Ayn Rand's Profit Motive Is a Virtue

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In the years leading up to 2008—09's financial meltdown, government control over mortgages, interest rates and America's banking system was at an all-time high.

And yet when crisis struck, free enterprise took the blame.

The cure, therefore, was to give government even wider powers. Washington can now bail out any company, fire CEOs, override contracts and print billions of dollars to "stimulate" the economy — all in the name of the public interest. The result? Our deficits and debt continue to mount, and there's a real possibility of a future like Greece's.

This is the state of our world today. It's remarkably similar to the state of the world in Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," a mystery story about a future America whose economy is disintegrating and whose government is accumulating power faster than anyone thought possible. This parallel is a big reason a record 500,000 people bought "Atlas Shrugged" last year.

So what can we learn from a book that foresaw in 1957 what few believed possible in 2007? We can learn a lesson the heroes of the novel learn: the cause of the government's greater, destructive control of business. And we can learn how to oppose it.

Many of the heroes in "Atlas Shrugged" are the kind of men and women who built, and continue to build, America into the economic power that it is — inventors such as Edison, industrialists in the mold of Rockefeller and Carnegie, business visionaries reminiscent of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

In logic and justice, the heroes of "Atlas Shrugged" should be admired and appreciated for their efforts; instead, they're demonized and shackled.

Man Of Steel

Take the case of Hank Rearden, the leading industrialist in "Atlas Shrugged" and inventor of Rearden Metal, an alloy superior to steel. Rearden is denounced and forced to surrender his iron and coal businesses because an "Equalization of Opportunity Bill" demands he create business "opportunities" for struggling competitors.

His production of Rearden Metal is capped by a "Preservation of Livelihood Law" designed to keep other steel makers afloat. Key businesses can't buy enough Rearden Metal because Rearden's forced to give every customer an equal portion under the "Fair Share Law."

Each new government scheme to control Rearden's industry brings a new crisis, and each new crisis brings a new scheme.

The result is the accelerating collapse of Rearden's business empire — and of all the other productive enterprises that depend on Rearden's enormous productivity. The only beneficiaries of this orgy of government authority are power-lusting politicians and the pseudo-businessmen who lobby for and profiteer from these laws.

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Posted By: OBSERVER U.K(820) on 7/21/2010 | 3:01 AM ET

This book ATLAS SHRUGGED should be a "MUST READ" for all Americans, to be read and inwardly digested, for this is where America finds itself today. "GOD HELP AMERICA"

Posted By: mohammed521(5) on 7/21/2010 | 1:16 AM ET

The investors, the industrialists in the Atlas Shrugged were moral not profiteers, the book was written well before Globalization, and the advent of internet, taxes were high, but the country and the government were not made broke with low low taxes, and the industrialists paid to run the country. In light of all this "Atlas Shrugged" becomes a useless analogy for the current situation, no matter the genius like "Rush" who probably could not understand the text on his own. We bought this mess.

Posted By: shockingblue(125) on 7/21/2010 | 12:25 AM ET

One day, the teleprompter will fail in the middle of a nationwide or worldwide broadcast. Then the curtains will be drawn back and reveal it was just a weak little man pulling levers.

Posted By: shockingblue(125) on 7/21/2010 | 12:24 AM ET

One day, the teleprompter will fail in the middle of a nationwide or worldwide broadcast. Then the curtains will be drawn back and reveal it was just a weak little man pulling levers.

Posted By: Fargo Vortac(430) on 7/20/2010 | 11:50 PM ET

One thing I had a hard time comprehending when I was in sales was the allegation by the customer who would wail, "You're trying to rip me off!" No. I was presenting an item for sale. A sale is a transaction, benefiting both parties. If you don't think the product is worth the cost being asked, you don't have to make the deal (unless, of course, it's health insurance.) To illustrate, I bought "Atlas Shrugged" about 30 years ago because it was thick, cost $2.50, and I THOUGHT, sci-fi.

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