Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ayn Rand: Where are You When We Need You?

I recently re-read one of my all-time favorite books, ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand. I read this incredible novel about once every ten years or so since it formed the basis of her political ideology called objectivism. Each reading gives me a greater insight into what she was saying and boy was she right.

With all the recent economic events in turmoil around us I can only think of how Hank Reardon would react.

A U.S. President ordering the firing of the CEO of General Motors.

Half of Chrysler owned by the U.A.W.

The Fed ordering banks to shore up their balance sheets or face a government takeover.

Taxes rising on the rich, in other words, the productive, while being reduced to zero for the poor, in other words, the unproductive.

An official Federal economic policy that believes it is possible to grow the economy and make it competitive on the world stage by increasing regulation of business, deficit spending beyond all historic measures, raising taxes, devaluing the currency, and for the first time ever giving Federal officials voting rights in corporate boardrooms.

Ayn Rand, Russian born by the way, warned us about all this more than sixty years ago. She saw with her own eyes as a little girl from her bedroom window the rise of Bolshevism in St. Petersberg and all its consequences. Her father's pharmacy in the city was seized without compensation by the Communists. The family was forced to leave the city and on the way to the Crimea they were nearly all killed by roadside bandits.

Her father started a second new pharmacy in the Crimea. It took was confiscated by the Soviets.

He then began to work in yet another pharmacy. It too was "appropriated" by government officials. Ayn Rand wrote of these experiences as "a state policy where families were officially expected to work and starve."

She was purged by Soviet officials from her university for her political beliefs. As she fled Russia her most important political mentor and the subject of her first novel, WE THE LIVING, was arrested and executed. When she finally left Russia vowing never to return a friend told her to describe her homeland this way:

"If they ask you, in America, tell them that Russia is a huge cemetery and that we are all slowly dying."

That is how I feel in so many ways about my country. The great economic and political experiment that gave us centuries of unprecedented economic vitality and democratic freedom is slowly dying, strangled like an infant in a crib by a cabal of greedy bankers and the government bureaucrats they keep on their payroll. Lobbying for TARP largess has replaced entrepreneurism as a virtue. Who you know matters more than what you know---or what you can do. All money belongs to the state instead of who actually worked for it.

Read ATLAS SHRUGGED and also THE FOUNTAINHEAD to get a better grasp of what America once was, at least to the eyes of a Russian who saw the nightmare of a government out of control and bent on seizing every last drop of power for its own ends.

Then read THE WALL STREET JOURNAL to witness the sad display of corporate executives lining up like homeless men at a soup kitchen with bowls at the ready seeking money earned by the hard work and sweat of others.

Ayn Rand, where are you when we need you the most?

Robert J. Abalos, Esq.