Religion. Money. Politics. Sex.

Haven’t talked about politics much, have I? Yeah. There’s a reason for that: I’m pretty burnt out.

Barack Obama: Untried newbie left-wing liberal with a yen to reach into my pocketbook. Yawn

John McCain: Moderate liberal who gave us McCain-Feingold attempting to pull the wool over the conservatives’ eyes. Yawn

(Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t thrilled with any other choice out there, either, so it’s not like I’m mourning the loss of, say, Romney, ’cause, oh, honey, I’m so not on the Romney wagon.)

Yeah, I’m not having a good time.

It’s like being stuck with your TV on one channel for eight months watching college football with teams you don’t care about. Say it was, oh, Missouri Tigers versus Kansas Jayhawks or University of Utah versus Brigham Young University and we could talk.

I’m a libertarian. Feminist. Pro-life. Not unwilling to see the artificial construct of “marriage” go away to be replaced by civil unions contracted for by consenting adults; yes, that includes polyamory. What’s good for the homosexual goose is good for the more-is-merrier gander.

I’m also a marginal objectivist, principally speaking. Yes, there’s the dirty little secret: I love Ayn Rand. On the other hand, her theories have flaws and I’m truly aware of those flaws. I love a lot of things I find flawed, like, oh, my church and Camille Paglia.

To read the blogs I do (mostly liberal ones because I already know how the conservative side thinks and I get bored sitting in the choir loft), you’d think it was a sin to like her work if you’re female and/or once you’ve passed the age of 25. You know, there just aren’t enough people outside of that demographic to have kept the thing leaping off the shelves like it has for the last five decades if that were true.

And then, oh, there’s Rush (the band, not the radio dude). I think they’re safely over 25, no? Please refer to the song: The Trees.

I’ve told you everything you need to know to understand what I do like about Rand, so let’s talk about what I don’t like about Rand:

1. Her strident objection to the Robin Hood principle.

Rand saw Robin Hood as a looter (a thief of the producers) to give to the moochers (the people who drained the system of its resources and put nothing back). “To steal from the rich and give to the poor.” Classic redistribution of wealth scenario.

What I don’t get is how she misread the story. If you remember, Richard the Lionhearted had gone off to the Crusades, leaving his brother, John, in charge of the place. John and his pet nobles began to impose heavy taxes against the people, against which they had no defense and then, no livelihood. What Robin Hood did was to steal from the tax leviers and entourages (the looters and moochers) to give back to the tax payers (the producers).

Not sure where or how she missed this.

2. Galt’s Gulch couldn’t run without the regular joes.

If I remember correctly, throughout Atlas Shrugged, the regular joe worker isn’t given enough credit for his contribution. Now, it’s been a while since I read it, but there are none in Galt’s Gulch. No matter how technologically advanced a society is, you need people to manufacture your commodities, to clean up after you (sewer and garbage), and to run the power plants so you can have read at night and get the interwebz. I get no sense that she made an accommodation for this matter of fact.

3. Rand’s atheism.

Oh, I don’t care if she believed in God or goats, but deep in my soul, I believe that objectivism is more suited to theism than atheism. Forgive me for not fleshing this out further because my thoughts on it aren’t coherent at the moment.

4. The lack of charity.

I’m not as generous as I’d like to be, but Suze Orman says it best: “Take care of yourself first, then take care of others.” In any case, I have a deep and abiding respect for private charity. The following is from an AP story from June 25, 2007:

“It tells you something about American culture that is unlike any other country,” said Claire Gaudiani, a professor at NYU’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy and author of “The Greater Good: How Philanthropy Drives the American Economy and Can Save Capitalism.” Gaudiani said the willingness of Americans to give cuts across income levels, and their investments go to developing ideas, inventions and people to the benefit of the overall economy.

Gaudiani said Americans give twice as much as the next most charitable country, according to a November 2006 comparison done by the Charities Aid Foundation. In philanthropic giving as a percentage of gross domestic product, the U.S. ranked first at 1.7 percent. No. 2 Britain gave 0.73 percent, while France, with a 0.14 percent rate, trailed such countries as South Africa, Singapore, Turkey and Germany.

My church has a long and storied history of giving and taking care of others, starting with its abolitionist efforts, then feeding the Native Americans who were driven off their lands by the US government (with which they could identify most poignantly). We have a welfare program. We have emergency plans that whip into action when disaster strikes.

