Atlas Shrugged

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My middle daughter bought me Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand last week, to read as I recover at home from an illness. Last night I read the Introduction (which was based on excerpts from the author’s journal planning the story and characters) and the first three chapters (93 pages) tonight. Very hard to put down.

Originally the book was going to be called “Strike”, but Rand’s husband suggested she change the name to Atlas Shrugged. She started work on the book after finishing Fountainhead in the early 40s — and the book was finally finished and published it in 1957.

The first I’d heard of the book was in 1998. People kept telling me I was like John Galt in Atlas Shrugged — I mean a lot of people told me this after I abruptly and unexpectedly retired in my early 40s. I was tired of being an unappreciated Giver that was being penalized in favor of the lazy Takers. I found that my being compared to Galt very strange, mainly because I’d never heard of Galt or the book before.

In 1998, I owned three good size businesses, employed a couple hundred people, spent over $500,000 a month in expenses to local vendors, and earned about $400,000 a month profit for myself and a silent partner who had invested in me back in 1990. I was paying millions in taxes. However, despite my personally risking everything I had to get started, and working from 6AM to 11PM seven days a week — I was paying extortion fees of about $60,000 a month for nuisance valve settlements of frivolous lawsuits, fighting unreasonable government obstacles at levels, and the world appeared hated me for no reason more than the envy of success from my ambition, risk and long hours. I bent over backwards to be charitable — which while expected of me because I had more than average — was never appreciated by the recipients of my charity.

I finally got fed up and decided I was sick of beating me head against the wall just because it was expected Givers (those who contribute to the system more than they take from it), decided I was tired of being penalized for being productive, and I threw in the towel and retired from being a productive producer 30 years earlier than I should have. I had become sick of a Socialist political climate where the Takers are rewarded, and the Giver’s penalized.

People were shocked when I decided to retire and saw me adjust my lifestyle to live on a small fraction of what of what I was spending — after throwing away a $2,000,000 a year personal revenue stream. Family and friends ¬†thought I was crazy to give it all up to go drag racing — and some feel I am evil for not doing my part of employing people and spending money in the local economy. When I started being compared to John Galt — who I knew nothing of — I said I would someday read the book to find out why I’m being compared to him.

My understanding is that John Galt won’t be introduced in the book until after page 1000 — but in the first 100+ pages that I’ve read so far, the question “Who is John Galt” has been asked many times.

While this book was published in 1957 — it is all about what’s going on in America today. You have the Givers (like Bill Gates) who are some of the ambitious and charitable people who have taken risks and work their asses off to employ many in growing business — but are hated mostly out of envy (though other lame excuses are used); the book has the Takers who feel entitled to receive more than they give and are subsidized by the Givers they hate out of envy; the book has the worthless progressives who inherited money screwing up big the companies (like Jeff Imelt at GE) they run; the book has the Progressive Main Stream Media; the book has the equivalents of Michael Moore, Nancy Pelosi, and George Soros; and the book has cronyism, government bailout loans, and nationalization of business. You can kinda see where this book is going — and why the original title was “Strike”.

The book is so big and heavy (was wearing me out holding it up to read) with a small type font — that I sprung the $18 to get the iBook version that I’m now reading on my iPad. This is the first electronic book I’ve read — and I’ve got to tell you I’m digging it — although I never thought I would. I did it mainly because of the weight of a book and the small type — but I now finding that I read much faster on the iPad.

Man I’m telling you — this is so far the best novel I’ve ever read because we’re living it right now!