Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Is John Galt at Work

It's hard to believe it's been a week since I last posted and I was doing so good for awhile. Work has been picking up...yadda, yadda, yadda.

Here's something that struck me enough to grab the keyboard and bang away. Have you ever had an experience of reading a novel and thinking that the plot is unfolding in reality?

I've been reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (link below, and since Rand was a capitalist, I get a small cut if you buy it using my link). Politically, I'm a small "l" libertarian who wants to be left alone, so I was aware of Rand's books, but never picked one up. Dr. Helen's blog post on going John Galt inspired me to buy a copy and I finally cracked it open last week.

If you've ever read the book you'll know that it's comprised of over 1100 pages of closely printed text. It has long paragraphs of densely reasoned ideology that Rand puts into the mouths of her characters. That said, somehow the story and building suspense carries you along fairly fast.

John Galt is one of the three main heroes of the book. Galt has decided that society is irredeemable and that the "people of the mind;" that is, those who produce and use their minds to build bridges, railroads, and steel mills should go on strike by withdrawing their abilities from society.

Galt and others are tired of taxes, regulations, unions, social experiments (paying people based on need, not on ability). Many of America's brightest industrialists along with a musician, judge, movie star, and others withdraw. The society begins to collapse although the strikers give it a shove every now and then to hasten its fall.

That's what struck me: Is John Galt(ism) already at work? Look at the crap around us today.
  • Industrialists move production overseas for cheaper wages and less regulation;
  • Three car companies are failing partly because of union/retiree contracts;
  • Laws encourage risky mortgage loans;
  • People feel that they're owed a living simply by being born;
  • Our roads are falling apart;
  • and more.

Of course, our economy and society is no where near to the collapse depicted in Atlas Shrugged, but one still wonders. It's a good read, slow in places, but something that will raise many thoughts as you read it.

The scariest thought I had while reading the book: what if the best and brightest are going on strike and John Galt didn't invite me.

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