Category Archives: Ayn Rand

Detroit, liberalism at its finest

Obama Detroit

Sadly, he doesn’t have a city….he has a country.

The fall of this city reads like the story of the Twentieth Century Motor Company.  Large government spends, overregulates, gives into unions at every turn, hampers business at every opportunity, a deference to cronyism without any concern for free markets, corruption, all leading to the destruction of a city that still has all the infrastructure necessary for growth. And the worst part is that this can be easily, EASILY reversed.  Lower taxes, remove regulations, gut the bureaucracy, open up school choice, tell the unions exactly where they stick all their whiny demands.  It would be a slow growth at first, and the city would need to redirect every single cent they get to police to clean up the dangerous streets of Detroit first (although allowing open carry and remove the restrictions that allows law abiding citizens to procure weapons to protect themselves could solve that problem, criminals tend to go where the targets are easy and a well armed populace is not that) and fix the crumbling infrastructure second.  If the city did these things and let the free market and individual choice drive the way the city would be thriving again within a decade.

But we know they won’t do that.  And so the city will continue to decay.

 

But I’m sure if you asked idiots like Paul Krugman or Barry the answer would clearly be that we just didn’t spend enough money and we didn’t regulate enough.  Because that’s always the problem for liberals.  Government is never the problem and always the solution, even though they don’t have a single shred of evidence to back that claim up.




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Reflections on the Election: Why I was wrong, Why Obama Won, and what the GOP needs to do. Part III

It’s been a month since the election…and as you can tell from the limited number of posts, I’m still kind of depressed Obama won, America Lostabout this (and overworked at work, but that’s another story).  I’m still shell-shocked that people could be that stupid—even I, who believe the masses are idiots, can’t fully comprehend that people are so fucking stupid as to vote in a tyrant not once but twice.  It baffles the mind.  If you care about only what you can get you should have voted for the guy who would guarantee a higher chance at raises and better jobs: Romney.  If you cared about other people you should have cared about the guy who would have done the most to improve the middle class: Mitt.  If you care about character it would be the guy who personally does charity whenever he can: Willard Mitt Romney. Intelligence, that would be the guy who got his J.D. and MBA in the same 4 years: The Governor.  Experience, class, vision, leadership, surrounding himself with qualified people.  On every criteria you can come up with it’s a no brainer, but, but, but…

People are really fucking short sighted, envious and dumb.

But are we just powerless to do anything? Are we at the mercy of party leadership to pull us out of this tailspin the country has voted itself in (dear god that’s a depressing thought)?  Luckily no.  Unfortunately I’m not promising anything easy either.

So what can we as individuals do?

Well first I would like to turn back to the exit polls.  Now looking at ethnicity or gender or even age is pointless because there is nothing we can do to change that.   People are what they are.  (Yes, age changes, but it’s not like we have any actual control over it).

2012 exit polls education

Now education can change (complete shocker that Obama the no intelligence/no high school bracket and the no real world experience/postgraduate bracket) but unless you’re a parent most of us can’t really affect people’s education.  If you are a parent, I might suggest that you state you’re not paying for any kind of college education unless they get a degree in the Math/Science area and thus have marketable skills (if they want to get a dual major and have a liberal art as well, well you can negotiate) but parents do not pay for Sociology degrees they are worthless and breed dumb liberals.

2012 exit polls single

Next we turn to gender and marriage status.  A lot of to do was made about women in this election, but as you see it wasn’t really women so much as single women.  And I have seen conservative writers talk about how the single women pose a threat to liberty as they seem to look to the government for the security nets…but it if you look at the data single men are also pretty dumb. The conclusion I’m drawing here isn’t that women are liberal, it’s that single people on the whole are liberal and need to be stopped.  (Yes, I as a bachelor, may not want to throw stones in a glass house, but I’m not as dumb as my fellow singles who voted for Barry…but if you are or know any single, intelligent, conservative, spiritually open women in the Phoenix area…well…my email address is posted…).  Now does this mean we should all go out and get married without standards or relationships, that marriage is an end unto itself. No.  One of the reasons we have a high divorce rate is that people don’t take the time to plan and make sure they’re making a right choice.  So really unless you want to start playing matchmaker which some of us are more qualified than others (this would certainly not be a skill of mine).

2012 exit polls religion

And then we see that Obama did well with the non-religious crowd* and Romney did well with the religious crowd.  Let me put these last two points in context. It doesn’t have as much to do with faith or companionship.  For a lot of people it is an issue of safety.  If you have a spouse, if you have an active church community you have someone you know you can fall back on if things go bad, if you don’t have these things, then the psychology of most people is to seek something you can fall back on: the government.  Now I would rather people evolve and see themselves as their fallback (or at least maybe God) but if we’re going to get there we first have to have an economic system that allows people to take care of themselves (i.e. we need to get rid of liberals and progressives at every level).

So what does this have to do with religion?  Well it means that if you’re a member of a church you need to encourage, push for, and if necessary demand, that your church be more active in the community—charity, public works and improvement projects, fundraisers not for the church but those honestly in need. This should have nothing to do with demonization or dogma.  Only about helping the community and strengthening the bonds of community.

If you’re not in a church, say a New Ager, it couldn’t hurt to find a non-pushy church out there and see if they would like help with those charity projects.

If you’re in a church that does do these kinds of charity projects then see if you can invite people you know to help, don’t proselytize, don’t make it about belief, only about helping others.  (Also may I suggest making your charity functions known to the local middle and high schools—students, especially college bound students, are more and more looking for community service on their resumes—and let them know their parents are invited as well).

This has nothing to do with dogma, it has to with a core tenet in every religion I can think of, charity, community, compassion.

