The inane Randroidism of "disruption"

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113 Responses to “The inane Randroidism of "disruption"”

  1. thaum says:

    “Back home in London (where such statistics are available), 11 women a month are attacked in unlicensed cabs, and unlicensed drivers are responsible for a horrifying 80 percent of all stranger rapes.”

    So, what, licensed drivers are responsible for the other 20%? 

    • So, what, licensed drivers are responsible for the other 20%?

      Less likely because the infrastructure for licensed taxis generally provides a way to track down licensed drivers.

      It means that calling yourself a taxi driver is a great way to pick up chicks.

      • thaum says:

        That’s conjecture. Someone want to find the actual reference?

        • acerplatanoides says:

          No, I think you missing the larger point, and to quibble over a lack of detail in a rhetorical flourish might make the larger point, rather nicely.

          • class_enemy says:

            I Googled “stranger rapes unlicensed London” and came up with a whole bunch of references to this article, along with a handful of other blog posts that made the same assertion.  None of them was linked to anything originating from London’s police or judicial system.

            At this point, I can’t reject the possibility that the 80% number was pulled out of the clear blue sky by some blogger and has been making the rounds ever since.  Which would seriously kick the article’s premise in the kneecaps.

          • acerplatanoides says:

            “Which would seriously kick the article’s premise in the kneecaps.”

            If you insist. But I think you’re wrong. I think you’re deeply misguidedly antisocially selfishly incorrect about that.

            even if that one fact is on your side, the journalist didn’t legislate nor pass the law.

            The citizens of the city did that. Listen to them.

          • class_enemy says:

            acerplatanoides – “The citizens of the city did that. Listen to them.”

            Yep. Just like the citizens of the country did DMCA, and the Patriot Act.  You listen to ‘em for me, OK??

          • acerplatanoides says:

            What a fallacious statement your comparison to DMCA is. I can smell the disinterested hipster irony from here.

        • Tom Pearson says:

          “In London alone, recent statistics show that 11 women are attacked each month after taking an unlicensed minicab. 80% of stranger rapes are committed by unlicensed cab drivers.” http://www.taxiregister.com/unlicensed.php

          • Jim Smith says:

            I would be slightly sceptical of that site.  I think that section is out-of-date, in that it ignores the the fact that all cabs – black cabs or mini-cabs – now have to be licensed.   There certainly used to be a problem with unlicensed mini-cabs but the change in legislation and an publicity campaign should have changed that.  I would be surprised if those figures are still accurate.

          • Jason Lane says:

            The point wasn’t wether they are accurate now. Was there a time when this figure was accurate?

            think that was the thing in question.

            I’m not sure but I know there was a problem with it here in London. A lot of cases went un-reported

    • bzishi says:

      It means that everyone who is not an unlicensed driver is responsible for the other 20%. Licensed drivers are members of this subset as are 99% of the rest of society. But since licensed drivers are but one member of a subset responsible for the 20%, you can’t attribute anything to them without more evidence.

    • iCowboy says:

      ‘So, what, licensed drivers are responsible for the other 20%? ‘

      That’s not what it says. It means 80% of rapists who were unknown to the victim are unlicensed taxi drivers; the other 20% have other, or no, professions. 

  2. I’m sorry, but this article is 100% a hatchet-job on the concept of disruption, argued from a single example of one shady jerk. “Disruption” is the reason you have video recording and playback at home, or why you can buy single songs, or why we have personal computers and smartphones and whatever. Disruption is the process by which ossified, entrenched interests are overthrown by innovators, pure and simple. Perhaps there are cases where some dourchebag seized on the term to be a petulant jerk, but that *always* happens. 

    BTW, TLC (the NYC taxi regulators) are bought and paid for by the taxi companies  who are horrible and exploitive towards both cabbies and cab customers. Uber may not be the best ones to do it, but TLC needs some serious disruption.

    • unit_1421 says:

      or why you can buy single songs…

      Which is why most new music now since 2000 sucks monstrous oozing donkey balls, because there’s no emphasis on talent or developing a narrative beyond 3 1/2 minutes of auto-tuned bullshit or one octave bores like Adele.

      The TLC is abetted by backstabbers like Christine Quinn licking the anus of Pharoh Bloomberg, who approved a “Taxi of Tomorrow” that’s nothing more than an over-sized golf cart with really shitty gas mileage. I’d rather they make an actual 6000-SUX.

