Friday, February 15, 2013

Atlas Shrugged - Chapters I to V

What do you know of Ayn Rand?

I knew next to nothing about her a week ago except that she wrote some very long books.  I actually purchased a copy of Atlas Shrugged from the bookstore and then took it back.  I refuse to carry around 5 pounds of a book to read.  This, no matter how much I like being able to make notes in a book, would have to be a Kindle read.  That was what I knew of Ayn Rand.

Surprising right, that a life long Republican does not know anything about Ayn Rand.  Although I have recently been told that my credentials as a "Republican" are worthless as long as I refuse to support "good" men like Todd Akin, I have always been and continue to be a Republican.  Even though the GOP's hold on me is much more tenuous than it used to be.  And I know exactly only one other person in the Republican party who agrees with me on all issues ... we will get to that later ... but I am still a Republican.  And I remember often being asked if I had read Atlas Shrugged.

Five chapters into this book and I understand why everyone asked me this question.  And here we get into why I AM a Republican.  But first ...

I am NOT a Republican because I agree with their platforms on social issues.  I am pro-choice and I support gay-marriage.  (Because I will not be the one judging anyone in the long term.)

I am NOT a Republican because I agree with their platform on immigration reform.  I support the DREAM act.  (Marco Rubio and I agree on a lot here.)

However, if being a Republican means I agree with this quote from Ayn Rand, then we have just discovered why I remain a Republican.

If that's the price of getting together, then I'll be damned if I want to live on the same earth with any human being!  If the rest of them can survive only by destroying us, then why should we wish them to survive?  Nothing can make self-immolation proper.  Nothing can give them the right to turn men into sacrificial animals.  Nothing can make it moral to destroy the best.  One can't be punished for being good.  One can't be penalized for ability.    page 78

I reamin a Republican because at my core I believe that a man should be allowed to work for what he wants and should be allowed to keep most of it.  He should not be forced to give it away for the good of others or for the good of the nation.  I believe, despite what he himself says, that Warren Buffet is entitled to keep the majority of his wealth and should not be forced to give it away to support men and women who have been unemployed for over three years.

There.  I said it.  Doesn't make me sound very nice, but let us get to the rest of the story.  I do think that Warren Buffet has a MORAL obligation to help those in need.  He just doesn't have a political or social obligation.

We are no Warren Buffett, but we make more money today than we ever thought we would make in our entire lives.  And we pay a huge amount in taxes every year.  Most of the time, I don't mind.  I think the military is probably too big and is incredibly wasteful, but I also think we need a strong military to protect ourselves and others.  I think we should use our strength for good, but I also believe that we can also use our strength to protect our own interests.

I am a firm believer in the public school system.  Heck, I would pay more taxes if we could pay teachers more.  I believe that this is where we have failed as a nation.  I do not believe that the guy who works on my car should have the same benefits as we do.  Yep, you heard me right.  I am NOT saying he doesn't work hard.  I am NOT saying he doesn't work long hours.  I am saying that his skills are not worth what my husband's are.  I am saying he can't do my husband's job. Hey, I have a pretty high IQ and I couldn't do his job.

What I will also say is this ... his children and my children should have EXACTLY the same educational opportunities.

Are his kids at a disadvantage to mine because we travel with our kids and expose them to things that his kids aren't exposed to?  Yes.  Should I pay for his kids to go to China and Europe?  Nope.  Why not?  Well, life isn't fair.

Do I think my kids should have the same amount of money spent on them in school as the learning disabled or troubled kids.  Yes.  Will they ever get that. Nope. Why not?  Well, life isn't fair.  (By the way, the man who taught me this is a Democratic school superintendent of a big city school district I sat next to on a plane a few months ago.)

What I don't like spending my money on is the extended unemployment insurance and many of the social programs.  I guess at the end of the day, I would say I am a Republican because I want to teach people to fish instead of giving them fish.

But because of our MORAL obligation to help people,  we are also generous givers.  We do give to food banks and we do give to education programs.  I will put my hand out to help you and I will try to pull you up and help you succeed.  But I will not keep you there indefinitely.  Yes, at some point, I am also willing to let you fail and make you have to do it on your own.  I don't want to help someone who does not want to be helped.

And as much as I don't like the coach of the Texas Longhorns, I agree with his statement:

I've always felt like, in America, you don't pull everybody down to the ones who can't get there.  You pull everybody up to the ones who have.
I think Mack Brown read the first five chapters of Atlas Shrugged.


Girl Detective said...

BUT, I find that those who argue for self-suffiency and libertarianism and such often are ignorant (whether wilfully or not, I don't know) of what it might be like NOT to be a white person of privilege, which was not a choice we or they made. There are other realities than mine, so in general I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to many so that the few who need it may be covered.

That said, I don't give money to beggars, so perhaps this makes me a hypocrite. In sum: it's complicated.

Patricia said...

I actually find that I fall prey to that myself and struggle to remember that everyone did not have the same benefits I had growing up ... dual parent household, 2 elite university degrees fully paid for, etc.