Skip to comments.FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, Miracle Metal
Posted on 05/02/2009 7:46:31 AM PDT by Publius
Head of State Thompson meets with his economic brain trust: Wesley Mouch, Eugene Lawson, Jim Taggart, Dr. Floyd Ferris, Orren Boyle, Clem Weatherby, and Fred Kinnan, who is head of Amalgamated Labor of America. They are discussing Directive 10-289.
Wesley Mouch is upset that people are not sufficiently motivated to cooperate; he needs more power. Weatherby points out that the economic climate is deteriorating rapidly. Lawson says the people lack the proper social spirit, they dont understand that production is a duty and that there is no such thing as a personal life. Thompson, the realist, says to make sure the Mainstream Media is on board. Ferris brings out an old George Washington quote about wise and honest men and disparages it as out of date.
Fred Kinnan says this is about jobs; he suggests forcing employers to increase their payrolls by one-third. Jim screams that he wouldnt have any use for the extra men. Kinnan says its not about use, its about need, and need trumps profit. Jim is insulted by the word profit, but he thinks there might be room for agreement if the railroad can increase its rates. Orren Boyle says he cant afford it, and Jim says that public need trumps Boyles profits. Boyle says no one can accuse him of ever making a profit! Boyle can absorb a rate increase if the government increases his subsidy, but Weatherby accuses Boyle of running a black hole for government money. Thompson says to go ahead with the directive, and hell widen the state of emergency. He leaves the meeting.
Mouch sums up. Deterioration of the economy is so great that the best solution is to freeze everything in place and hold the line. Freedom has been given a chance and has failed; stringent controls are necessary. He reads Directive 10-289.
There is agreement that this will provide security, although Jim gets a bit hysterical. Lawson says to hell with the little people; mans mind is the source of all the problems in the world. Ferris says that genius is superstition, there is no such thing as the intellect, and mans brain is a social product. A genius hoards ideas that rightfully belong to the society from which he stole them. Thought is theft.
Fred Kinnan brings them all down to earth. If the Unification Board isnt owned by organized labor, the whole deal is off. Boyle says that Kinnan is trying to get a stranglehold on every industry in the country; Kinnan smiles and agrees. If Wesley Mouch agrees to let Mouch and Kinnan control the board, Kinnan can get the union membership to swallow the rest. Jim thinks the country wont stand for it. Kinnan laughs and says that if there arent rules any longer, then its about who robs whom. Kinnan controls the votes of his membership. He knows hes delivering his people into slavery and they know it too, but they also know Fred Kinnan will throw them a crumb once in a while. If theyre going to be under a whip, they would prefer that Kinnan wield it. He knows hes a racketeer and his people know it, but they know he can deliver the goods. Mouch gives in.
Everyone agrees to shut down the nations research labs, but the State Science Institute is to remain, Dr. Ferris insists. Out of work scientists can work for Dr. Ferris if they toe the party line. The unfortunate ones will starve.
Jim, still hysterical, says that they will create stability and security for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. Kinnan, ever the wit, says this is the Anti-Industrial Revolution; Mouch says that statement should not leave the room. Ferris says a planned economy maximizes productive efficiency; Boyle says that centralization destroys the blight of monopoly and leads to the democratization of industry. Ferris wants to apply the death penalty to industrialists that desert their posts, but Kinnan vetoes that.
The copyright issue will cause problems with intellectuals, Lawson points out. Mouch says that publishers will have to print as many books as they did in the Yardstick Year, and with no new books, they will have to reprint old ones. Kinnan points out that intellectuals are cowards; they were the first to sell out European nations to committees of goons like those in this room. A longshoreman may someday remember he is a man and take action. But intellectuals? Ferris agrees; just put a few intellectuals on the government payroll and buy them off.
But Ferris is worried about the whole issue of Gift Certificates; they have to look voluntary. They worry that Hank Rearden could blow their whole plan apart; they must create guilt. Jim drops a bombshell when he says he can deliver Rearden. This heartens Mouch enough to give him his rate increase, much to Boyles discomfort.
Kinnan asks how can the national emergency end when they are making everything stand still. Mouch tells him not to sweat the details. Will taxes be frozen, Kinnan asks; Mouch says no.
