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Movie Review: Atlas Shrugged- It Sucked!

  1. Credence2 profile image85
    Credence2posted 7 months ago

    In a interesting piece of rightwing fiction of the horror genre. ($50.00/gallon gasoline) This film has received rave reviews from the political right as the possibility of an ominous near future of overbearing Government agencies as incompetent, socialist, and sapping intiative from the 'makers'. 

    http://variety.com/2014/film/reviews/fi … 201306488/

    Fiction and fantasy that makes Star Trek look like the evening news.

    I watched the film because I always need to know what my rightwing adversaries are up to. But, I have to be fair and lighten up a bit. I am sure that the rightwinger class do not like Michael Moore films.

    Have any of you seen it, and despite my opinion, what did you think and why?

    1. Quilligrapher profile image90
      Quilligrapherposted 7 months ago in reply to this

      Seems like nobody respects your skills as a movie critic but I thought you deserve a bump. wink
      http://s2.hubimg.com/u/6919429.jpg

      1. GA Anderson profile image87
        GA Andersonposted 7 months ago in reply to this

        Greetings Quil, glad you gave Cred a bump, I had missed this entry. And I would have regretted missing an opportunity to let him know how wrong he is. You know, him being a Progressive and all...

        Credence2, you are wrong. I will figure out why later. :-D

        GA

        1. Quilligrapher profile image90
          Quilligrapherposted 7 months ago in reply to this

          big_smile

        2. Credence2 profile image85
          Credence2posted 7 months ago in reply to this

          OK, I admit it, I am not exactly a drama critic but if you actually go and see the movie, you would give me a 'bump' too.

      2. Credence2 profile image85
        Credence2posted 7 months ago in reply to this

        Quill, as for the 'bump'. I thank you.

  2. Live to Learn profile image81
    Live to Learnposted 7 months ago

    Haven't seen the movie. Read the book back when I was a teenager. I don't remember much other than it was hauntingly depressing. Thought it was a pretty good read, but from what little I do remember I can't imagine it being easy to turn it into a movie.

    1. Credence2 profile image85
      Credence2posted 7 months ago in reply to this

      Politics aside and from a technical standpoint only,  I have never seen a film that had three distinct parts to telling one story. Unless you see all three parts, you don't have the story. Also, they change the actors for prominent characters between differing parts of the movie. I never saw that done as part of the Star Wars Trilogy. In any case, this does not rise to the level of Academy Award material. You are right, the story does not translate to the screen well, at least not at the hands of those that attempted it.

      1. GA Anderson profile image87
        GA Andersonposted 7 months ago in reply to this

        Credence2, I sincerely thank you for prompting me to look for this movie online. I am an Atlas Shrugged enthusiast, but not a movie goer. Your thread caused me to remember that I wanted to see the movie.

        I have only watched part one, so I will be back to offer more. For now, I have this;

        Holy cow! It was so great to see the mental images reading the book produced, reproduced in a movie. Admittedly I am not a qualified film critic, and I have only seen part one, but here are my impressions;

        1. If you have not read the book, I think it would be very hard to get the concept from this movie. So in that sense, it is a movie for the choir - a general public flop.

        2. The character portrayals were very true to the book, but without having read the book they were probably cardboard cut-outs that lacked depth and background to a non-Atlas Shrugged viewer.

        So...

        I would guess that you posted this thread more as a political statement and criticism of the thesis of the book than as a film critic. $50/gal. gas... may not be a realistic but, it does make the point of the situation.

        If you excuse the exaggerations to make the point; only one-business per person, (nobody should be allowed to be too successful, ie. monopoly and trust busting), the good of all supersedes the good of one, (let government determine and provide what the public needs, ie. Reardon Metal), and best of all, the political machinations of the smoke-filled-room power brokers, (ie. Weasly (double-crossing back-stabbing weasel Mouch), is the reality of the world. Amen brother!

        If your intention was to denigrate the concept Atlas shrugged portrayed - you have failed miserably with this movie viewer.

