Clogged Brains

Do you feel like your brain is getting clogged with information lately? I do.

Are we nationalizing banks or not? How many trillions is the national debt up to now? What’s Geithner doing at the G20 summit? Obama’s meeting with the President of Brazil after insulting him. We’re not calling enemy combatants enemy combatants anymore. China thinks we’re dead beats and the Obama administration swears we’re not, really! The stock market rallied last week, but will it last? I can buy Smooth Away for $14.99 plus shipping and handling as seen on TV. The White House demonizes banks and the greedy, but then tells us greed is good. Are you confused yet?

All of that is what I heard this morning while doing chores around the house. Finally I just had to turn it off. I sat down for lunch and picked up my Wall Street Journal and it was more of the same until I came to the opinion section. There at the bottom of page A7 was this little op-ed by Dr. Yaron Brook, president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. I read it once and then I read it again.

Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” is selling at a faster rate than at any time in the novel’s 51-year history.

There’s a reason. In “Atlas,” Rand tells the story of the U.S. economy crumbling under the weight of crushing government interventions and regulations. Meanwhile, blaming greed and the free market, Washington responds with more controls that only deepen the crisis. Sound familiar?

The novel’s eerily prophetic nature is no coincidence. “If you understand the dominant philosophy of a society,” Rand wrote elsewhere in “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal,” “you can predict its course.” Economic crises and runaway government power grabs don’t just happen by themselves; they are the product of the philosophical ideas prevalent in a society — particularly its dominant moral ideas.

Why do we accept the budget-busting costs of a welfare state? Because it implements the moral ideal of self-sacrifice to the needy. Why do so few protest the endless regulatory burdens placed on businessmen? Because businessmen are pursuing their self-interest, which we have been taught is dangerous and immoral. Why did the government go on a crusade to promote “affordable housing,” which meant forcing banks to make loans to unqualified home buyers? Because we believe people need to be homeowners, whether or not they can afford to pay for houses.

The message is always the same: “Selfishness is evil; sacrifice for the needs of others is good.” But Rand said this message is wrong — selfishness, rather than being evil, is a virtue. By this she did not mean exploiting others à la Bernie Madoff. Selfishness — that is, concern with one’s genuine, long-range interest — she wrote, required a man to think, to produce, and to prosper by trading with others voluntarily to mutual benefit. Read full article.

What a beautifully simple message to grasp! You don’t need to clog your brain to figure it out. Every time you hear a politician speak remember that message and you won’t have trouble seeing through the spin.

Now that I’ve cleaned out my brain I can get back to cleaning out my house. Have a great Saturday!