Lest one thinks that I sit around all day and think about cooking (it's only about two-thirds of the day when food is on my mind), I thought I'd bring a little literary culture into the mix. Recently I finished some books, so I thought I would discuss them here. I would love to hear others' points of view as well, so if you have read, watched the movie of, contemplated reading, skimmed the chapter titles of, or looked at the last paragraph of any of the novels I talk about, drop me a line!
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
To understand Rand's rather economically conservative stance (to put it mildly), it is important to look at her background. Born in the early 1900's, the writer escaped Soviet Russia after college in 1924. Under Communist rule, she saw her father's pharmacy confiscated and the near-starvation of her family. Needless to say, Ayn Rand was vehemently opposed to the Marxist ideology, “From each, according to his ability; to each according to his needs.”
In this political climate, I definitely thought it was important to explore this work of fiction that was the culmination of Rand's work as an author and her philosophy of “Objectivism.” Regardless of one's point of view- democrat, republican, conservative, liberal- this is a book that should be read and analyzed, whether or not one agrees with the tenets that are put forth.
Some things to point out...
It's long. Like, really, really long: over 1,000 pages.
Economical philosophies aside, the actual novel is pretty entertaining. The main character, Dagny, is the strong-willed VP of Taggart Transcontinental Railroad. She has a love affair with Hank Rearden, a successful industrialist in the field of steel-making. As the country's economic collapse unfolds, the brightest and most hard-working people begin to disappear. We come to find out that they're hiding out; lying in wait for the downfall of the country in order to return, unscathed, to rebuild.
After reading this book, I have to say that the words "but it's not fair" scare me most of all. It was an entire generation that was criticized for believing that all children deserved a trophy, that there should be no "winners" or "losers," that everyone should share- regardless of circumstances. We have learned, as a people, that this doctrine should be discarded; it promotes whininess in children, and adults who do not see the value in working hard. What is the point in working hard if everyone reaps the benefits? Perhaps it is "fair" that everyone is rewarded equally, but the system just does not work.
If that is agreed upon, then we should discuss what an appropriate reward should be for a job well done: possibly a certificate that allows one to obtain items that he or she desires, or "money" as it is commonly called? Rand believes strongly in being paid as a reward for hard work. She believes in bonuses, raises, and commissions. After reading this novel, I can say with confidence that money is NOT the "root of all evil."
At times, workers are recompensed for their hard work with a higher salary, or better benefits. Perhaps they receive a a more inclusive retirement package, a company car, a lollipop… The point is that if everyone acquires the same rewards, regardless of what they do, society no longer has a reason to "step up to the plate," and capitalism, as we know it, ceases to exist. It may not be "fair," but it is a belief that America is built on.
I completely understand that others may have different, and very valid, viewpoints. Believe me- I didn't agree with EVERYTHING that Ayn Rand said, however I did feel riled up after reading this book- and isn't that the point? I suggest that you go out and read it if you haven't already. I'm very interested in hearing what you have to say!