Atlas Shrugged Updated for the Current Financial Crisis

Ayn Rand’s clas­sic gets dust­ed off and humor­ous­ly brought into 2008 over at McSweeney’s. Worth a read. 

As a side note, you may want to revis­it the New York Times 2007 piece, Ayn Rand’s Lit­er­a­ture of Cap­i­tal­ism, which talks about the influ­ence that Atlas Shrugged (and its free mar­ket phi­los­o­phy) has had on For­tune 500 CEOs and par­tic­u­lar­ly Alan Greenspan, the for­mer head of the Fed­er­al Reserve, who helped archi­tect the dereg­u­lat­ed bank­ing sys­tem that’s now unwind­ing around us. Belat­ed­ly, Greenspan would acknowl­edge a “flaw in the mod­el” that he “per­ceived is the crit­i­cal func­tion­ing struc­ture that defines how the world works” — which is a fan­cy way of say­ing “on sec­ond thought, maybe the free mar­kets don’t always reg­u­late them­selves.” And there we have it, anoth­er utopi­an ide­ol­o­gy col­lides with real­i­ty. Not the first, and it won’t be the last.

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  • Dary says:

    Don’t get mad at dereg­u­la­tion, get mad at the Fed­er­al Reserve. Your argu­ment — “…if you let banks gov­ern them­selves, they won’t actu­al­ly do the right thing” — isn’t valid. If you add the premise “and you let the gov­ern­men­t’s cen­tral bank keep inter­est rates as low as they want there­by mak­ing cred­it extreme­ly cheap and encour­ag­ing mal­in­vest­ment” you’d be get­ting warmer. I’m not say­ing the banks aren’t cul­pa­ble, I’m just say­ing the Fed­er­al Reserve is the root cause of this prob­lem.

  • Dan Colman says:

    There is no doubt that the Fed cre­at­ed the con­di­tions for the bub­ble. But low inter­est rates can’t real­ly explain why the banks start­ed deal­ing in sub­prime loans and liar loans, essen­tial­ly elim­i­nat­ing all loan stan­dards, once they sold all the legit­i­mate loans that they could. The Fed tempt­ed the banks. But the banks crossed the line, and they deserve a good part of the blame.

    At least in my mind, you can’t have a ful­ly dereg­u­lat­ed sys­tem if you can’t depend on the play­ers to make pru­dent deci­sions, even if they’re tempt­ed to do oth­er­wise.

  • Alex Mocaby says:

    um.…If you actu­al­ly knew any­thing about the prin­ci­ples Ayn Rand taught, you would know that Greenspan has fol­lowed almost none of them in this cri­sis.

  • Dan Colman says:

    Um, the last time I looked, Greenspan has­n’t been run­ning the Fed since 2006. Sure you’re not think­ing about Bernanke?


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