Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving.One thing we can be thankful for is that it is the last Thanksgiving with George Bush as president.

Posting at Liberal Values has already been down the last couple of days as I have prepared to get out of town, and will probably remain reduced, with some occasional posting, through the weekend.

Libertarians Consider Government Action While Dagny Taggart’s Mind Gives Hank Rearden The Biggest Boner

There is a wide variety of people who fall under the libertarian label. Those who concentrate on economic issues and consider any intervention by government in the economy to be an immoral example of initiation of unjust force are having a tough time during this economic crisis. Many libertarians claim the problem was too much government regulation and the government should do nothing, but they are having a tough time selling this message. David Weigel, an editor at Reason, writes in The Guardian that some libertarians are no longer as dogmatic as in the days when Albert Jay Nock opposed the New Deal, writing that Roosevelt, Hitler, and Stalin were practicing “only local variants of the common doctrine.”

But modern libertarian thinkers and economists are not so dogmatic, or so reflexively anti-intervention, as Nock was. Amity Shales, an economic writer and historian who last year published a blockbuster, anti-New Deal history of the Great Depression, The Forgotten Man, has endorsed the idea of bail-out money for Wall Street, as long as it does not require management from Washington. (The current bail-out plan is a bit of a hash of both ideas.)

Megan McArdle, a libertarian editor at the Atlantic Monthly, was more conflicted. The dogmatic libertarian position on the bail-out – the one that, as it happened, Republicans in the House of Representatives held, as they shot down the first attempt at a bail-out in late September – was to oppose it. But McArdle chastised them for doing so. “I find it hard to believe that they’re voting their conscience; they’re voting their electoral interest in November. I hope their constituencies enjoy the bank panic

If some libertarians are now willing to consider government intervention in the economy it might be time to rewrite some libertarian classics. Jeremiah Tucker has rewritten Atlas Shrugged to account for the changing economic times (along with making it much shorter than the original). This satiric revision begins with Dagney Taggert and Hank Rearden talking, as Rearden gives a clue as to where the economy has gone wrong compared to an idealized Ayn Rand capitalistic society. The revision does maintain some aspects of Rand’s ideas on sex, but fortunately they actually get to it with much shorter speeches than in the original:

“I heard the thugs in Washington were trying to take your Rearden metal at the point of a gun,” she said. “Don’t let them, Hank. With your advanced alloy and my high-tech railroad, we’ll revitalize our country’s failing infrastructure and make big, virtuous profits.”

“Oh, no, I got out of that suckers’ game. I now run my own hedge-fund firm, Rearden Capital Management.”


He stood and adjusted his suit jacket so that his body didn’t betray his shameful weakness. He walked toward her and sat informally on the edge of her desk. “Why make a product when you can make dollars? Right this second, I’m earning millions in interest off money I don’t even have.”

He gestured to his floor-to-ceiling windows, a symbol of his productive ability and goodness.

“There’s a whole world out there of byzantine financial products just waiting to be invented, Dagny. Let the leeches run my factories into the ground! I hope they do! I’ve taken out more insurance on a single Rearden Steel bond than the entire company is even worth! When my old company finally tanks, I’ll make a cool $877 million.”

Their eyes locked with an intensity she was only beginning to understand. Yes, Hank … claim me … If we’re to win the battle against the leeches, we must get it on … right now … Don’t let them torture us for our happiness … or our billions.

He tore his eyes away.

“I can’t. Sex is base and vile!”

“No, it’s an expression of our highest values and our admiration for each other’s minds.”

“Your mind gives me the biggest boner, Dagny Taggart.”

He fell upon her like a savage, wielding his mouth like a machete, and in the pleasure she took from him her body became an extension of her quarterly earnings report—proof of her worthiness as a lover. His hard-on was sanction enough.

“Scream your secret passions, Hank Rearden!”



“Credit-default swaps!”

“Oh, yes! Yes!”

“Collateralized debt obligation.”