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Has Objectivism been bad for Capitalism and Democracy?

Ayn Rand's Objectivism has been in the forefront of what became economic philosophy for the U.S. for the last three decades. The current economic travails of the U.S. and the Eurozone are directly related to neo-liberal economics, which comes from a rigid laisse-faire approach to markets. However, the charge is that government intervention society and economics has been what caused this crash.

For example: America's dreadful healthcare system is both the best in the world and the worst in part due to the profit motive; and it is in the form that it is as a response to Roosevelt's very socialist approach to wage controls following WWII. So has objectivism been bad for us or do we need more of it?

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    Dec 2 2011: Here's my take on "anything" being bad or good. Objectivism included (even though I know little about it.)

    When we assume we can substitute "a system" for conscious, responsible action, we are setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment.

    And to blame our failings on any one system is a rationalization and "scapegoatism." And it invites antagonism. For example if we say, "Objectivism has been bad for Capitalism and Democracy" we alienate anyone who believes in Objectivism. And the "Objectivists" could, justifiably, say it wasn't "us" that screwed up, it was all of you non-Objectivists that got in the way of an otherwise sure thing.

    We love labels. They make it easy for us to think we are thinking.

    Communism. That's bad.
    Communism. That's good.

    Capitalism. That's bad.
    Capitalism. That's good.


    Like we actually know what communism is, or capitalism, or anarcho-capitalism, or any "ism." We don't know because none of them actually exist and none of them will ever exist. They cannot. I think that should be obvious by now. But I don't think it is.

    How about this: We accept we don't actually know what will work (because we don't) and we start by defining what "works" means.

    Then we figure out how to do what works by trial and error.

    That's pretty much what we are doing now ... at least the trial and error part. I don't think we are clear on the concept of what "works."

    That might be a good thing to agree on.

    For me "works" would include stuff like: No one goes to sleep hungry (unless they want to); good healthcare; good education; ecological responsibility; sustainability; and so on.

    The Chinese describe what they are doing as "crossing the river by feeling the stones." It seems to be working for them. China has come a long way in 30 years.

    Now, for those of us who don't like to think, we might hear "China" and go through a series of steps something like this:

    China -> communist -> communist -> bad.

    And we'd miss some very powerful lessons.
    • Dec 2 2011: Thomas
      I agree with you to a point. It is easy to blame systems and not accept personal responsibility, but all of us are tied into systems. Some systems (I think like Objectivism of Rand) are poorer than others. Just as personal choice can change individual circumstances, personal choice can change whole systems. The problem I see here is that with the competing systems we have right now, there is no good alternative for as you say "what works." I think that is what we are searching for here. I think your what works list is a pretty good place to start. We build systems from world view and the challenge here is to understand where our current model of reality might take us and how that might help "what works."
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        Dec 2 2011: Hi Michael,

        Yes, I agree with me to a point too. 2000 characters requires ideas to be somewhat truncated.

        Systems do have a powerful impact on our behaviour, they enable us, they constrain us, they clarify, they distort, they direct, and they deflect. And our systems are extremely, extremely complex and in a constant state of flux. That is, "The System" that exists now, quite literally, did not exist even one second ago. Things have changed.

        Somewhere "an objectivist" just died. Somewhere else a socialist just assumed the mantle of power. And so on.

        If we relate to the system through the filter of some ideology we will never be able to "see" what is there. And if we cannot see, we cannot know in what direction we might turn to our best advantage.

        Seeing "systems" (and by that I mean ideologies) blinds us. Seeing people clarifies our vision.

        I have never met "a communist" or "a capitalist" I have only met people.

        This is why I say, if we could agree ... IF ... WE ... could ... AGREE ... if we could agree on the outcome we seek (a tall order!) we might then be able to move in that direction through a process of trial and error. We could measure our "success" by how close, or how far, we were from achieving our desired outcome.

        However, if we assume communism, anarcho-capitalism, or objectivism will lead to "the greater good" we will simply attribute any failure to our inability to be "perfect" communists, capitalists, or objectivists. (And it will always be "someone else's" fault.)
        • Dec 2 2011: Thomas
          You did have a good "truncated" answer. There are systems of thought, both worldviews and their resulting mental models of reality that do actually in fact exist. They can be studied, outlined and described. While I have never met a system either have met and do meet people who hold to and construct their reality around those systems. I understand what you want to say about "labeling" people and that is not what I am speaking of. I am not naive enough to think that just because someone lives in China that they are "evil communists." Hopefully that sort of thing has no place.

