Tuesday, March 8, 2011

You're Not Atlas, and That's Called "Farting" not "Shrugging"

Did I ever tell you I used to be a registered Libertarian?

For reals! I was totally into libertarianism, although I never did make it more than 50 pages into even one Ayn Rand book. so, why was a libertarian? Because I was 19, that's why. 19 year olds tend to be smug little know-it-alls, and I was no exception. Then I got poor and had the wonderful opportunity to view our country from a whole new perspective- hungry, cold, hurting and from under the jackboots of our corporate owners. Today I stand before you (sit digitally nowhere near you?) a socialist.

Anyway, I thought I'd address this ridiculous tripe from Significant Pursuit by Renaissance Guy.

This post is going to be a little like Atlas Shrugged, but not as long. Or as brilliant.

When a fly vomits on your arm, that's more brilliant than Atlas Shrugged. Don't sell yourself short, RG.

What if the owners and mangers of a large factory gathered all the workers together and said, “For the next month your wish will come true. You can run this company, and we will allow you to split 100% of the profits among yourselves. However, there are a few catches. . .”?

So . . . all the workers everywhere want to ditch the owners of companies and become the owners? Maybe you're not selling yourself short there, RG. Maybe you are kind of stupid.

Look, I'm not stupid, so I know that I cannot run the law firm I work for. For one thing, I'm not a lawyer and there are laws concerning impersonating an officer of the Court*. However, there is no reason for my boss to randomly abuse me. There's no reason our sick days got cut from 4 to 2. All that accomplished is that (a) we come to work sick and everyone gets sick, and (b) people take the same number of days off, but don't get paid for anything over 2 days.

Then there's the rule about not being able to leave for doctor's appointments. I work Monday through Friday, 9-5, when all doctors have their hours. I'm apparently never supposed to get sick ever again. I only have 2 sick days, and preventive care would help me not get sick, but I can't go to the doctor, so . . . yeah, it's just abusive. And he's just doing it because he can. But he's rich, so according to RG, it's good! Everything rich people do is good because rich=good and poor=bad.

We'll just ignore the fact that RG is a Christian and I'm pretty sure Jesus did not say anything like that.

These machines that you operate were purchased by us. They belong to us. You may not use them, since that would be giving you an advantage that we did not have when we started. You see, we didn’t just open the doors of this buidling and find it already equipped and furnished.

Come to think of it, we bought the building too, and the land. We paid lots of money not only to have it built but to make sure that it complied with the hundreds of federal, state, and local regulations. (It might interest you to know that during that process we employed lots of people, giving them an opportunity to make a living.) So, since we, the owners, had to buy this building, we request that during this month when you get to keep all the profits, you find your own building.

Um, yes. And I'm sure the owners of this fine company had no assistance in buying all that stuff. They paid for it in cash they earned on their paper routes, no doubt. There were no investors, no banks lending money, no tax breaks, nothing. What colour is the sky where you live, RG? Over here in reality, it's blue.

There’s one more thing that you need to know. If, during that month, you lose money, then you will have to share that loss, too. You will collectively have to pay us back, since we are the ones who normally take the hit when our profits are down. We are the ones who usually take the risk, but since you envy us so much, you can have that risk yourself.

Because when the auto companies and the banks tanked back in 2008, nobody helped them out. Nobody like you and me, the common taxpayer. Oh, wait . . .

We doubt that you will be able to build a building and equip and furnish it in time to make much money this month, so we suggest a few other options. If you wish, we can terminate you temporarily, and you can live on unemployment benefits. Please remember that we pay for those benefits. (Which means that we pay all of you less than we otherwise could.) If you would rather, you can try to pick up other jobs during the month. Maybe you will find a job that you like better than the one we give you. You have our blessing to go and do that job permanently. Good for you, in that case!

Actually, we all pay for unemployment. Ever looked at your paycheck, RG? It says so right on it. Unemployment insurance is well named. You pay into it while you work, and if you ever need it, you get a little back. Just like car insurance.

