Ayn Rand

Reason.tv: If Bill Gates is Henry Reardon, Who is Paul Krugman? An Interview with Donald Luskin

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"What you really have in Atlas Shrugged is an unholy alliance of corrupt crony capitalists and corrupt government." says author Donald Luskin. "Now that isn't a narrative that conservatives like to tell, [but] that ought to be a narrative libertarians like to tell."

In his newest book, I Am John Galt: Today's Heroic Innovators Building the World and the Villainous Parasites Destroying It, Luskin finds modern parallels to Ayn Rand's characters. From Bill Gates to Paul Krugman, Luskin analyses the Randian heroes and villains of today and examines the impact of Rand's ideas on America.

At FreedomFest 2011, Reason's Matt Welch sat down with Luskin to talk about his book, his crusade against Paul Krugman and the resurgence of Ayn Rand. 

Held each July in Las Vegas, FreedomFest is attended by around 2,000 libertarians and advocates of limited government. Reason.tv spoke with over two dozen speakers and attendees and will be releasing interviews over the coming weeks. For an ever-growing playlist, go here now.

About 6:16 minutes. Shot by Zach Weissmueller and Jim Epstein and edited by Meredith Bragg.

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  1. “So, like Krugman, Toohey is portrayed in the book as being physically puny, sickly, a guy born with an inferiority complex, but a great mind, so he transforms the fury of that inferiority complex into a ‘take over the world’ complex.”

    Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman and the phrase “great mind” should never be in the same sentence, even through the prism of fiction. Other than that, apt comparison.

    1. +1
      Krugman is not a major character in Atlas Shrugged. There must have been a know-nothing economist in the background somewhere.

      1. One of Lillian Rearden’s hangers-on.

        1. I’m not going to waste time listening to Luskin but did he get asked about all of the wrong predicitons he made about the economy over the last 5 years? My god that guy has a horrible track record.

      2. He does perform a pretty good Wesley Mouch imitation.

    2. Have you read the paper Krugman did tongue in cheek examining interest rates and pricing in interstellar trade without FTL transit technology? He is a total partisan hack as an opinion columnist, but not everything he’s done in life is awful.

      1. Ugh, 1978. Now you’ve made me think about Krugman looked like in the late 70’s.

    3. Have you read the paper Krugman did tongue in cheek examining interest rates and pricing in interstellar trade without FTL transit technology? He is a total partisan hack as an opinion columnist, but not everything he’s done in life is awful.

      1. I’ve said quite a bit that when Krugman’s wife isn’t ghost-writing his stuff, he’s actually not that bad.

    4. “Nobel Laureate Guy who won a prize from a bank that tries to fluff the image by calling it a “Nobel Prize” over the objections of those who award “real” Nobel Prize named Paul Krugman and the phrase “great mind” should never be in the same sentence, even through the prism of fiction. Other than that, apt comparison.

      FIFY

      If he continues to suck up to politics and bankers I hear he’s in line for a Fields Medal……a Mrs. Fields Medal for excellence in the science of Baking!

      1. “……a Mrs. Fields Medal for excellence in the science of Baking!”
        He’d fuck that up too.

    5. Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman and the phrase “great mind” should never be in the same sentence, even through the prism of fiction.

      I completely disagree.

      Provided a few other words are in that sentence, too. Words like “not to be confused with”, or “by no means”, or “at the other end of the spectrum.”

  2. Rand probably wishes she had come up with a crazt idea like Solyndra.

  3. that ought to be a narrative libertarians like to tell.

    But libertarians are all just a bunch of sycophantic corporatist stooges. That’s what people like Tony and MNG keep telling me.

  4. Rand probably wishes she had come up with a crazt idea like Solyndra.

    Did the federal government even “guarantee” repayment of loans made to private companies when Atlas was written?

  5. Umm, he says Bill Gates in Henry Reardon in the first 30 seconds, not Galt.

    1. Makes much more sense.

  6. *is* Henry Reardon.

    Preview, damnit!

    1. Second. This is a material error that should be corrected.

  7. I am reading Atlas Shrugged for the first time. I’m about 100 pages from the end. Whatever comment you may have about Rand, you must admit she had a serious grasp of human nature.

    Are there any John Galts out there today? I can’t really think of anyone who’s basically given the finger to society and walked off.

    1. There is nothing as dramatic as a John Galt in the book, what normally happens if the government starts really clamping down, is that people will start hiding their earnings, or simply not work as much as before or simply move to another country.

      1. or like in Europe the economy moves under the table to avoid rent seekers.

