Just re-started Atlas Shrugged


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Well, sure. In reality, in the context of any community of men and women at large, I have nothing to argue about what you say.

But we are at cross-purposes here, so I need to ask:

a. Was there (in fictional actuality) individual rights per se, implemented in Galt'sGulch?

b. Whether they were or not, would they be essential here, considering Rand's core emphasis on a rational morality, from which the rights are derived - and what gives them their purpose?

If you have evidence that GG was meant as a blueprint for a greater society, incorporating individual rights, rule of objective law and minimal government - rather than a tight group of the most rationally selfish individuals, finding some peace for a while before returning - please show me.

a. To answer this, we only have refer to Atlas. Mulligan says,

We are not a state here, not a society of any kind – we’re just a voluntary association of men held together by nothing but every man’s self-interest. I own the valley and I sell the land to the others, when they want it. Judge Narragansett is to act as our arbiter, in case of disagreements. He hasn’t had to be called upon, as yet. They say that it’s hard for men to agree. You’d be surprised how easy it is – when both parties hold as their moral absolute that neither exists for the sake of the other and that reason is their only means of trade.

The inhabitants of Galt's Gulch do not treat the valley as unclaimed property but rather as real estate owned by Midas Mulligan. His control is never regarded by the strikers as accidental or arbitrary. In short, he is owner by right.

The fact that for an arbitrator the strikers choose a judge, who is spending his spare time restoring a document that in its original version was devoted to the preservation of individual rights, reveals that they acknowledge the need for a legal system and that such a system should be founded on man's rights.

b. Rand indicates that at the time Dagny enters the valley, Judge Narragansett had not been called on to perform any arbitration. But the fact that the strikers prepared for the possibility of disputes and chose as remedy an authority on constitutional law clearly spells out Rand's position that even her heroes are not immune to error and that in any civil society there must be a mechanism for adjudication. That the men and women of the valley have not, so far, disagreed, does not imply, as you suggest, that "rational men and women cannot disagree, at least not for long."

Let's be clear: Rand is not a utopian. She does not propose that her philosophy or a government based thereon is going to render a new Randian Man, a creature free from the possibility of moral corruption. She does not suggest that even Galt's Gulch has accomplished that.

Rand was a moral Utopian.

--Brant

and fell flat, unacknowledged

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There was so much Hot and Heavy in AS perhaps it should have been named Atlas Shagged

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Should I be flattered, delighted, or just plain flabbergasted?!

Just learn how to break a fall...

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That was a joke above, by the way : )

But seriously, when Rearden is looking for Dagny and is offering awards for the wreckage and such, I couldn't help but wonder if he should have been broke by that point in the story. He had signed away the metal, the vast majority of the successful (meaning able to make use of large orders) business men were gone, there were limits on how much he could produce, and I'm sure his regular living expenses were high. I could be completely wrong about the time period but it seemed like he was under strict governmental pressure for more than a year, I don't even know how he was making payroll with government cronies being given jobs. His staff was bloated, orders were down, couldn't get ore, didn't have his other businesses to subsidize....

At this point in the story (Rearden is gone) why is Dagny sticking around? She even says that she can't do anything for the railroad and that the cronies will destroy everything.

The part of Galt's speech that I never quite understood is that it seems that his?Ayn's idea of sacrifice to be completely arbitrary. Perhaps this is because I have never believed in pure altruism- people do things either because they want the reward of feeling good, or they want to avoid the punishment of feeling guilty. Seems to me that if someone avoids feeling guilty by sending their last dollar to some starving kids in Africa, then they have done it for themselves and are thus still acting selfishly. THe whole rest of the speech I love (except for its length) especially above, existence is existence and how he said that people try to avoid that fact by blanking out.

Also can someone explain why did Galt condemn the physics professor on the day (!) he said he would back a state science institute? Is it because the principal that the institute will be funded by taxes and he is against taxes, or does he simply feel that state science doesn't produce economic returns, or it would eventually lead to evil, or what?

2-3 hours left in the story

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Also can someone explain why did Galt condemn the physics professor on the day (!) he said he would back a state science institute? Is it because the principal that the institute will be funded by taxes and he is against taxes, or does he simply feel that state science doesn't produce economic returns, or it would eventually lead to evil, or what?

I think the idea is that "state-controlled science" doesn't produce science. In other words, the initiation of force is not compatible with free inquiry. Soviet agricultural genetics would be a good example. As would the pseudoscience of man-made global warming/climate change.

J

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Galt's motor wasn't a true perpetual motion machine, though, was it? It had an external power source, if I recall correctly, although it's been years since I read the book. I remember thinking when I read it that all they needed was for a couple of people to rub their feet across the carpet a few times a week to keep it going.

Yes. The main problem with Galt's motor is that it is supposed to tame the discharge of a capacitor. I am doing some digging into capacitance, particularly atmospheric capacitance to see if there is a problem between slow discharge and the second law of thermodynamics, which say that the entropy of a closed system increases until it is in theormodynamic equilibrium.

