Atlas Shrugged

Maybe naming the late ’70’s early ’80’s the “Me Generation” was a bit misplaced. That time-line would include the boomers born immediately after WWII who were deep into their jobs and professions. The name signified that the world revolved around that later post-boomer generation. But as as a greying post-war baby, it seems as if many of my generation are referring to a mind-set that wants some of what we created for our kids to flow our way for a change. In other words, we want some of what we gave away. I specifically point to the racially exclusive Tea Party and the candidates they have put up who will try and make the self-centeredness (“Me Generation”) a reality in government. Tea Party candidate J.D. Hayworth of Arizona is going up against the aging John McCain causing the once principled McCain to retract his former moderate beliefs and retreat to the lowest common denominator of the selfishness and ego centrism that marks the Tea Party movement. He treats Hayworth as if he is a credible candidate. Move over Religious Right, there’s a new extremist intolerance in town. Hayworth who’s voting record in the House was an anthem to Libertarianism will probably not win the Republican nomination. The people of Arizona are way smarter than that, aren’t they? As a Representative in the House, Hayworth called for over-the-top legislation on immigration and border control without actually getting any of it done. His blow-hard style finally got to his constituents who were more wise and more informed than he was. (He was investigated for shady ties to Jack Abramoff and his cronies which cost him his last race. Now, his seemingly antisemite remarks as well as his his connection to the “Birthers” and love for Orly Taitz will probably do him in this time). Besides not being a student of history, Hayworth’s ideas are as looney as his talk show. His latest complaint is that there are not enough troops to secure the Southern Border (MTP-30th of May) and opposes anything related with amnesty for illegals. While the cross border drug trade gets a lot of press as well as acts of violence, most reasonable people believe that the majority of illegals are attracted, not by a life of crime but by the promise of jobs in the U.S. provided by unscrupulous employers. Hayworth bills himself an “ultra-conservative” which is loosely translated “fascist” and there you have it in a nutshell.

Speaking of nut jobs, Dr Paul, the ophthalmologist who wants to be the next Senator from the Blue Grass State was on the Russia Today TV show recently talking about the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. He said that kids born of illegals who are in the U.S. should not be considered “citizens.” Now it seems to me that a true “Libertarian” would consider a 140+ year-old amendment to be settled law. This is where there is some difficulty in deciphering Paul’s personal interpretation of Libertarianism. Libertarians want smaller government, consider taxes “theft” and adhere to the “ethical egoism” mantra of Ayn Rand. Among other positions, Paul wants radical changes in the Constitution, he also wants government to use satellites and sensors on the border to catch illegals (making government more intrusive and big). On the one hand the use of satellites seems to be a practical idea but on the other he turns around and says he believes that illegals should be able to work in the U.S. but not given special treatment for a path toward citizenship (Hayworth believes this also) nor be given driver’s licenses. In other words, use cheap labor from across the border, then send them home. (Doesn’t Nike and Izod already do this in other countries?) I’m not making this up. We cannot forget his recent interview with Rachel Maddow where he introduced “dancing with the civil rights bill.” Well, his position begins to makes sense when one checks out traditional Libertarian beliefs.

  • Help individuals take more control over their own lives taking the state out of private decisions.
  • About 3/4 are “minarchists” who favor stripping government of most of its accumulated power to meddle, leaving only the police and courts for law enforcement and a sharply reduced military for national defense (perhaps leaving special powers for environmental enforcement).
  • The other 1/4 are out-and-out anarchists who believe that “limited government” is a delusion and the free market can provide better law, order, and security than any government monopoly.
  • For abortion rights (Pro-choice on everything) (Paul is against this)
  • Reject racial discrimination, whether in its ugly traditional forms or in its newer guises as Affirmative Action quotas and “diversity” rules.
  • Oppose racism, sexism, and sexual-preference bigotry, whether perpetrated by private individuals or (especially) by government.

The beliefs bring to light a larger and more profound philosophy that permeates the Libertarian/Tea Party approach namely a strong belief in ethical egoism (or as some have characterized ethical “egotism”). The rough idea behind ethical egoism is that the right thing to do is to look out for one’s own self-interest. According to the philosophy humans are morally required only to make themselves as happy as possible. They have no moral obligations to others. Ayn Rand seemed to endorse this idea in the following passages:

“By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man — every man — is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose” (Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual).

“Accept the fact that the achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness — not pain or mindless self-indulgence — is the proof of your moral integrity … ” (Atlas Shrugged).

The philosophy is all about me and is blatantly selfish and I believe un-American. Most ethical egoists believe “look out for #1. There is no #2” is a proper way of life. A brief summary of ethical egoism can be outlined as:
Personal Ethical Egoism
“I am going to act only in my own interest, and everyone else can do whatever they want.”
Individual Ethical Egoism
“Everyone should act in my own interest.”
Universal Ethical Egoism
“Each individual should act in his or her own self interest.”

Sound familiar yet? I’m taking MY country back! No big government! Work for welfare! No amnesty! Screw the poor, if they want help…work for it. No. no no. (The real party of “no”) Some philosophers have argued that ethical egoism is, at best, appropriate to living in a world of strangers that one really does not care about. It is the “Me Generation” in spades. “Who is my brother?” Apparently not you. Can the ethical egoist be sensitive to the suffering of others you ask? Such sensitivity seems to presuppose caring about other people for their own sake and not for anything I can “get out of it” i.e. what’s in it for me it I care? Moral sensitivity presupposes that the suffering of others exerts a moral “pull” on the individual—something that the ethical egoist does not recognize. (c.f. Glenn Beck and his skewed definition of “social justice.”)

There are tons of things that need to be changed in this country under the slogan “Take my country back,” beginning with addressing the inordinate amount of corporate money that influences law makers and law making who’s sole purpose is to inflate the corporations bottom line, not the peoples. This is a national issue, not a personal issue. The corrosive nature of these monies on our liberties and pursuit of happiness is bringing all of us down. The “free market” of the Libertarians really isn’t free. That is a real threat for all citizens of this Republic to get behind to stop. Removing money from the process affects all the people equally.

So when you listen to people like Hayworth and Paul and other candidates of the burgening new self-centered, self-important and “Me Generation” Tea Party movement, ask yourself, is this what we as Americans are all about? If your answer is yes, then put on your tri-cornered hat and Abercrombie tee shirt, made in a less-than-third-world-country and make sure you look good, because at the end of the day it is all about you and very little about “we the people.” If it doesn’t apply, celebrate your freedom and help someone else today just because you can.

And so it goes….