Also, "there are no other jobs out there" is exactly the reason my boss feels free to throw my stapler at me. He only missed because I ducked. I stick around because, well, there aren't any other jobs out there. That doesn't make his abuse acceptable.

You know what, you're pissing me off, so I'm stopping this right here. Here's me shrugging, RG.

Dear Asshole Attorney (who likes to throw staplers at me):

You don't even know how to use a computer. You can't check your email, you can't type your own letters or legal documents, you can barely even answer the phone. You can't use the billing software and you certainly don't have sufficient hours in the day to answer all the phones, do all the filing, type all the documents, send out all the mail, send out all the bills and do all the other things necessary to run this office.

But, for one month, I'm going to give you the opportunity to do just that. All of us, the secretaries, the receptionist, the paralegals, the billing office, we're taking a 30 day vacation. Your clients don't like waiting 5 minutes to talk to you, but I'm sure they'll be totally cool with waiting 30 days to get anything done. Oh, that's right, you have 20 days to respond to a complaint filed in District Court. Well, I'm sure you'll figure out how to use the computer before the 20 days is up. Don't worry about it. Multi million dollar companies love losing lawsuits by default.



The Wage Slaves

*It is legal to practice law without a law license as long as you make it very clear you do not have a law license. Think about that for a few seconds and you'll realize why it never comes up.


  1. I ran for office as a Libertarian the year I turned 18 (the day before the election). I did read Atlas Shrugged. I'm so glad that nobody who knew me then holds it against me.

  2. It's a stage. Most of us grow out of it. (But I'd rather admit to having a raging case of syphilis.)

  3. "Today I stand before you (sit digitally nowhere near you?) a socialist." - I wish you well in that philosophy. Please allow me, a citizen of a former socialist state, who has had the chance to experience the practical application of socialism, to advise you against it. Or, if you insist on taking up the percepts of socialism, please, PLEASE, take them up with a very discerning mind. My nation's literature is filled with stories, novels and plays about people who didn't.

    "Um, yes. And I'm sure the owners of this fine company had no assistance in buying all that stuff. They paid for it in cash they earned on their paper routes, no doubt. There were no investors, no banks lending money, no tax breaks, nothing." Banks lending money ultimately means that they have to pay it back. That money doesn't vanish in thin air. And if there are people who say that banks are nice institutions out only to help you and who actually care, I know a good psychiatrist. Tax breaks yes, maybe, but, if your situation is as grim as you describe it, you yourself should be able to get quite a few of those as well.

    "Because when the auto companies and the banks tanked back in 2008, nobody helped them out." I'm curious how a socialist as you describe yourself to be would feel if the employees of all those companies (which I'm told weren't few) would lose their jobs and suddenly, "there are no other jobs out there" would have a totally different meaning for them.

    In conclusion, let's not ditch out the corporate world just yet. I've been trying to start a business of my own for quite a while now, and I'm still working out things like funding and partnerships. Easy it ain't, that I can tell you. And don't come back on me saying "Of course, you don't have to live on 30 bucks per day" - I have to live on far less than that, actually, just so everybody knows. Sure, many of the corporate types have become assholes, and many companies have become slave trading offices, but it is not the fault of the principle that people abuse it (just as it was not the fault of socialism that it eventually transformed into communism where i live).

    Coming back to the subject at hand, the post that you are quoting from is quite asinine. Indeed, the guy gets his facts right, but the message he (I use "he" as a genderless pronoun here, if you don't mind, I didn't bother checking up the identity of the poster) is trying to transmit can only mean assholerism in the first degree. I especially like the way he ends it all: "We highly recommend it. Instead of envying us, become one of us. We dare you." - Yes, yes, give me the opportunity, come one, I dare YOU! Hah! I wonder why he/she/it (there, now we're pollitically and zoologically correct) thinks that just because I don't show up in an Armani suit I don't have any managerial skills. So yes, I agrree with you on the nature of the post.

    OK, and as a last note: no matter how pro-enterprise I may be, having a stapler thrown at you by your boss is still inexcusable. I'm sorry for that. I'm also sorry about the lack of other jobs. I too wish there was something that people (myself included) could do about it.

