Announcing ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ Version 2.0

IOWA CITY, Iowa (U-WIRE) — “There is only one kind of man who has never gone on strike in human history. Every other kind and class have stopped, when they so wished, and have presented demands to the world, claiming to be indispensable — except the men who have carried the world on their shoulders … Well, their turn has come.”
The above passage is taken from “Atlas Shrugged,” the masterpiece of 20th-century philosopher Ayn Rand. Rand dedicated her life to advancing her school of philosophy, Objectivism.
Objectivism promotes the virtues of individualism and rational reason. It rejects the notion that societal collectives have the right to exercise eminent domain on the productive efforts of individuals. In the words of her protagonist, Hank Rearden, “The public good be damned, I will have no part of it.”
To some, rugged individualism seems harsh. As Americans, we are conditioned to ask not what our country can do for us, but rather what we can do for our country.
Unfortunately, JFK’s mandate is nothing more than an appeal for submission to the will of the government. Stripped from its nostalgic, romanticized appeal, its value-neutral mandate shines as an example of collectivist absurdity. Surely, our country asked much of slaves 150 years ago, and we’d hardly say that slaves were un-American for casting aside their shackles.
Today, we do not enslave people based on skin color; rather, we enslave them based on their intellectual and productive capabilities. Is one form of government-backed slavery any better than another?
Last week, those appointed by our elected officials proved slavery still has a place in America, as they tore Bill Gates’ personal achievement in two, for the purported good of the consumer. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson told us that we, as consumers, were but helpless pawns, lapping up Microsoft products like rats at a feeder bar. Every time we bought his products, we did it not because we are rational actors, but instead because we had no choice.
Untrue, all of it. We’ve seen Macintosh, OS/2, SunOS and other contenders fall by the wayside — not because we had no choice, but because we exercised our choice not to buy their second-class products.
In “Atlas Shrugged,” society took comparable action against the producers of the world. One by one, these men, the “motors of the world,” destroyed their own companies and left society. What followed was easy to predict: Society fell apart.
That eventuality is not hard to imagine in our society. When we send the message that the Microsofts of the world owe us more than thousands of jobs, wonderful products and a booming economy, and that we have a right to their very livelihoods, we cannot expect them to stick around. If all of those producers whom we punish through antitrust lawsuits and absurdly high taxes — and whom the leeches of society blame for, of all things, thinking of themselves — would follow the course of Ayn Rand’s John Galt and leave society, society would collapse. Frankly, I would applaud such a collapse. A society that punishes achievement deserves nothing less.
We almost saw this in the Microsoft trial. According to BBC News, while the United States took Microsoft to trial, British Columbia tried to attract Microsoft across the border into Canada, a move that would have frustrated some of the regulation attempts. According to the BBC, such a move would have uprooted 20,000 jobs and “could have had a devastating effect on the economy of the northwest corner of the United States.” Not quite the societal collapse of “Atlas Shrugged,” but a start.
JFK was close. The creed of the looters is this: Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what your country can do to others, in the name of “the public good.”
I refuse to allow the Department of Justice’s Joel Klein to tell me that I am a pawn, manipulated by Big Bad Bill. I am a rational man, choosing my actions — and applications — based on reason and self-interest. I want a computer that works — not a computer that the Department of Justice thinks I should want.
To Bill Gates and his contemporaries, I have but one appeal: Shrug, Atlas, shrug. You’ve borne your weight long enough. Perhaps then the thunder of the world crashing down upon those that have punished you will be enough to wake the masses.

Adam White’s column originally appeared in Thursday’s University of Iowa paper, The Daily Iowan.