Congressman John Galt

johngaltIf 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?

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4 Responses to Congressman John Galt

  1. Ray Colon says:

    Hi Pete,

    I read this post last night on my phone and enjoyed it very much. I only made it a third of the way through Atlas Shrugged (when I was asked to read it on a dare from a former employer), but the “tough nuts” tone was evident in what I did read.

    I’ve had trouble accessing the ACA site, so I can’t speak to the costs directly, but I have seen several instances of persons posting tweets indicating that they will enjoy a cost savings once their new coverage kicks-in in January.

    Having had the validity of the Act decided by Congress and confirmed by the courts, this seems an odd choice for a GOP stand. Between the current shutdown debacle and their resistance to the previously routine raising of the debt ceiling, I see more self-inflicted pain in our future, and that’s a pity.

  2. Dave Mann says:

    Seems you’ve left out the authoritarians that dominate the bureaucracy in Rand’s books. And at no time did Galt ever say, screw them. His point was the authoritarians were enslaving those that produced, and controlling/regulating them to the point of distaste. He did offer the Makers a place to go to start over where their work was theirs. Leaving others to gov’t whim was not his responsibility. I do wonder if you actually read Atlas Shrugged.

    • Peter Faur says:

      Every last page, Dave. Including that nearly endless speech. It’s an interesting read. There’s much that I appreciate about Ayn Rand, including her emphasis on personal responsibility, striving for excellence and thinking for yourself. I understand that her thinking is heavily influenced by her experience of growing up under communism, and she certainly saw the worst of a highly controlled, collectivist system.

      I believe we can err too far the other way, too. Alan Greenspan’s trusting that Wall Street financiers would never let greed go unchecked proved to be wrong, for example, and it nearly took us down financially. Excess regulation is dumb; appropriate regulation is useful. Finding the balance is always tough.

      That’s why rational discourse, healthy debate and lots of sunshine is a good thing.

      I’ve also read The Fountainhead several times, and a number of Rand’s essays. Thanks for your thoughts.

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