        Come on Cred, I have found you to be an honest mind relative to facts and situations, even when it is a matter of ideologies colliding. Ya gotta admit you can see the political and PC evolution of the last twenty or forty years in message of this movie.

        So no, Star Trek is not the evening news compared to Atlas Shrugged. One is a look into the far future of human technological and sociological advances, (ah hem, Star Trek), and the other is a look into the possible future of a PC Progressive movement that tries to ignore the realities of being human.

        Stay tuned... I will be watching part two tomorrow night, (hopefully), and fully expect to get back to you with another rebuttal to your political  condemnation/film critique.

        ps. this book was published in 1957, do you really not see a prescience of our current environment?


        GA

        1. Credence2 profile image85
          Credence2posted 7 months ago in reply to this

          Yes, of course, there is going to be some blue bias in my perspective and I kept it to a minimum. Since Siskel and Ebert are no longer around, I let Variety lead with the movie review stuff.

          From an ideological standpoint, I believe that the more pressing and immediate danger is the overruning of our Government by oligarchs, with the machinery of Democratic government a mere shell for the real government run by the rich and powerful through legislative representatives taking their money and doing their bidding most of the time in direct opposition to the masses that put them in office. Big money contributions in the process are only there to subvert the will of the voters. Otherwise, if they could not do this why throw good money after bad?

          The oligarchs are portrayed as the victims, virtual Thomas Edisons being held back by bureaucrats and their logjams. Wow, even in the depths of the 'depression' as portrayed in the film, these creative oligarchs were having the standard cocktail parties and had them in their electronically protected sanctuary.

          The greed and avarice of the rich are the dangers, not the stiffling of the inventiveness and creativity of the rare few among their number.

          You will see in the second installment the change of the actor whos character was the brilliant metalurgy entrepreneur. If the role of "Luke Skywalker' was played by another actor besides Mark Hamil, in the sequel to the original Star Wars film, I would be a bit confused.

          So when you see part 2, let me know.

          1. GA Anderson profile image87
            GA Andersonposted 7 months ago in reply to this

            "The public can't think for themselves.... they have to be controlled."

            OMG! What a gawd awful cinematic portrayal of the book. Geesh! Credence2, if your criticism was purely cinematic, you are spot on. I watched part 1 & 2 free and paid for part 3. What a waste.

            They changed major players in each of the three parts... what the hell?

            But... the message.... it is still one I support and believe in. The movie... terribly done.

            Now relative to your "oligarchy" mindset, the point of the movie, (and the book), is not that, and it is only your 'progressive' outlook that sees it as such.

            To celebrate individual achievement is not a celebration of an oligarchy form of government. Except in the mind of socialist progressives. Like yourself?

            If I am a Hank Readen, am I an oligarch relative to my fellow citizens? If I am an achiever, am I automatically equated to a monied aristocrat? If I am an achiever am I automatically superior to my non-achieving compatriots? Damn right I am!

            Do I owe my life to the betterment of my fellow man? Hell no!

            See what you started with an Atlas Shrugged thread... serves you right...

            GA

            1. Credence2 profile image85
              Credence2posted 7 months ago in reply to this

              GA,

              you're off target, Yes achievers are 'better' in a relative sense  but not in absolute one. They get their rewards with their Rolls Royces and palatial mansions in the sky. But when it comes to government, that wealth, power and privilege must be circumscribed. In the eyes of the law and the operations of Government, you are not 'better'.

              That is what this is all about, not my sour grapes about people who achieve and deserve recognition and reward for it. I don't subscribe to the premise of the film and consider it mere fantasy. The wealth, power and privilege classes have never been under any real threat, at least not since the French Revolution, and certainly not today with ever widening gulfs of inequity in our society.

