Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Money-Makers" vs. "Money-Appropriators"

In a recent NJ Star-Ledger letter-to-the-editor, a correspondent took to task a columnist's misrepresentation of Ayn Rand on an important issue; the relationship of success to moral virtue. Kevin Belanger wrote in his opening paragraph:

I recently finished reading “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand for school. I believe its message has been misrepresented by columnist Eugene Robinson (“Romney-Ryan: A campaign out of balance,” Aug. 14). The novel does not, as Robinson suggests, equate capitalist success with moral virtue. It denounces money-grubbing and power-hungry individuals. 

Belanger went on to describe the difference between Howard Roark, Rand's hero, and Peter Keating, Guy Francon, and Gail Wynand. His conclusion: "Rand’s message is clear: Men who dedicate their lives to money and prestige are trumped by men who dedicate themselves to their principles."

I left the following comments:

Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan has understandably brought Ayn Rand into the forefront of the political campaign. Ryan has named Ayn Rand as an inspiration (although he has disavowed her philosophy of Objectivism). That being the case, it is important for all thoughtful people to make an honest effort to understand Rand. 
The best way to understand her is to read her books. So I was glad to see Kevin Belanger’s effort to set the record straight in regard to Rand’s views on money by reference to her novel “The Fountainhead.”  
Rand’s novels are the best place to start, but Rand’s non-fiction work is also a good source. For example, her essay The Money-Making Personality in the book “Why Businessmen Need Philosophy” distinguishes between the two very different types of personalities cited by Belanger. Here is an excerpt from that essay: 
“Prospectors looking for gold know that there exists a mineral which deceives the ignorant by its brilliant glitter: they call it fool’s gold. A similar distinction exists between the real producers of wealth and the pseudo-producers… 
“Most people lump together into the same category all men who become rich, refusing to consider the essential question: the source of the riches, the means by which the wealth was acquired.” 
Rand called the real producers “money-makers” and the fool’s gold pseudo-producers “money-appropriators.”  
Here is a link to the free audio version of Rand’s essay: 
It’s also worth reading "Francisco’s money speech” (from Atlas Shrugged): 

Related Reading:

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