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  • Writer's pictureLauren Windsor

Smart Capitalists vs. Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand, a dear friend of ex-Fed head Alan Greenspan and patron saint to Tea Party conservatives, built a lasting legacy with her philosophy of Objectivism. So much so that her devotees, like Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is also her namesake, exhibit a pseudo-religious fervor for her ideals, chief among them "a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism—with a separation of state and economics..." Objectivism is rooted in the belief that rational self-interest is the only true morality. Ayn Rand narrowly advocated government as a preventer of violence and settler of disputes among men, and broadly abhorred regulations of any kind, including fair wages. According to Rand, "There are no "rights to a 'fair' wage or a 'fair' price" if no one chooses to pay it, to hire a man or to buy his product."

Ayn Rand's disciples agree. Both Greenspan and Paul oppose raising the minimum wage, alleging that it would spur job loss. The former, a libertarian economist widely blamed for sowing the seeds for the 2008 financial meltdown, went further--to advocate abolishing the minimum wage, at a 2001 congressional hearing. Said Greenspan, "I'm not in favor of cutting anybody's earnings or preventing them from rising, but I am against them losing their jobs because of artificial government intervention, which is essentially what the minimum wage is."

But hey, Alan Greenspan has never been wrong. Or ironic. I mean the man was only a devout, anti-regulation, Ayn-Rand-worshipper, in charge of regulating the nation's money supply over at the Federal Reserve. Did I mention that the chief tenet of Objectivism is the "separation of state and economics"?

Now, you should know that Ayn Rand was once my favorite author. It probably helped that I was an artist planning on starting my own business, that I had moved to New York to make a name for myself. I read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and fantasized about a world in which I never had to compromise my beliefs; everyone acted in their rational self-interest; and my hard work eventually would be rewarded. But I always recognized Rand's works as fiction. In this world, compromise is a fact of life; people often act irrationally; and hard work is not always rewarded...  As exemplified by those people working full time, toiling at below-poverty-level wages.

Arguing against the Randian free-market conventional wisdom, a group of business leaders calling themselves 'Smart Capitalists for American Prosperity' is lobbying Congress and the administration to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Is the government setting a price floor for labor (aka a minimum wage) any more market-interventionist than taxpayers subsidizing corporate profits via various social programs for the grossly underpaid?  Which is more free market? Watch the video below to find out:


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