The Philosophy of Ayn Rand Doesn't Work in the Real World

Comments

1
Religion is stupid.
2
The Sears Catalog was around for 105 years and they shitcanned it just as the Internet was taking off.

It wouldn't have been implausable for them to have been on Amazon's trajectory. Gotta love mismanagement.
3
Sounds exactly like when Charles Mudede talks about communism: "Well, you all just aren't motivated enough."
5
A longer essay by Mina Kimes at Bloomberg BW is reeeeally jaw dropping. It details the middle section with the intradepartmental skirmishes and the bizarre in-house social network the CEO made and spied on.
6
Adding onto @5, I remember reading about how his survival-of-the-fittest philosophy led him to automatically reward the managers of the most profitable divisions and punish or fire the managers of the least profitable divisions without further analysis. Skipping past what that did for morale, it didn't take long for managers to realize that it was easier to sabotage or steal clients away from their co-workers than to drum up new business.
7
Ultimately Lampert's failures will mostly affect his pride. He will remain a billionaire while the employees at Kmart and Sears will lose health benefits, face foreclosure, see their dreams of retirement disappear, and their children will be priced out of college or have to absorb huge debts.
8
One time I clicked on a article and the writer's bio was "I defend laissez-faire capitalism, using Ayn Rand's Objectivism"

My first thought was Wow, he could've said that quicker with just "I'm a douchebag".
9
It's almost like moving money around doesn't actually qualify you to run a real business.

One thing that strikes me about Sears today vs. ten years ago is how shabby the stores are and how depressed the staff seem, and I thought this long before I heard anything about its new corporate policies. Sears is fraying at the edges at least as badly as Macy's, maybe even more so.
10
The only thing more stupid than an Ayn Rand worshipping, libertarian intellectual shitstain post adolescent is...
Never mind, there is nothing more stupid/
11
In retrospect, Sen. McCarthy should have dragged Rand in front of his committee, as Objectivism has done far more harm to America than Communism ever could.
12
Let's be fair here. First, the philosophy of Ayn Rand doesn't really work in the fictional world, either.

Second, not to dampen the fun of seeing a big fall, but Lampert is not impoverished or living on the streets. In 2012 he was STILL worth $3.1 billion. That's BILLION.

Despite ruining the lives and incomes of thousands of people, Lampert will never be jailed, never starve, he will always fly at least business class and own a big boat and several vacation homes.

Lampert and his heirs will be extremely comfortable for the rest of their lives.

The reality is he won. That's what sucks.
13
To follow on @9's comment, I'm starting to wonder if or how we start to address what we allow capitalism to do.

To borrow a couple of words from metabolic processes...

Anabolic capitalism seems like a positive thing. Business formation and capitalization creates jobs, commerce, markets and products. Private money is used to build assets, hire talent, buy the necessities to engage in business. Innovative individuals bring us technological advances, important discoveries, and fun diversions, for which anabolic capitalism allows them to realize dreams and be rewarded. When we think of the socially desirable things that result from capitalism, they're mostly in this category. Without anabolic capitalism, economies stagnate and societies can become very dull. Yes, there are problems and abuses and over-emphasis on consumerism and too much advertising, but nothing's perfect.

Catabolic capitalism adds nothing. Instead, it takes away, funneling assets into private wealth, making jobs disappear, productive enterprises shrink, and often, the original long-term shareholders poorer in the process. "Vulture capitalism" is another name for what hedge funds and leveraged buyouts do. Takeovers put competing businesses out of the competing business, allegedly justified for "synergy" and "efficiency."

Whatever its faults, Anabolic Capitalism is about creating stuff through private risk, and if people are going to take that risk, I see net value in letting them.

Catabolic Capitalism, on the other hand, creates nothing of net value to society. It destroys. As some of us learned during Romney's run for President, many venture capital firms hunt for old-line companies with large pre-funded pension accounts, so they can basically loot them. Actions like these are euphemistically called "releasing value."

Just because someone can put together a fund to take over a company, doesn't mean we should let them. Not much good ever comes of it, from a public perspective.
14
@12: At least he has chicken.
15
The philosophy of Ayn Rand works perfectly...

...if you are a sociopath.
16
@12 nails it, executives are paid top salary's because we are told its the only way to get qualified candidates, they are offered golden parachutes and bonuses regardless of performance, and outcome. Sure they only get the double salary if they build business, but they still get paid either way.

College sports coaches are the same way.

This is the American caste system.
17
This posted right above a glowing review of an overly priced restaurant for the 1% who read Slog. Irony is just lost on you guys at times
18
I believe the phenomenon Paul is describing is known as the "no true Scotsman" fallacy.
19
An Objectivist acquaintance of mine is now on welfare. So much schadenfreude it hurts.
20
@9, the physical contrast of Sears stores with, say, Target's, is unbelievable. Targets are clean, bright, cheerful, and full of cheap but invigorating design. Sears stores are the embodiment of depression and neglect.

