Objectivist economics is simple to understand: let the capitalists produce! Part of the philosophy behind this is that capitalists fulfill the true potential of humanity – that of producing what one is led to produce out of rational selfishness. To produce what one truly wants to produce is the height of being human. Production is the origin of value itself. Thus, capitalism, believed by Objectivists, is the consummate economic system that allows humanity to shine and bring forth rational value into our landscape.
However, if something hinders the free reign of capitalism, it is a mark against the rational value of humanity, and is thus something bad. That is why Ayn Rand, the founder of Objectivist thought, was against any kind of economic regulation. In a 1959 interview, here was this interchange with Mike Wallace:
“Wallace: And you believe that there should be no right by the government to tax. You believe there should be no such thing as unemployment compensation, regulation during times of stress.
Rand: That’s right. I am opposed to all forms of control. I am for an absolute, laissez-faire, free, unregulated economy.”
For Rand, market regulation was evil, and that sums up the basic theme of her most famous book (a torturous read), Atlas Shrugged. Market regulation was for the weak, socially-minded government bureaucrats, not the strong, confident capitalists.
This is the same position of Ron Paul, who is one of the most strident followers of Ayn Rand in politics (Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, and Clarence Thomas would also be included here). It is important to talk about this because not only is Ron Paul finally making a name for himself in the current GOP primaries, but Ron Paul’s politics are now riddled throughout most of the GOP in some form or another – which is to say that Ayn Rand’s philosophy has found a home with Republicans. Ron Paul happens to be her biggest mouthpiece at the moment.
This is the problem. Ayn Rand thought of humanity as a fairytale. First, she envisioned her ideal capitalists as these men with powerful visions to create what they thought was beautiful in the face of those weak-willed buffoons who couldn’t distinguish between their heads and their asses. These capitalists were the height of rationality, and when they were allowed to enact their rationality and production, the true good was unleashed. They were able to produce without infringing upon anyone else. And, second, if EVERYONE would follow their rational self-interests and produce according to their rational desires, everyone would live harmoniously in a new-founded utopia. Since there is supposed to be only ONE rationality and ONE value system according to Objectivism, if everyone plugged in to this unity under the capitalist spirit, it would be like heaven on earth. Everything and everyone would function in just the right way, like the way a solved puzzle is composed of many pieces fitting just the right way.
But all of that is a problem because of one base trait of humanity: greed. Rand wants to solve the “greed” problem by claiming that capitalists shouldn’t operate according to bald selfishness, but rather rational selfishness. But no one ever told them that! And even if they were told that, they wouldn’t listen. It’s time for a reality check! Capitalists strive for one thing – more and more money. That is why new businesses come to life, and the old one’s die because they fail to keep earning money. Capitalists are not out to save the poor, heal the sick, or tend to the helpless. They want money. They want money for what they produce. The value is not in the product itself, but in the price one can get for it. And once one gets a taste of money, one wants more. That’s the seed of greed. That’s the growth of capitalism. Thus, if capitalism is left unchecked, make way for unprecedented greed – we can call it “evil greed” because it will take over everything if it can regardless of whom it eats up. This is the reason why Karl Marx said that capitalism would eventually destroy itself.
Therefore, Randian economics is bad economics that would probably send us into a depression if enacted. But this is precisely what Ron Paul wants to do! This is why this MUST be talked about. Paul, in accordance with Rand, wants capitalism to flourish completely unfettered. He wants no regulations whatsoever. Nevermind that already-enacted gross deregulation was one of the primary factors precipitating the 2008 financial collapse, Paul wants the government to contract so much that it would be powerless to monitor and correct for the greedy excesses of Wall Street and big business. The rich would become gods and the rest of us their servants. Thus, let me be clear: Ron Paul’s Objectivist economics spells D-A-N-G-E-R. If you have any sympathy whatsoever with the Occupy Wall Street movement, you’ll steer clear of endorsing Ron Paul.
I know there are many who like Ron Paul. He has an attractive foreign policy for progressives – he wants to pull our troops out of every foreign land. He has an attractive domestic policy for conservatives – he wants limited government and no income tax. He is supposed to be a champion of freedom as a “libertarian.” But for what might be good in Ron Paul, it is overshadowed by his naïve economics and Randian philosophy that selfishness is the ultimate value to uphold. That value, formed in a completely deregulated capitalist society, would send us back to the dark ages.
To be honest, I don’t worry much about Ron Paul because he acts too much like a crazy grandfather for mainstream America to buy into him. I worry much more about his son, Rand Paul, and the Wisconsin Congressman, Paul Ryan, who are much better looking and better spoken than Ron Paul. 2016 is going to be really scary if either of them runs for president.