A survey by the Library of Congress in 1991 showed that Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand was the most influential book in America, second only to the Bible. I run into very few people who have actually read it, and at 1,200 pages, it is daunting. However, in recent months there has been a resurgence of interest in this book. Hollywood has even responded with a fresh attempt at making a movie out of it.
The book explores what would happen when government intrusion into the free market becomes so onerous that the nation’s entrepreneurs finally become fed up and go on strike, throwing the entire country into socio-economic turmoil. Earlier in the year, there was a flurry of news stories surrounding the book, as pundits and politicians alike made reference to it in comparison to steps being taken by the Obama administration. I think these comparisons were accurate, if a bit premature, especially since the intervention into the auto industry had not even begun yet. Today, the parallels have become even more astounding.
Rand’s tale, published in 1957, seems to be somewhat prophetic. She escaped the oppression of the Soviet Union as a child, and came to America seeking a better life. Her novels were critical of any steps America took that she felt would lead us down the same path as her mother Russia. Fifty years later, we seem to still be meandering along that path. Sadly, Rand died in 1982, but her legacy lives on.
With the government now in direct control of most of the financial industry, the auto industry, and seriously discussing a takeover of the health care industry, how much further down this path will we go? The predictions in Atlas Shrugged have been eerily accurate so far. Read the book to learn one possible outcome.