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Most Admirable People In The United States Today

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I would like to add Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi. His study into human behavior is very similiar to Rand's philosphy in terms of the purpose of productivity in a person's life. I would recommend his book "Finding Flow" if anyone would like more details.

Since we are mentioning world figures, I would also like to add former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov. I'm amazed at all the top chess players that are able to take on machines that defeat 99% of all chess players, but Kasparov demonstrates some of the virtues I value at the highest degree. With a sense of purpose to set out to become the greatest of all time in his chosen field, and arguably did! Also admirable is the amount of self esteem and pride in his abilities to face unbeatable machines as if they were inferior to him. I also feel that chess takes a large amount of reasoning ability and logical thinking, and I think we all know how important Reason is. Recently he has retired from chess to fight for democracy and civil rights in his native Russia against the powerful Putin regime that even the Bush administration knows is trying to revert the country back to communism.

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I agree with Warren Buffett on investing, but I find his views on taxes incomprehensible. He supports increasing the "progressivity" of income tax rates, and is one of the primary spokesmen arguing against repeal of the estate tax. So, while I hope the "Wizard of Omaha" continues to prosper (Full disclosure: I'm proud owner of 2 shares of BRK class B. :) ) I just can't bring myself to mark him down as someone I admire fully.

Perhaps I'm just too nitpicky? I guess that's why I don't have any names to add to the thread. :thumbsup:

(FWIW, Bill Gates' father is also prominently involved in the fight to keep the estate tax. I don't know where Bill Gates stands himself. Anyone know off the top of their heads?)

Patrick

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Not sure you will find anyone who perfectly fits your strict criteria Owl. I put the people on my list for there talent/genius in there field.

I like this quote from a book I am currently reading about Buffett:

"Rationality is the quality that Buffett thinks distinguishes his style with which he runs Berkshire--and the quality he often finds lacking in other corporations"

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I agree with Warren Buffett on investing, but I find his views on taxes incomprehensible. He supports increasing the "progressivity" of income tax rates, ...
Many rich businessmen have similar views. They're rich and they think they have a responsibility to share. I think people like Buffett and Gates might think that in some sense they're too rich, i.e. richer than they "deserve". Obviously, they are not naive. They realize that they work hard and that they're smart etc. Still, they think that part of their wealth is their good fortune and they should share it. Buffett sometimes uses the example that if he was born in Bangla Desh he'd likely be far poorer than he is. He thinks of it something like this (paraphrasing)s: "I've been fortunate to have been born in a country where my skills made me into one of the richest people alive, so I should share that wealth."

Buffett, Gates, etc. have simply accepted the dominant philosophy of our times. They are definitely not the sources of bad ideas. One problem is that they have so much money that they can do significant harm with it if they donate it to the wrong political campaign or the the wrong cause. For the most part, Buffett and Gates have not done so. (If you're looking for a tycoon who probably deserves a little more condemnation: George Soros.)

What we really need are some Objectivist billionaires.

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For the most part, Buffett and Gates have not done so. (If you're looking for a tycoon who probably deserves a little more condemnation: George Soros.)

Soros is really contemptible. Unfortunately I do think that Gates' and Buffetts' fortunes are largely going to very altruistic causes. I recall reading some time ago that Buffett plans to leave his fortune to the cause of anti-over-population. Imagine billions of dollars directly in the hands of rabidly anti-humanity environmentalists. Gates has already given billions to he and his wife's charitable foundation, focused mostly on various 3d world causes. It's too damned bad that he didn't use that wealth to fund history's largest venture capital fund.

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Not sure you will find anyone who perfectly fits your strict criteria Owl. I put the people on my list for there talent/genius in there field.

Like I noted, perhaps you're right and I'm being far too picky. BUT the problem I specifically have with Buffett on taxes is that he's become a point man for the statists. He's actively doing his best to keep the estate tax, and to raise income tax rates. He's written at least one Op-ed piece for the Washington Post in this area. He's someone the tax and spend crowd can point to and say that they're not anti-capitalist when they push for tax increases...why just look at Warren Buffett. It is not the case that he's someone who is simply voting his conscience privately, he's actively seeking to transform public policy.