              Genius cannot be contained, and no one wants to see it reduced to mediocrity. I see it celebrated everytime I watch "The Shark Tank". The people in the film were not oligarchs, just because they are successful achievers, they become oligarchs when they want to apply inordinate influence on institutions and representatives that belong to the people, not there to be manipulated to skew the operations of government and policy to its advantage. ONE MAN, ONE VOTE, the aristocrats cannot be allowed to use their wealth to bribe our elected representatives into changing that basic premise. Since, I did not see these characters attempt to bring that influence into the Government, they are ok.

              Does that make me a 'liberal socialist' or one that abhors plutocracy as a threat to democracy in all of its disguises?

              It am glad that I started this thread to make it clear to 'right' that many of their biases about the 'left' are unfounded.

              1. GA Anderson profile image87
                GA Andersonposted 7 months ago in reply to this

                “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

                If I am off-target, then it can only be because we are talking about different things. Within the context of the movie's theme it appears we agree that achievers are better human beings. I am certain most folks have known, or seen, or heard of folks that may be human, but are so bad/lazy/evil that they practically forfeit the label. If your "absolute" refers to the equal right of all to draw breath, with no one being better than others in that right, then I can agree with that.

                But that is not the premise of the discussion. Which is the comparison of achievers vs. non-achievers. Looters and Moochers vs. Producers. The movie, and our discussion is about the relative, not the absolute.

                The achievers and producers as portrayed in the movie; the Hank Readens and Ellis Wyats fit none of the descriptions you apply to oligarchs, (I think you said as much yourself). They did not try to control the government or other people. It was the non-achievers that wanted that. The James Taggarts, Orrin the steel maker, and Wesley Mouchs' that did that. These are not the heroes of the concept of Atlas Shrugged.

                I also think the achievement is the reward for the producers, not "Rolls Royces and palatial mansions in the sky."

                Your points about wealth and power and government were all painted as negatives by the movie. All the points you make in your "Genius cannot be contained..." paragraph were also painted onto the bad guys as bad things in the movie too. So maybe you are more of an Atlas Shrugged kinda guy than you think.

                Now, about disproving some of those biases... Did you really say the achievers in the movie were actually "OK?" Hmm...

                GA

                1. Credence2 profile image85
                  Credence2posted 7 months ago in reply to this

                  Well, I was right about one thing, from a technical standpoint the film is a flop.

                  Absolute 'better'  means a little more than just having the right to draw a breath, it refers to treatment in the eyes of the law and no prima donnas in regards to any citizens access to government and his or her equal representation from their representatives. While certain characters  are shown as 'better' people we cannot make the assumption that they are the only ones entitled to have their way in all things relative to the rest of us lazy slugs.

                  I celebrate genius and creativity and recognize that the greatest of these people never did it for the money, it just naturally came as a result of the pursuit of their passion. Taggert is fine as long as he does not try to use his wealth to buy from Government in direct opposition to the people and their ballots. As long as these sort stay in their proper realm, I have no issue with them.

                  There is still a certain naivety in the theme, we are going to have to become more interdependent rather than less, lets hope that that does not reach the point where genius and creativity is a casualty.

                  1. GA Anderson profile image87
                    GA Andersonposted 7 months ago in reply to this

                    Yep, you were right about the movie. It was awful. And yes, I agree with your point about "absolute." I thought of expanding my sentence to include that other stuff, but considered that the point was made with the "drawing breath" example.

                    One tiny little correction to your response, the "he" Taggart was a bad guy using his influence in government to get his way, (although he turned out to be no more than an errand boy), it was the "she" Taggart that was the good one.

                    I even agree with you point about interdependence. Except that I might have used simplicity instead of "naivety." But now, a thought comes that maybe that interdependence was hinted at in the story - in the need of each achiever for the other to survive? Wyatt oil needed the Taggart railroads to move his product. Taggart railroad needed Readen Steel, Readen Steel needed ore from, (I forgot who the ore guy was). And so on. Without one the other could not have been as successful. Just as none of them could be successful without the end-user customer... Hmm...

                    Anyway, you started the thread about the lousy movie quality, and I think you were spot on.

