Even though Rand published "Atlas" in 1957,
her descriptions of intrusive and bloated government read like today's
news. The "Preservation of Livelihood Law" and "Equalization of
Opportunity Law" could be Nancy Pelosi's or Harry Reid's work.
The novel's chief villain is Wesley Mouch, a bureaucrat who cripples the
economy with endless regulations. This sounds familiar. Reason magazine
reports that "as he looks around Washington these days," Rep. Paul Ryan
"can't help but think he's seeing a lot of Wesley Mouch".
Me, too. I also saw a lot of him under George W. Bush.
Personally, I think Chris Dodd's ridiculous financial proposals ought to
win him the honor. But he isn't among the
choices on Fox's list. As I write this, Geithner, President Obama and
Barney Frank lead the voting.
My first guest on the show (FBN, 8 p.m. Eastern Thursday, repeating at
10 p.m. Friday) is BB&T Chairman and "Atlas" fan John Allison. Allison's
bank, the ninth largest in America, is doing very well, but he's angry
the government forced him to take TARP money.
Allison once told The New York Times, "To say man is bad because he is
selfish is to say it's bad because he's alive."
I'll pack the audience with some "Atlas" haters. That shouldn't be hard.
My daughter's boyfriend offers up his Yale classmates. Many "liberals"
agree with the "South Park" episode in which one character said that
"because of this piece of st, I am never reading again." Rand brings
out ferocious hatred in some people.
Also, I'll get a fish pedicure. Really.
This is a dubious Turkish idea that's become popular in Asia and is now
trying for a foothold (pun intended) here. Instead of scraping dead skin
off their feet, people have little garra rufa fish gently chew on them.
Fourteen states have banned fish pedicures, claiming they are unsafe,
and other local governments have proposed bans. OK, compared to the
assault on entrepreneurship described in "Atlas Shrugged," this is sort
of a dumb example, but look I work in television dumb examples can
make good points.
The bureaucrats say the fish can't be sterilized without killing them.
They say customers will get infections. People could die! It's not safe!
And it's cruel to the fish!
Has anyone died? Can you refer me to someone who got an infection?
Anyone? The bureaucrats' answer is always no. But it's better to be
cautious, they say.
In fact, the free market sorts such things out far more efficiently than
bureaucrats. It's just not good business to hurt your customers. My 30
years of consumer reporting taught me that businesses rarely do this,
and here's the market's self-regulation those that do don't stay
in business long. That's not a perfect system, but it's much better than
central planning. Had today's bureaucrats been in charge decades ago,
they would have banned things like aspirin, cars and airplanes.
Sadly, they are in charge now. That makes the "Atlas" message important
Although Rand idolizes businessman in the abstract, "Atlas Shrugged"
makes clear that she (like Adam Smith) understood that they are not
natural friends of free markets. They are often first in line for
privileges bestowed by the state. That's called "crony capitalism," and
that's what Orren Boyle practices in "Atlas." After my "Atlas Shrugged"
show, I plan a show on that subject. Suggestions invited.
I don't want to be controlled by business any more than I want to be
regulated by Nancy Pelosi or Wesley Mouch.
I want the freedom to make my own choices.