The economic and political climate of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged represent the polarized ideologies of her day, and make for a telling lesson for those in business today. The forces and conditions that permitted the rise of the great American industrialists also led for calls of legislation and redistribution of wealth- as Ayn Rand would say, "thieves armed with bills rather than guns". While the battle field has gained complexity, the battle continues. To ask if today's system is more like one or the other, like that avowed by John Galt, or that of the looters, suggests that the ongoing battle has been won.
Any Rand saw men like John Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J.P. Morgan as hero's of their day- men who built their fortunes through expertise and acumen rather than political m. Dramatizing the public and political outcry of excess profits and monopolistic expansion of the industrialists, Ayn Rand made Atlas Shrugged a platform for her belief that great thinkers deserved their great profits.
Political intervention into monopolistic practices is nothing new: the current state of Amtrak is certainly an example of Rand's prescience regarding government intervention of railroads, as were the deregulation of the airlines, and the breakup of the Bell phone companies. In each example, governmental attempts to increase efficiency through competition resulted in Rand's predicted decreases in efficiency. Ayn Rand would have been vindicated in her views, and likely infuriated if she knew of the government bail-out of the Chrysler corporation, and speculation of government intervention in today's pension crisis facing the airlines and major domestic automakers.
Perhaps the most visible and current example of Ayn Rand's ideology in compromise is Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Gates is frequently lauded and scorned- praised for his business strategy, and vilified for his excesses of wealth. While the...