Robert Reich explains why Ayn Rand’s ideas have destroyed the common good.
Donald Trump once said he identified
with ayan rands character Howard Roark
in The Fountainhead an architect so
upset that a housing project he designed
didn’t meet specifications
he had it dynamited others in Trump
Circle were influenced by Rand Atlas
Shrugged was said to be the favorite
book of Rex Tillerson Trump Secretary of
State’s Randa also had a major influence
on Mike Pompeo from CIA chief Trump’s
first nominee for Secretary of Labor
Andrew Posner said he spent much of his
free time reading Rand the Republican
leader of the House of Representatives
required his staff to read Rams I grew
up reading Iran it inspired me so much
that it’s required waiting in my office
for all my interns of my staff Uber’s
founder and former CEO Travis kalanick
has described himself as a ran follower
before he was sacked he applied many of
her ideas to obras code of values and
even used the cover art for rands book
The Fountainhead as his Twitter avatar
so who is iron Rand and why does she
matter line Rand best known for two
highly popular novels still widely read
today The Fountainhead
published in 1943 an Atlas Shrugged
in 1957 didn’t believe there was a
common good she wrote that selfishness
is a virtue an altruism an evil that
destroys nations when Rand offered these
ideas they seemed quaint
if not far-fetched anyone who lived
through the prior half-century witnessed
our interdependence through depression
and war and after the war we used our
seemingly boundless prosperity to
finance all sorts of public goods
schools and universities a national
highway system and health care for the
Aged and poor we rebuilt war-torn Europe
we sought to guarantee the civil rights
and voting rights of African Americans
we open doors of opportunity to women
of course there was a common good we
were living it
but then starting in the late 1970s
rands views gained ground she became the
intellectual godmother of modern-day
American conservatism this utter
selfishness this contempt for the public
this win at any cost mentality is it
roading American life without adherence
to a set of common notions about right
and wrong we’re living in a jungle where
only the strongest cleverest and most
unscrupulous get ahead and where
everyone must be wary in order to
survive this is not a society it’s not
even a civilization because there’s no
civility at its core it’s a disaster in
other words we have to understand who I
am Rand is so we can reject her
philosophy and dedicate ourselves to
rebuilding the common good the idea of
the common good was once widely
understood and accepted in America I
mean after all the US Constitution was
designed for We the People seeking to
promote the general welfare not for me
the selfish jerk seeking as much wealth
and power as possible yet today you find
growing evidence of its loss
- CEOs who
couch their customers loot their
corporations into fraud investors
- lawyers and accountants who look the
other way when corporate clients play
fast and loose
- who even collude with
them to skirt the law
- Wall Street
bankers who defraud customers and investors
- film producers and publicists
who choose not to see that a powerful
movie mogul they depend on is sexually
harassing and abusing young women
- politicians who take donations really
bribes from wealthy donors and corporations to enact laws their patrons
- shudder the government when they
don’t get the partisan results they seek
- president of the United States who
repeatedly lies about important issues
refuses to put his financial holdings
into a blind trust and then personally
profits off his office and Momence
racial and ethnic
conflict the common good consists of our
shared values about what we owe one
another as citizens or bound together in
the same society a concern for the
common good keeping the common good in
mind is a moral attitude it recognizes
that we’re all in it together if there
is no common good
there is no society
I live at the intersection of politics and religion. . . . My faith impels me into the public square. It is abundantly clear that Pope Francis is correct when he says that faith has real consequences in the world . . . and these consequences involve politics. . . .
.. At NETWORK, we often say that our care for the common good is care for “the 100%” instead of the 99% or the 1%. . . .
.. God is alive in all. No one can be left out of my care. Therefore this political work is anchored in caring for those whom we lobby as well as those whose cause we champion. This was illustrated for me . . . when I was with four of my colleagues lobbying a Republican Senator on healthcare legislation. I commented on the story of a constituent and asked her how her colleagues could turn their eyes away from the suffering and fear of their people. . . .
She said that many of her colleagues . . . did not get close to the candid stories of their people. In fact, some did not see these constituents as “their people.” Tears sprang to my eyes at her candor and the pain that keeps us sealed off from each other because of political partisanship.
.. our position “for the 100%” requires an empathy that stretches my being beyond my imagining. Finding a way to not vilify or divide into “them” and “us” in today’s federal politics goes against . . . current custom.
Waiting periods, decried by American pro-choicers as infantilizing and unreasonably burdensome, are common in Western Europe.
.. In Germany, women seeking first-trimester abortions are subject to a mandatory three-day waiting period and a counseling session. Abortions after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are forbidden except in cases of grave threat to the mother’s physical or mental health.