Show people that government isn’t the only source that they can fall back on.  Look at it this way, the way people talk about others often shows how they themselves think.  I call it the “I am the world” fallacy, and I’m guilty of it myself sometimes, we all are.  We tend to make assumptions about the way people act based on our own habits and thoughts.  Conservatives naturally tend to think that the government isn’t needed because we ourselves are more generous and just assume everybody does the right thing.  Liberals assume others are avaricious, cruel, irrationally selfish, and miserly not because they’re saints and know everyone else is stingy, but because they themselves are not compassionate at their heart—they fear they will have no one to fall back on because in their heart of heart they know they won’t help other either.  (Liberals give to charity less than conservatives and they volunteer a hell of a lot less than conservatives, see Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks).

But if we get people who might not usually attend church to come to charity events we can show them that people do care for people and that we don’t need government to care for us…and maybe we can even show them there is personal joy in compassion and charity.  Trust me, a person who does charity out of the joy it brings them never votes liberal, liberals give out of guilt not joy.

So get your church (or any other group that has the resources) involved in the community (if you’re not doing at least 3 events a month, it’s not enough), invite people to come just for the charity aspect, and watch their belief that the government is the only one looking out for them disappear (also with more human contact and larger social circles we might fix that single problem listed above).

Also this process will help destroy that one thing that Obama did well in “He cares about people like me.”

2012 exit polls key points

Charity and a strong community teach us that we are capable of caring for people who aren’t like ourselves.

But that can’t be all we have to do.  Liberals have done a great job with controlling the media.  News, movies, TV shows, you name it there are liberal messages.  But we cannot give in on this.

So there are a few things we can do.  The first is that we can try to pull their funding.  Here at the Conservative New Ager we’re going after that Goebbels style propaganda wing MSNBC.  We encourage people to write to their advertisers and pull their ads.  It works.  If a company just gets a hundred letters asking them to make sure the shows they are advertising on are only reporting the truth, they will either pull the ads or they will use the power their money buys them to get results.  We have already heard from P&G and UPS.

The next thing is that we need to expose people to the truth.  I would recommend everyone use all the social media they have to expose their friends to the truth.  Now you don’t have to repost a thousand articles every day, but don’t be afraid to share something for fear of losing a friend.  For everyone you lose you’ll likely help push a two or three that much closer to the truth.  (And if you’re like me you don’t have many liberal friends left anyway, it’s the middle we’re trying to win, not the ones beyond hope).

Also if you get a real newspaper (there aren’t many left: The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times…if it uses AP articles don’t bother) take it to work and leave it in the break room every day.  It can only help expose people to the truth.

But on that note we need to share the media that is conservative we need to focus on the stuff that isn’t the news and isn’t explicitly political.  Liberals have tried to infect every book, every movie, every show with liberal messages and just habituate people into thinking in liberal terms.  The problem is that most good literature is more conservative in its themes.  Self sufficiency, rational thought, ethical behavior, connection to God.  These subtle themes are in literature everywhere, even when it’s written by artists who are liberal themselves.  George Orwell was a socialist, but 1984 and Animal Farm are scathing critiques of the very state Orwell would likely have supported.   Given time, the truth will out, as a conservative writer once put it. What conservatives make the mistake of doing is trying to give people Atlas Shrugged and Ann Coulter and Thomas Sowell.  It doesn’t matter that we enjoy those, those books only preach to the choir.  If someone isn’t open to those ideas, if they’ve been indoctrinated to think conservatives are evil, Rand was psychotic, Coulter is vicious and Sowell is an Uncle Tom, it doesn’t matter if the facts are there, their emotional reaction to those works will prevent them from seeing the facts.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t share books and TV shows with friends, family, acquaintances. I’m sure we know lots of people who are not conservative but if they were introduced to those ideas the logic and reason of it would come out.  That is why I am putting together a list of books, movies and TV shows that depict the conservative themes and that we agree with, without being explicitly conservative.   The Individual, reason, ethical behavior, long term thinking, the truth.  These are things that bring people close to conservatism.  I would take a look at this list (and keep coming back as I hope to keep adding to it).  Lend these works out to people who you think might be open to them.  Give them as gifts for any holiday and any excuse you can.  And then discuss them with the person after they’ve read or watched it (never give out something you’re not familiar with already!  You don’t want to get caught where they make some silly liberal interpretation and don’t have a comeback for it).  It seems silly but ideas have power, and once they’re in a person’s mind they spread not just to affecting the other ideas of that mind but in the way they behave to others and the way they influence the ideas of others.  And if they get more conservative in their thoughts introduce them to the more explicitly conservative works…but don’t start with those, they’ll just shut people down.

Finally it’s the old stand-bys.  Write a blog or letters to editors.  Donate to organizations that promote your beliefs (right now I would focus on Heritage and Freedomwork because they do not seem overly obsessed with the social issues which are dragging this party down and giving the left too many easy targets), volunteer for campaigns, get involved.  We have four years where we can do next to nothing to save the economy or well being of our allies across the sea.  Nothing.  We have this idiot tyrant in charge and he will wreck the place as much as he can through a combination of stupidity and malice.  Focusing too much on that will be somewhat fruitless for us as individuals—but as individuals we do have the power to influence those around us and help bring them to our side.

*Also Obama did exceedingly well with people who aren’t not affiliated with any religion but are spiritual  you know, the kind of people the Republicans and Reincarnation was written specifically for.  If you know some of these people, could it hurt to give them a copy?

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An Open Letter to Libertarians: Something you should consider

Libertarians.  Look, we’re not going to get along on everything.  Let’s just admit this.  Now we can sling insults and hold a grudge match that will get neither of us what we want…or we work together.

Now before we get into my proposal, I would like to go over three basic points.

The first is that it is better to get half of what you want than to get none of what you want.  Yes moral superiority might feel good for a few seconds but when it’s dealing with pragmatic issues, actually getting half of what you want is always better psychologically and tangibly.

The second is that politics is a game of trying to convince people who might be open to you.  Romney’s 47% comment, despite the Democratic spin, was a pragmatic comment of “there is a percentage of the country that does not agree with me and pandering to them won’t work.”  Thus any group that makes it clear that they will never vote for someone because of this or that issue makes themselves politically irrelevant.

