"Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, requires that staffers read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged," -- Paul Krugman in The New York Times
Welcome back, staffers! We're going to start this session with a short quiz to make sure you've completed your assigned vacation reading. Please note that refusing to take the test "as proof of your Galt-like individuality, an individuality that will not bend itself to any man, or any pop quiz" is a one-time stunt, which former staffer Jimmy Whitmere has already claimed as his own.
1) If you were going to compare one current member of Congress to Dagny Taggart, who would it be? Please feel free to explain your reasoning, and remember, there are no wrong answers except "Nancy Pelosi."
2) Who is John Galt?
- a) An abstract representation of the negative impact of government involvement in business on the creative impulse that underlies successful capitalistic economies
- b) The second coming of the Messiah, assuming that the Messiah's main goal nowadays is to save humanity from the sin of high corporate tax rates.
- c) An okay guy, even if his "pro-strike" policies do seem dangerously union-loving
3) Which of the conflicts and tragedies facing the main characters could have been avoided if the estate tax were abolished? Which ones were a direct result of current entitlement spending?
4) What would Hank Rearden think of Obama-care?
- a) Not enough emphasis on curing through free-market economics and/or force of will
- b) Problematically murky about asset value of human life
- c) Obviously handouts of any kind are detrimental to the spirit of pure capitalism that, in a perfect world, should dominate, but at least the "death panels" part had promise.
5) Not that this means anything necessarily, but had you ever noticed that "John Galt" and "Paul Ryan" share not only several core economic beliefs, but the exact number of letters in their names? Also, you could almost spell "Ayn Rand" with the letters in the name "Paul Ryan," if you allowed doubles. No need to go into detail if you don't feel like it, but had you noticed that before?
6) If Paul Ryan were another character in Ms. Rand's masterpiece, how would he be described?
- a) The only member of government willing to take a moral stand to save capitalism, a position which will eventually lead to a Galt-endorsed presidency in the epilogue.
- b) A man so profoundly handsome that his economic brilliance and inspiring individualism is briefly obscured, upon meeting him, by the dazzling beauty of his eyes
- c) All of the above, plus "glowing, faintly, as though lighted by some sort of divine fire."
7) Think back to the brainwashed masses in Rand's novel, so deadened by the ambition-killing government nanny-state that their lives have become a meaningless blur, with nothing to break up the monotony of existence except the tasteless pap of empty creature comforts mooched from the heroic job-creators.
Don't you think they'd be better off without Medicare? Explain.
8) Is John Galt more of an idea, or an actual person?
If the former, what sort of idea would he be? An economic roadmap? A complete rethinking of the budget? An entitlement reformer with such thick, luscious locks, and a waist as trim as it was in high school, that he leaves a trail of broken hearts behind him as long as the trail of the spending cuts he's made? Please explain.
If the latter, please feel free to compare him to a living person, possibly one loaded down with the weight of his own brilliant ideas, ideas that could completely cure the ailing political system. Again, there are no wrong answers (except, of course, for "Barney Frank").