I read ATLAS SHRUGGED in my early 20's and my outlook on life CHANGED!
A VERY TIMELY MOVIE THAT JUST OPENED LAST FRIDAY...
'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years
By 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.
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?"
"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."
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."
Mr. Moore is senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal editorial page.
DON'T MISS SEEING THIS MOVE! Atlas Shrugged Trailer:
Atlas Shrugged Part 1: Movie Review Written on April 18, 2011 by Ann-Marie Murrell
I first read Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” 20 years ago and it was life-changing for me. Her book spoke to me about staying true to your ideals, not allowing the people who run the world to mold you into something you’re not supposed to be. I thought it was one of the greatest books I’d ever read–until I read ‘Atlas Shrugged.’
Atlas Shrugged should be required reading in every school and university in America. Despite having been published in 1957, it is surprisingly modern and reflects much of what’s happening in America today. It is an anti-Socialism guidebook; a warning anthem against falling into the trap of ultra-large government. I’ve read Atlas three times and even missed a flight last year while furiously writing notes about it, so to say the least, I’ve been anxiously waiting for the movie version to be made.
And getting it made was very difficult indeed. After being in development hell for 40 years and ultimately with no major studios (or stars) backing it, private investor/business man John Aglialoro bought the rights and enlisted former actor Paul Johansson to direct.
(One can only imagine liberal Hollywood chickened out because they realized how much of a mirror they’d be holding up to themselves, and it would NOT be a very good reflection…)
I was skeptical about the movie version, especially having seen the mess the studios made of ‘The Fountainhead.’ (Patricia Neal as Dominique Francon?? Seriously?) But today, Atlas Shrugged the movie (Part 1 of 3) is finally in theaters.
If you can find those theaters, that is.
Even living in Los Angeles, we had to seek out anyplace showing it, and we ended up somewhere out in Chatsworth. Once inside the theater, there were no posters, no marquis, and Atlas was at the very end of a very quiet hallway.
My husband Mark and I went to the 5:30 showing; we got there extra early because we wanted to see everyone who came in. Would they be Ayn Rand fans, like us? Would they be liberal infiltrators? Would anyone show up at all besides us? Slowly the room started filling. Not blockbuster-movie full, but a good crowd for 5:30 on a Friday. Mark couldn’t resist and started talking to some people around us. I was nervous, because living in LA you just never know who you’re sitting next to—but soon we had a great conversation going about liberals in Hollywood, lasting until the movie started.
And about the movie—I’m very happy to say it was good. Really good.
It starts in 2016 and paints a very accurate portrait of what America will probably look like if Obama serves a second term…Gas prices have skyrocketed so high that people are now taking the train. Government has taken over basically every aspect of life, with people in power constantly spouting about ‘leveling the playing field’ and making everything ‘fair’ for everyone. Union leaders are threatening to strike, and words like ‘moratoriums,’ ‘sanctions’ and ‘entitlement programs’ are sprinkled throughout. (Sound familiar?)
Seeing larger-than-life characters like Dagny Taggert and Hank Reardon come alive was, in a word, fun. Taylor Schilling’s Dagny was very Rand-like: thin, angular, chin held high, eyes unblinking and Grant Bowler as Reardon was strong, virile and had the perfect blend of self-assurance and world-weariness.
The ending was spectacular and apparently everyone in the audience thought so, too, because they burst into applause. When you live in such a liberal part of the world like Los Angeles, things like that are mighty special.
As Mark and I were leaving, we asked the couple who sat behind us what they thought. Sabina Baretta, a Valley resident, said, “It was really well done and I’m excited to see Part 2. I just hope people see the resemblance to where we are in America today. We’re basically at the point of economic collapse just like in ‘Atlas Shrugged’.” Her friend Rob Collister also liked the movie, adding it was a ‘tough story to make.’
Very true; it’s difficult to break down a 1000+ page book—which is more of a philosophy than an action-packed story– even into a trilogy. So if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you read the book before seeing the movie. I know—everyone always says that—but in this case I think it’s imperative. There are so many characters and events that are skimmed through the film that you really need to read the book to appreciate everything that isn’t fleshed. Mark hasn’t yet read it so at different times during the movie I kept wanting to whisper things to him—like pointing out the gold dollar sign on the cigarette, or to help him understand why I was so excited about seeing people like Ellis Wyatt and Francisco d’Anconia; or to explain my sense of glee in finally seeing that ‘blue-green’ shade of Reardon metal. But for someone who hadn’t read Atlas Shrugged, Mark still greatly enjoyed the movie and is going to start reading the book this weekend.
I’m not sure when (or if) they’ll begin production on Part 2; it will probably depend on the success of the first one. The good news is that as we were leaving,UP there was a long line of people waiting to go to the showing after ours. And in such a liberal town as LA, that really is a good sign.
UPDATE from Yahoo Finance:
CULVER CITY, Calif., April 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Based on the film’s recent fan-based grassroots uprising, “The Strike” Productions today announced it will be expanding the initial release of the Atlas Shrugged movie from 11 markets to over 50.
“AMC called directly to report their online contact system was being hit too hard. They requested we direct traffic to a specific address just to handle the volume,” said producer Harmon Kaslow.
“While it’s unusual for showtimes to be listed this early, the doors of the exhibitors have been thoroughly beaten down by Ayn’s fans. Many of the theaters are now posting showtimes so tickets can be pre-purchased,” continued Kaslow. “And, theaters and showtimes are now being reported as sold-out.”
Fandango.com lists the 7:00pm showing at Regal Cinema’s Union Square Theater in New York City as “sold out.”
“Our online ‘Demand Atlas!’ service has been receiving an incredible amount of traffic since launch,” said Scott DeSapio, Online Marketing Director of the film. “After topping the charts at another web site as the ‘Hottest Demand Worldwide’ for more than a week, we decided to build our own in-house ‘Demand Atlas!’ feature to better service Ayn Rand fans. We’re completely blown away by the response.”
“Our fans have spoken, and we have directed our booking agents to expand the release of Atlas Shrugged into the major theaters located in more than 80 cities across America,” announced Kaslow. ”Of course, until we’re locked down, fans still need to let us know where the movie should play by coming to our website and demanding Atlas to their city.”
“As a direct result of fans in Atlanta demanding Atlas, we immediately set about booking a theater. The current report is that the theater is already sold out for a number of shows on Friday, April 15, 2011 – opening day. We couldn’t be more excited.” concluded Kaslow.
For up to date theater information, visithttp://www.atlasshruggedpart1.com/theaters.
From what I've heard, it's dreadfully close. It's gotten terrible critical reviews. Don't get me wrong, I loved the book. But it is not a fast read, and it really didn't get exciting until around page 700, if I remember correctly. When I heard they were going to make a movie, I wondered how they would make it move quickly enough to really tell the story and still be entertaining.
There were a lot of problems with the filming, from what I read, and it ended up getting thrown together just before they were about to lose rights to it, so a lot of the original ideas for casting and things like that didn't come to fruition. There are some really great books that should just be left alone. Plus, even when the movies are good, the books are still usually better, IMHO.