Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Choice

The difficulty in life is the choice.

George Moore (1851-1933), The Bending of the Bough

Whether Americans know it or not or appreciate it or not, the November 4 midterms offer a choice.

Depending on your philosophy or ideology, the choice may be between.

• Economic growth and Economic Stagnation

• Prosperity and Social Justice

. Free Enterprise and Government Regulation

• Equal Opportunity and Equal Results

• Promises and Performance

• Lifting All Boats and Mooring All Boats

• Ethnology and Homogeny

• Self- interest and Public-Interest

• Reality and Rhetoric

• Facts and Feelings

• Objectivity and Subjectivity

• Magic and Illusion

• Concreteness and Abstraction

• Liberalism and Libertarianism

• Ayn Rand and Barack Obama

You know about Obama, but you may not know Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand (1905 – 1982) was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. Born and educated in Russia, Rand came to the United States in 1926. She achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead.

In 1991, the book-of-the-month club conducted a survey asking people what book most influenced their lives. The Bible ranked number one and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged number two. In 1998, the Modern Library did another survey was based on more than 200,000 votes cast online by anyone who wanted to vote. The top two on that list were Atlas Shrugged (1957) and The Fountainhead (1943).

The two novels have had six-figure annual sales for decades, running at a combined 300,000 copies annually during the past ten years. In 2009, Atlas Shrugged alone sold a record 500,000 copies and Rand’s four novels combined sold more than 1,000,000 copies.

Among the intellectual cognoscenti, Ayn Rand is best known for philosophical theory of Objectivism. It states that the proper moral purpose of life is the pursuit of rational self-interest. She maintained the only social system worth considering is the full respect for individual rights as embodied in laissez faire capitalism, and objective reality is the only true measure of success.

The worlds of academia and progressive politics reject Objectivism as inhumane and socially unjust. But capitalists and conservative thinkers believe Objectivism explains why America is the most affluent and innovative nation on Earth, and why it has a certain “magic” that makes it such a magnet for immigration and risk-taking entrepreneurs ( Charles Murray, The Magic of America: How Ayn Rand Captured the Magic of America ( Federalist, October 16, 2014).

One can argue the merits of Ayn Rand’s philosophy whether capitalism is the most successful social system or whether it has a certain entrepreneurial magic. One can debate whether Adam Smith of the 1776 Wealth of Nations fame holds the key to social progress and can improve your life (Russ Roberts, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, Portfolio, 2014). One can even postulate that capitalism, with its doctrines of economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, is the capitalistic cure for poverty, terrorism, and epidemics (Hernando De Soto, ” WSJ, October 11-12, 2014). But one cannot deny that Ayn Rand is a inspirational novelist that has captured the imagination of millions of people.

One of these people is Josh Umbrecht, MD, a concierge physician in Wichita, Kansas. Umbrech named his three person medical group, the Atlas Medical Group because he admires Ayn Rand. Here is an excerpt of the interview I conducted with Doctor Umbrecht.

Q: “ I read you came to this model, because one or all of you had read Ayn Rand’s 1957 book, Atlas Shrugged, and you adopted her philosophy as your philosophy. Indeed, so much so, that you named your practice “Atlas MD.”

A: Yes, we all have read her book. I have read it 11 times. Her philosophy is “Objectivism,” that the science of economics has objective answers that you can be logical and thoughtful about. Her book is a justification of capitalism that brings the most protection to the individual. Money is the root of all this is good. It a a voluntary exchange of goods for all parties involved. The love of money is to love what is good.”

When voters go to the polls on November 4, they will be voting, among other things, on whether they agree with President Obama’s philosophy of big government with its makeover of American capitalism and its health system or whether they approve of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of laissez faire capitalism with individual choice. President Obama has said repeatedly that his policies are on the ballot. So are Ayn Rand’s.

(Doctor Reece, author of over 3600 Medinnovation blogs over the last 7 years, with over 2.1 million readership view, is available for speaking engagements on the future of health reform. For more information, call 1-860-395-1501 or write

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