In any case, there have been hundred of patents on the conversion of atmospheric electricity to direct current, none of which have been particularly efficient.

The best way of converting Heavenly Power to Earthly Electricity is by way of efficient photoelectric conversion. Some improvements have been made in that department in particular extending the width of the spectrum that can be converted efficiently.

The problem with static electricity is how to get it moving slowly. There have been to this date no successful static electrical motors than can produce mechanical motion efficiently. The problem also may be with the breakdown voltage of the atmosphere which constitutes the "innards" of the atmospheric capacitor. If that could be increased indefinitely then the charge in the atmospheric capacitor can be so large one could send up a balloon filled with batteries to "mine" the charge.

There is a lot of work going on to make capacitors more like batteries (and not just for atmospheric electricity). Some progress is being made, but don't hold your breath. We still have to depend on heat energy to get our electricity in industrial size quantities.

I got my blood up again to study some more atmospheric energetics. Now this is the course I would like to take:

http://radarmet.atmos.colostate.edu/AT620/

Ba'al Chatzaf

AS is fiction, but within its imaginary universe, Galt's motor is not a perpetual motion machine, but, as Deanna said, it requires an outside source of energy. It therefore does not violate any physical laws.

J

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I think the idea is that "state-controlled science" doesn't produce science.

Dont you think that that statement might be a little too broad? I'm not going to take away anything from Bell Labs or other private institutions that have created massive advancements, but I don't think anyone can argue that NASA hasn't produced tons of science. The best you could say is that they spend a lot to do what they do, but two things- anytime that you do something for the first time it's going to be expensive, second Neil deGrasse Tyson said that the entire history of NASA's budgets, from the 60s on up would fit into one year's worth of today's military budget.

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I think the idea is that "state-controlled science" doesn't produce science.

Dont you think that that statement might be a little too broad? I'm not going to take away anything from Bell Labs or other private institutions that have created massive advancements, but I don't think anyone can argue that NASA hasn't produced tons of science. The best you could say is that they spend a lot to do what they do, but two things- anytime that you do something for the first time it's going to be expensive, second Neil deGrasse Tyson said that the entire history of NASA's budgets, from the 60s on up would fit into one year's worth of today's military budget.

NASA's main flaw is not wasting money but managerial incompetence that kills the crews.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I think the idea is that "state-controlled science" doesn't produce science.

Dont you think that that statement might be a little too broad? I'm not going to take away anything from Bell Labs or other private institutions that have created massive advancements, but I don't think anyone can argue that NASA hasn't produced tons of science. The best you could say is that they spend a lot to do what they do, but two things- anytime that you do something for the first time it's going to be expensive, second Neil deGrasse Tyson said that the entire history of NASA's budgets, from the 60s on up would fit into one year's worth of today's military budget.

Adjusted for inflation?

--Brant

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I think the idea is that "state-controlled science" doesn't produce science.

Dont you think that that statement might be a little too broad? I'm not going to take away anything from Bell Labs or other private institutions that have created massive advancements, but I don't think anyone can argue that NASA hasn't produced tons of science. The best you could say is that they spend a lot to do what they do, but two things- anytime that you do something for the first time it's going to be expensive, second Neil deGrasse Tyson said that the entire history of NASA's budgets, from the 60s on up would fit into one year's worth of today's military budget.

Is the science produced by NASA needed?

If no, then the agency should be promptly closed down and its inventory sold off.

If the science is needed, then there is a market for rockets, shuttles, orbiting stations, etc. and that market will provide investors.

Either way, the taxpayer is off the hook.

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In Objectivist terms, there are two points:

1. Space exploration is not the proper function of government: "If physical force is to be barred from social relationships, men need an institution charged with the task of protecting their rights under an objective code of rules.This is the task of a government—of a proper government--its basic task, its only moral justification and the reason why men do need a government." (The Virtue of Selfishness, 128)

2. Government may not force its citizens to finance it: "In a fully free society, taxation—or, to be exact, payment for governmental services—would be voluntary." (The Virtue of Selfishness, 136)

The State Science Institute in Atlas fails on both counts.

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I think the idea is that "state-controlled science" doesn't produce science.

Dont you think that that statement might be a little too broad? I'm not going to take away anything from Bell Labs or other private institutions that have created massive advancements, but I don't think anyone can argue that NASA hasn't produced tons of science.

Tons of science vs how many tons of science that could have been produced by a free market? There is no way to know. It's not very difficult to look good when you have no competition.

Maybe by now a free market would have produced something better than chemical rockets. What the h... are they doing with chemical rockets? That's ancient technology.

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AS is fiction, but within its imaginary universe, Galt's motor is not a perpetual motion machine, but, as Deanna said, it requires an outside source of energy. It therefore does not violate any physical laws.

