Last weekend, selected movie theaters across the county began showing the movie, “Atlas Shrugged”.  For those not in the know, the movie is based on the MASTERPIECE written by Ayn Rand, which has been one of the highest selling fiction books of all-time!  She (Ayn Rand) wrote this book in the 1950’s and interjected a lot of her philosophy of man as well as her sentiments/beliefs on the true nature of capitalism.  Unfortunately, this happens to be a topic that is frowned upon these days.  Huge movements of aimless masses currently march in protest at various state capitals throughout the country.  Why?  Well, it basically boils down to the fact that these angry mobs of zero-liability voters are turned inside-out over the idea that they just might have to actually contribute to their own retirement and/or pension plans IF they happen to be a state worker.  In their eyes, they DESERVE the free money, high job stability, several weeks of paid vacation, excellent health/fringe benefits, and insane pension payouts!  In their eyes, they DESERVE these things MORE THAN YOU because they think that state employees (people who work for the government) are in a class of their own.  They have obviously forgotten the fact that as a public sector employee they already share a dramatically increased level of job security.  Compared to the millions of unemployed private sector employees these people are very, very lucky.  It is a crying shame that they have taken this simple fact for granted.  It’s a shame that being gainfully employed just isn’t enough for some people.  They want more!  They want more and they want YOU to pay for it.

The concepts that create the central theme in “Atlas Shrugged” are pretty simple.  Each man (man = generic pronoun for man or woman) has the ability…no, the opportunity to carve out his own destiny.  That each man has the power within himself to be as successful as he wants to be.  That a man’s property belongs solely to him and NOT to the government…or anyone/anything else…period!  Like I said, the idea behind Ayn Rand’s masterpiece is pretty simple and happens to coincide with the traditional ideas that created the “American Dream”.  It’s an obvious overstatement that every single solitary soul living in America today WILL be as successful as he or she wants to be.  Circumstance and opportunity can sometimes skip over a person or two.  We call that “bad luck“…but with that being said, the idea is sound and set upon solid foundation!  In America, we are free to reap the benefits of our hard work!  We are free to exploit our good fortune if we so desire!  In America, we are essentially free to simply be!  Well, we’re supposed to be, anyways.  My, how things have significantly changed in our country over the past 100 years especially when you measure against what the “idea” of America is supposed to…when you measure it against the “American Dream”.

Would you consider it to be tyrannical if a leader of a country gets whatever he/she wants?  During the time of the Kings, the simple philosophy was “what the King wants the King gets“.  If anyone stood in his way then God have mercy on his soul!  I think it’s safe to say that we can agree such a tactic is tyrannical.  Plain and simple.  Now, instead of the example of a King…think of the American government.  Would it be a fair statement…an accurate statement…if I said “what the government wants the government gets“?  Can you think of an instance where this wouldn’t be true here in the U.S.?  We still have eminent domain issues, class warfare (generated by politics), and a lopsided progressive tax policy which punishes one’s success!  Think of the mountains of obstacles standing in your way if you simply want to start your own small business!  Hell, there’s actually a pretty good chance that you won’t be ALLOWED to engage in business activities let alone actually start your own company if you don’t jump through every hoop the government puts in front of you!  I think it would be safe to say that if you sat down and thought about it then you wouldn’t be able to think of very many things IN YOUR OWN LIFE that the government doesn’t have their fingers in.  Is this right?  Is this what the Americans of the 1700’s had in mind when they violently fought for the right to be left alone?  Oh…I would love to sit down and have a conversation, right now, with George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and the likes!  I would love to hear what they would have to say about the state of our union.

Atlas Shrugged is a masterpiece because it reminds us of the simplicity that is the “American way”.  There is a dark side of the book that requires the reader to reason with, too.  The darkness of the book is based on the fact that major industrialists, capitalists, businessmen, and individuals simply give up.  There is no confrontation even remotely similar to the Boston Tea Party in the book.  There is no violent uprising and there certainly aren’t any rallies or protests found in any state capital or public square!  Instead, the heroes of the book initially surrender and give up.  At first, this makes the reader wonder what the heck is going on.  It makes the reader reason with what he/she knows is right compared to what Ayn Rand is writing about.  It makes the reader, perhaps, even deal with a bit of depression!  The major industrialists and entrepreneurs of America are under assault by the federal government by way of legislation that makes it illegal to make “too much profit” (The Equalization of Opportunity Act) or for one person/company to own more than one business (the Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Rule).  The government eventually singles out the entire state of Colorado because (in the book) there is a surplus of success, opportunity, and profits coming from that state.  The way they, the government, sees it is IF they can simply bring the industrialists down…bring the entire state of Colorado down…then the rest of America won’t feel so bad because now everyone will be equal.  The reaction of the industrialists to these tyrannical acts of legislation is to throw their hands up…surrender…quit…and just go away.  They leave eveything behind.  They simply vanish.

