Philosophy & Living

How to Be Profitable and Moral: A Rational Egoist Approach to Business

How to Be Profitable and Moral: A Rational Egoist Approach to Business” by Jaana Woiceshyn

The book is intended for “thinking managers:” with a lot of concrete examples, it shows how rational egoist principles apply to business. John Allison, Doug Arends, Carl Barney, and Andrew Bernstein wrote nice endorsements.

From the book’s conclusion:  “Being both profitable and moral is possible for business. Egoism holds—and shows—that being moral is in fact a fundamental requirement of long-term profitability. To sustain maximum long-term profitability requires that businesspeople reject both altruism and cynical exploitation of others and adopt egoism as their moral code. This means seeking objectivity—consistency with the factual requirements of human survival and flourishing through the use of reason—in all our choices and actions, as demonstrated by the philosophy and conduct of the BB&T Corporation. To achieve long-term profitability requires that we adopt and apply rational principles consistently. The virtues of rationality, productiveness, honesty, justice integrity, independence and pride, as identified by Ayn Rand, specify the actions that achieving long-term profitability entails. The main substance of this book consists of examining these virtues and showing how they apply to business, with the hope you can put them in your tool kit and use them the next time you encounter a moral dilemma in business.”

For those who wish to pre-order the book Jaana Woiceshyn writes:

How to pre-order:  Contact the customer service department of Rowman & Littlefield (the parent company of Hamilton Books, my publisher) *before November* by calling 1-800-462-6420 or by e-mailing [email protected] and give my name and the book title. I don’t think the ISBN number is necessary, but here it is for reference: 978-0-7618-5699-3. They will ask for your credit card number.

The hardcover price is US$ 40 per copy. Your credit card will not be charged until the book is shipped to you in February.

Full disclosure: as a part of the contract with Hamilton Books, I am obligated to pre-order 70 hardcover copies by November. If you think the book would be valuable to you, or as a gift to someone, please consider pre-ordering from Rowman & Littlefield to help me fill the quota. But please do this only if you think the book is worth it (it will be available through Amazon, probably for less). If you do pre-order from Rowman & Littlefield, please let me know ([email protected]) so I can keep track of the numbers.

 

Scott Holleran Interview with John David Lewis

From Scott Holleran’s blog:

The goal of a war is to defeat an enemy’s will to fight. So argues the author of Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History (Princeton University Press, 2010), who makes the case that a strong military offense can win a war and establish lasting peace while playing defense often leads to destruction. This study of six major wars, from the Second Punic War to World War 2, by historian John David Lewis, contrasts the use of overwhelming force, such as the Greek victory over Xerxes’ army and navy, with a lack of reason, purpose, and commitment to fight. On the eve of the 10th year since the worst attack in American history, I turned to my friend John Lewis, a visiting associate professor of philosophy, politics, and economics at Duke University and teacher at Objectivist Conferences (OCON), to discuss today’s war from an historical perspective. Dr. Lewis is the author of Solon the Thinker: Political Thought in Archaic Athens and Early Greek Lawgivers.

Scott Holleran: What is the theme of Nothing Less Than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History?

John David Lewis: That wars are driven and caused by people’s decisions to fight and that those decisions are based on the ideas they hold. This has enormous implications for what victory means, because it means discrediting the ideas we’re trying to defeat. For example, one could never explain Germany’s massive attacks [against other countries] or Japan’s massive attack on America, in which they launched into intercontinental warfare, without understanding the ideals that they held. The theme of Nothing Less Than Victory is that one must defeat the enemy by discrediting his ideas.

Scott Holleran: How was Nothing Less Than Victory suggested by your students?

John David Lewis: I was teaching a class on ancient and modern warfare and it became clear that a comparative history would be useful. My students posed good questions.

Scott Holleran: While writing about the rise of the Nazis, did The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America by Leonard Peikoff help your understanding?

John David Lewis: Yes, because it’s the only book I know of that places philosophical ideas as the lesson of history. It’s not only an explanation of Nazi Germany in terms of ideas but, much more deeply and widely, it demonstrates how ideas move history.

