America has been turned upside down.The concepts of rights, money and morality have been hijacked. The causes of our intellectual, financial and moral bankruptcies have been underway for a long time.
First hijacked was the concept of rights. The original Founders' concepts of rights were strictly political rights. They were a moral concept of enabling individual freedom of action in a social context. Our founding documents protected our natural right to our own life, the right to be left alone, to be free to act without asking for permission, and to be free from the force of others. Included in these rights were property rights. They were not the right to goods but the right to pursue goods through your own individual action. There was no guarantee that you would earn any property but if you did earn it, you would own it.
The hijacking of the concept of rights began with FDR with a moral claim of "Economic Rights". The 1960 Democratic convention made the agenda explicit, including "rights" to: a job, a fair wage, a decent home, medical care, protection from economic fears in old age, sickness, accident, or unemployment, and a good education. As discussed in Ayn Rand's Man's Rights, there is no such thing as an economic right. The granting of economic rights to one group requires the taking rights away from another group. Any alleged right of one man that violates the rights of another cannot be a right. There is no such thing as the right to enslave. Yet, the concept of economic rights has been accepted by our culture and both political parties. The only legitimate economic right which is really a political right is the right to free trade.
The second hijacking involved the concept of money. Money evolved from the need to trade. As direct barter between thousands of people and thousands of goods was immensely complicated, a good that everyone valued was needed as a medium of exchange. Two materials, gold and silver, evolved naturally and freely as the medium of exchange. This was not an accident but an objective event repeated many times over in different periods and different regions. Real money represented goods produced by your ideas, your time, and your labor. Real money linked to gold or silver represented real existing, unconsumed goods.
Real money died on August 15, 1971, executed by Richard Nixon, a Republican president, who ended the convertibility of U.S. dollars to gold. Fiat money or the printing of money was born. Fiat money is unrelated to the value of any physical thing or quantity. It is backed by the governments' ability to use force to collect taxes. Further expansion of "economic rights" was enabled through deficit spending. In his article "Gold and Economic Freedom" Alan Greenspan wrote: "The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves. This is the shabby secret of the welfare statist' tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the "hidden" confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights." Fiat money is a credit con game. It borrows money from you today which is paid by money it will borrow from you tomorrow. This con game has now run up a debt of $16 trillion and an unfunded liability of $100 trillion.
The third concept that was hijacked was morality. Not only was "Economic Rights" and "Fiat Money" legally justified, a battle began to make it morally justified. Ayn Rand saw the abandonment of the gold standard as a monumental event and predicted in "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" published in 1974: "It is at a time like this, in the face of an approaching economic collapse, that the intellectuals are preaching egalitarian notions. When the curtailment of government spending is imperative, they demand more welfare projects. When the need for men of productive ability is desperate, they demand more equality for the incompetents. When the country needs the accumulation of capital, they demand that we soak the rich. When the country needs more savings, they demand a 'redistribution of income'. They demand more jobs and less profits -- more jobs and fewer factories- more jobs and no fuel, no oil, no coal, no pollution -- but, above all, more goods for free to more consumers, no matter what happens to jobs, to factories or to producers." This statement, written 39 years ago, could have been written about President Obama's administration today.
The philosophy of Barack Obama is a version of altruism called "egalitarianism." It is a philosophy not of political equality but a claim to equality in reality. It is a belief that we need to equalize the unfairness in nature. It reverses cause and effect and demands equal results from unequal causes. Morality is beginning to be inverted to a point that those who sit in the wagon are moral and those who are pulling the wagon are now immoral.
America's course will not be corrected by the next fiscal deficit negotiation, the next political compromise, the next law or the next election. Expect to hear "Fair Share" pounded into our culture over the next four years. Our dysfunction lies in our false principles and inverted concepts. Only a return to our Founders' view of individual rights, a return to real objective money and a proper philosophy in which individual productivity and capitalism are moral will reverse the decline of America.
Craig Schwartz is a retired business director of a Fortune 100 company and has been involved in the study of Ayn Rand's Philosophy of Objectivism for over 25 years.