It’s incumbent upon those of us who profess to follow Christ’s teachings to be charitable and take care of our neighbors:

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction… James 1:27

That said, you can see where I’d disagree with this:

My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue. [From Playboy’s 1964 interview with Ayn Rand”]

I do believe it’s a moral duty and primary virtue. I just don’t believe it should be mandatory (i.e., taxation for the purpose of redistribution of wealth).

I disagree with her in specificity more than I agree, but she makes her case strongly and I can distill the core principles I agree with and discard the rest–and value her on that basis.

My love for her thought is simply the principles of excellence, self-sufficiency, keeping what one earns without the government taking it to give to someone else, producing and earning.

And, oh, the sex. Hawt.

7 thoughts on “Religion. Money. Politics. Sex.

  • August 18, 2008 at 10:21 am

    [blushes and scrapes toe in the dirt]

    Hey, I’ve got your stuff loaded up on my ebook reader. You had me at Chicago World’s Fair. 😉

  • August 18, 2008 at 11:43 am


    I have a computerised version of Ayn Rand’s works and found a quote from Atlas Shrugged on the topic of Robin Hood you’ll find interesting. You might have missed it in your haste to find out who the hell John Galt is 😀
    “It is said that he fought against the looting rulers and returned the loot to those who had been robbed, but that is not the meaning of the legend which has survived. He is remembered, not as a champion of property, but as a champion of need, not as a defender of the robbed, but as a provider of the poor.”.

    As for running Galt’s Gulch, the impression I got of the Gulch was that the great industrialists had lowered themselves to these very tasks. In fact, this was one of the things Dagny couldn’t stand the idea of: giving up her great railroad to run a dinky track for Francisco. All the great men who could have gone on to achieve great things instead stay there in the Gulch, doing all the basic stuff to keep the Gulch going whilst writing Concertos and all that.
    To put it more basically: Ayn Rand had a lot of respect for the honest working joe. However, this book is about the source that gives all these men the work to do, the creative geniuses who create new industries for them and everything. But yeah, the fact they aren’t given much time in the novel is due more to economical plotting, not economical planning. 😉

    As to God, I imagine you say that because of the deeply spiritual language Rand uses and her portrayal of man as this being concerned with the salvation of his soul? I politely disagree that her Philosophy is at all suited to theism, and I have my reasons, but I won’t berate you with them.

    As to charity, well, again, I’m not going to give you a treatise on why a DUTY to charity is fundamentally opposed to Rand’s ethics, I will simply say that it is. If you wish, my email address is submitted with this comment and you can ask for expansion if you’re interested.

    I will simply say that what you quote, about America’s charitable giving, I am aware of, and I think it actually speaks volumes for why Capitalism doesn’t mean the detriment of the poor, sick, old, disabled or what have you – with more disposable income, there is, in theory, more to dispose on charity, and that is exactly what Gaudini found in practice in America.
    Personally, I am a full-on Objectivist, I reject charity as a duty, but I still give money to charity (specifically to the Ayn Rand institute) and, once I finish my studies and am actually earning a living, want to start investing in one of these charities that helps young entrepreneurs get started up.
    See, it’s all about values, and giving money to the things I care about, without expecting a monetary reward – instead I get a reward in terms of other values, such as a better, freer world.

  • August 18, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Wow, Rory! Thanks for coming by and such a thoughtful post. You know, I do need to read that book again because I did miss that part clarifying that she knew that and it was the legend that she didn’t like.

    I also don’t remember getting the impression the denizens of Galt’s Gulch doing those tasks themselves, but obviously I remember Galt working as the lowliest of low in Dagny’s company.

    Really, thanks so much. You’ve given me a lot to think about and I hope you stick around.

  • August 19, 2008 at 1:18 am

    Sure thing fella.

    As much as I remember, they’ve all had to take on the basic tasks of keeping the Gulch going. For example, her old Contractor works as the Utilities man, and has hired three professors to help him out as the place has expanded.
    Yes, I think they each have their own pet projects that they work on, which we see, such as Francisco’s copper mine or Halley writing his music, but primarily, they have to work themselves on the upkeep of this place.

    I imagine it basically more like a kind of Amish settlement, where they all take on the roles of running the place and helping each other out (ironic how collectivist this sounds, innit? :D).

  • August 19, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    I imagine it basically more like a kind of Amish settlement, where they all take on the roles of running the place and helping each other out (ironic how collectivist this sounds, innit? :D).


  • June 5, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Dude is considering changing his name to Pirate Dude


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