          While your idea of system may have some merit, they are not nearly as transitory as you describe them. Here is the problem: People who construct their reality using these systems effect the world around them. Obviously some do more than others. The "objectivist" system and mental model has in fact distorted much of US thought anyway. The selfish individual and corporation have damaged our economic system.

          Now, we can agree at least some of us anyway that your outline is a good one. Sufficient food, access to clean water, adequate shelter for the region, access to health care are some of the most basic. As individuals we can influence how others see their world, influence some of their views and perhaps begin working on those things "that work." One way to do that is to differentiate and discuss some of these larger systems, look at their models of reality and decide "does that get us closer" to what we want. Yes, we want to speak about individuals but we also need to speak about the models of reality those people hold.
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          Dec 3 2011: Hi Thomas,

          We have a TV commercial from a bank that goes as you state in your comment: "they enable us, they constrain us, they clarify, they distort, they direct, and they deflect", as you replace "they" with money that is and then it goes on until it says: "It depends on what you are doing with it together.

          So the "system" maybe lays in the hands of those that work with money: bankers, speculators, stockholder, security agents, brokers, estate agents, you name it, the whole lot.

          Governments are interwoven with that system by loans and is trying to support the peoples interests which doesn’t work anymore. Look at Greece and the rest of Europe, it’s a burlesque.
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        Dec 2 2011: Hi Michael,

        Yes I agree, it is useful to understand "systems of thought," "worldviews" and "mental models."

        I also agree, they are not as transitory as my answer may have implied: some last millennia, some a generation or two, some die in infancy.

        What I didn't make clear was, I was referring to "The System." That which actually exits. It constantly changes. The changes can be subtle (civility) or they can be extreme (civil war.)

        For example, Hu Jintao will soon be stepping down as Chairman of China. What will happen when the next Chairman (probably Xi Jinping) takes over? Another Mao? Another Deng?

        Steve Jobs died. That changed "The System." I teach "soft skills" in China, that changes The System.

        We need to operate within The System and to do that, a working knowledge of systems is useful (but not essential.)

        However, if we want to change, understanding how we think is critically important.*

        Why do we create systems in the first place?

        Why, once we have created one, do we attach ourselves to them so strongly and defend them so aggressively (think "Capitalists," "Socialists," "Christians," Militant Atheists," "Vegans?")

        If we argue "systems," we will NEVER agree (based on past observations.)

        [For a demonstration observe what will happen in this thread ... we will discuss systems ... and we will not reach agreement.]

        If we focus on "outcomes," we cannot argue whether we have met them or not (if they are clearly defined. "Freedom" and "free market" are not clearly defined outcomes.)

        It starts with us and how we think.

        As Gandhi said, "Be the change that you want to see in the world."


        To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right. – Kong Zi


        * We don't REALLY think as much as we think we do. We notice patterns. A system is a pattern.
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          Dec 3 2011: Hi Thomas,

          Kong Zi is right of course. To wait until this is a common understanding is a long stay.
          The methodology you propose is practiced by two of our parties for many years. One for 45 years and the other one at least 30 years with an emphasis on environment.
          They attract 15 to 20 percent of the voters as for all other people this is much too complicated.
          Most votes today go to a party that isn’t really a party at all but one man that say out loud and clear all stupid phrases that people tell each other as they complain about politics.
          They blame immigrants for their misfortunes, or something else that’s easy to point at.

          Maybe the system of democracy isn’t the way to get where you want to go.
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        Dec 3 2011: Hi Frans,

        Yes money is a huge part of The System. It's interesting that money itself is "symbolic."

        Symbols are easy to manipulate.
    • Dec 2 2011: Thomas, Thank you. I think you said something very important here.
      "Like we actually know what communism is, or capitalism, or anarcho-capitalism, or any "ism." We don't know because none of them actually exist and none of them will ever exist. They cannot. I think that should be obvious by now. But I don't think it is."
      No one of the theoretical frameworks of political systems or economics have ever been implemented fully. It is not possible and I think there are many reasons why. But, people need to understand the world view that creates these philosophies and how they interact with one another. We need a new "ism". But, Randian thinking still heavily dominates the thinking of those in power regardless of party affiliation. A "free market" in which people believed they were obligated morally to do what was best for the corporation or even the community would work if there weren't so many who were focused on doing what was right for themselves right then regardless of the consequences to the corporation as a whole. Rand thought that Altruism as taught by the churches was immoral. I think that a society lacking in altruism is suicidal.
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        Dec 3 2011: Hi Sharon,

        While it is interesting to discuss the ins and outs of different schools of thought, I think we make a mistake when we blame our behaviour on any of them.

