Tag Archives: Ayn Rand

Belle Isle BS

This is the sort of news story that you think must be some internet BS that should be easily debunked with a little research.

But, as far as I can tell, it’s true. A group of wealthy businessmen are trying to buy Belle Isle from the city of Detroit for $1 billion to create a ‘utopian enclave’. This commonwealth would be a low tax, ‘crime-free’ community without laws. Because we all know that our country’s wealthiest never commit crimes, right?

All of that for the low membership fee of $300,000.

How do we start addressing what’s wrong with this ‘libertarian’ vision for Belle Isle? Essentially, it’s White Flight on steroids. The 1% don’t like paying taxes so they need their own enclave where they can play by their own rules without interference from that pesky government of ours.

The project developers promise ‘spin-off’ investments that would supposedly benefit the city of Detroit. But you know what would really benefit the city of Detroit? Increased revenues. You know how you achieve that? Increase the city’s population. Bring more people in to live and work in Detroit. Make it an economic hub once more.

The sort of mindset that inspires this sort of deranged vision has no conception of what communitarian responsibility even means. What kind of society are you living in that it costs $300,000 to belong to at the same time that you set up shop next door to the most violent and one of the poorest communities in the entire United States? You can’t toss your scraps across the river and claim to be actively invested in Detroit’s well-being.

I realize that there is a fundamental political difference that separates my vision of society from the developers who are pushing for this Belle Isle enclave. The sort of ideology that lies behind this project says, in blunt terms, “I don’t owe anybody anything. I’m a self-made man. I worked hard all my life for my money and I don’t want to get taxed to death by the government. If only other people worked harder, they could have everything I’ve got. It’s not my fault that other people lack initiative.” That’s the idea in blunt terms. But no one lives in a vacuum. Somewhere along the line, you’ve gotten help from someone else whether it be your family or – God forbid – the government. Fortunes generally aren’t made solely on the hard work and initiative of a single person or even a group of people.

It’s in the interest of the very wealthy to have a large working class and a healthy middle class. Without a sizable working class, who is going to answer your phones? Who is going to make your latte at Starbucks? Who is going to check you out at Wal-Mart? Not all of us have been replaced by robots just yet, so in the meanwhile, our working class is still pretty essential. It’s also in the interest of the 1% to have a large middle class to buy their products. So I love it when I hear this whole spiel about how a little hard work and initiative is the only thing standing in the way of my fortune. I’m not complaining, personally. I’m pretty well off. And besides, you need me. You need me to buy cars from you, to buy computers from you, to buy books, CDs, coffee, food or whatever else it might be. So don’t act like you’re so great all on your own. You need us, too.

I would very simply like to suggest that it’s hypocritical of these very wealthy individuals to propose tax free enclaves when they already have so much. Yeah, I’ve heard it said that we need the wealthy because private enterprise means jobs. We need wealthy individuals to use their private capital to start businesses. I get it.

But it’s ironic that these same libertarian-leaning individuals, who so often decry the lack of responsibility on the part of our government for its deficit spending, so often connive to find ways to dodge taxes themselves. We not only need wealthy individuals to help create jobs, we also need them to pay their fair share so that we can have a strong education system, so that we can fund infrastructure, so that we can pay for military spending and pay off this debt we’ve accrued.

So of course there is a balance that we need to strike between respecting our obligations towards one another – which I very strongly believe in – and also allowing private enterprise to function without excessive taxation.

This BS vision for Belle Isle crosses the line. It violates our communitarian obligation to support our society – the same society which supports businesses like Chrysler and Cafe d’Mongo in Detroit whose former presidents and owners are pushing this idea. What’s your vision for this great country? Do you want to 1% to continue drifting off to sea with their off-shore bank accounts and tax-free enclaves while the rest of us work for, proportionally speaking, less and less? When you need your own island wedged in between Canada and the United States to protect yourself from taxes, you’re neglecting the very country that helped make you great.

I’m all in favor of you creating your own personal libertarian enclave. But only if you build your own cabin in northern Quebec with trees that you cut down yourself while wearing clothes that you sewed and raising your own crops and animals to slaughter yourself.

Until then, I’m tired of the very wealthy behaving so irresponsibly.

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Ayn Rand endorses Paul Ryan for the next President of the United States

I was watching Democracy Now! tonight and found out that Paul Ryan, the next president of the United States, is a huge Ayn Rand fan. Huge. To the point that he can quote “any verse of Ayn Rand”.

This definitely helps explain his budget proposals.

Before going on, I just found this great quote from Flannery O’Connor about Ayn Rand:

“The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.”

(Full disclosure: I have not read any Ayn Rand, so I can’t attest to the sentiments personally. However, I unequivocally refute her worldview so it makes me smile.)

I was going to leave this post right there and get back to my Montaigne reading – maybe dig out a quote or two more from Mr. Montaigne to share – but it’s really struck me how ideologically opposed Romney and Obama are, especially given Mr. Ryan’s appointment to the VP position.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to make this face all night long. I guess this is what happens to your smile after you read Ayn Rand.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

I would just like to say, it’s a sad commentary on American Christianity if this is what it takes to get the evangelical, Right-wing base of the party fired up: A man who rejects the need for social assistance programs that help millions of Americans every day. A man who wants to kick 10 million people off of food stamps. A man who prioritizes corporations and Wall Street over the people living and working on Main Street.

Debates about who Jesus would vote for are stupid and petty so I’m not going there. And we don’t know how big of an effect this will have on evangelical Christians… yet. But if you’re a Christian planning on voting for Romney – Ryan for their fiscal responsibility, then consider that this is a congressman who supported wasteful government spending when it came to phony wars overseas but when it comes to a question of whether or not we will support our seniors on Medicare, he says no. When it comes to people on foodstamps, he says no.

Me? I’m a communitarian. I believe that we only flourish individually when we flourish as a community. I don’t buy that religious Right-wing argument that it should be left to individuals and religious organizations to take care of “charity”. I’ve worked firsthand with these sorts of organizations and I love the work that they do. But there are certain things private individuals and churches and mosques can’t do. They can’t pay all the medical bills of their seniors. They can’t cut healthcare costs. Sure, they can run food pantries, but I’ve seen firsthand how hard it is to keep those shelves stocked – and guess what? A lot of their support comes… from the government! Surprise!

If supporting social safety nets means makes me a socialist or a collectivist, then so be it! I take it as a judgment on where our society is today more than a judgment on my political beliefs. I take it as a judgment on the state of American Christianity when 9 times out of 10 we are more concerned about preventing gays from marrying than making sure that every child in this country gets a good education. I take it as a judgment on American Christianity when we march against abortion, but we can’t march against the poverty that far too many already-born children live in. What does it say when the “godless” left in this country does a better job following Jesus’ precepts than those filling the pews every Sunday?

If all it takes to rally America’s conservative Christians – the base that Romney’s been missing – is a pseudo fiscal conservative who doesn’t like gays or abortion, then it’s time for this country to do a little soul-searching.

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Filed under Religious Wrong, US Politics