Rot and decay - Anthem revisited

It is amazing the accuracy of Ayn Rand's vision in Anthem. Exhibit 1: Former Detroit Public Schools Book Depository. My God! Can you imagine the irrationality and incompetency necessary for thousands and thousands of books and school supplies to be left to rot and decay.

While the pictures have made the rounds on the Internet, they are less than a year old. The photographer, while willing to admit outrage at the Detroit public schools, seems perplexed that libertarians and Objectivists would use his pictures to show the ultimate failure of public school systems. I'm not sure on what websites these photos have been used, as I have not seen them before, I do understand that they shouldn't be used without explicit permission. That's why I have not posted one of the photos here, even though it would blend nicely with my post. Never-the-less, pictures speak louder than words. These pictures so accurately capture the waste and incompetence that public schools bring to education, that there is nothing more that needs to be said.


  1. Hi Josh. Did you even bother to read my full explanation?

    1. your assertion about teachers is off. it was recently closed schools that they were told to stay away from, not the warehouse.

    2. I would think that Randians (is that proper?) would approve of the privatization efforts the DPS has made with respect to supplies as mentioned in the post.

    3. I would be interested in your perspective on how the actions of the billionaire monopolist have played such an important role in the waste of these materials.

    note: I am not approaching this from any particular ideology. I just want the full truth known and the pictures not to be exploited.


  2. dutch, there is nothing wrong with having an ideology. The important thing is that you constantly subject it to rigorous criticism with honesty -- and everyone else's ideology too.

    I scanned the article quickly, but I think you are right to correct Josh.

    As for the "Randians", Rand herself did not approve of the term, because she wanted her students to validate what they thought with their own independent minds, and did not want it to appear that they depended on her.

    Her critics love to label her dogmatic, but that is only because they are clueless when it comes to the difference between that and reasoned certainty. But because "Randian" is in line with the terms given to all other adherents to the ideas of various philosopher and it is already so widely used, I am sure it will stick.

    Do we approve of the privatization efforts of the DPS? You bet! And why not gain similar advantages by privatizing the whole thing? Well, there are huge imbedded pressure groups who understand full well the threat that would be to their cushy jobs.

    Now, please refresh my memory, was there any real evidence in the article that showed Moroun was a monopolist? I do not think so, but am not sure. What I think is that you just couldn't hold it in and let your ideology show there.

    Personally, I would like a little more evidence, and from another source to render a judgment on Moroun, but let me give you instead a different perspective on monopoly.

    In a society of interacting humans, there are only two fundamental ways to exchange values:

    1) by voluntary exchange in which each party offers something they value less to gain something they value more.

    2) by exchanges effected by physical force or the threat of force in which one party takes a value from another against his will. Freedom is operative to the degree that all transaction are the first kind and none are the second.

    Parallel to these there are also two fundamental types of monopoly:

    1) a freely established monopoly is one in which only one provider exists for a value because a) he is the first one to provide it or b) the only one who knows how to provide it or c) a provider's product is of such high quality and/or so low a price that all existing potential customers voluntarily choose to buy his product only. Since all interactions in this type of monopoly are voluntary, it is the type of monopoly that is inherently good and just.

    2) a coercive monopoly is one in which only one provider exists for a value because the government or some other powerful group or individual uses physical force or the threat of physical force to exclude all others from competing with the sole provider. Since transactions are rendered exclusive by force,it is the type of monopoly that is inherently evil and unjust. Today, a large company can become a coercive monopoly only in collusion with the government.

    Republicans and Democrats, the left and the right all support the creation of coercive monopolies by government and will punish and even dismember any corporation that comes even close to being a freely established monopoly. Ayn Rand supports only freely established monopolies because they do not violate anyone's property rights and condemns all coercive monopolies because they do.

    I hope this will help you to understand the full issue better and to be cautious in your accusations of companies and individuals alleged to be evil monopolists.

  3. Anonymous11:23 PM

    A picture is not an argument:



  4. Dutch: "Hi Josh. Did you even bother to read my full explanation?"

    I am confused about the location of your "full explanation." I began reading the text linked to from the bottom of the page of photos. I encountered this and other irrelevant trivialities:

    "You assholes said I looked like a Yeti."

    I don't have time for unfocused reading. Can you point me to exactly which passage among all of that text is the "full explanation"?

  5. Dutch,

    Thank you for taking the time to post. You are correct with your first point. I did not read carefully enough. But given that my name is John, not Josh, I hope you of all people can understand how mistakes like that can happen.

    As for your second point, I'm not quite sure what you mean by Randian, but I give a limited acknowledgment to the privatization efforts of DPS supply chain. Limited because they do not take it all the way. Fully privatized schools are the only rights respecting means of education. While a step in the right direction may look good at first, if the underlying reasons for the privatization is for the wrong reasons like propping up a failing system, I will not support it.

    As to your third point, I know next to nothing on Moroun other than what I read in your post. So I'm hesitant to comment on him. Generally speaking, if someone owns the property, he or she can do whatever he darn well wants, including sitting on it until the time is right to develop it. The fact that Moroun owns a state sanctioned monopoly bridge complicates matters more than I wish to discuss now.

    I do have a question for you though. If the property is owned by Moroun, do you receive permission to be on his property in order to take pictures?

  6. NS,

    Thank you for showing me Van Horn's discussion. He makes a really good point that we should be careful of the facts before discussing an issue. However, I'm not convinced by Van Horn's argument that we should avoid pointing out the failures of the Detroit public school system by seeing these pictures. Yes the building was abandoned after the fire. But no one apparently checked to see if any materials were salvageable. Hence the news that boxes of pristine books left to rot. It is possible that the insurance policy fully replaced all the supplies. If so, I'm sure legally they couldn't use the supplies, but I'm sure they could have donated them. I simply can't let the issue drop that easily.