The third is that Romney’s going to win.  Wednesday’s debate shows that we are going to have 4 debates of Obama and Biden getting their asses handed to them.  Add to that the fact that when you consider what we all know, that all the polls (even before the debate) were being cooked and are still being cooked (they’ve now moved from over sampling Democrats to under sampling independents where Romney has a 7  to 8 point lead BEFORE the debates).  Then take that fact that the polls are skewed and add the fact that the remaining undecided voters invariably vote 2 to 1 for the challenger, even a conservative estimate makes it clear that Romney already has the electoral votes and 3 more debates like that plus Obama clearly just phoning it in at this point means, that without question, Romney’s going to win.

Now, Libertarians, as much as I have been frustrated with you and your party this year, I say with all honesty, I want you to have a larger influence in all levels of government.  I may not agree with you 100% on all things, but trust me there are a lot of issues I stand about halfway between you and the Republican establishment.  On a lot of things you are the intellectual foundation of the Tea Party, and I want to see that foundation strengthened, not weakened.  I loathe the social conservative branch of the Republican Party, and I was beyond giddy when their nearly Satanic candidate Rick Santorum went down in flames.  But guess what?  You’re not making it easy to get the Republican Party to embrace it’s Coolidge/Goldwater/Reagan roots of libertarianism and kill this monster called social conservatism that is really just intrusive government under a different branding.

Why are you making it hard? Because you aren’t accepting point one that it’s better to get half than none.  The Republican Party does admit that.  You tell the Republican Party composed of Milton Friedman monetarists that unless they embrace the most radical branches of Austrian economics you won’t vote for them.  And knowing you’re this intractable, if they want capitalists in the GOP to have any chance of halting full on Keynsian socialism, they have to make a deal with the mixed economy people.  The GOP is willing to make compromises and go to or three steps to the right or left to keep it centered around their beliefs…but since you demand they go five steps to the right (two or three further than their morals will go) the two steps to left, while repugnant, prevents ten steps to the left.  (Of course if you compromised and made the three steps we did you would get more of what you want and we wouldn’t have to constantly compromise with the left).  Same goes with social issues.  I saw a Reason ad this week hitting Romney/Ryan for being terrible social conservatives who are opposed to medical marijuana.  Is this true? Not really.  Paul Ryan came out and said that he and Romney wouldn’t personally vote for it if they had a choice, but they consider it a state’s rights issue and will not get the federal government involved.  But apparently the libertarians over at Reason are so rigid that unless you embrace both absolute states rights AND complete social liberalism you’re just another big government hack.  A pragmatic person would say, if the federal government isn’t getting involved, what does it matter if the people in that government hold a different opinion.  But no, unless libertarians get to eat their cake, have it, keep it and eat it again over and over again, nothing is good enough for them.

Libertarians make it quite clear, that unless you march 100% lockstep with them, they will not vote for you.  And then they bitch about the fact that the coalition that is the GOP doesn’t listen to them.  We may not have a parliamentary government like most of Europe, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have coalitions.  We just form them when we form the party not when we form the parliament.  And, I’m sorry, if you want to be in the coalition you have to work with the coalition.

And I want you in this coalition.  And I want more voice calling for less government in the economy and in my personal life.  I want government out of religion and business.  I want that to be a legitimate voice that holds sway.

But you have to work with us.

So how do we make the Libertarian vote a legitimate voice again?

Well this election provides a great opportunity.

The first thing I’m going to say that in any state that is clearly 10 point to the Romney or Obama side, if you want to vote for Gary Johnson, vote for Gary Johnson and get your libertarian friends to come out.  In these states where, let’s be honest here, your vote isn’t going to make a difference let’s at least make it count by showing that there is a huge number of libertarians out there.

However if you live in a state where theoretically your vote could swing things (remember how close some of these states have been in the last few years) you need to vote for Romney.  (In the second half of this blog I’ll show you Romney will give you half of what you want, where Obama will give you nothing, but let me finish this line of thought first).  By voting for the Libertarian in large numbers in non-swing states but voting for Romney (and I would hope the GOP Senate and House candidates in close contests if you can stomach it) in swing states you are showing that the Libertarian Party has grown up and is willing to work with the Republican Party.  That you are the swing voters the GOP needs to get* and that you are open to working with the GOP.

In addition to this, you need to get every liberal you know to not vote Obama but vote for Johnson.  This will give a better clue as to which voters do really care about economic conservatism and social freedom.  Let’s be honest you may not agree with Romney on a lot of issues…but is there one you agree with Obama on?

Again this will show the Republican Party you’re open to compromise, that we can drop the social conservatives sometimes, and it will increase the power of the Tea Party and the Libertarian view in federal government.  The GOP is probably going to take Congress and the White House, but a move like this will temper any social conservative urge for fear it might alienate the segment they picked up, and embolden them on the economic conservative front as they will believe there will be no backlash.  It’s a win for the Libertarians.  It’s a win for the Republicans.  And it’s a loss for big government.

But I understand you might have reservations.  You’ve heard for months that Romney is big government, that Romney is just like Obama.  I get it, I was once there myself.  But when I looked at facts, I found that just wasn’t the case. 

 

Let me put out a few common complaints by Libertarians and show you how these complaints are not the case.

If you listened to some in the Libertarian party, these two are to the left of FDR…sane people know there is a difference between these guys and their opposition.

As I pointed out above, the Romney and Ryan ticket believe in states rights…and unlike Obama they’re not going to waste federal dollars prosecuting medical marijuana cases.  It may not be full legalization, but the end result is the same.

Another claim is that he’s going to outlaw abortion.  No he’s not, he’s going to try to get rid of all funding for Planned Parenthood.  You’re libertarians, like me, even if you’re pro-choice you should support getting rid of government funding of abortion.  Now he has said he’s supporting an Amendment to the Constitution–1.  The president has absolutely no power and no role in the process of adding amendments and 2. There is no way you will ever see 38 states agree to banning abortion…thus him saying that he’ll support an Amendment is like saying “I’d support cold fusion if someone actually created it”, it doesn’t matter because it’s not going to happen.  But yes he can appoint judges to the Supreme Court who might do something conservative judges hardly ever do, overturn previous major decisions…which would make abortion a states rights issue again (the court has the power to make something legal, but it has no authority to make something illegal…all overturning Roe would do is make it a states rights issue)…hey aren’t you libertarians in favor of states rights issues?