Scott Holleran: The current administration supports military involvements in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, as well as other underreported incursions in nations such as Yemen and Pakistan, with something other than, or less than, a purpose let alone a victory. The Oxford English Dictionary defines warmonger as “a person who seeks to bring about or promote war.” As a commander-in-chief who supports and initiates militarism with no purpose or end, is President Obama a warmonger?

John David Lewis: I think he’s incompetent but I don’t think Obama is a warmonger. He inherited those wars but he’s simply unable to bring those wars… [Read the rest at Scott Holleran’s blog.]

Democrat Casino Mogul Steve Wynn on Obama’s “Weird” Job Destroying Philosophy

From Wynn Resorts’ CEO Discusses Q2 2011 Results – Earnings Call Transcript – Seeking Alpha:

Well, here’s our problem. There are a host of opportunities for expansion in Las Vegas, a host of opportunities to create tens of thousands of jobs in Las Vegas. I know that I could do 10,000 more myself and according to the Chamber of Commerce and the Visitors Convention Bureau, if we hired 10,000 employees, it would create another 20,000 additional jobs for a grand total of 30,000.

I believe in Las Vegas. I think its best days are ahead of it. But I’m afraid to do anything in the current political environment in the United States. You watch television and see what’s going on, on this debt ceiling issue. And what I consider to be a total lack of leadership from the President and nothing’s going to get fixed until the President himself steps up and wrangles both parties in Congress. But everybody is so political, so focused on holding their job for the next year that the discussion in Washington is nauseating.

And I’m saying it bluntly, that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime. And I can prove it and I could spend the next 3 hours giving you examples of all of us in this market place that are frightened to death about all the new regulations, our healthcare costs escalate, regulations coming from left and right. A President that seems — that keeps using that word redistribution.

Well, my customers and the companies that provide the vitality for the hospitality and restaurant industry, in the United States of America, they are frightened of this administration. And it makes you slow down and not invest your money. Everybody complains about how much money is on the side in America. You bet. And until we change the tempo and the conversation from Washington, it’s not going to change. And those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear of the President. And a lot of people don’t want to say that. They’ll say, “Oh God, don’t be attacking Obama.”

Well, this is Obama’s deal, and it’s Obama that’s responsible for this fear in America. The guy keeps making speeches about redistribution, and maybe we ought to do something to businesses that don’t invest or holding too much money. We haven’t heard that kind of talk except from pure socialists. Everybody’s afraid of the government, and there’s no need to soft peddling it, it’s the truth. It is the truth. And that’s true of Democratic businessman and Republican businessman, and I am a Democratic businessman and I support Harry Reid. I support Democrats and Republicans.

And I’m telling you that the business community in this company is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the President of the United States. And until he’s gone, everybody’s going to be sitting on their thumbs.

State of the Culture: Amy Peikoff Interview with ARI’s Yaron Brook

Dr. Yaron Brook, along with business hero John Allison and philosopher Leonard Peikoff, are the leading voices today in promoting Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism: which advocates reason, individual rights and the virtue of selfishness (i.e., the pursuit of one’s long-term happiness). Listen to this full-hour Interview with Yaron Brook, President of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights and the state of the Culture at Don’t Let It Go…Unheard #22.

The Philosophy of the New Left

Writes C. Bradley Thompson: “In 1958 Mike Wallace interviewed the Marxist social theorist, Erich Fromm (author of “The Sane Society”). If you want to understand the philosophy behind the New Left and the world in which we live today, I recommend that you watch it. […] Watching the Fromm interview helps us to understand why the Dustin Hoffman film, The Graduate, was such a hit in 1967. The culture had been prepared by Fromm, Marcuse, et. al. The famous line uttered by Mr. McGuire to Benjamin is straight out of Fromm: ‘I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. . . Are you listening? . . . Plastics.’ “

Watch the Erich Fromm Interview

Video: The Doctor Cog in the Obamacare Washington Machine

Health Care Reform: Setting Doctors Free [Livestream]

Dr. John David Lewis: Obamacare is a moral assault on free people, and an attack on human life itself.

Government medicine treats doctors as cogs in a giant machine, run from Washington, as if treating patients required no independent thought or action. Twenty-eight states have filed suit against Obamacare, claiming it is unconstitutional. But it is much worse than that. It is a moral assault on free people, and an attack on human life itself. John Lewis has a unique perspective on this issue, both as an advocate for individual rights and as a cancer patient. Don’t miss this hard-hitting lecture on the deepest evil of government medicine.

