Valentine: Rand's vision coming to fruition

Friday, May 21, 2010

In Ayn Rand's classic Atlas Shrugged the United States reaches a point where the "moochers" and the "looters" have taken over Washington. In turn, they begin dismantling capitalism. The "producers" mysteriously disappear one by one. It's a 53-year-old story that so frighteningly parallels today that certain passages of the book will make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.

What Rand knew in 1957 is that the struggle for control over our lives is a never-ending quest. It's simply human nature in some to want to run things. Most of us are content just to run our own lives. That's more than we can say grace over. Others can't leave well enough alone until they're telling the rest of us what to do.

Politicians generally fall into two categories: those who see government as too intrusive and want to change it and those who see government as too intrusive and want to be a part of it. The latter aren't necessarily Democrats. There are plenty of Republicans who go to Washington only to add to the bureaucracy.

Political careers are marked by how much legislation is passed. Those who quantify their achievements by how few new laws are passed under their stewardship are a rare breed, indeed. Very few laws are passed to give us more freedom therefore logic would dictate that the further in time we find ourselves from our founding documents the less free we really are.

In Rand's novel this spread of socialism and collectivism doesn't originate in the United States. One of her principle characters, Francisco d'Anconia, owns the world's largest copper mining business based in Argentina. The government seizes his operation. After all, it's not fair that one man should control so much. d'Anconia plays the role of the spoiled playboy in order to lull the looters into a sense of complacency.

The looters in our modern-day Atlas Shrugged are in Venezuela. President Hugo Chavez has just announced the "expropriation" of a group of iron, aluminum and transportation companies. "Expropriation" is a fancy word for theft. Now, let's give ole Hugo some credit. He gave the companies an opportunity to sell to the government. They refused so he just took them.

Chavez is a hero to many socialists in the country including many inside the Obama administration. No doubt they're looking on with glee and admiration. Of course, they have their own looting to brag about. They took over two of the three largest car manufacturers in the country. They also, for all intents and purposes, own a few banks.

Now, I know it was George W. Bush who got all this started with the bank bailouts. As I'm fond of saying, it was Bush who saddled up the socialist horse that Obama is now flogging down the home stretch. But the Chavez move is going to embolden the looters and moochers here.

What more likely target than Big Oil? We have the BP oil spill, gas prices are skyrocketing, cap-and-trade is lurking in the wings. The climate is ripe for a takeover; for the good of the people, of course.

But what happens when these looters and moochers actually get their hands on the crown jewels of capitalism? What on Earth will they do then? They're going to destroy them. They have no idea how to run them because they had no idea how to create them. In fact, these people create nothing, they just take the fruits of others' labor.

The scary part is these folks have read Atlas Shrugged, too. And they think it has a happy ending.