Same with gay marriage.  The amendment won’t go anywhere and he’ll keep it as a state’s rights issue. However, if the libertarians follow my suggestion they might be able to get enough power to propose disentangling the state from religion as it currently is in its treatment of marriage. But Libertarians would have to have some power for that to happen.

Romney has said he supports auditing the Fed and will sign the bill if it gets to him.  You give Romney a Republican Senate and you will get the audit of the Federal Reserve you’ve always wanted. Will you get that with Obama?

On spending Libertarians keep going off on Romney’s budgets in Massachusetts and the Ryan plan.  Did you miss that both cases were budgets designed to pass legislatures controlled by liberal Democrats?  Yes those things didn’t solve all the problems.  But they were as close as these two conservatives felt they could reasonably get past liberal legislatures.  (Romney’s did…and if Harry Reid wasn’t illegally stopping the bills from coming up, the Ryan plan would have passed as well.).  The actual outline of the budget (and it’s only an outline because Romney understands it is the House that is the only body with the Constitutional authority to draft the specifics of a budget). There is nothing in the Romney plan, or the 59 points of that plan that will not lead to cuts in government spending.

Yeah, after these 59 major things, I have no idea what Romney will do…

Screw the first 100 days, the first 100 hours is going to be productive under Romney.

On taxes this is the most bizarre one of all.  Romney didn’t raise a single tax as Governor of Massachusetts.  Taxachusetts.  That’s impressive.  That shows commitment to keeping taxes down.  Libertarians scream that he did raise taxes.  This is either a lie or insanity.  What Romney did do was raise fees for government services.  Why libertarians are upset with this, I’m not entirely sure…for decades I have heard and read capitalists from the more moderate Sowell, Freidman and Hayek to the extreme of Rand in the later years (after she had completely gone off the deep end) and every shade of capitalist and libertarian in between say that it would be better if the government raised revenue through fees rather than taxes.  Then someone does that…and libertarians scream he’s a bleeding heart liberal…for doing what they suggested.  WTF?  Are there some in the libertarian party (those with the pulpit) suffering from Romney-derangement syndrome?  I think so.  Yeah it would be better if he lowered taxes (you know like he wants to at the federal level) but let’s see how many taxes you could get lowered with a legislature that’s 87% Democrat?

Gun rights…the NRA endorsed Romney-Ryan…they don’t always endorse candidates, lots of elections go without an NRA endorsement…go on tell me Romney’s anti-gun.

RomneyCare is 70 pages and protect the private sector.  Obamacare is 300o pages and destroys the private sector.  A mandate is constitutional under the Massachusetts Constitution…it is not Constitutional under the U.S. Constitution (shame John Roberts has never read it).  Romneycare looks like what the Heritage Foundation proposed…Obamacare looks nothing like that. But please tell me how they’re the same.

The Patriot Act and NDAA…look we’re not going to agree on this one.  And you’re not going to get what you want out of either Romney or Obama.  What you will get is that Romney won’t sue courts to put back indefinite detention of captured foreigners (the bill that passed didn’t include indefinite detention of U.S. citizens who have not already committed an act of treason (which technically you could already hold them even without NDAA) (Libertarians are now going to throw a hissy fit and tell me I’m wrong….here’s the link to the bill    find for me the text that says otherwise…I’ll save you some time, it’s not there).  And yeah, Romney will use what parts of the Patriot Act haven’t been overturned by courts to go after terrorism (and most of you do realize that the majority of the Patriot Act was just extending the powers the federal government had against organized crime to terrorism, getting rid of the Patriot Act won’t get rid of the powers if you have someone like Obama who is willing to abuse every law for personal gain.)  I can say that, unlike Obama, Romney will keep to the letter and spirit of the law.  You don’t like it, and we won’t agree…but you have to admit one is better than the other.

Defense.  Again you’re not going to get what you want here. But would you prefer someone like Goldwater and Reagan who understand peace through strength and keep conflicts to a minimum….or someone like LBJ, Carter, and Obama who through gross incompetence spark conflicts that eventually draw us in whether we want them or not.  Further, I know you want the defense budget cut…Romney’s not going to cut troops or arms or the size of the Navy…but this is the genius of Bain.  Do you really think he’s not going to have some very good people go through every department and go line by line looking at all the worthless bullshit and eliminate that? Romney, will give you cuts in every department’s budget.  Big ones.  If you let him.

Look, like I said at the beginning it’s better to get half of what you want than nothing.  Romney will give you that half.  Obama won’t.  Romney believes in smaller government, Obama doesn’t.

I said that to be relevant you have to show that you’re willing to work with us.

And Romney’s going to win.

It’s up to you.  You can do what I suggested, vote for Romney in the swing states, vote for Johnson in the non-swing states and get every libertarian leaning liberal to vote for him too.  This will show the Libertarians have numbers but are also willing to work with the GOP, thus they can and should be courted as a voting block.

Or you can hold to your rigid stance that Romney and Obama are the same.  Attack both of them. And keep your ideas marginalized, keep the GOP beholden to social conservatives, and make it that much harder to get big government off our backs.

I hope you chose the win-win-win plan I’m suggesting, and not the lose-lose-lose plan of just holding rigidly to anti-Romney.

(Oh if there is some issue you truly feel Obama and Romney are the same on, let me know and give me a chance to dissuade you…but first please ask yourself if they really are the same…or it is just that Romney will only give you part of what you want and Obama will give you none.)

*Some might say that alienating the social conservative base will cause Republicans to lose.  But if you actually look at polls endlessly like I do, you’ll see that what turns a lot of moderate Democratic voters off of the GOP is not the economics but the social issues.  It’s a gamble I know, but if the GOP moved a little away from social conservatives I think they’ll win 3 blue dog Democrats for every social conservative radical (Santorum) who leaves the party.  But there has to actually be more than just Ron and Rand Paul advocating for this in the party.

