Monday, February 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Ayn

I often wonder in these trying times how Ayn Rand would comment on the current goings on in business and politics. I imagine something north of a conniption fit, infused with flawless logical rhetoric, of course. Since Mama Bear is not around for us to pick her brain (she died in 1982, for those of you keeping score) and since today marks the 104th anniversary of her birth, I thought I would offer some pertinent bits of her timeless wisdom, taken from this blog's namesake, Francisco's Money Speech. Here are a few to settle your stomach while you're digesting the latest news out of Washington:

It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow....Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money.

Money is made before it can be looted or mooched--made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced.

Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money? (I dedicate this quote to Citibank, AIG, GM, Ford, Chrysler, and all the rest of the boys)

Men who have no courage, price, of self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich--will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt--and of his life, as he deserves. (Emphasis added, in case Warren Buffett is reading.)
And finally, a quote that all conscientious individuals should remember, both for its eloquence and for its chilling accuracy:

Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.
Too many of these conditions are becoming reality. Congress is threatening to force banks to lend, even though no one wants to borrow. Businesses can't move without asking for permission. It is important never to forget these words of wisdom, lest they become prophetic. This February 2nd, go pick up your copy of Atlas Shrugged, or buy one for a friend, and flip through the pages, just for your own benefit. In trying times such as ours, art can give us the resolve to march on, no matter how bleak the future might look.

Happy Birthday Ayn, and thanks.

P.S.: Feel free to post your favorite money speech excerpt if I've failed to include it.

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