The Imperative Question

     Toward the end of Atlas Shrugged, Hank Rearden has a final meeting with the “looter elite” in which they propose a “Steel Unification Plan.” That “plan” is plainly just as vampiric as every other that emerged from the looter-ruled economy described in the novel. Yet the elite are solidly behind it…which causes Rearden to ask them – and himself – the question:

     “Well, let me see,” said Rearden. “Orren Boyle’s Associated Steel owns 60 open-hearth furnaces, one-third of them standing idle and the rest producing an average of 300 tons of steel per furnace per day. I own 20 open-hearth furnaces, working at capacity, producing 750 tons of Rearden Metal per furnace per day. So we own 80 ‘pooled’ furnaces with a ‘pooled’ output of 27,000 tons, which makes an average of 337.5 tons per furnace. Each day of the year, I producing 15,000 tons, will be paid for 6,750 tons. Boyle, producing 12,000 tons, will be paid for 20,250 tons. Never mind the other members of the pool, they won’t change the scale, except to bring the average still lower, most of them doing worse than Boyle, none of them producing as much as I. Now how long do you expect me to last under your Plan?”
     There was no answer, then Lawson cried suddenly, blindly, righteously, “In time of national peril, it is your duty to serve, suffer and work for the salvation of the country!”
     “I don’t see why pumping my earnings into Orren Boyle’s pocket is going to save the country.”
     “You have to make certain sacrifices to the public welfare!”
     “I don’t see why Orren Boyle is more ‘the public’ than I am.”
     “Oh, it’s not a question of Mr. Boyle at all! It’s much wider than any one person. It’s a matter of preserving the country’s natural resources—such as factories—and saving the whole of the nation’s industrial plant. We cannot permit the ruin of an establishment as vast as Mr. Boyle’s. The country needs it.”
     “I think,” said Rearden slowly, “that the country needs me much more than it needs Orren Boyle.”
     “But of course!” cried Lawson with startled enthusiasm. “The country needs you, Mr. Rearden! You do realize that, don’t you?”
     But Lawson’s avid pleasure at the familiar formula of self-immolation, vanished abruptly at the sound of Rearden’s voice, a cold, trader’s voice answering: “I do.”
     “It’s not Boyle alone who’s involved,” said Holloway pleadingly. “The country’s economy would not be able to stand a major dislocation at the present moment. There are thousands of Boyle’s workers, suppliers and customers. What would happen to them if Associated Steel went bankrupt?”
     “What will happen to the thousands of my workers, suppliers and customers when I go bankrupt?”
     “You, Mr. Rearden?” said Holloway incredulously. “But you’re the richest, safest and strongest industrialist in the country at this moment!”
     “What about the moment after next?”
     “How long do you expect me to be able to produce at a loss?”
     “Oh, Mr. Rearden, I have complete faith in you!”
     “To hell with your faith! How do you expect me to do it?”
     “You’ll manage!”
     There was no answer.

     Of course the looters would not answer. The answer was plain: they hoped to feed on Rearden’s success, that they might remain alive a little longer at his expense. But they would never say so. That would give the game away.

     The game is always the same:

We’ll get what we want at your expense.

     In Rand’s novel, the focus is economic. Money is generally part of the “what we want.” In our place and time, the rest of it – possibly the larger part – is power.

     Whenever you see a blatant asymmetry in treatment between the “elite” and the common folk, it’s imperative to ask “What’s your angle?” If the elitist on the spot declines to answer, or provides an answer that’s plainly irrational, you can take it as written that the large-font sentence above is the truth of the matter. Money, power, celebrity, sex, what have you: he’ll get it at your expense.


     That might seem like “previous work:” subject matter whose mastery is prerequisite to any attempt to analyze political machinations. Yet that imperative question isn’t asked nearly often enough to pierce the veils around the agenda of the power elite. We have to change that.

     Just yesterday, the mayor of New York City gave us a case for practice:

     What’s his angle, Gentle Reader? What sort of gain – for himself, his administration, his party, or his ideology – does Adams seek from this proposal? Never mind that typical city-dwellers are compressed more straitly than would permit them to have a “spare room.” Adams has targeted private residences. What does he seek?

     Remember Glenn Beck’s powerful observation: “First they nudge, then they shove, then they shoot.”

     Can you imagine a state of affairs in which this sort of domiciling of illegal aliens – criminals, by the law of the land – in private residences might be made mandatory? Can you imagine such “temporary housing” being proclaimed a right? Can you imagine the imposition being justified as “a matter of national security” or “in the interest of public order?” I can.

     Adams has literally invited the illegals to New York. Perhaps he got more of them than he expected. No matter; he can still make use of them. He can use them to enhance his powers and undermine New Yorkers’ rights under the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.

     Adams can’t gain, other than temporarily, from such a move – but his party can, especially its extreme left wing. The attack on private property rights has been in progress for some time. Adams’s measure could be the holing that puts those rights into the grave…especially if it’s taken up and emulated by other blue-city mayors.


     The above is merely the most recent outrage that “should” have prompted the question. As far as I know, no one has confronted Adams with any version of it. Reporters wouldn’t even consider it. Can you imagine a mainstream media reporter asking Adams, “What if enough New Yorkers don’t volunteer their ‘spare rooms?’ Would you propose that it be mandatory?” I can’t.

     Politicians lie. (That is “previous work.”) Indeed, they hardly ever do anything else. But forcing them to confront “What’s your angle?” and thereby lie to the public in an obviously indefensible manner, could help to put the skids under them. A few of them, at least.

     Of course, it’s not a complete solution. For that, we need gallows.


    • Evil Franklin on June 6, 2023 at 9:14 AM

    New York will be the test case. San Francisco will follow close behind. I’ll bet Albany and Sacramento won’t be among the volunteers.

    Evil Franklin

    • Brother John on June 6, 2023 at 7:27 PM

    I have pointed out many, many times over the past three years that during (and since) the world went mad and decided to wear underpants on their faces that the only Amendment of the original Ten that hasn’t been violated with impunity is the Third.


    Well, these aren’t technically “soldiers,” but they do constitute an invading force, so there you go.

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