        We tend to learn how to operate within any given system (de Bono calls it "ludecy.") Some learn better than others and, quite naturally, exploit that advantage.

        It does not matter what system we employ, some will understand it and use it better than anyone else.

        So it's not REALLY Objectivism, or Communism, or Capitalism, or Statism that is the problem.

        For me, it is NEVER about the system. It is ALWAYS about the people (you and me.)


        "As the saying goes, the best way to ride a horse is in the direction that the horse is going. Only by first aligning to the direction the horse is going is it possible to then slowly and deliberately steer it where you’d like it to go. Simply trying to pull the horse immediately in the desired direction will just wear you out – and you’ll probably just upset the horse in the process."

        - From “Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive” by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, and Robert B. Cialdini.
        • Dec 3 2011: I agree with you that it is not about the system. Largely because what system exists is always turned by the people within the system. However, I do think it is vital to understand the schools of thought that defines the world view of the people. I think Rand, and Nash were both very influential in shaping the world view of people in a manner which changed capitalism as a system into something less functional. You cannot change the movement of an entire society if a significant majority of the people are still heavily influenced by this form of thinking. To use your example you cannot change the direction of the horse if the horse is convinced you are trying to drive it off a cliff. The US is currently involved in a "hearts and minds" battle in my mind. Each side is fighting vehemently for "freedom". But they define freedom differently without being able to see that neither freedom is possible without the other....

          The very term "free market" is not easily quantified. For it to function properly it still must have the constraints of property and contract law. So, it is free by it having its freedom curtailed. If you want a fully free market you can look to Somalia. Free market advocates will argue this point forgetting that they themselves count on the rule of law to make the markets function properly. Over the last 30 years more and more people have violated the law and the "system" has not been used to rein in that behavior. As a result, formerly free market advocates like Greenspan have found themselves behaving in ways that are very contrary to free market principles. What I am seeking is the point where the framework failed. And I wonder if it was the influence of Rand or Nash that moved it in that direction.
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        Dec 3 2011: Hi Sharon,

        Acknowledging you likely know more about the American experience than I do (I'm a Canadian living in China - although I have lived in America for three years) I agree with you.

        It is for the reasons you state, that I think focussing on outcomes is effective. We can never live up to "ideals" and, when we try to, we can always say we have not met "these outcomes" BECAUSE we have not measured up to "these ideals." Fine. When will we live up "these ideals?" Well, we say, "We're doing OUR best so it has to be someone else's fault ... let's find them. Ah ... it must be the ____ [fill in the blank.]"

        Objectivism has obviously had an effect on American and world policy if only because Greenspan was affected by it (and we know it's effects were not limited to Greenspan.)

        Our systems are based on "symbols" (not the least of which is money) - symbol's meanings can be changed - both arbitrarily or naturally. And our "relationship" to symbols can also be changed arbitrarily.


        Because the meaning of a symbol is based on agreement ("red" means stop, "green" means go. Why?) Agreements are not always as meaningful to all stakeholders who enter into them.

        Now we have (at least) two variables - what does the symbol means and what does the agreement mean.

        In my opinion, the best thing we can do is find out what the other party thinks they mean and then choose to align ourself with their meaning or not.

        I find we all want the same outcomes, more or less, so I usually find a way I can "plug in" to any system. When I'm operating within a system, I do whatever I can to achieve the desired outcome and improve "The System" in the process (if I can ... and I'm not sure I can.)


        If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. This principle is key to effective interpersonal communication. – Stephen R. Covey
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        Dec 4 2011: QUOTE: "Free market advocates will argue this point [that "free markets" ... must have the constraints of property and contract law] forgetting that they themselves count on the rule of law to make the markets function properly."

        Yes, exactly.

        Whenever we are dealing with symbols and agreements, regulation will be required.

        "Natural" systems do not require external regulation, they are self-regulating. When we "add" things to a "natural" system, we also need to add a means of regulating the addition - nature will not accommodate it. (Think the Dutch landing on Mauritius and the extinction of the dodo.)