@16, the high salaries of CEOs is not an accident. Virtually all CEOs have contracts that explicitly specify that their compensation must be in the upper percentiles, often the top decile, of all CEOs. It is of course mathematically impossible for everyone to be above average, but the attempt sends their pay into the stratosphere no matter how they perform. It's called the "Lake Wobegon effect":

http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstec…
21
@15 Close, it also kind of requires most of society to be sociopaths. Rand didn't understand people, and seemed to think she didn't need to. It's pretty clear she was low on social skills and social understanding. So, she created a philosophy that is modeled on people behaving unrealistically. When you try to apply it, real people keep breaking the assumptions by acting like real people. Unfortunately, human psychology is very complex and explaining all the ways in which her philosophy is wrong isn't easy. But it's kind of like trying to send a rocket ship to the moon if you're still using physics at so simplified a level that you're assuming a massless, frictionless, spherical cow. You actually have to throw in the trickier real world variables, not just the simple classroom starter ones, to do real engineering, and you have to use more complex, more realistic models of humans to have working sociological models. But this actually seems like too complex a concept for many people who like Rand's teachings.
22
At what point are you so rich that you'll never be not-rich; where you can flame out in a way that would impoverish anyone else but still be so fucking rich you can do it all again if you want (and probably will)?
23
@22: I recommend http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orca_(novel…

Except that it actually gives away a huge secret, so read the rest of the books first.... This one is pretty on point about how the US works regarding CEOs though.
24
@7,12 Sounds like Ayn Rand's philosophy works great in the real world, but only in a closed-box model where you observe a single person like Lampert.
25
@24 exactly. Paul is has absolutely wrong.
This Lampert dude did a bunch of evil short-sighted shit and made BILLIONS of dollars.

That's why there is no reason for the smug schadenfreude in this thread. Lampert succeed spectacularly at making Lampert rich and happy. The villain did NOT get his comeuppance.

Seems to me that's a complete ringing endorsement for the Randian economics of selfishness.

It's unfortunate but we have system that reinforces everything this guy did.
26
The comments about Sears put me in mind of a 1992 book by Kotter and Heskett (Organizational Culture and Performance, if memory serves.) They studied hundreds of companies in 22 different industries and found that firms that dominated their respective markets to the point of becoming synonymous with those markets (Xerox, Kodak, Sears) developed very insular corporate cultures that rewarded mediocre administrators and punished leaders. This is because the rapid market growth experienced by the company convinced them that a) they knew it all, b) everyone else was just trying to steal their trade secrets, c) they had little to fear from these wannabes, and d) their biggest real problem was how to manage their own explosive growth. Hense, administrators were prized above innovators; and after a critical mass of administrators filled the management ranks, the tendency became self-sustaining.

Until the company got so bureaucratic and inward-focused that it lost its ability to respond to market threats, and finally had nothing left but its name brand and people's preference for the status quo over the unknown. At that point its doom was just a matter of time.
27
Objectivism works very well at an individual level. If I want I should damn well go out and work for it, taking advantage of every opportunity and saying "fuck all" to everyone else. Want clean clothes, go to a laundrymat and spend your money, or buy a washer, etc.

Objectivism works middling well at a family level. If your kid wants go mow some lawns, etc. As a parent, make them do everything they can do themselves, themselves. But it breaks down because the kid might be able to go to a laundrymat, but that would be a dick move as a parent. That kid certainly isn't going to buy a washer. Spooky socialism starts to rear it's ugly head.

Objectivism fails miserably outside of 2 people. *Someone* had to put the grass there to mow. Someone had to design a washer. Expecting everyone to reinvent society is asinine.

But... as a personal philosophy applied only to the self, it's fine. You'll be an asshole, but being an asshole is right that too few people cherish.
28
"It will never exist in the real world, because the world in Rand's childish fictions is too simple-minded to exist. This gives Objectivists a kind of parachute that allows them to distance themselves from spectacular flame-outs like Greenspan and Lampert: They weren't pure enough."

An excellent summary of the poorly-named "Objectivism."
29
@15 - Bingo - the system is skewed in favor of sociopathy. The parasites are slowly killing off the host.

@19 - I'm deeply envious. The only die hard Rand-ian fantasist friend I've got just barely escaped foreclosure before being forced to admit he was another one of those "deadbeats who shouldn't have been given a mortgage in the first place" (he was actually just the victim of a corporate swindler like Lampert and laid off - he had not borrowed imprudently).

Objectivism: poor people deserve to be poor - it's their own fault.
30
OMG, the Maine Mall! How did I not know this, or know this and promptly forget?
31
Thank you again for another” feel good, uplifting, that there are good people in this world story”. We read so many stories that are negavite about people and what they do to others. A random act of kindness is always such a great thing to hear about. Peace and blessings.

Work accident claims
32
Thank you again for another” feel good, uplifting, that there are good people in this world story”. We read so many stories that are negavite about people and what they do to others. A random act of kindness is always such a great thing to hear about. Peace and blessings.

Work accident claims
33
Exactly how did Greenspan destroy the economy with Ayn Rand's ideas?

Did he abolish the Federal Reserve?

Because she opposed even having it.

The fact is that Greenspan ceased being an Objectivist long ago and that's why he helped destroy the economy.