Interview With The Ghost Of Ayn Rand

ayn_rand

As regular readers know, I am often visited by ghosts when I work late at my office in the historic Helmsley Building.

I recently had an encounter with none other than the ghost of Ayn Rand, the creator of the objectivist philosophical movement and author of Atlas Shrugged, an ideological novel that argued for absolute freedom from government intervention of any kind for society’s elite.

As you can imagine, I was quite unprepared to do rhetorical battle with a personage as intimidating as Ayn Rand, but I think I held my own:

Ayn Rand:  Good evening, young Joshua.  Do you happen to have a match or a lighter?

The Reformed Broker:  Sorry, No.  And I don’t think that’s such a good idea, you smoking…

AR:  Don’t be a fool!  I’m already dead, and besides, smoking had nothing to do with my demise.  Rather, the lit tip of my cigarette was not unlike the Promethean torch of creativity and individualistic enterprise, shining like a beacon of inspiration in a darkening world filled with the blackness of Bolshevik ideals.

TRB:  Umm, ok.  Whatever you say.  Since you’re here anyway, do you mind if I interview you for my blog, Ms. Rand?

AR:  As I have absolutely no idea what a blog is, I’m not sure.  But on second thought, you did use the word interview and it’s been a while since I’ve I’ve been able to publicly pontificate…so please, proceed, young man.

TRB:  Great.  For starters, one of the most enduring aspects of your philosophy was that the smartest, most capable citizens should be absolutely free from any government or regulatory interference in order for the society as a whole to move forward.  Well, that experiment has been carried out in the US over the last decade or so and it almost led to the end of the world.  Any thoughts on where you may have been wrong?

AR:  (long exhale of smoke) I simply have no idea what you could possibly be referring to.

TRB:  OK, I’ll compress 7 years into one sentence.  So, the Federal Reserve completely removed almost any relevant oversight or as you’d phrase it “government tampering” from the financial sector and the financial sector destroyed itself to the point that it is now run by the very government that ignored it.

AR:  Ah, you are referring to the recent free market adjustment now into its third year of necessity and inevitability?  I hardly would equate a temporary hiccup in credit markets and a slight drop in asset values a “crisis”.

TRB:  Umm, global stock markets were cut in half in less than 18 months, there are 300-something-thousand new foreclosures a month nationwide and 26 million Americans wake up without jobs to go to.  This sounds Utopian to you?

AR:  Certainly not, but to suggest that freedom for the individual to better his situation in the capital markets is at fault for this would be utter nonsense.  If anything, it was the restrictions on enterprising people that were at fault.

TRB:  Is there something other than tobacco in your cigarette, Ms. Rand?  There was almost no restriction whatsoever for two decades.  Lawmakers were literally taking chainsaws to the rulebook while bank executives were in the backrooms of Capitol Hill writing up the new ones.  Exactly what government interference could you possibly cite?

AR:  (coughing fit)  Excuse me, Joshua, this line of questioning is rather off-putting to me.  What you refer to as a meltdown, I prefer to call an opportunity.  If government would just step away, the banking industry would be fully capable of exploiting this moment and producing a great boon for the underclass.

TRB:  Ayn, if government were to have stepped away last year, there would no longer be any banks, but fine, let’s change the subject.  Why do you think Atlas Shrugged has not yet been made into a film?

AR:  Most likely because my preferred directorial choice has been exiled in Europe.  But one day, my Roman will be set free to once again create, without the grubby hands of the Proletariat and their lawmaking appointees dragging him down.

TRB:  Okay…Any regrets, Ms. Rand?

AR:  Just two.  The first is that I couldn’t stick around long enough to see my boychick Alan revolutionize the role of the Federal Reserve and preside over decades of laissez-faire glory.

TRB:  Actually, your “boychick” Alan Greenspan produced more bubbles than a laundromat.  But do tell, your second regret?

AR:  I had a shot with Ludwig Van Mises one night after a symposium in Paris.  That was one brilliant, red-blooded Austrian how-you-say…ah, yes – hunk.  Oh, well.

TRB:  Thank you for your time, Ms. Rand.  Please put that out elsewhere, the building doesn’t allow smoking.

AR:  I see that the rulemaking operatchniks are still tying the hands of the most useful members of society.  I’m happy to be rid of these interminable chains of bureaucracy.  Do svidaniya, Joshua!

And with that, a gust of wind swept the apparition from my office suite back out into the unregulated aether.