All leave the room with a window view of the Washington Monument.
Dagny unintentionally sleeps over at her office, then starts work, all the while wondering why her staff has not approached her this morning. She reads a report from her chief engineer: repairs to Colorado track have been shelved in favor of repairs to the Miami line due to a three hour delay created by a derailment that caused government bureaucrat Tinky Holloway to be late. Although the rail on the Miami line is in better shape than Colorado, there is a social need for the Miami line repairs to have a higher priority. Dagny slashes her remarks on the margins.
Francisco calls and tells Dagny to check the newspaper. Eddie Willers brings her the paper and tells Dagny that no one wanted to tell her about this. Upon reading Directive 10-289, Dagnys reaction is more than shock; she feels she is having an out-of-body experience. Only her anger grounds her. Dagny walks into Jims office and resigns; she returns to her office and breaks the news to her staff. She is going to her cabin in the Berkshire Mountains. She tells Eddie not to communicate with her any information about the railroad and to tell only Hank where she is. She calls Hank and delivers the news; when she ready to return, Hank will come for her. Dagny leaves the building with a sense of repose.
Hank Reardens rolling mill foreman quits. Even the Wet Nurse is on Hanks side, telling him to pour as much Rearden Metal as he wishes, and hell juggle the books; for once in his life, he wants to do something moral. He tells Hank not to sign the Gift Certificate. More and more of Hanks men disappear, but the personnel office isnt notified. Instead, new men using the names of the former employees take their places at the mill. Unnumbered industrialists vanish, but the Mainstream Media wont report it.
Dr. Floyd Ferris arrives to obtain Hanks signature on the Gift Certificate; he wants to get the signature in time for the nightly news. Hank looks ironically at the Gift Certificate with the Statue of Liberty on it and the name Rearden Metal replaced by Miracle Metal. Ferris lever is the evidence of Hanks adultery with Dagny Taggart; he points out to Hank that with experts in the art of smearing like Bertram Scudder called to the task, Dagnys reputation will be ruined. Remembering how he met Dagny and fell in love with her, Hank signs.
The Never Ending State of Emergency
In 1933, as one of his first acts as president, Franklin Roosevelt placed the country under a state of emergency via executive order and navigated his way around the Constitution. Successive presidents signed one executive order after another, declaring overlapping states of emergency.
Following Watergate, Congress decided to examine presidential misuse of states of emergency and executive orders, repealing many of them, but not all. Congress understood that if it removed all states of emergency and restored genuine constitutional government, Congress would lose much of its power and reduce the overall power of the federal government. The result would be Congress meeting for three months every year and then going home; this was considered unacceptable.
As Paul Begala said during the Clinton years, Stroke of the pen, law of the land, kinda cool.
Wage and Price Controls
Upon entering World War II, Franklin Roosevelt imposed wage and price controls upon the country. This was only a small part of the conversion of America from a depression economy to a wartime economy. Full socialist industrial planning turned consumer product factories into war materiel factories.
War is about credit. To keep money flowing into war bonds, more than wall-to-wall advertising was utilized. (Its bonds or bondage!) Rationing was established to prioritize certain resources for the military, and peoples money had nowhere to go except war bonds. One good thing that developed from this was that war bond money moved into the economy in a controlled pace for 25 years after the war, setting of an economic joyride. It was not until 1970 that the country finally had to face the travails of a postwar economy.
Truman removed wage and price controls in 1946. That set off a short spike in inflation and a huge wave of labor unrest, which led to the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, reducing organized labors power.
In August 1971, Richard Nixon closed the gold window to foreign payments and imposed wage and price controls. Unlike the World War II experience, this time there was no rationing, and that led to shortages. Because price controls confused the usual seasonal refinery switches from gasoline to heating oil and back, the summer of 1972 saw occasional gasoline shortages and talk of rationing. Upon the removal of controls in 1974, a wave of labor unrest swept the country as workers tried to keep pace with inflation.
In Rands world, the government is about to repeat the mistakes of the Seventies, with catastrophic consequences.
Upton Sinclair and the 1934 California Gubernatorial Campaign
Need, use, profit. Rock, paper, scissors. In the book, its a rhetorical game where people claim that one trumps the other to seek economic advantage. In 1934 it became serious enough to force Californias Democratic and Republican parties to climb surreptitiously into bed to stop muckraking author Upton Sinclair.
