The seeds for our self-destruction were laid a long time ago and now, in some places, are bearing fruit. All one needs to do is look at the state of Illinois and the city of Detroit. Both illustrate exactly what Rand wrote about over 50 years ago.
As Dan Mitchell explains, plans for a number of Detroit neighborhoods outlined in a CNBC report sounded familiar.
But there was also something about this story that rang a bell. It took a few minutes, since I’m getting old and decrepit, but then I realized that “blighted areas” was an eerily familiar term. Didn’t Ayn Rand use that term in one of her books?
Indeed, she did. Thanks to the miracle of Google Books, here is one of several passages in Atlas Shrugged that references Detroit—oops, I mean “blighted areas”:Fifty years ago, the book was viewed as a dystopian fantasy. Today, Greece, Illinois, and Detroit are making Ayn Rand seem like a prophet.
No railroad was mentioned by name in the speeches that preceded the voting. The speeches dealt only with the public welfare. It was said that while the public welfare was threatened by shortages of transportation, railroads were destroying each other through vicious competition, on “the brutal policy of dog-eat-dog.” While there existed blighted areas where rail service had been discontinued, there existed at the same time large regions where two or more railroads were competing for a traffic barely sufficient for one. It was said that there were great opportunities for younger railroads in the blighted areas. While it was true that such areas offered little economic incentive at present, a public-spirited railroad, it was said, would undertake to provide transportation for the struggling inhabitants, since the prime purpose of a railroad was public service, not profit.
When I reread Atlas Shrugged a couple of years ago, the hairs on the back of my neck rose. Everything Rand had created in her novel was happening at that moment. (I have to admit I had little appreciation for the book when I read it the first time over 35 years ago. I guess history gives one a little more perspective.) Many of our present day “betters” are characters right out of the novel. What makes matters worse is that their ignorance of how the economy works is not so much a lack of exposure to it so much as willful ignorance on their part. They don't want to know how things work in the real world because they know better how to remake things into their version of utopia. Too bad they're wrong because their version of utopia is hell on earth for everyone else.
As mentioned earlier, all we have to do is look to Detroit to see how well that's all worked out. There are plenty of other examples of this just in the US alone, like Newark and Jersey City in New Jersey, and Gary, Indiana. If you need larger examples then states like Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and California should suffice. All are suffering under decades of enlightened rule by our betters (though New Jersey has a glimmer of hope in the form of Governor Chris Christie). If that isn't enough for you then look to Greece and Portugal to see how things have worked out there.
We see example after example after example of how our supposed “betters” are no such thing, being no better than what Rand called “looters” in Atlas Shrugged, for that's what they are.