Atlas Shrugged • by Fred Johnson
Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged in 1957 to warn of the dangers of a centralized government intent on redistribution of wealth upon our freedom and prosperity. The story takes place at a time in the future where we see society collapsing as the government increasingly asserts control over all industry and it makes the case that a world in which the individual is not free to create is doomed, that civilization cannot exist where people are slaves to society and government.
The book has been made into a three part movie, Atlas Shrugged.
In Part 1, the future is 2016 and times are really bad. Capitalism is under attack by a strong central government that has abandoned the principal of equal opportunity and, instead, is striving for equal results and income redistribution. After watching the movie last week, I read the following news stories: The first was that the Department of Health and Human Services is demanding that the drug company Forest Labs must fire their CEO or else the company would be excluded from selling drugs to Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration.
The second story was that the White House threatened to remove a San Francisco Chronicles reporter from the press pool after she videoed a group of people demonstrating against Obama. The Chronicle reports that “key people in the White House communications office told us they would remove our reporter, then threatened retaliation to the Chronicle and Hearst reporters if we reported on the ban, and then recanted to say our reporter might not be removed after all.”
The third news story was that President Obama has drafted an executive order that will require companies that have (or are seeking) government contracts to disclose their political contributions.
The Federal Government is a huge purchaser of goods ranging from office supplies, computers to stealth fighters and cruise missiles. Contracts are normally competitive and the winner is selected based upon price and performance.
The executive order makes the political contributions of a company also a criteria for a contract award. The fourth story was that the EPA was expanding its powers under the 1972 Clean Waters Act, originally intended to protect the “navigable waters” of the United States, to include all of the nation’s waterways, ponds, creeks and wetlands. This expansion of powers was done with no congressional authorization and will have a devastating effect on agriculture, mining and property owners everywhere.
The last story involves a tiny lizard that inhabits the Permian Oil Basin where nearly 20 percent of our nation's crude oil is produced and whose oil reserves are second only to those in Alaska. Environmentalists have filed dozens of lawsuits through the courts and the offices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking to place these lizards on the endangered species list. Oil and gas industry groups say that listing the lizard will take thousands of acres in the Permian Basin out of production which will lead to lost jobs and even higher prices at the gas pump.
After reading these stories, I realized that Atlas Shrugged is not a future event. It is happening to us right now. You may be able to see Atlas Shrugged at the Spotlight Theater or Beachwood Cinemas through this weekend.
I recommend that you try.
Fred Johnson is a member of the Morgan County Republican Party.
Printed in the May 5, 2011 edition