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“stunning”
I received myTNI  in the mail today. The look is stunning, far superior to anything I expected, to be quite honest. The layout, graphics, aesthetics, and “feel” are absolutely superb. Congratulations. It was worth the wait.
 
Will Thomas’s piece on the economic crisis (“Decoding the Credit Crisis”) was excellent. And brave. Thank you, Will, for truly penning an objective analysis on what is happening. Your story has given me much food for thought and, even more, a glimmer of hope for my own life and business.
Terrific job.
 -Jack Criss

Brandon, Mississippi

 
"don't change anything"

Editor’s note: The writer is a former CNN reporter and magazine editor.

I have in my hands the first copy of the revised TNI. At last, something I can read with pleasure; something that is stimulating and meaningful; a magazine I can ‘cuddle’ up to. Congratulations to you and your team of designers. I am an old-fashioned magazine-a-holic, and like white space, simple fonts, nice pictures and unpretentious articles sprinkled with a little bit of good sense and philosophical explanations—just a little—not too overbearing.

I have only read your “Letter from the Editor,” “The Bright Idea,” the piece about Josh von Staudach with that amazing pull-out photo, and David’s article on “rule breaking”…but I could not wait to bring you my hoorays.

Over the next days I will go cover to cover and thoroughly enjoy the experience. In the meantime, don’t change anything.

I wish you success.

 -Sara Pentz
New York, New York
“bravo!”
My wife Annie and I met [TNI writer] Will Thomas at last year’s Summer Seminar, held in Portland. [Ed. Note: The Summer Seminar is a week-long educational event presented annually by TNI’s publisher, The Atlas Society.]
 I wanted to say that I was both impressed and surprised by Thomas’s article. I was expecting a “hard-core”, pure ideology piece. I kid you not: when I saw The Individualist on the dinner table I said to Annie, “Remember Will Thomas? Let’s see what he has to say about the credit crisis. I wonder if he’ll spout the same naive libertarian drivel we’ve been reading on the editorial pages of the TheWall Street Journal!”

 Rather, I found it to be a serious and thoughtful piece. Bravo! (Maybe you could try to get it reprinted in the WSJ Op-Ed section).

  -Steve Svoboda
San Clemente, California
“blown away”
When I learned that Robert Bidinotto would no longer be Editor-in-Chief of your magazine, I feared for the worst. Robert has a sharp mind and brings a provocative creativity to his work. So when my new issue arrived in the mail, I put it on the coffee table and did not open it for a few weeks.
 
Once I did take a look, however, I was blown away by the selection of quality articles and the new, improved layout. As a designer myself, I wish to praise whoever is responsible for the new typography and visual layout. Looks matter, for better or worse, and our ideas reach a broader audience when we present them in a way that appeals to the senses as well as the mind. In this, you have succeeded in ways that many Objectivist publications have not.
 
In terms of content, I particularly enjoyed Will Thomas’s article (“Decoding the Credit Crisis”). Like any intellectual movement, we are vulnerable to our own version of group-think, and Will’s article was a nice balance to the back-patting that has been a little too pervasive in recent discussions of the economy among free marketers and conservatives. I have been vulnerable to this as much as anyone, and his reminder to check my assumptions was both timely and welcome.
I look forward to receiving my next issue and, I am happy to say, will be picking it up much sooner now that I know what lies in store.
-Joshua Zader
Carson City, NV

kudos
Excellent work on the new TNI, and I very much enjoyed the new aesthetic.
 
 -Stephen Hicks
Rockford, Ill.
“congrats”
 
 
A few lines to thank you, Sherrie Gossett, and The Atlas Society, for the Spring issue of The New Individualist, titled “Return to Revolution.” First, the design and graphic quality of the magazine are truly superb, balancing elements with enormous elegance and with an underlying appeal to the senses. I think terrific design will always prepare the way for intellectual thunderbolts, so we may eagerly receive those well.

Thunderbolts indeed. Although I expect thunderbolts—intellectual jolts of the best kind—in anything related to Ayn Rand and her philosophy—this particular issue seems to sum up the breadth of her ideas as applied to our very own society and current events. From the appreciation of beauty in “Restoring Glory” and the article on photographer Josh von Staudach, to the superb expose on “The Persecution of KPMG,” the magazine focused effectively on critical political and moral issues and ideas.

Every single one of the articles inside the “Return to Revolution” sequence was inspired. We do indeed face a frightening Leviathan, to borrow from Hobbes and Higgs, of a new U.S. government, and need all our wits to figure a way out. “Individual Rights: The Objectivist View”, as well as David Mayer’s thoughts on the American Revolution, are good enough to feed 20 discussion and action groups! From a Cuban and Latin American cultural perspective (and American as well), I appreciate that “The Bright Idea” urges us on to a needful and civil dissent and debate—a hopeful possibility. Kudos, obviously, to Robert Rosenkranz for implementing the civil debate and to Roger Donway for writing this article.

I loved David Kelley’s “Short Course on Rule Breaking,” as I believe we need to teach children—and perhaps adults—the difference between the legal and the moral. These are indispensable ideas in these confused times.
I have shared the magazine with individual rights activist friends, famous Latin American and American writers from Miami or visiting, and reserved copies for two young candidates planning to run in 2010—one to the U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio, and the other to the State Legislature, David Rivera. Both are highly educated, thoughtful and hopefully on the right track to become power-wielders.