"The American People will take Socialism, but they won't take the label. Upton Sinclair, 1951
In 1934 Sinclair left the Socialist Party to run for governor of California as a Democrat under the slogan, End Poverty in California, otherwise known as EPIC, or Share the wealth. It featured the concept of production for use as opposed to production for profit. Sinclair proposed to repeal the laws of economics and human psychology to end the Depression in California, in effect creating a New Socialist Man. His victory in the Democratic primary galvanized the partys New Deal wing but caused much of the institutional party to team discreetly with Republican Frank Merriam behind the scenes.
This was Californias first modern media campaign. The Merriam forces received full support from Hollywood, in particular Louis B. Mayer of MGM and Harry Cohn of Columbia. Cohns studio produced a short subject starring Andy Clyde, late of Mack Sennetts Keystone Kops, as a Sinclair supporter who works enthusiastically for the Share the Wealth campaign until he receives a telegram informing him he has inherited a fortune. Merriams people even recruited theocratic evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson to speak on his behalf, thus making it a religious issue. No expense was spared, and Merriam won comfortably.
Missing from Sinclairs campaign was the enthusiastic support of President Franklin Roosevelt who knew better.
For the record... 86 is for Fightin' Texas Aggie Class of 1986.
I figured 86 for either your graduating class or the year you got your license. Nice work, by the way. I used to do the ME for a lot of stores and tenant improvements. BTW, are you related to Jack, of fast food fame?
Superbly insightful as usual, Bill. The "principles" of Directive 10-289 are absolutely essential to the implementation of a socialist system, since no one, even one so enlightened as Obama or Hillary Clinton could possibly manage a dynamic economy against real time. Although Hillary claimed that McCain couldn't, and by implication that she could. I guess she never noticed that most start-up businesses, and ultimately even large successful ones, fail for lack of their managers' ability to manage even that small part of the economy where they have expertise.
Note please that all of the points of the Directive have been put in place somewhere at some time in the real world (some even now), and all have failed in their objectives. Perhaps if they were all in place, and there were a means of enforcing them...hmm, might take some kind of new enforcement tool. Sonic beams spring to mind, no need for Zyklon B, which renders it's "subjects" so distressingly in need of a period of decontamination; much neater this way.
And the key difference between the "capitalist without conscience" and what Rand proposes is the concept of enlightened self-interest. You don't screw the person with whom you trade, because you need his trust and integrity to enforce the agreement.
BTW, could someone explain how to install a tag-line? I can't seem to figure it out. I'd like to use: "Stimulate the economy: Buy guns NOW, while you still can!" That ought to get me on the OHS radar. Oh, well, the FBI still has my license plate numbers from the '60's.
When you post, right below the window where you type, is another that says “Tagline”. Fill it in. Next time you post it will be prefilled with the last tagline you used, and will stay that way till you type something else.
No... but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.
And as for relatives...The Wife...
I will have to send more family photos when I get back to the office
You can't eat gold, or wear it for clothing, etc. But you can trade that gold to another nation that can grow ample food. That nation can pay others to ship the food to you. That is how western civilization grew and flourished in the renaissance.
Now look at the anomaly that is Saudi Arabia. If it weren't for their oil reserves they'd still be desert nomads.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I am enjoying this thread!
Please keep up the good work!
BTW, I recall reading somewhere that Hitlery read AS. Is it possible that she and the other LIEberal/Socialist/Marxist Bastards who are trying to destroy America are using it as a blueprint?
So why isn’t she smiling like you are in your photo ??
you can trade that gold to another nation that can grow ample food. That nation can pay others to ship the food to you.
But the fact remains that gold deposits are not distributed evenly around our planet.
You make the point also that an oil rich country has a great advantage now due to the human desire for cheap and easy energy.
Oil is a natural resource and, like gold, has value due to its limited supply.
This value is the same as the value derived from mans efforts to produce goods and services. However, it's origin is distinguished by the random nature of the natural occurrence around the globe and the minimal that effort is required to exploit it as a resource (do the oil rich nations produce or have it produced?). The source of the value is due to the desire by others to obtain the resource.
