But the John Galt jokes got me wondering, so I looked at everyone's favorite quickie source, Wikipedia, to at least get the jist of things. One of the subsections is on Objectivism; according to the Wikipedia entry,
Objectivism embraces objective reality in metaphysics, reason in epistemology, and rational egoism in ethics. In politics she was a proponent of laissez-faire capitalism and individual rights, believing that the sole function of a proper government is protection of individual rights (including property rights).
She believed that individuals should choose their values and actions solely by reason. According to Rand, the individual "must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life." Because she held that faith is antithetical to reason, Rand opposed religion. (Source: Wikipedia: Ayn Rand)
I'm sort of surprised that so many conservatives, especially those who espouse religion as a deeply held belief, should find Rand so appealing. I mean, I could go for embracing objective reality, reason, rational egoism.
I'd take rational egoism in a more progressive direction, because protecting my individual rights doesn't only mean my rights under the US constitution, but also means protecting the environment I have to live in and protecting other people at the same time. I reason that it benefits me to have a well-educated population, for example, so it's well worth my tax money to help educate people. I reason that having a fire department is likely to help me some day, so I'm willing to pay my taxes. And so forth. I reason that capitalism forces companies to try to make a profit at whatever cost, so I reason that it's necessary for a government of and by the people to regulate those costs (labor practices, environmental costs, and so forth).
So what's the appeal of the John Galt character? And can someone explain the joke? Does he stiff waiters regularly or something?
*One of my college roommates had a copy of one of Rand's novels and recommended it highly to me, but I didn't get past about the third page before I stopped, for whatever reason, I don't remember. We both pretty much memorized the whole of her Robin William's album, though, so it wasn't a lost summer altogether.