, 2006 at 11:09 am #

    Just a question, Connor. How do you justify laissez-faire capitalism with LDS teachings like the United Order?

    Also, what do you think of Rand’s secularism and atheism, which is a huge part of her philosophy?

    Okay, that was two questions, and the second one was sort of off topic.

  7. Connor
    November 27, 2006 at 11:14 am #

    Just a question, Connor. How do you justify laissez-faire capitalism with LDS teachings like the United Order?

    We’re not under the United Order. When such a socio-economic institution is re-established, please believe me when I say that I will be one of the first to jump on board and support it fully.

    Since we do not have such a situation, laissez-faire capitalism is the best socio-economic policy that can be implemented when uninspired (and sometimes wicked, conspiring) men are at the helm. When God is in control and the people are righteous, the United Order will work. Until then, as Adam Smith taught (as reflected in the writings, policies, and declarations of our Founding Fathers), such a capitalistic endeavor will ultimately lead to the greater good for all of society.

    Also, what do you think of Rand’s secularism and atheism, which is a huge part of her philosophy?

    I’m not saying I agree with all of Rand’s philosophy at all. I have several issues with Objectivism. But when somebody is right on an issue, they’re right. And on this one, it’s my firm opinion that she is right. She may be wrong on several others (esp. when her secularism and atheism come into play), but that doesn’t diminish the accuracy and truthfulness of this point.

  8. Jeff
    November 28, 2006 at 1:40 am #

    The unregulated type of Capitalism that Rand desires seems so un-Mormon to me. It’s survival of the fittest with the lower echelon of society at the mercy of the super-rich. It’s far from the socialist roots of the Church, which is why I asked about the United Order.

    I don’t have a problem with Capitalism. I do think that it’s the best system out there. However, I believe that it needs some regulation. Ayn Rand and those who follow her philosophy are completely against such “atrocities” as minimum wage, workers unions, anti-monopoly laws, Social Security, labor laws, consumer protection laws, and the myriad of other protections put in place by our government to protect the little guy. If the type of Capitalism that Rand suggests were to be instituted, we would quickly become a fascist state, a government controlled by corporations (oh, wait, Bush did that for us).

    You want to talk about what happens when evil men run a socialist state? How about evil men who run corporations and are willing to trample the poor to make more money? It’s great to think that the wealth will “trickle down” and bless the lives of the lower class, but without regulation, it never will. The people at the top, with a few exceptions, are greedy. They won’t donate to charity unless they get a tax refund for it. They won’t help the elderly unless the government takes their social security out every month. They won’t give workers the rights they deserve unless they are forced to. And, they certainly won’t take care of the consumer once they have become so large that they don’t have to anymore.

    Look at Walmart. It is the product of laissez-faire Capitalism. It’s what happens when unions are dissolved and work is shipped overseas to countries with no labor laws. People work in sweat-shops for a quarter a day, so we can buy a shirt for $10. How is that right, Connor? How is that a promotion of Christian values that say we should take care of each other?

    It seems like such a contradiction to me, and it seems inevitable with the type of economics that you are promoting here.

  9. Connor
    November 28, 2006 at 8:37 am #

    The unregulated type of Capitalism that Rand desires seems so un-Mormon to me. It’s survival of the fittest with the lower echelon of society at the mercy of the super-rich. It’s far from the socialist roots of the Church, which is why I asked about the United Order.

    Ah, but you’re wrong! Consider Hank Rearden’s comment when put on trial for his crimes against the “public good”:

    I could say to you that I have done more good for my fellow men than you can ever hope to accomplish…

    Indeed, by seeking for his own gain and profit, he created a business whereby he was able to provide for and hire countless others, that they might profit as well. Self-serving capitalism ultimately leads to the “greater good”, as Adam Smith said:

    …every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

    Also, you are incorrect to say that the Church has socialist roots. Consecration is not to be compared with socialism. The Church’s form of altruistic giving is voluntary. Socialism is enforced by the government (or others) and encouraged by the society that seeks to be your looters. Granted, there is much room in laissez-faire capitalism for one to give, but it must be of their own free will and choice. Anything but is simply thievery.

    If the type of Capitalism that Rand suggests were to be instituted, we would quickly become a fascist state, a government controlled by corporations (oh, wait, Bush did that for us).

    Bush didn’t do that for us, it’s been happening for quite some time. But capitalism in its purest form in no way necessitates the corporations influencing the government – that is the doing of wicked men. Capitalism doesn’t lead to fascism, socialism does! Anytime the government steps in to enforce something upon its citizens, and take what they own to give to another, that is what leads to fascism. Consider the following words of Elder Henry D. Moyle:

    The difficulty with all governments, and one to which our own has fallen heir, is that the majority, by virtue of its right to place limitations on man’s free agency, has undertaken to infringe upon the rights reserved to the individual, for the direct and immediate benefit of law and order. For example: the Constitution expressly prohibits taking of personal property for public purposes without just compensation. Under the guise of taxation, the Constitution is violated and property is taken from one and given to another.

