An Atlas Shrugged Moment that is Closer Than We Think

This weekend I finally got around to watching the movie Atlas Shrugged Part Two.

Now that I’ve seen it, I don’t know why it took me so long to view it. It is an excellent movie and boy does it ever show us where America is heading.

Admittedly, I never read the book. I heard it was a bit tedious. Perhaps I’ll take a second look.

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Anyway, I give the movie 4 out of 5 stars. Not for the cinematography, acting or effects, but for the content. It is a work of fiction slowly coming to reality before us in America.

I sat and watched, all the while thinking, this is us. This is America in perhaps less than five years.

It is set in near future America. We don’t know how near. The government has taken control of a great deal of the citizens’ lives. Gas is $40 a gallon and the railroad is the only real mode of affordable transportation left.

One of the main characters is Henry Rearden, founder and owner of Rearden Metal. He invented a new type of steel – lighter – stronger, etc. It is used in virtually every industry and he is the sole provider.

The federal government had enacted “Fair Share” laws that force strict conditions on how businesses operate, how much the business can sell and who it must sell to.

And of course, the government has priority in purchasing. Sound familiar? It should. Today, ammunition suppliers must fill government orders before they can sell to you and me.

Anyway, Rearden won’t play ball with the feds – refuses to sell to the government and makes an “illegal” deal to sell to a coal producer instead. This “illegal” deal is punishable by a ten-year prison sentence and a hefty fine.

When the government finds out about the deal, they haul Rearden into court. There is no jury of his peers. Only five black robed oligarchs, government bullies that expect Rearden to kowtow and genuflect before them.

Instead of the expected panic stricken plea for forgiveness that most business owners would implore of the Almighty Court, Rearden states that he does not recognize the court’s right to try him, nor does he recognize any of his actions as being a crime.

Well, this displeases the “court.” The response of the judges is, “simply refusing to obey the law is not a defense.”

Rearden expresses his displeasure with the “Fair Share” law and calls the government a bunch of burglars – seizing what they want just because they claim to need it.

One of the judges then states that the “Fair Share” law is based on “the highest principle, the principle of the public good.”

You may ask – public good determined by whom? In today’s America, as in the movie, public good is determined by back room “administrators” like Cass Sunstein.

Rearden so flustered the judges with his boldness and courage, that they sentenced him to 10 years and fined him but suspend both because they fear martyring him.

The point is that the Rearden character had to courage to confront the government oppressors and call them what they are – thieves. He was willing to go to prison for his principles. He refused to stand by as the government looted his business in the name of the beatified “public good.”

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I must have replayed this short trial segment five or six times, all the while asking, is there anyone today with the courage to do such a thing, any corporate bigwig who would put principle ahead of cronyism or personal preservation? The Koch brothers or maybe Steve Wynn?

This country needs powerful men like the fictitious Hank Reardon to step up and challenge the thugs that seek to rule us. If not – Atlas shrugged will become a reality and sooner than later.

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