Monday, May 21, 2012

"SO" Is, Well, The New "Like," You Know?

back in 2006, I bemoaned the phenomenon of the overuse of the word "Like". It seemed at the time that everyone below the age of 21, and at least a third of those above, were using the word "like" two, three, even four times in a sentence. Make that in EVERY sentence. Here is an example I provided at the time:
You know LIKE I feel LIKE students LIKE have trouble LIKE selecting LIKE career awareness LIKE experiences.
Happily, this bad habit has faded, although the "Likers" are still out there, but that isn't the end of the story.

My daughter, Dolly, has graced us with her presence this week, coming home from Medical School for the express purpose of studying for her Step I exams. Mrs. Dalai and I are of course glad to provide a peaceful and quiet atmosphere. Dolly does come up for air every so often, but when we actually get the chance to talk to her, we notice a disturbing trend: Every thought is prefaced by "So......" with a long pause. Apparently, "so" is the new "like".  As my quote in the old post mentioned, there seems to be a trend among the young to fill gaps in their speech with nonsense filler words. Or, to give themselves a bit of time to think before actually saying something intelligent, they begin with a place-holder word. Now, President Reagan used the word "well..." for this purpose, but he did it with perhaps a little more skill than our talkers do today.

I felt it my duty to break Dolly of the "like" habit, and I did this with some aversion therapy. Every time she said "like" in my presence, I would loudly erupt with the nonsense syllable "ACK!" rather like (sorry) one would do with a dog about to do a nasty on the rug. After about 50 "ACK's", Dolly's "like" addiction was gone.

I find myself having to do the same thing with "So....." But, well, like, it's my duty as a parent to raise her properly, you know?

So.............. somehow, Dolly is staying mostly in her room this trip.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

No Mirth In Perth (And Elsewhere in WA)

It has been two years to the day since the publication of my one and only expose', Blunder Down Under, documenting the dismal failure of a huge AGFA IMPAX installation in Western Australia. You would think the problem might be fixed by now. You would be wrong.

My friends Down Under describe week-long outages, about which no one seems to care anymore. There may have been some progress, but very little, and basically nothing much has changed.

Supposedly, the PACS contract is up for tender next year (that's Australian for rebid) but it seems unlikely that those in charge (definitely not the docs) will be motivated to change to another vendor.

I'll quote my closing from the 2010 article:
As the Western Australia upgrade to IMPAX 6.4 is brand new (they had IMPAX 5 before this that at least stayed up most of the time), there is only one entity that has the ability, and the obligation, to fix it, and that is Agfa. So, guys, fix it. Seriously. This is a very bad, very serious, and very dangerous situation. I'm putting out the pubic call to Agfa: Send whatever resources you must, send whomever you must (you can't have my Agfa PACS Goddess, but you can have me if I can help, and not somehow end up mysteriously lost in the Outback), and send them quickly, please. Western Australia needs you now. Get this repaired before your reputation, and possibly patients, are further harmed. Do what you need to do.

This has gone on for well over TWO YEARS, folks. The implications for those purchasing new systems should be clear. Are we listening?


I can see that several folks from AGFA have hit this post. Please feel free to comment and explain to everyone what's happening Down Under.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Atlas Shrugged: The Trial of Hank Rearden

To continue the uncannily accurate quotes from Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," we move to the trial of industrialist Hank Rearden, charged with an illegal sale of his miraculous alloy, Rearden Metal. Hank's defense, if you can call it that, is a certainly a lesson for our times:

For a month in advance, the people who filled the courtroom had been told by the press that they would see the man who was a greedy enemy of society; but they had come to see the man who had invented Rearden Metal.

He stood up, when the judges called upon him to do so. He wore a grey suit, he had pale blue eyes and blond hair; it was not the colours that made his figure seem icily implacable, it was the fact that the suit had an expensive simplicity seldom flaunted these days, that it belonged in the sternly luxurious office of a rich corporation, that his bearing came from a civilised era and clashed with the place around him.

The crowd knew from the newspapers that he represented the evil of ruthless wealth; and - as they praised the virtue of chastity, then ran to see any movie that displayed a half-naked female on its posters - so they came to see him; evil, at least, did not have the stale hopelessness of a bromide which none believed and none dared to challenge. They looked at him without admiration - admiration was a feeling they had lost the capacity to experience, long ago; they looked with curiosity and with a dim sense of defiance against those who had told them that it was their duty to hate him.