Read Also:

Interview With The Ghost of J. Pierpont Morgan

What's been said:

Discussions found on the web
  1. Joe Agnelli commented on Oct 06

    i remember reading that elitist crap in high school, funny how the best and the brightest turned out to be the least constructive members of society once the tide went out

  2. Joe Agnelli commented on Oct 06

    i remember reading that elitist crap in high school, funny how the best and the brightest turned out to be the least constructive members of society once the tide went out

  3. C. Jeffery Small commented on Oct 06

    “For starters, one of the most enduring aspects of your philosophy was that the smartest, most capable citizens should be absolutely free from any government or regulatory interference in order for the society as a whole to move forward. Well, that experiment has been carried out in the US over the last decade or so and it almost led to the end of the world. Any thoughts on where you may have been wrong?”

    Is it possible that you actually believe that an experiment in individual and economic freedom was conducted over the last decade, or is this just some form of ironic word play at the reader’s expense? If the former, and you truly think that the Bush years were a model of Capitalism and an administration that truly promoted individual rights as outlined in the US Constitution, then there isn’t anything that I or anyone else could say that could get through to you.

    Regards,

    C. Jeffery Small
    http://go-galt.org/Galt_Pledge/

    TRB: To my knowledge, no president has ever truly offered “model of Capitalism and an administration that truly promoted individual rights as outlined in the US Constitution” in its purest sense, but I gotta tell you sir, the last 10 to 12 years were as close to a free-for-all as you’re going to get in terms of lax restriction and the elites were given just enough rope to hang themselves. Everything they were in charge of fell apart. Don’t believe me? Ask 2 out of the 10 people you know who are unemployed.

    thx for reading

  4. C. Jeffery Small commented on Oct 06

    “For starters, one of the most enduring aspects of your philosophy was that the smartest, most capable citizens should be absolutely free from any government or regulatory interference in order for the society as a whole to move forward. Well, that experiment has been carried out in the US over the last decade or so and it almost led to the end of the world. Any thoughts on where you may have been wrong?”

    Is it possible that you actually believe that an experiment in individual and economic freedom was conducted over the last decade, or is this just some form of ironic word play at the reader’s expense? If the former, and you truly think that the Bush years were a model of Capitalism and an administration that truly promoted individual rights as outlined in the US Constitution, then there isn’t anything that I or anyone else could say that could get through to you.

    Regards,

    C. Jeffery Small
    http://go-galt.org/Galt_Pledge/

    TRB: To my knowledge, no president has ever truly offered “model of Capitalism and an administration that truly promoted individual rights as outlined in the US Constitution” in its purest sense, but I gotta tell you sir, the last 10 to 12 years were as close to a free-for-all as you’re going to get in terms of lax restriction and the elites were given just enough rope to hang themselves. Everything they were in charge of fell apart. Don’t believe me? Ask 2 out of the 10 people you know who are unemployed.

    thx for reading

  5. C. Jeffery Small commented on Oct 08

    TRB:

    I have no reason to doubt that you sincerely believe that the Bush years were a “free-for-all” and represent a period of significant regulatory reduction. This is certainly the picture that the politicians and the press have gone to great lengths to convey. However, nothing could be further from the truth. While some specific regulations were rescinded under Bush, there were many, many more new regulations created to replace them. Overall, businesses were far more constrained by the end of the Bush administration than at the beginning. Bush significantly increased the national debt, and expanded the intrusion of government into an ever increasing number of areas. He supported all of the disastrous actions taken with regards to the FED, FDIC, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc. which were responsible for the housing bubble and the start of the economic collapse. He supported the trillion dollar FED bailout. And here were many shady public/private business dealings of a quasi-fascist nature. None of this qualifies as anything remotely approaching capitalism.

    And now with Obama doing all of these things, only on an unimaginably larger scale, what is there to be be proud of? For the life of me, I cannot understand how people get it in their mind that Bush represented capitalism and demonstrated its failure. Just like his father and Clinton, and Carter, before him, Bush was a weenie, inconsistent socialist who didn’t have the guts to go all the way with his policies. But the distance that he and his predecessors did travel has been a continual series of disasters. Now Obama, a proud socialist, stands defiantly in the open and works to fully implement everything that Bush only approached half-heartedly, and if left unchecked, is poised to plunge this country into a true disaster from which, ultimately, we might not be able to recover.

