As the Democratic Party lurches, nay lunges, leftward, it is instructive to reflect on the writings of Ayn Rand, the prophet of capitalism.
Rand’s 1957 masterwork, “Atlas Shrugged,” never ceases to amaze with its anticipation of the left’s multifarious schemes to undermine the economic system that is the foundation of our freedoms.
The world of “Atlas Shrugged” is full of conniving politicians, compliant journalists, fake news, government handouts, and munificent people who never tire of spending other people’s money.
The current poster child of the century-long campaign to replace American prosperity with the failed slogans of socialism is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old political activist who unseated 10-term Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th District.
As an avowed Democratic Socialist who played the role of David to Crowley’s Goliath, Ocasio-Cortez has enjoyed the spotlight in the national media for the past month and brought attention to the socialist cause espoused by Grandpa Karl Marx, Uncle Joe Stalin and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
So here’s a bit of the socialist agenda coming to a failed republic near you if Ocasio-Cortez has her way: free college tuition, free health care, universal jobs guarantee, paid child and sick leave for all, open borders. (Broken down at www.businessinsider.com/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-platform-on-the-issues-2018-6)
In an interview on PBS’ “Firing Line with Margaret Hoover,” Ocasio-Cortez attacked the historically low unemployment rate being recorded under President Trump because, in her mind, it represents the exploitation of the working class. “Unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs,” this Boston University economics major declared. “Unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their kids.”
Um, well, no. Actually that makes no sense. The unemployment rate would be exactly the same if people who work two jobs worked one job because, hey, they would still be employed. And, oh yeah, if someone who works 80 hours decided to work 40 hours instead, they would (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) still be employed.
Thus, no change in the unemployment rate. Well, that’s not exactly true either, because if those people working two jobs or longer hours were to cut back, there would actually be more opportunities for other people to get jobs, and (whadaya know?) the unemployment rate would actually drop.
Did I mention that economics major Ocasio-Cortez graduated fourth in her class at Boston University? Be afraid. Be very afraid.
It is very unlikely that Ocasio-Cortez ever read “The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith, let alone “Atlas Shrugged,” but she is the enemy of both because she fails to understand the profit motive. America has succeeded beyond the pale of any other nation that has ever existed on the face of the earth because it has guaranteed the most freedom to its citizens to pursue their own happiness (rather than have it handed to them on a platter).
Ocasio-Cortez and her ilk believe that they owe a job, health care, housing and every other essential of life to not just every American citizen, but to every person on the planet. This is the ultimate corruption of “noblesse oblige,” the ancient notion that it is the responsibility of the nobility to be generous to those “beneath them” — you know, the deplorables — because they take pity on them and their inability to rise up on their own.
Ayn Rand summarized her view of this elitist philosophy in the words of Midas Mulligan — “the richest and, consequently, the most denounced man in the country” — who, when he was asked “whether he could name a person more evil than the man with a heart closed to pity,” replied, “Yes, I can … The man who uses another’s pity for him as a weapon.”
In other words, those who demand the fruits of another’s success not because they have earned them, but because they think they are entitled to them. And what’s even worse than that? Someone like Ocasio-Cortez, who grew up in a privileged background as the daughter of an architect and leveraged her own position to blackmail successful people into supporting those who have the same opportunities but have failed to take advantage of them.
Such socialistic twaddle was what led to the collapse of the Twentieth Century Motor Company in “Atlas Shrugged,” despite the company’s invention of a new type of motor that would have revolutionized human society (not to mention making a healthy profit for its owners). Instead the company chose a Marxist model of production — from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs; thus guaranteeing that pity would bleed the company dry.
Eugene Lawson, the banker who financed the project, summed it up nicely in a conversation with the book’s protagonist Dagny Taggart: “I granted them the loan for the purchase of that factory, because they needed the money. If people needed money, that was enough for me. Need was my standard, Miss Taggart. Need, not greed. … The heart was my collateral. Of course, I do not expect anyone in this materialistic country to understand me. … I believe I told you that I lost everything I owned when the bank collapsed. … But I do not mind it. What I lost was mere material wealth. I am not the first man in history to suffer for an ideal. I was defeated by the selfish greed of those around me.”
No, actually you were defeated by your inability to grasp the fundamentals of human nature, and that is the same thing that will defeat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and anyone foolish enough to follow her into the dust bin of history.
Frank Miele is managing editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.