John Galt continues,
Whatever the value involved, it is your lack of it that gives you a claim upon those who don’t lack it. It is your need that gives you a claim to rewards. If you are able to satisfy your need, your ability annuls your right to satisfy it. But a need you are unable to satisfy gives you first right to the lives of mankind.
... and to whom might this apply? It actually does apply to the poor, the unemployed, those whose values have been sidelined by corporatism, but certainly not by the standards of Rand's materialist acquisitive morality. In contradiction to Rand, E. C. Riegel made it clear that one's lack of money gives one the unique position of being the only one capable of and more importantly ENTITLED BY INALIENABLE RIGHT to create it. NO ONE ELSE QUALIFIES. No constituted group of people, no business, no bank, no government gets to create money in a Value Unit based system. Attention Bill Still and those with him: why bother with the US Constitution, which has clearly failed? Why have the government create money and spend it for us, when we'd rather do it ourselves? Besides which, who can say with any surety what exactly “the public interest” is and even more crucially, having the government create the money and spending it, giving the government power it doesn't deserve?
Rather than lumping together life essentials like food, water, shelter, clothing, shoes, etc. in with that which strictly speaking does not so easily fit into these rational categories, as rewards, as Rand does, we instead determine that one's ability to rise above subsistence is not thwarted due to lack of money. Rewards, as Rand understands them, are anything that anyone would want to buy. We rather consider rewards only that which one is able to buy through one's efforts above the level of subsistence.
Rand is making more rash assumptions based on the bourgeois morality that may or may not be believed in by most,
If you succeed, any man who fails is your master; if you fail, any man who succeeds is your serf.
If you succeed, you will succeed under a VEN, you will certainly have more than one who refuses to work or more importantly falls into any categories like the injured, disabled, elderly, etc. If you are indigent, the VEN will allow you to trade for necessities and as you can or would decide to work for more Value Units, perhaps you would rise out of your indigent status. The collectivist claims are obliterated, because there isn't a background scarcity of money to consider. E. C. Riegel shared this insight with Milton Friedman, who long ago suggested that rather than welfare programs, all people who were poor really needed was money to buy their subsistence existence, so this idea is not new.
Whether your failure is just or not, whether your wishes are rational or not, whether your misfortune is undeserved or the result of your vices, it is misfortune that gives you a right to rewards.
This statement, like the previous one is a complaint. I can even hear the pouting sneering tone of voice used by someone who thinks they know the truth of life when they frankly do not. It IS misfortune of a variety of sorts that gives the poor a RIGHT to a subsistence, the SOLE RIGHT to create that subsistence out of nothing by creating the money with which to buy it. Nobody else counts, as they already have all the money they need to purchase whatever rewards they can afford and governments count the least, as they have nothing to sell and take by FORCE. Governments have always been the true economic parasites, and everyone should jolly well get used to regarding them as such.
It is pain, regardless of its nature or cause, pain as a primary absolute, that gives you a mortgage on all of existence.
Throw out the word mortgage because that word is tied inevitably with usury. It is someone's pain, if they are poor that may require whatever attention their subsistence can afford. Even Riegel understood that those at the bottom could not be allowed to create infinite amounts of new money. We will certainly be dealing with this issue in a future paper.
If you heal your pain by your own effort, you receive no moral credit: your code regards it scornfully as an act of self-interest.
From a Riegel perspective, good for you if you can heal yourself, preserve your health, create value by virtuous activity, achieve something in life, etc. We don't see much point in giving any credit to the bourgeois morality Rand is continuing to flog.
Whatever value you seek to acquire, be it wealth or food or love or rights, if you acquire it by means of your Virtue, your code does not regard it as a moral acquisition: you occasion no loss to anyone, it is a trade, not alms; a payment, not a sacrifice.
There are many people out there who think this way, most of them from Catholic backgrounds, where doing good works always involving self-sacrifice are supposedly treasures stored up in heaven. We sincerely doubt this is acceptable Christian teaching and suppose that it was always meant to sustain the powers that be within the religious / political system, especially as concerned gaining recruits for more senseless wars.
But from a Riegel standpoint, there isn't even a question of morality about any of it, it's just business. People who have the means may engage in business with a few new wrinkles that will tie value to work. Those without the means shall get at least a subsistence. As said many times before, this is E. C. Riegel's answer to ALL collectivist ideology and transfer of wealth schemes. If you understand this point correctly, you will see how just about everything Rand has put into Galt's character and words would become irrelevant.
The deserved belongs in the selfish, commercial realm of mutual profit; it is only the undeserved that calls for that moral transaction which consists of profit to one at the price of disaster to the other.
