Living Wages, Living Work: A Humanist Sermon

A few days ago, progressive blogs reported on the "McResource Line", an instantly infamous (and quickly-disappeared) website created by McDonald's to offer comically insensitive health and financial advice to its 1.8 million employees, who collectively earn $7.75 an hour on average.Among the stress-reducing tips on this site were: quit complaining about your low-wage job ("Stress hormone levels rise by 15% after ten minutes of complaining"), chew gum, sing songs, and go to church ("People … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Resource Curse

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VIIDagny has invited Francisco to her office. She explains that she needs $15 million to finance the completion of the John Galt Line, of which she's been able to raise about half using the Taggart Transcontinental stock she owns as collateral, but now she's stuck because no banks will lend to her. She begs Francisco to help her, but he refuses.But just when all seems lost, she visits Hank with news of triumph - she's gotten the investment she … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VIIThe next chapter opens in Colorado, where Dagny is personally supervising the construction of the Rio Norte Line in the shadow of Ellis Wyatt's oil derricks. As we found out earlier, her best contractor, McNamara, mysteriously closed his company and vanished, so she's being forced to rely on a replacement contractor named Ben Nealy. (We're told he has "a soft, sullen face" and skin with "the tinge of butter" [p.158], so you can guess whether he's competent … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Trust-Busting

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VIAs Hank finishes dressing and goes downstairs to the party he's dreading (which is being thrown, remember, to celebrate his wedding anniversary), his mind is elsewhere. He's dwelling on a newspaper editorial he read earlier, about a proposed "Equalization of Opportunity" bill:The editorial said that at a time of dwindling production, shrinking markets and vanishing opportunities to make a living, it was unfair to let one man hoard several business … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: You’ll Never Fail Like Common People

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VAmerica loves rags-to-riches stories. The idea of the U.S.A. as a land of opportunity is deeply ingrained in our national self-image - we want to believe those Horatio Alger fairytales about how any poor-but-honest young boy with pluck, grit and spunk can start out by sweeping floors and rise to the executive boardroom.No surprise, Ayn Rand is a passionate devotee of this idea. But this does make it all the more surprising that she chooses to write her … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Invention of Fire

Atlas Shrugged, p.63-64To finish out this section, there's a short scene in the Taggart Terminal at night (the same place where the statue of Nat Taggart stands that Dagny uses for ancestor worship). She's leaving work after an argument with Jim, who's found out that she's only running a few old and broken-down trains on the San Sebastian Line, but who, as always, refuses to take the responsibility of changing anything when she invites him to.In the corner of the concourse, by the main … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Corporate Philanthropy

Atlas Shrugged, p.46-47I've got one more point to make about Hank Rearden, and then we'll move on to the next scene. Hank's brother, Philip, asks him to donate money to a charity he's working for, an group called "Friends of Global Progress":Rearden had never been able to keep track of the many organizations to which Philip belonged, nor to get a clear idea of their activities. He had heard Philip talking vaguely about this one for the last six months. It seemed to be devoted to some … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: World’s Worst Boss

Atlas Shrugged, p.34-37It's late at night when the first pouring of metal is done, and Hank Rearden is walking home from his mills and reminiscing. He's reflecting on his past and his climb up the corporate ladder, which gives us a rare opportunity to examine something Rand doesn't discuss much: her ideas as to how a business should be run.You might think this a strange statement, considering that this is a book about capitalism, but it's true. Rand doesn't spend much time dwelling on … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Intellectual Property

Atlas Shrugged, p.25-32After solving her little railroad problem, Dagny returns to New York to report to her brother, Jim, on the state of the decaying Rio Norte Line. She proposes rebuilding it - actually, that's not right. She's already placed the orders to start rebuilding it, without consulting anyone. More, she's canceled their contract with Jim's preferred supplier, Orren Boyle's Associated Steel, since he never delivers what he promises, and is placing the order with a competitor, … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: A Novel for the 1%

Way back in 2011, I read Ayn Rand's magnum opus Atlas Shrugged - all 1,074 pages of it - with a promise that I'd eventually get around to doing a chapter-by-chapter review, like my review of Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator. I got sidetracked by other projects for a while, but now it's about time to fulfill that promise.If you haven't read Atlas cover-to-cover yourself (and who could blame you?), here's the plot in a nutshell: In a twenty-minutes-into-the-future United States of America, … [Read more...]


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