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Peter Grotticelli

A Pretty Picture of Our Future

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The teenage perspective will appreciate a pretty picture of the epilogue to Atlas Shrugged. "Grownups" don't seem to care for John Galt's mission. But we can fulfill it by painting pictures like the one I present here, and presenting them to the world. Not everyone can be persuaded of the virtue of the eternally young Rand, but those who read her works, and understand that man is not a shapeless block of intelligence, but a specific species that requires a specific philosophy, can keep their zeal flowing by painting and viewing these pictures. If Ayn Rand "grew up" by shaking off her ideals, she could not have written her novels. Should we "grow up" and moderate Ayn Rand's extreme brand of objectivism? We can only fight it with nonsense like strategic foreign aid. I say, unless we have greater minds than Einstein, and Rosenbaum (Rand), and Feynman, all fellows in an ethnic group with ideas so bombastic that the vulnerable members were permanently quarantined below the ice in Russia, we can either apply Rand's objectivism or ruin it. Now Mr. Thompson - who was damned influential: the President of the United States! - might tell Galt to be humble because his idea is only one among equals. But those who wish to retain youth, and thereby carry out Galt's will, must never obey Thompson. He was by far the most dangerous foe to Galt, and his postmodernist counterparts in reality have so far suppressed Rand. By Jove, is she suppressed. I had lived eighteen years and yet could only associate Ayn Rand's name with Ann Coulter until my employer lent me her book; still, I put off reading it for a year because I didn't want to read Ann Coulter. Even now, those to whom I have mentioned Rand still call her "Ann Rand."

The picture follows.

I recall a statement in Atlas Shrugged that it is morally right for a mother to buy a hat for herself instead of milk for her starving child, if the hat is more important to her than the life of the child (see "Note" at the end of this post). This reductio ad absurdum establishes by a wide margin the parental right to abandon a child if the survival of the current family members, which tends to be more important than a hat, is more important to the parents than the life of the child. So the child's survival is an issue between the parents and the child. But the picture wasn't so bleak, as my employer pointed out, when apprenticeship was legal. For if a passerby sees intelligent eyes in an abandoned child, and this passerby happens to be self-employed, he might profit by taking up the child as an apprentice. Apprentices worked for room and board, and for the opportunity to learn a trade; in return, his keeper got free labor. Craftsmen used to save intelligent children from poverty by this trade of value for value. Minimum wage legislation and compulsory standardized education have illegalized this tool of natural selection and production of skilled workers.

Let me posit a scenario in which minimum wage legislation has been repealed, and in which an apprentice has no socialistic means of escaping work: no chance of a welfare check, foster parents &c. A man who owns factories could invest in bunkhouses, quarantine quarters, water and food supplies, one set of clothing per worker, washboards and buckets for the workers to use, twine and clothespins, and other necessary but primitive miscellany, and a new factory. He would arrange for the stabilization of health and subsequent naval transport of abandoned children to his site, via a new type of company arranged for this purpose. The government would check them for contagious disease at the border and have the transportation company send them back if infected, but as Harry Binswanger proposed (http://www.hblist.com/immigr.htm), it would expel them for this reason alone. The children would not be paid or educated, but they would learn English from the paid foremen. To keep order, he would hire jack-of-all-trades officers: new types of professionals who would receive a new type of rudimentary training as both policemen and judges. They would be equipped to deal with the very simple scenarios that could arise in isolated, primitive societies. They would lash children who attacked others, and likewise strictly punish them for theft and fraud; and when fear has induced a semblance of order, they will mete out all further punishment via swift jury trials. There will be no explicit death penalty; but the prospect of rotting in a diseased cellar will deter petty crimes, and export to a federal prison for capital offenses will deter capital crimes if the scenario includes federal capital punishment.

