We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that "Atlas Shrugged" parodied in 1957, when this 1,000-page novel was first published and became an instant hit.
Rand, who had come to America from Soviet Russia with striking insights into totalitarianism and the destructiveness of socialism, was already a celebrity. The left, naturally, hated her. But as recently as 1991, a survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that readers rated "Atlas" as the second-most influential book in their lives, behind only the Bible.
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.
She's not a devil, but getting close to it. She never had a metaphysical insight in her life, a little like Herbert Spencer. She might have gotten a little help from William Blake, but didn't. She certainly didn't go dancing with Jesus at the prom, and Joe Campbell would have mystified her. Her ideas if implemented would lead to the kind of mess most people came here to get away from. When I hear her name, I dive under my bed, because it's said a person without sympathy walks to their own funeral dressed in a shroud, and that's what I imagine when I hear her name, and that's spooky.
I found a different moral in her novel, and that is that the human mind is the creator of wealth. Steel mills and auto assembly plants are just so much junk without the talent to run them. If the mind is shackled, either through ideology,or rules and regulations, the creation of wealth will be constrained.
Spot on feeblemind! That's exactly my impression of it as well.
Capital can be easily redistributed -- look at Zimbabwe. But the knowledge and culture that created and maintains that capital is in fact a very difficult thing to redistribute.
Any nation that wants to become wealthy must first let the producers produce! For whatever reason, the ability to produce is not uniformly distributed, even with staggering amounts of education, some people will make better accountants than others, some will be better physicists than others, some will be better musicians than others, etc. The shoe gets thrown into the gears when we discourage those that are the most productive from producing. When that happens, indeed we're all the poorer.
Ayn Rand's vision is right in line with Joseph Schumpeter's work on the economy and the role of the entrepreneur. Vision, thought, action are all primary drivers of wealth.
Those in Washington, without a single visionary bone in their body, feeding off the public teat for years (in our best interest, of course), FEAR these entrepreneurs and innovators (while they occasionally laud them in order to get the good photo op).
We need more economic freedom, not less. We need less government "largesse" (how can a non-productive organization provide largesse when it has nothing to give without taking it from those it's giving back to?) and more freedom to fail.
Freedom to fail. What a concept. Without failure, you cannot have success. What's interesting is, however, that you can have success without failure in a free market. There are plenty of innovators out there who will keep trying...and just because they come up with similar ideas, they can succeed together. Think Sabin/Salk...both were successful. Or Jobs/Gates.
Jobs/Gates were gifted at marketing the innovations of others. They're exactly the kind of guys who would publicly sell objectivist ideas but privately deride them.
Self-important ideological intellectuals can be an interesting study. There are usually elements of savant-idiocy in their preachings. Rand appealed most to the street-foolish-yet-innovative individualist - those who can conceptualize ahead of their time but who also but struggle with practicality due to a lack of understanding (or acceptance) of the way things work in social societies.