In her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged, author Ayn Rand casts wealthy businesspeople as both heroes and villains. Some, like steel magnate Hank Rearden and railroad tycoon Dagny Taggart, make their money by providing value to their customers in transactions which offer mutual advantage. Others, like Dagny’s brother James and his cohort of cronies, make their money through a combination of fraud and leveraged political influence.
Were Donald Trump cast as a character in the novel, he would be counted among the villains. The Los Angeles Times reports on a defunct real estate development in Baja California, Mexico which duped depositors out of $32.5 million:
The Trump Baja fiasco fits a pattern in the Republican presidential candidate’s business record. Over decades of building a business empire in real estate, casino gaming, golf resorts, reality television and the sale of clothing and other merchandise, Trump has left a long trail of angry customers and vendors who accused him in court of cheating them.
This is more than a character flaw. The manner in which Trump conducts business indicates that he effectively shares the same economic worldview as Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
The left views wealth as a fixed quantity, and economics as a zero sum game. Wherever a rich man stands next to a poor man, the left assumes that the former took something from the latter. They believe that, in order for there to be economic winners, there most also be economic losers.
Next Page: Trump’s “winners and losers” mentality fits this perfectly.
Trump appears to concur. Rather than provide value to his customers, investors, contractors, and business partners, Trump seems to have taken every opportunity to fleece them. He thus stands as a personification of the left’s stereotype regarding capitalists. He’s an unscrupulous businessman out to screw people over to line his pockets.
His zero-sum view of the economy reveals itself in his rhetoric surrounding international trade. He talks about China “raping” America and references “bad deals” for which he prescribes various forms of economic protectionism. In Trump’s view, China is “winning” at America’s expense, and America can only “win” at the expense of other nations. The concept of mutual advantage has no place in his consideration.
The right needs standard-bearers who refute the left’s stereotypes, people who demonstrate through words and deeds that wealth must be created through production and mutually-advantageous trade. People like the hero John Galt, who removes himself and his elite value-creators from the big government world cronies like James Taggart create.
As it stands, we have a Democrat candidate who believes that the rich get that way through grift and a Republican candidate who conducts his business affairs as if to prove her right.
Watch a trailer for Atlas Shrugged: Part 1, the best of the recent films made from Ayn Rand’s book.