Thursday, August 23, 2007

A parable

Hapless Citizen: "DARN IT! Oooo, curse my AWFUL luck. This rotten dagnabbertiblabbit car of mine will not start. Again! I'm going to be late for work."
Masked Superhero: "Fear not, Citizen!"
Hapless: "Who are you?"
Hero: "I'm the Ayn Rand Crusader!"
Hapless: "Are you here to solve my problems?"
Ayn Rand Crusader: "No, even better! I'm here to motivate you to solve them yourself!"
Hapless: "Well that does sound useful, I guess."
ARC: "Now, what seems to be the trouble?"
Hapless: "Well, it's this stupid car of mine. It's got some years on it, it doesn't run very well, and I've had to spend a fair bit of money on a regular basis to keep it in running condition."
ARC: "Aha! This looks like a job for... the Ayn Rand Crusader! Citizen, your problems are as good as ended. Observe!"
[ARC whips out a comically large sledgehammer from the pockets of his colorful tights.]
Hapless: "You're going to solve my problems with a hammer? What are..."
[ARC brings down a mighty blow on the car, proceeding to pulverize it into a metal pancake.]
Hapless: "OH MY GOD, what the fuck??? You just totally smashed my car!"
ARC: "Yes, and now all your problems will be solved!"
Hapless: "...Oh. Really? Does that mean you're going to get me a new car?"
ARC: "Of course not! I don't do handouts! But fear not, you will have a new car soon enough."
Hapless: "I don't follow you."
ARC: "Well, now that your old car has been destroyed, I have created a market demand for a new car. Before you know it, the Amazing Free Market will surely be knocking on your door, begging to replace it with a much better car."
Hapless: "But... there aren't any decent car dealerships around here for miles. And it's going to cost me a lot more to get a new car than it did even to keep my old car in working order."
ARC: "Never fear! Thanks to the Incredible Free Market, new car dealerships will soon open up within walking distance! And not only that, they are sure to make you a car that is both excellent and affordable! And besides, even if that doesn't happen, you can easily make a new car for yourself that is just as good."
Hapless: "But I'm a software engineer. I don't know how to make a car."
ARC: "What are you, lazy? You said your old car was bad. Anyone can build a car that's better than a bad one! Get off your butt and learn how to do it properly."
Hapless: "Let me get this straight. You 'helped' me by destroying my old car, and now you're just going to leave me with nothing."
ARC: "LIAR!!! Have you not heard a word I've just said? Why do you misrepresent my position so egregiously? As I have been trying to explain to you, the Magnificent Free Market will replace your car for you."
Hapless: "But right now I don't even have the car I did before. How am I supposed to get to work?"
ARC: "Perhaps some enterprising private charity will come along and give you a lift."
Hapless: "Thanks for nothing."
ARC: "No need to thank me, citizen, I'm just doing my job. Thank the Incomparable Free Market for the generous bounties that will soon be yours. Ayn Rand Crusader, AWAY!!!!!"

...and as for the rest of Johngalt666's "points", I'll have to get back to those a bit later.


  1. Hapless Citizen: I'm hungry but I don't want to work and you should feed me.

    that's the end.

  2. Very nice. I've actually been thinking of writing into the AE or Non-Prophets shows to request an episode/some discussion on Objectivist kookiness.

  3. lovetoykilljoy2:03 PM

    Though entertaining this seems like a false analogy story similar to tale of the atheist begging for his life against the bear that eats him.

    You are argueing about cars and car service that with the exception that collision insurance is required are handled by the free market in all regards from sales to repairs.

  4. The analogy isn't perfect. I didn't intend to say that cars aren't free market entities. The salient points are:
    1. Having an existing asset that does a serviceable job. (When I wrote the essay I was referring to public schools, the infrastructure for which is already in place.)
    2. Expressing legitimate concerns about the underperformance of said asset.
    3. "Solving the problem" by destroying the asset and waiting for something better to come along.

    When I wrote this I was referring specifically to this weird outrage I was getting in the public school thread, where I said "You want to eliminate public schools and then suggest nothing to replace them." The response was that I got called a liar, because he was suggesting that the free market would replace the entity if you just sit and wait, and that the new free market version is guaranteed to be better.

    This claim struck me as not only unsupported but also absurd, hence the Ayn Rand crusader was born. I realize, of course, that there are significant differences between cars and schools.