Atlas Shrugged Part I hit movie theaters this weekend. While entertaining and provocative, there were times when the film seemed a bit preachy, and the characters a tad exaggerated. In particular, there’s a scene where steel magnate Hank Rearden is engaging a government bureaucrat from the State Science Institute. Rearden has developed a new metal, lighter and tougher than steel, which has tremendous applications. Rather than congratulate him, the G-man is there to deliver a reprimand for overproduction. Flabbergasted, Rearden asks a simple question. “Is Rearden Metel good or not?”
The question is irrelevent. If Rearden Metal is not good, it’s a physical danger to the public. If it is good, it’s a social danger.
A few short weeks ago I came to the House floor after having purchased an iPad and said that I happened to believe, Mr. Speaker, that at some point in time this new device, which is now probably responsible for eliminating thousands of American jobs — Now Borders is closing stores because, why do you need to go to Borders anymore? Why do you need to go to Barnes & Noble? Buy an iPad and download your newspaper, download your book, download your magazine…
What becomes of publishing companies and publishing company jobs? What becomes of bookstores and librarians and all of the jobs associated with paper? In the not too distant future, such jobs simply will not exist.
Steve Jobs is doing pretty well… Certainly, it’s made life more efficient for Americans. But the iPad is produced in China.
Were we living a century ago, he’d be protesting the horseless carriage. Sure, it’s made life more efficient, but what about the blacksmiths and wranglers? What will be the effect upon the manure hauling industry?
This is a perfect example of how bipolar leftist thinking is. On the one hand, there is the ever-present environmental mania demanding we reduce, reuse, and recycle. On the other, when a market solution comes along which actually does that, they lose sleep about it “killing jobs.”
Taking the irony further, Jackson begrudges the Chinese for assembling iPads while championing the very market interventions which assure Americans cannot. How many jobs are prohibited by the minimum wage?
Of course, those points are tangential. The crux of the matter is Jackson’s blanket ignorance of how wealth is created and why we’re all better off for it.
Firewall’s Bill Whittle illustrates the point with the utmost clarity. If you have two tribes living adjacent to each other, one upstream which makes the best hunting spears known to man, and the other downstream which makes top-notch gathering baskets, who walks away richer when they trade good spears for good baskets? Both, of course.
Jesse Jackson Jr. is like the spear village idiot, complaining about the influx of good baskets. The improvement to the village’s quality of life is wholly lost on him. All he sees are basket-weaving jobs shipped downstream.
Such two-dimensional, downright childish thinking reveals that the Left is not “progressive” at all. To the contrary, like the villains in Rand’s novel, they neither know nor care about what moves the world.