A few years ago, they would have jeered at his air of self-confident wealth. But today, there was a slate-grey sky in the windows of the courtroom, which promised the first snowstorm of a long, hard winter; the last of the country's oil was vanishing, and the coal mines were not able to keep up with the hysterical scramble for winter supplies. The crowd in the courtroom remembered that this was the case which had cost them the services of Ken Danagger. There were rumours that the output of the Danagger Coal Company had fallen perceptibly within one month; the newspapers said that it was merely a matter of readjustment while Danagger's cousin was reorganising the company he had taken over. Last week, the front pages had carried the story of a catastrophe on the site of a housing project under construction: defective steel girders had collapsed, killing four workmen; the newspapers had not mentioned, but the crowd knew, that the girders had come from Orren Boyle's Associated Steel.

They sat in the courtroom in heavy silence and they looked at the tall, grey figure, not with hope - they were losing the capacity to hope - but with an impassive neutrality spiked by a faint question mark; the question mark was placed over all the pious slogans they had heard for years.

The newspapers had snarled that the cause of the country's troubles, as this case demonstrated, was the selfish greed of rich industrialists; that it was men like Hank Rearden who were to blame for the shrinking diet, the falling temperature and the cracking roofs in the homes of the nation; that if it had not been for men who broke regulations and hampered the government's plans, prosperity would have been achieved long ago; and that a man like Hank Rearden was prompted by nothing but the profit motive. This last was stated without explanation or elaboration, as if the words "profit motive" were the self-evident brand of ultimate evil.

The crowd remembered that these same newspapers, less than two years ago, had screamed that the production of Rearden Metal should be forbidden, because its producer was endangering people's lives for the sake of his greed; they remembered that the man in grey had ridden in the cab of the first engine to run over a track of his own Metal; and that he was now on trial for the greedy crime of withholding from the public a load of the Metal which it had been his greedy crime to offer in the public market.

According to the procedure established by directives, cases of this kind were not tried by a jury, but by a panel of three judges appointed by the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources; the procedure, the directives had stated, was to be informal and democratic. The judge's bench had been removed from the old Philadelphia courtroom for this occasion, and replaced by a table on a wooden platform; it gave the room an atmosphere suggesting the kind of meeting where a presiding body puts something over on a mentally retarded membership.

One of the judges, acting as prosecutor, had read the charges.
"You may now offer whatever plea you wish to make in your own defence," he announced. Facing the platform, his voice inflectionless and peculiarly clear, Hank Rearden answered:
"I have no defence."
"Do you --" The judge stumbled; he had not expected it to be that easy. "Do you throw yourself upon the mercy of this court?"
"I do not recognise this court's right to try me."
"I do not recognise this court's right to try me."
"But, Mr. Rearden, this is the legally appointed court to try this particular category of crime."
"I do not recognise my action as a crime."
"But you have admitted that you have broken our regulations controlling the sale of your Metal."
"I do not recognise your right to control the sale of my Metal."
"Is it necessary for me to point out that your recognition was not required?"
"No. I am fully aware of it and I am acting accordingly."

He noted the stillness of the room. By the rules of the complicated pretence which all those people played for one another's benefit, they should have considered his stand as incomprehensible folly; there should have been rustles of astonishment and derision; there were none; they sat still; they understood.
"Do you mean that you are refusing to obey the law?" asked the judge.
"No. I am complying with the law - to the letter. Your law holds that my life, my work and my property may be disposed of without my consent. Very well, you may now dispose of me without my participation in the matter. I will not play the part of defending myself, where no defence is possible, and I will not simulate the illusion of dealing with a tribunal of justice."
"But, Mr. Rearden, the law provides specifically that you are to be given an opportunity to present your side of the case and to defend yourself."
"A prisoner brought to trial can defend himself only if there is an objective principle of justice recognised by his judges, a principle upholding his rights, which they may not violate and which he can invoke. The law, by which you are trying me, holds that there are no principles, that I have no rights and that you may do with me whatever you please. Very well. Do it." "Mr. Rearden, the law which you are denouncing is based on the highest principle - the principle of the public good."
"Who is the public? What does it hold as its good? There was a time when men believed that 'the good' was a concept to be defined by a code of moral values and that no man had the right to seek his good through the violation of the rights of another. If it is now believed that my fellow men may sacrifice me in any manner they please for the sake of whatever they deem to e their own good, if they believe that they may seize my property simply because they need it - well, so does any burglar. There is only this difference: the burglar does not ask me to sanction his act."

