Reviews Comments: Variations on a theme
Variations on a theme
This novel is long, we know, and wordy with a couple of rambling speeches. But all of this serves a purpose, which is to allow its detractors no avenue by which they can dispute the theme of the book without actually arguing the philosophy. Now, I don't agree with Rand's metaphysics—I think concepts do have existence and cannot simply be derived as functions of a consciousnessless universe—nor do I agree with her ethics—I think her lodestone of "Man's life" is arbitrary and not sufficiently defined. But I do agree with her economics, which is one of the hammered-home points of the book. Stated briefly, the principle is: The more you dick around with the economy, the more you fuck it up. I'm using profanity here to do the same thing Rand did by repeating her points: trying to cut down counterarguments that use semantics to avoid the issue. I could have said, "The more you interfere with the economy, the less efficient it runs," but that only invites people to say, "We're not interfering; we're just trying to find a more ethical means of resource distribution," or, "Well, who's to say what efficiency is anyway?" I'm constantly amazed that people argue for economic systems other than Capitalism with this book in existence. Because the plot holds, because it is not contradictory, the basis of capitalism and the flaws of anti-capitalism are manifest. If a railroad is run for "the public good," expect train crashes. If steel is sent to poor countries instead of being used for coal mine bracings and oil pipelines, expect less production of steel. If any business is forced to run for any reason other than profit, expect the businessmen to curtail production and move into where they can get the most money, instead of making it. This could have been called, "Laffer Curve: The Novel." This book is better than good; it is *correct*, and that its correctness is ignored is a sad commentary on mankind.
Except that when one has a "completly free economy" is that it isn't free, competition is stiffled by large corporations maintaining a stranglehold and getting rid of upstarts, new ideas are suppressed and in general a free market becomes a wealthy "old boys" network. Thats why Rand doesn't work, because her perfected capitalists are not good at anything but money making, and the best way of doing that is to have the sole rights to something that everyone needs.
comment #5611 JosefBugman 3rd Jan 11
I don't think you've spent a second of your life studying actual economics.
comment #5612 188.8.131.52 3rd Jan 11
I just think it's a bad review because it's not about the book, it's about the book's political ideas. For God's sake, people, it's a book. It's for reading. I don't agree with Rand, but this isn't about objectivism, this is supposed to be about Atlas Shrugged. The fact that most discussion of these books doesn't have to do with the books themselves just pisses me off.
comment #5614 Scardoll 3rd Jan 11
Also, the idea that quality is only lowered by government intervention is bullshit. See: The food industry.
comment #5615 Scardoll 3rd Jan 11
Scardoll, Absolute quality maximization is not the point. The point is economic efficiency which is not the same as quality maximization. Paulamore's comment was about efficiency rather than quality of purchased goods. Here's an example; lets say there are fifty ultra-high-quality swanky French restaurants all serving the same area. But these restaruants are naturally expensive (quality costs more), and the area is very poor. Thus, you have very high quality... but the economy is extremely inefficient. You are right that government intervention can improve the quality of goods sold by the food industry. But that doesn't mean the government will be making the industry more efficient in the process. As stated before, Paulamore was talking about economic efficiency rather than quality.
comment #5697 StudiodeKadent 8th Jan 11
^But governments can also improve efficiency if they intervene correctly.
comment #5864 184.108.40.206 15th Jan 11
Maybe, but how often does -that- happen? Government is run by people - politicians, no less. They're in it for themselves just like everyone else. They have little incentive to be helpful, just to gain another bullet point in their campaigns for re-election.
comment #6029 Corsair6500 24th Jan 11
It's the businesses that have incentives to fuck over efficiency, not the government.
comment #6035 220.127.116.11 24th Jan 11
"Thats why Rand doesn't work, because her perfected capitalists are not good at anything but money making, and the best way of doing that is to have the sole rights to something that everyone needs." Nevermind whether your larger analysis is correct, I can tell by this statement that you've never actually read Rand. Or, if you have, didn't bother to understand it. Perhaps you are simply arguing that under their new regime of increased private property rights and radically decreased intervention, Rand's heroes would eventually sit on their asses and make money. Which, of course, ignores the fact that these are the very "upstarts" with "new ideas" that you insist Rand's system stifle. John Galt invented a new power source, Hank Reardon a new metal. They are not "old boys" sitting on their inheritances, forming syndicates and calling in the state to protect their positions. That type is represented by the characters over whom Galt triumphs: Peter Taggart, Dr. Stadler, Rearden's family, Wesley Mouch, Orren Boyle, etc.
comment #6192 18.104.22.168 31st Jan 11
The less you dick around with the economy, the more the economy will fuck you up. I actually dont beleive this. But I hope it made the reviewer of this book rage hard. For the way a review should be written,this was so offensively put together, that whomever wrote this deserves to be mad every single second of his bitter life.
comment #6490 jejl 19th Feb 11
The secret to not being mad = Stop caring about the fucked up things in this world I suppose you've already achieved this. Kudos to you.