    • brainflakes says:

      It’s not a hatchet-job on the concept of disruption, it’s a stab at the redefining of disruption from “entrenched interests being overthrown by innovators” to “there should be no-regulation of anything whatsoever as the free-market would surely fix everything”. NYC taxis may be overregulated, but that doesn’t mean that having no regulation at all wouldn’t also be a very bad thing.

      • Taxi regulation is a clear case of a small politically connected private group crafting laws to their own benefit to the detriment of everybody.

        Uber presents an elegant, fair, economic, and generally far superior way of solving the exact same problem that regulations solve.

        But progressives are so wedded to their vision that regulations can create a perfect world that they will protect even those regulation that most obviously protect corrupt private interests.

    • dragonfrog says:

      “why you can buy single songs”

      http://www.photo-dictionary.com/photofiles/list/437/809gramophone.jpg – I suppose it was disruptive in its time…

      • wysinwyg says:

        Incredibly.  Prior to the gramophone the music industry made all of its money selling sheet music.  When the gramophone first appeared record companies used recordings as promotional materials for sheet music.  The music industry didn’t even see the commercial potential of selling recordings directly to consumers for a few years.

        But it’s a good demonstration that disruption inevitably involves tradeoffs.  As a result of the gramophone almost all independent musicians making a living by gigging locally were put out of work over the next few decades and it seems to me that musicianship declined in mainstream culture after that — people would rather listen to a record than hear grandma accompany little Lucy on the piano.  (So the music industry makes fewer sheet music sales and needs to sell more recorded music, etc.)

    • Brad Johnson says:

      You missed the point, which was that disruption used to be aimed at marketplace competitors  and it is now aimed at the structure of the marketplace itself. 

      Your argument is essentially anarchism, at least anarchism in markets where people can make money. Argue for it, fine. But you’re going to fail in all the ways traditional anarchism arguments do. The fact that computers exist now and this is being done by young privileged males really doesn’t change the fundamentals.  

  3. It is unfortunate but predictable that backlash against the insane excesses or Randian thought would itself yet again become insanely excessive, though the broadening of the target zone to all disruptive businesses is a refreshing new argument for antipsychotics in the water supply.

    Ok, as a laugh, good for a couple of stars, but this was not coherent or rational enough to merit BoingBoing attention. Come on.

    • heng says:

       I think his issue is not with disruption as it means traditionally, but with disruption that has been disrupted.

    • acerplatanoides says:

      I love the absolute loss of subjectivity that some people encounter when discussing Rand. Somehow the subjectivity of a Randroid always trumps everyone elses subjectivity, and they call it (and this makes me laugh) they call that objectivity. And then get huffy when anyone else abuses language or speaks imprecisely.

  4. Grim Beefer says:

    I know I’m not responding to your main point, but your narrative seems to imply that our modern age of high tech wonders is primarily due to mavericks bucking some recalcitrant system. While that is undoubtedly true in some cases, that line doesn’t do a good job of explaining the history of computer technology as a whole and downplays the pivotal contributions we have made as a society to innovation.

    Take the transistor, which was invented by good ole Bell Labs. Scientists working there invented all kinds of things due to AT&T’s policy of funding basic science research, all while enjoying a nice state-protected, competition free monopoly.

    Also let’s not forget that early computers – and thus computer manufacturers such as IBM and DEC – were heavily dependent on military and academic state contracts due to their enormous cost. It’s difficult to imagine computers evolving to their commonplace status as quickly without the incubation phase propped up by state subsidy. We might just now be getting PONG.

    Then there’s ARPANET, funded by us taxpayers. Or all the other tech innovations that have their roots in the military.

    Of course, there’s NASA and the NSF.

    We could write a whole book about the contribution MIT has given to the tech world, which owes a huge part of it’s existence to government sponsored research.

    Let’s also not forget about Edwin Catmull and the important breakthroughs in 3d graphics that took place at the University of Utah.

    There are countless examples of this sort of thing. The webcam was invented at the University of Cambridge to monitor a coffee pot, for example.

    • happosai says:

      Government is good at basic science research, but bad at creating products. Companies are the opposite. It is unlikely any company had funded researching the higgs boson, and equally unlikely that any government would have created and ipad.

      AT&T monopoly invented transistor, but the actual AT&T long distance call product was horrible and expensive.

