GALT'S GULCH OR BUST
Being a man of few ambitions, my "bucket list" is really not that long. Worse yet, it's not that exciting either. While some have managed to cross sky diving or swimming with sharks off their bucket list, I recently managed to cross reading "Atlas Shrugged" off mine. I know it's not exactly alligator wrestling, but at 1069 pages, it's a personal achievement none-the-less.
Let's be honest, it's length and less-than-satisfying ending make this book a challenge to read, and a risk to recommend to just any reader. That is not to say that Ayn Rand didn't hit the nail on the head in her attempt to illustrate how the real world works. She did.
As I started to read the book, it didn't take me long to notice the spooky parallels between things happening in Rand's fictional story line, and things actually happening in real life today. But it's not the similarities between the clash of human nature vs. public policy in the book, and pretty much everything I see in the news right now that gives me "the willies", it's the fact that this book was written in 1957!
Did Ayn Rand have a crystal ball, a sixth sense, or just a wicked talent for deduction? Who knows?
The premise of the book is to simply ask what would happen if the people who "make the wheels go-round" simply decided to quit working and drop out of society. After years of excessive regulation, excessive taxation, intrusive government interference, and the media slandering and misrepresenting them and their purpose to the public day after day, the industrialists, inventors, and producers of the nation decide that they've taken enough abuse. They pull their resources and go "on strike".
The book walks you through step by step the importance of industry to modern man and what happens when the ruling class tries to control the natural instincts of man as applied to the free market. Rand brilliantly illustrates the linkage between one industry to another and the "domino effect" that happens when "intellectuals" use their power to institute some convoluted brand of "social justice".
The title refers to the mythological god "Atlas" who's only purpose was to hold the Earth on his shoulders. So, the metaphor is to ask what happens if Atlas were to simply shrug his shoulders, drop the Earth, and walk away?
When I hear people rush to blame the "rich" for the ills of the world, I have visions of the people of Earth throwing rocks at Atlas every time something doesn't go their way. Rather than saying "Hey, Mr. Atlas! Thank's for holding the Earth in place!", he get's to hear "Hey, Mr. Atlas! You're rich, and I'm not, so that makes you a jerk!" Just how long should he have to put up with that? How long would you?
In the book, "Galt's Gulch" refers to the remote, hidden community built by the producers and industrialist of America to live during their "strike". Complete with their own power company and monetary system, they live a simple, yet comfortable life based on conservative principals and free market values...totally isolated from the outside world. As the outside world falls into ruin, the government tries to "fix" each new crisis with a new policy which inevitably spawns multiple new crises. Like some hellish game of "Wack-a-Mole", each government intervention costs more jobs, money, and lives until society falls into anarchy and chaos.
It's not likely that there will be a real-life "Galt's Gulch", but if there is, I'll be the guy standing in my front yard with my family yelling "Take us with you! I'm a worker! Not a moocher!"