For all its simplicity and flashiness, I for one loved Man of Steel and felt as if it resembled the 1930s Max Fleischer cartoons in its unapologetic emphasis on the visual and the large-scale (very operatic). It’s really the only major film I’ve so far seen that made me glad I paid for IMAX and 3D. And it’s not without emotional or moral gravitas: You will FEEL before Zod. And if you’re a libertarian, you’ll like a couple timely surveillance jokes, too.
If you’re a libertarian who likes Superman-ish metaphors and wrote a book defending super-wealthy entrepreneurs, you might well be my friend Max Borders, whose Superwealth has a superheroic-looking figure sporting a dollar sign on its cover, sure to delight Ayn Rand fans.
But Max is a down-to-earth, humane fellow not just interested in defending the tough-as-nails qualities of mega-CEOs. He jumps back and forth between examining a few of those and a few likable, ordinary mortals such as his own great-grandmother, who eked out a living during the Depression in North Carolina (a state full of interesting characters) and lived to be 104, showing in the process that the psychological traits leading to success are recognizable, distinct, and valuable regardless of one’s initial economic circumstances.
We aren’t afraid to say athletes might start with some natural (or early-developmental) differences that set them apart from the rest of us, but it’s unfashionable to call adept entrepreneurs natural talents – or even to admit how hard they drive themselves – since that risks undermining envious, egalitarian, and compassionate narratives alike.
Yet even arch-capitalist Adam Smith – with what to me seems like a very appropriate and very modern mixture of awe, thanks, worry, and pity – wrote in Theory of Moral Sentiments that there’s something a bit miserly and abnormal about the way the very rich drive themselves to achieve profit – with the rest of us largely benefiting from their heroic mania. (Maybe leftists would find it easier to view money-making as a weird yet creative activity if they read this article, pointed out by Emily Richards, about rich punk musicians.)
In much the same way that I’ve occasionally noted my own still-living grandmother as a neat yardstick of how much things can change in a lifetime, Max notes that despite all the despairing and declinist talk you hear, his great-grandmother saw the proliferation of everything from tractors and electric milkers to refrigerators, indoor plumbing, and colonoscopies during her lifetime, all the while hearing that “the poor get poorer.”
Mama Borders lived a noble, hard-working, and non-famous life while professional whiners like Barbara Ehrenreich explain how we’re all economically doomed because she didn’t fully enjoy the menial jobs she took on a journalistic whim.
There are some basic attitudes toward wealth-creation that people on both right and left seem to share: Max notes how many creative companies seem to share the view that every employee should function with some degree of autonomy and be rewarded as an individual for innovation.
By contrast, when it comes to the big-picture economic models, leftists keep saying things that suggest they see wealth as something that happens automatically and effortlessly, making the rich and entrepreneurs creatures easy to, well, milk. Max quotes Obama advisor Jared Bernstein saying “there’s no reason to expect people to respond to higher tax rates by working less. That is, they could just as easily decide to work harder to make up the loss in their after-tax income.”
So, hey, stick it to ’em some more. (Adding to the