      • class_enemy says:

         equally unlikely that any government would have created the iPad

        And if the US government had done so, it would cost $2,800, have a black and white screen, be restricted to dialup speeds, and we’d all be required to own one.

      • Gatto says:

        properly speaking, john bardeen, william shockley, and walter brattain invented the transistor. bell labs paid their salaries, and encouraged the work. i’m only quibbling with your phrasing, because it’s important to remember that neither government nor corporations are persons. their different structures do *tend* to result in different kinds of focuses, costs, and efficiencies but, ultimately, it’s soylent green through and through. 

  5. Rindan says:

    Yuck.  Can you say ad hominem?  It is ad hominem built upon ad hominem.  Ayn Rand is dead.  Uber being able to “disrupt” local taxi markets has nothing to do with her.  Further, even if someone worships at the feet of Ayn Rand, it doesn’t make everything they do by default the spawn of Satan.

    The simple fact is that those laws ARE ancient and developed in an age well before the Internet, much less cell phones.  Further, they are almost without exception, laws that are designed to foster a local monopoly.  The entrenched interest you need to steam roll in order to get the laws to sync up with reality here in 2012 are monumental.  If the law is grey, they should go for it at their own risk.  Asking forgiveness when you get shut down gets you press and media that might help make it an issue and perhaps direct a little fire at regulators and politicians.  Asking permission will just get a quiet no.

    I’m all for people pushing the edge of shitty laws built by entrenched interest.  Personally, I hope my state gives the federal government a big old middle finger this November and legalizes medicinal marijuana.  I won’t accuse anyone using the law to sell of being Randian zombies.

    • spejic says:

      What you are missing is that these laws were created in the first place to solve problems. If you want to disrupt things, then you need to take a look at why the laws were created and be able to convince others that your idea won’t be causing the original problems.

      Going by your own example, pot isn’t going to get legal through the work of drug smugglers. It’s becoming more acceptable because of convincing arguments that it has health benefits and not as many health costs as was thought. Look at how much progress has been made since they went to the medical marijuana argument.

      • Jake Boone says:

        In the case of these particular laws, though, the “problem” they were designed to solve appears to be something along the lines of “politically-connected cab owners find themselves facing competition from not-politically-connected cab owners.”

        I find that I can bear the specter of that particular problem’s return with great fortitude.

        • dnebdal says:

          Well, no – it’s “unregistred cab drivers do, on average, commit more crimes against their passengers than registred ones”.

          • GlyphGryph says:

            Ah, but that particular statement isn’t actually relevant to whether or not these laws are any good.

            The correct statement would need to be: “Places that regulate cab drivers lead to a reduced incidence of problems with cab drivers.”

            Your statement doesn’t actually imply that registration laws actually help – if anything, it makes it seem like criminals don’t need to worry about getting registered, since the laws don’t seem to inconvenience them.

            Even beyond that, for these regulations, it seems doubtful that was ever the case. At best, they are based on the same sort of poor logic the statement you made implies – at worst, that statement serves as a convenient excuse.

            No one here is saying regulation is always wrong or always evil – just that it can be (and often is) a bad thing, that does little good and much harm.

            @spejic – you do realize the entire medical marijuana thing IS 100% against federal laws and regulation, and thus could easily be described as a disruptive movement that seeks to show the regulations are ineffective and wrong by demonstrating superior results, right? If anything, it certainly seems like a more “disruptive” approach than a non-disruptive one.

          • acerplatanoides says:

            “No one here is saying regulation is always wrong or always evil – just that it can be (and often is) a bad thing, that does little good and much harm.”

            No one here is saying selfishness is always wrong or evil – just that it can be (and often is) a bad thing, that does little good and much harm.

          • GlyphGryph says:

             That… would be a correct statement, yes. But we are talking about regulation and disruption, no? Not really “selfishness”?

          • acerplatanoides says:

            I dunno. Hard to separate selfishness out from concepts that you would use as a metric.

            Like “good”, “help”, “convenience”.

            These are all subjective. You can say whatever you want and all you will ever be arguing with those words is for what is best for Y. O. U.

      • class_enemy says:

         Many laws which were created for good purposes decades ago now have a primary purpose of ensuring that the children of career politicians never have to take out college loans.

      • Rindan says:

        What you are missing is that these laws were created in the first place to solve problems. If you want to disrupt things, then you need to take a look at why the laws were created and be able to convince others that your idea won’t be causing the original problems.

