Tuesday, November 6, 2012

We Are ALL Capitalists

We Are ALL Capitalists
by John Aglialoro

(This article has been republished from Forbes)

Today we’ll vote in arguably the most important election of our lifetimes. So today, we will not mince words.

I employ over 1000 people. From Democrats to Republicans, from Libertarians to Independents, I employ 1000 smart, hard working, and dedicated people from all walks of life. And, from the janitors to the desk jockeys, all are Capitalists.

Yes, all of them.

Not that being a Capitalist is a job requirement when you come to work for me. It’s not - not explicitly anyway. Implicitly however, absolutely.

Here’s how it works: I have work that needs to be done. You have the skill required to do the work. We freely enter into an arrangement by which you will trade with me your time for my money. We negotiate a wage and agree to terms. You come to work. I pay you.

Ahhhh... Capitalism.

Somehow though, this very simple idea, of individuals freely trading value for value, has managed to elude the President of the United States. And, by the President’s recent comments in Rolling Stone regarding Ayn Rand, I’m wondering now if it may very well be due to a reading comprehension problem.

"Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we'd pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we're only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else ... is a pretty narrow vision." - President Barack Obama

What struck me most about the President’s comments was not simply how inaccurate they are but rather, how familiar. Familiar and, sadly, identifiable as a tactic: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon (see Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”).

For the past upmteen decades, the Left’s modus operandi has been to rail against greed and selfishness and then attach those words to Capitalism, or in this case a champion of Capitalism, Ayn Rand, in the hopes of getting those words to “stick.” And, it would appear from the President’s 50% approval rating, their attacks are working.

Capitalism has effectively become a dirty word.

So who are these 50% that are so ready to do away with Capitalism? Are they Socialists? Marxists? Fascists maybe?

No. They’re Capitalists. They just don’t know it yet.

They don’t know it yet because no one has taken the time to tell them. No one has taken the time to ask them the simple questions or provide the simple answers. No one has sat down with them and asked...

Do you believe that you should have the opportunity to work as hard as you want  with the sole purpose of achieving success as you define it?” Yes? You’re a Capitalist.

Do you believe that you have the right to take the money you earn everyday and spend it the way you see fit?” Yes? You’re a Capitalist.

Do you believe the Government should be permitted to take the money you’ve earned and redistribute it to those not truly in need?” No? You’re a Capitalist.

You get the picture. We don't need to tell those 50% why Capitalism is good. We don’t need to sell them Capitalism. We simply need to sell them them.

We all know that we are a Nation of Capitalists built on the shoulders of Capitalism and intrinsically, whether stated explicitly or not, we know pure Capitalism to be the greatest economic system the World has ever known.

Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself...” – Abraham Lincoln

We all know Capitalism is who we are. We all know Capitalism is at the core of our greatness as a nation and it is that greatness that drives people from all over the world to risk life and limb simply to be here, not for a guarantee, but for an opportunity. We all know that Capitalism is the motive power energizing the luminescence of the Shining city upon the hill.

Now, we just need to let them know that they LOVE Capitalism too - and that they always have, and always will.

For those of you taking the time to read this article, it is in your hands. Our country, our freedom and our way of life is being attacked and is facing the greatest challenge in its history. It is up to you to take the message to the people - your friends, your family and your neighbors - and win back our Country.

John Aglialoro is the Producer of Atlas Shrugged Part 1 and Atlas Shrugged Part 2.

Friday, November 2, 2012

To Win or Not to Win

Producer John Aglialoro and Atlas Society founder David Kelley discuss the election….

Aglialoro: It's no surprise that, after 55 years since Atlas Shrugged was published, Ayn Rand is still being attacked with total disdain by the socialist left.

Kelley: John, we knew up front that the movie reviewers, who overwhelmingly subscribe to the socialist left ideology, would trash Atlas Shrugged Part 2, despite the obvious improvements in cinematic quality. They hate the message, and that takes precedence over the artistry in their eyes. You wanted the film to come out before the election because you felt it has an important bearing on the political choice the public faces. Do you think that the critics felt the same connection? That they want to see Obama re-elected?

Aglialoro: Yes. The question I have is: Why does the public continue to embrace the political class, who provide nothing but unemployment checks,  over the entrepreneurial class, who provide the opportunity for prosperity? That's not what America is about. Ultimately, this election is a referendum on capitalism.

Kelley: You remind me of something Ayn Rand said in 1972, about the McGovern-Nixon election. Watching the Democratic convention that year, she noted that the older politicians still believed in capitalism, even though they wanted to hang regulations and welfare programs around its neck, but that McGovern was deeply anti-capitalist. He wanted to redistribute income on a massive  scale, with his proposal for a guaranteed income regardless of work. It looks as if we have the same issue in 2012.

Aglialoro: Exactly. Obama is not a capitalist. He believes in government control of producers, he opposes individualism, he believes—morally speaking—that "we are our brothers' keepers," that "we are all connected," that you should love your neighbor over yourself. This is the antithesis of Rand's individualism. She invoked the principle of individual rights, with government protecting the freedom of every individual person to pursue his or her own course in life.

Of course we are charitable to those who are down on their luck. But our immigrant ancestors  did not come here for the sake of their neighbors. They came to America for themselves, and for their families, the people they loved.

