13 January, 2009

Atlas Shrugged:From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years

Here's an article I found on Wall Street Journal by Mr Stephen Moore.. Rings true...
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ATLAS SHRUGGED : FROM FICTION TO FACT IN 52 Years
~ Stephen Moore

Some years ago when I worked at the libertarian Cato Institute, we used to label any new hire who had not yet read "Atlas Shrugged" a "virgin." Being conversant in Ayn Rand's classic novel about the economic carnage caused by big government run amok was practically a job requirement. If only "Atlas" were required reading for every member of Congress and political appointee in the Obama administration. I'm confident that we'd get out of the current financial mess a lot faster.

[Atlas Shrugged]

Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that "Atlas Shrugged" parodied in 1957, when this 1,000-page novel was first published and became an instant hit.

Rand, who had come to America from Soviet Russia with striking insights into totalitarianism and the destructiveness of socialism, was already a celebrity. The left, naturally, hated her. But as recently as 1991, a survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that readers rated "Atlas" as the second-most influential book in their lives, behind only the Bible.

For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.

In the book, these relentless wealth redistributionists and their programs are disparaged as "the looters and their laws." Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the "Anti-Greed Act" to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel's promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the "Equalization of Opportunity Act" to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the "Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act," aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn't Hank Paulson think of that?

These acts and edicts sound farcical, yes, but no more so than the actual events in Washington, circa 2008. We already have been served up the $700 billion "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act" and the "Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act." Now that Barack Obama is in town, he will soon sign into law with great urgency the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan." This latest Hail Mary pass will increase the federal budget (which has already expanded by $1.5 trillion in eight years under George Bush) by an additional $1 trillion -- in roughly his first 100 days in office.

The current economic strategy is right out of "Atlas Shrugged": The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That's the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies -- while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to "calm the markets," another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as "Atlas" grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls."

When Rand was writing in the 1950s, one of the pillars of American industrial might was the railroads. In her novel the railroad owner, Dagny Taggart, an enterprising industrialist, has a FedEx-like vision for expansion and first-rate service by rail. But she is continuously badgered, cajoled, taxed, ruled and regulated -- always in the public interest -- into bankruptcy. Sound far-fetched? On the day I sat down to write this ode to "Atlas," a Wall Street Journal headline blared: "Rail Shippers Ask Congress to Regulate Freight Prices."

In one chapter of the book, an entrepreneur invents a new miracle metal -- stronger but lighter than steel. The government immediately appropriates the invention in "the public good." The politicians demand that the metal inventor come to Washington and sign over ownership of his invention or lose everything.

The scene is eerily similar to an event late last year when six bank presidents were summoned by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to Washington, and then shuttled into a conference room and told, in effect, that they could not leave until they collectively signed a document handing over percentages of their future profits to the government. The Treasury folks insisted that this shakedown, too, was all in "the public interest."

Ultimately, "Atlas Shrugged" is a celebration of the entrepreneur, the risk taker and the cultivator of wealth through human intellect. Critics dismissed the novel as simple-minded, and even some of Rand's political admirers complained that she lacked compassion. Yet one pertinent warning resounds throughout the book: When profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society, they start to disappear -- leaving everyone the poorer.

One memorable moment in "Atlas" occurs near the very end, when the economy has been rendered comatose by all the great economic minds in Washington. Finally, and out of desperation, the politicians come to the heroic businessman John Galt (who has resisted their assault on capitalism) and beg him to help them get the economy back on track. The discussion sounds much like what would happen today:

Galt: "You want me to be Economic Dictator?"

Mr. Thompson: "Yes!"

"And you'll obey any order I give?"

"Implicitly!"

"Then start by abolishing all income taxes."

"Oh no!" screamed Mr. Thompson, leaping to his feet. "We couldn't do that . . . How would we pay government employees?"

"Fire your government employees."

"Oh, no!"

Abolishing the income tax. Now that really would be a genuine economic stimulus. But Mr. Obama and the Democrats in Washington want to do the opposite: to raise the income tax "for purposes of fairness" as Barack Obama puts it.

David Kelley, the president of the Atlas Society, which is dedicated to promoting Rand's ideas, explains that "the older the book gets, the more timely its message." He tells me that there are plans to make "Atlas Shrugged" into a major motion picture -- it is the only classic novel of recent decades that was never made into a movie. "We don't need to make a movie out of the book," Mr. Kelley jokes. "We are living it right now."

29 December, 2008

So Says Wilde

I am absolutely in love with what Oscar Wilde has to say...

Here are some more of his insightful thoughts :)
  • I have found that all ugly things are made by those who strive to make something beautiful and that all beautiful things are made by those who strive to make something useful.

  • What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  • The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.

27 December, 2008

What it takes..

We all have our lows..
But what keeps us going is our self esteem..

The minute that is lost.. it gets tougher to carry on... alone...

24 December, 2008

:D :) ?? :(

I am very happy..
I feel like standing on the top of a building and screaming my lungs out..
Or some other way I could release all this energy in me..
The energy which has been bottled inside..
Bottled because I don't know how else to express my joy..

16 December, 2008

Better or Worse

Which is worse...

Knowing that your friend is upto something but is not telling you...
Or that he is confident about your being able to understand the silence :(

02 December, 2008

Vote !