comment #6492 22.214.171.124 19th Feb 11
this reviewer's a troll, check out his review of twilight for a good laugh
comment #6582 126.96.36.199 24th Feb 11
So this is apparently based on a small clique of people having new ideas forever? Ideas that they themselves may find disfavourable, or sort of "variation on a theme" ones where they get to maintain power, but have new and exciting ways to do so? And so who do they come in when their ideas are stolen? Or improved upon? Where is the authority that they can rely upon (other than ofc strength of arms) that prevents someone being that little bit more of a bastard and taking their idea? Do these "new products" after they are established lead anywhere? Would rearden and his ilk be willing to stand aside (when they are old and wealthy) to let new people come through with new ideas? Or would they simply co-opt their ideas because they are established first? And set up a system whereby they can gain control over new innovations whilst putting down those who try and create anything outside of their circle. It might not be what Ayn Rand would want, but its the most effective way of using labour and it worked for Edison.
comment #6698 JosefBugman 4th Mar 11
"Laffer Curve: The Novel" you say? Appropriate, given that the Laffer Curve has been thoroughly and conclusively disproven. http://finance.yahoo.com/expert/article/economist/4065
comment #7530 StevieC 5th May 11
Just a quickie, the United States had and still has one of the least interfered with health care systems in the world and not only is the money to life ratio on par with third world countries but people tend to die a lot sooner than systems with universal health care. I'm not arguing the point, there are counter-examples. But a books world and logic runs only to the extent the author puts it there. I doubt it ever mentioned the practical evidence that private healthcare is statistically inefficient and thus it invalidates the purpose of the book. If you want to make a point you need numbers and events which occur in this world. And many economists use those. The book doesn't and all you can say is it's internally consistent and agrees with your point of view
comment #7556 Tomwithnonumbers 6th May 11
As an example, the internal logic of Bioshock shows objectivism to be a flawed system that will irreparably break down society, but that doesn't necessarily match up with the world as it is. so a philosophy proposed in fictional setting will never have the substantiation to be worth reading and I think you would be better to recommend people an actual textbook/factual book than recommend a book soly because the philosophy that the author set to propose isn't contradicted in the book that the author wrote. It's the same reason that the message in the awful Crichton book about global warming, doesn't make the book worth reading, because although the book makes it sound plausible, it's actually just wrong and the only positive of the book is that it lies to you convincingly
comment #7571 Tomwithnonumbers 7th May 11
The Laffer Curve is an economic fact. Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant, and does not understand what the Laffer Curve says. (Not surprising since the main source of information about the Laffer Curve for most people come from politicians, and neither opposing nor supporting politicians know what they're talking about). Or they are lying. The Laffer Curve is not conservative, nor liberal, nor does it have anything to do with political philosophy. It is a simple observation about the natural limitations of power. Specifically, about the natural limitation of the power to tax. At a certain point, people just won't pay their taxes anymore. That's all the Laffer Curve says. Which is just common sense when it comes down to it. Liberals hate the Laffer Curve and declare it false, because they don't want to admit that at a certain point there is just no more money for the government. It doesn't matter that the rich got all this money, the government simply does not have the effective power needed to squeeze anymore money out of people. Right or wrong have nothing to do with it. The fact that the government has the legal power to do it does not matter. The truth is that there are natural limits on power other then the legal limits. Conservatives tend to embrace the Laffer Curve and declare that we can cut taxes and get more government income! Well, that made sense when Reagan became president and the top rate was 75%. (Just think for a moment, how hard would you work if the government took 3/4 of everything you made?) Now that the top rate is 36%, (or whatever it is now), that no longer works, but some of them keep on trying to argue for it. (As side note on the Laffer "debunkers", that depends on the deceptive tactic of combining Reagan's tax cut of the top rate and the tax cut on the middle class- who were not taxed that high and thus not on the far side of the Laffer Curve. The top tax rate did produce more revenue after the tax cut then the top tax rate did before the tax cut- however, the tax cut to the middle class decreased revenue by a greater margin. Politically they are considered the same tax cut, but economically they are not the same tax cut, and the revenue effects predicted by the Laffer Curve are different, and match the actual behavior of revenues.)
comment #7677 Sackett 13th May 11 (edited by: Sackett)
Sackett pretty much sums it all up here. People who like this book and it's philosophy pretend to be intellectuals, and yet are too stupid to understand fairly simple concepts like tax brackets. If the top tax bracket is 75%, that does not mean someone is being taxed 75% of their total income, but rather only 75% of that within the bracket. Behold, the noble Randroid. Ranting against institutions it doesn't even understand and using the half baked rhetoric of a serial killer groupie (Who even based John Galt after the aforementioned killer) to justify their own sociopathy.
comment #8834 surfacetogokumissile 23rd Jul 11
The problem with demonising taxes is that one will need the money to be placed into the system to allow fareness. Without taxes, heath care would be a luxury for the few and without wages police will not be able to maintain order. I am concern with people taking up the way of Laffer Curve for it is a notion that has no hold. If people stop paying their taxes... then how will society hold up? Rely on the few who may have their own intrest at heart? We must not fall to the trap of the conseritive notion that taxes are evil... for the poor tent to not be poor by their fault.
comment #9494 Ailedhoo 28th Aug 11 (edited by: Faramir)
Counterpoint: British Rail
comment #23618 Zor 29th Mar 14
In order to post comments, you need to