July 12, 2024

‘Atlas Shrugged’ – Banned in Washington

Equality Through Poverty

Ayn Rand’s 1957 classic novel, Atlas Shrugged, depicts how governments ultimately destroy the most productive sectors of a society, leaving everyone equally poor.

‘Atlas Shrugged’ : From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years

Stephen Moore – Wall Street Journal – No One Explains It Better – (Highlights)

Some years ago when I worked at the libertarian Cato Institute, we used to label any new hire who had not yet read “Atlas Shrugged” a “virgin.” Being conversant in Ayn Rand’s classic novel about the economic carnage caused by big government run amok was practically a job requirement. If only “Atlas” were required reading for every member of Congress and political appointee in the Obama administration. I’m confident that we’d get out of the current financial mess a lot faster.

[Atlas Shrugged] Getty Images

The art for a 1999 postage stamp.

Ultimately, “Atlas Shrugged” is a celebration of the entrepreneur, the risk taker and the cultivator of wealth through human intellect. Critics dismissed the novel as simple-minded, and even some of Rand’s political admirers complained that she lacked compassion. Yet one pertinent warning resounds throughout the book: When profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society, they start to disappear — leaving everyone the poorer.

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.

The current economic strategy is right out of “Atlas Shrugged”: The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That’s the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies — while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to “calm the markets,” another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as “Atlas” grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate “windfalls.”

The full article is well worth reading, not to mention the book itself.    Unfortunately, this book is more likely to be banned than read in Washington.


  1. That’s almost funny.

    1. The economic structure Rand railed against didn’t sap creative forces, and in the end, it tended to leave everyone in the society rich, though not equally.

    2. In contrast, a decade of Rand-inspired tax policies has left almost everyone in that same society much poorer. Even the billionaires now have difficulty because they can’t get a decent return on just leaving their moneybags in the bank.

    3. At the liberal think tanks, they could say anyone whose read and been affected by Atlas Shrugged is also not a virgin, but a victim of forceful deflowering, and in need of counseling and comforting.

    Almost funny. There’s a very thin line between humor and tragedy, no?

  2. Bill Zielinski says

    Well reasoned comments.

  3. The book seems like a prophecy of the current self called do gooder’s in Washington bankrupting this country with bigger
    more incompetent government. Its easy to see why liberals
    hate her. Because Rand exposes bankrupt polices of current

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