Without Them

I was listening to music on Spotify when an ad for Spotify itself came on.  The ad mentions how “piracy is so old-fashioned” and that “every track on Spotify makes money for the artist because after all, without them there would be no music for us to enjoy“.

It’s that last part – the “after all, without them there would be no music for us to enjoy” part that resonated with me most.  This simple radio advert is actually pretty profound and is a perfect note to end 2012 on – a year where “you didn’t build that” and “fair share” were tossed around as if the creators of businesses were somehow not quite fully entitled to the fruits of their ideas and labor.

Apparently Spotify believes (and I agree) that the right thing to do to honor the creators of the music is to make sure the creators are paid and not stolen from – because they are in fact the brains behind the music.

The ad’s “Without them” concept can be applied to any business, any product, and the job creators behind those businesses.  “Without them” there is nothing. “Without them” people have no products or services.  “Without them people” have no jobs or ability to sustain their families.

My point here is that millions of people enjoy music thanks to those that create music.  Likewise, millions of people enjoy employment and lifestyles thanks to people who create jobs.  Is there really any difference between a musical artist who creates a song for sale or a businessman who creates pizza? (or any product/service)?  Each has a skill. Each has a product.  Each put effort and training into making that product for sale and… “without them” there is nothing but unfinished ideas and raw materials.

In the classic book Atlas Shrugged, the industrialists, the men and women of thought, vanish from the face of the Earth, going on their own strike of sorts and leaving everything behind including the keys to the car for anyone to pick up where they left off and run things.  Nobody does.  Nobody can.  Nobody remaining behind has the know-how or fortitude to do what the industrialists (i.e. job creators) did.

There is a line in Atlas Shrugged that go like this:

“Whether it’s a symphony or a coal mine, all work is an act of creating and comes from the same source: from an inviolate capacity to see through one’s own eyes–which means: the capacity to perform a rational identification–which means: the capacity to see, to connect and to make what had not been seen, connected and made before.”

-Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, Part 3, Ch. 2

Imagine this.  How would it be if in the name of social and economic musical justice Spotify took a percentage of all the money Bruce Springsteen makes when his songs are played on Spotify and just gave it to an artist whose music was not chosen by the consumers in the free market to be played.  We could say that he “didn’t really write that” without the world providing to him the influence to come up with such musical ideas.   Would Bruce be cool with that?  I doubt it.

Company Founders, men and women of vision and production, should be celebrated, encouraged, and thanked, not threatened or villainized.  Like the Spotify ad says – “after all, without them there would be no music to listen to.”  The same goes for job creators.

Advertisements

Prescient Ayn Rand

Today is my 500th post.  When I started Anthidote in 2006 I did quick reviews of things I liked.  That evolved into more long-form essay style posts on subject matter that interested me.  That evolved into pulling in travel photos from adventures around the world when I blended my personal blog with this one.  For the 500th post, I thought I’d make the subject matter a little bit heavier again since we’re in such an important year in the history of the USA.

I’ve been a fan of Ayn Rand since 1993 when I read Atlas Shrugged.  That book change my life and clearly it has also has an affect on millions of others as well.   In mid-July President Obama gave his now famous speech wherein he basically openly exposed his belief that the collective is more important than the individual (when if he would simply acknowledge that successful individuals freely trading with one other automatically makes for a strong collective).  It’s as if he and his like-minded crowd keep pushing on a door that is marked “pull”.

What continually amazes me is how Ayn Rand foretold so much of what is happening in the world because she had witnessed (lived it) already it first hand growing up in the old Soviet Russia, which she has described as a truly terrifying place the likes of which modern Americans have no real understanding.  How could someone born say after 1990 have any real concept of what tyranny feels like or looks like?  It’s the stuff of history books as far as they know.

There is a scene in Atlas Shrugged that is so similar to Obama’s ridiculous speech last week that I thought I’d lay the comments side by side.

Obama:

“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back.  They know they didn’t…. look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.” (Enthusiastic Applause from the audience.)

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business — you didn’t  build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

Now look at this scene from Atlas Shrugged – a scene where a government “official” is stating that the smart industrialist Hank Rearden somehow doesn’t deserve credit for inventing the metal he invented.

From Atlas Shrugged:

“He didn’t invent iron ore and blast furnaces, did he?”

“Who?” 

“Rearden. He didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn’t have invented his Metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. His Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything.”

She said, puzzled, “But the iron ore and all those other things were there all the time. Why didn’t anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. Rearden did?”

Looking at Obama’s comments, he loves to talk about roads and bridges.  Is that what Obama believes is the reason people are successful?  Because the country invested in roads and bridges? A lot of countries have roads and bridges – so what?  What Obama fails to grasp is that it’s is smart, competent people that make the world a better place not only for themselves but for virtually everybody.   It’s not because their country invested in roads – hell North Korea has roads, Venezuela has roads.

The absolutely amazing thing about Atlas Shrugged is that no matter what decade you’re in, it reads like it comes straight from today’s headlines – and today more than ever unfortunately.  The good news?  At the end of the book when the government has completely screwed everything up they finally realize that the only way to set things straight again is to get out of the way and let competent individuals forge the new path (again).  It’s a mentality shift that some have made and some other haven’t.   In December 2011 I wrote a piece here on how we should be grateful for entrepreneurs instead of casting them as somehow the bad guys sticking it to everyone else.

Sticking with the “mentality shift” theme, there are two movies worth checking out before the election that shed light on the realities of the day – the first (2016 Obama’s America) dives into why Obama thinks the way he does and how he sees his mission as President to “fundamentally change the United States of America” by essentially realigning the USA in the world.  The second (Runaway Slave) deals with the black experience in America after almost 50 years of Democratic party allegiance.

2016 Obama’s America

 

Runaway Slave

I know a dentist that keeps copy of Atlas Shrugged on his front desk where the patients check in.  The deal he offers his patients is that they can take the book for free on the condition that they pass it on to someone else after they’ve read it.

Ayn Rand Spirit

Made it to the art-deco Atlas statue in NYC at Rockefeller Center just before twilight to snap this shot with the blue sky, chromed bronze, and orange backlight.  I’m a big fan of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and of course the image of Atlas on the cover of that book is hard not to think of when standing in this spot in New York City.  Sales of this masterpiece refuse to slow down decades after it was printed.

Atlas Shrugged is coming…

Yesterday the US Congress passed the “bailout” bill for well over $700 Billion.  This was a very bad idea and a ominous way to solve this matter.  Socialism never works.  Leave this matter to the private sector.  At some point the producers of this world will get tired of being treated so poorly.

This reminds me of Ayn Rand’s incredible book ‘Atlas Shrugged‘ where the producers of our society decided to remove themselves from the collectivized society that completely and disrespectfully took advantage of their brains and ability.  It was a lesson of who really needs who and what happens when the smart and competent decide willingly to simply stop producing.  The book is arguably the best book I have ever read (it’s a toss up between that and “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris).  The ultimate result of the novel shows the collapse of society until the government comes back to the producers of the world, led by the the protagonist John Galt, begging them to get things rolling again.  The response was “get government out of the way” and we’ll come back.

It reminded me also of why so much of this country relates to the VP Nominee Sarah Palin who herself in the Vice Presidential debate on Oct 2, 2008 said “Government is not the solution and needs to get out of the way“.  She is right on that.

Apparently the Atlas Shrugged movie is in the works.  Excellent.

Atlasshrugged