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WSJ: Remembering the Real Ayn Rand

Donald Luskin pens a tribute to Ayn Rand in the WSJ opinion column:

But it’s a misreading of “Atlas” to claim that it is simply an
antigovernment tract or an uncritical celebration of big business. In
fact, the real villain of “Atlas” is a big businessman, railroad CEO
James Taggart, whose crony capitalism does more to bring down the
economy than all of Mouch’s regulations. With Taggart, Rand was
anticipating figures like Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide
Financial, the subprime lender that proved to be a toxic mortgage
factory. Like Taggart, Mr. Mozilo engineered government subsidies for
his company in the name of noble-sounding virtues like home ownership
for all.

Still, most of the heroes of “Atlas” are big businessmen who are
unfairly persecuted by government. The struggle of Rand’s fictional
steel magnate Henry Rearden against confiscatory regulation is a perfect
anticipation of the antitrust travails of Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. In
both cases, the government’s depredations were inspired by
behind-the-scenes maneuverings of business rivals. And now Microsoft is
maneuvering against Google with an antitrust complaint in the European


Rand was not a conservative or a liberal: She was an individualist.
“Atlas Shrugged” is, at its heart, a plea for the most fundamental
American ideal—the inalienable rights of the individual. On tax day,
with our tax dollars going to big government and subsidies for big
business, let’s remember it’s the celebration of individualism that has
kept “Atlas Shrugged” among the best-selling novels of all time.

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