Anyone heard of Ayn Rand?
She’s the author of a few books out there, notable among them one called The Fountainhead, which suggests that architecture is the last noble profession, the sole remaining testament (emphasis on testament) to man’s claim to godliness. She was a lover of Frank Wright [er, shouldn't that be Frank Lloyd Wright? --ed.] She also purportedly wrote a collection of essays called The Virtue of Selfishness which states, according to my sources [wake up, people, he's trusting Google again! --ed.] “self-interest, properly understood, is the standard of morality and selflessness is the deepest immorality. ”
Thing is, what is it to be selfish?
Is it selfish to ride a bike everywhere, taking advantage of one’s freedom to roll to cruise through green lights and places where you have the right-of-way as carefully as you do through red lights and stopsigns?
Is it selfish to use public transit when you feel like it, when the weather’s bad or when you need to travel with friends who don’t have a bike?
Is it selfish to rent a car when you want one, taking advantage of the proximity of rental agencies and the ridiculous subsidies given to car infrastructure in North America?
It’s getting to us, this “guilty” feeling, even knowing Ayn (may we call you Aynie?) backs us up with her formidable charms [you mean intellect, right? --ed.]
Shouldn’t we do our part and buy a car? After all, the major automobile industries are taking such a hit. Word is Wagoner of GM (that genetically modified car company) may not get as big a bonus this year as he’s used to, thanks in part to the chronic “junk bond” status of the company he runs. Shouldn’t we who have the means all run out and “buy” a car? Of course by “buy” we mean a no-money-down four-year loan from the finance company run by the automobile manufacturer (the only part of many of them actually to operate in the black). By conservative standards, we who don’t own a car save $8,000 to 12,000 per year by our act of parsimony. Isn’t it pretty selfish of us to keep our money in our pocket?
Luckily, like that second-greatest American architect Frank Wright, we have Aynie on side.