How to Be Profitable and Moral: A Rational Egoist Approach to Business

How to Be Profitable and Moral: A Rational Egoist Approach to Business” by Jaana Woiceshyn

The book is intended for “thinking managers:” with a lot of concrete examples, it shows how rational egoist principles apply to business. John Allison, Doug Arends, Carl Barney, and Andrew Bernstein wrote nice endorsements.

From the book’s conclusion:  “Being both profitable and moral is possible for business. Egoism holds—and shows—that being moral is in fact a fundamental requirement of long-term profitability. To sustain maximum long-term profitability requires that businesspeople reject both altruism and cynical exploitation of others and adopt egoism as their moral code. This means seeking objectivity—consistency with the factual requirements of human survival and flourishing through the use of reason—in all our choices and actions, as demonstrated by the philosophy and conduct of the BB&T Corporation. To achieve long-term profitability requires that we adopt and apply rational principles consistently. The virtues of rationality, productiveness, honesty, justice integrity, independence and pride, as identified by Ayn Rand, specify the actions that achieving long-term profitability entails. The main substance of this book consists of examining these virtues and showing how they apply to business, with the hope you can put them in your tool kit and use them the next time you encounter a moral dilemma in business.”

For those who wish to pre-order the book Jaana Woiceshyn writes:

How to pre-order:  Contact the customer service department of Rowman & Littlefield (the parent company of Hamilton Books, my publisher) *before November* by calling 1-800-462-6420 or by e-mailing and give my name and the book title. I don’t think the ISBN number is necessary, but here it is for reference: 978-0-7618-5699-3. They will ask for your credit card number.

The hardcover price is US$ 40 per copy. Your credit card will not be charged until the book is shipped to you in February.

Full disclosure: as a part of the contract with Hamilton Books, I am obligated to pre-order 70 hardcover copies by November. If you think the book would be valuable to you, or as a gift to someone, please consider pre-ordering from Rowman & Littlefield to help me fill the quota. But please do this only if you think the book is worth it (it will be available through Amazon, probably for less). If you do pre-order from Rowman & Littlefield, please let me know ( so I can keep track of the numbers.


“Are You Saying That Society Should Just Let Him Die?”

(This is a slight revision of a post that originally appeared on Ron Pisaturo’s Blog.)

In the Republican Presidential debate on Monday, September 12, this dialogue occurred:

WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: … Ron Paul, so you’re a doctor. You know something about this subject. Let me ask you this hypothetical question.

A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it.

Who’s going to pay if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that?

REP. RON PAUL, (R-TX.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, in a society that you accept welfarism and socialism, he expects the government to take care of him.

BLITZER: Well, what do you want?

PAUL: But what he should do is whatever he wants to do, and assume responsibility for himself. My advice to him would have a major medical policy, but not be forced —

BLITZER: But he doesn’t have that. He doesn’t have it, and he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays?

PAUL: That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody —


BLITZER: But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?

You can read Ron Paul’s unprincipled answer in the transcript. Here is my answer.

No, society should let you let him die.

That is, such a decision by right is for each individual in society to make. Your question reveals your socialist premise that decisions regarding whom to help live and to let die should be made collectively by society, overruling the rights of individuals. Your question also reveals how socialist schemes such as Obamacare require death panels, denials notwithstanding. Everyone dies eventually from current limits to health care. Resources are limited. If all the medical resources are controlled and dispatched by government instead of by private owners of those resources, then government decides who gets medicine and who does not. Maybe the 30-year-old who needs a half million dollars of care will get care initially, until socialized medicine collapses entirely, but there will be some cut-off of age and expense for which the government will just say no. Consequently, no matter how much wealth an individual produces and wants to spend to save his 75-year-old mother, or very sick brother or best friend or wife or even himself, the government will just say “No, society cannot afford it, the lives of younger or less sick strangers, or strangers with more political pull, are more important.”

As for my own individual decision on this 30-year-old in a free society, would I pay for his emergency and let him off the hook? No. But I would consider investing in a private fund that made loans to such individuals, if the return on investment were attractive. The 30-year-old would in effect have to take out a mortgage without getting a house; and he would have to pay high interest for his uncollateralized loan, or he might even have to pay a high percentage of his income—say, 30%—for the rest of his life. Such a burden would be great; indeed, it would be more than half the current tax burden under the welfare state. But the man would have his life, his investors would have their profit, and everyone would retain that precious asset possessed by Americans: freedom.

For a far deeper and more original answer than mine above, see Ayn Rand’s essay, “Collectivized Ethics.”(The Objectivist Newsletter, January 1963, pp. 1, 3–4. Reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness, New York: Signet, 1964, pp. 80–85.)

