Today is my 500th post. When I started Anthidote in 2006 I did quick reviews of things I liked. That evolved into more long-form essay style posts on subject matter that interested me. That evolved into pulling in travel photos from adventures around the world when I blended my personal blog with this one. For the 500th post, I thought I’d make the subject matter a little bit heavier again since we’re in such an important year in the history of the USA.
I’ve been a fan of Ayn Rand since 1993 when I read Atlas Shrugged. That book change my life and clearly it has also has an affect on millions of others as well. In mid-July President Obama gave his now famous speech wherein he basically openly exposed his belief that the collective is more important than the individual (when if he would simply acknowledge that successful individuals freely trading with one other automatically makes for a strong collective). It’s as if he and his like-minded crowd keep pushing on a door that is marked “pull”.
What continually amazes me is how Ayn Rand foretold so much of what is happening in the world because she had witnessed (lived it) already it first hand growing up in the old Soviet Russia, which she has described as a truly terrifying place the likes of which modern Americans have no real understanding. How could someone born say after 1990 have any real concept of what tyranny feels like or looks like? It’s the stuff of history books as far as they know.
There is a scene in Atlas Shrugged that is so similar to Obama’s ridiculous speech last week that I thought I’d lay the comments side by side.
“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t…. look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.” (Enthusiastic Applause from the audience.)
“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”
Now look at this scene from Atlas Shrugged – a scene where a government “official” is stating that the smart industrialist Hank Rearden somehow doesn’t deserve credit for inventing the metal he invented.
From Atlas Shrugged:
“He didn’t invent iron ore and blast furnaces, did he?”
“Rearden. He didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn’t have invented his Metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. His Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything.”
She said, puzzled, “But the iron ore and all those other things were there all the time. Why didn’t anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. Rearden did?”
Looking at Obama’s comments, he loves to talk about roads and bridges. Is that what Obama believes is the reason people are successful? Because the country invested in roads and bridges? A lot of countries have roads and bridges – so what? What Obama fails to grasp is that it’s is smart, competent people that make the world a better place not only for themselves but for virtually everybody. It’s not because their country invested in roads – hell North Korea has roads, Venezuela has roads.
The absolutely amazing thing about Atlas Shrugged is that no matter what decade you’re in, it reads like it comes straight from today’s headlines – and today more than ever unfortunately. The good news? At the end of the book when the government has completely screwed everything up they finally realize that the only way to set things straight again is to get out of the way and let competent individuals forge the new path (again). It’s a mentality shift that some have made and some other haven’t. In December 2011 I wrote a piece here on how we should be grateful for entrepreneurs instead of casting them as somehow the bad guys sticking it to everyone else.
Sticking with the “mentality shift” theme, there are two movies worth checking out before the election that shed light on the realities of the day – the first (2016 Obama’s America) dives into why Obama thinks the way he does and how he sees his mission as President to “fundamentally change the United States of America” by essentially realigning the USA in the world. The second (Runaway Slave) deals with the black experience in America after almost 50 years of Democratic party allegiance.
I know a dentist that keeps copy of Atlas Shrugged on his front desk where the patients check in. The deal he offers his patients is that they can take the book for free on the condition that they pass it on to someone else after they’ve read it.