I enjoy hearing the comments a bumper sticker on my truck engenders. It shows a picture of Atlas shrugging while holding an Obama logo in place of the world. The comments range from angry rants to honks of approval. In short, it has become clear that most comments demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of Ayn Rand’s philosophy.
First, it should be said that Atlas Shrugged is the second-most influential book in the United States behind the Bible in a survey conducted by the Library of Congress. It embodies the philosophy set forth by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, namely our right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. “Atlas is shrugging” is a comment on a society that has encouraged more takers, or “looters,” than producers.
Contrary to what many believe, today’s conservatives give only lip service to Rand’s economic beliefs while shunning her social views. On the other hand, liberals have developed or adopted their beliefs in the comfort and protection of a strong country that has thus far preserved their liberties. Unlike most of us, Rand developed her philosophy while personally experiencing the Bolshevik Revolution. She saw first hand the destruction of liberty and the confiscation of personal wealth in the name of bettering humanity. Rand’s message was prophetic in warning her readers that our liberty and happiness will be slowly eroded by an ever-expanding government that promotes class warfare and expands its power and control over us in the name of altruism.
The other common mistake comes from those who believe that Rand’s heroes and heroines are selfish in not caring about benefitting society. The simple answer is that they do care but not in the way our politicians seek to shame them into giving away their wealth.
Rand’s heroes in Atlas only want ownership of their ideas/products and the right to be rewarded financially. However, when governments interfere with ownership rights and limit profits in the name of benefitting humanity, the result is to deter innovation, development and production.