        What are some "symbols and agreements" that we have added to a "natural" system? There are two BIG ones: ownership and money (a symbolic medium of exchange.) These will require regulation.

        As Charles Wheelan puts it, "Anyone who tells you that markets left to their own devices will always lead to socially beneficial outcomes is talking utter nonsense. Markets alone fail to make us better off when there is a large gap between the private cost of some activity and the social cost."

        [I put the word natural in quotation marks not because I see humans and what we do as "unnatural" it's just that we add a degree of complexity to our otherwise "natural" environment.]
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    Nov 30 2011: first observation: i have no idea why you americans praise rand, and don't even know about the real scholars who formulated economic, social and philosophical theories that rand herself used. if you read mises or rothbard, you will have a very detailed, well sourced description of what and how states do, and how they distort and choke the free market. you would also be able to understand the difference between the monetary school, the neo-keynesian school and the austrian school of economics.

    the united states does not have a laissez faire economy. not even close. money is not free. banking is not free. defense is not free. justice system is not free. education is not free. there are literally millions of regulations to follow. no man on the earth would be able to list all the direct interventions to the market, prices, quality and procedures.

    not only that. but the acceptance of such ideas, let them be of rand or of mises or rothbard, is very low. just look at the figures. ron paul is the most known libertarian on the planet. he can make like 15-20% votes at best, 3rd or 4th place in his own party, not even enough for a nomination, let alone winning. other libertarian candidates, the few that exist, can't even get near the senate or the congress. as a sample, look around on these forums. how many libertarians you can find? how many minarchists? and how many people that call for more regulations and stronger state? how many socialists? the numbers speak for themselves.

    i have no idea why are you trying to pose as a minority. you are the majority. you reject unregulated markets, just as almost everyone else does, bush, obama, perry, romney included. you can relax, because you will not face a free market economy anytime soon.
    • Nov 30 2011: Krisztian, I want to understand you. I agree that the US does not have a laissez-faire eonomy and that no one economic theoretical framework has been applied completely. It is patently impossible for any of the frameworks to be done totally.

      But, it is hard to read tone in a text post. You sound almost angry. And I am puzzled about the phrase why you praise rand and the phrase why "you" pose as a minority. I am very deliberately not choosing a side, I am opening a debate. If we are praising Rand then we are asking for an unregulated market. I am confused, your opening paragraph and your last aragraph seem almost to contradict one another.

      I, personally am quite conversant with von Mises and Keyens both. I am conversant with the Austrian school and Neo-liberal economics. So, is Objectiveism good or bad for capitalism and democracy?
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        Dec 1 2011: i don't think that we need to discuss my motivation. but very briefly: yes, i'm mad at common misconceptions, and i think they should not exist. but it is not important at all.

        another thing that is not too important, but interesting is your motivation. you say you are not choosing sides, only opening a debate. but in the opening statement, you write "Ayn Rand's Objectivism has been in the forefront" ... "current economic travails ... are directly related to neo-liberal economics, which comes from a rigid laisse-faire approach to markets" ... "America's ... healthcare system is ... worst in part due to the profit motive". it does not strike me as a neutral position.

        what is important is arguments and counterarguments. so i provided counterarguments to your arguments, which you ignored. and i don't get it, since you also stated that you are "opening a debate". but then not debating.

        by you americans i meant some americans, not majority of them. it was bad wording actually. what baffles me is when libertarianism comes up, someone always says, ah, that ayn rand stuff. no it is not. rand was one libertarian with rather original an unorthodox views. i personally don't know objectivism too much, but i'm afraid it is a pop-philosophy. the opening pages of "theory and history" from mises are much deeper and more precise.

        but my major point was: nor randian, nor misesian and especially not rothbardian views has any effect on anything in the US or any other part of the world. the concept they put forward is largely unknown, in less degree ridiculed, and disagreed by the rest.

        there are other free market-ish schools out there, for example the chicago school. in some degree, neo-keynesian economics also call for some form of capitalism with a more or less free market. but these schools are different in major ways, in their core, from libertarian philosophy and austrian economics.
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          Dec 1 2011: Krisztián,

          Not bad! First post and you've already set yourself up as an antagonist.

          Like you, I do not know much about Ayn Rand. I have not read any of her work. I have one of her books on my shelf but have not read my way through the books that are ahead of it yet.

          However, I do know Rand has been quite influential. She had many disciples many of whom were influential in their own right.

          For example Nathaniel Brandon (psychology of self esteem) and Alan Greenspan (you may have heard of him?)

