Yesterday afternoon we, along with the Steeles, went to see the movie ‘Atlas Shrugged – Part 1’ that I described in ‘Shrugging Atlas is Back’. The movie, based on Ayn Rand’s novel of the same name, lived up to its expectations. The casting, acting, production values, and fidelity to the original were well executed. I look forward to Parts 2 and 3 of this trilogy.
Reflecting on what I had seen in the movie, especially how it depicts what we are living through today, I was struck by the thought that the trilogy will communicate little to the meager number of progressives who will see it. Heralding its early demise, they simply do not understand the point of the movie. Its dystopic message for the rest of us will be seen as a necessary waypoint to their new world order.
In that order there is little need for individual risk, initiative, and enterprise. All problems will be solved by state committees for the common good. 'Excess funds' will be siphoned out of the population through higher tax rates and redistributed. All progressives know that higher tax rates will not harm the economy, in fact, they cite the post-war years as evidence that higher taxes will even stimulate the economy.
Unfortunately, the conditions of the fifties are misinterpreted by the left. Then the US was the technology, agricultural, and manufacturing leader of a world mostly under-developed and devastated by war. As long as international trade was allowed, and appropriate set-asides and subsidies were in place, the imposed tax rate did not matter much. Money still came pouring in from all sides because we could make and sell stuff that the world could get from nowhere else – competition was non-existent, and demand was found under every overturned rock. Not any more – Atlas mugged.
[Addendum] The above does not make explicit what I want to relate as the major takeaway from the movie and the book. In 1957 Ayn Rand published Atlas Shrugged as a warning to us that if we kept looking to government for solutions and allowing it to grow into a megalith surrogate for our personal responsibilities, then we would wind up with the world she depicted. That same megalith would hang around the neck of every productive citizen in the land.
The truth of the matter is that Rand's described world is now upon us and much more. We are past the point she depicted. In her warning, she still allowed for a way back to sanity. Today, the added burden of massive debt and deficits has put us beyond the pale - we are beyond the precipice like Wiley Coyote. And like Wiley, we will not be able to walk on air back to safety. Even Atlas cannot lift from our backs the trillions upon trillions we have senselessly allowed to accumulate there.