                    GA

  3. PrettyPanther profile image88
    PrettyPantherposted 7 months ago

    Since this thread has turned to a  discussion of the philosophy of Ayn Rand as demonstrated in her novel, 'Atlas Shrugged," I must take this opportunity to share my favorite quote on this subject:

    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."

    [Kung Fu Monkey -- Ephemera, blog post, March 19, 2009]”
    ― John Rogers

    One of the reasons I love this quote is that I read "Atlas Shrugged" when I was 13 (maybe 14?) and I LOVED it.  It was a revelation to me, and for several years whenever I was asked what is my favorite book, I said it is "Atlas Shrugged."  Then, when I was about 22 and just graduated from college, I decided I was sick of studying and wanted to read my favorite novel again.  I made it through about 150 pages and realized it was pseudo-intellectual drivel.  Miraculously, living for a little bit in the real world, being exposed to other cultures, studying other philosophies, experiencing human joy, love, and depravity--even to the tiny extent that a 22-year-old American living an ordinary middle-class life could experience such things--revealed to me the simplistic and cruel nature of her philosophy.

    Just my brief two cents on the unsophisticated and morally bankrupt philosophy that is Ayn Rand's "objectivism."

    1. Credence2 profile image85
      Credence2posted 7 months ago in reply to this

      Greetings, Panther, thanks for ringing in. I have read a little about Ayn Rand's background. I see a callous and unworkable philosophy relative to the modern world.

      I see Senator Paul Ryan of Wisconsin singing this woman's praises. This is supposed to be the responsible conservative who is going to rework Social Security? That got to be a comforting thought.

    2. GA Anderson profile image87
      GA Andersonposted 7 months ago in reply to this

      Welcome to the fray Prettypanther. Credence2 and I were just sparring around, but it looks like our opinions of Atlas Shrugged are so different that this might turn into a brawl after all.

      And I am a little concerned that I may be strongly over-matched. At 13 I may have been reading some school required books like Animal Farm or Lord of the Flies, but I, (and my circle of friends), never considered voluntarily diving into a 1000 page tome about socioeconomic politics. Apparently you did. Hoooo... what am I letting myself in for?

      Even worse, I agree with your opinion of Ayn Rand and the extremism of her `Objectivism' perspective. Atlas Shrugged however is a different matter. I think critics with opinions such as yours, (as Credence2's), take the book's examples too literally. I have read your favorite quote before, I was not impressed by it, or its author's attempt at wit then, or now.

      I find the social changes in government, (and the people it governs), since the 60s so close to the track of the book's thesis that calling the author socially prescient doesn't seem that great a stretch.

      "...pseudo-intellectual drivel.?" Pretty strong stuff. Is it the concept of insisting that charity and beneficence to our fellow man should be a voluntary choice? Or that we should strive for our own happiness as our first goal?  Is it the concept that creations resulting from our efforts are ours and not everyone's?

      From the book, I take away the impression not that the achievers are against helping their fellow citizens, but that they are against the act of being forced to. Is the example of forcing a homeowner to give access to a homeless person - because of their need - too off-base or too extreme?

      How about the current example of Europe and Google. Google makes a product, but that production is not a monopoly. People do have other choices. People want that product their way, not Google's way. So Europe sues Google to force it sell their product the people's way. What if Google just "went on strike," said the hell with it, we are not going to continue to produce that product? The people are not deprived, they still have access to cell phones - just not Google's. Is that a less extreme, less off-base example?

      Remember, (as mentioned to Credence2 also), my comments are all relative to Atlas Shrugged, not to Ayn Rand's Objectivism.

      ps. Now if you were talking about Rand's The Fountainhead - I would have to be giving you witness to almost all of your criticisms.