          Greenspan was a part of "The Ayn Rand Collective" a group who read Atlas Shrugged while it was being written. Rand and Greenspan remained friends until she died in 1982.

          You seem to have quite an extensive understanding of economics. You would probably find people are eager to hear what you have to say if you were not so mad all of the time.

          Some people do not know what you know. That's okay.

          Some people know more than you. That's okay too.

          Some will agree with you. Some won't. There's no need to get angry about it.
        • Dec 1 2011: To open a debate one must to some degree present a persepctive which encourages a counter point. But, tone does matter, simply because I can say the Sun is shining in a happy tone and convey two pieces of information the sun is shining and for reasons as yet not understood I am happy about it. Or I could say the sun is shining in an angry tone of voice which will again convey two pieces of information. The latter would inevitably prompt a question from the other conversant - IE you seem angry about the sunshine. Why?

          I want to understand why..... The economic situation in America effects people all around the world and there is indeed horrible ignorance of the basic principles of economics here in the US. The rest of the world does have some right to be quite angry about that. But, economics is presented as a mathematical science when in reality it is a philosophical issue taken on faith. No economic model has ever - ever - been implemented at a country wide level. They always end up being a balance between opposing ideas. I question since we seem unlikely to throw out any one philosophy and incapable of implementing any one philosophy? How do we winnow out that which is good and bad in each?

          Can we come up with a new framework?
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        Dec 1 2011: thomas, there are 350 million people in the US. *everyone* has at least a few followers. i don't know how greenspan ended up there, but i suspect it was his romantic early years. some become marxist, some become "randist" it seems. the mature greenspan was a great enemy of the free market, or at least acted so.

        btw it seems that you are fascinated by my character. i accept that, but could you please not express that devotion publicly? i would not like these conversations to be about me. i'm not that narcissistic. if you can't help it, please open a conversation about me, and put that stuff there, analysis and proposals included.
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          Dec 1 2011: Krisztián.

          I have sent a personal "proposal" to your e-mail through TED.
  • Dec 1 2011: Sharon
    I believe, like many other end of the road enlightenment ideas, this one has sent us down the tubes. When people act in their own self-interest, either as individuals or corporations, selfishness and self-consumption is the only result. Laissez-faire is fine if you are acting on the principle of self-interest and just want to continue to live that way.

    The ideas are weak and selfish and we need less of them. While I do not wish to have government encroachment into every aspect of life, that is not, the logical outcome of rejecting this way of thinking. The common good, moral action by individuals, corporations, social systems and government should be how we think. Maybe one day we will get there.
  • Dec 1 2011: Objectivism is closely tied to the people who developed the Chicago school of economics which has very much taken over the thinking of the world's leaders for the last three decades. I beleive that the implementation of much of htese economic philosophies have been disasterous. Perhaps, more simply I could reword my opening question: Is it the application of Randian philosophy what caused these policies to fail?

    Let me lay it out: Under Rand people have what she referred to as a moral obligation to pursue "enlightened self- interest". A neo-liberal economic model allows that the less the state interferes with the market the better it operates. If humans still will be good if given the chance, why did so many commit fraud when given the opening to do so? If humans behave in enlighteened self interest why did so many enrich themselves at the expense of the entire economy? Is that enlightened self interest?

    The problem appears to be where these two ideas intersect. So do either or them work apart and they only went bad when combined? Or could they both still work?
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      Dec 1 2011: do you happen to have any readings that explain how rand's views influenced chicago school? i'm not an expert on chicago school, but i happen to know some things about their views on monetary policy. those policies are not in the same league with austrian views. so either rand had completely un-libertarian views on that issue (which i doubt), or the chicago school is far far away from rand's position.

      again, i'm not exactly familiar with rand's views in detail. i just know that she was a libertarian, and so it is quite logical to assume that she shared the libertarian point of view in most cases. the libertarian view on "self interest" is the following: people are not saints. corporations are especially not saints. we don't live in a utopia. you have to and you will always have to defend yourself from evil intent, theft, selfishness, and other things. if we let people to organize their lives, they will find the best ways to defend themselves, and arrange things in a way to maximize cooperation and minimize crime. the state is unable to contribute to this. whatever the state does will create injustice and inefficiency.

