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If you have a burning interest in morality, is it immoral to steal a book on it? Well that’s not exactly what Joanne Hall did. But she did borrow Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged from the San Francisco Public Library system 33 years ago, and let’s give her credit for finally returning it.  Lost from the stacks Joanne was featured in a San Francisco Chronicle story about an amnesty the library was granting for those holding some 55,000 library books -- adding up to a cool $4.5 million. The current daily fine for an overdue book is 10 cents. So for Ms. Hall that would have added up to (365 x 33 x .10) = $1204.5. Not including leap years or interest. Joanne was not planning to purloin the magnum opus of Ayn Rand, whose Objectivist philosophy emphasizes honesty and acquiring possessions by paying for them. We asked Joanne what happened and she explained: “Thinking back to that time in my life, it's pretty likely that one of my friends who...
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Originally published on Would Aristotle have Tweeted? Would Isaac Newton have been too busy being distracted by Facebook that he would not have written The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy? Would Ayn Rand have Snapchatted? In reading about historical figures it is easy to forget that they were once living, breathing beings. We can read and even watch the voluminous material about Ayn Rand’s life, but forget that she would have had restless nights just as we do. We can read her works and hear that she fled Soviet Russia in 1926. We may know of her as a stolid stoic, but undoubtedly, in leaving her homeland, her family, and her friends, she wept. The lives of those who came before us can be a guide to our own choices. We learn about staunch idealists like Ayn Rand and Winston Churchill and we become more idealistic ourselves. Atlas Snapped Ayn Rand was a revolutionary in many ways. Not merely in challenging two thousand years of entrenched morality, but in the way she lived her life. She may not have had Snapchat, but she had moving pictures. From today’s...
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Originally published on September 7th, 2010. This week we’ve celebrated the birthdays of two heroes, Ayn Rand (Feb. 2nd) and Ronald Reagan (Feb. 6).   But today marks the birthday of another world-changing leader in the annals of liberty, Joseph Schumpeter, born on February 8th, 1883. No one did more to create the popular imageof the heroic entrepreneur than the Moravia-born economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950), who was for many years aprofessor of economics at Harvard University. Best known for his book Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (1942), Schumpeter wrote that: “Capitalism, then, is by nature a form or method of economic change and not only never is but never can be stationary.  The fundamental impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion comes from the new consumers’ goods, the new methods of production or transportation, the new markets, the new forms of industrial organization that capitalist enterprise creates.” This endless generation of new goods and services and methods means, at the same time, the continual elimination of old goods and services and methods. From these observations came Schumpeter’s most...
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With the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education yesterday, President Trump won a fiercely-fought battle -- with game-changing implications.  DeVos, a tireless proponent for school choice, was opposed by a solid wall of Democrats and two dissenting Republicans, requiring a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence.   The proponents of a government monopoly on education are having a meltdown.  “A sad day for children,” was the assessment of teachers union boss Randi Weingarten, who earns a cool half a mill as President of the American Federation of Teachers.  Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson essentially called DeVos a murderer: DeVos is a religious conservative, and as such, Ayn Rand might have reflexively disliked her, having repeatedly criticized religion and conservatism.  But the argument for school choice is grounded in the moral rights of individuals to choose for themselves -- and their children.  Rand rejected conservatives who seek “to uphold the status quo, the given, the established, regardless of what it might be, regardless of whether it is good or bad, right or...
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Hardcore anti-Communist Ayn Rand was, to the surprise of many who did not live through those days, not a fan of hardcore anti-Communist Ronald Reagan. But Rand died in 1982, only a year into Reagan’s presidency. So on the occasion of his birthday, let’s ask why Rand didn’t like Reagan and whether, if she had lived, she would have reevaluated her opinion of the Gipper. Fear of the Religious Right Rand found strong fault principally with Reagan’s alliance with the emerging Religious Right. She said that “the appalling disgrace of his administration was his connection with the so-called ‘Moral Majority’ and sundry other TV religionists, who are struggling, apparently with his approval, to take us back to the Middle Ages via the unconstitutional union of religion and politics.” Most notably, Rand rejected Reagan’s opposition to legal abortion. But what really happened to all those campaign promises?  In retrospect, Reagan mostly offered rhetoric and did little to make the Religious Right agenda his political priority. His energies went into two goals. First, he wanted to roll back the Soviet bloc, and thus the threat of nuclear war, rather than resigning...


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