Atlas Shrugged: Job Creators


Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter VHank Rearden has moved to Philadelphia, seemingly to live on the grounds of his steel mill, and hasn't seen or spoken to his family in months. But he's still paying their bills, which makes no sense given his attitude at this point. He decided two chapters ago that he should run his personal life the same way he runs his business, meaning that he owes his family nothing and has no reason to support them. But Rand inexplicably has him put off acting on this … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Kill the Redshirts


Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IVWhile his wife is away, Jim Taggart has a caller. It's Lillian Rearden, and she's come to plead for help. Hank is pressing ahead with a divorce, and by means of rampant subversion of the legal system, he's winning:"It's set for next month. And when I say set, that's just what I mean. Oh, it's cost him plenty — but he's bought the judge, the clerks, the bailiffs, their backers, their backers' backers, a few legislators, half a dozen administrators — he … [Read more...]

What Is the Economy For, Anyway?


Editors' Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on Consumerism Gone Wild. Read other perspectives here.The Guardian ran a column on a group of unsung heroes: the therapists to the super-rich, whose job it is to help their clients deal with the stress and strain of having all that money. According to one of them, Clay Cockrell:"I shifted toward it naturally," he said of his becoming an expert in wealth therapy. "We are trained to have empathy, no judgment and so … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Guns and Butter


Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IIINow that we've finished our tour of Galt's Gulch, we're back in the outside world with Dagny. From this point on, Atlas Shrugged is less of an economic-philosophical diatribe and more of a straightforward adventure story, so I anticipate that the rest of the book will go quicker. But there are a few more points to be made along the way.This chapter opens with a scene about Robert Stadler, the once-great scientist who's thrown in with the looters. As … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Rise of the Machines


Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IIFor all its fixation on economic theory, Atlas Shrugged shows a dismal, incurious ignorance of how the economy actually works. When Ayn Rand's capitalists gather in sufficient numbers, consumer goods just spontaneously materialize around them. By all rights, the inhabitants of Galt's Gulch ought to be living like primitive pioneers - wearing furs, dwelling in shacks, subsisting on a diet of salted meat and hardtack. Instead, they inexplicably have a fully … [Read more...]

The Post-Work Society


Laziness is a good thing.For as long as civilization has existed, people have been trying to live as well as possible with as little work as possible. That drive has created kings and kleptocrats who get rich by robbing their subjects, but it's also led to every technology that makes work easier, from horse collars to steam engines to industrial robots.Think of how few people in the industrialized world work in jobs that have a direct connection to the necessities of life: agriculture, … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Marketplace of Ideas

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IIAs Dagny's life in the Gulch settles into a routine, she notices that John Galt leaves the house every other night, returning at midnight or later. Notwithstanding the fact that Randian protagonists are supposed to bow out graciously when the person they love finds a better capitalist than them, she feels an unaccustomed "savage resentment" and "dread that there might be a woman in his life". Finally, one night at dinner, she asks him:"What is it … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The New Feudalism


Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IILast time, John Galt told Dagny that because she trespassed in his valley, he's going to hold her there for a month, just because he wants to. He also tells her that he's going to bill the account that Ragnar established for her at the Mulligan Bank for her accommodations:"If you don't claim it, some part of it — a very small part — will be turned over to me in your name.""In my name? Why?""To pay for your room and board."I quoted this p … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Workers’ Paradise


Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IAlthough the capitalists all going on strike was John Galt's idea, the valley where they're hiding out is Midas Mulligan's possession. This raises some obvious questions about how their society would work in practice, but Dagny seems resolutely uninterested in exploring the matter, and Mulligan never volunteers more than the most basic information. For once, just when we need a Randian Monologue, we don't get one!She turned to him. "It was you who … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Hippocratic Oath


Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IDagny's first day in John Galt's secret capitalist valley, and her whirlwind tour of its inhabitants, ends with a dinner party at Midas Mulligan's house later that night:Midas Mulligan met them at the door. She noticed that his grim, square face was not as harshly expressionless as she had thought: he had a look of satisfaction, but satisfaction could not soften his features, it merely struck them like flint and sent sparks of humor to glitter faintly … [Read more...]