    You are correct in saying that no president in the 20th century has promoted true capitalism and our constitutional rights. It is about time that we get one that actually understood these concepts and reigned in government, freeing people to once again rebuild our tattered economy and restore liberty to all.

    You seem to be familiar with some of Rand’s works. If you understood anything that you read, then you must know that if she had lived to see it, Rand would have vilified Greenspan as a traitor for taking the job at the FED and would have classified his actions as some of the worst examples of government abuse. Greenspan was the Dr. Stadler in our current sorry cast of characters. Also, how do you account for the fact that the events in Atlas Shrugged, written over 50 years ago, are playing out almost verbatim, today? There must be some fundamental principles in operation that makes that kind of forecasting of the future possible!

    As for me, I won’t be taking an opinion poll of my friends, whether employed or unemployed, to determine my conclusions on what is transpiring in the world today. I prefer to look at the facts and integrate them into a picture that can be comprehended and understood in terms of basic principles. And I find time and again that the trouble we find ourselves facing today is easily explained by government meddling in the economy – and not by some non-existent pipe-dream that we tried capitalism and that it was proven a failure.

    Regards,

    C. Jeffery Small

    TRB: I respect your views and certainly your understanding of Rand’s ideology trumps mine, however, I disagree with your assertion that there was more regulation as opposed to less. I’d like to point out two key pieces of legislation and one non-enforcement of the Fed’s mandate hat were proximate causes of the condition we currently find ourselves in. Ironically, all three of these items were high lobbied-for and sought after by he very banks that used them to commit fiscal suicide:

    1. The Commodity Futures Modernization Act, pushed for by Enron, which exempted the trillions in CDS contracts that led to our $173 billion ransom payment to AIG and its counterparties

    2. The repeal of Glass-Steagal, which led to the Too Big To Fail culture that ended up in the most expensive rescue effort in the history of business

    3. The Fed’s apathy in terms of monitoring the the banking system as well as he exemption for he Big 5 i-banks (Lehman, Bear, Merrill, Morgan & GOldman) which led to a game of leverage chicken, culminating with 40-to-1 debt to equity ratios and a speculative orgy.

    All three of these rule changes (eases) would have been cheered on by the objectivists as being concrete steps toward the ultimate goal of the absolute freedom for markets.

    Thanks for reading.

  6. C. Jeffery Small commented on Oct 08

    TRB:

    I have no reason to doubt that you sincerely believe that the Bush years were a “free-for-all” and represent a period of significant regulatory reduction. This is certainly the picture that the politicians and the press have gone to great lengths to convey. However, nothing could be further from the truth. While some specific regulations were rescinded under Bush, there were many, many more new regulations created to replace them. Overall, businesses were far more constrained by the end of the Bush administration than at the beginning. Bush significantly increased the national debt, and expanded the intrusion of government into an ever increasing number of areas. He supported all of the disastrous actions taken with regards to the FED, FDIC, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc. which were responsible for the housing bubble and the start of the economic collapse. He supported the trillion dollar FED bailout. And here were many shady public/private business dealings of a quasi-fascist nature. None of this qualifies as anything remotely approaching capitalism.

    And now with Obama doing all of these things, only on an unimaginably larger scale, what is there to be be proud of? For the life of me, I cannot understand how people get it in their mind that Bush represented capitalism and demonstrated its failure. Just like his father and Clinton, and Carter, before him, Bush was a weenie, inconsistent socialist who didn’t have the guts to go all the way with his policies. But the distance that he and his predecessors did travel has been a continual series of disasters. Now Obama, a proud socialist, stands defiantly in the open and works to fully implement everything that Bush only approached half-heartedly, and if left unchecked, is poised to plunge this country into a true disaster from which, ultimately, we might not be able to recover.

    You are correct in saying that no president in the 20th century has promoted true capitalism and our constitutional rights. It is about time that we get one that actually understood these concepts and reigned in government, freeing people to once again rebuild our tattered economy and restore liberty to all.

    You seem to be familiar with some of Rand’s works. If you understood anything that you read, then you must know that if she had lived to see it, Rand would have vilified Greenspan as a traitor for taking the job at the FED and would have classified his actions as some of the worst examples of government abuse. Greenspan was the Dr. Stadler in our current sorry cast of characters. Also, how do you account for the fact that the events in Atlas Shrugged, written over 50 years ago, are playing out almost verbatim, today? There must be some fundamental principles in operation that makes that kind of forecasting of the future possible!