I like this quote from a book I am currently reading about Buffett:

"Rationality is the quality that Buffett thinks distinguishes his style with which he runs Berkshire--and the quality he often finds lacking in other corporations"

That's a good quote. It's a pity that he decided to limit his rational approach to only certain areas of his life.

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I doubt any amount of reasoning will be able to convert them. They are not Andrew Stocktons, Ellis Wyatts or Hank Reardens. They don't exist.

You'll have a much better chance with small town businessmen.

Why do you say that?

On a Buffett-related note, a recent Stanford study is being interpreted by some (in humor perhaps) to mean that one has to be "a bit of a psychopath" in order to be a good investor. The study showed that people who ignored their emotions and acted with a rational understanding of the odds had better betting outcomes than those who acted emotionally in opposition to rational analysis. Buffett has often said that people often invest emotionally. In contrast, at the height of the dot.com bubble, he demonstrated complete intellectual independence.

Edited by softwareNerd
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Why do you say that?

Let's take the case of Bill Gates. If he had as much integrity as Hank Rearden, he would never have given his explicit moral sanction to those who want to destroy capitalism, at home or abroad. He would never have kowtowed to a regime like China.

If you think this is just because he hasn't read about Objectivism, think again. In a 1999 speech http://www.microsoft.com/billgates/speeche...24bizschool.asp, he mentioned he had read Atlas Shrugged. And if that can't convince him, nothing can.

And I have no reason to believe that other CEOs of major companies are very much different. Infact, more likely than not, they are just the same. For instance, AMD suing Intel, RealPlayer suing Microsoft, etc. A person with integrity would not rely on the govt. to succeed nor would he give his moral sanction to wrong ideas or the wrong people.

Edited by tommyedison
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So are you're saying, then, that an Objectivist would find it particularly hard to become a CEO of a large corporation in today's environment? i.e. while an Objectivist's rationality might stand him in good stead, his other traits (e.g. his unwillingness to compromise) would slow his career down?

BTW: While we're on CEO's, another one of them I like is T.J.Rodgers of Cypress Semiconductors.

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So are you're saying, then, that an Objectivist would find it particularly hard to become a CEO of a large corporation in today's environment? i.e. while an Objectivist's rationality might stand him in good stead, his other traits (e.g. his unwillingness to compromise) would slow his career down?

On the contrary, if a Rearden or Galt type Objectivist did go into business, IMO he would be very successful. A company reflects its leader's that is its CEO's character and philosophy, generally. Objectivism being the best philosophy, an Objectivist's company would also be the best or atleast one of the best. But it must be one true Objectivist.

As for unwillingness to compromise, its only a problem when you have a run-in with the govt. And that mostly happens to well established big companies. But even then, if one takes a strong and moral stand, I don't think that will be an everlasting problem.

For instance what has Bill Gates got out of compromise? Microsoft has had to pay billions of dollars in settlements. Now if he had taken an uncompromising stance in the beginning, I don't think this would have happened.

BTW: While we're on CEO's, another one of them I like is T.J.Rodgers of Cypress Semiconductors.

Well, there are always a few exceptions.

Edited by tommyedison
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The hero-worshipper in me cannot let that be the last word, so let me put in a final plug for Gates/Buffett et al.

It is true that these big businessmen do things that are bad. When they fund (say) an environmentalist, they have so much money, that it affects my life much more than if some middle class person were to write a small check. Their faulty politics is based on a faulty ethics, where they think that it is their responsibility to help other people. So, yes, I know there are ways in which they adversely affect my life.

If one were to measure the good these folks have done, I submit that it would outstrip the bad. However, I do not offer that as a primary reason for liking them. In many ways, what they do is like what Dagny did in Atlas Shrugged, helping to hold up the world, but helping their enemies in the bargain, thinking all the while that their enemies are so weak and that they can carry them along as deadweight. So, from a particular perspective, they may be "my enemies" just as Dagny was to Galt.

What I see in people like Gates and Buffett is a tremendous amount of rationality, productivity, honesty, integrity applied to their productive lives. They have it in a degree that I admire. If only I could have some of Buffett's unbreach independence when it comes to making investment decisions! He is so rational in his field, that some think he is almost psychopathic in his lack of emotionalism. A Buffett biography is a more worthy read than most heroic tales.

