When I first heard the phrase, 'redistribution of wealth' in the presidential campaign, I had an Atlas Shrugged flashback. At that point, I was pretty sure Obama was as good as in office. Tell some people they are going to get something for nothing and they will follow you anywhere. Redistribution to the poor, the lower classes, and the elderly won him the election. With the trump cards of class, age, and race differences/envy, it was a slam dunk.
I finally gave up trying to convince my mother that if SS, medicare, and other government programs were going to be 'fixed' or made more 'fair' (her words), SOMEONE was going to have to pay the bill. The very wealthy can hide their money and the poor have none. I told her that my guess was that the upper middle class would get stuck with the bill. These are the people who worked hard in school and worked hard in life to get ahead. This group of people works hard, chooses wisely, invests carefully and manages to get ahead. She is sure Obama will only go after the wealthy and let the rest of us alone.
Mom and I have a doughnut riding on the outcome of who pays the bill, but I am afraid that Ayn Rand hit the mark 50 some years ago.
Yes, I read it. It's more relevant now than when she wrote it. Unfortunately, the entitlement group is so great now, and expecting more with Obama, that the producing group can't possibly compensate. I'm afraid that even John Galt can't pull us out of the slide into entitlement mediocrity/apathy.
My 35th Anniversary edition has 1,084 pages, and I read them all in 1992~3, during Bill Clinton's ascent, and yes, it was prophetic (although from a literature critic standpoint, she could have kept it to 600~700 pages and accomplished the same, IMO).
But it was written in the 1940's, and if it hasn't caught on by now, I suspect it never will. The ideas presented will be too much for some. Most don't believe in such an unfettered view of Capitalism, and among those who do, when you subtract out the large portion of Capitalism supporters who are staunch Christians (Ayn Rand was an Atheist, and leaves no room for a God in her philosophy of Capitalism), you are left with a mighty small constituent group.
As I say, an interesting book, but unfortunately, an irrelevant one. I'm in agreement with the others above, in concluding that we're already over the cliff. Of the few million "laissez-faire" Capitalism supporters left out there in America, 70% will get to the point in the book where Rand denounces belief in God, and most will put it down at that point & never pick it back up. It will simply be too much for them.
In fact, I bet a few here will never pick it up in the first place, reading what I wrote above (that is, if the 1,000+ page duration wasn't enough to keep them away to begin with).
To me, Atlas Shrugged, was great until the ending. That was 40 plus years ago. Today, the ending makes more sense and it is more than a little scary.
As I recall, civilization in general was in distress except for the small group of objectivists or creative persons who chose not to give their inventions or ideas to society. They were living in a remote valley in Montana or out west somewhere. Their new economy was based on the gold standard or barter for items of equivalent value.
I hope that this does not play out but someday, after our monetary system goes south, we may be back on the gold standard or be in some type of a barter economy.
My parents bought it for me when I was still in my teens and I read it all. They weren't very political, in fact they had both liberal and conservative beliefs. Except for the rambling speech, I enjoyed the book and it helped me understand the world a little better. I recommended it to my husband who normally reads Capstick, military history, and other manly hunting-type books, but he couldn't put it down and now we both find ourselves asking "Who is John Galt?" almost on a daily basis now. Ayn Rand might have been a little extreme with her hard core objectivism, but she sure nailed it on the head when she predicted that our society would clamor to reward those who haven't earned, and punish those who have. To say that we're disappointed in the way things are going, would be an understatement.
Nothing would be better for this country, than to see this book "catch on" with young people. Rand actually wrote a pretty good novel; I usually don't care for the idea of a "political novel," but this one is suspenseful, and about as well-done as such a book can be.
I think it could clear a lot of "mush" out of young brains, if they were open-minded enough to give it a try. Some would have misgivings with the non-religious aspect of it, but other than that, it nails everything right on the head.