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Only 100 days to go!!!!

Only 100 days to go until the release of Atlas Shrugged Part II. I’m still not sure why they felt the need to replace the entire cast, but I assume there is method to the madness.

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The Best (and worst) Movies of 2011

It is the year-end review of movies.  It was a crappy year for movies.  A really crappy year!  No.  I can’t even get a top 10 list.  You get 5.  And those five aren’t great.

Why you ask?

I’m looking over the other picks for top movies by other critics and can’t believe it.  For instance 50/50 made it on a lot of lists, yeah, it had some good acting, but it read more like a poorly conceived documentary than film…art is supposed to have a point, a theme, a message, a meaning, or hell even catharsis…this movie had none of that…just an accurate documenting of what happens to a person when they’re dealing with cancer.  Or there is Hugo, which admittedly I haven’t seen, but given that Scorsese is the most overrated director in history who has NEVER made a single even decent, let alone a quality film, I have no desire to watch it.  I would however love to know what the f!@# people see in his terrible body of work?   Midnight in Paris, a cast like New Year’s Eve but with a worse director…again, what the hell is entertaining in ANY Woody Allen film?  War Horse…wow, Seabiscuit meets Saving Private Ryan…or is it Secretariat meets Private Ryan…maybe it was supposed to be Black Beauty meets…you get my point.  (Spielberg has done some good work…but he has also done some of the worst films ever made…1941, Lost World, or Munich anyone?).  Oh, The Help…the idea that help in a household knows more about what is going on than anyone–I got the feeling that the writers and the critics found this a very original concept…which tells me none of them did well in English class or have ever run across a 19th century British novel of manners (it might actually be good, but the banality and unoriginality of theme projected by the advertising when trying to be presented as something new, offends the English teacher in me).  Harry Potter and Muppets (yes, I’ve seen this on lists of critics Top 10’s)…you know if you add Twilight and Justin Bieber’s flick you might actually have the 4 horsemen of an artistic apocalypse.  Drive, or as the most accurate review of it I saw, Grand Theft Auto, is pointless.  A Separation… I haven’t seen it yet but I have read a full plot summary…I don’t need a movie to tell me how shitty life in Iran is, and as I’ve stated before art should show me the best in humanity (and the reviews I’ve seen haven’t exactly convinced me that this is there).

And some movies I was hoping for to be great, weren’t.  Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy, which shouldn’t even really be considered because it wasn’t actually released to the public until 2012 was well acted, but the director was overly taken with himself (I think he always wanted to direct a silent film), the actors were wasted (except Oldman and Cumberbatch), but while the movie was a great thriller, it was thematically pointless (at best it was a statement about how people who live only their jobs don’t have healthy personal lives, somewhat undermined by Smiley being quite content at the end). J. Edgar was a well-done character examination of a flawed man…but it left me bored if anything.  And Girl with the Dragon Tattoo left me preferring the book, not to mention I found having to watch the rape scene (where a good director could have shown a lot less and still given you an idea of what happened) needlessly graphic.   Also the problem with Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is that both are the first books in their respective trilogies and neither is a complete work so it’s unfair to judge them for good or ill until the whole thing is put to film. (I’d actually recommend seeing these three, but J. Edgar was too flawed and Dragon Tattoo and Tinker, Tailor left me wanting more and I refuse to judge them until, at least, I know if their other parts will actually be made).

Admittedly The Descendants might make it on this list…but I just don’t feel like paying the money for a ticket of a movie that cannot possibly be improved by the big screen.

Okay that’s why a lot of stuff didn’t make it…let’s take a look at what did make my list of great films.

Remember I have 4 basic criteria for great art.

1. It must be enjoyable (I have some kind of positive emotional reaction)…so that throws most of critic’s picks out.

2. It must understand human nature…that throws out just about anything made or written by a liberal.

3. It must use the tools of the medium well…that throws out Spielberg and Scorsese

4. It must have a meaningful and correct theme.

5. Thor–Is this a stretch on all 4 counts?  Hell yeah.  But this is more to say what a crappy year this has been (hell #4 and #3 were a stretch, but I should at least give 5 films.)  So let me tell you why.  Clearly the plot was better than any of the other superhero movies this year (it actually had three acts…and a prologue and epilogue to boot).  And clearly it was fun and moving (don’t tell me your heart didn’t drop when he couldn’t Excalibur the hammer out of the stone, and that your heart didn’t jump when it finally came flying to him).  The characters actually act far more human than most of the non-superhero movies this year.  The theme of sibling rivalry, the need for the approval of a parent, the difficulty of growing up and living in a parent’s shadow (all very Shakespearian…especially challenging King Lear and Henry V, with a touch of Much Ado in the humorous scenes) show that director Kenneth Branagh has not strayed far from his usual cup of tea with this film.  Now a friend of mine complained that while the plot and characters were good in this film, there were simply no great lines of dialogue…which is incorrect…there are no great speeches, there are lots of great witty and pithy lines.  “Yes, but I supported you.”  “I am the monster parents tell their children about at night?””Do you want me to take him down or would you rather send in more guys for him to beat up? “”Live, and tell those stories yourself!”   Every line from Darcy.  It’s not The Dark Knight but it could not have been better and it (very) loosely meets all of my 4 points. Should Thor have cracked the top 10, let alone the top 5…no, but that’s how crappy a year it’s been.

4.  The Ides of March.  This a dark film about how power and politics can corrupt just about anyone who is in it.  I justify this as a positive theme because it shows all of us what we shouldn’t be…Democrats…no just kidding (kind of, okay maybe not)…it shows that often the people who claim integrity have none and that those who want power will take it no matter the cost.  It shows us everything we’re not supposed to be, and even though the characters fall short in every way, the writer, director, and message of the film understand that all their actions are deplorable and need to be condemned and shunned.


