Million Dollar Bookmark

The works of Ayn Rand are to its readers like apple pie is to Jim Levenstein. You know. It’s a substitute for the real thing that you’re in the middle of screwing the hell out of in the kitchen when your father walks in.

Um. Something like that.

I call them “Atlas Slugs,” young impressionable Americans with their noses buried deep in these Ayn rants, little Robbie Goulds with their notes in the margin, convinced that their lives are being altered forever for the better by the garbage they’re consuming.

I have argued for years that these works of fantasy ought to be held behind the counter and only sold to those who can produce I.D. verifying that they are 35 years or older. They are pornography, more obscene than any film you’ve never seen depicting the Cleveland Steamer or midgets with egg beaters or whatever you’re into. They are the reason Republigoats today are so fond of obvious strawman logic. Rand’s books create worlds that do not exist and circumstances that are not even plausible and attacks from that vantage point the sensible idea of the commons. They are ridiculous books that have been taken seriously only because they weigh more than the average human head.

I saw an Atlas Slug on the subway recently. He was overdressed for his youth. He was about 3/4 of the way through “Atlas Shrugged.” He held his place in the book with a laminated, fake million-dollar bill. Yowsa. Now, I have trouble telling a guy when he has schmutz on his chin. How am I supposed to tell an Atlas Slug that he’s poisoning his brain?

Fortunately, the current president has provided tangible evidence that Rand’s “philosophy” is horseshit. The invasion and occupation of Iraq has provided these free market worshippers with the ultimate laboratory. They fired the whole of the country’s civil servants. They established a flat tax and capped all future taxes at 15 percent. They suspended tarriffs. They opened Iraq to foreign multinationals for investment and sold off 3/4 of state-owned endeavors. As Joshua Holland noted on AlterNet nearly a year ago:

“The reality is that the economic policies we imposed on Iraq were not some generic form of ‘capitalism’; they included the most radical business-state rules imaginable—policies that developing countries have vehemently resisted for over a decade. What’s more, imposing them at the point of a gun appears to have violated both international and U.S. laws. There’s nothing ‘normal’ about it.”

The free market approach regarding the occupation of Iraq has done little but to run the country further into ruin. Iraq was just recently been ranked as the second least stable state in the world. Stuff that has managed to be built in Iraq is already due to be rebuilt. And, as a 60 Minutes rebroadcast reminded us Sunday, people have been leaving the country with their pockets lined. Meanwhile, the terrorists we’re keeping over there by fighting them over there? The YouTube has footage of them graduating suicide bombers and talking about, well, coming over here. Great. Ayn Rand might end up stopping the engine of the world after all.

The free market is an excellent way for a society to distribute goods and services, to reward labor, and to feed its economy. But it is not the problem taker-awayer the Atlas Slugs think it is. History says that unbridled capitalism tends toward the disasterous and that sensible regulation and use of a commons for some purposes are necessary.

How anyone can look around at the world and think otherwise is beyond me.  

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