John David Lewis is a Visiting Associate Professor in the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program at Duke University, and a senior research scholar in history and classics at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, Bowling Green State University. He has taught at the University of London and Ashland University, and is a fellow of the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship. He has a PhD in classics from the University of Cambridge. He is an outspoken proponent of free market medicine.

No Time To Go Galt

Writes Philosopher Onkar Ghate over at CSM:

How, people wondered, could Rand have foreseen all this? Was she a prophet? No, she answered. [Ayn Rand] had simply identified the basic cause of why the country was veering from crisis to new crisis.

Was the solution to “go Galt” and quit society? No, Rand again answered. The solution was simultaneously much easier and much harder. “So long as we have not yet reached the state of censorship of ideas,” she once said, “one does not have to leave a society in the way the characters did in Atlas Shrugged…. But you know what one does have to do? One has to break relationships with the culture…. [D]iscard all the ideas – the entire cultural philosophy which is dominant today.”

Now, if you’ve only seen the movie, the fact that “Atlas Shrugged” is not a political novel might surprise you. But the book’s point is that our plight is caused not by corrupt politicians (who are only a symptom) orsome alleged flaw in human nature. It’s caused by the philosophic ideas and moral ideals most of us embrace. [‘Atlas Shrugged’: With America on the brink, should you ‘go Galt’ and strike?]

For more on Rand’s philosophy read Leonard Peikoff’s Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Neoconservatism Sells Fascism as Americanism

C. Bradley Thompson unmasks Neoconservatism over at Cato Unbound:

The culmination of the neoconservatives’ political philosophy is their call for a “national-greatness conservatism.” Following Irving Kristol and Leo Strauss, David Brooks, William Kristol, and a new generation of neocons proclaimed the “nation” as the fundamental unit of political reality, “nationalism” as the rallying cry for a new public morality, and the “national interest” as the moral standard of political decisionmaking. This new nationalism, according to Brooks, “marries community goodness with national greatness.”

The moral purpose of national-greatness conservatism, according to David Brooks, is to energize the American spirit; to fire the imagination with something majestic; to advance a “unifying American creed”; and to inspire Americans to look beyond their narrow self-interest to some larger national mission—to some mystically Hegelian “national destiny.” The new American citizen must be animated by “nationalist virtues” such as “duty, loyalty, honesty, discretion, and self-sacrifice.” The neocons’ basic moral-political principle is clear and simple: the subordination and sacrifice of the individual to the nation-state.

Politically, Brooks’s new nationalism would use the federal government to pursue great “nationalistic public projects” and to build grand monuments in order to unify the nation spiritually and to prevent America’s “slide” into what he calls “nihilistic mediocrity.” It is important that the American people conform, swear allegiance to, and obey some grand central purpose defined for them by the federal government. The ideal American man, he argues, should negate and forgo his individual values and interests and merge his “self” into some mystical union with the collective soul. This is precisely why Brooks has praised the virtues of Chinese collectivism over those of American-style individualism.

In the end, the neocons want to “remoralize” America by creating a new patriotic civil religion around the idea of “Americanism”—an Americanism that will essentially redefine the “American grain.” The neoconservative vision of a good America is one in which ordinary people work hard, read the Bible, go to church, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, practice homespun virtues, sacrifice themselves to the “common good,” obey the commands of the government, fight wars, and die for the state.

[…]

Neoconservatism is a systematic political philosophy. The neocons’ talk about moderation and prudence is really only meant to disarm intellectually their competitors in the conservative-libertarian movement who want to defend the Founders’ principles of individual rights and limited government. The neocons preach moderation as a virtue so that ordinary people will accept compromise as inevitable. But a political philosophy that advocates “moderation” and “prudence” as its defining principles is either dishonestly hiding its true principles, or it represents a transition stage on the way to some more authoritarian regime—or both.

My deepest fear is that the neoconservatives are preparing this nation philosophically for a soft, American-style fascism—a fascism purged of its ugliest features and gussied up for an American audience. This is a serious charge and not one I take lightly. The neocons are not fascists, but I do argue they share some common features with fascism. Consider the evidence… [Neoconservatism Unmasked]

Read the full article at Neoconservatism Unmasked.