        No.  You need to convince politicians to piss off their monopolistic constituency.  Uber has found a pretty effective way to do it.  If the law is grey, move in until they shut you down.  Once they get shut  down, people are like “WTF bro, I liked those guys”.   The laws then get changed because politicians actually feel a little pressure.  

        The political process is fucked.  Entrenched interest rules.

        Going by your own example, pot isn’t going to get legal through the work of drug smugglers. It’s becoming more acceptable because of convincing arguments that it has health benefits and not as many health costs as was thought. Look at how much progress has been made since they went to the medical marijuana argument.

        Actually, medical marijuana is a perfect example of disruption.  Medical marijuana is and continues to be 100% illegal.  It is far more illegal than Uber. It specifically violates federal law.  Making it legal in a state doesn’t override federal law.  Hence, you see perfectly legal medical marijuana operations in California getting raided and shut down by the federal government.  Medical marijuana is slowly winning the fight not through calm and rational argument to politicians who worship at the feet of entrenched interest, but by openly flouting unjust laws and proving that there is nothing to them.

        We spent half a century fighting the unjust drug laws for nothing.  It wasn’t until people started to openly ignore the law that anything has started to change, and even then, it is going to be another decade or two before federal law catches up with reality.  I imagine Uber doesn’t have DECADES to sit around dicking with politicians who are trying to protect their local monopolies at the expensive of everyone who isn’t getting a government sponsored bribe.

        • Kaleberg says:

          New York State stopped enforcing the alcohol ban in 1926. Alcohol remained illegal, but unless you were caught with it while breaking some other law, you were unlikely to be prosecuted for possession or use. It remained illegal until 1933. The current state actions regarding marijuana might not mean much, but they are a step in the right direction.

    • Jason Lane says:

      “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Hopper interestingly.

      and you talk sense.

  6. Raziel Abulafia says:

    I didn’t know that Rand had a Russian Granny accent!
     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4k9tD7iHo0c

  7. Russell says:

    I fear the Randian obsession here is going the same way as BB’s sister site dangerousminds.net’s Jimmy Savile fetish.

    • I guess living in the UK I’m not subject to the Randroids but I find the level of anti-Rand hate coming out of left-wing American media really interesting. It’s a backlash against something I haven’t experienced. Heck, I liked “The Fountainhead”. I’ve not read any others. Ayn Rand was probably mad. So was PKD.

      • Geoduck says:

         If you want to understand the problem, go plow your way through Atlas Shrugged, and realize as you do so that, very much unlike Philip K Dick, large chunks of the Republican party are literally basing their life-philosophy on this twaddle. (Man, a PKD inspired political party would be something to see..)

        • GlyphGryph says:

           That’s like saying they base their life philosophy on the bible. Rand’s works are an excuse to act the way they want, nothing more, nothing less – that’s why they have no trouble ignoring the parts they disagree with and cherry picking the parts they like. (Again, like the Bible)

          • Gatto says:

            i’m backing geoduck here, and seriously encourage some PKD for you. without coining the word, i think he invented the idea of a meme; ideas as viruses colonizing minds. while we are individuals, philosophy matters; it *changes* peoples minds.

          • GlyphGryph says:

            I’ve read plenty of PKD. Of course memes change people’s minds – memes are not always representative the of the philosophies they claim ownership of, though. Very few Randians actually follow Rand’s philosophies – very few Christian’s follow Christ’s, or very few Reagen-idolators would agree with many of his policies. Memes evolve and change as they propagate.

            In cases like this, to the point where they barely resemble the philosophy that formed them. The modern objectivist movement might be inspired by Rand, but I think that’s the furthest you can go. It’s moved well beyond her philosophy at this point.

            So, in the end – I guess my original opposition was wrong. They ARE basing their life-philosophies on this twaddle, it’s just that the life philosophies they end up creating aren’t the kind the twaddle wants them to. ;)

        • karl_jones says:

          Do you science fiction?  

          Are you interested in Ayn Rand’s ideas — self reliance, the power of the individual, the obstacles posed by small minds and bureaucratic interests — but feel that she was a poor writer?

          Try some Jack Vance:  infinitely more readable, entirely more humanist.  You might start with “To Live Forever” …

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Live_Forever_(novel)

        • PKD was an anarcho-capitalist. In his own words, he believed in ‘anarchy based on contracts.’ So if there is a PKD political party, it would be a more radical subgroup of the libertarian party.

