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Welcome to Ayn Rand Planet: Why the Rich Prosper from the Stock Market While We Get Screwed

On Planet Rand, the stock-market boom is a wonderful thing precisely because it rests upon the recent rise in corporate profits.

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  • Increased global production creates jobs elsewhere

  • Fiscal austerity leads to job, wage and benefit cuts for public employees

  • Fiscal austerity also prevents the additional stimulus we need to create jobs

  • Attacks on unions further erode workers' bargaining power and keeps wages low

  • Wall Street is using indirect government support to gamble rather than to rework mortgages and invest in businesses

You'll find many of these causal explanations coming from insightful political economists like Paul Krugman and Robert Reich.

Screw the Rest of Us!

The second kind of explanation is what you'll find on Planet Rand. In that world, there is no such thing as the "public interest." Even the family doesn't count for much. It's all up to the individual.

Randians love the free-market for entirely different reasons than Adam Smith. They make no pretense that the invisible hand of deregulated markets will make all boats rise. That's just guilt-driven altruism parading as economic analysis, they say. The point of under-regulated markets is that they allow individuals to succeed on their own. Regulations of all kinds are opposed because they represent the evil hand of government. In fact, on Planet Rand, there's a constant state of war between the collectivists -- as represented by the government -- and the individual "makers." If you're not a maker then you're a parasite. We deserve only what each of us can get on our own, they would claim. We live to pursue our rational self-interest, not to better anyone else's.

Washington Moves Toward Planet Rand

This world view has become the heart and soul of the Tea Party and a good portion of the Republican Party as well. As a result, any and all efforts to help spread the recovery are vehemently opposed:

  • Unemployment insurance? It prevents the unemployed from seeking jobs. Let them get by on their own wits, not on our money. It's bad for them. It's bad for the rest of us.

  • Increase the minimum wage? All money transactions are fair trades. You get what someone is willing to pay you, no more, no less. The government shouldn't be telling a businessman what to pay anyone.

  • Public job creation to reduce unemployment? You must be kidding. The government is an ever present threat to liberty. It should only provide for defense, courts and police. Job creation only comes from the makers.

  • Aid to states and localities to prevent layoffs of teachers and other public employees? No, lay them off. Get rid of public education. Get rid of as much government as possible.

  • Close tax loopholes for large corporations and hedge funds? Not a chance. Under no circumstances do we want one penny more going to government.

Romney's 47 percent/maker-taker comments were no fluke. After all, he tapped Paul Ryan, a self-syled Randian acolyte, as his running mate. It's also not a fluke that the Republican Party will oppose any and all efforts to make Wall Street pay for the damage it has done to the economy. Sure, they get lots of fat campaign donations. But in addition to the corruption that infects both parties, we find a new philosophical meanness that particularly permeates through the Tea Party/Republican Party. In the name of fighting for individual freedom and against government, they are more than happy to screw those who are harmed by Wall Street's insatiable greed.

The Randian policy coup helps explain why facts no longer matter in policy debates, why failed and disproven economic policies (like supply side economics) never go away, and why compromise is out of the question. These folks are at war against anyone who supports the public interest and the very notion of the common good.

 
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