The Morality of the Welfare State

Write the duo of Yaron Brook and Don Watkins in The Entitlement State Is Morally Bankrupt:

Despite the fact that the big three entitlement programs–Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare–have the U.S. government facing upwards of $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities, they largely remain a third rail: touch not lest ye be voted out of office.Why are they sacrosanct? Because, whatever else you can say about the entitlement state, no one disputes that it’s a moral imperative. Inefficient? Maybe. Expensive? You bet. But morally questionable? Absolutely not.

The problem with the entitlement state is not simply that it is bankrupting this country–the problem is that it is morally bankrupt.

The basic principle behind the entitlement state is that a person’s need entitles him to other people’s wealth. It’s that you have a duty to spend some irreplaceable part of your life laboring, not for the sake of your own life and happiness, but for the sake of others. If you are productive and self-supporting, then according to the entitlement state, you are in hock to those who aren’t. In Marx’s memorable phrase: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

Read the rest of The Entitlement State Is Morally Bankrupt.

Post-9/11 World

Richard Salsman quotes Dr. John Lewis on Why Washington Resists Victory In A Post-9/11 World:

“The central ‘evil’ we seek to avoid is to fight for our own self-interest – a motive which is not, in fact, an evil one. We’re ignorant of the morality of rational self-interest, and to maintain what we think is the moral “high ground,” we base every action on the good to be gained for someone, anyone, other than us. Until and unless we recognize that we’re truly fighting for good, and that we ourselves are good, well-worth defending for our own sakes, we’ll continue to hamstring our troops and undercut our own efforts with the apologetics of self-abnegation. Every passing day will bring our enemies closer to the moment when they’ll have the capacity to wreak even greater havoc on us. War is a terrible thing, but is it not far more terrible for an entire generation to grow up watching the slow bleed of a war that we selflessly refuse to win? And isn’t it worse that they see the bloodletting caused solely by the inability of their elders to recognize their own right to defend themselves – and their values – for their own sake?”

Read the rest.

Help Support Capitalism Awareness Week on US College Campuses!

 The Undercurrent is planning a number of programs designed to spark an Objectivist student movement on college campuses. To make these programs possible, they are asking for your support.

Foremost among their 2011-2012 programs is an event called “Capitalism Awareness Week.” This week-long event will consist of a series of lectures and discussions at different college campuses across the country. Each lecture will be broadcast live via the Internet so students elsewhere may participate. Learn more here.


Scott Holleran Interview with John David Lewis

From Scott Holleran’s blog:

The goal of a war is to defeat an enemy’s will to fight. So argues the author of Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History (Princeton University Press, 2010), who makes the case that a strong military offense can win a war and establish lasting peace while playing defense often leads to destruction. This study of six major wars, from the Second Punic War to World War 2, by historian John David Lewis, contrasts the use of overwhelming force, such as the Greek victory over Xerxes’ army and navy, with a lack of reason, purpose, and commitment to fight. On the eve of the 10th year since the worst attack in American history, I turned to my friend John Lewis, a visiting associate professor of philosophy, politics, and economics at Duke University and teacher at Objectivist Conferences (OCON), to discuss today’s war from an historical perspective. Dr. Lewis is the author of Solon the Thinker: Political Thought in Archaic Athens and Early Greek Lawgivers.

Scott Holleran: What is the theme of Nothing Less Than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History?

John David Lewis: That wars are driven and caused by people’s decisions to fight and that those decisions are based on the ideas they hold. This has enormous implications for what victory means, because it means discrediting the ideas we’re trying to defeat. For example, one could never explain Germany’s massive attacks [against other countries] or Japan’s massive attack on America, in which they launched into intercontinental warfare, without understanding the ideals that they held. The theme of Nothing Less Than Victory is that one must defeat the enemy by discrediting his ideas.

Scott Holleran: How was Nothing Less Than Victory suggested by your students?

John David Lewis: I was teaching a class on ancient and modern warfare and it became clear that a comparative history would be useful. My students posed good questions.

Scott Holleran: While writing about the rise of the Nazis, did The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America by Leonard Peikoff help your understanding?

John David Lewis: Yes, because it’s the only book I know of that places philosophical ideas as the lesson of history. It’s not only an explanation of Nazi Germany in terms of ideas but, much more deeply and widely, it demonstrates how ideas move history.

Scott Holleran: The current administration supports military involvements in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, as well as other underreported incursions in nations such as Yemen and Pakistan, with something other than, or less than, a purpose let alone a victory. The Oxford English Dictionary defines warmonger as “a person who seeks to bring about or promote war.” As a commander-in-chief who supports and initiates militarism with no purpose or end, is President Obama a warmonger?

John David Lewis: I think he’s incompetent but I don’t think Obama is a warmonger. He inherited those wars but he’s simply unable to bring those wars… [Read the rest at Scott Holleran’s blog.]