Obama cannot bring himself to say that he is a capitalist, and it would be a lie if he did. And that means he has abandoned the vision of the Founding Fathers.

Kelley: Going back to 1972, after McGovern lost in a landslide, Rand attributed it to the American sense of life, the American instinct for individualism even if it is not articulated clearly in principle.

Aglialoro: Although too many Americans are generally unthinking about politics and elections, I have always believed that the American sense of life will come through. I have always been confident in the American love of freedom, of self-responsibility, of opportunity, of the love of winning over the fear of losing. I have to believe that, at the crucial moment, the American people will make the right choice of individual self-worth over the detestable commandment to live for others.

Kelley: And if they don't?  If Obama is re-elected and we continue down the path of collectivism, what about Atlas Shrugged Part 3? Will there be any point?

Aglialoro: Not likely. What is the point, once he is re-elected? It will mean that America has decided to continue down that slippery slope, ultimately down to the dustbin of history where the Greek and Roman empires dwell.

Kelley: Atlas Shrugged—Rand's novel, and the two adaptations you have produced—teach us that individuals who produce, who support themselves and create value, at any level, from the janitor in Hank Rearden's mills to Rearden himself, are the Atlases holding up the world. What would you say to these people on the eve of the election?

AglialoroNovember 6th, my friends, is a more important moment in our country than any since our Founding Fathers in the 1770s offered their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to create a free country. On November 6th, you face the choice whether or not to affirm their vision of America, whether or not to affirm the values that Ayn Rand made so clear in Atlas Shrugged. Your immediate imperative is to vote Obama out….  

Hopefully, if  you do, we won't have to shrug.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Good Ideas Are Not For Everyone

In three weeks we will be voting in, what many consider, the most important election of our lifetime, the 2012 Presidential election. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve already made up your mind who you’ll be voting for. Good. But, what about your friends and family who haven’t? Are you going to take the time to talk to them about their vote?

I would suggest you do - just not all of them.

When Mitt Romney chose Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, the media exploded in unison with critical stories of the Wisconsin representative’s appreciation of Ayn Rand - the author of, according to a 1991 survey done by the Library of Congress, one of the most influential books ever written, Atlas Shrugged.

A sample of the detractors’ criticisms...

What made her books controversial is … an extremist vision of America that celebrated greed and selfishness...” - Gary Weiss, CNN

Really? Well... that just sounds horrible. I too would take issue with this author. The thing is, I can’t figure out which book he’s referring to - and I’ve read most everything Ayn Rand wrote.

This is the problem with most, if not all, of the Left’s arguments. Their arguments are rarely anchored in reality, or on what they’ve read themselves, or on any type of empirical evidence or data. Their arguments are founded primarily on assumption and their emotional response to those assumptions.

So, how do we combat an emotional response to a false premise egged on by the refusal to think for oneself critically? Ayn Rand once said, “Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Leave them alone.

Was Ayn Rand suggesting that we simply remove ourselves from the discussion entirely? No. What Ayn Rand was suggesting is that we don’t waste our time trying to convince the inconvincible, e.g., Gary Weiss is not interested in having a rational discussion - he’s looking to enforce a position. There is no conversation to be had.

There’s a wonderful quote from Atlas Shrugged: “When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.” This is where our fight is - the mind of the rational man and rational woman.

You have friends, family, and co-workers, who will not listen to reason and will be voting November 6th. Identify them but do not waste your time. You will not influence them. Who we must focus on however are those individuals that, although tending to lean on their emotions, are ready and willing to engage in serious rational discourse. They are the undecided, the concerned, the curious and they understand that their vote counts. They want to understand the issues and they want to make the right decision.

Find the time to take them to lunch. Invite them to dinner. Take them to a movie (Atlas Shrugged Part 2!). Talk to them.

Talk to them about the fact that there are now 47 million American citizens on food stamps - more than a 60% increase in beneficiaries in the past three and a half years. Talk to them about the fact that only 53% of Americans pay income tax. Talk to them about the facts and only the facts.  

Ask them what their priorities are in life. Ask them what their major concerns are. Ask them what they think the solutions are. Chances are, they are already very close to finding the answers themselves. All that may be required at this point, is the gentle hand of clarity reinforced by some succinct elucidation.

Here is the most important thing to remember: good ideas are not for everyone. They’re only for those actually interested in ideas to begin with.

Recently, my producing partner Harmon Kaslow was asked whom Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged would appeal to:

"While Ayn Rand’s heroes speak to the individual in all of us, they do not speak for everyone. Ayn Rand’s heroes are men and women from all walks of life - sculptors, musicians, plumbers, steel workers, architects, industrialists - if you enjoy your work and do it well, if you constantly strive to be better, if you work hard every day, you will LOVE Atlas.

“However, if you feel a sense of entitlement - as in the government owes you something - simply because you exist, Atlas [Shrugged] is not a story for you. You are whom we are warning against."

There are those that want to hear our ideas and those that don’t want to hear any ideas. Know the difference and you might just have a shot at making a difference.

The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it.” - Ayn Rand.

John Aglialoro is the Producer of Atlas Shrugged Part 1 and Atlas Shrugged Part 2.