Keep in mind that knowing their language shouldn't be necessary to instruct children in the simplest of assembly line procedures. Some older children would understand that they ought to follow the lead of the foremen, and they would help to instruct the younger ones by speaking to them in their common language. Hence the entrepreneur should transport groups of children from the same area, since they would all likely have a common language. If languages are highly variable in an area, the transportation company could offer to the adults of a village the chance for their children to build a new life and perhaps someday send for them. The company would mix these children with the abandoned ones of the area, and perhaps mix two or more groups of different languages, each with a fair amount of older children who can instruct their younger fellows.

This sounds like the world of Anthem, but it is temporary, and there is a continuum of options to meet every degree of ambition. Workers will be fed in proportion to standard (not extra) hours worked per week, and will keep an account of points to be used on food, and will be wise to save some points for weeks when they are sick. They will not be allowed to work if they show any signs of illness, but will be quarantined with those who seem to have the same illness. At any time a lazy worker will be allowed to go back home, and will be fed on the (hellish) voyage. The ambitious will attend classes to learn the three Rs; they will work a certain amount of extra hours per week per class granted.

As indentured servants, the children would be fenced in for a few years before release. At release, they would be paid enough for a month's rent in most cheap single-room apartments. They would be allowed to return anytime if they needed to, but would then be paid only part of a month's rent upon departure, the full amount awarded only if they stayed as long as they did in indenture. Most importantly, if a child did not want to work for the requisite number of years and hours per week, he would have the option of being sent back home. At the beginning of a child's stay, these numbers would be set and not varied for him during his stay; and the employer would inform him of his if the employer increased them for the child, the child, Since cramped quarantine rooms will be the only safeguard from epidemic on a cramped and hence disease-prone vessel full of wild kids, we can be sure that these anonymous children will not choose to spend their lives in dishonestly continuous transportation to and from the sites. Some time after the establishment of the site, there will be a large proportion of bilingual workers, who will ensure that children are informed of their options immediately.

Ye may say, how would these children advance in life if they are unpaid and do not acquire complex skills? They would advance by their free starts as English-speaking, possibly literate and numerate Americans with job experience. Large groups would have entered the facility at the same time, and so each member of a large group shall be allowed to leave simultaneously. So a group of departees could share the rent on a room near a mainstream factory that pays its workers.

There is plenty of room in the United States for these factory sites. Binswanger stated on the above-cited website that if the population in the continental United States were 3.3 billion, it would still be less densely populated than England.

Like a benign bubonic plague, the resultant population decrease and increase in average age will stabilize places like the Sudan. Now what about the violence? Modern Sudan has the same basic civic structure that Western Europe had in the Dark Ages, but there are some differences. Sudan suffers from a foreign influx of money and/or weapons, as well as from foreign recognition of the dictator. Aside from extracting indentured servants, the world has to let the place catch up at its own pace to the industrial world. I have rethought, or will rethink, political science in ordered settings, but objectivism provides no easy way to continue fooling with politics in the anarchic parts of post-colonial Africa. If we let them alone, feudalism will arise spontaneously and stabilize them. Warriors need to rely for income on guarded towns, not foreign aid, if anything is to be protected. The warriors will thereby become feudal lords over safe havens. When reasonable peace is established, foreigners will come in to build factories near villages and pay the workers, for they will have to provide nothing else for them.

This shall someday be a business venture on the scale of draining the oceans, and ye won't want to miss out on it. It shall happen because Rand believed that hers was the philosophy of the future, and Atlas Shrugged has so far shown its prescience.

Note:

The quote is in John Galt's speech, maybe about four pages into it. (Lacking a copy of the book, I deduced this from an online excerpt.) "The word that has destroyed you is 'sacrifice,'" he says, soon followed by, "If you wish to save the last of your dignity, do not call your best actions a 'sacrifice': that term brands you as immoral. If a mother buys food for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, it is not a sacrifice: she values the child higher than the hat; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of mother whose higher value is the hat, who would prefer her child to starve and feeds him only from a sense of duty."

Edited by Peter Grotticelli

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