The difficulty with Ayn Rand’s Objectivist ideas is that they are not hemmed in by straight lines, but rather cut across labels, classes, even historical philosophy. Of course, that is also part of their very great appeal. I am slowing turning a Cuban think-tank I lead into a mini-Atlas Society, as I am convinced that a clear commitment to individual rights and liberty, and a careful constraint of Big Government is the only path to a truly free and prosperous society. As you know, Cuba has had the worst case of gigantism and abuse in government of the present era, with catastrophic results and the utter unhappiness of its citizens.

This particular issue of TNI is truly a course in Objectivism in its entirety, and faced with what to read if the choice were only one book or magazine, I could truly say—this is it!

-Olga Nodarse Chao
Coral Gables, Florida
 
First, let me express my appreciation of the Spring 2009 issue of The New Individualist. Even by The Atlas Society’s high standards, this is an exceptional issue in that the society openly investigates the shortcomings of the American Revolution in David Mayer’s and David Kelley’s essays. Will Thomas’s essay on the credit crisis (“Decoding the Credit Crisis”) openly and very correctly attributed some blame of the crisis on the free market itself where it absolutely belongs. Roger Donway’s article on persecution of KPMG was frightening to the point where one could legitimately fear that the U.S.A. could one day become a U.S.S.A. (United Socialist States of America à la the old U.S.S.R.).
 
In your essay on the credit crisis, in the last section you attribute blame toward journalists and the rating agency professionals and they deserve it.
 
My personal hypothesis is that the largest failure that occurred was a failure of governance. I say this from my limited experience of being on boards and twenty-plus years of working experience in the finance industry. Before the crisis, shareholders, both institutional and ordinary citizens, in aggregate, owned corporations. Save some new federal government investments, they continue to. They appoint people, typically committees of 7 or 9 people, who they believe will do their best to govern the affairs of the company they own. Now these people, unlike the media and the rating agencies, have access to (indeed, they can and should demand) detailed insider knowledge of the company’s affairs. They have the right and the legal obligation to make policy and strategic decisions. They have a fiduciary duty, by law, and arguably ethically as well, to those who have entrusted them with their money, to govern the corporations they sit on the boards of.
 
More than anyone else, they failed us—us being anyone who has owned debt or equity stock in the various entities that have become crippled in recent times. Among other things, they failed to appreciate the overleveraging of the corporations they oversaw, the fundamental moral hazard of investment banking practices (buy what you can sell but don’t analyze it yourself), and the fundamental incentive hazard of executive compensation schemes (where CEOs get a portion of the winnings when they take big bets but don’t need to and don’t have the financial capacity to shell out a portion of the losses).
 
By the way, CEO compensation schemes, particularly in the U.S., are absurdly high at times, peddled as they are by compensation “experts” who simply survey the market and restate the average and are voted in by boards who have a vested interest in not disturbing the status quo.
 
The overleveraging and the inherent moral hazards of Wall Street have been there for several years. Government regulation that redirected funds toward low income home ownership exacerbated the problem, but we have never had a perfectly free market and boards just need to factor that in.
 
My hypothesis of why the boards generally failed us is that each director has a fiduciary duty to form reasonable opinions and act accordingly, there is a mob mentality in any group, a sense of wanting to belong, a sense of not sticking your neck out and so on, all perpetuated by the ‘we are one’/teamwork mentality that does not reward individual courage. If you want to be on many boards, don’t stick your neck out, play with the team and form “collective opinions.” The vast majority of resolutions passed are unanimous. Vigorous debate is seen as indicating lack of cohesiveness.
 
Institutional shareholders who have the power will need to break through this club and assert their rights. If they do, I am very optimistic that government regulation, whether of bank lending policies or of CEO salaries, could well be avoided. Of course government regulation is not right.
 
But those who have a right to govern and a moral and legal obligation to govern, must govern. Those entrusted with that right by the rightful owners must form their own individual opinion on each issue before them and ask for facts, evidence, and analysis to support their decisions. They must be prepared to take a risk, stand out from the crowd, and state their opinions boldly.
 
The saving of capitalism therefore calls for more individualism, not less of it. The question is, will we get it?
-Vinay Kolhatkar
Sydney, Australia
I was very impressed with the look and format of the last issue. I especially enjoyed Molly Sechrest’s article [“Atlas Shrugged in Haight-Ashbury”]. I belong to that same 60s generation. Though I didn’t adopt the hippie lifestyle, I too was taken in by many of the crazy ideas of the time. I was typical of many who rejected the values of our parents, then drifted through life with nothing to replace them. Later in life, after re-reading Ayn Rand, I was able to establish my own values and transform my life. During that time I had a dream of being in a 3rd or 4th floor apartment with Ayn Rand and [her husband] Frank O’Connor. We were sitting in overstuffed chairs. Outside, malevolent firemen were trying to destroy the apartment, but it was out of reach; a clear message that I had a philosophy of life that could protect me from the upside-down outside world. And just like Molly, my transformation was also sparked by another. Elaine, the most remarkable person I ever met, introduced me to Atlas Shrugged when I was 24. I wasn’t ready then, but the seed was planted, for which I am forever grateful.
-Gary H. Horne
Foristell, Mo.
I would like to congratulate editor Sherrie Gossett on the Spring edition of The New Individualist. As we say in the Southwest this was obviously not her “first rodeo.” The magazine was colorful, informative and expertly laid out. The articles were timely and well-written, as could be expected from the wonderful group of Objectivist authors you have. I have read and re-read everything and have passed out over 20 extra copies to friends and acquaintances.
 
 As a long time reader of The New Individualist and its predecessor, Navigator magazine, I found your Spring 2009 edition to be the best one yet.
 
 Keep up the excellent work. I cannot wait for the Summer ‘09 edition.
  
-Wayne Metcalfe

Alto, NM

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