kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

Selfishness is the rule of the day

THE world has changed, someone wrote to me once in response to my writing about the plight of the poor. No, I responded, it has not, but we have.

Look at big companies now and the breath-taking bonuses paid to those at the top. Look at the ploy they are in, unabashedly called buyback.

They keep buying back shares that are standing in their way until their own climb in value. The more they buy, the higher the rise, until the company becomes, more or less, theirs to do what they will. Companies make profits, as is their raison d'être and their wont to do.

And profits are bigger too and at the last look, in Britain for example, company profits are split 60:40 and guess which one gets to shareholders and which gets ploughed back into the company.

Gore Vidal, in his review of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and objectivism, said it was ‘almost perfect in its immorality’.

A healthy company is one that lets its shareholders grow rich very quickly and becomes a rich man’s casino.

What has happened to old fashioned virtues like customer service, product value, apple pie and growing together?

Try calling customer service now and you’ll be in touch with someone named Wilfred talking to you from India. When was the last time you saw your bank manager?

I tried to write an email to the telephone company that I subscribe to last month, but the email address that responded to my initial complaint was a noreply address.

I tried looking for the telephone number of the head of customer service, but there was no such number: the only avenue for misgivings is a general phone number that gives you, on average, five minutes of waiting time before you get to a recording that tells you to press 1, or 2 or 3.

And I live in a Western metropolis, not in some backwaters of Puntland in politically challenged Somalia. Public ownership is of course the public taboo now, even if it has a better chance of success in some areas.

In Britain, where a previous government had made a holy mess of railway privatisation, the talk is still of private profits and private capital.

The cost of rail travel has gone up and up. For many destinations it is even cheaper now to fly. Why are trains doing so badly?

It’s profits, that’s why, shareholders and bonuses too. So who pays?

You don’t need a degree in rocket science to grapple with that one, do you? The health service of Britain was once the envy of the world.

Now it is in a moribund state, with the emergency services in many major hospitals in London now facing closure or have shut down already.

The once thriving and working health service is now the playground of highly paid managers and parking space in hospitals, often needed by grieving families, cost more for the day than cuban cigars. Freedom, hard work, individualism — what an explosive mixture.

We are besotted by them all. We are now into worshipping ideas without examining their value. Just over half a century ago critics had a good day laughing at a novel written by an obscure woman named Ayn Rand.

The novel was Atlas Shrugged, wherein she worked out the theme of her philosophy of Objectivism. If you are looking for the virtues of all-grabbing selfishness, just deserts for those who are too weak to make life work for them somehow, and the evils of altruism and welfare, you don’t have to look far.

This one book has it all. But Rand had her own adulators. They met at her apartment and read extracts from her book and discussed issues and railed against what was wrong with society.

Among her acolytes was a young economist named Alan Greenspan. You’ve probably heard that name from somewhere. But if you wonder how the world has turned in on itself and why selfishness has become the rule of the day and money-grabbing is no longer a moral issue, that’s because Randyism, although shunned at birth, is now the light shining from the tower.

It was the guiding philosophy for people like Mitt Romney, once a presidential aspirant, a firm holder of what is now (and always has been) the core of American conservatism. Heroic individuals making money that is reckoned to be as long as telephone numbers, a pathological disdain of welfarism and hatred of public health as a public policy.

Gore Vidal, in his review of Atlas Shrugged and objectivism said it was “almost perfect in its immorality”. Yet this book is now outselling many other titles in those United States of America and is influencing the thinking of many who shape American policy.

You ever wondered where those selfish ideas that underpin those trade treaties came from? Well, you don’t have to look far either, just set your mind back to a thick, silly tome published just over fifty years ago that urged man not to be shackled by some spurious obligations to society but just live life as an end in itself for nothing will serve him better than “his own own rational self interest”.
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