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The Second-Handers


America is a unique country, with wide open passions and concerns among its electorate. We have everyone from the "corporations are evil and greedy" crowd to the "business creates jobs and prosperity" crowd. We have the "separation of church and state" crowd to the "morals and God/Allah-fearing leader" crowd. We have folks who believe that "government can solve problems" to those who "revile and distrust anything that stems from government." "Consitutionalists" vs. "living document." Guns will protect me and mine vs. guns kill innocents. Tax the rich vs. no taxes. And so on...

Everybody has a pet issue or three.

In the course of it all, it's inconceivable to some that "the other side" can arrive at the conclusions and the decisions that they do.

Ah democracy, this great soup of every pathos known to man. In that soup, there is power in numbers.

Unions kicked that into high gear back in the 19th century. Unions found safety in numbers. Collectively, they made the business owner bow to the will of the workers. Chutzpah!

Today, we have self-aggregating groups: AARP, blacks, Christians, feminists, and so on. Every one has a pet issue or three. People connect with like-minded people and stir up others. Money pours into the cause, marketing springs from it, activity swirls around it. Busy busy busy. The cacophony becomes the white noise of life, and occasionally something catches someone absentmindedly listening and they are found murmuring, "Yeah! Me too!"

The danger in this is that we then look to leaders to guide our actions. To be effective in numbers, we want to be routed in the manner that helps achieve the goal of the group.

Mankind has always looked for safety in numbers. It's not that unions did something new; they just did it to someone who seemed impenetrable: the boss. And they succeeded. Together. Formula!

Seeking out others to help strengthen your voice to create a chorus and volume is not a bad idea. But I think it's human nature to take it further than is responsible to go. We abandon our individual identity in the wash of those with whom we stand. We are then tarnished by the company we keep. We become individually weaker at the expense of becoming collectively stronger.

At the suggestion of Annette, I read Atlas Shrugged a while back. In it, Howard Roark says:

It's so easy to run to others. It's so hard to stand on one's own record. You can fake virtue for an audience. You can't fake it in your own eyes. Your ego is the strictest judge. They run from it. They spend their lives running. It's easier to donate a few thousand to charity and think oneself noble than to base self-respect on personal standards of personal achievement. It's simple to seek substitutes for competence - such easy substitutes: love, charm, kindness, charity. But there is no substitute for competence.

That, precisely, is the deadliness of second-handers. They have no concern for facts, ideas, work. They're concerned only with people. They don't ask: 'Is this true?' They ask: 'Is this what others think is true?' Not to judge, but to repeat. Not to do, but to give the impression of doing. Not creation, but show. Not ability, but friendship. Not merit, but pull. What would happen to the world without those who do, think, work, produce? Those are the egotists. You don't think through another's brain and you don't work through another's hands. When you suspend your faculty of independent judgment, you suspend consciousness. That's the emptiness I couldn't understand in people. That's what stopped me whenever I faced a committee. They've been taught to seek themselves in others. To seek joy in meeting halls. I think the only cardinal evil on earth is that of placing your prime concern with other men.

Unfortunately, to an increasing number of people, if you care - if you really care - you sacrifice yourself to the cause. Self-sacrifice is lauded and necessary. (Cue applause...)

Howard says further:

Men have been taught that the highest virtue is not to achieve, but to give. Yet one cannot give what has not been created. Creation comes before distribution - or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary. Yet we are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible. We praise an act of charity. We shrug at an act of achievement.

Men have been taught that their first concern is to relieve the suffering of others. But suffering is a diease. Should one come upon it, one tries to give relief and assistance. To make that the highest test of virtue is to make suffering the most important part of life. Then man must wish to see others suffer - in order that he may be virtuous. Such is the nature of altruism. The creator is not concerned with disease, but with life. Yet the work of the creator has eliminated one form of disease after another, in man's body and spirit, and brought more relief from suffering than any altruist could ever conceieve.

Men have been taught that it is a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator who goes against the current. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand together. But the creator is the man who stands alone.

Men have been taught the the ego is the synonym of evil, and selflessness the ideal of virtue. But the creator is the egotist in the absolute sense, and the selfless man is the one who does not think, feel, judge, or act. These are functions of the self.

Here the basic reversal is most deadly. The issue has been perverted and man has been left no alternative - and no freedom. As poles of good and evil, he was offered two conceptions: egotism and altruism. Egotism was held to mean the sacrifice of others to self. Altruism - the sacrifice of self to others. This tied men irrevocably to other men and left him nothing but a choice of pain: his own pain borne for the sake of others or pain inflicted upon others for the sake of self. When it was added that one must find joy in self-immolation, the trap was closed. Man was forced to accept masochism as his ideal - under the threat that sadism was his only alternative. This was the greatest fraud ever perpetuated on mankind.

This was the device by which dependence and suffering were perpetuated as fundamentals of life.

The choice is not self-sacrifice or domination. The choice is independence or dependence. This is the basic issue.

