Editor’s Note: Friends and members of The Atlas Society are among our greatest resources. Their energy, ideas, and support actively shape our work. Niko Gjaja is a physical chemist, entrepreneur, husband, father, and grandfather. Senior Editor Marilyn Moore, Ph.D recently interviewed Niko about his childhood in Yugoslavia during the 1940s and 1950s, about the day-to-day realities of collectivism, about immigrating to the United States to work at General Electric during its heyday in the 1960s, and about the ways he has been influenced by The Atlas Society and Ayn Rand. MM: Where were you born?  NG: I was born in Belgrade, in August 1935, to a Ph.D mechanical engineer father and a conservatory-trained pianist mother.   My father had a business, a railroad equipment repair shop in Sarajevo, but the Depression caused it to close.  He then went to work in the Transportation Ministry and gradually became an expert on high speed passenger train car designs.  He was fluent in German, French, and Italian, and for a few years before the war, he became a Yugoslav representative in the European Railroads Union. MM: What was Belgrade like when you lived there? NG: There are a lot of atrocities associated with that city.  Yet, the people there have a sense of humor and a spirit I have never seen anywhere else. Their informal motto is “Lako ćemo!” Loosely translated: “We’ll get this done easily!” On March 27, 1941, Hitler ordered an invasion of Yugoslavia....
Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin (a brand of the narcotic, oxycodone), has filed for bankruptcy and the vultures (both public and private) will get a lot less than they’re hoping for. And one hopes the Sackler family, who owns Purdue, will escape lynching and bloodletting. An explanation: Purdue and the Sacklers are accused of selling an addictive narcotic painkiller (and selling it successfully). This is their sin. But what part of “narcotic” does not warn the world that it’s addictive? In fact, the product carries the following FDA warning: OXYCONTIN® (oxycodone hydrochloride) extended-release tablets, for oral use, CII Initial U.S. Approval: 1950 WARNING: ADDICTION, ABUSE AND MISUSE; RISK EVALUATION AND MITIGATION STRATEGY (REMS); LIFETHREATENING RESPIRATORY DEPRESSION; ACCIDENTAL INGESTION; NEONATAL OPIOID WITHDRAWAL SYNDROME; CYTOCHROME P450 3A4 INTERACTION; and RISKS FROM CONCOMITANT USE WITH BENZODIAZEPINES OR OTHER CNS DEPRESSANTS See full prescribing information for complete boxed warning. • OXYCONTIN exposes users to risks of addiction, abuse and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death. There is an “opioid epidemic” in the U.S. that reportedly includes a significant increase in heroin use and heroin mixed with fentanyl, a lethal synthetic opioid. Neither heroin nor fentanyl were or are produced and sold by...
Editor’s Note: Stephen Cox, Ph.D, professor of literature and director of the Humanities Program at the University of California, San Diego, recently edited an anthology of writings by Isabel Paterson. Culture and Liberty: Writings of Isabel Paterson (2015), contains many selections from Paterson, including two long, previously unpublished letters that Paterson wrote to Ayn Rand. Senior Editor Marilyn Moore, Ph.D interviewed Cox about the friendship between Isabel Paterson and Ayn Rand and the influence Paterson had on Rand’s development as an intellectual. MM: The articles by Isabel Paterson from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s in Culture & Liberty,are they most interesting as historical documents or do they offer us any useful perspective on our current political climate? SC: Well I think that one thing that Paterson’s writings give us is the opportunity to see what happens when power is concentrated by political means. There is so much power to be divvied up among people in government, and it becomes a corrupting force. I'm sure she would say that both of the two major political parties have been corrupted by the amount of power that they've given themselves. She would say that they don't know how to use it, and that they continually try to cover up their mistakes by expanding their...
Academics, the media, and Democratic politicians, like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have suggested that reducing inequality should be a central objective of public policy. This focus represents a substantial change from a previous consensus, which suggested that it was the reduction of poverty, not inequality per se, that should be given priority. This reorientation is not just a grave practical mistake, but as a moral matter, inequality is also undeserving of government concern. There is no substantial evidence that inequality of wealth harms our society in general. Any program of reducing inequality will have substantial costs, not least to the economic growth that can redound, among other things, to reducing poverty. The Poverty of Moral Justifications for Targeting Inequality First, the moral justification for targeting inequality by government coercion is weak. Poverty represents an extreme form of distress. And, intuitively, we feel an obligation to help people in extremity, just as if they are seriously ill. But most people do not have such intuitions about inequality and for good reason. People are unequal on many dimensions besides wealth—in physical attractiveness, in underlying health, and indeed in their innate capacity for happiness. Why should society single out material inequality as the most important form of inequality—one that alone demands state power to correct? There is no substantial evidence that inequality of wealth harms our society in general....
If it’s a coincidence that “individual” begins with a letter that’s also a closely associated word, it’s a happy one indeed. Individual and I are inseparable. “I” is the pronoun used to refer to oneself as the speaker, writer, thinker, or actor. Without exception, “I” is an individual, not a group or a collective of any sort. This fact is worth endless celebration. For the profound truth it represents, we should be thankful every waking moment of our lives. I rejoice that I’m not a replica, an appendage, or a cog. Like each and every one of you reading this, I’m a completely specific, utterly unique, self-winding, and inner-motivated one-of-a-kind. No other human in our planet’s history was or is exactly like me or precisely like you, either. I’m not someone’s robot. I will resist efforts to program me or collectivize me into something I’m not. If ever you catch me trying to program or collectivize you, blow the whistle so I come to my senses. I’m appalled at the ease with which some people speak of their fellow citizens as though they are liquids to be homogenized or tools to be manipulated—not by request but by the force of political power. It’s all for the nebulous collective good, they assure us, but for some reason they are willing to do us harm to achieve it. A Yearning for Independence In keeping with my individuality, I seek to be as independent and self-reliant—a burden to no one—as my abilities allow. I will speak for myself and gladly accept responsibility for my...

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