      although, i'm aware that rand somewhat idolized entrepreneurs. it is a false view. corporations do good only because they have to. they are not good on their own. on the free market, corporations have to serve the people, or they go bankrupt. if the state gets involved, corporations can avoid serving the people, and can specialize in stealing public money. and some will certainly do. they call it bailouts. i call it theft.
      • Dec 2 2011: The connections between The Chicago School and Rand are people. Milton Friedman won the Noble Prize (although there really is no such thing, but that is another story) in economics for the theoretical framework called the Chicago school, after the University where he taught. Friedman and Greenspan, were both part of Ayn Rand's inner circle of friends. Freidman, Greenspan and Rand were all present when Reagan was inaugurated and heralded the beginnings of the attempted implementation of the Chicago school of thought as economic policy. I questions whether or not the influence of Rand was part of why this policy failed as badly as it did, when theoretically, at least, it could have succeeded.
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          Dec 2 2011: okay, i start to see that you don't make any distinction between free market schools. but there are fundamental differences.

          free market thought is like 200 years old or something like that. hard to tell an exact point time. at the beginning of the 20th century, there were 2 major schools of economics, the british school and the austrian school. what we have today, was grown out of the british school. the austrian school almost went extinct. the british school formed into multiple branches, like keynesian, chicago and neoclassical.

          rand together with mises, rothbard, hazlitt, kirzner and hayek, followed the largely ignored and forgotten austrian school. it is a completely different school of thought.

          the branches of the british school has and had great influence on policy making. austrian economics never had.

          now, it is possible that rand's views had some influence on some young economists, and shaped their development in some way. but apparently not enough to follow her advices in important issues.

          greenspan, for example, actively intervened into the market to "fix" it as chairman of the FED. friedman also called for huge monetary expansion. it is something a randian would immediately reject as a horrible idea.

          reagan. it is well known in austrian circles that government expenditures are one of the key factors. taxes are not that much. if you lower taxes, but keep the spending, it won't help one bit. it is also well known that without solid money, without free enterprise and without stable and predictable environment removing some regulations arbitrarily won't help one bit. reagan planned to reduce the spending, but didn't do. also planned to reduce regulations. but it didn't happen either. despite its weaknesses, reaganomics still delivered some good results.
      • Dec 3 2011: Arguing the "schools of thought" to a certain extent where the free market ideology is concerned is trying to count the angels dancing on the head of a pin. It is almost irrelevant as none of them have ever been implemented. Your point is pretty much what I am saying. All of these people said and wrote one thing and yet did something entirely different when pushed. Why? Greenspan was very close to Rand and her influence helped sway him about interventions all of the time, yet he let things go in some areas and intervened in others. Why? If it wasn't Rand, why did these people behave contrary to their own teachings and ideas? Reaganomics should have worked. Clinton's actions should have worked. But they didn't. What we got was the worst of both worlds. An unregulated market still being tinkered with by the FED but now lacking rule of law..... Why?
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          Dec 3 2011: you are trying to argue economic policies and thought without actually knowing what certain people represented and believed. you try to understand these things by psychology and sentiments, because you don't know the actual teachings of these schools. it is demonstrated buy the fact that you admit, you see no difference between these schools of thought.

          let me cite just an example. austrian economics is unique in teaching that money must emerge on the free market in order to function. any sort of manipulation of money hurts the economy. all other schools treat money as a tool to tweak the economy. austrians claim that increasing the money supply has two effects. first, it redistributes money from everyone to "wall street" (that is, banks, and financial institutions). second, it creates speculative overinvestment in some areas. for an austrian, money is almost sacred in its importance. functioning economy requires stable and reliable money.

          if greenspan truly believed in randian (austrian) views on economics, he would not expand the money supply as he did. clearly, he abandoned his early views, and subscribed to keynesianism. the problem with his actions is not too much "free market-ism", but too few. what he did was anti-rand anti-mises anti-austrian to the core.
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    Nov 30 2011: Can you define objectivism?
    • Nov 30 2011: I am sorry, you're right of course.

      The following is a short description of Objectivism given by Ayn Rand in 1962.

      by Ayn Rand

      My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:
      . Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
      . Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
      . Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
      The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.
      Copyright © 1962 by Times-Mirror Co.
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        Dec 1 2011: There's little wisdom, if any in this philosophy.

        To me it's a childish statement and truly sad as it had any support.

        As with Marxism it misses any understanding about the reality of the human psyche.

        It is devoid of any insights from historical, sociological, biological and anthropological nature.

        To live and act according to such a view on the world everything has to become necessarily messy.