Monday, January 12, 2009

Atlas Shrugged: from fiction to fact?

Came across an interesting editorial from Stephen Moore in the Wall Street Journal (hat tip - Safehaven).

In this January 9 piece entitled, "Atlas Shrugged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years", Moore suggests that the fictional scenarios laid out in Ayn Rand's classic novel have largely been realized today, thanks to ever-increasing bailouts and government intervention into the economy.

Here's a summary excerpt from Moore's column:

"...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..."

Interested to hear your thoughts on this. Do you see similar parallels between Rand's fiction and current economic/political reality?

As a fellow "Atlas Shrugged virgin" (I have read and enjoyed Rand's relatively brief novel, Anthem, but haven't gotten around to reading Shrugged), I'd love to hear from those who have read the book and have an opinion.