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The PragerU Take on Ayn Rand

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Check out the brand new PragerU video on Ayn Rand. Watch the video or read the transcript below!

Script:

Who is John Galt?

This is one of the most famous questions in modern literature. Even today, over 50 years after it was written, you’ll hear people asking it.

Why?

Because it recalls the riveting suspense story, heroic characters, and powerful ideas portrayed in the bestselling novel Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia on February 2, 1905, Rand became one the most celebrated authors and philosophers of the 20th century. Her most famous novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, still sell hundreds of thousands of copies every year around the world.

Rand lived through the early years of the Russian Revolution, saw her father’s pharmacy business confiscated by the Bolsheviks, and experienced the horrors of communism firsthand.

She longed to emigrate to America. In 1926, she did—and never looked back.

To Rand, the United States meant freedom. She saw the Founding Fathers as heroes. They created a country based on individual rights.

“Man’s right to his own life, to his own liberty, to the pursuit of his own happiness,” she said, means that every individual has a “right to exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself”—nor to the government.

The practical results of the American system, Rand said, could be seen in the skyline of New York City.

“America’s skyscrapers,” she noted, “were not built by public funds nor for a public purpose: they were built by the energy, initiative, and wealth of private individuals for personal profit. And, instead of impoverishing the people, these skyscrapers, as they rose higher and higher, kept raising the people’s standard of living.”

Rand advocated pure capitalism, which she described as a system in which “the government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights.” No bailouts, no special favors for big business, no government intervention into the economy.

When people are free to produce and trade, and when the government is limited to protecting rights, everyone benefits. Individuals thrive. Societies prosper.

How do we know this?

Compare freer, more capitalist societies to less free, more statist ones:

In Rand’s day —

America compared to the Soviet Union.

West Germany to East Germany.

More recently:

South Korea to North Korea.

Colombia to Venezuela.

Such differences were painfully obvious to Rand. So were their causes.

In Atlas Shrugged, she showed how easily a free society can collapse into a dictatorship. The heroine, Dagny Taggart, works tirelessly and brilliantly to save her family’s railroad business, while ever-increasing government interventions destroy businesses and crush the economy.

Meanwhile, one by one, the top producers across various industries mysteriously disappear. No one knows where they have gone. The only clue is a question they leave behind: Who is John Galt?

As the economy crumbles, how do politicians, bureaucrats, and academics react? They blame “the greedy businessman” and decry the profit motive and free markets. Their solution: more government intervention which, of course, only makes the problem worse.

Sound familiar?

Atlas Shrugged is a cautionary tale about pursuing equality over excellence—state control over free markets—but it’s also about the power of the individual and the power of reason.

The individual’s reasoning mind, Rand argued, is his tool of knowledge—his only means of understanding what is true or false, how the world works, what is good or bad for his life.

This is the theme of Rand’s work more broadly: In order to thrive, to achieve happiness, the individual must think for himself and live by the judgment of his own mind.

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Chris is one of the World's Top 50 Speakers, member of the Motivational Speakers Hall of Fame, and one of Inc. Magazine's Top 100 Leadership Speakers. He considers it a privilege to be able to speak to people, help them lead successful lives, become extraordinary leaders and, masterful salespeople. Chris has authored twenty books with three million copies in print in 13 languages and over 450 articles on success, leadership, sales and motivation.



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Business

Multitasking Renders You Less Productive

Multitasking sends a message to your subconscious that this is how you must proceed to stay competitive and succeed

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Dividing your attention to complete multiple activities at once can make you less effective at everything you’re doing.

From CEOs to newbie hires, everyone has numerous tasks to manage throughout the course of a day, week, month, and year. The multitude of responsibilities on your plate requires the capacity for self-management, time management, and the effective allocation of your resources. However, don’t confuse legitimate workplace skills with the contemporary, ill-advised phenomenon called multitasking.

A False Promise

Multitasking might appear to be a reliable way to tackle many issues that compete for your time and attention. It seems intuitive that if you can juggle both A and B concurrently, you’re achieving a productivity gain and saving significant time. But the fallacy in that argument is surmising that the human brain can double-up or triple-up on tasks with no loss of attention, focus, or effectiveness.

A plethora of psychological studies have shown that the human brain can only give “sharp attention” in one direction at a time. Seeking to give this level of attention in multiple directions yields a reverberating type of attention allotted to each activity and predictably results in a loss of mental acuity and productivity.

A clear example of multitasking is when you’re driving along the highway and speaking on a smartphone. Even if you switch to the hands-free speaker phone feature, both activities compete for your brain’s vital sharp attention. So you execute neither activity as effectively as you could by undertaking one activity at a time. It’s also prudent to point out that driving while talking on the phone-hands-free or not-contributes to distracted driving and an elevated rate of vehicular accidents.

Multitasking Coexists Best With Routine

Certainly, it’s okay to multitask while completing some repetitive and familiar work activities. You can run a print job while you work with a file on your screen, for example. As long as the printer has adequate toner and the paper feeds through as designed, there is no deficit in multitasking in this manner.

Nevertheless, for whatever task you are attempting to handle, the fact that you are running a print job at the same time is likely to diminish your overall effectiveness.

