I currently am doing some thinking and researching for a future post and as a part of that I am rereading sections of Ayn Rand’s Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. In particular I am focusing on the essay titled “America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business.” In this essay Ayn Rand points out that while protecting the rights of minorities is almost universally supported, this principle is applied in a most discriminatory manner. If you are a business owner.
The entire essay is well worth reading, or you can listen to Ayn Rand present it as a lecture below. Today’s quote comes from early in the essay.
Today’s “liberals” recognize the workers’ (the majority’s) right to their livelihood (their wages), but deny the businessmen’s (the minority’s) right to their livelihood (their profits). If workers struggle for higher wages, this is hailed as “social gains”; if businessmen struggle for higher profits, this is dammed as “selfish greed.”
Ayn Rand is not alone in expressing this. In his book Barbarians Inside the Gates and Other Controversial Essays, Thomas Sowell expressed much the same idea :
I have never understood why it is “greed” to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.
While Ayn Rand’s essay was written more than 50 years ago, the points she makes are just as valid today as they were in 1961. One need only listen to any new broadcast or read virtually any newspaper to see current examples. It amazes me how often I read of the latest government demands placed on businesses, without any great outcry which if applied to individuals would likely have people marching in the streets.
It is important to remember that while business and corporations are not people, they are composed of people and those individuals do not lose their rights simply because they happen to act in corporate form.