  4. I'm not against taxpayer money being used to keep businesses open in order to keep people in jobs. I'm actually very pro that, because people do need jobs, and if my taxes are going to anything, they should absolutely go to keeping my fellow citizens employed.

    However, let's not pretend, as the Randians are fond of doing, that success is a virtue that reflects some special quality that makes you better than others. My law firm represents lots of successful businesses. I am quite familiar with many a successful business owner, and so I can say that what separates them from me or you (assuming you are as smart and hard working as I am) isn't the smart or hardworking part: it's luck. It's privilege. It's being in the right place at the right time. It's knowing the right people.

    We represent almost every not-national bank in the tricounty area. Don't think- not for a second- that decisions to loan hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars is made purely via formulas and credit ratings and logic. Those decisions are made via relationships and connections. You want a $1.5M loan to open a business? Sure, polish your credit score and write a great business plan, but make sure to spend a little time at the country club making nice with the loan officers.

  5. "it's luck. It's privilege. It's being in the right place at the right time. It's knowing the right people." - unfortunately, as much as I'd like to offer a counter-argument, I must admit that you're right on that one.

    And you're right on the point of it all, too: the variations on the success rates of various people who would have roughly the same capacity are not determined objectively, but rely on opportunity (that including knowing the right people or being at the right place at the right time). Me, I try to make the most of every opportunity that I get. Sure, I may not have the opportunities that Bill Gates or John Rockefeller had, but I'm still willing to fight.

    I am actually of the opinion that "success is a virtue that reflects some special quality that makes you better than others", however, I am also aware that the quality we're talking about is not something intrinsical. When I talk to people trying to get me to buy into Rand's philosophy, I always run into that "gifted for success" kind of attitude, which, in most ordinary people's minds, translates roughly to an accident of birth. Far from it, in my opinion. It is something you ultimately have to make. And yes, every little bit of "being in the right place at the right time" helps.

    In my culture, there's an old saying that goes something like "Luck is what everybody makes it to be". That saying is dear to me, as it reflects the possibility of success this society offers. Of course, it is most definitely not easy, and for some people it actually is all just an accident of birth, but the point is that success is possible.

    Hey, I'm trying to build a business not because I fancy driving a Porsche, or because I enjoy golf (I hate it actually), but because I identify with the values of what enterprise is supposed to be. It's really nobody's fault that enterprise was perverted into the nepotistical, careless husk that is now. It's just like royalty: fabulous when the guy at the top is good, awful otherwise, and, guess what, you can't change him/her, but he/she can change you. Sucks, I know.

    But I'm rambling. Sorry for my discourse veering a bit off-topic.

  6. You've left out my favorite (yeesh) part: ".... But we think that the only way that you could become us is to do what we did. We got educated." Because people who own businesses are the only people to get educated. Ever.

    "We worked long hours as we built up our business." Yes, true. Guess who else works long hours? My employees. One of them is working from home 'til at least nine tonight. I don't have the monopoly on working late at my firm.

    "We spent time learning our industry and looking for ways to have a cutting edge." You know who else likes to contribute ideas and creativity to the business? My employees.

    "We spent sleepless nights wondering if we would succeed or fail..." I sure as shit guarantee you that if it looked like we were going under, my husband and I wouldn't be the only ones losing sleep. Is this blogger kidding me?

    Man, I love my employees. They're seriously the best. I bet they'd totally take a day trip with me on a weekend, too, to find your boss and peg staplers at him. Shall we pencil that in?

  7. PF, I... OOPS! I stapled the Boss Doll. Dammit! Sorry... I kinda lost my train of thought. Darn it, I was.. OOPS! Aw, come on! For the love of Adam, I stapled your Boss, I mean my Boss Doll, again! Geez and it was like a superconducting rapid train there in my mind... what was I thinking? Hmmmm. Well shucks. You know, that's happening a lot lately. If only I could go see someone about that. But that wouldn't work for your boss. Oh no, he'd rather have me not know what's wrong or like, if my thyroid medication was set at the right level so that my memory wouldn't be so.... Aw HELL PF! I stapled his mouth! Eeeeks! I am so sorry. Both hands and the mouth. What are the fecking odds, I ask you?