      • cfuse says:

        Speaking as an *actual* mad person: Rand wasn’t mad, she was just vile. Please don’t confuse genuine illness with repulsiveness.

        She took her own sick, greed centric ethics, realised she could turn a buck off them, and sold those ideals as a cult. Objectivism is just Scientology for the frugal conservative.

        • acerplatanoides says:

           and, of course, she folded in the end, and accepted socialism (Medicare) when she got real sick.

          As a person, I’m sure she was fine. But I will burn the effigy her followers have built of her, and the sadism it inspires in them. 

          • chgoliz says:

            As a person, she was NOT fine.  Not at all.  Sadism, narcissism and probably sociopathy were all part of the package.

          • acerplatanoides says:

            Probably true, but who she was as a person is as irrelevant to me today as it is to her followers, today.

        • Objectivism is a philosophy. Scientology is a religion with a whole host of invented entities. Comparing the two is absurd.

      • derek prowse says:

         I would fully support the VALIS Party.

        • Philboyd Studge says:

          Valis is just soft-pink laserism, a slippery slope that leads to the cult of Mercerism. Vote UBIK for a strong society!

  8. The really pathetic thing is  that neither the pro-Rand nor the anti-Rand elements have a clue what she really advocated. This is understandable because half the time she didn’t understand herself what she was advocating. It’s also understandable because most of those bellowing the loudest on either side have never read her stuff and have formed their opinions second-hand by reading the opinions of clowns like Ryan who think they believe what she believed.

    Rand was anti-government. She was anti anyone who made their living governing. She was anti-religion and considered religious leaders to be witch-doctors who exploit those who believe in a religion..

    Her favorite insults were to call our leadership looters, moochers and witch-doctors, and whats blackly humorous is that she would have called Ryan a moocher and Romney a witch-doctor. And in many ways, these descriptions would have been perfectly accurate.

    In Atlas Shrugged, one of her major bad guys was James Taggart, president of Taggart Transcontinental – a moocher who couldn’t run a railroad but an expert in using politics to steal from other railroad companies. Most of her bad guys are actually archetypes of the bozos we have running much of this country. And yet most of her “followers” and “critics” think she was automatically in favor of any “businessman”.

    Her heroes were mostly imaginary. Historically, it is almost impossible to point to someone who measured up to her ideas of a good guy.

    Her economic and political ideas were nonsense, but her criticism was often dead-on. She recognized the moochers, and she recognized thie kind of actions they took to loot and steal. Anyone watching our political class in action should have been calling them looters all along.

    So pathetically, the politicians she hated think they are living up to her highest ideas. And the “progressives” who should be attacking the real looters and moochers are busy attacking Ayn Rand because John Galt was one of her wet dreams.

    • Gatto says:

      progressives attack her philosophy because, so far as i understand the label, most progressives believe government has a valid role in moden society. collective governance, using tax dollars, can ( if it’s working well ) balance the negative aspects of capitalism. 

      part of what makes her *such* a powerful writer is that her collectivist bad guys were all, to some extent believable, but ultimately were straw men. her good guys were ultimately christ figures ( especially ro-ark ). if you only look at her good guys, and bad guys — you come away thinking: i want to be one of the good guys. but life is **way** more nuanced, and there are many more options than what she presents. arguably: most of those options are better.

      • acerplatanoides says:

        Life is indeed **way** more nuanced than the caricature of liberals that you painted at the start of your diatribe. Part of your own experience of ‘liberals’ is the nuance you yourself are open to and capable of recognizing. Maybe the problem isn’t actually with people, but rather with communication limitations.

        For my part, I’ve noticed randroids tend to think they’re the objective ones. Which I laugh at.

    • IronEdithKidd says:

      You might be barking up the wrong tree with your assumption that BB regulars haven’t read her brand.  At university, I read all her books.  I came away with the very clear impression that her philosophy boiled down to “fuck you, I got mine”.  I have yet to hear anything to contradict that notion from any of her empathy-challenged admirers.

    • karl_jones says:

      As you say, “her criticism was often dead-on.”  

      This makes her an interesting figure, notwithstanding the dogmatic (and therefore tedious) polarization of her haters/admirers.

      She advocated (among other things) “Don’t expect me to prove a negative.”

      I’m thinking of her appearance on the Mike Douglas show (if memory serves).

      Douglas said something about “Do you believe there is no God?”, and Rand replied — I’m paraphrasing here — “Don’t put that false logic on me, nobody can prove a negative.”

