"How liberals can enjoy reading 'Atlas Shrugged'"

Posted by jmlesniewski 8 years, 4 months ago to Books
25 comments | Share | Flag

Completely disintegratedly apparently. (Yes, I did just make up an adverb for the sake of suffix symmetry.)
SOURCE URL: http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2012/11/how_liberals_can_enjoy_reading.html


Add Comment

FORMATTING HELP

All Comments Hide marked as read Mark all as read

  • Posted by $ ObjectiveAnalyst 8 years, 4 months ago
    I see… If you are a liberal just ignore those truths you can’t accept. Just enjoy the book for its “bodice ripping” sexual content, fictional gadgets and action. All the things any mind numb adolescent would enjoy. Never mind any thought provoking truisms or lessons. Nothing to see here folks... Move along.

    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by Nietzsche 8 years, 4 months ago
    I think many of the anti-Rand crowd confuse those who can build and run the companies with the wealthy looters who simply own or take advantage of them. In a way, Wolf makes a case for Rand when he correctly observes, "wealth producers changed from manufactures to money manipulators". There are definitely more money manipulators on Wall Street than there are producers. The Wall Street executive suite is dominated by accountants and lawyers in the business of trading ownership of equity and creating nothing. Consider the dot-com millionaires. There are some who actually created and continue to create useful products, but most of them made most of their money, not by producing anything, but rather by going public and selling shares to a frenzied auction of looters whose sole objective was to re-sell the shares to other looters at a higher price. Among these looters were the Mutual Funds holding the nation's 401Ks. There are a lot of takers who do not even realize that they are takers. The original idea of Wall Street was to offer a secondary source of financing for entrepreneurs. It was a place for the wealthy, who could afford to perform comprehensive due diligence and to take risks, to finance new businesses without a track record and who could not get financing through traditional means. Their return was equity in the company. If the company did well, the risk paid off. If not, they lost their investment, but they were able to afford the loss. When the unsophisticated general public "investors" start risking their life savings for high returns you have a potential for what just happened in our economy. For a while, during the boom, they rode the market up and patted themselves on the back for their savvy investing and "earnings" in the market. When the bubble burst, their equity crumbled and they wailed, gnashed their teeth and in sack cloth and ashes, tried to blame it on anyone except themselves. The greedy capitalists did not do them in. They did it it to their selves. Perhaps the greatest theme I see in Atlas Shrugged is the consequence of taking or not taking responsibility for your own actions.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by khalling 8 years, 4 months ago
      There is just so much I disagree with you in your post. Ellsworth Toohey couldn't have said your comment better.
      1. "dot-com" millionaires: "most made money by not producing"-where are your stats to back that up? Whenever you have a huge disruptive technology like the internet hit across all markets, you will have lots of players. Lots of companies will start in that space and go public. Many will fail-but that doesn't mean they didn't contribute or produce. The fastest way to get to an optimized place is to have multiple different solutions in the marketplace to see who flushes out. Slime balls were the exception, failures will happen-and you're complaining about people trying to start businesses and ignoring the SEC, the FCC and cronies? The stock market crash of 2000 was caused by many factors. Over excitement, but also because the FED purposely engineered a deflating of the stock market-raised interest rates while the price of Gold was falling. Turned a normal correction into a big problem, which caused Congress to pass Sarbanes Oxley, which has done more damage than of the hucksters on Wall Street combined. Just TRY to go public today in the U.S. Congress also changed the accounting rules which makes it harder for tech start ups to merge, and also made the value of stock options less. By definition, a company "going public" is a high risk venture.
      2. "frenzied auction of looters re-selling shares": In order to call someone a looter, they would have to have committed fraud, there were not huge numbers of fraud cases out of the dot.com boom. It was GOOD for the country. Everyone else were in a fair market trade and both sides were not compelled to buy or sell. They may have made wrong decisions, but that's not looting.
      3. The original idea for W.S. was to buy and sell companies, create bond markets. It only became a rigged game for the wealthy when the SEC of the 30s started making arbitrary rules that only wealthy people can invest in certain things. In fact, regulations have reduced the # of people who could issue shares, and every time there is a new reg, it shrinks the number of investment banks and all it has done is created monopolies, eg too big to fail. that was not the free market working.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by Nietzsche 8 years, 4 months ago
        Actually there were very few new technologies added in the 90s, just some new applications of existing technologies and I am not complaining, I am trying to explain the inappropriate anti-Randian sentiment equating the money manipulators with producers. You are conflating things I did not say with other things I did.

        First of all, the money manipulators I am speaking of did not create wealth, they simply transferred it to themselves. I am not indicting all traders and brokers nor am I condemning investing. I am saying however, that not a few of them are unscrupulous SOBs preying upon the unwary and creating nothing. I am saying the system is stacked in favor of the largest Wall Street firms and that government regulations and interference are largely responsible. Using the law as a cudgel, the legal team backed by the deepest pockets will almost always win.

        I am not saying that investors who lost their shirt are poor innocent victims, I am actually saying they were stupid to expose themselves the way they did. They let greed get the best of them. However, all things being equal, caveat emptor is a great maxim, but when things are not equal, it loses its usefulness. The average US citizen can barely handle eighth grade English, but prospectuses, mortgage agreements and even credit card agreements are written in complex fine print legalese with which even a college graduate would have difficulty. Government regulators have mandated this legalese to protect the consumer.

        I will agree that some wealth was created in the 90s, but much of it was illusory. Wealth is context dependent and if money is your unit of measurement, then you are faced with a moving target. Precious metals, art and the like are more predictable, but difficult to use as an immediate medium of exchange.