A group of seats at the side of the courtroom was reserved for the prominent visitors who had come from New York to witness the trial. Dagny sat motionless and her face showed nothing but a solemn attention, the attention of listening with the knowledge that the flow of his words would determine the course of her life. Eddie Willers sat beside her. James Taggart had not come. Paul Larkin sat hunched forward, his face thrust out, pointed like an animal's muzzle, sharpened by a look of fear now turning into malicious hatred. Mr. Mowen, who sat beside him, was a man of greater innocence and smaller understanding; his fear was of a simpler nature; he listened in bewildered indignation and he whispered to Larkin, "Good God, now he's done it! Now he'll convince the whole country that all businessmen are enemies of the public good!"

"Are we to understand," asked the judge, "that you hold your own interests above the interests of the public?"
"I hold that such a question can never arise except in a society of cannibals."
"What ... do you mean?"
"I hold that there is no clash of interests among men who do not demand the unearned and do not practice human sacrifices."
"Are we to understand that if the public deems it necessary to curtail your profits, you do not recognise its right to do so?"
"Why, yes, I do. The public may curtail my profits any time it wishes - by refusing to buy my product."
"We are speaking of ... other methods."
"Any other method of curtailing profits is the method of looters - and I recognise it as such."
"Mr. Rearden, this is hardly the way to defend yourself."
"I said that I would not defend myself."
"But this is unheard of! Do you realise the gravity of the charge against you?"
"I do not care to consider it."
"Do you realise the possible consequences of your stand?"
"It is the opinion of this court that the facts presented by the prosecution seem to warrant no leniency. The penalty which this court has the power to impose on you is extremely severe."
"Go ahead."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Impose it."
The three judges looked at one another. Then their spokesman turned back to Rearden. "This is unprecedented," he said.
"It is completely irregular," said the second judge. "The law requires you submit to a plea in your own defence. Your only alternative is to state for the record that you throw yourself upon the mercy of the court."
"I do not."
"But you have to."
"Do you mean that what you expect from me is some sort of voluntary action?"
"I volunteer nothing."
"But the law demands that the defendant's side be represented on the record."
"Do you mean that you need my help to make this procedure legal?"
"Well, no ... yes ... that is, to complete the form."
"I will not help you."
The third and youngest judge, who had acted as prosecutor snapped impatiently, "This is ridiculous and unfair! Do you want to let it look as if a man of your prominence had been railroaded without a --" He cut himself off short. Somebody at the back of the courtroom emitted a long whistle.
"I want," said Rearden gravely, "to let the nature of this procedure appear exactly for what it is. If you need my help to disguise it - I will not help you."
"But we are giving you a chance to defend yourself - and it is you who are rejecting it."
"I will not help you to pretend that I have a chance. I will not help you to preserve an appearance of righteousness where rights are not recognised. I will not help you to preserve an appearance of rationality by entering a debate in which a gun is the final argument. I will not help you to pretend that you are administering justice."
"But the law compels you to volunteer a defence!"
There was laughter at the back of the courtroom.
"That is the flaw in your theory, gentlemen," said Rearden gravely, "and I will not help you out of it. If you choose to deal with men by means of compulsion, do so. But you will discover that you need the voluntary co-operation of your victims, in many more ways than you can see at present. And your victims should discover that it is their own volition - which you cannot force - that makes you possible. I choose to be consistent and I will obey you in the manner you demand. Whatever you wish me to do, I will do it at the point of a gun. If you sentence me to jail, you will have to send armed men to carry me there - I will not volunteer to move. If you fine me, you will have to seize my property to collect the fine - I will not volunteer to pay it. If you believe that you have the right to force me - use your guns openly. I will not help you to disguise the nature of your action."
The eldest judge leaned forward across the table and his voice became suavely derisive: "You speak as if you were fighting for some sort of principle, Mr. Rearden, but what you're actually fighting for is only your property, isn't it?"
"Yes, of course. I am fighting for my property. Do you know the kind of principle that represents?"
"You pose as a champion of freedom, but it's only the freedom to make money that you're after."
"Yes, of course. All I want is the freedom to make money. Do you know what that freedom implies?"
"Surely, Mr. Rearden, you wouldn't want your attitude to be misunderstood. You wouldn't want to give support to the widespread impression that you are a man devoid of social conscience, who feels no concern for the welfare of his fellows and works for nothing but his own profit."
"I work for nothing but my own profit. I earn it."

