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September 10, 2012

We Respond to an Attack on Ayn Rand

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed an article written by Inc. and posted on CNBC's website about how Ayn Rand was bad for business.  The article made five points, they were that Ayn Rand:

1) Focuses employees on money
2) Encourages selfishness
3) Creates fanatics
4) Alienates the religious
5) Discourages charitable giving

Briefly, I am going to simply address points #3 and #4 as common in many philosophies.  Every important contributor to society has created some type of "fanatic."  Additionally, while in many cases it isn't associated with religion, many of man's greatest ideas have alienated certain groups of people.  Fanaticism and alienation are hardly a reason to reject one's philosophy.

In terms of #1 and #2, these should be together.  The author claims that employees will only work for the pay and that they would become selfish.  This would harm the teamwork aspect of an organization.

First, employees should focus on money.  We live in a society today where most of our basic needs have a monetary expense (it wasn't like that 100 years ago).  Is there some third party out there that is going to look over my monetary interests better than my own?  Additionally, this idea of not being a team player is absurd. As an educated worker, and a believer in Rand's writings, I'm smart enough to know when teamwork is in the best interests of both my organization and myself.  The author is trying to assume that the workplace is a zero-sum game, which couldn't be further from the truth.

Finally, I want to focus on charitable giving.  Rand was not opposed to charitable giving.  She supported charitable giving if the act was totally voluntary.  Rand warned us against the culture of "mandatory and collective morality."  This is where people surrender any number of things out of obligation.  The fact that $2.2 trillion of our income taxes goes towards entitlement spending per year is a stark example of such an act.

Rand's writings promoted a free market economy because they encouraged the individual to pursue their own self interests.  An individual in Rand's world could be successful, and not feel guilty or obligated to surrender some of that success to collective causes.

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