Oh come on! Disaster to the other? Anyone who thinks this way IS a selfish pig and we all know it. NO, we do not want anything from you, you may keep, hoard, do what you like up to the limit of your liability. Limited liability is NOT going to be supported by ANY IE within an VEN, so you can forget about some wild scheme to control assets that you can't manage directly. Such gargantuan business structures are indeed the dinosaurs of the past and once that is realized, much else will be quite different. The eventual extinction of these dinosaurs is as certain as is the extinction of these prehistoric animals.
To demand rewards for your virtue is selfish and immoral; it is your lack of virtue that transforms your demand into a moral right.
From the standpoint of bourgeois morality, demanding rewards includes the right to basic necessities. We turn this around and say very simply that if anyone falls beneath a certain subsistence level or safety net that they will have the right, the only ones in a VEN who will get to do this, to create money to buy their necessities, and that since the money in this system will NOT be an artificial scarcity caused by usury, there will be enough for everyone. Morality, of the sort Rand thinks she understands, plays no role in this whatsoever. According to Rand and anyone who would accept this logic, things (material objects or services) are superior to people in the scheme of things. This is entirely the effect of the present usury based system.
A morality that holds need as a claim, holds emptiness-non-existence-as its standard of value; it rewards an absence, a defeat: weakness, inability, incompetence, suffering, disease, disaster, the lack, the fault, the flaw-the zero.
Galt's / Rand's morality is not working under an E. C. Riegel based understanding because the claims of the defeated, weakened, disabled, incompetent, suffering, diseased, disaster victims, etc. are accepted as rightful claims because these are people, not things. In fact this so called “rational morality” that is being put forth, rather too clumsily too, as it turns out, is fast becoming ... wasted breath. But here's where we come face to face with the imposed scarcity which serves as a basis for Rand's whole rant,
Who provides the account to pay these claims?
Nobody, because the claims only apply when purchases are made and no one under a Value Unit system can tell whether the person capable of buying say a gallon of milk is rich or poor. There are no accounts to balance because scarcity only occurs based on natural conditions; all the milk in that local area gets bought out or the supply changes due to some other natural occurrence. Has anyone else noticed that appeals to scarcity are seldom based on any real situations involving real people ... except perhaps for the greedy misers fearing robbery?
Those who are cursed for being non-zeros, each to the extent of his distance from that ideal.
Galt, stop your snivelling! You already have too much and produce nothing. You are complaining about a morality that doesn't really exist, a straw dog.
Since all values are the product of virtues, the degree of your virtue is used as the measure of your penalty; the degree of your faults is used as the measure of your gain.
E. C. Riegel's insights annihilate all of this, and provide for much more. But if you think yourself grand and measure your grandness against those you must regard as less grand than yourself, the VEN will make sure your grandness does stay within natural bounds. But here's some more,
Your code [bourgeois morality] declares that
the rational man must sacrifice himself to the irrational,
There is no sacrifice of anything under a VEN: it is the present imposed scarcity of money that is to blame for this and all other complaints.
There is no sacrifice of anything under a VEN: it is the present imposed scarcity of money that is to blame for this and all other complaints.
the independent man to parasites,
Who tell me are the greater parasites, the bankers, those employed by so called non-profit organizations, NGO's, think tanks, etc. or ... someone's aged and crippled grandmother? You tell me.
the honest man to the dishonest,
We certainly hope to preserve the honest from the dishonest any way we can, but this happens in daily life as it is, with or without the bourgeois morality being flogged to no purpose.
the man of justice to the unjust,
And who pray tell is the man of justice? Rand thinks they are traders, who buy cheap and sell dear and keep the difference without producing anything except getting product to the customer. Some of these middlemen are honest while others are not. Those with a guaranteed government monopoly (like some concessions operators in National Parks) can be as dishonest as they please.
the productive man to thieving loafers,
The productive man has far more to fear from those who might take from him from above his status, than from those beneath him. But Galt / Rand, like most who follow them, looks up to these bloated personages as if they reached these pinnacles of status by rational means when they did not.
the man of integrity to compromising knaves,
Integrity derives from a longstanding acquaintance by others of someone who lives by the truth, by honesty and virtue. Whatever values created by such a person are part of their property, that they can trade with others. Any compromises would have to do with diluting the quality of the product or temporizing with truth, which no matter how miniscule is a lie. Figure it out as it applies in your own life and circumstances. In a Value Unit based system, there will never be any FORCE to compel the man of integrity to deal with compromising knaves.
the man of self-esteem to snivelling neurotics.
We do have, as an indirect result of the present monetary situation, conditions favouring certain kinds of neurotic behaviours. Just because we have and do find fault with Rand's plea for a new materialist acquisitive morality, doesn't mean we dispense with rationality, reason or truth. What is truth? It is sought by reason and frankly serves as the ultimate authority. If you can't win an argument by establishing the truth based on identity, A = A, and all that sensibly derives from such assertions, then no authority you might name will help you. Those who can reason well have a certain right to their self-esteem and shouldn't frankly care much what anyone else might think. However, saying this does not imply that rude behaviour is ever other than what it is; rude behaviour = rude behaviour. [... as was made manifest once again a few moths ago, necessitating this site be put to sleep temporarily. Well, no matter; it's all for the best.]