We all accept that the politicians in the present system are jerks.. atleast most of them...
then why don't we all come together when we have the right to express the power to vote..

Even though this year's voter turnout happens to be better than last time's MCD elections, i still believe 63% is not good enough a figure for a city like Delhi...

What will it take to bring people out of their houses and vote, i wonder..

16 November, 2008

That Sound in your Head.. 2

Corollary :
More that sound in my head I hear...
Greater will be the frequency of blog entries you'll find here :)

12 November, 2008

Divided or Equal ?

Thats it now.. I've heard enough..

It all started long time ago I guess.. I mean this irritating feeling...

Obama's becoming a President is an achievement.. because he's a Black.. as if it wouldn't qualify to be an achievement otherwise.. we make it sound as if it isn't his political stand on issues that matters but the colour.. and then we talk about equality blah blah...

Today's TOI (front page) said "Two big Hindu leaders under ATS scanners".. as if 2 leaders being under the scanner wouldn't catch your eyeballs...

What is it with us.. to associate every issue with caste, colour, religion... I don't know about other countries, but somehow, all of us, I mean us Indians, have a habit to categorize everyone.. and we'd make sure we'll find a reason.

We all take pride that we are a nation with so many cultures , castes and religions.. and we all still coexist.. but I sometimes wonder if we really do..

Given the slightest opportunity, we are willing to point fingers at another, and justify it by simply saying the person is a Hindu or a Muslim..

What is it with us ??

11 November, 2008

That Sound in your Head

Has it happened that their is a constant voice in your head.. which just doesnt stop...
Some call it conscience, some call it sub-sonscious.. some call it your alter ego..

I feel its just our mind playing games..
saying things that we'd probably hesitate saying out aloud..

and the lesser you talk to people, the stronger the voice in your head grows...

10 November, 2008

Opinions

Its important to express your opinion.. but its even more important to express it in the correct way and to the right people...

Thats my learning for the day !!!

06 November, 2008

The New Age

"The age of status quo is dead. In every sphere, people want more than gradual growth. They are looking for radical results. Risk-takers. They want an upheaval. A metamorphosis. They will experiment. "
~ Sanjay Jha

Are we ?

PS : source of the quote : Why Raj Thackeray Blew It

30 October, 2008

Wilde says the darnest things

“There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.”
~ Oscar Wilde (in The Picture of Dorian Gray)

Dont we wonder about this all the time..
when will it be that I'll make a decision not because someone told me to, but because I wanted to...

28 October, 2008

Honestly Wilde :)

"There is a luxury in self reproach.
When we blame ourselves we feel that no one else has the right to blame us"
~ Oscar Wilde (in The Picture of Dorian Gray)

I am yet to find an author who is as blatantly honest as Oscar Wilde.
Ironically, it is these pieces of truth in his writing that appear to us as satire/wit.

11 October, 2008

Another Arbid thought

Sannata Sunai Nahin Deta, 
Aur Hawayen Dikhayi Nahin Deti
Socha Hai Kya Kabhi, Hota Hai Yeh Kyun..

These are the lyrics of a song from Rock On!
What caught my attention is actually what the lyricist is trying to point out..

It rings a bell when he says that we try and give a name to everything.. even things we cannot see..

22 September, 2008

Me ~ A Cupboard

By now all of you must have realized what a psychologically demented person i am... here's adding on to the same...

A thought recently ran into my mind... that i am very similar to a cupboard... open or closed depending on my moods :)

Lets go stepwise..
You need some power (read brain power aka intellect!!) to make me open up, for me to start communicating with you... that's the power needed to open the cupboard..
Next are the many compartments in a cupboard that are present once you open it..
what is immediately visible is the exterior, kept on hangers, what i showcase to the world..
but what is of greater significance is what is hidden in the locked drawers of the cupboard.. like a window to my psyche..
and yes, its not necesssary that the harder you try, greater the success rate of opening up one of the closed drawers, if you push too hard, the lock just might break ;), so beware !!

I don't know if this parallel applies to all..
but it definitely holds true for me...

17 August, 2008

Jealous !!

I am jealous of the person i love the most
not because he doesnt love me
but because someone else gets to love him too...

05 August, 2008

:)

Khamoshiyaan gungunane lagi..
Tanhaiyaan muskurane lagi..

01 August, 2008

Selling !!!

An article i recently read got me thinking...
(http://www.theamericanscholar.org/su08/elite-deresiewicz.html)

What is it that education gives us.. we all strive for education, good quality education, from premier institutes of the world.. but what do we actually learn..
Hasn't our focus shifted totally, from content to the cover.. from substance to mere brands... isn't that what we are all chasing...

Marketing and hard selling seem to have become such an integral part of our life, that we don't 'develop' a liking for anything that is not 'sold' to us...
I guess "Beauty lies in substance" belongs to an old school of thought which ceases to exist in today's world...

What is worse is our justification for the need of selling.. have we all stopped trusting our sense of judgement.. the judgement of identifying what is right without someone trying to create a bias for something....

What is it that propels this thought.. i am yet to comprehend...

17 July, 2008

Lets Party !!

Have you ever felt out of place in a party with your friends...
That's just the way i felt today... and in some twisted way, i am resposible for it.. mayeb i didnt make the effort to enjoy myself....

Ironically, all of them enjoyed themselves...