Thanks, Joseph! You make my head spin - and I mean that in a positive sense: your challenge to check my logical premises is cogent and consequential.
Allow me to suggest that the pivot point is the stolen concept of sacrifice. As with "selfishness" Ayn Rand took a special definition of "sacrifice" that was not incorrect, but was not often used. For Rand, a sacrifice is the offering of a greater value to receive a lesser value: a clear loss.
However, in chess, as in religion, as in military strategy, a sacrifice is the price you pay to achieve a greater value. Thus - and I believe that this is fully consonant with your essay - when Howard Roark is offered the opportunity to build the Manhattan Bank Building if only he would put Doric columns on the ground floorm, he refuses - and goes to work in the Francon quarry. In the movie version, he says, "I would rather work as a day laborer." And he does. That is the kind of "sacrifice" that we are talking about: a devotion to a higher ideal than momentary gain. See The New Testament, Mark 8:36 - "... what profit it a man to gain the whole world if he loses his soul?"
To that rhetorical question, Elsworth Toohey suggested that the correct choice is to gather souls. His Sunday school teacher wanted to ask, "What the hell he meant!" but asked only "what he meant."
As for Roark and I, I have quit more jobs than I was fired from for never sacrificing (in the Randian sense) my standards. I just went through it again this month. The so-called "lead" technical writer to whom I was supposed to report sent me two messages, both saying that my suggestions were the better way to do things, but that we would continue to do things her way for "consistency." I quit.
In Ghost Busters, the secretary Jennine says, "I've quit better jobs than this." Yup.
(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 1/29, 6:20pm)