In Pennsylvania we are going through a natural gas boom due to a deposit of gas greater than a mile below the surface. Recent technology has enabled the resource to be extracted through a new form of horizontal drilling (currently the boom hit a bump with the latest fiscal hiccup so it's temporarily on hold). There are many people in the state who have signed leases and have gotten a nice sign up bonus for the sole effort of writing their signature.
To relate AS shrugged to today's events, Fast Eddie Rendell is leading the fight for an 'extraction tax' claiming that it will benefit Pennsylvanians overall because the gas reserve is considered large enough to satisfy all the northeastern states for years to come. The one thing that he isn't saying is that the gas belongs to the landowners to begin with and they would be the recipients of the profit otherwise.
Thanks! I never scrolled down far enough to see that option.
People tend to forget that Hillary was a Goldwater Girl in high school and probably read Atlas Shrugged at the same time I did.
All that libertarian and conservative stuff was beaten out of her at Wellesley.
Well, she’s married to him whereas he’s married to her. Pretty much the same situation prevails with me and Mrs. Thinking. ;-)
No sweat, bud. Finding a good tagline is half the fun of Freeping!
Then she never truly believed it in the first place. A Freeper could be subjected to Marxist brainwashing 24/7 and within a week of their release, logic would lead them back to the truth.
That's the key. Going to Wellesley makes you a member of the anointed, so logic is unnecessary; your feelings and intuition are sufficient. Remember, she's the smartest woman in the world.
I am inclined to agree. I once thought it might be Maharushie, but he is more of a Tory than a Conservative. In other words, I believe he works mostly to promote himself and preserve the assets he has accrued as a brilliant entertainer. It is clear from his incessant ramblings about his wealth and the inveterate name dropping so typical of an insecure person who has never grown past the indignities he suffered as a fat dork in his youth.
Beck comes the closest to expressing my outrage, but I would also urge Freepers to seek out a couple of other even more articulate voices, coincidentally both women. Listen to Tara Servacius on WBT and Monica Crowley who is syndicated. And as has been noted frequently on FR, the most courageous advocates against leftist fascism have been ladies like Saracuda and Michele Bachmann. No they are not perfect, no one is or has been for a couple thoudand years, but they are galvanizing. Until we purge the nations “leadership” of collectivists and castrati, we are indeed looking at Atlas shrugging.
I continue to reflect on my observation that both AS and the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament read like tomorrow’s headlines, and I predict the outcome of our own time will be the same as those two accounts. To paraphrase the beloved CS Lewis, we ridicule liberty and virtue, then wonder why we have tyranny and corruption in our midst.
Thank you again brother Publius for your righteous work in provoking us to think more wisely.
“For a brute he isnt doing badly, is he? Theyre playing under two sets of rules. For Kinnan words have meaning and for the others, they dont. But the latter is only an intellectual fantasy, and it comes at a price. Where words have no meaning, evil becomes very difficult to recognize as it sits down to dine.”
One of my favorite observers of history is George Orwell. He once expressed the sentiment that whoever owned the language owned debate. Many conservatives have cowered before the accurate use of language and gutlessly bow down before the god of obfuscation. I’m not advocating vulgarities or obscenities, but to me the false use of language is even more offensive.
Kinnan is also one of my favorite characters in the book. He is a thug but makes no moralistic pretense that he is anything otherwise. In my circle of acquaintances is an astonishing number of people who advocate Stalinism but couch it in the most unctuous moralistic drivel you have ever heard. They truly believe that collectivism is the most “moral” dynamic.
"The Barbarian hopes and that is the mark of him, that he can have his cake and eat it too. He will consume what civilization has slowly produced after generations of selection and effort, but he will not be at pains to replace such goods, nor indeed has he a comprehension of the virtue that has brought them into being. Discipline seems to him irrational, on which account he is ever marvelling that civilization, should have offended him with priests and soldiers .... In a word, the Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this, that he cannot make: that he can befog and destroy but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilization exactly that has been true."
"We sit by and watch the Barbarian, we tolerate him; in the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence, his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond: and on these faces there is no smile."
I’m well aware of that factoid.
I still think that they are using AS as a blueprint.
Perhaps we should, too?