Twenty-nine years after her death, novelist Ayn Rand is coming to a theater near you. After many failed attempts, her 1957 novel "Atlas Shrugged" has been made into a film.
In an age when overspending, overreaching, higher-taxing and overregulating government increasingly strangles the private sector, robbing us of our liberties and transforming the country into the model of a socialist state, Rand's story reminds us how far ahead of her time she was and just how dangerous a time we live in now.
At least one member of Congress has recognized Rand's intuitiveness. Rep. Paul Ryan, the author of the Republican budget proposal, reportedly directed his staff to read "Atlas Shrugged" back in 2010. Ryan, writes Christopher Beam of New York magazine, even credits Rand as "the reason I got involved in public service."
"Atlas Shrugged" is a novel, but its plot is anything but fiction. In it, successful businesswoman, Dagny Taggart, the head of one of the largest railroad companies in America, struggles to keep her company alive in challenging economic times. Searching for innovative ways to stay afloat, she teams with steel magnate Hank Rearden, the developer of an innovative metal alloy, thought to be the strongest metal in the world. Success seems assured. Then the federal government steps in. The government proclaims the Taggart-Rearden partnership "unfair" to other steel producers and passes a law regulating how many businesses an individual can own. The law is euphemistically titled the "Equalization of Opportunity" bill.
If the language and scenario sound contemporary, they should. President Obama, who plays at cutting spending and wants to raise taxes, is the embodiment of the philosophy about which Ayn Rand warned. Just how smooth Obama is at this was even noticed by the Associated Press, which tends not to think in such cynical terms when it comes to the administration. In a headline about the negotiations that supposedly led to $38 billion in spending cuts, the AP wrote: "Budget Tricks Helped Obama Save Favorite Programs From Cuts."
"Atlas Shrugged" is about those who would penalize individual achievement and subsidize "the collective." It is the embodiment of Karl Marx's philosophy, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." To put it another way, the collective believes that if you earn $2 dollars and I make $1 dollar, you owe me 50 cents to make things "fair." This is redistributionist or, to paraphrase the president, "spreading the wealth around."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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