      Whatever else her faults, she was quite right about the absurdity of expecting anyone to disprove the existence of God.

      • acerplatanoides says:

        The parts of her criticism that were dead on were not noticed by her alone. Many people even had productive NON-FICTIONAL suggestions for how to address those issues.

    • Jason Lane says:

      “The really pathetic thing is  that neither the pro-Rand nor the anti-Rand elements have a clue what she really advocated.”

      Probably because she was in reality she was quite shallow?

    • class_enemy says:

       The really irritating thing to me about this article is that there was no need to go to Ayn Rand at all.

      Adam Smith elegantly dissected rent-seeking behavior and regulatory capture (of which the New York City taxi industry could well be the type specimen) almost two centuries before Rand, and without any of her polemical baggage.

  9. Mordicai says:

    I can’t get enough of reading Randroids in comment threads.  Oh wait, I mean the opposite, I got enough roughly ten minutes into this current election cycle.

    Thanks for linking to this post; as someone who was curious about Uber it was interesting to see it dissected as a case study.

    • Walter Guyll says:

      Something I saw yesterday:

      “Branden noted that Rand’s detractors rarely deign “publicly to name the essential ideas of Atlas Shrugged and to attempt to refute them. No one has been willing to declare: ‘Ayn
      Rand holds that man must choose his values and actions exclusively by reason, that man has the right to exist for his own sake, that no one has the right to seek values from others by physical force–and I consider such ideas wrong, evil and socially dangerous.””

      http://reason.com/blog/2012/10/25/obama-thinks-ayn-rand-is-for-teens-for-p

      • wysinwyg says:

        Italian fascism was a great system by the standards of Italian fascism.  That’s true for every value system.  Obviously it’s hard to argue that objectivism is a terrible philosophy using the premises of objectivism.  This is because those premises were constructed specifically to validate objectivism.

        Analyzing a value system involves criticizing its underlying premises, not credulously accepting them.

        • Walter Guyll says:

          “The Fascist accepts and loves life; he rejects and despises suicide as cowardly. Life as he understands it means duty, elevation, conquest; life must be lofty and full, it must be lived for oneself but above all for others, both near bye and far off, present and future.”  —Benito Mussolini

          I would object to suicide as cowardly and that life means duty and conquest. No need to look at the underlying premises.

          • wysinwyg says:

            Right, but you’re judging Italian fascism by your standards, not by the standards of Italian fascism.  By your standards Italian fascism doesn’t look so good but objectivism does.  By my standards neither looks very good.  Which was my point in the first place.

            You’re actually implicitly objecting to the premises of Italian fascist values by judging the system by your own values.

          • Walter Guyll says:

             As you are invited to judge Rand’s stand by her stated terms.

          • wysinwyg says:

            As you are invited to judge Rand’s stand by her stated terms.

            It strikes me as bizarre that someone who claims to believe in radical self-determination is trying to dictate to me what moral values I’m allowed to use when assessing the work of Ayn Rand.

            Again, if I use Rand’s values to try to criticize Rand I’m not going to do a very good job of criticizing because Rand’s values validate Rand’s philosophy.

          • Walter Guyll says:

            You can certainly judge what is said.

            Brandon may be right that people are reluctant “publicly to name the essential ideas of Atlas Shrugged and to attempt to refute them.”

            Perhaps they think they would look silly.

          • wysinwyg says:

            There’s other possibilities:
            1) Some people may not accept that the quote actually describes the “essential ideas of Atlas Shrugged.”
            2) Some people may accept that while those ideas are in Atlas Shrugged, they are in tension or even completely contradict other ideas in Atlas Shrugged.

            Those two options are exactly what my first comment to you was about.  You’re trying to impose a certain moral perspective on Rand’s work — that her work really represents those ideals as stated.  But from my perspective it I think the situation is more like (2).  There’s some suggestion of the principles you stated but they’re in conflict with other implications of Rand’s philosophy.