Like I said, at first, the reader has to contend with the notion that the heroes of the story are giving up rather than standing up and fighting the good fight.  As the reader progresses through the story, however, he/she becomes aware of the strategy behind their acts of surrender…and it’s genius!

Imagine, just for a second, that the founders/CEO’s of companies like MicroSoft, Apple, Haliburton, Wal-Mart, and Exon-Mobil closed their doors, burned their stores to the ground, fired everyone, and then vanished into thin air.  What would the plausible scenario be IF something like this were to happen?  We all complain about companies like these from time to time…we belly-ache about how big they are or how much money they make…don’t we?  Well, what if they all closed shop tomorrow?  Would the general economic impact be positive or negative?  I don’t think it takes an economist to understand the likely scenario (aftershock) in this hyperbolic situation.

We need to remember WHY these companies are as big and successful as they are!  It’s not because of luck, but rather because of hard work, excellent leadership, and a capitalistic mindset guiding them towards the goal of higher profits and better products.  Why do we want to punish this?  Why have we allowed the government to live so far outside of its means that it feels the only thing left to do is to pile on and punish the successful portion of our society/economy?  This is one of the reasons why “Atlas Shrugged” is one of the most widely published books (fiction) of all time!  It’s because the story in the book speaks to us!  We see these things actually going on around us…right now!  The government is growing more and more tyrannical and the masses are growing more and more dependent.  This, my friends, is NOT right.  This is NOT how it’s supposed to be!  WE ALL KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE!  Yet, we continue to allow things to get worse.  We allow the government to get away with things that make us sick to our stomach because the government has done a successful job making you feel as if there’s really nothing you can do about it.  We have collectively grown into a complacent society that is way too dependent upon “The Man”.  Throughout history, this has never been a successful scenario for the people of such a nation.  NEVER!

Ayn Rand is an unapologetic capitalist and many of the characters in her book, Atlas Shrugged, reflect such a sentiment.  To some, this may feel…or sound…like a bad thing.  It may simply be a mindset (overtly capitalistic) that rubs the wrong way.  These are all “feelings”, however.  Feelings are personal and don’t affect anyone other than you.  Capitalism, in its untarnished and unfettered form, is superior to all other forms of governance or policy.  The reason this is true is because of what capitalism does…at its core!  It makes the individual stronger!  It makes the individual the leader of his/her own life and because of that the individual is a strong entity.  Capitalism focuses on the individual, BUT when individuals become strong they become a strong collective society.  Capitalism tries to nudge…to push…to propel people upward and onward; it tries to bring people up!  The antithesis of capitalism (which is a planned society or some form of socialism) strives to bring people DOWN so they’re all the same.  It’s easier to bring people down into equality compared to bringing them up.  It takes hard work to really allow capitalism to establish roots in a society.  It’s much easier to give power to an elected group of bureacrats in order to make decisions for us.  The easy way is usually NOT the right way.

The American Left (democrats, socialists, progressives, communists, etc…) does NOT want you to read “Atlas Shrugged”.  The American Left does NOT want you to see the movie, either!  Why?  Because they don’t want you to remember!  They don’t want you to be influenced by things that ring true at your core!  Because they don’t want to give up control.  They don’t want to work hard and they certainly don’t want to leave things up to you…the individual.  They don’t want you to see this movie so badly that they made it damn near impossible for the movie to be made!  There are no big-name producers attached to this film; there are no big-name actors involved with the movie; there wasn’t a lot of capital available for the film to be made!  The producers of this movie had a shoestring budget (as far as movies go and compared to the norm) and zero support from Hollywood, yet they still made the movie!  In fact, they did a pretty damn good job, too. 

As a person who sees a lot of movies (really, I see A LOT of movies), I feel like my eye for acknowledging good or bad film making is pretty darn accurate.  I can easily spot when a movie was poorly put together or, on the other hand, masterfully created.  I’m not going as far to say that the movie Atlas Shrugged was masterfully put together, but I am willing to say that it was very well made.  It was actually much better than I thought after I learned that the movie didn’t even have a budget of $10 million!  I can easily say that I was pleasantly surprised with nearly every facet of the film.  Sure, there were things that I think could have been done better and there were parts of the book that I wished they would have implemented better into the movie…but all in all, it was a really good film.  It’s not an action movie so don’t expect to be riddled with excitement and shifting plots or dramatic climax moments. 

I wish they would have spent more time on the dialogue in the movie and made it more like the narrative of the book.  I wish they would have implemented more of Rand’s philosophy into the conversations between characters.  Like I said, however, there are things I would have done differently, but I can’t complain.  I’m very proud of the production team who put the movie together and I truly hope that the movie turns a profit so they’ll feel compelled to make parts 2 and 3.  I hope freedom-loving Americans will get off of their couches and go see this movie in order to support the film maker, but also to send a message that this genre has an interested market.

Who is John Galt?

Advertisements