      GA

      1. PrettyPanther profile image88
        PrettyPantherposted 7 months ago in reply to this

        I am giving away my age by saying it has been 43 years since I read Atlas Shrugged, so I am certain I am conflating the book with Rand's philosophy.  I do not disagree that one should pursue one's own happiness as a primary goal, as long as one is not hurting others in the process.  I could go off on a tangent about what research shows are the primary characteristics of happy people (think love of community, service to others, and a higher purpose), but that is beside the point.  I do not disagree that one is entitled to the fruits of one's own labor, as a basic truth, but there are a whole lot of variations on how one "produces" something, and it is rarely done without the ideas, products, services, or labor of others.  One could argue that living in a society with other human beings naturally leads to cooperation to build infrastructure and provide services that benefit the group and requires effort and contribution from everyone.  One could argue that the price of living in such a society is payment of some of the fruits of your labor. Naturally, some will contribute more than others. 

        Your example of a homeowner being forced to give access to a homeless person is extreme, and to my knowledge, has never been advocated here in the U.S.  I would not agree with it.  However, should our elected officials, who we voted for based upon our values, decide to fund a program to provide housing for the homeless, from funds collected via taxes, that is the price of living in a structured society.  If one doesn't want the fruits of one's labors to contribute to that society, one can "opt out" of that society.  It can be done.  People have done it.  It is the option I recommend for those silly anarchists who grumble about paying taxes while drinking clean water and driving safe cars on well-designed streets and highways.  Charity and benevolence as a voluntary choice sounds nice.  Paying taxes to fund services for others is not charity or benevolence; it is the price of living in a structured society.  Most people don't want to watch their neighbors die of starvation, or suffer horribly from disease, or send their kids to work instead of school.

        With regard to Google, I am not fully informed of the details, but I believe the EU is suing Google for violation of antitrust laws?  You can correct me if I am wrong.  One could argue the wisdom of those laws, but again, those who live in that societal structure chose the leaders who enacted the laws, and therefore agree to those laws as a condition of living in that society.  I believe the U.S. also charged Google with violation of anti-trust laws, but Google was cleared of those charges.  Again, you can correct me if I am wrong.

        I am fine with any owner of any business who decides to opt out.  Someone else will jump in and provide the service.  The joys of capitalism.  smile

        Edited to add:  I had the mumps when I was 13 and had to stay home alone during the day while my parents worked, for three weeks.  I was a voracious reader, and I got into my older brother's book stash, which Mom had expressly forbidden me to do, and read as many books as I could in those three weeks.  I probably read 8-10 books during that time, but  Atlas Shrugged and "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" are the only two I can remember.

        1. GA Anderson profile image87
          GA Andersonposted 7 months ago in reply to this

          I think Credence2's point that the Atlas Shrugged movies were poorly done has been settled. So maybe we won't be hijacking his thread by continuing our discussion concerning points about individual achievements.

          When you speak of what makes people happy, and note the importance of community, service to others, etc., I think you are right, but the hook that point hangs on is the hook of choice. Mother Teresa was probably very happy with her life - because her life's direction was her choice. How would you feel if you were required to duplicate her example?

          Your point about being part of a society requiring cooperation and mutual assistance is also a valid one - as long as that cooperation is by choice. Everyone in a community benefits from a good infrastructure, but what if you demand some of the community to bear a disproportionate responsibility for that infrastructure just because they made some extraordinary effort?

          I, (and many others), took great issue with Pres. Obama's "...you didn't build it..." speech, which seems to be inline with your thoughts of community responsibility. ( "but there are a whole lot of variations on how one "produces" something, and it is rarely done without the ideas, products, services, or labor of others"). But, everyone benefits from that good infrastructure, and those that contribute to an achiever are also compensated. So if an achiever goes beyond the norm and builds a Rearden Steel or Taggart Transcontinental how can it be only right that they share their achievement with the community? What if they had only been part of the norm and went along as everyone else did - without any outstanding achievement? Nothing else would have been built/created. By the logic of the anti-Atlas crowd, and the share the wealth crowd, if an achiever enjoying the same community benefits as everyone else went above and beyond the norm to reach a higher level of success, then they didn't build it, they piggybacked on the community to achieve. Baloney!

