After reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged for the second time, I am stunned by its siilarity to the world of today. I first read it in high school in the mid-seventies and it seemed long-winded and fantastical at the time. While it’s certainly true that the book should have been half as long as it is, the wild scenarios that I saw in high school are today’s news headlines.
For anyone who hasn’t read the book, go get yourself a copy and sit down for a good read. It’s the story of what happens when productive people are punished, unproductive people are rewarded, and the government has turned into a looter state to make sure that everyone is equally miserable.
Why do most want to be equally miserable? Because of decades of public schools indoctrinating children that the rich are evil and should give their hard-earned income to serve the public good.
Rand’s description of a socialist state taken over by “looters,” people who cannot create or produce but who seize power under the rubric of “fairness” is so spot-on accurate of today’s administration it’s scary. At over one thousand pages long, Atlas Shrugged is not a weekend read and made me question whether my fun-loving liberal friends actually read it, or read the Cliff’s Notes version which is also selling at unprecedented levels.
In a fictional United States, three giants of industry struggle with a government of venal bureaucrats, “looters,” Rand calls them, that closely resemble our present administration. The three industrialists are Dagny Taggart, Vice President in Charge of Operations for mighty Taggart Transcontinental, steelmaker Henry Rearden whose Rearden Miracle Metal puts steel to shame, and the Chilean play boy Francisco D’Anconia who inherited the world’s richest copper mines and proceeds to turn them into dust, shocking all who know him and invested in his supposedly rock-solid enterprise.
The reasons D’Anconia liquidates his empire in secret become increasing clear as the new administration strips away individual rights.
The delightfully named Stanley Mouch (“Mooch”) serves as First Secretary to the mysterious Mr. Thompson, the head of state.
Mouch had summoned them all to Washington, as his friends and personal advisers, for a private, unofficial conference on the national crisis. But watching him, they were unable to decide whether his manner was overbearing or whining, whether he was threatening them or pleading for their help.
“Fact is,” said Mr. Weatherby primly, in a statistical tone of voice, “that in the twelve month period ending on the first of this year, the rate of business failures has doubled as compared with the preceding twelve month period. Since the first of this year, it has trebled.”
“Be sure they think it’s their own fault,” said Dr. Ferris casually.
“Huh?” said Wesley Mouch, his eyes darting to Ferris.
“Whatever you do, don’t apologize,” said Dr. Ferris. “Make them feel guilty.”
“But it is their own fault,” said Eugene Lawson, turning aggressively to Dr. Ferris. “It’s their lack of social spirit. They refuse to recognize that production is not a private choice, but a public duty. They have no right to fail, no matter what conditions happen to come up. They’ve got to go on producing. It’s a social imperative… There’s no such thing as a persona matter-or a personal life. That’s what we’ve got to force them to learn.”
“Well, if you want to talk practice,” said Fred Kinnan, “then let me tell you that we can’t worry about businessmen at a time like this. What we’ve got to think about is jobs… If you want my advice-ohm, I know you won’t go for it, but it’s just a thought-issue a directive making it compulsory to add, say, one-third more men to every payroll in the country.”
Can’t you just see Rahm Emanuel, Paul Begala, Obama, Pelosi and Axelrod saying these things? Speaking of Pelosi:
Dagny picks up a hobo who used to be a factory worker. He tells her what happened:
We voted for that plan at a big meeting, with all of us present, six thousand of us, everybody that worked in the factory. The Starnes heirs made long speeches about it, and it wasn’t too clear, but nobody asked any questions. None of us knew just how the plan would work, but every one of us thought that the next fellow knew it-and because they made it sound like anyone who’d oppose the plan was a child-killer at heart and less than a human being.
The government nationalizes health care:
I quit when medicine was placed under State control, some years ago,” said Dr. Hendricks. “Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kinds of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I would not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun.
The solution Rand offers is for the men and women of industry and business to simply withdraw their skills and energies from the market rather than place them in the service of an evil socialist state. In “Atlas Shrugged” they go to a secret valley in the mountains. In real life, millions of Americans are reevaluating their efforts in light of the Obama administration’s punitive and senseless tax and spend policy. It is a viable option and one which every right-minded American must consider. And by right-minded, I mean Americans who understand the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, to whom the pursuit of happiness is holy but the guarantee of happiness is a cruel joke perpetrated by the present gang of looters in the White House and Congress who couldn’t make a buck if their lives depended on it.