3. The Company Men.  (Technically it came out in 2010…but that was only a release for Oscars, it wasn’t until 2011 that real people could see it).  The Company Men?  Yes I’m sure odds are you didn’t see this.  Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper all in excellent parts.  It’s a little liberal for my tastes, but, it does not deal in cheap hackneyed stereotypes so I will forgive that (except maybe in Costner’s blue-collar character…but it is very opposed to the usual type Costner plays so I could still appreciate it) .  The story of how various upper and middle management employees of a company deal with being laid off in the current recession.  While it’s critical of business, it makes a justifiable critique that most company boards right now care more about stock prices than they do about making things, about getting a big pay off than the long-term profits, about short-term gain more than long-term thinking…which I will heartedly embrace.

2.  The Debt

I’ve already talked about this movie, so I will simply reiterate that this movie is a masterpiece.

1.  Moneyball

And I’ve covered this genius film already as well…but it without a doubt the best film of the year.

And then we have the honorable mentions

Atlas Shrugged.  (You may object that I include this third of a trilogy when not putting in Dragon Tattoo and Tinker, Tailor…but I have seen confirmation that I will get all 3 parts of Atlas where I have not seen proof with the other two).  Thematically the movie as the book is perfect.  As a representation of the main characters from the book it does an excellent job.  Like the others there are some stylistic flaws.  But still you need to see this movie.

Green Lantern.  I know it has a missing second act.  I don’t care.  I found it enjoyable.

Same with Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Sherlock Holmes, and Mission Impossible.  They were just fun.  (Crazy, Stupid Love, DreamHouse and Real Steel might also make it, but I just felt like waiting for the rental with these).

No Strings Attached and Just Go With It.  Cute, stupid romantic comedies, nothing more.

As I said J. Edgar was well done, but dull.  And I can’t justifiably comment on Dragon Tattoo or Tinker, Tailor until I know they’re stand alone films or part of a trilogy (they’re well done, but somehow lacking if they’re stand alones).

Which of course brings us up to what was the worst film of the yearTwilight…the vapid lack of a point makes it a tempting target, but no.  Justin Bieber?  No, although I yearn for the day I never hear that name again.  Fast-Five?  Drive Angry?  Captain America(which was probably the 2nd worst film of the year)?  Hangover II?  Fright Night for having the audacity of redoing one of my favorite horror films?  No I would have to say, without a moment’s hesitation, the worst film of the year, the film which the world might be a better place if every copy were rounded up and incinerated would have to Anonymous.  Haven’t heard of it?  You’re lucky.  Long and short of it is that the movie is about how the man we know as William Shakespeare didn’t write the plays.  This is based on a long held academic theory that the Will we know was just a simple middle class boy with a basic education and couldn’t possibly have done it…no the author needed to be a noble.  The rank snobbery and petty elitism of this is astounding.  And for over 100 years academics have been trying to rewrite history to present the idea that there couldn’t be a self-made man (liberals and academics really hate that concept because it ruins their elite status…and being one of the most famous men of non-noble background Shakespeare has to be destroyed in their mind).  And nothing is worse than Anonymous which give you a string of historical inaccuracies and inventions and claims them as truth.  Some may compare this to a Renaissance birther or truther movement (although even those movements have better ground to stand on…not that I buy into those two in any way shape or form, I just want to point out if you run into an anti-Stradfordian, run because they are morons) but that is to compliment the theory because it is always so far fetched and so without evidence that it defies even the momentary act of common sense it takes to dismiss the argument of a birther or truther.  As history goes Anonymous ranks more with the idea that we didn’t land on the moon or that the Holocaust never happened (though obviously it doesn’t reach the evil of that denial, they just both require you to deny all known facts.).  This film should never have been made.  Oh, and from a writing, directing and acting standpoint it’s also a piece of shit….or as one critic described it “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

***

Movies I’m looking forward to in 2012; Haywire, Underworld Awakenings (I’m allowed to have my pure brain candy guilty pleasures…no I don’t for a second think it will even be making the honorable mentions list, and you know what low standards I have for that), Safe House, The Vow, This Means War, Brave, The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, Knights of Badassdom, Veronica Decides to Die, Skyfall, Les Miserables (Notice the lack of quality movies there…I’m guessing it will be a top 5 list next year too).

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Books for New Agers: Temple Of The Winds by Terry Goodkind


And so we come to the fourth book of the Sword of Truth Series. Wait weren’t the other books “Books for Conservatives”? Yes, yes they were, but the theme of this book more suits a spiritual lesson than a political one.

First, of course, my very brief synopsis that tries not give out spoilers for the whole series but still makes it seem like a book you should read. In this volume Richard and Kahlan have to deal with Emperor Jagang’s first major move against their kingdom: the releasing of a deadly plague that threatens to kill everyone in their kingdom. And the only way to stop it is to betray one another. It really sucks to be the hero sometimes.

But it is this threat of betrayal that leads directly into the book’s main theme, the Wizard’s Fourth Rule:
There is magic in sincere forgiveness; in the forgiveness you give, but more so in the forgiveness you receive.

(Yes, there is a reason this is getting published on the same day as this week’s meditation).

The Sword of Truth Series is based quite heavily on Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy (this will become really evident when we get to the 9th rule which it takes word for word from Atlas Shrugged) but in many ways Goodkind has created a philosophy somewhat superior to Rand’s beliefs in these books. Rand is famous for saying that there are only two ways to deal with people, through reason and through force. This sadly completely ignores the third way people interact with each other—through love. And it’s moments like this that show Goodkind knows much more than Rand.

As I suggested in the meditation for the week, forgiveness helps you out. Not forgiving someone for something often takes far more energy, far more time, far more effort in our lives than forgiving them and moving on. And it’s very refreshing to let it go and not carry that around anymore. In fact it’s almost cliché to list the psychological benefits to forgiving people even if you don’t tell them you have forgiven them, whereas holding onto grudges creates long term health problems from the constant stress. But more than the physical benefits, it is the spiritual benefits that this rule provides that are more important.

