We live in a world run by leftist tech oligarchs who purportedly detest capitalism. They pay the likes of Hillary and Bill Clinton, Michelle and Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders $250,000 per speech for a lecture on the evils of capitalism. For libs, it is cool to be a “woke” socialist who is rich, if you pretend to feel bad about it.
Attending my 40-year Goldman Sachs reunion in New York, I am reminded of the author, Ayn Rand, and her book that opened my eyes to the wonders of capitalism.
Many of the features of today’s crony politics and vilification of capitalism are foretold by Ayn Rand in her 1957 novel “Atlas Shrugged.” This 1,168-page doorstopper of a book has inspired many of us and explains the banality of Democratic class-envy rhetoric. I offer the following passage from “Atlas Shrugged” called “Francisco’s Money Speech.”
Entrepreneur Francisco d’Anconia is confronted at a party by a liberal interloper who indignantly murmurs, “Money is the root of all evil.”
“So you think that money is the root of all evil?” d’Anconia replies. “Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?”
Ayn Rand rightfully considers excess taxation by government looting. And those who depend on government handouts for their votes, moochers.
She goes on. “When you accept money in payment for your work, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the work of others. 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. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor — your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. 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. Is this what you consider evil?
“But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? 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 demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss — the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery — that you must offer them values, not wounds — that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men’s stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best that your money can find.
“And when men live by trade — with reason, not force, as their final arbiter — it is the best product that wins, the best performance, the man of best judgment and highest ability…”
In theory, capitalism might not be the best system to create wealth and raise the standard of living for a country. It is just better in reality than all the others.
A libertarian op-ed humorist and award-winning author, Ron Hart is ex-Goldman Sachs, and retired as a Managing Director of Morgan Stanley. He can be contacted at Ron@RonaldHart.com or @RonaldHart on Twitter.