Saturday, January 10, 2009

Was Ayn Rand Right All Along?

Stephen Moore writes for the Wall Street Journal:

Some years ago when I worked at the libertarian Cato Institute, we used to label any new hire who had not yet read "Atlas Shrugged" a "virgin." Being conversant in Ayn Rand's classic novel about the economic carnage caused by big government run amok was practically a job requirement. If only "Atlas" were required reading for every member of Congress and political appointee in the Obama administration. I'm confident that we'd get out of the current financial mess a lot faster.

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.

Continue reading.

Though Rand had some good ideas and was obviously a very intelligent woman, I found her writings to be far more enjoyable when I was in high school. These days I strongly prefer more serious economic thinkers such as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. Regardless, I agree with Moore that the federal government's ongoing massive intrusion into the private sector more closely by the day resembles the dystopic vision set forth in Rand's classic novel.

Strangely, even though I now disagree with Rand and her modern-day cultists on a great many things, I increasingly think the solution the hero of Atlas Shrugged arrived at is basically the correct one. (I don't want to spoil the book for anyone who hasn't read it and cares to, but Wikipedia contains a good summary if you just want to know the basics.) However, I tend to believe this is more of a permanent fix than merely the temporary strategy Rand seemed to think of it as. For more information read up on John Robb's ideas regarding building resilient communities.

In any case, my gradual transformation from libertarian to anarchist continues apace. But that subject is more worthy of an entire column than a mere paragraph at the end of a blog post. Stay tuned.

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