Since we are coming up on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. I thought this would be an appropriate way to commemorate an event, that no matter how terrible, was one of the defining moments of the 20th century.
Thomas Frank - Pity the Billionaire:
First some true confessions. I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the past couple months. A brief illness had put me off my game for a while and somehow a good read keeps the mind vital without taxing it as much as a steady diet of writing. (In other words, I have been lazy for the past few weeks - but only for medicinal purposes.) During that time I worked my way through Thomas Frank’s “Pity the Billionaire”.
Frank has some very cogent arguments about how the far-right operates and how reality has morphed into an almost alternate universe from the rest of us. Its a place where grass is blue and the sky is green. In that topsy-turvy upside-down world one of the most glaring ironies is the resurgence of Ayn Rand. After all - corporate corruption and regulatory complacency had almost brought the entire world economy to its knees. That should have been enough to consign copies of Atlas Shrugged to the paper shredders for the next half century. But no…quite the contrary.
Ayn Rand For Dummies:
Rand contends that the true heros are the billionaires. The talented and few. They are the masters of the universe. They are our betters. They make ships like the Titanic possible. But they are also the victims. They are victims of our ingratitude. Our inability to appreciate how they have made our lives better makes them so. They employ the people who built the ship and lifted them from them from homelessness and an early grave to mere poverty. The people should be grateful to the likes of these billionaires. They are the producers. So they made a few mistakes and almost pushed us in to a second Great Depression that would have made the 1930’s seem like a cake walk - no biggie. After all, they are the JOB CREATORS! And now the job creators are on strike, refusing to hire because we, the ungrateful public have made their lives so “uncertain”.
We want too much from them. We expect things like off-shore oil platforms not to explode. We want to make sure our food is safe and our water aquifers are not permanently contaminated by their actions. We expect that the financial advisors we pay good money to are actually working FOR us and not making side bets that our investments will fail. We actually expect banks and Wall Street to be responsible enough not 86 the entire world economy. Trifles like that.
There is so much wrong with this analogy that it boggles the mind. However, I will leave you with this. On board the Titanic were the likes of John Jacob Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim, Isador Straus (owner or Macy’s department store) and his wife. Thomas Andrews, the builder of Titanic and J. Bruce Ismay, owner of the White Star Line and master of the universe.
The Titanic - A Case Study that Sinks Ayn Rand:
Several survivors had noted that Ismay wanted to make a splash (no pun intended) by arriving in New York a day early and pushed the Captain to order full steam ahead even though there had beens several serious iceberg warnings. Thomas Andrews the ships builder had made room for a more appropriate number of lifeboats, but was overruled by Ismay and others who cited expense and the waste deck space. And thank goodness there were no trifling “regulators” at hand to ensure that there were enough lifeboats for all! The expense alone might have caused this “job creator” to go on strike.
As the tragedy unfolds, Guggenheim, Astor, and Straus probably could have bribed their way onto lifeboats, but refused until all the women and children were safe. Andrews, according to the stories, made no attempt to save himself. The Captain, EJ Smith, went down with his ship. Hundreds of passengers in 3rd class never got safe passage to the boat decks as the barriers prevented them from reaching first class. But guess who managed to survive? J. Bruce Ismay himself - who managed to sneak onto a boat.
In the world of Ayn Rand, this would be a good thing - as this “job creator” is now safe to lift more people about half an inch above the destitution level. To do so he would of course have to fight regulators that would slap more restrictions on his activities. Like, for example, requiring ships to have enough life boats and ensuring that lower class passengers have safe passage to said boats. Stop me if I’m crazy - but what is wrong with this picture?
Lassiez-Faire Economics in action:
The video is an independent film that I found on YouTube about the sinking of the Titanic. It’s well done and depicts the bravery and desperation of the Marconi operators who kept transmitting the S.O.S. and C.Q.D. distress codes as the Titanic went down. Remember that this disaster was the result of laissez faire economics and lack-luster regulation. It was the spawn of the Robber Baron Era or the ”Gilded Age.” Today we have the same problem. Only this time the world economy could sink bringing down far more than 1500 people.
© 2012 - RMGHicks - http://www.thebodypoliticUSA.com - All rights reserved.