Quick Roundup 541

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Bleg: That Quote

An article about a drive to get America's billionaires to donate half of their personal wealth to charity has reminded me of an especially elusive quotation I was surprised to hear read over the radio eons ago. This article, like several other bits of news and commentary in the recent past, has reminded me of that quote and made me want to track it down.

I haven't read the entire article, but its title aroused my curiosity enough to locate the following within:

Those qualifiers noted, the magazine stated the 2009 net worth of the Forbes 400 to be around $1.2 trillion. So if those 400 were to give 50% of that net worth away during their lifetimes or at death, that would be $600 billion. You can think of that colossal amount as what the Buffett and Gates team is stalking -- at a minimum.
All one has to do is ponder the trillions in obligations that Bush and Obama are burdening our nation with to appreciate how much damage they will do to our economy, and how this "colossal" effort pales in comparison with the government's ability to loot us faster than we can even think about giving things away.

I am pretty sure the author of the quote I have in mind was Ayn Rand, but no amount of creative searching has helped me find it. It went something along the lines of there not being enough wealth in existence in the world to feed every mouth or fill every need -- and that taking it all would not only not be enough, but would destroy our economy's ability to create the wealth necessary for our continued existence.

Has anyone heard or read such a quote? If so, can you tell me where I can find it?

Note: I may be slow getting to replies today, as I am scheduled for oral surgery and might be recovering from anesthesia this evening.

Update: Thanks to Jennifer Snow, I found the quote.

How NOT to Fight Back, Part 506

Glenn Reynolds notes that the RNC is slamming Barack Obama for playing golf during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which is precisely the last thing it should be doing. Worse still, the ad (which is embedded at the above link) features an extended video overlay of James Carville urging Barack Obama to "take control" of things.

So much for the GOP having any credibility as a party of limited government.

Reynolds describes the above sound bite as "knife-twisting." I guess if he means this as the culmination of an act of hara-kiri (minus any sense of honor), I might be able to agree with him.

Chiding your enemy for not practicing his irrational principles enough -- while not standing up for a rational alternative at the same time -- is to confess intellectual bankruptcy.

This video is sickening, but I recommend watching it as a reminder of what we're up against. It's plainly not just the Democrats.

We don't need ... more ... regulation.

On HBL, Harry Binswanger recently pointed to the following bit of useful intellectual ammunition:
Financial services have long been subject to detailed regulation by multiple agencies. In his book on the financial crisis, Jimmy Stewart is Dead, Boston University Professor Laurence Kotlikoff counts over 115 regulatory agencies for financial services. If more hands in the pot helped, financial services would be in fine shape. Few believe such is the case.
115?!?! That's a good number to be able to toss out there in casual conversation.

The Decline of Civilization

Reader Fernando emails me a link to a humorous infographic illustrating the decline of philosophy in the West in terms of the kinds of questions we are asking.

-- CAV


: Corrected a typo. Updated first section.


Mo said...

did u hear about obama setting up a 20 million fund

Anonymous said...


I don't know if you saw this:


A Republican senator who is Asian commented: "Well, in the Asian culture, we do things differently. During the Samurai days, we'd just give you the knife and ask you to commit hara-kiri..."

Putting aside the idiotic Samurai reference, this is the exact thing the Republicans should NOT be saying. They should not be urging Obama to "take action." They should be making limited gov't arguments. All that they are doing is conceding the Left's premises. Once again they prove to be worse than useless. I wonder if the BP oil spill has killed the Tea Party movement's influence in the culture because it has now been "proved" that we need bigger government?


Gus Van Horn said...


I certainly did not, but I have noticed that he seems to have trouble with math before, to put it charitably on multiple levels.


No, I hadn't heard about that.

Regarding the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, to the extent that she represents that movement, has been making exactly this mistake from the get-go.


Jennifer Snow said...

I think I remember the quote you're talking about, Gus, but I'm blanking over which book it's in at the moment. IIRC Ayn Rand was talking about the difficulties of explaining complex monetary issues to a housewife who sees a millionaire passing and thinks that just one of his diamond studs could provide her food budget for a year, without knowing that there are not enough "rich" in all the world to provide etc. etc. and what would happen to her food budget the day after, because the newspapers are crying that we should "soak the rich". I know it's in one of the books I HAVE, though, but I'm afraid that's not terribly helpful.

Gus Van Horn said...


Many thanks! Between two search terms you suggested in your reply ("studs" and "soak"), I was able to locate the quote, which also appears under "taxation" in the online Ayn Rand Lexicon:

"In view of what they hear from the experts, the people cannot be blamed for their ignorance and their helpless confusion. If an average housewife struggles with her incomprehensibly shrinking budget and sees a tycoon in a resplendent limousine, she might well think that just one of his diamond cuff links would solve all her problems. She has no way of knowing that if all the personal luxuries of all the tycoons were expropriated, it would not feed her family—and millions of other, similar families—for one week; and that the entire country would starve on the first morning of the week to follow . . . . How would she know it, if all the voices she hears are telling her that we must soak the rich?"

This is from Ayn Rand and comes from the 1974 essay, "The Inverted Moral Priorities," which appeared in The Ayn Rand Letter.

That had been bugging me for some time now. Good to have that monkey off my back!


Mo said...

speaking of decline of philosophy and the link you posted here is a good quote as to why philosophy is important:

"It is philosophy that makes man understandable to man, explains human nobility, and shows man the proper road. The first defect appearing in any nation that is headed toward decline is in the philosophic spirit. After that deficiencies spread into the other sciences, arts, and associations. Philosophy is the escape from the narrow sensations of animality into the wide arena of human feelings…In general, it is man’s becoming man and living the life of sacred rationality. Its aim is human perfection in reason, mind, soul, and way of life….It is the foremost cause of the production of knowledge, the creation of sciences, the invention of industries, and the initiation of the crafts." - Al-Afghani

Gus Van Horn said...


That is a good quote, although I do wonder how much else of al-Afghani's thought I'd agree with...


Mo said...

yeah that part is his best unfortunately. but its nice to have some rational thought around given all the irrationalities one has to put up with

Gus Van Horn said...

It's such a good quote that I now think someone else once told me about it before. It does seem familiar.

Mo said...

believe it or not i'm actually searching your blog posts about the precautionary principle. a news story about genetically engineered clover that scientists have come up with to reduce methane gas coming out has the green party up in arms. Greenshit- err peace- is concerned as well

Gus Van Horn said...

That's right up there with environmentalist opposition to wind turbines for killing birds, since a big motive for the modified clover is the reduction of greenhouse gases!