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Post 20

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 9:13amSanction this postReply
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I feel amazed that this quote created any controversy at all within the confines of SOLO HQ!  This site continues to surprise me.
Actually, the amusing thing is, I quite agree with the quote that began this thread, in the broadest context.

"So Andre, wealth is a matter of luck or immorality?  Sounds to me like you're poor and looking to rationalize it."

It was this quote that revolted me.




Post 21

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 10:10amSanction this postReply
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Actually, the amusing thing is, I quite agree with the quote that began this thread, in the broadest context.

"So Andre, wealth is a matter of luck or immorality?  Sounds to me like you're poor and looking to rationalize it."

It was this quote that revolted me.
Why did this quote revolt you Jeanine?





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Post 22

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 8:14amSanction this postReply
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Andre's post suggests that either he does not know what wealth is, or at least misunderstands it. Wealth IS the product of man's capacity to think. Even if what Andre suggests is true (and it isn't) - that nowadays one only obtains wealth through inheritance or fraud, this does not change the fact that the wealth originally had to be created by someone, through thought-directed action. The source of the wealth is the same, regardless if one obtains it honestly, dishonestly, morally, imorrally, forcefully, peacefully, etc.




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Post 23

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 11:41amSanction this postReply
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As a "poor" musician myself, I have to weigh in here. I don't make much money, but I hardly consider myself a "starving artist". I have tried higher paying jobs, but personally have not found much satisfaction emotionally or rationally there, and find myself attracted to book stores. It's a job that pays the bills, and allows me ample time to work on music, but satisfying in itself. I work to finance my own endeavors, and manage to make ends meet by limiting my spending towards my music and bills. But I do not complain because it's a consciously chosen poverty, if money is the standard of wealth. (Since I am single, I can do so responsibly.)And after reading ATLAS, I would never dream of receiving a state subsidy to create, and am offended by artists who do. I am only able to create the music as a full production because of the technology created in our free country, including my recording equipment, my instruments, my computer that allows me to create an attractive packaging. My burner that allows me to cheaply mass produce cds to share with others, the internet that allows me to distribute my music without a record company dictating the content or ditching me for the next Britney Spears. I am able to proceed on my schedule, and the only obstacle is my own level of ambition.

I have chosen so called poverty, but working in a bookstore provides me with all the reference material and knowledge I could ever need. And if I ever become a profitable musician, I will gladly accept the money. But I don't do it for money, I do it because I love music. And I have capitalism to thank for being able to do it independently of a record company, something inconceivable not too long ago. I consider myself pretty wealthy in that regards.



Post 24

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 12:27pmSanction this postReply
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BTW, I would be amiss if I did not mention the support of friends who have supported my in my musical journeys with contributions of equipment and other forms of encouragement, not out of charity, but out of belief in the music. Even though I do the music for myself, I am honored when it reaches another person so deeply. Their appreciation and understanding is worth more than the price of the cd.



Post 25

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 12:30pmSanction this postReply
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Joe: The above post (Post 23) wins my deepest admiration for your fine principles, knowledge and ambition. I wish you all the best!
(Edited by David Bertelsen on 11/30, 12:33pm)




Post 26

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 1:20pmSanction this postReply
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This is an excellent discussion...I want to chime in but I'm too busy trying to write a song. I've just learned how to properly use a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary and I have much to do. (excellent post above, Joe!)

Jeanine, I thoroughly enjoyed your first post even at its length. You strike me as a character from Homer or Victor Hugo. You are noticed. Please take that as a compliment.

You might consider tightening up your posts to 3 paragraphs or so. I'd be more willing to read what you were saying if you did that.

kindly proceed... 




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Post 27

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 2:06pmSanction this postReply
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I honestly think a more realistic rendering of the Fountainhead would have seen Roark fight a neverending struggle that never really succeeded, and I certainly never found the jury's vindication at its conclusion believable.


Well, “as it could be and ought to be” and all. :-)

And thank you—your reply here makes your position clear to me, as well as making it hopefully clear to everyone that you do indeed belong on this site.

