Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Is that a shrug or a wince?

A fascinating article that I somehow missed.
Go figure. I cannot determine the date of publication, as the dateline now says "Posted NaN/NaN/NaN NaN:NaN PM." Why admit your age if you don't have to?

It seems that in the wake of the Enron scandal corperate executives fournd occasion to revisit Ayn Rand's classic novel ATLAS SHRUGGED. In the novel, John Galt vows to "stop the motor of the world" in answer to creeping (and not so creeping) socialism. Government bureaucrats, simpering intellectuals, and cowardly capitalists are given a sound thrashing for almost 1100 pages. I won't give any more of the story away, in kindness to those who have not read the book. Oh, what the heck...

"The premise of the book is that such innovators become so fed up with the "moochers" who regulate, tax and otherwise feed off of those who achieve, that the achievers go on strike. They withdraw their talents from the world, threatening to send it back toward the Dark Ages."

It is as fashionable to hate this book as it is to revere every word. I confess that ATLAS SHRUGGED is one of my favorite novels. I reread it periodically (I'm listening to it on tape) so if I start calling everyone a "looter" or tell you to check your premises, please excuse my exuberance.

However, I wonder why the Enron (and WorldCom, Tyco, etc.) scandal should ignite CEO's to dust off their copies for a return trip to Galt's Gulch? Rand, whatever her quirks (and they were many!), would not have defended the fraud of Enron. I think the answer is that many corporate heads see the real crime of the Enrons to be an excuse for further regulation and expropriation of lawfully acquired wealth.

Can the government distingiush between free enterprise and fraud? We know that university professors cannot. This is true, also, of much of the public. The recent inquisition of oil company executives does not give one hope.

"They're going after all CEOs, capitalism itself," says John Aglialoro, CEO of Cybex International, which makes exercise equipment.

Aglialoro shelled out a million bucks to buy the rights to ATLAS SHRUGGED. His is the latest in the many attempts to bring Rand's novel to the screen. He'll need the tenacity of Dagney Taggart to pull it off.

With the Republicans in full retreat (when they're not embracing liberal solutions to every human problem) and businesses being depicted as only slightly less depraved than Al Quada, are we ripe for Rand-style consciousness-raising among embattled and bewildered capitalists?

Who knows?

Who is John Galt?


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