    You want to talk about what happens when evil men run a socialist state? How about evil men who run corporations and are willing to trample the poor to make more money?

    This has nothing to do with capitalism, it has everything to do with wicked men that corrupt any system they’re placed in.

    It’s great to think that the wealth will “trickle down” and bless the lives of the lower class, but without regulation, it never will. The people at the top, with a few exceptions, are greedy. They won’t donate to charity unless they get a tax refund for it.

    So you think that the government forcing them to push wealth down is best? You think that Uncle Sam should mandate giving to charity? Sorry, but the government in no way exists to regulate private property. Such things are an inalienable right that merit no involvement by the government. Sure, people are greedy. What else is new? Who are we to force them to share? Why not do as Alma did and renounce judiciary law measures to teach correct principles, causing them to want to voluntarily give? Force is not the key, and that’s all the government would be able to do.

    happens when unions are dissolved and work is shipped overseas to countries with no labor laws. People work in sweat-shops for a quarter a day, so we can buy a shirt for $10. How is that right, Connor?

    That’s a bad decision by executives of Wal-Mart to hire people under such conditions. Sure, such a poor decision might be reflective of the drive under capitalism to decrease costs and increase profits, but again, it’s simply a very poor decision (one I disagree with wholly) by Wal-Mart execs to do so. I don’t think that means Capitalism is bad or ineffective. It simply reflects poorly upon the individual person who made such a decision. That’s like saying that a horny teenage male who had sex out of wedlock is a “product” of Mormonism which teaches chastity outside of marriage. No – he’s responsible for his own choices and his sins cannot be laid at the door of the religion (or economic theory) he professes to follow.

  10. jeff
    November 28, 2006 at 10:27 pm #

    Indeed, by seeking for his own gain and profit, he created a business whereby he was able to provide for and hire countless others, that they might profit as well. Self-serving capitalism ultimately leads to the “greater good”

    It leads to the “greater good” of some, especially those at the top. I agree that entrepreneurship is a wonderful thing, and it is one of the founding principles of our nation. However, left unfettered, the greed of the wealthy will generally outweigh the “good” that they do for society. Not all rich people follow the example of people like the Huntsmans, unfortunately.

    Also, you are incorrect to say that the Church has socialist roots. Consecration is not to be compared with socialism. The Church’s form of altruistic giving is voluntary. Socialism is enforced by the government

    Isn’t the United Order going to be part of a “government” led by Christ? You can call it “voluntary” if you like, but to those who want to keep our membership in the Kingdom, the law of consecration will be far from “voluntary.” True, it won’t be enforced by penalty of imprisonment, but it will be enforced. It is a higher law that will only work by the will of the people, but to say that it isn’t socialism is a stretch. It is much like the idealistic view of socialism portrayed by Marx. The difference is the will of the people, not the system itself.

    Under the guise of taxation, the Constitution is violated and property is taken from one and given to another.

    Please give Constitutional backing to this statement since the right to collect taxes by the federal government has been upheld ad nauseum by the courts.

    Bush didn’t do that for us, it’s been happening for quite some time.

    Bush allowed oil companies to write energy policy, pharmaceuticals to write health care policy, and businessmen to write his ill-conceived education policy. That’s corporate controlled government, ie. Fascism. Also, please justify your claim that socialism leads to fascism. Since the two are completely opposite theories, I find that really hard to swallow.

    it has everything to do with wicked men that corrupt any system they’re placed in.

    Maybe…however, since there are evil men everywhere who will abuse the system, the system has to have regulations in place to counteract evil.

    the government in no way exists to regulate private property.

    hmm…It does have the responsibility of “providing for the common defense” and “promoting the general welfare” both of which require funds that have to be collected, presumably by taxes, which, I assume, come from people’s private property. Furthermore, there is ample evidence that unions, higher minimum wage, and increased protections for workers increase production and boost the economy by putting more money in consumers’ hands. All of that, of course, promotes the general welfare of all, not just the super-rich.

    That’s a bad decision by executives of Wal-Mart to hire people under such conditions.

    And a bad decision by every other large corporation that does it, of which there are many. However, saying that this type of exploitation is not a bi-product of libertarian capitalism is just silly. If there were regulations against it, companies couldn’t make those type of decisions, and since there aren’t, companies do it to increase profit margins, the grand goal of people like Henry Reardon that you idolize so much. Your example of the horny Mormon boy is ridiculous and completely non sequitor.

    The truth is that far right economic policies, preached by Ayn Rand et. al., are just as damaging as far left policies like Marxism. A true economic system that will benefit all of society in a fair way is somewhere in the middle, which is what we have.

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