There was a gasp, not of indignation, but of astonishment, in the crowd behind him and silence from the judges he faced. He went on calmly:
"No, I do not want my attitude to be misunderstood. I shall be glad to state it for the record. I am in full agreement with the facts of everything said about me in the newspapers - with the facts, but not with the evaluation. I work for nothing but my own profit - which I make by selling a product they need to men who are willing and able to buy it. I do not produce it for their benefit at the expense of mine, and they do not buy it for my benefit at the expense of theirs; I do not sacrifice my interests to them nor do they sacrifice theirs to me; we deal as equals by mutual consent to mutual advantage - and I am proud of every penny that I have earned in this manner. I am rich and I am proud of every penny I own. I made my money by my own effort, in free exchange and through the voluntary consent of every man I dealt with - voluntary consent of those who employed me when I started, the voluntary consent of those who work for me now, the voluntary consent of those who buy my product. I shall answer all the questions you are afraid to ask me openly. Do I wish to pay my workers more than their services are worth to me? I do not. Do I wish to sell my product for less than my customers are willing to pay me? I do not. Do I wish to sell it at a loss or give it away? I do not. If this is evil, do whatever you please about me, according to whatever standards you hold. These are mine. I am earning my own living, as every honest man must. I refuse to accept as guilt the fact of my own existence and the fact that I must work in order to support it. I refuse to accept as guilt the fact that I am able to do it better than most people - the fact that my work is of greater value than the work of my neighbours and that more men are willing to pay me. I refuse to apologise for my ability - I refuse to apologise for my success - I refuse to apologise for my money. If this is evil, make the most of it. If this is what the public finds harmful to its interests, let the public destroy me. This is my code - and I will accept no other. I could say to you that I have done more good for my fellow men than you can ever hope to accomplish - but I will not say it, because I do not seek the good of others as a sanction for my right to exist, nor do I seek the good of others as a sanction for my right to exist, nor do I recognise the good of others as a justification for their seizure of my property or their destruction of my life. I will not say that the good of others was the purpose of my work - my own good was my purpose, and I despise the man who surrenders his. I could say to you that you do not serve the public good - that nobody's good can be achieved at the price of human sacrifices - that when you violate the rights of one man, you have violated the right of all, and a public of rightless creatures is doomed to destruction. I could say to you that you will and can achieve nothing but universal devastation - as any looter must, when he runs out of victims. I could say it, but I won't. It is not your particular policy that I challenge, but your moral premise. If it were true that men could achieve their good by means of turning some men into sacrificial animals, and I were asked to immolate myself for the sake of creatures who wanted to survive at the price of my blood, if I were asked to serve the interests of society apart from, above and against my own - I would refuse. I would reject it as the most contemptible evil, I would fight it with every power I possess, I would fight the whole of mankind, if one minute were all I could last before I were murdered, I would fight in the full confidence of the justice of my battle and of a living being's right to exist. Let there be no misunderstanding about me. If it is now the belief of my fellow men, who call themselves the public, that their good requires victims, then I say: The public good be damned, I will have no part of it!"

The crowd burst into applause.

Rearden whirled around, more startled than his judges. He saw face that laughed in violent excitement, and faces that pleaded for help; he saw their silent despair breaking out into the open; he saw the same anger and indignation as his own, finding release in the wild defiance of their cheering; he saw the looks of admiration and the looks of hope. There were also the face of loose-mouthed young men and maliciously unkempt females, the kind who led the booing in newsreel theatres at any appearance of a businessman of the screen; they did not attempt a counter-demonstration; they were silent.

As he looked at the crowd, people saw in his face what the threats of the judges had not been able to evoke: the first sign of emotion. It was a few moments before they heard the furious beating of a gavel upon the table and one of the judges yelling:
" -- or I shall have the courtroom cleared!"
As he turned back to the table, Rearden's eyes moved over the visitor's section. His glance paused on Dagny, a pause perceptible only to her, as if he were saying: It works. She would have appeared calm except that her eyes seemed to have become too large for her face. Eddie Willers was smiling the kind of smile that is a man's substitute for breaking into tears. Mr. Mowen looked stupefied. Paul Larkin was staring at the floor. There was no expression on Bertram Scudder's face - or on his wife, Lillian's. She sat at the end of a row, her legs crossed, a mink stole slanting from her right shoulder to her left hip; she looked at Rearden, not moving.