You don't hear those words much any more... "independence" or "personal responsibility" or "achievement." And the thing is that those who place a lot of weight in those words won't be looking for a cause to join or a leader to guide them. Personally, they don't need that. The tragedy is that such folks are then seen as greedy and uncaring and selfish. That's so high school - jeering the successful. Ayn Rand calls it the "greatest fraud ever perpetuated on mankind," this knee-jerk desire to hold high the victimized and punish the self-sufficient.

My writing of this comes from listening to campaign ads recently. Hillary wanting give out gifts of government. Edwards lambasting greedy corporations and hailing himself as the would-be hero who was "born to this fight." Huckabee rallying Christians to him by hoisting his evangelical banner high overhead, ready to embrace and baptize the world. Obama holds out "Hope" to the people of America in the form of giveaway after giveaway. All of them pandering to be a leader to save us.

Of course, none of these folks have ever created anything that spawned jobs. Instead, each of them leached off the forced and unforced donations of others. That's their recipe for success: champion the victimized.

That's horrifying.

We need a party of the Achievers, those who believe that personal responsibility and independence are the highest public virtues. It would be the "Don't Mess with Me" party, which has the simplistic platform: leave me alone in my personal life and don't let other nations mess with our nation.

I have to say, as I watch the campaigns, I shudder big time.

You know, John F. Kennedy had it wrong in his famous quote.

Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.
Better rendered, it is:
Ask not what your country can do for you, or what you can do for your country, but what you can do for yourself.
"Rugged Individualism" doesn't represent our nation so much any more as does "Anticipated Dependentism."

That's crap. I'll quote it again because it's said so well:

Creation comes before distribution - or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary. Yet we are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible. We praise an act of charity. We shrug at an act of achievement.
That's something that the second-handers - Edwards, Clinton, Obama, and Huckabee and all of their devotees - don't fathom at all.

We need the party of the Achiever. Do you know of one? I don't. Because it's neither Republican or Democrat, and unfortunately those who esteem personal responsibility don't have the numbers. I hear hints of promise in the words from Fred Thompson's campaign. I see Mitt Romney's individual executive successes. Other than that... not a drop.


Tags: politics | america
by Brett Rogers, 12/20/2007 1:33:37 PM


Wow! What a post.

I saw that Hillary ad this morning. Shocked me that she would insult us so to insinuate that she gets to dole out the goodies to all us good little boys and girls who vote for her. Truly, I was stunned. Even for Hillary. Not even so much as a Merry Christmas... just here's all the free stuff I'm going to "give" you when you peasants elect me.

Great, great post, Brett. I'll have to read it again when I have a few minutes to really absorb it all.




Posted by Chris, 12/20/2007 4:10:36 PM

Just in case anyone hasn't seen the ad... the seriously scary ad... (I'm reeling from having to watch it again.)



Posted by Chris, 12/20/2007 4:17:30 PM

Excellent link! Thank you :)

You know, the saddest thing, other than the bad acting, is reading the comments. They're all excited for Mrs. Claws to dole out her gifts.



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 12/20/2007 4:25:46 PM

Wow. She's just going to reach into thin air and give us utopia. Just like that, huh? Amazing.



Posted by Kelly, 12/20/2007 6:55:08 PM

She's just spiffy, you know.



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 12/20/2007 8:34:59 PM

O.M.G. I start out laughing thinking this is a nice spoof of Hillary. After my goof on Fred the other day I figure I'll just double check and HOLY SH**, she ran this ad. I just felt an absolute moment of terror that no candidate has ever made me feel.

I won't be sitting out the 08 election. I'll do whatever I can to keep these "second-handers" out of office.

Damn, my on button has been pressed. Hillary wants universal pre-k? I spend enough of my evening trying to offset some of the crap the schools try to push. If I start my own blog I'll share my story of my fight with the school district over the showing of Algore's pile of trash "An Inconvenient Truth."



Posted by Pale Rider, 12/20/2007 9:50:19 PM

--patiently awaiting the start of Pale Rider's blog--



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 12/20/2007 11:02:57 PM


I'll be doing virtually the same thing I did the last time around: eschewing the group, ignoring the numbers, disregarding the hard fact that the only candidate who speaks in something resembling my voice has NO CHANCE of winning, and voting Libertarian. Although this year I get to caucus for Dr. Paul: it should be interesting.

He doesn't agree with every thing I believe, nor do I believe everything he does. But we're closer than I could be to anybody else who has thrown their hat into the ring ...

I've been actively paying attention to politics since I graduated high school in the mid 80's, and I've found that a statement I overheard back then seems to be holding true: Conservatives attempt to conserve what the liberals championed 20 years ago. When I started watching, the Repulicans were actually for smaller government and lower taxes, now, they don't even have the decency to pay lip-service to that ideal. I know full well that you're familiar with the list of transgressions on this account, so I won't bother to reiterate them here.

BTW, I actually just came by to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. So consider yourself, and vicariously all of you, wished.




Posted by Scott Mathews, 12/23/2007 12:34:53 PM

If you're quoting Howard Roark, the book would be The Fountainhead, not Atlas Shrugged.



Posted by Brad, 2/13/2010 3:35:41 PM

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