Atlas Shrugged

After having breakfast with an old friend of mine yesterday, he invited me to tag along with him at his work. He’s a movie reviewer. An early show was up in Denver and I was invited to go along with him and his coworker.

Go watch the first showing of a movie with a couple of movie reviewers? I have awesome friends and an awesome life. Anyhoo

The movie was the second of a trilogy, Atlas Shrugged, based on the cult-classic 1957 novel by Ayn Rand. Read the review by Adam R. Holz or read up on the novel on Wikipedia to to give you background to the story. There is one theme that resonated with me: the struggle the main characters had with the overreaching power of government. The fictional movie (and ultimately the book) touches on a scary truth of the nature of governments that should give us pause: 

The government is a competitor to private industry, and it thwarts creativity, the very thing that empowers a private sector.

Here’s the rundown. The main characters are industry tycoons who struggle to keep their businesses from being nationalized. Part of the mystery of the story is that the most creative in the world are disappearing. They typically leave a message that says they quit doing whatever, disconnecting socially and economically from a society that drains them more and more. They’re just “giving up.” One character notes, “The government takes what they want and they tax whatever is left.” Ultimately, what’s the point?

This resonates with me, and perhaps it does for you, too. I have traditionally done all I can to resist government influence in my personal and business life. This isn’t as obvious as you might think. Like most other businessmen and entrepreneurs, I keep this resistance close to my chest. It’s frustrating, but I plow through and make the best of it.

The reason I don’t talk about this too much is because most people don’t understand. It’s a battle that entrepreneurs fight, but most do not. I tend to think entrepreneurism is the best route to walk in life – creating what you were meant to create for the enjoyment of others – but a growing government is a competitor to that individuality.

Deep stuff, I know, but give this some thought. I’ll expand on this tomorrow, but I want to hear from you first. This is a deep concept that I’d like to explore with you.

Question: Do you feel like government HELPS or HINDERS your ability to create?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Nina

    I would say, helps. Through military service (government), my spouse received an excellent education that made him into a highly productive individual.

    I have deep reservations about Ayn Rand’s work. The Virtue of Selfishness was one of her most popular books, but are her ideas in alignment with the words of Jesus? Is selfishness a moral good, a value we hold. Atlas Shrugged was a work of fiction. In real life, Ayn herself accepted government benefits when her health failed due to a lifetime of cigarette smoking.

    While I do agree that there are onerous laws and taxes on small businesses that should be changed (why should successful oil companies be getting those billions in subsidies when small companies are paying extraordinary amounts in tax out of proportion to their profits?) I cannot morally agree with the worship of self above all, which was Ayn’s core belief.

    A safety net can help people to create and grow. If we had a single payer health care system, people would be more likely to take the risk and start that new business they’ve been planning rather than being stuck in the grey cubicle because of the health benefits that job brings. Fear of a health crisis that can lead to bankruptcy is not freedom.

    • Good point about the spirituality (or lack thereof) of Ayn Rand. While Christians love much of Ayn Rand, she was a devout atheist. That bothers me, too, and the Plugged In guys and I had a good conversation about it on the way back from the theater. I may just write about that in a later post.

      I gotta disagree with your last point, Nina. Single payer health care will be paid for by small businesses through taxation and mandates for coverage. This will make people LESS likely to risk and go into business. And government interference in the free market will bring a “health crisis,” not the free market left alone. This is one of the points of Atlas Shrugged: government is the problem, not the solution. That’s the part of Ayn Rand that I agree with. Your conclusion does not follow this reality.

      • SM

        I think you should read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead before commenting, Chris.

        • SM, my multi-named troll, your life would not be so fun if I kept as silent as you wished.

          • SM

            I don’t wish you to keep silent. I just think you sound more credible if you have read the books. I’ve read both books, along with several biographies of Ayn Rand (written by those close to her). She had a tumultuous and unhappy personal life, and was known for screaming and abusing her followers. At age 50, she cheated on her husband with a 25 year old man who strongly believed in her philosophies. She was a dififcult, complex character, known for her selfishness (which makes sense, since she advocated a philosophy of person selfishness). Admittedly, she was intelligent, since she wrote her books in English (which was not her first language).

            She grew up during the Russian revolution and saw her family’s wealth get taken over by communists. That shaped her life’s beliefs. She also idolized physical perfection, and believed that good-looking people were somehow better or more enlightened.

            There is a scene in Atlas Shrugged where money is taken from the community to give an 8-year old girl braces. One of the “good” people, who resent this taking, punches the little girl in the mouth. This is supposed to be a “good” thing, showing the fight against government taking.

  • My daughter Cynthia just posted “The Machine Absorbs Heroes” on her website, very similar in theme to my piece on Atlas Shrugged. Great minds think alike, I guess! Check it out: http://www.cynthiajeub.com/2012/10/13/absorbability/