In the complex violence of all the things he felt, he had time to recognise a touch of regret and longing: there was a face he had hoped to see, had looked for from the start of the session, had wanted to be present more than any other face around him. But Francisco d'Anconia had not come.
"Mr Rearden," said the eldest judge, smiling affably, reproachfully and spreading his arms, "it is regrettable that you should have misunderstood us so completely. That's the trouble - that businessmen refuse to approach us in a spirit of trust and friendship. They seem to imagine that we are their enemies. Why do you speak of human sacrifices? What made you go to such an extreme? We have no intention of seizing your property or destroying your life. We do not seek to harm your interests. We are fully aware of your distinguished achievements. Our purpose is only to balance social pressures and do justice to all. This hearing is really intended, not as a trial, but as a friendly discussion aimed at mutual understanding and co-operation."
"I do not co-operate at the point of a gun."
"Why speak of guns? This matter is not serious enough to warrant such references. We are fully aware that the guilt in this case lies chiefly with Mr. Kenneth Danagger, who instigated this infringement of the law, who exerted pressure upon you and who confessed his guilt by disappearing his guilt by disappearing in order to escape trial."
"No. We did it by equal, mutual, voluntary agreement."
"Mr. Rearden," said the second judge, "you may not share some of our ideas, but when all is said and done, we're all working for the same cause. For the good of the people. We realise that you were prompted to disregard legal technicalities by the critical situation of the coal mines and the crucial importance of fuel to the public welfare."
"No. I was prompted by my own profit and my own interests. What effect it had on the coal mines and the public welfare is for you to estimate. That was not my motive."
Mr. Mowen stared dazedly about him and whispered to Paul Larkin, "Something's gone screwy here."
"Oh, shut up!" snapped Larkin.
"I am sure, Mr. Rearden," said the eldest judge, "that you do not really believe - nor does the public - that we wish to treat you as a sacrificial victim. If anyone has been laboring under such a misapprehension, we are anxious to prove that it is not true."

The judges retired to consider their verdict. They did not stay out long. They returned to an ominously silent courtroom - and announced that a fine of $5,000 was imposed on Henry Rearden, but that the sentence was suspended. Streaks of jeering laughter ran through the applause that swept the courtroom. The applause was aimed at Rearden, the laughter - at the judges.

Rearden stood motionless, not turning to the crowd, barely hearing the applause. He stood looking at the judges. There was no triumph in his face, no elation, only the still intensity of contemplating the enormity of the smallness of the enemy who was destroying the world. He felt as if, after a journey of years through a landscape of devastation, past the ruins of great factories, the wrecks of powerful engines, the bodies of invincible men, he had come upon the despoiler, expecting to find a giant - and had found a rat eager to scurry for cover at the first sound of a human step. If this is what has beaten us, he thought, the guilt is ours.

He was jolted back into the courtroom by the people pressing to surround him. He smiled in answer to their smiles, to the frantic tragic eagerness of their faces; there was a touch of sadness in his smile.
"God bless you, Mr. Rearden!" said an old woman with a ragged shawl over her head. "Can't you save us, Mr. Rearden? They're eating us alive, and it's no use fooling anybody about how it's the rich that they're after - do you know what's happening to us?"
"Listen, Mr. Rearden," said a man who looked like a factory worker, "it's the rich who're selling us down the river. Tell those wealthy bastards, who're so anxious to give everything away, that when they give away their palaces, they're giving away the skin off our backs." "I know it," said Rearden.
The guilt is ours, he thought. If we who were the movers, the providers, the benefactors of mankind, were willing to let the brand of evil be stamped upon us and silently to bear punishment for our virtues - what sort of "good" did we expect to triumph in the world? He looked at the people around him. They had cheered him today; they had cheered him by the side of the track of the John Galt Line. But tomorrow they would clamour for a new directive from Wesley Mouch and a free housing project from Orren Boyle, while Boyle's girders collapsed upon their heads. They would do it, because they would be told to forget, as a sin, that which had made them cheer Hank Rearden.

