Sunday, March 29, 2009

Atlas Sold (but Did Not Sell Out)


About a week and a half ago, the Ayn Rand Institute proudly noted that different editions of Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged have lately filled multiple spots on Amazon’s top ten classics list and top ten U.S. Literature and Fiction list.  Despite my subtle philosophical differences with Rand, I think this is great news (and as for whether Rand was on the right track with her militant atheism — well, that’s something we can discuss this Wednesday night at Lolita Bar, obviously).  For all the complaints people make about Rand’s psychologically-flat characters, I don’t know that any novel besides Atlas has really tried to capture the economic context of a society collapsing under regulation in such convincing detail.

In particular, much as people like to make it sound as if her work is all about evil politicians and heroic industrialists, she does a wonderful job of capturing how widespread selling out to the government is among corporations.  Why face the uncertainty of market competition when you can cozy up to the state and get bailouts or monopoly-granting licenses and government contracts that less well-connected businesses lack?

This is all the more reason to abolish government, though leftists love to make the non-sequitur argument that if the ranks of businessmen are filled with hypocrites and cronies of the state, it’s somehow an argument against the free market.  At this alarming juncture in economic history, I don’t think I can let that one slide to keep the peace at parties anymore, yea, even though I risk becoming once more as annoying as I was in college.  We’re in big trouble, and a lot of people — including some with Nobel Prizes and New York Times columns — badly need to learn the basics of free-market economics immediately.

Speaking of collapsing systems, I’m pleased to see at least two columns pointing out that Natasha Richardson might have had a fighting chance for life after her skiing accident if not for the Canadian healthcare system — and specifically the even more socialistic Quebecois system, which is bad enough to inspire tragic films like The Barbarian Invasions.  Not that this will stop Michael Moore, Nancy Pelosi, and others for pushing to make us more like low-on-scanning-machines Canadians.

Already, politicians like Democratic House Majority Leader Rep. Hoyer are saying that health “insurance” reform should include the option for citizens to enter government-run health programs.  For a time, healthcare will retain a private element, but once people become convinced that, due to having been taxed for it already, they can only get their money’s worth by utilizing “free” government healthcare or health insurance, the private health sector’s days will be numbered, and the U.S. will take one more giant leap toward being a de facto part of Europe, and not in the good wine-drinking way.

The insurance companies’ response to it all?  Rush to become a government entitlement and bask in the stability of being part of the state, as noted in yesterday’s entry.  Time to shrug — but henceforth, be careful you don’t dislocate anything in the process.

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