Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tax Freedom Day and the rest of the week

For some time I’ve been planning something special for my Friday, April 15th, blog post. Yes, it will tax day (speaking of which, today is Tax Freedom Day, meaning that up until today, the average taxpayer has been an indentured servant to the federal government; he rest of your year’s earnings can go to state and local taxes and your personal choices). But also on Friday is when part I of the film version of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shurgged hits the theaters (trailer here). Eventually maybe I’ll see the movie, and say something about it, if it’s worth commenting on. But I thought this would be a good time to look at the book, which I read summer before last at the urging of my son Political Sphere.

My first reaction was, “I did it!” It’s a marathon read: 1069 pages in tiny type in the paperback 50th anniversary edition I lugged around for a month. So, while I’d like to say it should be required reading of every educated person, I understand any hesitation to pick it up and give it a try. It’s long, certainly longer than it needs to be. And it’s more philosophy through storytelling than entertainment.

My personal history included graduating as an English major, so literary analysis is something I was actually trained to do. Even at the time I was doing it, I wondered what value there is in writing about someone else’s writing. But as it turns out, not only do I kind of enjoy doing that as part of the reading experience, it also is a vehicle for identifying thought, examining it, and being able to clearly articulate opinions—about many things, not just literature. So I actually assign myself such essays from time to time (and treat myself to a monthly book club as well). It’s better without a teacher assignment or grade hanging overhead while doing it.

Atlas Shrugged was a book that required my writing about it afterward, just to hold some of my thoughts about it. But I’m looking at this reaction now as a blog post, and it’s too long. So I’m serializing it. Starting tomorrow I will have a three-part reaction to the book, which I hope you will find enjoyable and enlightening.

Here’s a head’s up on what’s coming. The theme isn’t exactly hard to identify: self-interest is a virtue. The purpose is to correct philosophical errors that lead to dependence for the weak and enslavement for the able. However, while there are some interesting and arresting ideas in the philosophy within this very long read, from a Spherical Model point of view, there are also some glaring flaws. We’ll spend a day introducing characters and basic plot points, then the three philosophical factions, and finally where the philosophy fits on the Spherical Model and why.

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