In this 1971 lecture delivered at Boston’s Ford Hall Forum, Ayn Rand examines President Nixon’s imposition of a nationwide wage and price freeze aimed at curbing rapid inflation. Drawing her title from a chapter in Atlas Shrugged, Rand begins with a quotation from one of her novel’s villains: “Hell, what it comes down to is that we can manage to exist as and where we are, but we can’t afford to move! So we’ve got to stand still.”
“If one knows the principles behind a given policy,” Rand observes, “one can predict the direction it will take and the ultimate results.” Rand discusses Nixon’s purported reasons for imposing the freeze, outlining the perils of policies that stifle innovation and the contradiction of trying to revive a nation's productivity by strait-jacketing the very people necessary to revive it.
Rand also examines public reactions to the wage-price freeze, noting that both businessman and labor unions will be the ultimate victims of such controls: “He who lives by a legalized sword, will perish by a legalized sword.” Digging beneath the headlines and complexities of the national budget, Rand identifies the causes of spiraling prices, wages and inflation while examining the deflection of blame onto organized labor. Drawing parallels between Nixon’s policy and similar actions throughout history, as well as with fictional events in Atlas Shrugged, she predicts the ultimate results of such a policy, ending with the “symptoms” we can expect to see next.
The Q & A that follows the lecture expands on its subject matter and also includes the following topics:
Advice to students for surviving college
The proper pace of government deregulation
Advice for influencing public opinion
The Libertarian effort to combine capitalism with anarchism
How businessmen can oppose regulations
Exposure of America’s involvement in Vietnam through the “Pentagon Papers”
Nixon’s foreign policy regarding China and Taiwan
Abortion, birth control and sex
The Montessori method of education
Whether America can undergo a philosophical reversal
This lecture was delivered at Boston’s Ford Hall Forum, America’s oldest (founded in 1908) continuously operating free public lecture series. Over the years, such luminaries as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, and Henry Kissinger have appeared on its podium.