        If wealth is abundance, with all the stuff we have in this consumer society, everybody could be considered wealthy, so maybe this is all a moot point.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by khalling 8 years, 4 months ago
          I am glad we agree actually on some points. I don't really want to respond to the stuff at the end of your post, others can. Here is where I still disagree with you strongly.
          1. The 90s EXPLODED technology. That's the whole point about disruptive-it changes all industries. By the end of that decade, manufacturing and productivity were significantly increased over the prior two decades. The median household income increased by 10K (yr89-99). From the late 80s to end of the 90s everyone went from writing letters to communicating by email. Unemployment was 4%-hadn't been there since the 60s. IPOs exploded investment in research. And you call this illusory and greedy. In this last decade, family incomes have decreased more than 4k, me too products-I will agree that an iphone does not represent disruptive technology. Surveys of innovation and competitiveness rankings had the US ranked in the top two in the 90s. This decade we are out of the top 10. Consider reading Jack Kemp's piece on Sarbanes Oxley. He wrote it when it was passed and he accurately predicted its results on the economy as a whole. If you want to discuss why the 2008 crash happened, I can go there with you, but it was not due to complicated legal transactions (although I agree liability issues are completely out of hand in the US).
          Finally, I keep putting this to you and you haven't really responded. Why pick on a small number of private enterprises that were wrong and completely disregard the impact government policies have had on wealth creation in this decade. The impact is much bigger.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by Nietzsche 8 years, 4 months ago
            Last point first. I am addressing the system not smaller businesses. (I own a small business. I love small business.) I am in fact condemning government meddling. Planning economies is like planning climate - can't be done.

            When the wall between investment banks and savings banks came down, the result was very predictable except to most of the meddling politicians. The infusion of capital available to the non-FDIC side of the business made the explosion of the derivatives market possible. I maintain, more than any other factor, it was the growth and leverage afforded by the derivatives market which fueled the housing bubble and its subsequent collapse. Through derivatives you can create product out of thin air!

            I was in middle management at one of the country's largest financial institutions at the time and there was absolute euphoria in the executive suite. We were awash in capital.

            With regards to the explosion of tech. The dot-coms were actually a small player in the boom, they were a side show. Automation, not the net, was the game changer for productivity in the 90s. From ATMs to industrial robots, replacing people with machines does wonders for the bottom line. Moving manufacturing to less restrictive nations also improves productivity by reducing costs for labor, safety and pollution mandates here in the USA. Off-shore manufacturing grew exponentially through the 90's.

            I've seen the labor stats and I am convinced that the explosion of the government workforce got us down to 4%. But like today, employment numbers say whatever the politicians want them to say. Count the things you like - don't count the things you don't.

            About 1/3 of American households had a computer by 2000, the percentage approached 50% for college grads and Asians, but the internet was still more of a promise than a reality and people were still trying to figure out how to monetize it. It was largely speculation on the monetizing of the internet that fueled the stock bubble. Only about 26% of the population even had access to the internet by 1998. So at the end of the decade, roughly 3/4 of the nation were still writing letters and, of course, faxing.

            Ironically it is in the last 10 years, as we have slid into recession, that the internet has come into its own, obviating letter writing and faxes. 77% of US holds are now estimated to have a broadband connection.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by Nietzsche 8 years, 4 months ago
        To have my comments equated with a Yellow Journalist and socialist were a bit startling, but as noted in another comment, labels are loose and can be applied in several ways and perhaps I should have used another word.

        I was using "looting" to describe the taking of something not earned through merit or production, but rather by merely taking advantage of a situation at the expense of others. I would submit that looting can but does not have to involve fraud. "Looting" assets of a company after a take over, patents for example, is perfectly legal.

        I was using the dot-com bubble as an example of what happens when "money manipulators" replace producers. I witnessed first hand dozens of public offerings and private placements of the biggest names in technology as well as smaller companies and firms who have now disappeared into the dustbin of obscurity. I am referencing the "gold rush" mentality that swept the country during that time and how that allowed certain opportunists to take advantage of the public frenzy.

        I'm not going to argue what caused the bubble, that is still being debated, but it could not have happened without a mass desire to get something for nothing. Investors became gamblers in areas they knew nothing about and abandoned the strategy of buying and holding companies they knew or had experience with. They bought on margin and actually found a way to place more than all their eggs in one basket. The bubble stalled with the US vs. MSFT suit and over the next 12 months as firms burnt through their IPO cash with little to no results, a rout began which became a panic. Even sound companies were sold off.

        Billions of dollars of capital "invested" by over exuberant experts (especially technical traders) and amateurs alike evaporated - or did it? Actually the venture capitalists I am aware of did just fine. In fact they made a fortune. Hedge funds made a killing. The brokers and middle men also did just fine. They get paid when you buy and when you sell, regardless of whether you make or lose money on the transaction. Fee based fund managers did fine and the investment banks did just fine. All of this perfectly legal.

        You do not have to commit fraud, if you are good at spinning facts or diverting attention. Just witness any politician at work. Many confidence schemes are legal and in any con, the victim is a willing participant, it is a voluntary exchange. Is this looting? Perhaps not, but the money did not evaporate, it just changed hands.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by khalling 8 years, 4 months ago
          You are complaining about people who entered transaction freely. Why aren't you complaining about SS? Medicare? Solyndra? The wealth created in the 90s was real. next decade-no net increase in wealth. You ignore the govt part but focus on " over exuberant experts." Overall, there was real wealth and new technologies created during this period. Just because a company did not continue on following that crash, does not mean real wealth was not created.
          In your last paragraph, it sounds as though you agree with progressives-those innocent people signed up for mortgages they couldn't repay, ARMs mean your payment goes UP. Will your salary increase likewise? Investing in the stock market is risky. buyer beware.
          Money is not wealth, so what is the point of your last statement?
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  

FORMATTING HELP

  • Comment hidden. Undo