Salsman: The U.S. Arms Its Islamic Enemies–Again

Richard Salsman holds nothing back in his gripping editorial The U.S. Arms Its Islamic Enemies–Again over at Forbes:

Evidence grows with each passing week that in Libya the U.S. government and its allies are providing air cover and arms directly to its avowed enemies–including thugs from al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, and Taliban–those who’ve devoted the past decade to slaughtering American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Worse, top U.S. and U.K. officials now acknowledge this and condone it.

[…] Who exactly are the “rebels” and why are the U.S. and its allies so eager to help them? In Iran in early 1979 the Carter administration couldn’t care less about the philosophy or aims of the Ayatollah Khomeini, but only that the pro-Western Shah of Iran be deposed; by March a “referendum” established an Islamic republic; by April scores of prominent Iranians were executed; by December the ruling mullahs declared Khomeini to be absolute ruler for life. Ever since, Iran has been a major sponsor of world-wide terrorism.

In Afghanistan in the 1980s the Reagan administration and a CIA (then led by today’s Pentagon chief, Robert Gates) helped finance and train al Qaeda, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in their fight against the invading Soviets (who withdrew in 1989). The U.S. also backed Iraq in its eight-year war against Iran, which failed, yet emboldened Saddam Hussein, and the U.S. fought him later. In the 1990s Afghanistan became a haven for terrorism, which led to the devastation of Sept. 11. In the decade since the U.S. has spent thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars ensuring “regime change” in Iraq and Afghanistan, which now have Islamic constitutions and are far closer in theocracy and practice to Iran than ever before.

[…] Rebellion is applauded for its own sake. Western cheerleaders claim anything is better than the status quo. Hope! Change! Democracy! The voice of the People is the voice of … Allah! The grim facts become clearer after the dust settles and new leaders and rules take irreversible hold–more fundamentally Islamic than before, closer to Iran than before, more anti-American than before–with the help of the U.S. government.

Thanks solely to the U.S., Iraq’s constitution ensures a “democratic, federal, representative, parliamentary republic” where “Islam is the state religion and a basic foundation for the country’s laws” and “no law may contradict the established provisions of Islam.” Is this why Americans must go to war in the Middle East? The official name of Afghanistan, where the U.S. has fought for a decade, like the failed Soviets, and Obama has boosted U.S. troops to 130,000, is” “the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.” Is this why Americans must fight in the region? [The U.S. Arms Its Islamic Enemies–Again – Richard M. Salsman – The Capitalist – Forbes]

Read the rest here.

A Mangled Movie Adaption: Scott Holleran on the Atlas Shrugged Movie

Scott Holleran on the Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 movie adaption:

The mystery of the movie is why the mind is going on strike (if and when it is), and what lies at the root of what destroys, and moves, the world. And, in depicting a novel which brilliantly deconstructs and dramatizes altruism, the idea that one has a moral obligation to help others, Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 reduces her radical rejection of this idea to a line about “stupid altruistic urges” which doesn’t come close to Ayn Rand’s philosophy, let alone express her bold, exalted alternative: the virtue of selfishness.

So, the first movie adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is lacking; the script appears to have many fingerprints and some serious problems, the production apparently faced enormous challenges of rights, budget, and schedule and libertarians appear to have held more sway over the movie than Objectivists, leaving the world’s foremost authority on Ayn Rand’s ideas and work, Leonard Peikoff, out of the loop. But A is A and the fact that this movie was made, is, in today’s tragically disintegrating culture, an achievement. Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 ultimately does not have reverence for the 1957 novel, but it’s as though it doesn’t know how, or why, and it tries. If we lived in a society in which Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged was understood, accepted, and applied to everyday lives, we wouldn’t be stuck in the sludge that surrounds us, and a mangled movie adaptation would not feel like an accomplishment. But we are and it does, and that’s that, so see the independent, low-budget film version known as Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 for what it is, and know that you are catching a mere glimpse of something deeper, more mysterious and meaningful, which portrays man at his best. See the movie, but only if you read the book.

Read the full review at his blog.