With depressing regularity life in today’s post-rational America imitates Ayn Rand’s dystopian novel Atlas Shrugged. For those unfamiliar with Rand’s objectivist masterpiece or who last read it in a literature class many years ago, the novel describes a future in which the country’s greatest thinkers, creators and producers go on strike against an increasingly collectivist society bent on outlawing profit and wealth creation. The latest example of Ms. Rand’s prescience is the announcement that the heads of nearly 200 U.S. companies have announced they are committing to a move away from the idea that the main purpose of a company is to maximize shareholder value. According to a report by Ciara Linnane, corporate news editor for MarketWatch.com, the Business Roundtable, a group of chief executives that was formed to promote pro-business interests, said it is shifting its statement of the purpose of a corporation to include all of its stakeholders, including employees, suppliers and broader society. “While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all our stakeholders,” the CEOs wrote in a joint statement. The group is now “committing to delivering value to customers, investing in employees in ways that go beyond financial compensation to include training and education to...
This month is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves in Virginia. The New York Times has created what they refer to as The 1619 Project, whose goal “is to reframe American history, making it explicit how slavery is the foundation on which this country is built. For generations, we have not been adequately taught this history. Our hope is to paint a fuller picture of the institution that shaped our nation.” Americans know too little about their own history, including of course slavery. Slavery was a horror for those who experienced it — but there is no American alive today who either was a slave or slaveholder. The same cannot be said for parts of Africa and the Middle East, where pockets of slavery still exist. The 1619 Project ought to be noble, but unfortunately political correctness has pushed itself ahead of good history — particularly economic history. What should have been a good discussion of the economics of slavery and its lingering effects has been turned into an anti-capitalist screed. One section begins with the following statement: “In order to understand the brutality of American capitalism you have to start on the plantation.” The whole line of argument is false. Capitalism, unlike man-designed economic systems, such as socialism in all its various forms, including communism, fascism and feudalism, emerged from the spontaneous order. Man is a trading animal, and when he runs out of things to trade, he starts producing things that he...
MM: You are a writer, producer, actress, homeschool advocate, talk show host, and you're going to emcee The Atlas Society gala on October 10. I'm very impressed with your output. I'm also a big fan of how you engage with contemporary culture. You remind me of Ayn Rand. Are you a fan of hers? SS: Absolutely! I think that what she accomplished intellectually, coming from Russia and going so far libertarian was really just a feat of the human brain. To comprehend so well the political structure and the ramifications thereof took a great deal of flexibility. Something that we lack in today's culture is a flexible attitude with which to consider alternatives and to embrace alternatives when we recognize that they might be better than the ones that we grew up with. But we're raised in in our society today to accept without thinking and to close our ears. What do you think safe spaces are? They're an excuse to not have to listen to new ideas. The mark of a good education is being able to entertain a thought without accepting it or without losing your self-confidence. Ayn Rand was able to entertain the thought of America and actually accepted and adopted it and then elaborated on it. It was an amazing accomplishment really. MM: How did you first discover Ayn Rand? SS: I read Atlas Shrugged when I was a teenager. MM: I read your book, They’re Your Kids: An Inspirational Journey from Self-Doubter to Home School Advocate. One of the points that you make is that public...
Seven categories. Five only in each. Works that I love or learned from or influenced me or that I return to regularly. Literature Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (1862) Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac (1897) L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (1908) Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead (1943) Elliott Arnold, White Falcon (1958)  Historical Fiction Mary Renault, The Persian Boy [Alexander the Great, through the eyes of his lover Bagoas] Robert Harris, Cicero trilogy [Cicero, through the eyes of his scribe Tiro] Conn Iggulden, Genghis Khan trilogy Irving Stone, The Agony and the Ecstasy [Michelangelo] David Nevin, Dream West [John Charles Frémont and the far West of the USA], and Eagle’s Cry [James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and the Louisiana Purchase] History Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War William Manchester, A World Lit Only by Fire Peter Gay, The Enlightenment: An Interpretation Gerald Gunderson, The Wealth Creators: An Entrepreneurial History of the United States W. T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy Science Armand Marie Leroi, The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science Galileo Galilei, Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina James Watson, The Double Helix Richard Feynman, “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” Adventures of a Curious Character Sherwin Nuland, Doctors: The Biography of...
Every July, I draw inspiration from some of the best and brightest high school students. They come with big dreams to the two-week residential Snider Enterprise & Leadership Fellows (SELF) program at the University of Maryland. At the cusp of adulthood, each participant is armed with a vision of making the world a better place by solving problems they find personally meaningful. Quentin, a senior from Amherst, Ma., loves math and aspires to provide useful information through a career in analytics. Emem, a senior from Beltsville, Md., prefers design. She recently switched her professional ambitions from medicine to visual marketing to align better with her abilities. Priya, a senior from Laurel, Md., is drawn to science. She dreams of becoming a pediatrician, and watching happy, healthy kids playing in a park. Former executives of France Télécom, previously a state-owned company that now operates privately as Orange, have more modest goals. As they await the verdict in a high-profile criminal trial, they just want to stay out of jail. An ocean of difference separates the Maryland classroom and Paris courtroom. But the concurrent events illustrate important lessons about human dignity and the principle of trade. Fellows in the SELF program experience the trader principle through a game...

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