      2. what normally happens if the government starts really clamping down, is that people will start hiding their earnings, or simply not work as much as before or simply move to another country.

        I’ve already ticked off the first two check boxes. Examining options with regards to the third.

        1. Chile

    2. I am not a fan of her fiction. But, the reason why her characters don’t work well as fiction is because they are too close to reality. Real people are too unbelievable to be written as fiction. She absolutely nails the way people are even if her prose does suck and the novels are boring.

    3. If there are real life parallels to Galt, you would not know who they were. The book Galt went on strike before his engineering ability made a noticable impact on the world.

  8. Are there any John Galts out there today? I can’t really think of anyone who’s basically given the finger to society and walked off.

    Take a look at the factory shutdowns in the 1970s-80s and you’ll find your men.

  9. I just bought it (I love my Kindle!). Can’t wait to find out who I am.

  10. I just bought it (I love my Kindle!). Can’t wait to find out who I am.

  11. AUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    WHY DOES IT DO THAT?

    1. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between a five-dollar bill and a server squirrel deserves to learn the difference on his own back.

    2. Because the Reason servers are run by squirrels being toed* by lions. Duh.

      *toe fucked

      1. The servers are shit!

  12. I must dispute the last point of the interview … While Republicans may have a problem with admitting that there are “corrupt crony capitalists” allied with “corrupt government officials” … TRUE conservatives, i.e. Constitutional Conservatives, are perfectly willing to admit the existence of that alliance and are working to abolish it.

    Run Sarah Run!

    1. But you can’t hide, Sarah. You can’t hide.

      1. Be careful Citizen Nothing, Sarah is a Momma Grizzly that hunts coyotes for fun. She will put a cap in you for the sport of it if you piss her off. And I will laugh as you beg her to spare your sorry ass….

  13. Are they also Scotsmen, by any chance?

    1. Gah, that was directed at JohnInFlorida.

  14. Ha – to see Gates characterized as Hank Reardon couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    Steve Jobs as Howard Roark and Gates as Keating is a much more apt analogy.

    1. Gates does have some parallels to Reardon, i.e. his company did not play the political game before the anti-trust suit was brought against it. Since then, not so much.

      1. True, recall Reardon signed over his Reardon Metal to the government.

    2. Gates relied heavily on the Federal bureaucracy standardizing on his products to give Windows an unshakable market share. It’s been a while but people forget how much the government was complicit in building the Redmond empire.

  15. I saw him on C-SPAN 2’s “Book TV” when CSPAN was featuring a few authors that spoke during the FreedomFest meeting. It was a pretty good show: Luskin is a very good speaker who can keep your attention very well.

  16. More importantly, “Who is John Galt?”

  17. Luskin supported the TARP bail outs then quickly stopped blogging when (which was almost instantaneous) the wave of hate over it began.

    I followed the blog for about 2 to 3 years up until he shut it down.

    Everything he had written up until he desidded to support TARP completely contradicted his support of it.

    It made no sense he has never given a plausible explanation on why he supported it and he has never retracted his support…it just sort of silently drifted away.

    Fuck that guy.

  18. Freedom Fest is attended by a few hundred ibertarians and lots of conservatives. To call conservatives “advocates of limited government” is not saying anything. Few people, anywhere in politics, say they want unlimited government. Limited to what is the issue. And lots of Freedom Fest attendees are advocates of big government when it comes to war or social freedom.Most the speakers are opponents of liberty in some areas. Certain the speakers and the crowd are more conservative than libertarian and they want big brother in certain areas.For the most part it is overpriced and most the speakers are “investment” self-proclaimed gurus who are trying to sell you something. So imagine a combination of preachers, snake-oil salesmen and a smattering of libertarians; that is freedom fest.

  19. Anybody claiming Bill Gate is an “innovator” is fucking retarded. Bill Gates is not Hank Rearden. Bill Gates is Peter Keating, a fantastically successful thief taking credit for other people’s ideas.

    1. I’d advise you read a bit more about Bill Gates in his early days. While Microsoft the company does not innovate much today, Gates was definitely in the vanguard of personal computing technology. He just didn’t hold with the MIT/RMS version of open software given out for free, and that didn’t sit well with the geeks of the day. He wanted to make money.

  20. I thought EVERYBODY who reads Atlas Shrugged immediately identified people they know (or at least are aware of and able to reasonably accurately characterize) from the characters in the book. I used to be frickin’ SURROUNDED by them. How many Orren Boyles can one world contain?

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