The loss in mental acuity will be relatively minor, and you might not even be aware of it. The real risk of workplace multitasking, however, is that you never quite retreat to that mental space where you can offer concerted concentration and, hence, your best work. But if you trace your actions over time, you’ll likely see that for the larger tasks you executed effectively, you stopped multitasking and focused on the task at hand.

Sending the Wrong Message

Multitasking sends a message to your subconscious that this is the way you have to proceed to stay competitive and succeed. When multitasking becomes ingrained in your psyche, you’re telling yourself deep down that you can’t make it in real estate any other way. You end up missing the benefits derived from practicing the art of “doing one thing at a time.”

Multitaskers have trouble “seeing the forest for the trees” and often fail to focus on the most critical components of their day-to-day operations, abandoning less palatable tasks because they require creativity, concentration, and analysis.

As an everyday practice, repeated often, multitasking separates those who continually scramble to keep pace from those who rise to the top.

Avoid the Bind

Since we all face multiple priorities on the job, it’s easy to equate managing multiple priorities with multitasking. The larger and more vital the task, the more essential to focus on it intently. Practice doing one thing at a time. When you’ve finished a project or have taken it as far as you can, only then should you switch focus to your second most important task, and so on.

As your day and work unfold, mastering the art of doing one thing at a time is the best way to proceed. You may, however, multitask on issues that represent the routine or familiar and that carry few consequences for lost time on the trail. In general, though, your best strategy for high productivity is to forsake multitasking and its false promise as you handle the multiple priorities that you face.

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Business

Culture Jamming, by Kalle Lasn

America has been subverted by corporate agendas and its elected officials bow before corporate power as a condition of their survival in office

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Here are excerpts from the culture-shaking book, Culture Jamming by Kalle Lasn, published by  William Morrow in 1999, which rings truer now than ever!

A Multitrillion-dollar Brand

America is no longer a country. It’s a multitrillion-dollar brand…. essentially no different from McDonald’s, Marlboro or General Motors. It’s an image “sold” not only to the citizens of the U.S., but to consumers worldwide. The American brand is associated with catch-words such as “democracy;’ “opportunity” and “freedom.” But like cigarettes that are sold as symbols of vitality and youthful rebellion, the American reality is very different from its brand image.

America has been subverted by corporate agendas. Its elected officials bow before corporate power as a condition of their survival in office. A collective sense of powerlessness and disillusionment has set in. A deeply felt sense of betrayal is brewing.

By The People?

American culture is no longer created by the people. Our stories, once passed from one generation to the next by parents, neighbors and teachers, are now told by corporations with “something to sell as well as to tell.” Brands, products, fashions, celebrities, entertainments, the very spectacles that surround the production of culture, are now our culture.

Our role is mostly to listen and watch-and then, based on what we have heard and seen, to buy.

A free, authentic life is not possible in America today. We are being manipulated in the most insidious way. Our emotions, personalities and core values are under siege from media and cultural forces too complex to decode. A continuous product message has woven itself into the very fabric of our existence.

Most North Americans now live designer lives: sleep, eat, sit in car, work, shop, watch TV, sleep again. I doubt there’s more than a handful of free, spontaneous minutes anywhere in that cycle.

Smile Button Culture

The human spirit of prideful contrariness and fierce independence has been oddly tamed. We have evolved into a smile-button culture. We wear the trendiest fashions, drive the best cars industry can produce and project an image of incredible aff1uence-cool people living life to the hilt.

Behind that happy mask is a face so ugly it invariably shocks the hell out of my friends from developing countries who come to visit, expecting the giddy Americana depicted on TV and finding instead a horror show of disconnection and anomie.

Our mass media dispense a kind of Huxleyan “soma.” The most powerful narcotic in the world is the promise of belonging. And belonging is best achieved by conforming to the prescriptions of America™. In this way a perverted sense of cool takes hold of the imaginations of our children. And thus a heavily manipulative corporate ethos drives our culture.

The Facade of Cool

Cool is indispensable, and readily, endlessly dispensed. You can get it on every corner (for the right price), though it’s highly addictive and its effects are short-lived. If you’re here for cool today, you’ll almost certainly be back for more tomorrow.

American cool is a global pandemic. Communities, traditions, cultural heritages, sovereignty, whole histories are being replaced by a barren American monoculture.

Living in Japan during its period of sharpest transition to a western way of life, I was astonished by the speed and force with which the American brand took hold. I saw a culture with thousands of years of tradition behind it vanquished in two generations. Suddenly, high school girls were selling themselves after class for $150 a trick so they’d have cash to buy American jeans and handbags.

The Earth cannot support the lifestyle of the cool hunting American-style consumer. We have sought, bought, spewed and devoured too much, too fast, too brazenly, and now we’re about to pay.

Killing the Planet

Economic “progress” is killing the planet. This did not fully hit home for me until nightmarish environmental stories suddenly appeared on the news: acid rain, dying seals in the North Sea, medical waste washing up on New York beaches, garbage barges turned away from port after port, and the discovery that the milk in American mothers’ breasts had four times the amount of DDT permitted in cow’s milk.

To people like me, for whom time had always seemed like a constant, eternally moving train which people got on and, seventy years later, got off, it was the end of innocence. The premonition of ecocide — planetary death — became real and it terrified me. It still does.

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