    As for me, I won’t be taking an opinion poll of my friends, whether employed or unemployed, to determine my conclusions on what is transpiring in the world today. I prefer to look at the facts and integrate them into a picture that can be comprehended and understood in terms of basic principles. And I find time and again that the trouble we find ourselves facing today is easily explained by government meddling in the economy – and not by some non-existent pipe-dream that we tried capitalism and that it was proven a failure.

    Regards,

    C. Jeffery Small

    TRB: I respect your views and certainly your understanding of Rand’s ideology trumps mine, however, I disagree with your assertion that there was more regulation as opposed to less. I’d like to point out two key pieces of legislation and one non-enforcement of the Fed’s mandate hat were proximate causes of the condition we currently find ourselves in. Ironically, all three of these items were high lobbied-for and sought after by he very banks that used them to commit fiscal suicide:

    1. The Commodity Futures Modernization Act, pushed for by Enron, which exempted the trillions in CDS contracts that led to our $173 billion ransom payment to AIG and its counterparties

    2. The repeal of Glass-Steagal, which led to the Too Big To Fail culture that ended up in the most expensive rescue effort in the history of business

    3. The Fed’s apathy in terms of monitoring the the banking system as well as he exemption for he Big 5 i-banks (Lehman, Bear, Merrill, Morgan & GOldman) which led to a game of leverage chicken, culminating with 40-to-1 debt to equity ratios and a speculative orgy.

    All three of these rule changes (eases) would have been cheered on by the objectivists as being concrete steps toward the ultimate goal of the absolute freedom for markets.

    Thanks for reading.

  7. Jeff Montgomery commented on Oct 08

    The repeal of some laws does not make a market sector free, and Too Big to Fail is not a market policy, it’s government.

    The money supply is centrally controlled by the government, and the Fed is effectively a government central bank. There’s Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government creations, pushing lending standards down. There’s the CRA channeling money to risky borrowers. There’s the SEC and any and all laws passed regarding finance, and any and all regulatory rules at all overseeing agencies. I wonder how many feet high those regulations would be if you piled them up? There’s antitrust. There is taxation. And on and on. That’s not freedom. So, the idea has not been tried.

    What has been tried, is ignoring markets and trying to lend to risky borrowers anyway. The government caused this current crisis by encouraging low credit standards and making too much credit available.

  8. Jeff Montgomery commented on Oct 08

    The repeal of some laws does not make a market sector free, and Too Big to Fail is not a market policy, it’s government.

    The money supply is centrally controlled by the government, and the Fed is effectively a government central bank. There’s Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government creations, pushing lending standards down. There’s the CRA channeling money to risky borrowers. There’s the SEC and any and all laws passed regarding finance, and any and all regulatory rules at all overseeing agencies. I wonder how many feet high those regulations would be if you piled them up? There’s antitrust. There is taxation. And on and on. That’s not freedom. So, the idea has not been tried.

    What has been tried, is ignoring markets and trying to lend to risky borrowers anyway. The government caused this current crisis by encouraging low credit standards and making too much credit available.

  9. Ayn Rand Eviscerated in GQ « The Reformed Broker commented on Oct 29

    […] did my share of battle with the Rand Cult earlier this fall when I interviewed her Ghost to discuss capitalism’s share of blame for the credit crisis.  Corsello never meets her […]

  10. Ayn Rand Eviscerated in GQ « The Reformed Broker commented on Oct 29

    […] did my share of battle with the Rand Cult earlier this fall when I interviewed her Ghost to discuss capitalism’s share of blame for the credit crisis.  Corsello never meets her […]

  11. Phil Hees commented on Oct 30

    Interesting that your interview took place in the Helmsley Building, formerly the New York Central building, which was the model for the Taggart Building in Atlas Shrugged.

    Perhaps Miss Rand appreciated the irony.

  12. Phil Hees commented on Oct 30

    Interesting that your interview took place in the Helmsley Building, formerly the New York Central building, which was the model for the Taggart Building in Atlas Shrugged.

    Perhaps Miss Rand appreciated the irony.

  13. Sharky commented on Nov 01

    Sorry Joshua, but that wasn’t Rand’s ghost.

    I have two related questions for you:

    1. “How is a market that is under the private (profiting) auspices of a centralized controlled currency based on fractional reserve lending a truly “free” market, capable of true market adjustment?”

    2. “How can a market EVER be truly free without the freedom of currency and exchange from a centralized banking model?”