Whatever religious tradition you follow, there is likely a theme of forgiveness, of letting go of the past and moving on. The reason for this is that within every rational religious tradition is the idea that there is something of the divine within us. We sometimes do not live up to that, but forgiveness is the recognition that the divine within us is more important and more lasting than any mistake. Forgiveness lets you ignore the dark part of our lives and admit that those times are temporary and already past, that what exists now is only that part of the divine.

Forgive. Not necessarily forget, someone may screw up to the point where you can no longer trust them, but you can still forgive them even if you never trust them again. But you do need to sincerely forgive those around you because it is the only way to see yourself as something better than a collection of your mistakes, which we all have made. We probably all fall short of perfection in living up to this rule, but that doesn’t mean we should give up in trying to live up to it. Just forgive yourself the moments where you were not your best and move on.

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Republicans and Reincarnation is for sale!!!!

It’s for sale.

Republicans and Reincarnation: The Conscience of A New Age Conservative is finally for sale!!

You should buy a copy. Or three. One for you. One for your best friend whom you want to have one of the best books of the 21st century. And one just because you never know when you’ll need a back up copy.

Buy it at my publisher AuthorHouse

Barnes & Noble

Amazon  (although they apparently are not selling the Kindle version just yet, but they should have it up soon).  

Prices for the book are lower at my publisher, prices for the Nook at B&N is lower than the price at my publisher.  (Royalties are higher from my publisher, so you know where my bias lies).

Feel free to write a review or two…Feel free to mention it to every carbon based life-form you know…feel free to forward information to any member of the media you know.

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Review of Atlas Shrugged Part I

A

(Short review. Longer one will come when I’ve seen it a few more times).
I went to go see Atlas Shrugged Part I with The Snark Who Hunts Back last night. Loved it.
But so I need to deal with the Atlas Shrugged Part I on two different fronts: As a film and as bringing the ideas of the book to the silver screen.
As a film it has some problems. The score kind of sucks. The cinematography is certainly not going to win any awards, and there are some directing calls that clearly show this to be the director’s first major motion picture. Of course when you figure that Hollywood seemed to be out to make sure this movie did not get made, what we got was quite impressive. And none of these flaws were great enough to detract from the quality of the story, the characters and the ideas.
When viewed as a vehicle for the book, I could not be more pleased. I laughed, I applauded, I grinned like an idiot in delight throughout most the movie. It has been nearly 17 years since I first read this book, and this is the movie I have been waiting those 17 years to see. Not only did it convey the ideas so beautifully well (yes, it did not always articulate them as well as the book, but film has always been the art form for an overview of an idea, never for lengthy discussion) but it made up for many of the flaws of style in Rand’s writing.
Characters are no longer Rand’s rather one dimensional cardboard cut outs, they’re human. Dagny and Hank trade sarcastic quips. They have fun, they celebrate their success and know how to love life (unlike the rather placid celebratory dinner shown in the book). These were not only representations of ideas that I could admire, the characters in the film were people I could love.
And the ideas come through clearly. You can see how we could get to that point, and you can hear the evil familiarity in the words of the do gooders. There are points at the beginning where you’re not sure if the information wasn’t just taken straight from real news reports.
Was it perfect? No. But I was happy. Twenty years from now would I like to see it remade with a better budget and better director? Yes. But for now I want to see it again (I will be surprised if I see it less than 3 times on the big screen) and can’t wait for Parts II and III.
You MUST go see this movie.

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Shrug


 "Mr. Rearden," said Francisco, his voice solemnly calm, "if you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders-what would you tell him to do?"  

 "I . . . don't know.  What . . . could he do? What would you tell him?" 

  "To shrug."


Everyone needs to go see Atlas Shrugged

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Books for Conservatives: Atlas Shrugged


So after many years the movie is finally coming out. As it is a highly conservative movie I will need to review it…but before I do, I should probably review the book.

Many of you have read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Most of you have heard of it. And after half a century I don’t feel like giving away plot points is going to spoil it for anyone.

So what we probably already know is that it is the story of the world falling apart. The books protagonists Dagny Taggart, Hank Reardon and Eddie Willers fight against the destruction of the world, trying to prevent it by keeping their businesses open, running and productive to serve as a beacon for the world to rally around, to show the way that people should act. They are opposed by two groups. One consists of the book’s villains—greedy, idiotic, lazy socialist politicians and so-called businessmen who just want to be given everything in life without working for it. The other group who opposes Dagny’s attempt to save the world and not give into its inevitable destruction is, ironically, the other group of heroes in the book, led primarily by the mysterious character of John Galt. Galt is a man who has seen what the unproductive and incapable are doing to the world in slowly destroying it by beating down and ruining every person who can and does produce greatness, so he decides to let the worthless have what they want. He convinces every person of character and industry he can find to leave, to go on strike, to not offer themselves up as a sacrifice for those who hate them. This destroys the world much more quickly than if Galt hadn’t been around, but it also leaves those of quality and character alive and well at the end, ready to return and help rebuild the world now that the illogic of villains has been shown.

The book has many strengths and as many (if not more) weaknesses. Let’s take the strengths first.

The book through its many scenes, discussions and speeches (yes speeches, there’s a 60 page speech in there. It’s a good speech but if you can’t get through all of it, don’t worry most people can’t in the first reading of the book.) the book lays out the moral superiority of the capitalist-democratic-republic. It is only through this single form of government/economics that the virtues and strengths of the human life can be experienced and used to their full potential. Any attempt at socialism, saying the rich have a responsibility to help the poor, saying that the successful should pay to bolster the worthless, saying government knows better than the free market isn’t just pragmatically stupid (after all how do they seem to be working for Obama in helping the economy), Atlas Shrugged proves that socialism is morally evil.