Do you wonder at the meanness of soul in those you see around you?
The man who achieves these virtues will not accept your moral code; the man who accepts your moral code will not achieve these virtues.
So frankly, NO, we do NOT accept this bourgeois morality. If we were to accept it, then our “salvation” would indeed be a matter of how much virtue we were expected to give up to others when that is NOT the fundamental Christian message, sorry and under a Value Unit based system, would not ever be necessary. We are well aware of how this morality has been taught and expressed in the arts, particularly motion pictures and television, but this is all popular fiction, not the basis for a real morality and was not the morality taught by Jesus Christ. Of course a lot of Christians never read their Bibles and those outside Christianity certainly would read the Bible even less. There are many false moral teachers, always have been.
The relevance of any of this to an E. C. Riegel based system is that the VEN makes it irrelevant. We remind those who still believe they can achieve anything out of a monetary system with built in scarcities as inherent in its business model, that their efforts are in vain. It is almost exactly like trying to get water to run uphill.
Under a morality of sacrifice, the first value you sacrifice is morality; the next is self-esteem. When need is the standard, every man is both victim and parasite. As a victim, he must labour to fill the needs of others, leaving himself in the position of a parasite whose needs must be filled by others. He cannot approach his fellow men except in one of two disgraceful roles: he is both a beggar and a sucker.
Fine. We reject the morality of sacrifice as Rand describes it, but we do not see humanity the way she does, because we have become aware of the forces that shaped human beings, often forces well beyond their understanding or control, oftentimes in existence long before they were born. In short we have far more respect for the needy than Rand does. Rand reverts to money as a means of making her points, but she would have no points worth making in a monetary system where money was never as scare as absolutely required to carry on legitimate business. This will be taken up in a future paper on markets. Under the terms of the present monetary order of imposed scarcity (with the WRONG people given the entitlement / monopoly to create money) the following points Galt makes are certainly accurate, as long as bourgeois morality is accepted,
You fear the man who has a dollar less than you, that dollar is rightfully his, he makes you feel like a moral defrauder.
The poor man begs for alms so those he begs from feel put upon. There would be none of this in a VEN. Begging of all sorts would gradually go away.
You hate the man who has a dollar more than you, that dollar is rightfully yours, he makes you feel that you are morally defrauded.
The working man who sees how much others above him make, can be scornful of them. Under a Value Unit system, at least conditions economists usually regard as frictional unemployment, may be somewhat more endurable, so that one may find the situation with employers that suits one best, and very importantly, since each worker under a VEN carries with him his own financing, a benefit to the business, it will behove employers to treat their employees better, because jobs will become far more competitive. But Galt continues,
The man below is a source of your guilt, the man above is a source of your frustration. You do not know what to surrender or demand, when to give and when to grab, what pleasure in life is rightfully yours and what debt is still unpaid to others you struggle to evade, as ‘theory,’ the knowledge that by the moral standard you’ve accepted you are guilty every moment of your life,
This does indeed, pretty much describe current conditions. But all of them would benefit from a Value Unit based monetary system (the or an) VEN.
there is no mouthful of food you swallow that is not needed by someone somewhere on earth-
This thought is largely irrational, as there is no possible way any food wasted somewhere could find its way to some need somewhere else. It's a fraudulent attempt to make one feel undeserved guilt. Not only does Galt / Rand resent it, but so do I. The reason for most essentials being what they are is entirely due to market conditions in each locality, NOT on a worldwide basis. Telling one group of people that they have to adopt austerity so that other people can eat is always dishonest. Under a Value Unit based system, such concerns as these would soon disappear.
and you give up the problem in blind resentment, you conclude that moral perfection is not to be achieved or desired, that you will muddle through by snatching as snatch can and by avoiding the eyes of the young, of those who look at you as if self-esteem were possible and they expected you to have it.
Probably Rand lived through something like this in her first years of life and it left an indelible impression on her thereafter as such things can. This resignation need not happen and would be a lot less likely under a Value Unit system.
Guilt is all that you retain within your soul-and so does every other man, as he goes past, avoiding your eyes. Do you wonder why your morality has not achieved brotherhood on earth or the good will of man to man?
Well, the good will of man to man is the outcome of smoothly operating markets, not some highfaluting nonsense about brotherhood on earth or any other irrational claptrap. We're not saying that brotherhood isn't possible, indeed we can experience it every day. But to expect any power on earth to FORCE it is ... ridiculous! This discussion will be continued in the next post.