C'mon...you knew this post was coming eventually....
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is my favorite book. It is the most influential book I have ever read and if I taught an english or a business class in high school or higher, it would be required reading. Unfortunately through my years in high school and in college, I was never required to read it, nor were my classmates; although I had heard about it. I actually had the book confused with some book of Sylvia Plath’s (egad!) for a while. I thankfully got that straightened out.
As the economic mess of the past year plus had unfolded, I’d heard more and more people whose politics I agreed with saying things like: ‘Who is John Galt’, ‘Dagny Taggart would know better’, and ‘sounds like Wesly Mouch’. Statements like that. So, I looked those names up on-line and it took two clicks to see that they came from Atlas Shrugged! I HAD to read it, especially being an intrepid reader and conservative in my politics and approach to business. So, I bought the book from Amazon and devoured it. And that is quite a meal – its a long, somewhat dense book.
This book depicts what is happening to America today and predicts what is going to happen to America tomorrow if we don’t clean up our act – and it was written in 1957!!! It is an amazing fictional allegory of today’s times. I highly recommend that everyone read this book regardless of politics.
A good and wise friend forwarded the below link to me. Its a YouTube clip from John Stossel’s TV show about Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged. There are 6 parts all told, but I HIGHLY encourage you to at least check this one out. They talk about many of the topics that are near and dear to my heart, but with more authority and eloquence than what I currently have.
In the clip, Stossel hits on the High Points of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. He has a panel of Ayn Rand experts who interact with a studio audience. Some in the audience love the book as I do and others dislike the book and talk about their problems with it. The biggest complaints come from criticism’s on Ayn Rand’s personal life’s failings, not of the allegory that the book depicts. Those are two separate issues and her personal life has no bearing on the message of the book.
The criticisms also comes from a mis-understanding of what ‘being selfish’ really means and how if you truly look out for your long-term best interests, NOT short-term, then you AND others will prosper. That is an underpining of Capitalism and why it works SO well. When employees and business owners can work in a free market with a minimum of rules and government intervention, you get the America that we all idealize and miss.
So, how does business and economics support my politics? Well, I want small government, personal freedom, and I desire only to look after my own affairs and take care of what is mine. I don’t need a third party to tell me whats good or bad for me or to tell me what to do as long as I am living up to my end of the social contract. Which is basically paying my taxes and not breaking any laws (even if I don’t like the premise of some).
Minimal government invovlement is what the founder’s wanted (remember, they didn’t trust governments as they had just thrown off that yoke from the King of England) so they laid out what your inalienable rights were and what government could not explicitly do. It did not limit what the individual could do. That is freedom codified, but it isn’t freedom to do whatever I want. I believe in other people’s rights to life, liberty, and their pursuit of happiness as well. Stossel talks about the duality of freedom and RESPONSIBILITY and that you have to have both. Many people who do not understand the responsibiliy of being free would rather give up the responsibility (and hard work) and abdicate that role to the government so it can protect them and take care of them. They believe that it is the government’s role to be responsible and make the decisions for you. So, with that terrible mandate, government is all to happy to oblige make rules to protect you and everyone else – thus impinging on your freedom. ou get a slippery-slope nanny state that takes your freedoms bit by bit all in order to protect you.
I could go on for a while, but I really want you to check out the YouTube link. Just remember, the lessons of this book dovetail perfectly with our Founder’s principles and what is written in the Constitution.
– Life, Liberty, and the Pursuiut of Happiness.
– Your rights come from God not some Government.
– All men are created equal
….but after that, success is not guaranteed. You have to work for it – our society has plenty of opportunity for you even if you have to pull yourself out of poverty by your boot-straps. Nothing can replace hard work. yet, we are seeing the development of the EXACT opposite of that today. Government intervention into business – Bailouts, laws, protections, etc. It all is done in our name for the ‘collective good’ but what happens it that all this government crushes the innovation and incentive to do hard work that built this country. Eventually, you can promise to give universal health-care and support the poor as much as you want, but if you do not have the productive sector of society to pay for all of this, the system collapses under its own weight of debt, corruption, and ineptitude. Sound familiar? It should. This financial mess was brought about because of it and has only accelerated the problem.
Comment below if you want, but more than anything, I emplore you to find a copy (someone has to have one around – there are 7 million of them floating around) and read this book. It will change the way you look at the world and our current economic and societal enivronment. Do you really want our best and brightest to ‘shrug’ like they do in the book? Remember, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. This applies to big government as well.
Barry Goldwater said it best, and we see it in Atlas Shrugged as well:
‘Government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.’
(disregard the ‘.”s – they maintain the proper spacing as Wordpress was being recalcitrant!)