I think of it like this: would I like to live in a world where everyone was like Buffett and Gates? My answer is: you bet! That tells me they are not the source of my problems -- I must aim my gun elsewhere.

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It is true that these big businessmen do things that are bad. When they fund (say) an environmentalist, they have so much money, that it affects my life much more than if some middle class person were to write a small check. Their faulty politics is based on a faulty ethics, where they think that it is their responsibility to help other people. So, yes, I know there are ways in which they adversely affect my life.

If their faulty ethics were an error of knowledge, then it wouldn't have been so bad. But do you think what they do is just because of an error of knowledge?

If faced with the right, rational ideas, they reject them, it amounts to an evasion, a moral failure, not merely an error of knowledge.

But no matter what their ethics are, no person with integrity and who believes in individual rights would cooperate so willingly with a murderous regime like China in suppressing individual rights. They remind of what IBM was doing in the 30s.

In many ways, what they do is like what Dagny did in Atlas Shrugged, helping to hold up the world, but helping their enemies in the bargain, thinking all the while that their enemies are so weak and that they can carry them along as deadweight.

I think they are far from Dagny. Dagny knew the right and the wrong ideas, had the integrity to accept the right ideas and the courage to live by them.

They know the right and the wrong ideas, do not accept the right ideas and actively cooperate in the suppression of individual rights.

That tells me they are not the source of my problems -- I must aim my gun elsewhere.

The source of the problems are the intellectuals who accept and propagate the bad ideas. People like Gates help them a lot.

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In many ways, what they do is like what Dagny did in Atlas Shrugged, helping to hold up the world, but helping their enemies in the bargain, thinking all the while that their enemies are so weak and that they can carry them along as deadweight. So, from a particular perspective, they may be "my enemies" just as Dagny was to Galt.

Like tommyedison pointed out, Gates and Buffett are absolutely nothing like Dagny. It can not be said that while they are helping to hold up the the world they are helping there enemies in the bargain, because they don't see tax happy politicians as their enemies but as there friends; friends who they encourage to take away more of their money, because they aren't worthy of it, and in the process take money away from every man who earns his money and knows that he damn well deserves it more than any other man alive because he earned it.

When you look at a Gates or a Buffett admire his genius, his work ethic, his productivity, but don't admire the man when he is actively campaigning to destroy the freedoms that made his success possible.

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  • 1 year later...

Personally, I definitely admire Paul Graham. He's one of the founders of Viaweb, which was later bought by Yahoo and became Yahoo Stores. He, now, is a venture capitalist for software startups, but as a hobby, he writes essays and books about success, starting a business (usually software-related), and social commentary. While he's no Bill Gates (in terms of cash), his message is very pro-capitalist (I don't say Objectivist, because he doesn't directly address morality). His essays say things like "The rich become richer because they provide services and products that others value, and are willing to pay for, and so the gap between the rich and the poor in this country is indicative of the productivity of it's richest citizens." (That's a summary, I can't find the exact quote, and even if I did, it'd probably be several paragraphs long).

In any case, I admire Paul Graham. I find his essays to be some of the best motivational powers in my life, second only to Rand. It was definitely much of his writings that steered me in the direction I went: toward starting a startup.

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We desperately need to convert some of these billionaires. Where's Galt when you need him?

Dean Kamen. Although he is not in the billionaire conversion business, he did start a foundation to encourage interest in science with young people. Also, he has invented some kickass stuff. He is as close to Galt as anyone I have ever heard of. I don't know anything about his philosophy except what I can infer from his achievments, but I haven't heard anyhting about him I do not like so far.

http://www.dekaresearch.com/

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  • 3 weeks later...

I really really admire JK Rowlling. not because she wrote books which made children want to read, but because she, despite all the hardships she had in her life (poverty, all that) she found the time to do what she enjoyed most. she wrote a story. and not just any story, she patiently charted and calculated all the 7 books before she even published the first one. that takes alot of trust in oneself. and then she tried, I think, 9 publishers before someone did her a favor and published it. no one advertised for it, freinds just told friends, (word of mouth) the rest is history.

I agree with one of you who admired Bill Gates, and Rudolph Guiliani

I don't know alot of the other guys you talk about, I guess I'm not big on current events

Edited by Marty McFly
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