Thursday, March 10, 2011

Atlas Shrugged

Mark April 15th on your calendars.  This is not a tax return filing reminder.  The actual federal tax deadline this year is April 18th.  Another 3 days to procrastinate!  Click here for an explanation that involves a D.C local holiday, Emancipation Day, that is celebrated this year on April 15.

The real reason I want you to look forward to April 15 is this is the day that the movie "Atlas Shrugged" will premiere.  The film is based on Ayn Rand's 1957 novel about the collapse of society as the most productive citizens go on strike, led by the mysterious John Galt, rather than continue to be exploited by a controlling government.

I have never read "Atlas Shrugged" although it has long been on my reading list.  1,368 page books are a little intimidating to me.  The Cliff's Notes version is even beyond my attention span. That is why I am looking forward to this film even though it is actually Part I of a planned trilogy.   Ayn Rand grew up in Russia and saw the flaws of communism, socialism, statism and the welfare state firsthand in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

In this time when so much is being made of collective bargaining "rights" for public sector employees, it is worth pausing to think about what would happen to this society if the most productive, entrepreneurial and creative minds "stopped the motor of the world".  This point was driven home to me more than once by my father.  He used to tell me that nothing occurs until something is produced.   It might be an idea or a product but something has to be created and produced for the economic engine to run.  The service sector would not exist without this initial effort.  Most particularly, the public sector could not exist without the producers in the economy.  These producers make the society work.

It is much too easy to forget this lesson.  Or to simply ignore it.   You need to really stop and think about it.  I don't do it enough myself.  Walk into a factory or a business that has been built from the ground up by an entrepreneur.  Take a look around.  The people that are working.  The equipment that is in use.  The cars of the employees in the parking lot.  Then think about the spouse and children of the workers.  What is in their homes?  How come all of this is possible?  Who made it possible?  Who had the idea?  Who put their money at risk to make it happen?  I work at a company that was built by an entrepreneur.  When I look around me at company functions or walk through the parking lot and think about it in these terms it is awe-inspiring.

 I want to see Atlas Shrugged so I don't forget what it would be like if Atlas did shrug.  You should put it on your calendar.  Do it right before you file your tax return.  I can't think of better timing.

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