If you read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, you know that throughout most of the book, people were asking, “Who is John Galt?” It turns out he was a genius inventor-businessman-philosopher who convinced like-minded inventors, artists and captains of industry to retreat into a colony and stop doing their jobs.
The point of the strike was to “stop the motor of the world” and bring about the collapse of a bureaucratic society. They wanted to prove to the world that they, the makers, were indispensable, and all the rest, the takers, had a life only because of them. Galt opposed the idea that we are responsible for each other. He believed in rational selfishness, that everything will be better if we all just take care of our own interest and forget about everyone else.
Paul Ryan said in last year’s election that he is an Ayn Rand devotee, as are many on the extreme right. It seems entirely possible to me that this group of congressmen who are giddy about shutting down the government and, possibly, refusing to raise the debt limit, believe they’ve found their moment. They’re ready to make John Galt’s plan come to life.
In Galt’s world, and Rand’s world, people are on their own. Interestingly, in anything I’ve ever read by Rand, there are no families struggling with desperately sick children or with parents who need care at the end of their lives. It’s a fantasy world where no one needs help. If they do, I suppose, well, that’s just their own tough luck. They never have to face a “death panel.” They just have to go off and die an ugly, undignified death.
“Tough rocks,” Rand might have said. “Tough rocks,” might be the slogan of this crowd in Congress hellbent on chaos.
I’m not a huge fan of the Affordable Care Act. I think it does almost nothing to address ever-escalating costs.
But I also don’t think it’s right to throw the country into chaos over it. If you believe Obama is wrong to suspend the large employer mandate, take it to the Supreme Court. If you don’t like the law, get enough people in Congress to change it. But don’t play games with the country’s programs, and certainly don’t lead us into default.
What do you think?