I read Atlas Shrugged for the first time when I was 18 years old; like so many other people, my life and my outlook were influenced forever. Ayn Rand's characters emerged larger than life - whether they were good or bad, sinister or benificent - whether I related to them or was repulsed by them. At 18, I believed that Rand was a wonderful storyteller,
but, of course, I thought, the frightening picture that she painted could NEVER come to pass.
Nearly 40 years later, I am shuddering at the similarities between her "story" and the reality of life in the US in 2008. As if she had staged it, our uber-government launched an astonishing attack on the executives of the major oil companies.
Our "representatives," who hold the purse strings on We the People's money, had the audacity to attack the monies that the oil companies make. Before emotion takes hold as you read this, try to bear in mind that making money is the ultimate purpose of doing business. Moreover, the CEOs explained what their return on the dollar was.
The false outrage at the numbers is nothing less than comical; the congress is supported by truckloads of money provided by lobbyists and special interest groups that push legislation to further their individual causes rather than representing the citizenry as a whole.
The executives also pointed out that the government, vis a vis the strong environmentalist lobbies, has prevented both the drilling and the refining of oil in the United States. This leaves the oil companies with very little leeway regarding what they can choose to research. It stifles exploration and creativity. It stunts the development of new ideas. It curtails free enterprise and competition. The result - a country (and a world) in which the citizens become SUBJECTS, falling under the thumb of one and only one industry, and who must succumb to the dictates of that industry.
This is a far cry from the free market system. Business operates best when it operates without restraint, either from the government directly, or from special interest groups that do not reflect the majority of the population. Now, 40 years after the last refinery was constructed, the United States and the world face surging oil increases. Had the companies been allowed to pursue energy resources located here in the US, we might be in a very different position than we are in now.
The economic implications are grim. But...
The social implications are worse.
The government, in the person of this special investigative body, attacked the "obscene" salaries that the oil executives enjoy. Regardless of whether or I not I am happy with their salaries, it is beyond my control to determine them. And that is the way that it should be. That is what FREEDOM is about. Each of us has the same opportunity to explore new ideas, to work hard, and to take risks. The end result, for each of us, is determined by the choices that
we make, and how we pursue those choices.
Bill Gates is not being called to the carpet for the money that he earns, nor is Warren Buffet, or dozens of other wealthy individuals who have made names for themselves via the free
What is the difference between the two groups? The one that is being attacked is the one that is already subject to government controls! The one that is not is subject to the dictates of the marketplace. During this fiasco, one congresswoman made the horrendous blunder - one that she thankfully recognized as soon as she let the word slip out - but it was too late. The real motive for this "hearing" surfaced. The real purpose of what our "representatives" want to do reared its ugly head. Maxine Waters shuddering the frightening word "socialize" when she threatened the oil companies. It was so ridiculous that she could not recover from it. She stuttered and then fell into stupefying silence.
Ayn Rand already wrote this scene in The Fountainhead. Be sure to watch the video. You will see that Rand had a better resolution. The person called to the carpet actually stood up and spoke on behalf of himself. And in doing so, he spoke on behalf of all of us.
What We the People have forgotten in 40 years is that the individual is what really matters; he is the one who makes the difference; he is the one whose interest must be preserved. The government, on the other hand, now attempts to speak for the people. Yet they cannot do so. It is the INDIVIDUAL, seeking to protect his interests in a free society, who will ultimately create a situation in which EVERYONE benefits.
Somewhere, out there, is a Howard Roark. A John Galt. A Dagny Taggart. A Francisco D'Anconia. What they have to do is stand and speak. If they do not, their work, their risks, and their accomplishments, will be taken away. And if they are, they should not surrender them willingly to a government who would overstep its powers to this stunning extent. Rather, they should destroy what they have created, rather than leaving their creations to the looters who would take them by force. They should emulate Wyatt, and create a torch that can be seen for miles.
Watch the videos. It may be that Gary Cooper was playing a part in a fictitious story. But I believe not. I believe that scene is an ominous foretelling of what was to come.
Beware of a government that is ready to take from one of us in order to beneift of us. They next person that they take from will be you.