Event: Sept 11—A Decade Later: Lessons for the Future

It has been a decade since the Sept. 11 attacks shocked and angered our nation. What lessons have we learned since then? Join us at a symposium, “Sept. 11—A Decade Later: Lessons for the Future,” on September 8, in Washington, D.C. The program will feature three panel discussions, presenting a range of viewpoints.

  • Upheavals in the Middle East: Assessing the Political Landscape

    What lessons can be drawn from the popular rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Arab-Islamic world? Will these uprisings lead to fundamental changes to the political landscape? Who stands to gain the most from these changes? What impact might they have for U.S. interests in the region?

  • The Islamist Threat: From AfPak to Jyllands-Posten and Times Square

    In the years since the attacks of 9/11, what have we learned about the nature of the enemy that struck that day? What have we learned from the U.S. response, under G.W. Bush and now Barack Obama, that should shape current and future policy? If a failure of pre-9/11 policy-thinking was to neglect ‘connecting the dots,’ what patterns or trends can be identified now about developments in the Middle East, Europe (such as the furor over cartoons of Mohammad) and North America?

  • Iran, Israel and the West

    If—or when—Iran gains nuclear-weapons capability, what would be the impact on the region, on Israel, and on American interests? What lessons can be learned from America’s policy toward Iran—not only in recent years, but going back to the emergence of the Islamist regime in Teheran? What policy options are available to the U.S. for responding to Iran and its Islamist affiliates?

For full details visit here.

Alex Epstein Launches the Center for Industrial Progress

From Alex Epstein’s newsletter:

Last month I left my position as the Ayn Rand Institute’s Fellow on energy issues to start a new energy startup called the Center for Industrial Progress. Before I say anything about the new project, I just want to thank the Institute for all the support, intellectual and financial, that it has given me over the last decade–and that includes support for my decision to strike out on my own, which has always been a dream of mine.

The basic concept behind the Center for Industrial Progress is that our culture desperately needs to re-embrace industrial progress as a cultural ideal. America’s industrial progress has been declining, and with it, our economy–in large part thanks to the influence of the “green” movemenet, which has opposed industrial progress in the name of minimizing man’s impact on nature. At CIP, we celebrate man’s impact on nature, just as our ancestors celebrated Americans’ ability to “tame a continent.” We celebrate the never-ending project of the industrial revolution: to harness more and more energy to feed machines that do more and more work to make our lives better and better. This project is the key both to taking the American standard of living to the next level and to improving conditions for the desperately poor–the industrially poor–around the world.

We reject the false dichotomy between industrial progress and environmental progress; historically, industrialization has brought with it a radical improvement of the human environment. Indeed, industrial progress is the improvement of the human environment, from sanitation systems to sturdier buildings to less onerous job conditions to the production of creature comforts to having healthy, fresh food at one’s disposal year round, to the luxury of being able to preserve and travel to the most beautiful parts of nature. And so long as we embrace policies that protect property rights, including air and water rights, we protect industrial development and protect individuals from pollution. What “green” policies do is not improve the human environment, but sacrifice it to the non-human environment–just ask anyone trying to build an industrial project today.

For too long, Americans have taken industrial progress for granted, and carelessly embraced “going green” as an ideal–expecting that the unprecedented standard of living we had would automatically continue, even though we permitted environmentalists to oppose new energy production and new development at every turn. Today, we are paying the price, with an economy whose productive fundamentals are less and less sound. This needs to change–but not just to stave off the current problems. At CIP, our goal is not simply to stop bad policies and preserve the status quo. It is to champion great policies, policies that fully respect property rights and fully allow free markets, such that the brilliantly talented individuals of this great country can lead us to the next industrial renaissance.

At CIP, we believe that the potential for industrial progress is unlimited. Human beings, if left free,  have unlimited potential to produce more energy, create more wealth, create more productivity, raise living standards for every hard-working person, increase leisure time, transport things more quickly, conduct more complex scientific experiments, build sturdier, more comfortable places to live, travel farther and faster, experience more, and generally make life better and better. We can do this as a nation if we make industrial progress a cultural ideal, a goal to strive for. That is the goal of the Center for Industrial Progress. Or, to use one of our slogans, our goal is to convince Americans to stop “Going Green” and start “Going Industrial.”

As for how we’re going to do that, including what collaborators will be involved, stay tuned. And keep up with our various websites:

Also, note that I will be doing a lot more public speaking this coming Fall and Winter, so if you want to hear an illuminating, entertaining talk on today’s most important energy/industrial/environmental issues, go and click on “Book Me” for my all new lineup, including “The Green Blackout,” “In Defense of Fracking,” and “Why America Needs to Stop Going Green and Start Going Industrial.”