  8. Cynical Nymph - now that you put it that way, the entire original post is starting to sound very emo: "you don't understand, loook how educated we are and how many hours and tears we put into this". Oh well... t reinforces my conclusion that yes, the author did get his facts right, but his attitude wrong.

  9. Also, "there are no other jobs out there" is exactly the reason my boss feels free to throw my stapler at me.


    I'm gobsmacked. What a horrid thing to do.

  10. I want to see him toss anything with those stapled down hands. I want to hear his muffled anger.

    Damn. It's only a doll.

    What a fecking idiot the man is, is what I say.

  11. Hey PF did you see Rand Paul on the Daily Show? I only heard him say one thing and it was completely ass backwards and wrong and I had to turn the channel.

  12. Speaking of insane economic stuff... Walker's Repubs in Wisconsin are trying to bring a vote, despite the 14 still being absent. IE forcing a vote w/out quorum. As I understand it.
    I hate to barge in here, but Walker is just... just... words fail me. AAAAAGHURGLEGA-A-CK'bleh.
    That's the best i can do.

  13. Ben -
    vote cast. Dems are now trying to figure out how to STOP it, after it was ILLEGALLY done, from being carried out in law...

    i hear what you're saying - Socialism, in those countries that "tried" it, wasn't actually socalism, it was a screwed up mess that CALLED itself socialism.

    what we mean by socialism is more of the same that saved or or helped this country - we have TONS of socalism - our very road system is socalism, 911 is socialism, the schools are socialism, the fire department, the police department, etc etc etc

    we want universal health care - we want that unemployment insurance we pay for - and likewise the social security and other programs we pay for - to actually DO what we PAY for it to do. we want our unions to NOT be totally defanged, and we want our bosses to ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND that the ONLY reason they HAVE a business at ALL is because we do the work.

    we want the rich to stop screwing us over so that the can make yet ANOTHER billion dollars [that they DON'T NEED] how many houses can 1 person live in, anyway?

  14. Wisconsin has set an absolutely miserable precedent for the oligarchy that this country is becoming. It's really appalling.

    Tonight we tried to explain unions and labor laws to our 15 year old, who doesn't understand how this country could be moving backwards on these issues.

    I'm at a loss to explain why.

  15. Marzie;

    don't blame Wisconsin - Ohio had ALREADY passed the same BS anti-union law. "no more collective bargaining" "no strikes - anyone who strikes can be fired" and etc.

  16. Denelian, my concern is Wisconsin's gutting the bill to get around the quorum requirements. The extent to which a legislature is willing to twist things in order to make law is depressing in this case, is it not?

  17. Marzie;

    ah. yes, you have a point - although i'd go with "frightening" rather than "depressing". i'm fairly certain that it won't hold up in court, it was quite illegal. or, at least, i'm HOPING it won't...

    it's all really, really bad - and people are PISSED. they elected Republicans to do ONE thing - "Fix" this recession.
    instead, the Reps are doing two OTHER things - they are A) destroying any hope of ACTUAL recovery for anyone but the richest, and B) pushing HARD to destroy women's rights. and people are angry - and they don't seem to UNDERSTAND that the PROBLEM is all the Republicans they elected - i'm hearing people PISSED AT THE DEMOCRATS for not "stopping" the Republicans - even though they no long have the NUMBERS to stop the Republicans...

    i want to run away...

  18. Denelian, I hope people are angry. But mostly what I see is apathy and ignorance. People are so caught up in their cushy little world that they don't notice all the many things that they take for granted are eroding under the corrosive influence of the "special interests" who are apparently especially interested in their ability to re-stratify demographics, both by gender and economic discrimation, to those of an earlier era.

  19. i know 3 types of people
    the majority who, as you say, don't care much [mostly, i'm hearing, "that sucks for THEM, but what can *I* do?]
    people who are pissed at Democrats
    people who are pissed at EVERYONE in office

    NO ONE, apparantly, pissed at REPUBLICANS...


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