.. The Netherlands mandates a five-day waiting period between initial consultation and abortion; clinics must provide women with information about abortion alternatives. Abortion is then legal until viability (legally defined as 24 weeks, usually interpreted as 22 weeks).
In Belgium, where abortion was illegal until 1990, there’s a six-day waiting period and the woman must claim to be in “a state of distress” before receiving a first-trimester abortion.
.. In Finland (home of the now-famous Finnish baby boxes and other enviable government benefits), abortion is available up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, unless the woman is under 17 years old, in which case she may have an abortion until she’s 20 weeks pregnant. But even for early abortions, women must provide a “social reason” for seeking to terminate her pregnancy, such as poverty, extreme distress, or already having at least four children.
.. In Denmark, abortion is available on demand up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Afterward, exceptions are made for cases of rape, threats to the woman’s physical or mental health, risk of fetal defects, and — revealingly — in cases where the woman can demonstrate lack of financial resources to care for a child.
.. Eastern Europe, a stronghold of liberal abortion laws under Communism, has become increasingly strict of late. Russia recently passed a law restricting abortion to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and Russian clinics are also now forced to give (medically dubious) warnings about the health risks of abortion, which supposedly include cancer and infertility.
.. So why are Europe’s abortion laws not as libertine and laissez-faire as our stereotypes about those countries might suggest?
Here’s one way of looking at the difference between abortion laws in Europe and those in the U.S.: in America, abortion laws are about morality, while in Europe, they reflect national ideas of what constitutes the common good.
.. In America, anti-abortion activists and politicians construe abortion as a clear-cut moral issue: “abortion is murder,” “I am a person, not a choice,” “It’s not right versus left, it’s right versus wrong,” etc. Exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother are political concessions, not morally consistent positions.
.. If you believe fetuses are people and abortion is murder, why would you think the murder of a person conceived in rape is more okay than the murder of a person conceived in a happy marriage?.. In Russia and other Eastern European countries with steeply declining populations, new abortion restrictions are explicitly aimed at boosting birth rates. The same is true of Israel, perhaps less explicitly. The Israeli restrictions on abortion have more to do with the idea that, as Roni Abramson writes in Haaretz, “The Jewish womb belongs to the Jewish people.” The baby of a married Jewish woman is considered a gain for the country that’s concerned about maintaining a Jewish majority in the region, so aborting is a social harm... So what are the countries with the most liberal abortion laws? Canada is a decent candidate, with abortion available on-demand, paid for by Canadian Medicare in most provinces. Though there is no federal criminal law governing abortion at any phase of pregnancy, in practice it is extremely difficult to find a doctor or facility willing to provide abortions past 20 weeks... In the end, though, the least restrictive country is probably China, where abortion is completely legal (and often encouraged, to combat overpopulation) throughout pregnancy.
At the Family Research Council’s recent Values Voter Summit, the religious right effectively declared its conversion to Trumpism.
.. A time to live and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to uproot. A time to mourn and a time to embrace angry ethnonationalism and racial demagoguery. Yes, a time to mourn... Evidently the Christian approach to social justice is miraculously identical to 1930s Republican protectionism, isolationism and nativism... Rather than confidently and persistently representing a set of distinctive beliefs, they pant and beg to be a part of someone else’s movement. In this case, it is a movement that takes advantage of racial and ethnic divisions and dehumanizes Muslims, migrants and refugees... If Christian conservatives are loyal enough, Bannon promises that they can be “the folks who saved the Judeo-Christian West.”.. All that is required is to abandon the best of the Judeo-Christian tradition: a belief in the inherent value and dignity of every life... It means that the primary mission of Christians in public life is not to secure their own interests or to defend their own identity. It is to seek a society in which every person can flourish. This is the definition of the common good — which is not truly common unless it includes the suffering and powerless... If there is a single reason that Republican health-care reform has failed, it is because party leaders could not make a credible case that the common good was being served... Who would now identify conservative Christian political engagement with the pursuit of the common good? Rather, the religious right is an interest group seeking preference and advancement from a strongman — and rewarding him with loyal acceptance of his priorities... They are associating the teachings of Jesus Christ — a globalist when it came to the Great Commission — with ethnonationalist ideology. This should be a sobering prospect for any Christian. But few seem sobered. Instead, the faithful give standing ovations to the purveyors of division and prejudice... When anyone or anything takes priority over the faith, there is a good, strong religious word for it: idolatry. And the word is unavoidable, as religious conservatives carry their golden calf into Bannon’s battles.