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Atlas Shrugged

I listened to another 6 hours or so of Atlas Shrugged this weekend. It's been hard to find time for it--watching the hurricanes kinda distracted me--but I got a good chunk of listening done this weekend. I'm up to the point where Dagny quit and then came back after the big train crash.

I find when I'm listening to the characters philosophize, like Fransisco, I agree with them for a while, and then they dive off into irrationality and they lose me.

For instance, I agree that we live in a culture where achievement of the intellect is often disapproved of, disrespected, etc. I mean, consider the position in your average school of the nerd vs. the captain of the football team. Or the present political campaign of and the way that McCain tries to tar Obama with the "slur" of being an elitist. Or Hollywood celebrities vs. scientists or Bill Gates. Yes, that is an aspect of our culture that isn't particular good, and should be challenged. But, we don't live in Lenin's Russia. Taxes, in general, are not robbery. Some taxes are necessary to run a society on all our behalf. The idea that taxation of any kind is immoral and a kind of warfare against the gifted and hardworking... that's absurd. And no one who advocates some taxes to care for the indigent are suggesting that we should live in a communist state.

If you translate that into a modern argument, my advocating for health insurance for the 47 million Americans that don't have it now, is not advocating a policy of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need". No one is saying you can't put creamer in your coffee so that I can get health insurance. And frankly, I work damn hard, and still can't get health insurance. How does that fit into the idea that we are living in a communist state? How does that fit into the idea that a free market economy is able to solve the problem?

So, yeah. I find myself agreeing, up to a point. But as soon as they start talking about the Great Destroyer, or communist ideology, she instantly loses me.

Still have quite a ways to go, though. I think I just got past the halfway point.

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