            Silly?
            a) Values and actions cannot be decided purely by reason.  No one with any understanding of human nature or even a cursory knowledge of western philosophy would think it could be.  You can’t derive an ought from an is.
            b) Whether or not it should be a “right”, it is physically impossible for anyone “exist in his own right”.  People inevitably learn to speak and reason from the society into which they were born; that’s also where they acquire their moral values (or lack thereof).  Human beings are social animals and actually require contact with others for psychological health.  Life as a human being demands involvement in society and that demand is what shapes the morality that people derive from society.
            c) I’m not sure what it means to “seek values from others by force” but it seems to me that there are different kinds of force and that Rand tries to disqualify some kinds of force as “not counting.”  Presumably if a person takes a humiliating and physically debilitating job because there is no other way to feed his or her family Rand would not take this to be “force” — he has the choice of letting his family starve.  This is another instance of trying to impose a particular moral frame on any criticism of Rand’s work: force means what Rand said it means; there are no other reasonable interpretation of “force” that conflict with Rand’s values.  I simply don’t agree that this is the case.

          • Walter Guyll says:

             Good reply. Many people vilify Rand without engaging her thought. Perhaps they need a goat to unload on.

            I also disagree with her notion that reason is the only source of knowledge and basis for action.

            Rand is strong medicine but deserves more than knee jerk hatred.

          • acerplatanoides says:

            @google-81d376284411667f9415b04a019083f3:disqus  “Rand is strong medicine but deserves more than knee jerk hatred.”

            Rand railed against the collectvist medicare, until she got Cancer.

            It’s not about what she stood for, it’s about what she ACTUALLY STOOD FOR.

            in this case, she blew hot air, and then stood to get her bennies.

            Whatever she said, she took it back in the end. Do you not get that?

          • Walter Guyll says:

            For acerplatanoides:

            She may have had more taxes withheld, in real terms, than anyone commenting on this thread. Using Social Security and Medicare is one way to get some return on (what she may have considered) confiscated money. No more shame in that than in a war protester enjoying whatever security the military provides.
             Here’s what Rand said in 1966, long before she took medicare:

            “…the victims, who opposed such laws, have a clear right to any refund of their own money—and they would not advance the cause of freedom if they left their money unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-state administration.”

      • Mordicai says:

        Well heck, I’ll declare that that isn’t what Ayn Rand holds? Does that help? I mean saying “I note that no one has said ‘Ayn Rand holds that reason, puppies, hugs, medicine & awesomeness are great, & I consider such ideas wrong, evil & dangerous” either, because that isn’t what Rand says.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Do you, by any chance, want a cracker?

  10. Conor Friedersdorf says:

    That is far and away the most poorly argued article I’ve ever come across through a Boing Boing link, which I generally trust. After so many hits, I won’t hold one miss against the site, but man that was disappointing.

  11. class_enemy says:

    Entrenched business interests buying legislators in order to maintain artificial scarcity of (necessary item) taxi services = GOOD!!

    Entrenched business interests buying legislators in order to maintain artificial scarcity of (luxury item) digital books/movies/music = UNGOOD!!

    My cognitive dissonance meter is starting to stir a bit off the bottom peg……

    • acerplatanoides says:

      Once your CD is fully engaged you will be drawn to (and vote for) those who create the greatest paradox.

      • feetleet says:

        I’m with this guy. (Although introducing copyright unnecessarily complicates things). The NYC taxi driver is probably the worst poster-child you could possibly choose to play ‘martyred by Randroids’. Brooklynites probably have it easier than just about any bridge and tunnel kid in this respect, and STILL, it’s downright impossible to travel above ground to and from Manhattan without town cars, gypsies, or lying about your destination. Even then, I’ve been kicked out of still-moving yellow cabs once they realize they’ll have to cross a bridge. I actually take the time to report drivers like this every time, and have even followed up on my complaints. Zero penalty. I realize this is just my anecdotal account, but if any of you non-islanders have had a POSITIVE experience with NYC cabs, I’ll get my popcorn.  

        You want to talk about rape? Force me onto the SUBWAY at 4 am. You want to talk about entitlement? These cab licenses are downright dynastic. An MIT grad couldn’t get a cab license in NYC. I agree with the idea that we shouldn’t applaud someone just for being disruptive, and that pissing on something (like the law) is decidedly UN-punk when it’s done in the name of profit. But that’s exactly WHY this article tastes like ash in my mouth. 

        Since Uber v. NYC cabs is probably the LEAST tidy example possible of ‘Randroids v. the public good,’ I’m forced to ask why Carr chose it as his jumping-off point. A bankrolled snipe-smear is just as much punk-for-profit as Uber bitching about or trying to circumvent regulators. Grody.

