Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Done Last Night: "The Age of Selfishness" by Darryl Cunningham

Done Last Night: The Age of Selfishness: Ayn Rand, morality, and the financial crisis by Darryl Cunningham, 2015, 9781419715983.

Comic book nonfic about Ayn Rand, Rand's love for self-love, and the author's thesis that Rand's philosophy of self-love love excused greed and led to the economic collapse of 2008.

I don't quite agree with everything in here. Greed is nothing new. Justifying greed is nothing new. Ayn Rand has certainly had a big influence though with the current Leader of the House Paul Ryan and former Fed Meister Alan Greenspan one of her acolytes in the '60s and '70s.

I've not read Rand's novels. I doubt I will read Rand's novels. Rand sounds like a selfish asshole. Heck, Rand was a selfish asshole and looked to justify her behavior.

Cunningham only spends the first third of the book on Rand and her personal and professional life. The rest is spent on the reasons for the financial breakdown, the aftermath and Cunningham's arguments about why it happened. I think the slick tricks of the credit swaps, derivatives, and fraudulent lending are always worth another brief.

Cunningham has as good sized section on the many differences between liberal and conservative mindsets. That section was interesting. Cunningham writes that recent research says those political/social beliefs are nature, not nurture. The many differences between the two groups: Reactions to danger. Inquisitiveness. Black and white versus shades of grey. Resistance or embrace of change.

Cunningham discusses the pros and cons of both sides and tries to lay the blame of the '70s crime wave on the liberalism of the '60s. (Okay, you can go with that but I'm not sure how you'll prove it.) He puts corporate greed and the screwing of the middle and working class on the Reagan conservative era starting in 1980. (Well, as a mostly-lefty I admit I am inclined to agree there.)

A big part of the book is the Golden Rule. Should we treat others with kindness or is that a wasted weakness? Rand would let them starve. Should those with all the gold make the rules? Rand seemed to want things that way.

We have a recent Rand bio here at work: Goddess of the Market, 2009. Goddess is listed in Cunningham's bib and has circ'ed 13 times. A DVD title, Ayn Rand in her Own Words has been out 11 times since April, 2011.

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