Whether you like her philosophy ‘Objectivism,’ or not, Ayn Rand was quite clear in her focus. She believed in her heart of hearts that to take from those who produce was wrong on a fundamental level. But what would she make of today’s market?
She has said, “I am opposed to all forms of control. I am for an absolute, laissez-faire, free unregulated economy.” But what is it that she wanted, compared to what has happened?
With the deregulated markets, with government controls virtually nonexistent for many segments, the market is now what she often times claimed she was for. But then, what happened? Did the producers gain power as she said they would?
It helps to first understand what she was an advocate for. Ayn Rand, for all of her flaws and misconceptions, said time and again that those who make the goods and services are the engines of our economy, and should gain the most benefit from it. Here you can hear her thoughts and feelings for yourself, in an interview with Mike Wallace:
And it is the American vision she and many others hold that those who create, those who deliver a good or service, do deserve the fruits of their labor. And I doubt there are many out there who would argue that they do not deserve to benefit from their labor. Is this, however, what we have?
Instead of producers, those who make or build or deliver a service gaining power and influence, we have something else happening. Of the 10 richest people of this nation, only two of them, Bill Gates and Larry Ellison, actually produced something to earn their wealth. The rest instead made their wealth either through margin, operating as middlemen for financial transactions, or in an idle manner, earning profits from other people’s labor through capital ownership. Half of them are inheritance wealthy, without any real generation of wealth on their own. And the system is slanted for the middlemen, the economy’s transmission system, to gain the largest of benefits.
The largest pool of wealthy in this nation do not produce anything, instead effectively robbing from those who do produce goods and services. The top 1% are primarily filled with these middlemen, with the financial transactions, the hedge fund managers, with the idle rich, unable and unwilling to produce neither goods nor services. The removal of regulations allowed for them to slant the system in their favor. Being the middlemen, they could game the system, and turn it into a heads I win, tails you lose, con game. A gigantic three card monte with our very livelihoods on the line.
Is this what Ayn wanted? Absolutely not. Reading her books, watching her interviews, it is clear, she believed in productivity, that those who made or serve should be in the drivers seats. She would be horrified to see the welfare state transformed not into a self-sufficient system, but instead would have expanded upwards. The corporate welfare state would dwarf the welfare state she feared would arise, strangling the nation just as assuredly as the welfare governments in her novels and short stories.
She would be facing her greatest fear, a powerful group having emerged that produces nothing, yet manages to consume most of the wealth created by others. Going by her novels, Ayn Rand viewed that this would invariably lead society itself to self-destruct.
So, where would she be today? She would be standing not with the Wall Street bankers, but with the 99%, with Occupy Wall Street.