Lafrenz: Keep libertarian idealism in fiction

Nick Lafrenz

Albert Einstein’s belief that “the hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes” has subtle undertones which still ring true to this day. Collectively, we all hate them, but few of us truly understand them. Finance is one of the most complex things on earth that actively affects us at every level of society.

We find ourselves in the aftermath of what was a growing movement of regressive and archaic ideas, fit only for the libertarian paradise imagined by such well-respected pseudo-philosophers as Ayn Rand, whose belief is that we must find our own leader for the free-market utopia, as in the novel “Atlas Shrugged.” This ideal, while sweet, is also very simple-minded, leaving the mind with a sort of tunnel vision which only will lead to us standing in the tracks of the oncoming train named reality. Fictitious idealism has to, eventually, meet up with and make way for truth. Libertarians, and many with similar ideas, are trapped in the notion that regulation, taxation and other laws are binding and burdensome.

Libertarians are even misguided about the birth of their sect of absurdity. The name you don’t ever hear is Murray Rothbard, who played a very large role in the creation of today’s libertarian party. Instead, we are left with the idolization of Rand and her fictional character John Galt, the people’s champion who has your best interests in mind — unless you’re a child, mentally or physically disabled, blind, deaf, paralyzed, elderly, or have any other affliction which leaves you unable to provide for yourself.

Armchair economists and politicians who believe that a free market is the way to a happier world fail to realize how completely and utterly wrong they are. There is absolutely no way that anyone with even a minute grasp of what goes into the management of a nation of 300 million people would think that the free market will provide us with every opportunity to succeed, provided we work for it. To put it bluntly, this belief is childish and disgusting. The trust placed into these free-market enterprises also points to a lack of any reasoning skills at all, where we are supposed to disregard that the sole purpose of a corporation is to maximize their profits.

The belief that “less is more” is such a laughable concept in the complex world of federal regulations. We were witness to scrutiny to how long the Affordable Care Act was, or as to how long tax codes are. Regulating nearly every federal interaction is not simple. The simplistic language which is pushed for in our codes and contracts will only broaden the issues we face, leaving bureaucrats with vague and useless language.

I can only hope to see the world that Rand envisioned remain in the realm of fiction, because by simply applying her aptly-named idea of objectivism, we are left with the objective idea that profit maximization has precedence over all else. Economic Darwinism and the principles of Randian philosophy will leave us only as cogs in a well-tuned machine, optimized for maximum profits.

We can already see in today’s economic landscape of sub-prime mortgage lending to those without the means to ever hope to pay them off that it breaks down to a cat and mouse game, where those with the privilege are constantly searching for loopholes to exploit, before the slow hand of the federal government can patch them, all in the sake of maximizing profits. Yet, I am somehow supposed to believe that if we remove those regulations, I’ll be better off.

And with regulations gone, who will make sure that our forests and plains are not encroached upon, harming irreplaceable ecosystems which only only further the damage which has been done to our Earth? Who will make sure that workers are not exploited, forced to work in a state of servitude, too far in debt to stop working, but too tired and sick to continue?

You will never find a person on Earth that will say it’s a good idea to give power to those with the most wealth that has any amount of rational and logical thought, because why would anyone in their right mind use assets to finance something with no possibility of a profitable return? It’s simply a novel idea, an idealized fiction, which we can only hope will remain in the outdated novels of the past.