One other thing I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on. Earlier, you said:


As for socialism- well, as long as socialists show more appreciation for the dissident and creative artist, and more antagonism for the constraints and conformities of Protestant Ethic bourgeois culture, than do libertarians or Objectivists... then don't be surprised if the artistic spirit stays with the left.


As I said, this is a fairly crucial point that needs to be addressed somehow if the socialist influences in this nation are to be effectively countered. Socialism claims to offer creative minds a chance to do their work without fear of never being discovered and having to choose between compromise and starvation. This is obviously alluring. Certainly, we can respond that socialism's promises are empty, and that it can lead to nothing but the destruction of creativity—how much artistic freedom was there in Soviet Russia? But discrediting one's opponents is hardly an effective means of advancing one's own cause. In addition to discrediting socialism among this group, there is also a need to motivate them to believe in the alternative.

So, how do you believe that a libertarian political philosophy can be best presented to left-leaning creative artists? What do we have to offer them that can compete (in their minds) with the siren's call of socialism?



Post 28

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 2:17pmSanction this postReply
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Many thanks to the fiery and passionate Jeanine for defending me -- altho' as an intellectual I have to point out that it's fundamentally my job to defend her. As usual I agree with most of what she says and most of how she says it -- certainly the general thrust. But what a tragedy and failure of the Objectivist movement that her fairly obvious commentary isn't self-evident! The ever conservative, timid, inhibited, limited, repressed, etc. Objectivist universe has a lot to learn and expand. Free spirits, high spirits, open minds, liberated minds, etc. are not welcome. 
 
I think the thrust of the pro-Rand commentary above is "god is in his heaven, all's right with the world." I find such smug patronization and pallid pollyannaism far from convincing.
 
Never in history has the intellectual, artist, or poet fared well, or been properly respected and honored. Little lone those who were visionaries and revolutionaries. Little lone in today's cultural Dark Age. Little lone by the massman.
 
People of delicate spirit and artistic soul -- which probably includes Jeanine -- traditionally get eaten alive. Afterwards, an indifferent, malicious, smug society says that this treatment was good for them or "what doesn't kill them only makes them stronger" or some such hopeless rot.
 
After 14 tries Rand -- she of the fine mind -- did get her book published. But it might well have been otherwise.And what of the five or ten Rands who didn't get published? Shall we just pretend they didn't exist or got what they deserved? And what of those ten years Rand spent sewing clothes? Shall we all rationalize that this was a good thing?
 
Ah, life is so easy when you don't have to think. Just follow along with the masses and the cult.




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Post 29

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 2:36pmSanction this postReply
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Jeanine,

My comment on your length was just to let you know that if you're goal is to communicate to people, the length is hurting not helping.  You're welcome to continue as is...but I for one don't read half of what you write.

Now you seem to make a few points which I disagree with.  First, you say:
But I find the notion that wealth is the index of success to be, frankly, repulsive.
It takes a pretty shallow understanding of Objectivism to think that wealth is the only standard of success.  I'm more inclined to believe the socialists, who you think are so benevolent when it comes to disagreement (and yet somehow Communists countries aren't...hmmm...), are the ones who worship wealth as an end in itself.  Objectivists understand that wealth is potential value.  You can trade it for all kinds of things, but it's not a substitute for those things.

But that doesn't mean that wealth is not an indicator of success at all.  It certainly is.  Wealth is of huge importance to our lives.  Even by your own hedonistic standard money should be important.  And it certainly is to those who claim life as the standard.  And yet here we have you and Andre saying that the creation of wealth is immoral.

Personally, what I find repulsive is those people who live in poverty and try to morally justify it by cursing wealth.  And equally those who set up a wealth/virtue dichotomy, and try to claim productive ability is a vice, instead of a virtue.

You next say:

And I find it strange to believe that our mixed economy- which after all, according to Objectivists, operates on a socialist principle penalizing virtue as often as a capitalist principle rewarding virtue, should particularly reward virtue with wealth.
The bold is mind.  And it constitutes a significant disagreement.  A mixed economy sometimes penalizes virtue, it's true.  But to suggest that the US equally (or even close) punishes and rewards virtue is ridiculous.

