Gravitt: Objectivism seen on the Iowa City City Council


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“Let them eat cake,” said a 6-1 vote in City Council on April 4, led by Councilor Michelle Payne. This was done in response to my requesting a bus shelter to be provided at the planned relocation site of Aldi Market from its present location on Gilbert and Highway One to Ruppert Road and Highway One. This location is to be served by the Westport Plaza bus route (the stated bus route), which only does a limited run that ends at 6:30 and does not run on Saturdays.

Payne said that businesses should not be obligated to supply bus shelters, as Wal-Mart was forced to do, and besides there is a bus shelter across Highway One on the opposite side. 

I do not like to make ad hymenium attacks on those I criticize, but this particular councilor is willing to give Marc Moen $13.5 million plus in TIF to build a 20-story behemoth that has succeeded in ripping the community apart and will bring on an embarrassing lawsuit if necessary, when she is not willing to have ICT, Aldi, or any business, supply a bus shelter on Highway One, one of the most frightening congested six-lane roads in the system.

In case you have not noted, or visited City Council, Payne is our local Ayn Rand who believes in Objectivism, a philosophy created by Russian-American philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand (1905–1982). Objectivism’s central tenets are that reality exists independent of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness (or rational self-interest), that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform humans’ metaphysical ideas by selective reproduction of reality into a physical form — a work of art — that one can comprehend and to which one can respond emotionally.

Rand characterized Objectivism as “a philosophy for living on Earth,” grounded in reality, and aimed at defining human nature and the nature of the world in which we live.

“My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute,” wrote Ayn Rand in her book *Atlas Shrugged*.

However, because Iowa City is a City of Literature, to get an exegesis (a critical explanation of any text) of Payne’s personality as a politician, you should read (or listen) to Colleen McCullough’s *Naked Cruelty* (2010).

This is the same councilor who wanted to defund the Senior Center because “old people should stay home” or else go running around to various churches seeking help or amusement. She stayed on this track until a fellow councilor reminded her of the separation of church and state because municipal funds was going into the support of the center and the city owns the building.

Leave the bread in the garden and go to a City Council meeting before we reach a complete dead-end of private affluence and public squalor.

Mary Gravitt
Iowa City resident

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