Posted by: John Gilmore | September 16, 2006

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

If there’s one thing we have in this nation – it’s an abundance of people willing to give us their opinion on what’s going wrong. It’s much easier to sit on the sidelines of a game and criticize the players – than to actually work hard, take a few risks – and make the sacrifices required to be a player in the grand game. In this post – let’s think about why each of us needs to get in the game and what needs to happen for our nation to halt our decline (judgment).

Since we’ve already discussed what’s really happening to our nation and why – let’s take some time and discuss what needs to actually change to turn our nation around. As I’ve said before, first and foremost – we must ask God for forgiveness – individually and corporately. There is no debate on this point. Without God’s guidance and blessing – whatever we choose – regardless of our intelligence, planning, etc. – we will fail. With God’s blessing – anything and everything is possible. No national repentance – and our fall will continue without ceasing. Other nations will continue to rise – and we will continue to fall. End of story.

Let’s say that at some point in the future – we, the people of the United States of America finally recognize our spiritual condition and return to God. As a result, He draws near to us and begins to heal our nation. Let’s say that we (as a nation) now see our true enemy – how he has infiltrated and corrupted our government and religion – and decide to do something about it. What is required? Above all else – faith will be required. Why? We will need leaders who will allow themselves to be strengthened by God so that they can stand against our enemies.

Courage and trust flow from faith. Do I truly believe God is watching over me? Do I truly believe that He will protect me against my enemies? Even though I face insurmountable odds – do I believe that God will allow me to overcome those odds? When enemies threaten and ridicule me – will I fear these threats or will I continue to follow God – advancing in the face of powerful adversaries? Do you understand what I’m saying to you? Without faith – we will not stand, we will give in to our enemies. Why? Because from a worldly standpoint – it will seem that our situation is untenable. If God tells us that we will succeed by following Him – what is going to be our response when the world ridicules us and pressures us? Will we join the coming world government or will we stand against it? Will we remove secret society members from our government and financial institutions or continue to cower at their worldly power and influence? Will we reject unbiblical doctrine (regardless of where it comes from) or will we accept demonic doctrines? Are we willing to endure extreme hardship in this world – to inherit the kingdom of heaven in our next life? You get the picture – we face an uphill battle all the way to the end of this evil age. I’ve had my own three year battle with our spiritual enemy to get me ready for what is coming. I haven’t always thought it was necessary and would have preferred another way – but I have come to the conclusion that every Christian eventually understands – if God is putting you through trials – He has a very good reason for doing so. Are you prepared? The bigger and more important question is – will you allow God to prepare you?

The bottom line is that if we do ask God for forgiveness and guidance – the war is just beginning for us. Our spiritual enemy will bring his followers against us – very powerful political, financial and religious people in this world. We must be prepared spiritually to do what needs to be done. If we’re the only nation on earth that refuses to join a world government and evil world religion – so be it. We can create our own monetary/economic system – independent of the world system and stay true to God’s Word. We are – after all – Americans. I think we’ve forgotten where we came from and what got us here. Our ancestors traveled to America for freedom. If we don’t stand up and fight for God – there will be no freedom in this world. Let’s be a true refuge in an evil world. I don’t know about you – but I’d rather die standing for my Creator – than lie down and accept an evil world government and evil world religion and eventually face eternal judgment. Besides, I believe it’s time we showed the world who we truly are – that the American people are honorable and fearless – unlike our current leaders.

I’m sure you’ve wondered many times about how we can turn around this current economic crisis. The world’s leaders are going to offer us a ‘solution’ – but it will only lead to more bondage. Their solution will eventually include some type of global currency and a heavily regulated financial system. At some point in the near future – you and I will be asked to swear some type of unbiblical allegiance to this world system in order to buy and sell. This path will eventually lead to the ‘mark of the beast’. Join this world system – and you gain access to money – and lose your soul for all eternity.

To truly get free, we must start by having the fortitude to do these three things:

1. Rescind the Federal Reserve Act and remove the Federal Reserve and its fractional reserve banking system. No one can be debt free if their money is created by debt. To get free – you must get free of the system that places you in bondage. Since the international cartel that controls the central banking system knows very well that their true power is derived from this system – they will fight to the very end to stop this from happening. Expect all types of slander, threats and even physical assaults against the people within the United States who are trying to remove them from power. This will become a life and death struggle. Ever wonder why no one in power ever speaks out against the Federal Reserve? Because they know that doing so – will place their life in danger. Again – you must have a strong faith to know that God is on your side in this battle. When the U.S. begins to print its own money (based on a metal standard) and removes the Federal Reserve Notes from circulation – debt will vanish. We can then institute a monetary system where money is created by value – not debt – and is sustainable. We can create a monetary system where we live within our means and are not constantly under the bondage of debt. There are many details we will need to work out – but it starts with the removal of the Federal Reserve – there is no other way out.