        As it turns out, it’s not actually that hard to run circles around Ayn Rand.  You can find much more reliable, topical and well-reasoned takedowns of objectivism than this with a simple Google search. Please do.  

        • Halloween_Jack says:

          You want to talk about rape? Force me onto the SUBWAY at 4 am.

          That may well be the single most ridiculous statement ever found in BB comments.

          • feetleet says:

            Any more ridiculous than drawing conclusions about NYC cabs from London rape statistics? Or, you know, raising rape in the first place? It’s difficult to avoid sounding ridiculous when trying to seriously address a ridiculous premise. Uber’s petulance is going to lead directly to more ABORTIONS!!!

            The idea I was trying to express was that rape is just as possible through alternative transportation. I can’t say whether rape is any more likely in a subway car than a cab at 4 am. But I would be surprised if it was somehow less likely in a cab because that cab was licensed with the city. Rape isn’t just a card you can play.

            I was upset that Carr was exploiting an emotional trigger to argue economic philosophy, especially when it’s arbirtrary and he could have just as easily made the same argument about the NYC subway.

          • acerplatanoides says:

             I am drawn to you, like a moth to a petulant flame.

          • Halloween_Jack says:

            Rape isn’t just a card you can play.

            Except that you, yourself, just played it. (And, yes, I think that you’re much safer on the subway at 4 AM than you are in an unlicensed cab, as the subway system is monitored, has its own police force, etc.–you may be safer in it than out on the streets.) But your original comment was ambiguous enough that you seemed to be saying that being “forced” to use the subway was in itself rape; since you took the time to explain your comment, I withdraw mine.

          • wysinwyg says:

            But I would be surprised if it was somehow less likely in a cab because that cab was licensed with the city.

            I wouldn’t be surprised.  See the problem with opinions?

  12. puppybeard says:

    Too right. Fucking “disruption” is both inane and dangerous. Tulipmania in Holland was “disruptive”.

    We need to disrupt silicon valley,  by slapping it’s inhabitants in the face with a big wet fish.

  13. Brad Johnson says:

    Well, the author obviously hit a sore spot. Most of the objecting comments seem to have missed the point entirely and seem primarily concerned with pointing out how this article is clearly not worth reading. Nothing to see here, move along. 

  14. Kaleberg says:

    The New York City taxicab system does need disruption, but Uber wanted to take too much and give too little. If they had set up a taxi equivalent by organizing black cars and gypsy cabs and making them as easy to hail as taxis, they might have succeeded, and it is likely someone will succeed yet. Uber basically wanted to take advantage of the security and ubiquity (in the lower half of Manhattan) of the taxi system, rather than building their own system. The taxi business objected. Uber, or some other party, will succeed, but they are going to have to build an alternate system.

  15. class_enemy says:

    It would not be hard to accomplish most of the same ends that Uber is aiming at while at the same time minimizing the danger of the criminal cabbie class.

    The city could simply sell new medallions, for $500 each, to as many new cab owners as can present a safe and properly equipped cab, and bonded drivers with clean records.  And confiscate those medallions from anyone who fails to maintain that standard.

    Anyone who knows why this will never happen also knows why none of this is about “safety”, because all of it is about maintaining a death grip on the proverbial rice bowl.

    Or in other words, it is about “rape”, just not the literal kind.

  16. My basic premise as a libertarian is that private interests work in cahoots with a well armed government to protect their profits, screw the consumers, and squash any potential competitors.

    I read articles like this, and I think that either progressives are the biggest fools in the world, or eles they secretly adore entrenched power structures and corporate power.

    I can’t figure it out.

    P.S.: I recently learned that Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia is a hardcore Randian Objectivist. His interpretation of that philosophy, that we should let no one stop us from expressing our inner potential, caused him to create one of the most selfless, cooperative, and enlightening and pro-humanity services in the world – wikipedia, which is given for free to anyone in the world.He has said directly that the whole project was inspired by Ayn Rand.

    So before you go giving yourself a dopamine kick writing screeds about what a monster Ayn Rand was, realize that nothing in the world is black and white.

    • class_enemy says:

       either progressives are the biggest fools in the world

      It’s quite easy to get “progressives” to vote for you by talking loudly about breaking up mega-corporations, while actually pursuing policies that strengthen those corporations. 

      As a case in point, note how many Wall Street fraudsters have been indicted by the current administration.

  17. Timmy Corkery says:

     “Some people can’t stand a hypocrite.”

    FIFY

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