Editor’s note: While we speed into production with our next three Draw My Life videos, our creative partner on those productions hears echoes of Ayn Rand’s worst villains raising their voices to take advantage of the current coronavirus epidemic, and thus parodies one of her most famous in this imaginative essay. In the tradition of fan fiction, we’ve given the antagonist of The Fountainhead an heir, Ellsworth Toohey, Jr., and in the epic battle of vice vs. virtue, it’s clear whose side he’s on (hint, not yours!). He’s come up with what he calls a modest proposal, but it’s more like an Anti-Man Plan. The cooing tone is deceptive, the moral contrast is stark: Productivity vs. Entitlement; Reason vs. Wishful Thinking; Individualism vs. Victimhood; Frugality vs. Profligacy; Liberty vs. Central Planning; Achievement vs. Entitlement. The choice is yours. Listen to this invitation to doom….if you dare.
Physically, a human being is a rather weak, pathetic creature. We do not possess the strength of the bear, the cunning claws of the tiger, nor the wings of the steely-eyed hawk. All we truly possess that is of any use is an accident called self-awareness. This pitiful birthright is our only tool to protect us from the cruel vicissitudes of nature. To survive in an ever-dangerous world, we must summon the courage to at long last deploy it in full earnestness – at least insofar as earnestness is something to which a human can aspire – by constructing a plan, a noble plan to rid ourselves of nature’s cruelties for good.
This plan, herein, I submit.
The first concern of any plan is its cost. I attack that immediately by making it a feature. This plan will be so expensive, it will make expense a consideration of the past. I call upon the ladies and gentlemen at the Federal Reserve and the US Treasury to stand tall with the bearing of ancient knights and courageously print 200 trillion new dollars. Yes, your eyes do not deceive you – 200 TRILLION. In truth, I put careful consideration into this specific amount, the most consideration given to any aspect of this proposal. Ten trillion, I thought, well that would be enough to buy off death for a while. What about 100 trillion? That would go a long way certainly, but then it dawned on me, if we are going to print 100, why not 200 while we are at it, and hence we have our number.
What shall we do with all this bounty?
First, we shall abolish work. Since God so uncharitably banished Adam and Eve from the Garden for possessing a daring palette (one he gave them), work and its suffering has been our lot. To hell with it! Sure, there are some pleasures we forego, such as pride, but how does pride protect us from death? In this new world, this brave new world, we will have the courage to set aside this defect of our nature, our desire to better ourselves, and instead shall be satisfied with what we’ve got.
Second, we shall abolish rent by purchasing at top dollar all properties from current owners and giving them to those who currently occupy those premises. For the homeless, we will gift you houses already sitting empty on the market. No one shall ever again suffer from the menace of the sun, the bite of the cold wind, or the terror of water in all its forms: snow, sleet, hail, condensation, and even murderous rain.
Third, we will purchase all power generating facilities and their underlying agents, at top dollar, such as oil and natural gas, solar and wind. Some might suggest that we convert from fossil fuels fully to renewables since we have so much money. However, that would run us afoul of our first goal, the elimination of work. Chasing dreams is where humanity got lost. No one gets lost by remaining in the same place. This power will now be free, bought and paid for by our plan. With this power, we can remain in our homes forever, never leaving them to face any risk or danger.
Fourth, we will buy all hospitals and drugs, again at top dollar. The drugs will be kept in hospitals and will be given out to any who ask for them. Two hundred trillion will afford us as much as we need. Of course, the naysayer may object that while we have a functionally unlimited supply of current drugs, we will lack any new ones. True, and yet, we must remember that new drugs require work and risk. Work and risk always promise a better world, but look around us. Has work and risk across thousands of years ever truly benefited our vulnerable human condition?
Fifth, and most important, we will not go outside. Never, never, never. The risks are simply too great and the means by which our lives could be taken from us is a list no human being could live long enough to complete. If we are able to avoid the searing magma of volcanoes, the devastating impact of celestial bodies, the pernicious evil of man and of creatures large and small, even those microscopic threats, like… viruses.
Certainly, death, even a single one, is the worst of all tragedies, and no amount of money is too much to purchase our freedom from it. Indeed, freedom itself is hardly worth the cost of its promise.
Of course, the enemies of man, those who worship death and work and risk, will object that our so-called grand economic enterprise is too integrated and fragile to support this plan. While this position fails due to a lack of courage, I will briefly entertain it before knocking it down, the last barrier standing in the way of humanity’s final triumph.
A hospital, says this exemplar of practical-minded foolishness, doesn’t pop into existence. It must be built. To be built, it requires materials, and a good many. Not only brick and mortar, but innumerable wires of various metals that must be mined and manufactured and of plastics whose origins begin as fossil fuels that also must be mined and manufactured. Of course, those enterprises also require investment, risk and work to pull off. Not to mention the materials needed by the hospital while in operation, including medical equipment like ventilators, syringes, and drugs. These technologies are physical, and so must also be mined and manufactured, yet beyond that they are technologies that require research, development and design by countless millions across the ages. These technologies do not pop into existence, but must be conceived and afforded through investment supported by work.
Doctors and nurses and scores of others who provide for our healthcare are human beings themselves that require food, shelter, power and mobility – costs, costs and more costs. This doesn’t touch upon the costs of the training they received nor the ongoing training of reading new medical papers generated by other researchers and practitioners who also require food, shelter, power and mobility.
To afford to launch and operate, the hospital must take out a loan or receive investment, which it will repay over time by charging its patients for its services. This loan comes from a bank whose coffers and ability to make loans is provided for by people who have invested their resources in hopes of a return that they will spend making better their own lives and the lives of those they love, like their children or aging parents.
Indeed the government itself taxes this productive labor and investment to fund its various noble enterprises such as wars against our enemies, be they other peoples or social forces such as poverty, drug use and ignorance.
All the decisions of these people, those who invest – which is everyone – rely upon a single, important fact: that their money itself has a value. To “monetize debt” and “print money” key aspects of this plan, these naysayers basely argue, devalues our money and chews through the very investment needed to support our hospital.
You can see the obvious flaws in the logic. Namely, money is not a real thing. It is whatever the wise leaders of our financial cartel say it is. So if our government says there is more money, and indeed, they print more money, then there is more money. Thus, what possible harm can there be to printing 200 trillion dollars to afford our final purchase from death? Surely, in the grand scheme, it is a small sum to pay.
Dear reader, if you find yourself thinking too deeply about this plan, you’ve already missed the point. Our purpose is not to think, but to act. Our purpose is not to live, but to avoid death. It is not courageous to go out into the world daring danger and disease to obliterate us all. Courage is to have the will not to, to stay secure in our homes, to trust in our leaders, and believe whatever they say. Some may find this hard. Yes, true courage is hard. And yet, when I look out at the world, I see this courage all around us. Let us gather it up, refine it with a plan such as this, and toast to our defeat of death itself.