Her system of moral philosophy doesn't begin with a Bible, Koran, or other such book. Rather than postulating some unproven theory of existence, it simply begins with Man's right to voluntary, non-coercive coexistence with his fellow man, and builds upward on ladder-steps of reason and logic from there. It pinnacles at laissez-faire Capitalism, and man's right to exist and keep what he has earned for himself, without guns or coercion being used to re-distribute possessions.
It's basically Libertarian 101.
If you are a dyed-in-the-wool economic liberal - this book will make you shriek bloody murder and pull your hair out. I find it interesting, that the people who foment against this book most loudly, don't do so from a religious standpoint - it's from an economic standpoint.
If someone finds serious, ideological fault with this book - you can be 99.7% sure that person believes in forced redistribution of wealth via Government coercion.
ll of my daughters, four total, read Both Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged in high school. It was part of the required reading books. They also hac to read a number of other books. The gamut covered the full spectrum of politics, from liberal to conservative to libertarian. This was in a private, religious high school in NW PA.
Oh yes, I too have read the books.
If you have anyone in 12th grade or college you may want to have them check out the following web site. This is an essay contest where first prize is $10,000.
Redistribution of wealth came about in the years preceding WW 1. From 1890 until 1914. Read the book "The Proud Tower" by Barbara Tuchman. The more wealth the few control, the more violent the poor become.
Look, its an interesting, but extremely two dimensional, book filled with the sort of unrealistic Gothic Heros that seem so loved in her native Russia. Her views are derived from, in my opinion, her never ending resentments over the communists seizure of her father's pharmacy(a view that is understandable, but it does not cover the alpha through the omega of philosophy).
Certainly, the positions she advocated in the main are admirable to most Americans....to each by their contribution and not to each by their need.
But she also takes the position that rational self-interest is moral while altruism is not. If you think about the full implications of this, I believe you will find this is not in the center of general American values.
I found her characters, plots, and philosophical views to be overly simplistic...almost cartoonish.
Any of you feel like you have been fleeced by Wall Street financier and politicians alike. Well, according to Ayn there is no sympathy or recource for you.
Any of you belong to unions...well, if so you are parasites on the body of society per Ayn. In Ayn's view, there were no child sweatshops and labor abuses in industrial America. In Ayn's world, the leaders of industry are all heros.....I guess she never met Bernie Ebbers (World Com) or Kenneth Lay (Enron), or....fill in the blank for the latest abuses in the name of free capitalism.
Lost you job, lost your health insurance, suffered a severe health set back...according to Ayn, too stinking bad. You can't pull your weight, out into the snow with you.
Have a child born with defects or handicaps...Ayn's view will not be very kind...its produce or starve.
My problem with her is that there is no room for compassion in her "objectivism". No sense of resonibility beyond self-interest. Her characters and their views are narcistics and self-centered and she has sharpened these characteristics to a fine point and presents them as virtues. I guess it depends on your value system.
To me, there is a wide middle distance between the abuses of communism as practiced in Stalinist Russia and the the world Ayn Rand advocated.
Oh...and Buzz is right...that book needed to be edited down BADLY. At least half of it could have been cut with out losing character or plot.
For those interested in some of Ayn Rand's philosophy, you may want to take a look at the web site listed.
A brief sample follows:
""So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Anconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil? "
There is much more.
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I read this book for the first time during the term of "George The Elder" due to a friend telling me about his connections with the House of Saud and his past associations with the CIA. I found it interesting and tried to connect some of it with the way the World Bank controls so much of how we live. The second time I read it was during "Slick Willies" terms and found it to be even more interesting when reading between the lines and seeing things that were happening in real time. Some of the things that came out about his personal life seemed to run almost parallel to his life undertakings. The third time [of which I learned to digest the book to about half of its contents] was during the past campaigning between Hillary and Barack and I'll simply state, "Hold onto your hats folks, we're on a very slippery slope"! Ayn Rand may very well have been ahead of her time, but her time has come. I too, feel that this should become mandatory reading during anyones high school years.