Atlas Shrugged: Exeunt Omnes

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter XAfter three years and 160(!) posts, we've finally come to the very last scene of Atlas Shrugged. In our previous installment, Ayn Rand lowered the curtain on Eddie Willers, inexplicably abandoned by his closest friends to die in the desert. In this closing scene, she takes us to Galt's Gulch to show what the capitalists are doing instead.It's a quick scene, with just a few lines devoted to each of the protagonists. But in those few lines, like a … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Civil Rights and Corporate Power

The American corporate sector is becoming more liberal-friendly territory than ever, and it has the potential to split the conservative coalition that's prevailed in our politics for decades. That's the topic of my new piece on the Guardian, Businesses are powerful allies on LGBT rights. The left should embrace them.This column expands on my recent post "Beating the Religious Right with Corporate Power", and presents new evidence that businesses may even be progressive allies on some … [Read more...]

Beating the Religious Right with Corporate Power

Red-state legislatures around the country seem as if they're competing to pass the cruelest and most inhumane laws. But even by that standard, North Carolina's HB2 stands out. Rushed into passage with the haste and secrecy of a coup d'etat - it was introduced in the legislature, voted on, sent to the governor and signed into law all in a span of less than twenty-four hours - it can only be described as deliberately mean-spirited and spiteful. It bans transgender people from using public … [Read more...]

How the Right-Wing Scam Economy Created Donald Trump

The rise of Donald Trump has bewildered and dismayed pundits, especially conservative pundits. Many of them are treating it as a freakish fluke, a black-swan event that nobody could have predicted. But the clues were always there, for anyone who knew how to spot them.In his last, doomed line of attack, Marco Rubio accused Trump of being a "con artist" who peddles hazy fantasies and handwaves as a solution to our most pressing problems. He wasn't wrong about that, but Trump is hardly the … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Golden Parachute

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter VIIIThe looters have captured John Galt. Given their incompetence at everything, including villainy, you might think they'd construct a prison that he could just walk out of, Idiocracy-style, or even one that he could stage a daring escape from. However, because the narrative now demands it, this turns out to be the one thing they're good at:Three floors of the Wayne-Falkland Hotel had been evacuated and transformed into an armed camp. Guards with … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Work of Depressions

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter VIIIIn the aftermath of John Galt's speech, the last few businesses left in the country are grinding to a halt. Stores and homes are found empty, abandoned by their owners and gutted of everything useful. The plant of Rearden Steel, whose operations had been suspended after no one could be found to run it, goes up in flames; the fire is set by an elderly worker who confesses that he did it "to avenge Hank Rearden". (He was a Good Capitalist, but he was old … [Read more...]

Galt’s Gulch Chile Is Going Great

In my Atlas Shrugged series, I've previously written about the libertarians who tried to create their own Galt's Gulch in Chile, a plan which ended predictably in lawsuits, acrimony and accusations of fraud when real human beings turned out not to be as incorruptible as Ayn Rand characters. Now, as PZ informs us, there are some further developments to report.A coalition of disgruntled investors have created Galt's Gulch Recovery (motto: "Where Fraud Never Sleeps"), a site for them to air … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Descent of Man

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter VII, The SpeechJohn Galt is still talking. In this section of his doorstopper monologue, he lectures about Rand's views on human nature:"Man's mind is his basic tool of survival. Life is given to him, survival is not. His body is given to him, its sustenance is not. His mind is given to him, its content is not. To remain alive, he must act, and before he can act he must know the nature and purpose of his action. He cannot obtain his food without a … [Read more...]

If You Won the Powerball

OK, I admit it: I bought a ticket for the Powerball lottery this weekend. After multiple drawings with no winner, the grand prize hit $800 million, and could surpass $1 billion before tonight's drawing.I'd argue that it's not totally irrational to play. At $2 a ticket and jackpot odds of 1 in 292 million, that's a positive expected value (although of course taxes complicate the picture, and it's less if you choose to take the winnings as a lump sum).Still, it makes no sense to me that … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Big Soy

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter VWith d'Anconia Copper gone and the last few copper mines in the U.S. perishing for lack of machinery and spare parts, it's become almost impossible for Hank to keep making Rearden Metal. But as he tells Dagny, a bigger problem is looming. He's been selling as much metal as he can on the black market to the wheat farmers of Minnesota, who desperately need new farm equipment:"Dagny, I was in Minnesota last month. I've seen what's going on there. The … [Read more...]


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