Why were they ready to renounce their highest moments as a sin? Why were they willing to betray the best within them? What made them believe that this earth was a realm of evil where despair was their natural fate? He could not name the reason, but he know that it had to be named. He felt it as a huge question mark within the courtroom, which it was now his duty to answer.

This was the real sentence imposed upon him, he thought - to discover what idea, what simple idea available to the simplest man, had made mankind accept the doctrines that led it to self-destruction.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Atlas Shrugged: Francisco d'Anconia's Money Speech

FYI, this is NOT a PACS entry, and it could be considered slightly to the right of center. Therefore, Left Wing NutJobs might want to skip today's post and return to the nurturing bosom of one of their favorite sites.

Anyway...After last year's "Christmas Carol" send-up, I was asked to consider next a parody of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" with a radiological bent. Since I had not yet read the book, I figured that doing so might be wise before starting such a project. I'm about half-way through, and I'm not sure my meager talents are adequate for the job, but in the meantime, I've been absolutely overwhelmed by Rand's prescient writing.

"Atlas Shrugged" was published  in 1957, 55 years ago. Aside from some clearly dated references, this work could have been written today. The description of the criminalization and demonization of wealth and productivity could have come straight from the Left's playbook, tactics promoted by the Administration from Mr. Obama on down.

The character Francisco d'Anconia, an enigmatic playboy heir of a copper mining fortune, overhears someone at a party state that money is "the root of all evil."  His response follows.  Read it all; it's worth your time:
Rearden heard Bertram Scudder, outside the group, say to a girl who made some sound of indignation, "Don't let him disturb you. You know, money is the root of all evil – and he's the typical product of money."Rearden did not think that Francisco could have heard it, but he saw Francisco turning to them with a gravely courteous smile.

"So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Anconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor – your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil?

"Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions – and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.

"But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made – before it can be looted or mooched – made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced.

"To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will. Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except by the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss – the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery – that you must offer them values, not wounds – that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best your money can find. And when men live by trade – with reason, not force, as their final arbiter – it is the best product that wins, the best performance, then man of best judgment and highest ability – and the degree of a man's productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?

"But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires. Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality – the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.

"Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants; money will not give him a code of values, if he's evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he's evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not discovered: that no man may be smaller than his money. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

"Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth – the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him. But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money? Do not envy a worthless heir; his wealth is not yours and you would have done no better with it. Do not think that it should have been distributed among you; loading the world with fifty parasites instead of one would not bring back the dead virtue which was the fortune. Money is a living power that dies without its root. Money will not serve that mind that cannot match it. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

"Money is your means of survival. The verdict which you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence. Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men's vices or men's stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment's or a penny's worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you'll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity? Is this the root of your hatred of money?

"Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money?

"Or did you say it's the love of money that's the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It's the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is the loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money – and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it.

"Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.

"Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another – their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.

"But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride, or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich – will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt – and of his life, as he deserves.

"Then you will see the rise of the double standard – the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money – the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law – men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims – then money becomes its creators' avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.

"Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.

"Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men's protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it becomes, marked: 'Account overdrawn.'

"When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world?' You are.

"You stand in the midst of the greatest achievements of the greatest productive civilization and you wonder why it's crumbling around you, while you're damning its life-blood – money. You look upon money as the savages did before you, and you wonder why the jungle is creeping back to the edge of your cities. Throughout men's history, money was always seized by looters of one brand or another, but whose method remained the same: to seize wealth by force and to keep the producers bound, demeaned, defamed, deprived of honor. That phrase about the evil of money, which you mouth with such righteous recklessness, comes from a time when wealth was produced by the labor of slaves – slaves who repeated the motions once discovered by somebody's mind and left unimproved for centuries. So long as production was ruled by force, and wealth was obtained by conquest, there was little to conquer. Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers – as industrialists.

"To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money – and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first time, man's mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being – the self-made man – the American industrialist.

"If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose – because it contains all the others – the fact that they were the people who created the phrase 'to make money'. No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity – to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted, or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality.

"Yet these were the words for which Americans were denounced by the rotted cultures of the looters' continents. Now the looters' credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards, and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide – as, I think, he will.

"Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns – or dollars. Take your choice – there is no other – and your time is running out."
More to come.