Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged"... Coming to Life?

Last night over drinks and a lovely tree lighting in the community, myself and a number of university colleagues got into an interesting discussion regarding the state of our nation, the multiple bailouts and companies traveling to Washington with hat in hand, and wondered aloud if Ayn Rand's novel, "Atlas Shrugged" was coming to life.

The very notion that government should be in the business of saving business(es) or, for that matter, stimulating capitalism is, on its face, antithetical.

And, for those that believe "something must be done," ask yourself one question: Where does the money come from?

Government has to take the money from somewhere to give it to something or someone. It's not stimulation. It's a transfer. A transfer from success to failure (insert person or business for each). From the productivity of one to lack of productivity in another.

And, it's not even an efficient transfer at that. It's an extremely costly transfer. For all those that have bitterly complained about Bank ATM fees, imagine the costs of a government bureaucracy, and all the wheels that must turn and be greased, to funnel out what's left.

At any rate, it was an incredibly interesting discussion and one that unearthed long forgotten quotes like:

"I swear, by my life and my love of it,
that I will never live for the sake of another man,
nor ask another man to live for mine."
- John Galt


"So you think that money is the root of all evil?
Have you ever asked what is the root of money?
Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist
unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them.
Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish
to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value.
Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears,
or of the looters, who take it from you by force.
Money is made possible only by the men who produce.
Is this what you consider evil?"
- Francisco d'Anconia

So, in light of the times and in thinking of your children and/or students, perhaps it's time to brush off that old copy of "Atlas Shrugged," and bring it to the attention of your students. Or, at a minimum, consider assigning either "Anthem" or "The Fountainhead" to stimulate an interest in the work.

We'd put them on the website, but they are still copyrighted material. But, the Ayn Rand Institute, I believe, still offers free copies to students.

Just a thought...

UPDATE: Building on the above, I just came across this article, which outlines what can happen when the government "helps" business on behalf of the public. While the Big Three are by no means, Rearden Metal from "Atlas Shrugged," I think it plainly illustrates the folly of the government getting into the business of business.

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