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...]

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...]


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