Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thoughts on ATLAS SHRUGGED

I interviewed Ayn Rand years ago, and it was predictably grueling. After my first question, she fixed me with this dark stare and said, "That's not good enough, young man. Try again." Whew! She also gave me one of the best pieces of advice I ever received. We'd finished the interview and the old libertarian philosopher had started out the door. She turned around and came back into the room, where I was packing up.

"Young man," she said. "Listen to me. You have one thing to do with your life, and that is see clearly. That is all...just see clearly." And she left.

This is from Stephen Moore in the WSJ Online:
'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years

For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.

In the book, these relentless wealth redistributionists and their programs are disparaged as "the looters and their laws." Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the "Anti-Greed Act" to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel's promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the "Equalization of Opportunity Act" to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the "Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act," aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn't Hank Paulson think of that?

These acts and edicts sound farcical, yes, but no more so than the actual events in Washington, circa 2008. We already have been served up the $700 billion "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act" and the "Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act." Now that Barack Obama is in town, he will soon sign into law with great urgency the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan." This latest Hail Mary pass will increase the federal budget (which has already expanded by $1.5 trillion in eight years under George Bush) by an additional $1 trillion -- in roughly his first 100 days in office.

The current economic strategy is right out of "Atlas Shrugged": The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That's the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies -- while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to "calm the markets," another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as "Atlas" grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls."
Read the whole thing...hell, read ATLAS SHRUGGED to find out what's coming!

10 comments:

Clark Kent said...

So is Ayn fixing Alan with the "dark stare" from her grave these days, or was there a failure to communicate somewhere down the line?

Sanjuancb said...

MB that's really interesting. I've always thought Atlas Shrugged was a treasure and it is certainly more pertinent today that it ever was. I may have to read it again, but it is a VOLUME!

Anonymous said...

It seems at times, that the reaction to events such as the government caused "Banking Crisis", develops a life of its own and goes on to replace the original concern. Just look at us: We're referring to some of the companies that are directly affected by this problem as having brought this on themselves, or rescuing those that are doomed to fail. Excuse me, but some of the companies that are affected, wouldn't be in this predicament, had it not been for this GOVENMENT CAUSED PROBLEM! It is here that we need to be seeking correction. This is what Ayn Rand means by "See clearly"! What we're now doing is exactly what Barney Frank, Chriss Dodd, Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama want us to be doing. It's the old adage: "When the heats on you, it's off of me". I could be a smart ass and just say to wise-up, but I won't. We're already wise, but we don't see clearly.
The world renowned problem solving process know an the "scientific method of problem Solving" is composed of seven (7) distinct steps. This method is taught in the "real" technical schools, where science is taught, not "belief systems". The steps are: 1.) Designate who the solvers will be on the team, the leader must also be someone who can MAKE change happen. 2.) Describe the Problem. 3.) Implement Interim CONTAINMENT Actions, that protect the customer, or those downstream from the problem. (Example: This would be the properly placed loans that get the credit market goung again, but only for that purpose.) 4.) Identify PERMANENT Corrective Actions. 5.) Implement the Permanent Corrective Actions. 6.) Verify that they are actually working. 7.) Prevent recurrence of the Problem by making whatever technical, or systemic changes are required.
I am an engineer and experienced problem solver and preventer. Those that are successful at solving problems use this process consciously, or otherwise, but they go through the steps.
This method is a great one to use to solve why a new product may not be working correctly, as in "firing when dropped", etc.
Life Member.

Anonymous said...

On the basis of your knowledge of Atlas Shrugged, you should make a list of three to five things that have not happened yet, but that you expect to happen given what else in the book has 'come true', and see if you get it right. Be specific!

Ted Murphy said...

It is a good book. I lent it to someone i knew and after reading it he straight up disappeared and went "on strike".

No kidding.

Tom said...

I've been thinking of making Who is John Galt? stickers and plastering them everywhere lately.

If an effort to stall future (coming) gun control a strike should be publicized. Can you imagine how fast the nation would stop without gun owners?

wv=pines. The thinking American pines for freedom once again.

Bradley said...

a quick google search turned this cafepress site up. http://shop.cafepress.com/ayn-rand

Yes i just ordered a tshirt and a few bumper stickers.

gunman42782 said...

Atlas Shrugged is one hell of a great book. Much like "1984", too much of it has come true. 42782

Brenden said...

Great piece. Ayn Rand has a lot of good things to say, but just don't get caught calling her a Libertarian.

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