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A Major Discrepancy

  1. Nov 13, 2009 #1
    It is my understanding, after reading Ayn Rand's magnum opus Atlas Shrugged, that she advocated work - labor, menial and otherwise - over profit. However, I have heard many assertions in the media and in criticisms of Ayn Rand's philosophy (Objectivism) that she advocated profit over work.

    This is a major discrepancy for me - profit is the tax made off of laborers once they've been paid their just dues. Profit doesn't require the profiteer to labor but to own. It is my opinion, after reading her work, that she valued earning your Salary, not earning a Profit, (that is not to say that she was against ownership, either).

    Can anyone provide with me a quote from the author or her library - Ayn Rand's words - in which she advocates profit, not work?

    In good spirits and questionable wit,
    JRD, unassigned
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 15, 2009 #2
    Don't worry, given how tedious the book is, it's easy to start skimming and miss things.

    If one single businessman had had the courage, then, to say that he worked for nothing but his own profit -- and to say it proudly -- he would have saved the world.
    -- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
  4. Nov 15, 2009 #3
    I enjoyed the book a lot...

    Furthermore I submit to you:

    Working for a profit is a salary, unless you expect to do it for free?
  5. Nov 15, 2009 #4
    Sigh. I gave you exactly what you asked for... also

    'Businessman' generally refers to a manager/owner, which is white-collar, as opposed to blue-collar, the latter being those who actually get their hands dirty, and you know, produce/make stuff.

    'His profit' would mostly be from the work of other people. Paying workers the value of their work, would equal 'no profit' for a businessman.

    And yes, Rand's writings are full of discrepancies. Her understanding of economics and philosophy were rudimentary, and her 'writing' was pulpy melodrama. Tends to go over well with young people, but most grow out of it.

    The moral of Atlas Shrugged: If the woman you love, but have been lieing to for years, says something you completely disagree with, its your obligation to punch her in the face. Then she will love you even more.
  6. Nov 15, 2009 #5
    I do not know why you are approaching the point so apathetically. What you gave me was a quote that said you should do work for profit. Also, all of the assertions you submitted were anecdotal. If you're not going to provide any basis of factual evidence for them, disregard the topic as rudimentary and melodramatic and leave it be.

    The love story of Atlas Shrugged was a superficial examination of what Rand believed real love should feel like, a topic I'm not bringing up here, and your summation of the moral seems more akin to pulpy melodramatics than anything I read in the story.

    Also, Rand has been accused of stealing Marx's idea on the highest and lowest echelons of society. There is no place for those apathetic charity collectors who refuse to labor, and there is no place for the abusive taxers of salary so called white collar workers. So your assertion that your original quote shows an obvious value of profit over work is at best an obvious misinterpretation.

    You could have at least brought up the point that once the originator of an idea that springs into a company dies, a slow degradation of meaning to the creators morals and ideals ensues, leading to the eventual collapse of a company, spread across an economy that causes the collapse of a society.

    Please take the topic more serious or disregard it altogether.
  7. Nov 15, 2009 #6
    The quote very clearly puts the value on profit, not on work. You can interpret it anyway you like, but its very easily interpreted the way I stated.

    So 'misinterpretation' or not, you have your answer. The fact you have found a different way to interpret her words doesn't change the obvious emphasis in that quote. Nor does it change the way many of her followers view profit.

    And as for my approach. Rand is to philosophy, what L. Ron Hubbard was to psychology. A self-important, self-help guru, who inspired a cult of personality. Her ideas were derivative, unoriginal and juvenile.

    If you are serious about philosophy, there are much... much better things to read. Rand is really not a serious topic.
  8. Nov 16, 2009 #7


    Staff: Mentor

    No, his profit would mostly be from the value of his entrepenurism. Rand's basic point is that the worker needs the entrepeneur much more than vice versa. The workers cannot pay him the value of his innovation up front, his profit is their installment plan.

    Also, (this is purely anectdotal, but) all of the entrepenuers that I personally know work much harder than any of their workers, in addition to providing the innovation and taking the risk.
  9. Nov 16, 2009 #8
    And who determines the value of "entrepeneurism"?
    Let me guess... the businessman.

    Equating 'businessman' with 'innovator' is laughable.
    But since we are getting anecdotal. Most innovators I know are horrible at business. That is, most people with the talent for creating things, spend their time and effort doing just that. 'Business' is mostly about raising capital and managing costs and inventory, and reselling other people's ideas, its not about innovation. Scientists and artists innovate, businessmen on good days are symbiotic with innovators, but in a lot of cases are more parasitic.

    Rand's fantasy world doesn't describe reality any more than Marx's fantasy world did.
    Thus we have the 'major discrepancy'.
  10. Nov 18, 2009 #9


    Staff: Mentor

    The market, obviously.
    Well, my anectdotal experience is very different from yours; I don't personally know any parasitic businessman/innovator relationships. Most of the innovators I know are smart enough to get out of such a relationship and find a mutually beneficial one; maybe your experience is more heavily weighted towards artists (mine is heavily weighted towards engineers). But in any case it is clear that Rand was writing about people who were both innovative and entrepenurial as individuals; that was her ideal protagonist.
    Agreed, that is why it is fiction. Too bad Marx didn't have the same honesty.
  11. Nov 18, 2009 #10
    Like I said, fantasy.

    The more natural, and tried and true method, is pure law of the jungle natural selection. But the poor businessmen tend to end up with their heads on spikes when those sorts of market forces are let loose.

    http://xkcd.com/664/" [Broken]

    Well.... then you're either very lucky, or you're a businessman.
    Oh, well then, www.dilbert.com
    Being wrong and being dishonest are two different things...
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  12. Nov 19, 2009 #11


    Staff: Mentor

    I am an engineer so I guess I am very lucky then. Or it could equally be that you are very unlucky. Or somewhere in between with my experience being slightly better than normal and yours being slightly worse. That is the core problem with anecdotal evidence, but I don't know of any scientific studies of the topic.
  13. Nov 19, 2009 #12
    Given the popularity of Dilbert amongst engineers, I would say thats a good guess.
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