Sunday, October 14, 2012

Atlas Shrugged Part II – The Movie

I just went to see the second of a planned three-part movie based on Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged.” I was greatly impressed. The acting was great, and the message was clear. It’s definitely worth a visit to the movie theater to see this. It wouldn’t hurt to see Part I beforehand, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

When I heard that all the actors in Part II would be different from those in Part I, I was a bit dismayed. I thought the actors in the first movie did a superb job given the budget and time constraints and feared the new actors would not do as well. However, I understood that the low budget of the first movie and the possibility that it would not earn enough money to produce the second one resulted in the producers not being able to negotiate future options for the actors. This meant that if the original actors had moved on to other projects, new actors would have to be contracted. This is what happened. However, my concerns were soon allayed. The second group of actors was also superb. Actually, there were more actors I recognized from other shows and movies in Part II than in Part I.

For those of you not familiar with “Atlas Shrugged,” the premise is that the American government is putting more and more pressure on businesses to conform to a number of laws and mandates. Because of this, the creative people of the country are one by one disappearing, leaving their floundering businesses behind. In essence, the men and women of the mind, those that make the motor of the world run, are going on strike. We often hear of workers for various businesses going on strike to protest what they perceive as unfair treatment by their employers. Well, in this movie, it’s the employers who are striking by withdrawing themselves, along with their talents, totally from the world. They are tired of being the ones that work tirelessly to create products that benefit all of mankind only to have their businesses raided by the government and their wealth confiscated. They feel that to comply with the government’s mandates only implies that they sanction those mandates. So, rather than comply, they in essence say, “Adios. Take my business and run it the best you can without me.”

I, for one, realize that people who are able to move the world in a massive way are few and far between. It requires a lot of guts to put your money and reputation on the line in order to create something of value. Think of people like Edison, Ford, Gates, Jobs, and so on. These are people who gave it their all to produce products that would transform the world. They didn’t force anyone to support them, but rather had a vision of producing products that the people of the world would want so much they would voluntarily part with their money to obtain them. Yet, there are those who claim that a large part of the money they obtained by voluntary trade should be paid back to society in some form or fashion. By some twisted logic, they believe that the products they produced were not sufficient payment regardless of how much benefit those products conveyed to the world. They believe that those who are successful either did something wrong or they just simply have a duty to share their success with those who are less successful.

Ayn Rand understood what happens to a country where government attempts to equalize wealth by force. She was a young girl living in Russia at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. To escape the madness, she immigrated to the United States. However, to her dismay, she soon saw that the US was moving in the same direction that Russia had, albeit at a slower pace rather than through revolutionary means. Over time she developed her philosophy of freedom and began writing justifications for it via fictional novels and non-fictional articles and books. She truly understood what makes the motor of the world work, and she desired to warn Americans that they were going down the wrong path. Let’s face it. There are many talented people in the world, but only a fraction of them have the brains and the brawn and the wherewithal to pull together a multitude of resources and jump through all the hoops necessary to bring a successful product to the marketplace. We need to be applauding these people and encouraging more of this behavior by letting them keep the fruits of their labor, not discouraging them with over-regulation and heavy taxes. After all, the more successful they become, the more help they will need, and thus the more people they will hire. This type of growth is the real engine of job creation.

Even though Atlas Shrugged, the novel, is now 55 years old, its warning still rings loud and clear. Let’s stop punishing the producers and rewarding the looters. Let’s see how bright our nation can shine when the entrepreneurial spirit is totally unleashed. This is the message of true hope and change.

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