          I do follow your points. And they are the teachings and the norm of society; help the needy, your duty is to help your fellow man - that is the moral thing to do. That is your life's duty as payment for being part of a society. Hooey! Why does that moral edict only apply to achievers? Why doesn't it also apply to those standing with their hand out? Or those demanding a "fair share?"

          If you, (or I, or anyone else), were faced with a moral obligation to help our fellow man - or feed our kids, what would you do? I know what my choice would be. Does that make me immoral?

          So if I reach a point of food security, do I then become immoral for making the same choice? Doesn't the fact that my achievement only benefits me because it benefits my community, (or else no one would want it and I would not be a success), amount to me contributing to my community?

          All that was just a long-winded tirade that boils down to my belief that this social moral obligation chant is just a rationalization to take from those that do and give to those that don't. Sure, I will help a cripple, by choice, but I will resent being forced to help that cripple by law or social condemnation.

          Your response is the typical moral obligation argument. Who declared that obligation to be right? Religious teachings? Parental upbringing? Does the definition of moral behavior depend on your life's circumstances?

          GA

          1. PrettyPanther profile image88
            PrettyPantherposted 7 months ago in reply to this

            I have read your response several times now, and I feel that you did not respond to my specific comments, but to your own idea of what I believe, an idea that doesn't seem to correspond to what I said or what I believe.  I will do my best to make sense of this and explain my thoughts.

            When you speak of what makes people happy, and note the importance of community, service to others, etc., I think you are right, but the hook that point hangs on is the hook of choice. Mother Teresa was probably very happy with her life - because her life's direction was her choice. How would you feel if you were required to duplicate her example? 
            Just like the previous example you provided of a homeowner being forced to open his home to a homeless person, this example is an extreme.  You are asking how I would feel if I were forced to live my life like Mother Teresa, and of course I would not like it, nor would I expect anyone to be forced to live their life a particular way.  I don't even know why you ask this question, because I have never suggested I believe this would be an acceptable political or social policy.  Believing that it is acceptable to ask an achiever (which, by the way, includes a janitor as well as a ship builder) to give some of the fruits of his or her labor to the society in which he lives is a far cry from forcing someone to live their life a particular way.

            Your point about being part of a society requiring cooperation and mutual assistance is also a valid one - as long as that cooperation is by choice. Everyone in a community benefits from a good infrastructure, but what if you demand some of the community to bear a disproportionate responsibility for that infrastructure just because they made some extraordinary effort?
            This is exactly what we already do under our current system of taxation, for example.  Higher earnings are taxed at a higher rate.  Achievers (again, this includes a janitor as well as a ship builder), by continuing to live in a structured society, have agreed to an implicit social contract.  In the U.S., this means they give some of the fruits of their labor to the government in exchange for living in this society.  If they don't like it, they can opt out and live off the grid, or move to another society where they feel they will be treated more fairly.  You asked, what if we did demand some of the community to bear disproportionate responsibility for that infrastructure?  We already do, through laws enacted by duly elected representatives.  If we philosophically disagree with this idea, we have a choice to either opt out or remain within this highly structured society, but if we decide to remain, we must abide by its laws, even if we don't agree with all of them.