J

The real "catch" with Galt's generator is producing current electricity from an electrostatic field. We could have something like the Galt machine if we could make a slow discharge capacitor. The clouds are in effect one side of a giant capacitor, the earth is the other. When the voltage builds up sufficiently there is a breakdown of the diaelectric between the "plates" and electric charge flows swiftly to reduce the potential to zero. We call that lightning.

So far no one has figured out a way to make a slow discharge capacitor. The closest we have come is with storage batteries that work on a different principle. If someone can figure out a way of charging batteries using only static electricity we would have a winner. I don't think it is possible though.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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JTS, it's not a question of whether private entities could have done it or if they produce science, my response was to Jonathan who made it seem like NO science comes from state run institutions. I simply feel that that is a claim a bit too far. Again you can say whatever technical issues you have with NASA, you can say that they shouldn't exist, but can you say that they don't produce science... I dont believe so. You did say that they do in your opening statement so I guess at base you agree : )

Francisco, can we please just answer the questions. I don't need a survey of objectivist philosophy every time I ask an inquiry. You sound like a politician....

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Also, JTS, I agree that chemical rockets are outdated so I guess that's why they are beginning to use ion rockets... Which I am also not too fond of.

To be honest though, I do think that some science is beyond the ability of private enterprise to tackle. Merely from the stand point of cost. The government can basically print, borrow, or tax as much money as is needed for any job. A private company has to watch the bottom line. Bell labs, again a miracle machine factory, simply wouldn't have the resources to build the international space station, the large hadron collider, or run the fusion experiments a Lawrence Livermore

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Another example would be Exxon who pledge 100 million to research new energy sources over ten years. That's 10 million a year from a company that makes 100 billion per year. Hey, they can do whatever they want with their money, but clearly, if the second highest valued company in the world doesn't have time for exotic research then .... Well the outlook is somewhat reduced for those science and technological breakthroughs that will costs billions if not hundreds of billions to achieve

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Francisco, can we please just answer the questions. I don't need a survey of objectivist philosophy every time I ask an inquiry. You sound like a politician....

We can understand Galt's motives only in terms of the novel's theme, which is the philosophy of Objectivism. Galt is the apotheosis of Randian Man, and until Rand's non-fiction was published, Galt's speech was the only testament.

Galt was the way, the truth, and the life: no man came unto Objectivism, but by him.

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To be honest though, I do think that some science is beyond the ability of private enterprise to tackle. Merely from the stand point of cost. The government can basically print, borrow, or tax as much money as is needed for any job. A private company has to watch the bottom line. Bell labs, again a miracle machine factory, simply wouldn't have the resources to build the international space station, the large hadron collider, or run the fusion experiments a Lawrence Livermore

Here is this gang. They come to your door collecting money. Nefarious Ned, Fearsome Fred, Dangerous Dan, Sinister Sally, and all those characters want money for a project that has no chance of producing any product or service that people would voluntarily pay enough money for to finance the project. Therefore the money must be taken by force or by deception. There ain't no other way.

Someone has an idea. We will call this gang 'government'. That sounds nicer. And the loot that we take by force, we will call that 'taxes'. And we can brainwash the people into thinking that they are morally obligated to pay their taxes. Then we can pay for this project that is of little or no use to anybody.

The word 'profit' sounds dirty to some people, but if someone could make a profit from space travel or the space station or the large hadron collider, that would be a much better deal. Wealth (goods and services that people voluntarily pay for) would be created and nobody's rights would be violated.

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I think the idea is that "state-controlled science" doesn't produce science.

Dont you think that that statement might be a little too broad? I'm not going to take away anything from Bell Labs or other private institutions that have created massive advancements, but I don't think anyone can argue that NASA hasn't produced tons of science.

Tons of science vs how many tons of science that could have been produced by a free market? There is no way to know. It's not very difficult to look good when you have no competition.

Maybe by now a free market would have produced something better than chemical rockets. What the h... are they doing with chemical rockets? That's ancient technology.

By its nature, Big Government is self-aggrandizing. As you say, who knows what might have been. Maybe less technology in a free market? More, but different? What's salient is that any hi-tech would be of value to somebody - and much, much more efficiently produced. Of course it is ridiculous to claim the state produces nothing, but at what cost to freedom, is the question. Force and massive finances can buy most anything and anybody.

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Also, JTS, I agree that chemical rockets are outdated so I guess that's why they are beginning to use ion rockets... Which I am also not too fond of.

To be honest though, I do think that some science is beyond the ability of private enterprise to tackle. Merely from the stand point of cost. The government can basically print, borrow, or tax as much money as is needed for any job. A private company has to watch the bottom line. Bell labs, again a miracle machine factory, simply wouldn't have the resources to build the international space station, the large hadron collider, or run the fusion experiments a Lawrence Livermore

You sure are putting a lot of faith and necessity in money.

--Brant

so does the government, by absorbing and destroying private capital appreciation

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...state science ...

Derrick:

This is a contradiction in terms, is my understanding.

Schience cannot be "supported" by the centralized state...

A...

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