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27 October 2009

Speaking of Ayn Rand...

I pass along a PBS program that aired last week and was passed along to me. I had heard much of the Alan Greenspan, Rob Rubin, Larry Summers, et al cabal before, but not so much about Brooksley Born (Her father had expected a boy to name after his best friend Brooks, so didn't plan on a girl's name. Love the name, sir.) . What I felt very naive about was Ayn Rand's philosophy and how that influenced Alan Greenspan, or how people have said it did. I still feel like Forrest Gump or someone naive. I still reject the notion that libertarianism and objectivism are for no government intervention whatsoever; it cannot possibly be against crime prevention. I know it's on tape that Ayn Rand is against any regulation and that Greenspan took that to mean that the government is not responsible for stupid fools, but I cling with my fingertips to the cliffedge of sanity -- how can he possibly believe that government is not responsible for punishment of those who act against society? Michael Sandel in his new book wrote that libertarians believed in government's role in at least three areas:
  • enforce contracts
  • protects private property from theft
  • keeps peace
I think preventing fraud is covered under all of these:
  • enforce contracts with a civilized society
  • protects private property from theft including theft from the unscrupulous, the greedy and the violators of the Golden Rule
  • keeps peace including chaos due to economic meltdown and attacks on the lives of innocents
For one thing, although "bespoken derivatives" were so narrowly defined as to be one-of-a-kind and contracts are admittedly or should be between two consenting parties, when these CDOs, etc are being offered up to the general public through the vehicle of the stock market, bond market, insurance policyholders, etc and the public becomes a partner in these contracts (as shareholders or other stakeholders), the government should rightly be a representative of the public as a whole. Maybe it should be under a different name -- not regulation, but oversight, peacekeeping, contract enforcement or theft prevention.

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