Republicans — March 5, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Atlas Didn’t Shrug – John Galt 2009 is Staying


David Weigel reports over at the Washington Independent that Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) thinks our society is now beginning to look like the society in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

“The achievers, the people who create all the things that benefit rest of us, are going on strike. I’m seeing, at a small level, a kind of protest from the people who create jobs, the people who create wealth, who are pulling back from their ambitions because they see how they’ll be punished for them.”

This is, of course, completely and utterly ridiculous. John Galt 2009 is not only NOT having his output stolen from him, he’s being encouraged and nourished.

John Galt 2009 is staying.

As Reigel explains it, “In Rand’s novel, creative people (the “Atlases” of the title) are hounded and punished for their labor by an oppressive, socialistic state. In response, they retreat from society to a hidden enclave where they watch civilization’s slow collapse.” They are led into retreat by John Galt, a man who has had it up to here with having the fruits of his labor and brilliance stolen from him in the name of the collective Good.

So Who is John Galt 2009???

Well, first, let’s consider who John Galt 2009 is NOT. He is most certainly not among the heads of AIG, Bank of America or Citicorp and their ilk. Unlike the “Atlases” in Atlas Shrugged, these men were essentially incompetent and accumulated incredible amounts of wealth with no discernible output whatsoever. They exploited the system to benefit themselves and small number of shareholders and produced nothing of any real value to the world.

Nope. They are not John Galt 2009.

Is it the CEOs of the nation’s automaking companies? Ooo…hard to put them into that category either. In Atlas Shrugged, men like Hank Reardon produced something people wanted and needed (in his case, ‘Reardon Steel’.) GM? Chrysler? Hmmm…not so much. I mean, really, in a time of wildly volatile oil prices, continuing to crank out Hummers and other gas-guzzling behemoths really isn’t what can be described as Atlas-like. Ford’s putting up a pretty good fight but the other two?

Nope. They are not John Galt 2009, either.

Maybe it’s housing developers. You know, those hard-working Americans who find unoccupied land, get it rezoned and then build subdivisions and retail buildings on them? They have some innovative stuff that benefits society, right? Well…actually no. These people developed themselves right out of a job and, along with bankers and lenders, helped our housing industry right off the cliff and onto the rocks and surf below. They built and built and built to the point where houses almost became disposable. When you could buy a new house for the same price as an old one, why buy “used”?! And once housing prices began to drop, they still kept building and building and building! How many partially-constructed subdivisions and half-filled strip malls did we need before they got the message that we have TOO MANY???! So, despite all their spiffy new McMansion Subs and “Lifestyle Centers”, these developers…well…

Nope. They are not John Galt 2009, either.

So Who is John Galt 2009???

John Galt 2009 is the new entrepreneur who is developing the technologies that will free us from our dependence on foreign and domestic fossil fuels. Their productive output will increase our national security, lower our energy costs and, while they’re at it, save us from soiling our planetary nest even further.

It’s the CEOs of the companies who are developing new biofuels based on non-food sustainable resources.

It’s the CEOs of the companies who are developing low-cost, easy to exploit photovoltaics to harness the energy of the sun.

It’s the CEOs of the companies who are designing smart grid technologies to more efficiently transport the energy we do produce.

It’s the CEOs of the companies who are developing “underwater windmills” to harness tidal currents in the ocean to produce clean energy.

It’s the CEOs of the companies who are developing new and more efficient wind turbine technology and equipment.

It’s the CEOs of the companies who are developing 100% electric vehicles, hybrid engine and hydrogen fuel cell technologies.

THESE perople are John Galt 2009.

And are they leaving society? Oh no, they most certainly are not! Why would they? They have a government in place now that intends to invest in and nourish their success. The Obama administration is doing whatever it can to help these newly-emerging John Galt-run enterprises get off the ground.

So, no, Rep. Campbell, this is not the society of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Quite the contrary.

John Galt 2009 is staying.

Just to be clear, I should add that I am in no way commending Ayn Rand or her seductive/destructive Objectivist ‘philosophy’. I find Objectivism to be very two-dimensional, a fantasy at best and a cold-hearted justification for wanton greed at worst, especially among those who would misinterpret it for their own self-gratification. I am simply trying to turn the Randians’ argument around and point it right back at them. Even if one does subscribe to Objectivism, there are very few corporate leaders in this country today who would meet the standards of the Atlases in her book.

I’m just sayin’…