            I, (and many others), took great issue with Pres. Obama's "...you didn't build it..." speech, which seems to be inline with your thoughts of community responsibility. ( "but there are a whole lot of variations on how one "produces" something, and it is rarely done without the ideas, products, services, or labor of others"). But, everyone benefits from that good infrastructure, and those that contribute to an achiever are also compensated. So if an achiever goes beyond the norm and builds a Rearden Steel or Taggart Transcontinental how can it be only right that they share their achievement with the community? What if they had only been part of the norm and went along as everyone else did - without any outstanding achievement? Nothing else would have been built/created. By the logic of the anti-Atlas crowd, and the share the wealth crowd, if an achiever enjoying the same community benefits as everyone else went above and beyond the norm to reach a higher level of success, then they didn't build it, they piggybacked on the community to achieve. Baloney! 
            Okay, you say "Baloney"!  Here is where I think you are talking to some imaginary idea of what you think is the "anti-Atlas crowd" and the "share the wealth" crowd, and not directly to my comments.  But, anyway, let me explain a little better my thoughts on "achievers."  Achievers are not just geniuses who create something that is obviously extraordinary, like Rearden Steel, or Ford Motor Company, or Exxon Oil.  I'll keep using the janitor as an example.  A janitor who comes to work day in and day out and gets paid to clean someone else's dirt is also an achiever and, more importantly, a contributor.  Just because the work does not require vast intelligence, or extreme creativity, does not make the contribution any less worthy.  We need janitors, clerks, waiters, and laborers just as much as we need Exxon Oil.  However, and this is where we probably part ways philosophically, in our current societal structure, a janitor can only make so much money, while the CEO of Exxon makes vastly more. even though each is a contributor and each is worthy.  They both work, they both contribute, but our society places higher monetary value upon the work of the CEO.  It is my philosophical belief that the CEO of Exxon performs a job within a company that uses vastly more resources than does the janitor, and therefore it is not unfair to ask the CEO to contribute more of the fruits of his labor (in the form of taxes) to keep the society functioning in the manner that its citizens have agreed to (through their duly elected representatives).

            I do follow your points. And they are the teachings and the norm of society; help the needy, your duty is to help your fellow man - that is the moral thing to do. That is your life's duty as payment for being part of a society. Hooey! Why does that moral edict only apply to achievers? Why doesn't it also apply to those standing with their hand out? Or those demanding a "fair share?" 
            "Hooey" is right!  I have never used the word "duty," nor have I used the word "moral."  I view the idea of contribution of the "fruits of one's labor" as merely a social contract, the details of which can vary depending upon the desires of the citizens of a particular society.

            If you, (or I, or anyone else), were faced with a moral obligation to help our fellow man - or feed our kids, what would you do? I know what my choice would be. Does that make me immoral? 
            Again, I have never used the term "moral obligation" in this discussion.  I don't think anyone has a moral obligation to help their fellow man.  I choose to do so, but not because I consider it a moral obligation.  I do so because I enjoy living in a pleasant community where people are healthy, happy, and thriving.  When I am saying that it is acceptable to ask an achiever to share the fruits of their labor, I am speaking of an implicit social contract that the achievers consent to by virtue of living in a society that is structured in a way that its citizens have chosen.  An achiever can always opt out of that society if they do not want to share the fruits of their labor.  Of course, they might not be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor without living in that society. ;-)

            So if I reach a point of food security, do I then become immoral for making the same choice? Doesn't the fact that my achievement only benefits me because it benefits my community, (or else no one would want it and I would not be a success), amount to me contributing to my community? 
            Again, the example of not sharing your food doesn't seem to apply to this discussion, in my mind.  Maybe you can explain to me how it does?  With regard to your achievement only benefiting you because it benefits the community [emphasis added], and therefore IS your contribution to the community....sure, I can go with that.  So, you agree that you need the community in order to achieve. [Here is where I give you a *wink*]

            All that was just a long-winded tirade that boils down to my belief that this social moral obligation chant is just a rationalization to take from those that do and give to those that don't. Sure, I will help a cripple, by choice, but I will resent being forced to help that cripple by law or social condemnation.
            Again, I feel you are debating someone else, not me, since I have never said anything like this.

            Your response is the typical moral obligation argument. Who declared that obligation to be right? Religious teachings? Parental upbringing? Does the definition of moral behavior depend on your life's circumstances? 
            I think your entire concluding paragraph has nothing to do with anything I said, and I hope I have explained why in the above comments.

            Whew!  I am not accustomed to these long-winded posts.  Time for me to go somewhere else on here and post a sarcastic retort or two.

            Sandra

 
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