Posts in: January 15th, 2015

What the Fuck, Yaron Brook? — Part IV: The Objectivist Utopia

A Note to Readers: I’ve made the decision to make my latest post into a multi-part series exploring both my understanding of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and why I struggle with publicly calling myself an Objectivist—primarily because of Dr. Yaron Brook and the Ayn Rand Institute distorting important aspects of her philosophy. This is part four of a five-part series. Read parts one, two, and three.

I’ve talked to some people who have a hard time envisioning a laissez-faire capitalist country, or what I half-jokingly call “the Objectivist Utopia.” They often perceive it as the neo-con wet dream: a government sold to big business, obliterating the freedom of anyone who can’t pay for it, and war-mongering its way around the world to prop up a precarious government built on two things: a military-industrial complex that would have no way of sustaining itself without exorbitant government contracts, and “free trade” with conquered nations with terrible human rights records and slave wages. That is not the Objectivist Utopia.

The Objectivist Utopia is a world where the government has absolutely no say in economic affairs. There is no Federal Reserve, no SEC, no IRS (or, at least a very different IRS), no ability to alter interest rates or artificially play with the value of currency, no ability to either impede or enhance private enterprise, no global trade initiatives or tariffs or sanctions. Hell, in the Objectivist Utopia, governments might not even own property for its offices; they’d rent it from private citizens, corporations, or nonprofit charities.

But how would the government pay its rent in a tax-free world? Well, Ayn Rand was not strictly against taxes: she was against exorbitant taxes used to fund a reckless, debt-ridden government, and thought the income tax was patently unconstitutional. Even if you want to perceive the Objectivist Utopia as having taxes, though, what little funding the government needs would be provided through various types of bonds. Rather than coerced tithing, a bond would allow a citizen to voluntarily decide what aspect(s) of government they want to fund, and how much they want to pay. Just as any Objectivist charitable contribution would require an element of self-interest, they would see this as an investment in a system they love—but they could pick and choose what to fund. And in the unlikely event that the government doesn’t get as much funding as it requests, it would have to make do or refund the bonds. It would have no power to deficit spend or raise taxes simply to make up for shortfalls.

With a government paralyzed when it comes to tampering with economic affairs, economic bubbles would occur far less frequently, grow far less enormous, and be far less detrimental when they burst. Investing would be more diversified; instead of putting all their money into the government-backed “sure things,” investors would be required to actually—gasp!—think for themselves instead of just following artificial market patterns or hot tips. This, at least in my hopeful vision, might motivate them to focus on areas of business for which they have some passion. Many investors already do this; many more don’t, which is part of what rigs the economy in favor of whatever the circle jerk of public politicians and semi-private plutocrats have decided.

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