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Thoughts on the 'Brittle Grip'


If you’re a hard core Randian plying your trade on Wall Street or in Greenwich or in Menlo Park, 2008 had to have been deeply unsettling, whether you let yourself acknowledge it or not. You take it as an article of faith that the millions—or tens or hundreds of millions—that you rake in every year are justified. But not justified in some very general sense. As a Randian, you believe that in a free market system, your compensation is precisely equal to your value to society. 2008 was a pretty big threat to this core Randian tenet. Either you have to twist logic and argue--as some have, perhaps not surprisingly, although awkwardly nonetheless--that it was the government, not an underregulated Wall Street, that caused the crisis, or you accept that lots of your compatriots in the financial sector earned ungodly sums of money without creating a whit of value. I suspect for a lot of the 0.01% this created a brush with a crisis of faith. And I suspect that this brush with a crisis of faith may be a big part of the brittle grip.

You get very close to all of this in part 2 where you talk about 2008 and the prospect of an un-self-regulating collapse of the financial system. But I think the Randian perspective, and the tight connection it insists on between income and moral worth, might be a meaningful nuance.