Ayn’s selfishness discussed on Diane Rehm

by Andrea Elizabeth

We were in the middle of nowhere (around Archer City, where Larry McMurtry is selling out) last Monday when the Diane Rehm show was mixing parts of sentences about Ayn Rand with classical music. Today I listened to “Ayn Rand and the 2012 Presidential Campaign”in full. ‘Jennifer Burns, assistant professor of history at Stanford University and author of “Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right”‘, was probably the most balanced and coherent of the three guests.

pro: selfishness is explained as a learning process involving the difficult process of finding out what is truly in one’s best interest.

con: Rand doesn’t seem to realize successful businessmen are not always good.

But is the success of bad business long lived? And should bad business be put up with instead of regulated if it is short lived? And what if bad business is usually replaced by more bad business?
If good business is better, wont it win out in the end? I think regulation may be based on the premise that good will not win, and may not truly be recognized as better. That people are too dumb and powerless to tell? But slavery lasted a long time. But it was because the constitution was not properly enforced, which the founding fathers dropped the ball on. What about sweat shops? They may be illegal here, but we buy goods from other countries that have less favorable working conditions. And how exclusive to one’s country should big brother be? Should America be so “selfish”?

Perhaps selfishness involves fixing onesself before fixing others. Putting the oxygen mask on yourself before even your children. Working out one’s own salvation with fear and trembling before presuming to save others. But Ayn Rand didn’t have children. There’s probably a reason for that. Children can teach a person to be unselfish, but that’s not so simply said either.

Then apparently in Atlas Shrugged there’s troubling rape scenes. I’ve gotten to the part where the Latin guy hits Dagny in the face. Jennifer Burns explained that Ayn may have had some troubling desires. But if one believes in the steel industry, which has treated the earth pretty brutally, isn’t she just being consistent? I think her selfishness is short sighted. How you treat the earth/women will catch up to you eventually.