Next you say

But I don't that's greatness, and a morality and civilization which prizes the chance of ordinary people to attain decent wealth, but tortures its artists and philosophers, is not one I personally care to expend any effort to defend.
I'll just say that I think it's the artists and philosophers that are torturing the ordinary people, and not the other way around.  As for the real artist and philosophers out there, they're more likely to be hurt by the professional artists and philosophers than the public.

But this really sounds like the old Public Broadcasting excuse.  You want to live off of being a philosopher, but nobody will pay for you.  So it's their fault.  The fact that you offer nothing they want is a problem with their wants, not what you have to offer.

And you throw around the term "genius" too easily.

And finally, yes the poor are generally to blame for their poverty.  And yes, under some contexts (Soviet Russia for one), it's not true.  But not in this country.  Not in a place where wealth mobility is so common.  Not in a land where anyone can get a college education, and there is such a lack of engineers, scientists, and doctors that they have to important most of them from other countries, and they pay very well.

But it still takes trading value for value.  And those with nothing to offer will always curse those who don't want it.




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Post 30

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 3:28pmSanction this postReply
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I am surprised no one even raised the question that the 'arts' that are so supposedly supported by socialistic concerns, and is so unsale-able, is even properly art - and perhaps is not bought for the very reason it is largely crap.



Post 31

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 3:28pmSanction this postReply
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I am surprised no one even raised the question that the 'arts' that are so supposedly supported by socialistic concerns, and is so unsale-able, is even properly art - and perhaps is not bought for the very reason it is largely crap.



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Post 32

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 4:46pmSanction this postReply
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Depends what one means by wealth, does it not?

The Objectivist's definition of wealth would be, one's capacity for achieving life and happiness. Posessions and money are one aspect of objective wealth, but hardly the sum. There are many things that people do for money, which in fact are injurious to their happiness and life. Peter Keating wasted his life designing schlocky structures because that was what other people paid him to do. He earned piles of money, but was this money, in objective relation to his own happiness, wealth?

On the other hand, the altruist's idea of wealth is how much you have contributed to other people's values. Money is what you get in exchange for work and products that make OTHER people happy. Therefore the altruist's idea of wealth is money - including, of course, money or work that the altruist has given away to others. By the altruists' standard, Peter Keating was wealthy.

The weird thing is, that even here so many contributors assume the altruist definition of wealth. What's our Roark-to-Keating ratio?



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Post 33

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 6:17pmSanction this postReply
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I do find one exception of this quote, that is the wealth of Saudi Arabians.



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Post 34

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 8:07pmSanction this postReply
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Rowlands said: I'll just say that I think it's the artists and philosophers that are torturing the ordinary people, and not the other way around.  As for the real artist and philosophers out there, they're more likely to be hurt by the professional artists and philosophers than the public.

Judging by what poses today as 'artist or philosophers', I would say that Rowlands statement above is not only correct; it’s an understatement.

Today it has become far too common to see the moronic musings of a pretentious socialist passed off as 'philosophy' or 'deep insight', when at its core it is no more than a seething resentment and envy. As for art, for the most part what these so-called 'artist' have to offer are simplistic pieces of unmelodic and incoherent music, or primitive paintings that an insane chimp could have produced. This is especially more prevalent in the intellectual and moral sewers of our larger urban cities of the east and west coast.

George

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 12/01, 6:29am)




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Post 35

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 9:36pmSanction this postReply
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This discussion started with the following quote:

Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think.
 
Andre and Jeanine immediately took this to mean that the amount of material wealth an individual possesses is proportionate to his rational capacity.  Both of them being philosophical intellectuals, they scoffed at the notion that uncreative corporate chumps and trust fund babies (which is clearly their conception of the wealthy) possess a greater capacity for thought than them, and therefore they took issue with the quote.  

Where they are mistaken, as has already been pointed out, is that thought is required merely to produce wealth, not necessarilly to acquire or inheirit it.  A family fortune wasn't infinitely inherited through generation before generation; someone somewhere along the way was enterprising enough to generate a massive amount of wealth, and by his choice passed it on to his future progeny.  If you meet any respectable self-made person - and you're honest with yourself - you will quickly see that the "wealth is luck" or "wealth is immoral" gambits are false.

