Friday, March 06, 2015

Paying colleges to teach Ayn Rand

As Krugman mentioned, it was reported in Bloomberg in April 2008, (just as the financial meltdown was getting underway), businesses were paying colleges to teach the work of their hero, Ayn Rand:
``These gifts are really about the study of capitalism from a moral perspective and all we want is to make Rand part of the dialogue,'' said Bob Denham, a spokesman for BB&T, the parent of Branch Banking & Trust Co.
The idea that Ayn Rand taught a "moral perspective" of capitalism is an especially funny one, considering that her hero John Galt is a messianic weirdo who vows to destroy a society because he doesn't like the way The Twentieth Century Motor Company is running things. And the company is running things the way it does out of sadism. The company goes out of business, which I suppose could be seen as a cautionary tale against sadism as a business model.

Once again I have to wonder if fans of "Atlas Shrugged" have read it carefully - or at all. Businessmen seem to believe that it's all about businessmen being heroes, and that's good enough for them. 

The schools that were bribed accepted grants to teach the work of Rand that are named in the article are:
  • University of North Carolina Charlotte 
  • Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia
  • Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • University of Texas at Austin.
However, the article mentions that 27 other schools have accepted a total of 30 million from BB&T Corp, but doesn't name them.

In 2014 Salon ran an article about other "dark money" - and it should be noted that after BB&T promoted the philosophy of Ayn Rand, with its anti-government, anti-regulation sentiments...
Back in 2008 during America’s financial collapse, BB&T Bank was one of the many big banks that crashed. In order to stay afloat, that bank took a $3.1 billion bailout from the Bush administration. 
At the helm of the bank at that time was John Allison, an Ayn Rand-loving CEO.
According to The Street, during his time as CEO of BB&T, Allison regularly used the BB&T Charitable Foundation, “to provide grants to schools that agree to create courses on capitalism that feature the study of ‘Atlas Shrugged.’”
Meanwhile, according to New York Magazine, Allison gave $500,000 to Randolph-Macon College to hire Dave Brat, so that he too could teach the Ayn Rand libertarian philosophy as an economics professor.
Shortly after BB&T accepted $3.1 billion government bailout from the Bush Administration, Allison resigned as CEO, and was picked up by Charles Koch, to become the new president of the Cato Institute, formerly known as the Charles Koch Foundation, and to keep spreading the work of Rand.
The Koch brothers are behind 90% of all evil-doing in this country.

That 2008 grant isn't all that Rand worshippers gave to the University of Texas. It also has an on-going project:
On the 50th anniversary of the publication of "Atlas Shrugged," the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship renewed a $300,000 fellowship for research on Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism in the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. 
Since its inception in 2001, the fellowship has been renewed twice, bringing the Anthem Foundation's total contribution to the university to $900,000 through 2010.
The fellowship funds an array of research, conferences, guest lectures and objectivism-related scholarship in the College of Liberal Arts. Tara Smith, professor of philosophy, has published several articles on Rand's philosophy and the 2006 book, "Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist" with Cambridge University Press
  • 4 p.m.: "Ayn Rand: Evidence of a Life" by Jeff Britting, associate producer of the Academy Award nominated-documentary film, "Ayn Rand: Evidence of a Life;"
  • 4:15 p.m.: "The Benevolent Universe Premise in Atlas Shrugged" by Allan Gotthelf, visiting professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh;
  • 5 p.m.: "John Galt as the Hero of Atlas Shrugged: Leader and Lover" by Shoshana Milgram, associate professor of English at Virginia Tech;
  • 5:45 p.m.: "The Appeal of Atlas Shrugged to Young People" by Onkar Ghate, senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.
The symposium is sponsored by the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and Anthem Fellowship for the Study of Objectivism, both held by Tara Smith, professor of philosophy. Smith is the author of "Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist."

You have to wonder who are these people? How can they seriously allow their names to be associated with such preposterous concepts as John Galt, Leader and Lover. What is wrong with you Shoshona Milgram?

And Tara Smith's entire career seems to ride on Ayn Rand. It would be a shame for her if people who are not in the Ayn Rand cult suddenly began to seriously examine the work of Ayn Rand and it became widely known that Rand was a crackpot and a crank as well as a bad novelist, and her "philosophy" is nothing more than the personal preferences of Ayn Rand, systematized  and promoted by oligarchs and their courtiers. But I'm hoping it will happen anyway. Sorry Tara Smith.