That's what's always been done (and what got us where we are today).
And there's the answer. The world doesn't collapse overnight. It erodes away from the steady drip, drip, drip of compromise of one's principles until there is nothing but a thin veneer of words left defending a once magnificent and honorable edifice of virtue. At that point, all it takes is a small breeze to blow the whole thing over and reveal that those words were hollow and supported nothing. Look no further than Alan Greenspan as just one of many shining examples.
Consider the First, Second and Third points in Ted's post #11 above. These are all just rationalizations one tells oneself in order to justify a course of action that one takes, knowing it to be wrong. Well, wrong is wrong and no amount of rationalization is going to change that.
But it is not a simple matter to condemn a business because it plays by the rules of the game, no matter how unfair those rules are.
If anyone agrees that this is so and thinks that this is what Rand was arguing for, then why didn't she dramatize this course and show how it is a pathway from the immolation of increasing government controls that leads towards freedom and prosperity? She didn't dramatize it because you can't! In Atlas Shrugged, every example of compromise was shown to undermine the person doing the compromising. In example after example Rand showed her businessmen heroes continuing on the path of virtue despite the considerable hardships place before them. Galt didn't come to them with the message that they should compromise and "play by the rules of the game." No, he explained that to maintain their dignity, honor, virtue and ultimately their freedom, they must instead stop aiding and abetting their slave masters.
Now, in the scenario of Atlas Shrugged, this required that these individuals walk away from their businesses. Today, in the US, we are not quite at that stage, so other options are still open to us. I suggest that what BB&T, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and many other institutions should be doing is standing up and loudly proclaiming to the world that they all demonstrated that it was possible to recognizing that the sub-prime mortgages and credit-default swaps could be seen to be illogical and idiotically risky and were therefore something to be avoided - which they did. Consequently their organizations are in fine financial shape and have no need to be nationalized by the government. They should be pointing out how the government was itself responsible for kick-starting this mess with its directives and pressure placed upon Freddie Mac and Fannie May, making the point that these same people responsible for the mess were the least qualified to now attempt to fix it. They should announce to the world that it is those who have demonstrated insight and sound judgment who are the one who should be relied upon to lead us out of this mess towards a better, sounder future, and that this requires that those leaders not be straight-jacketed by increased, senseless and unnecessary regulations which can only hamper them in their efforts to do what is necessary. An finally, they should all say to the government: "Thanks, but we don't need your money. We know what we are doing and if you want us to correct this mess, there is only one thing we require from you: Get out of our way!" This could be a powerful message that might shock the country and help orchestrate a cultural change in direction.
People seem to misunderstand Rand's intentions with here statements regarding businessmen "playing by the rules" or people violating another's rights in an "emergency situation". She was saying that she, as an outsider, would not morally condemn a person who acted in this manner in these situations. But witholding moral condemnation is not the same thing as advocating that these are necessarily the proper or best choices of action in these circumstances - and I suggest that they are not. Rand worshiped the heroic and tried to lead her life in a heroic manner. We can disagree with some of the specific choices that she made as being sub-optimal while still granting that she did make every effort to be the hero of her own life, even if it required her to endure hardships along the way. I have no doubt as to what choices Rand would personally make if she were in an emergency situation or were the CEO of one of the banks mentioned above. She would act just as we would imagine Roark, Rearden, Dagny or Galt to act. And this is what I look for in my quest to see the heroic enacted today in the midst of the onslaught of bad news.
(Edited by C. Jeffery Small on 10/30, 12:36pm)