But there is more that goes into wealth production than sophisticated reasoning, though.  Discipline and delayed gratification are essential virtues to financial security.  I know this first hand because I personally have not begun to display these behaviors until very recently, and have set myself back tremendously from a financial standpoint as to where I would be had I been smarter over the last few years.  But guess who's to blame for this - me!

People skills are also essential.  If you want to generate a very large income, you must be prepared to effectively manage a division of labor process.  You must have a good judge of character and ability, and thus make good hiring decisions.  You must motivate your employees to want to work for you, and reward them when they do an exceptional job.  You must also be prepared to confront people when they fail to perform, and possibly eliminate them if it's clear that they're not the best available person for the job.  This added stress of human capital management is one of the main reasons that the pay scale increases as one climbs up the corporate ladder.  Not every one is good and effective as a manager, which is why a software company might have a brilliant technical analyst making $80,000/year and the CEO makes millions. 

Knowing how to develop and nurture relationships is also critical.  In the emerging information economy, advanced degrees of immense specialization are becoming increasingly commoditized, and who you know can be just as important as what you know.  Some might say flat out that it's not what you know at all, it's who you know, but I would say that it's both what and who you know in most cases.  Sure, some might have great connections as a result of no concious effort on their part, but there are ways of developing valuable relationships from scratch for those who care to expend such effort.

I must admit that I'm surprised that this discussion has evolved to where it has.  The opposing arguments I've heard thus far are straight out of the socialist playbook, and I too am surprised to hear them uttered on an Objectivist website.  




Post 36

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 9:43pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks for your kind comments, Dave and Lance.

Thought some might get a kick out of this...this is a blurb from the website of a local band I once worked with...I could not reconcile my differences with them after an interview they did where they professed a belief that no one should have to pay for food...that was some years ago, and this is a recent post:

"Thanks to those who helped rally Crave's cause at the North by NorthWest show. Regrettably, Crave fell a few votes short and didn't make the finals at the TLA. I think we all agree Crave was slighted at Emergenza. The competition had zero to do with talent and everything to do with making money via our fans. Nonetheless, Crave feels VERY happy that all the fans, new and old ones alike, enjoyed the venue's atmosphere, sound system and their performance! Crave would love to play this venue again someday. Generous thanks once again!!
By the way, Feel free to write to the capitalist pigs at info@emergenza.net, and complain about this great injustice."

Gene Simmons of Kiss would be smacking the tongue out of them.




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Post 37

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 10:06pmSanction this postReply
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Pete, I was reading through this thread, itching to share my thoughts.  Then I discovered your post, and found that you had already stated my response, nearly verbatim.  Thanks for saving me the time.  :)

I will add one thing, however.  As someone who has tried both the artist route and the CEO route, I find that the monetary wealth generated from the latter lends a whole lot more spiritual wealth to the former.  I think Adam has made a very good point about the definition of wealth, as has Joe. 

To write what I want, when I want to, and for the audiences I choose, makes me far wealthier than I would be by selling out to the masses for dollars.  Sure, I might write a bestseller, but I would have to think of what that cost me every night as my head hit the pillow.  

The wealth to be derived from maintaining one's integrity to his art is immeasurable.




Post 38

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 10:21pmSanction this postReply
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What is to be said of the artist that creates art beneath his abilities in order to generate income so that he may then produce art he is passionate about?  Perhaps his art is very capital-intensive, like film, and he simply can't produce his art on a modest salary the way a novelist or painter can, for example. 



Post 39

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - 10:51pmSanction this postReply
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Pete: "What is to be said of the artist that creates art beneath his abilities in order to generate income so that he may then produce art he is passionate about? Perhaps his art is very capital-intensive, like film, and he simply can't produce his art on a modest salary the way a novelist or painter can, for example."

Pete, that may have been the case for ages, but the technology boom has been great for the independent film maker as well as the musician. Still a ways to go before one can be Cecille B. Demille in his bedroom, but it's not far off!

But the question you present is not so difficult. As long as the art is not contrary to the artist's values, it would not necessarily be beneath him. Howard Roark took the small jobs along with the larger scale ones, as long as the integrity of his work was undisturbed. It's when an artist compromises his values that he should think twice.



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