2. Rescind income taxes and estate taxes. Why are we taxed when we die? It’s certainly not because we’re not taxed enough while we’re alive. What is usually one of the first things that our Government does during economic downturns? Tax breaks. They obviously recognize that putting our money back in our own hands is good for the economy. The obvious question is – if this is a good idea during down times – isn’t it good all the time? Why do we think that our government can manage our money any better than we can? Have you looked at our Government’s finances lately? Local, State and Federal taxes are out of control – and all they do is lead to bloated government and waste – just look at our Federal Government or the State of California – their budgets are huge – and in complete disarray. Let’s put the money back in the hands of the people who earn it – and who will manage it effectively. Our Government should provide us with a military for protection, maintain our infrastructure and – stay out of our way. Our founding fathers made it clear – government is by the people for the people – it should never dominate the people. It should never become a buyer of securities and mortgages (Can anyone compete with something that has seemingly unlimited funds and creates our laws?), a bailout specialist (if firms fail – they fail – that’s the downside of free markets – deal with it – and besides, the government should not be in the business of deciding who survives and who fails), a provider of income (social security), a healthcare service provider (Medicare, Medicaid, prescription drug benefits), dictate how we educate our children, etc, etc. If our President proposed that the U.S. become a Socialist country next week – there would be a public outcry as we’ve never seen before – we would march on Washington D.C. and demand this be stopped. We’re definitely moving in that direction – only we’re doing it over decades – and very few people are saying anything. Socialism does not work – regardless of what our new President believes. Read the article below.

3. We must drastically reduce the size of our Government. Less taxes = less government. Imagine the savings if we didn’t need the Internal Revenue Service or the myriad of other departments within our government. Again – private business will always manage money (revenue, expenses, investment, etc.) much better than government. Why? If your livelihood depends on doing a good job – you’re going to do the best job you can. If you receive income whether or not you do a good job and are secure that you’ll be paid regardless of how well you perform – it’s not hard to see why our government is bloated and in disarray. You don’t need a psychology degree to understand how humans behave.

The end result of all of this is that we can either take the broad path that the world will take and join an evil world system – or we can choose the narrow path – and follow our Creator. It is our choice – the same choice every human being has faced. Which path will we choose?

jg – January 14, 2009
JANUARY 9, 2009
‘Atlas Shrugged’: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years

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.

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.

In the book, these relentless wealth redistributionists and their programs are disparaged as “the looters and their laws.” Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the “Anti-Greed Act” to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel’s promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the “Equalization of Opportunity Act” to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the “Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act,” aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn’t Hank Paulson think of that?
These acts and edicts sound farcical, yes, but no more so than the actual events in Washington, circa 2008. We already have been served up the $700 billion “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act” and the “Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act.” Now that Barack Obama is in town, he will soon sign into law with great urgency the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.” This latest Hail Mary pass will increase the federal budget (which has already expanded by $1.5 trillion in eight years under George Bush) by an additional $1 trillion — in roughly his first 100 days in office.

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.”

When Rand was writing in the 1950s, one of the pillars of American industrial might was the railroads. In her novel the railroad owner, Dagny Taggart, an enterprising industrialist, has a FedEx-like vision for expansion and first-rate service by rail. But she is continuously badgered, cajoled, taxed, ruled and regulated — always in the public interest — into bankruptcy. Sound far-fetched? On the day I sat down to write this ode to “Atlas,” a Wall Street Journal headline blared: “Rail Shippers Ask Congress to Regulate Freight Prices.”

In one chapter of the book, an entrepreneur invents a new miracle metal — stronger but lighter than steel. The government immediately appropriates the invention in “the public good.” The politicians demand that the metal inventor come to Washington and sign over ownership of his invention or lose everything.

The scene is eerily similar to an event late last year when six bank presidents were summoned by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to Washington, and then shuttled into a conference room and told, in effect, that they could not leave until they collectively signed a document handing over percentages of their future profits to the government. The Treasury folks insisted that this shakedown, too, was all in “the public interest.”

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.

One memorable moment in “Atlas” occurs near the very end, when the economy has been rendered comatose by all the great economic minds in Washington. Finally, and out of desperation, the politicians come to the heroic businessman John Galt (who has resisted their assault on capitalism) and beg him to help them get the economy back on track. The discussion sounds much like what would happen today:

Galt: “You want me to be Economic Dictator?”

Mr. Thompson: “Yes!”

“And you’ll obey any order I give?”


“Then start by abolishing all income taxes.”

“Oh no!” screamed Mr. Thompson, leaping to his feet. “We couldn’t do that . . . How would we pay government employees?”

“Fire your government employees.”

“Oh, no!”

Abolishing the income tax. Now that really would be a genuine economic stimulus. But Mr. Obama and the Democrats in Washington want to do the opposite: to raise the income tax “for purposes of fairness” as Barack Obama puts it.

David Kelley, the president of the Atlas Society, which is dedicated to promoting Rand’s ideas, explains that “the older the book gets, the more timely its message.” He tells me that there are plans to make “Atlas Shrugged” into a major motion picture — it is the only classic novel of recent decades that was never made into a movie. “We don’t need to make a movie out of the book,” Mr. Kelley jokes. “We are living it right now.”

Mr. Moore is senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal editorial page.


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