But more than the defense of capitalism, Rand has an exceedingly clear grasp of evil. It didn’t seem like it when she wrote it. Her villains, grasping, worthless, disgusting creatures who can only steal and harass those who actually can make something of their lives are in many ways little more than caricatures. When I first read it I was convinced that the villains of Atlas Shrugged were so farfetched they were there to demonstrate the illogical extreme of socialism/liberalism/evil. How wrong I was. There are many sections in that book where the villains get off on a rant about how they’re entitled to money, and fame and successes and comfort (without having to work for it) and those who actually make all those things are required to give them up for nothing. It was almost too farfetched to believe that anyone could believe in such preposterous clap trap…and then you turn on the evening news. And there you hear Barrack Obama and Barney Frank and Eric Holder and George Soros and Bernie Sanders and Paul Krugman and Chris Dodd and Chris Matthews and Jimmy Carter and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and everyone at the SEUI and the NEA and MSNBC and NBC and the New York Times (oh this list could go on) saying things that came out of the mouth of Atlas Shrugged villains, WORD FOR WORD, without even the slightest trace of irony. It’s frightening, that Rand’s overblown examples of evils are if anything underplayed and about as far from overblown caricature as you can get.

And this is where Rand’s greatest strength comes into play, her prescience. You read Atlas Shrugged and see an America going into economic collapse. Kind of like right now. You read about the government putting in one socialist-fascist regulation after another to “help” the economy but really it only destroys not just the economy but the character and lives of everyone it touches as well. Kind of like now. It’s not point for point in the progression of Bush and Obama presidencies…but it is far, far, FAR too close to not make you think you’re in a Twilight Zone episode.
I can only pray that Rand was wrong about the only way out of this death spiral is to let the whole thing collapse. (Actually I don’t need to pray, I’m fairly certain things will never need to get that dire).

However despite the wonderful articulation of principles of freedom, liberty, free will, capitalism and the free economy (yes all those things are tied together), there are, I will admit some serious flaws with the book.

The most prominent is that while her work offers a wonderful starting place for philosophy, it is far from complete. Rand once stated that there are only two ways to deal with people: reason or force. Reason is superior and force is what brutes who cannot master reason use. Capitalism is based on reason, on creation, on doing, on treating people as equals that can be dealt with on a reasonable level—all other forms of government and economy are based to one degree or another on force, on taking from those who used reason to create and giving it to those who didn’t (either the ruling class or the poor, either way the middle that actually does work is getting screwed). However, Rand fails to see that there is a third way to deal with each and that is friendship and love (although I’ll grant this has little to do with how government and economics are set up). But still her philosophy only encompasses the beginnings of truth and refutes the most egregious lies; it doesn’t deal with the full range of human experience. As such, while the philosophy is a great place to start, it is inadequate as a place to end philosophical reflection and discovery.

Further, while Ayn Rand has villains and their psychology down to a T, her heroes are a bit lacking. Dagny, Galt, Reardon, Francisco, Roark, Prometheus, pick a Rand hero from any book she wrote and you will find someone who lives by thought out and reasonable principles, is courageous, is just, is temperate, and is utterly emotionless. While Rand heroes show many of the virtues we would all like to have, they are all brain and no heart. They feel nothing beyond a philosophical recognition for others. These are the kind of people who after having sex (on train tracks, that can’t be comfortable) launch into long-winded philosophical speeches of the nature of life (somewhat lacking in what I think most of us consider ideal pillow talk…then again anytime Rand starts dealing with sex things get a little odd and disturbingly S&M in their overtones—it’s not in her official biography but I am convinced the woman experienced some extreme trauma living through the Russian Revolution, which in turn led to her becoming very cold and making her characters come off cold. It would also help to explain her hatred of the idea of God, as her atheism is the dispassionate argument of reason, it comes off more as someone who deeply believed and then thought God wasn’t there for her when she needed him and thus in turn will try to prove to everyone he doesn’t exist as a form of revenge). But in the end the heroes of Atlas Shrugged can be no more than caricatures created to show off specific virtues as they are not full and complete human beings with normal emotional responses and attachments. (I am really, really hoping the director of the movie saw how Jackson turned the equally one dimensional characters of Tolkien into fully formed characters in the movies of The Lord of the Rings, and that we get the same evolution in this forthcoming movie).

And the real problem with Atlas Shrugged is its solution. The solution of the people who create, who do, who reason is to just give the foolish, stupid and evil what they want. To retreat from the world, to not convince people of who is right and who is wrong, but to merely run away. Yes it does show whose plan works and whose plan doesn’t work. But that doesn’t mean that it’s right. Yes, capitalism and a democratic-republic and liberty are right. But they’re not just right for the people who believe in them—they’re right for everyone. A right is now something that someone has because they choose to have it; they have it as a virtue of being human. Rand’s heroes retreat and give up on defending the rights of everyone else in the world (even though most of those whom they leave are not bright enough to want those rights). They’re cowards. They ran away and choose not to fight the good fight, the ethical fight and in the process let the world be destroyed. They may argue that this helped speed the process up and allowed them to come back before a new Dark Ages set in, but this is a foolish argument. Unless Rand is arguing that all the stupid people died (which, yeah, that would work, not very ethical, but it would work) the people who have not died from the world collapsing are still going to be the same idiots as before and Galt and his bunch are still going to have to convince them that capitalism is right and socialism is wrong. So all the heroes of Atlas Shrugged have done by running away is make their lives a little easier for a while at the expense of not only everyone in the world but at the expense of future generations who will have to rebuild what Galt let be torn down. Not very heroic!
Yeah if you’re smarter, braver, more virtuous, it is a burden to bear, and some days you might want to shrug it all off. That’s called being human. But not giving into the willingness to give up, fighting the good fight not because you’re going to win but because it’s the right thing to do, that’s what makes a hero. It is the most damning flaw of the book, the main characters who exhibit many virtuous qualities, don’t live up to them.

In the end however, for all of its flaws Atlas Shrugged will always hold a place in my heart. I read it for the first time when I was in the 8th grade and have since reread it several times (I think it’s best to read it when you’re young, as Atlas Shrugged is to philosophy what Doctor Seuss is to reading—it’s a good start that points the right way, but it doesn’t include the depth that real life has in it). It may not understand humanity perfectly and it certainly has a better understanding of its flaws than its strengths, but it does provide a needed ground work to understanding and defending liberty.

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