Highlights of the Atlas Summit

by The Curmudgeon


The Atlas1 Society is composed of very bright, ultra free thinking people.  Their principles are based on a combination of all five of philosophy's branches: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and esthetics.  As such, it is more comprehensive than libertarianism, which is principally concerned only with politics.  However, many people who are supportive of capitalism feel some discomfort with the total philosophy (i.e. Objectivism) of Ayn Rand. According to its web site, "The Atlas Society promotes open Objectivism: the philosophy of reason, achievement, individualism, and freedom."


At the Atlas Summit last weekend in Washington, D.C.  Victor Sperandeo participated in a panel session and presented a very well researched speech.  This article presents highlights of the Summit and some positive highlights, from Victor's point of view.


Highlights of the Atlas Summit:

Many Atlas Summit sessions had intriguing titles like: “Living as an Individualist in a Collectivist World” and “Building Atlantis: How to Create Your Own Personal and Business Paradise.”   Speakers and attendees discussed philosophy and economics, literature and art.  Many of the speakers expressed their strong belief in the righteousness of free markets- something that we haven't had in the U.S. since the U.S. Federal Reserve started meddling in financial markets over a decade ago.

William R. Thomas, the conference organizer, gave a presentation on the morality of economics. Like many Objectivists2, he feels that a market operating efficiently is by definition fair, because it reflects the preferences and productive contributions of all its members.    Perhaps, this explains why so many Objectivists are also libertarians—believers in capitalism as the best of all possible systems for organizing a society. Yet not all libertarians identify with Objectivism and the total philosophy of Ayn Rand.  Nonetheless, Objectivism was pervasive in the talks and panel sessions at the Summit.

“To achieve happiness requires a morality of rational selfishness, one that does not give undeserved rewards to others and that does not ask them for oneself,” according to the Atlas Society website.


"The profit motive in capitalism is an incentive for individuals to overcome racial or sexual prejudices," said Stephen Hicks, Professor of Philosophy at Rockford College.  The take away here is that the free markets offer opportunities for advancement for people that might otherwise face discrimination due to race, ethnic group, or gender.


Victor Sperandeo’s Activities at the Summit:

1.  TV journalist John Stossel moderated a panel session of five business leaders (including Victor) and Senator Ron Johnson (who was in business before politics).  The session was titled, “Ayn Rand and Business.”  The first question Stossel asked was related to the panel's real experiences with a "Wesley Mouch" person--the chief villain in Atlas Shrugged and a bureaucrat who cripples the economy with endless regulations.  The implication was that there were many such bureaucrats in government today.  Coping with excess regulation has been a huge burden for U.S. business, according to the panel (and many others).

Senator Johnson, a laudable representative of the people, stated that the 30 year trend of government spending and debt is impossible to sustain. "This is obvious, but not discussed openly by Senators generally," said Sperandeo.

Victor found the panel discussion to be quite refreshing.  He told the CURMUDGEON, "The primary first value of Objectivism is 'Reason.'  Metaphysics (being a primary part of Philosophy) permits us to see realty as it is (with the Axiom of A is A).  As a result, Objectivists can better understand the problems of the U.S.  I suggest this is a productive change and alternative to the news media versions of important issues facing America."

2.  On Saturday, Sperandeo presented a carefully researched and meticulously documented talk on his belief that hyper-inflation is statistically inevitable.    He noted the stupendous build-up of U.S. debt - both in nominal terms and as a percentage of GDP.  Public debt projections of OECD countries are also forecast to increase exponentially.  Rather than default on that debt, Victor feels that governments will resort to printing money to fight the next global recession and that will quickly lead to hyper-inflation.

An attendee at that session emailed a note of appreciation to Victor for his stimulating presentation:  "Thanks so very much! Your presentation was *very* eye-opening. Your information was the topic of our entire lunch discussion that day! It will definitely make a huge difference in our planning."  [Internet Software Development and Hosting firm].


3.  Victor attended the Atlas Society Board of Trustees meeting, where it was announced that the movie Atlas Shrugged Part 3--is getting a lot of attention to ensure its commercial success. 


The Atlas Society has worked with the film producers on the scripts, promotion, advance screenings, and film-related educational material, student programs, and activism projects. To expand these activities, and take advantage of the opportunity to promote the ideas of Atlas Shrugged, the Society seeks to raise a total of $1 million in special contributions.

Producer Harmon Kaslow said, “Our number one goal with Part 3 is to pull the prescient message of Atlas off of the page and project it clearly onto the screen."  More focused advertising of the movie - to be released next Spring- is also a top priority for the Board.


A Positive Outcome?

One "positive" Sperandeo take-away is actually a perceived movement to "negate the negative."  Victor and other Summit attendees believe that as business people realize how burdensome and difficult to administer ObamaCare is, it will be watered down, neutered or even repealed.  Many initial ObamaCare supporters have turned against the plan.  Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said the implementation would lead to a "train wreck."  A Forbes columnist easily topped that in an article enumerating four "train wrecks."


Closing Comment:

The CURMUDGEON wonders if there are other lurking "train wrecks" in the global economy and financial markets, as a result of global Central Bank zero interest rate policies, debt monetization, and the U.S. Fed's egregious balance sheet expansion.


Till next time......................................



1. "Atlas" is a reference to Ayn Rand’s famous novel: Atlas Shrugged. In 1991, a Library of Congress survey found it to be the second most influential book ever written, behind only the Bible. 

2.  Objectivists note that when the productive give handouts to the unproductive, the transaction is zero-sum. One side must give up something so another can gain the thinking goes.  But objectivists’ belief that incentivizes a lack of productivity, and overall wealth deteriorates. Conversely, when two productive members of society trade with each other, wealth is created—both trading partners end up better off—and society ends up richer.


The Curmudgeon

Curmudgeon is a retired investment professional.  He has been involved in financial markets since 1968 (yes, he cut his teeth on the 1968-1974 bear market), became an SEC Registered Investment Advisor in 1995, and received the Chartered Financial Analyst designation from AIMR (now CFA Institute) in 1996.  He managed hedged equity and alternative (non-correlated) investment accounts for clients from 1992-2005.