How to de-claw a looter

Atlas Shrugged – Day 037 – pp. 359 -368

“He would not work for me, so is probably the kind of man you want”

A young physicist from the Utah Institute of Technology…

His name . . .

Quentin Daniels.

Doc is motivated to offer his support from the theoretical aspect.

“I’d like to find the cardinal secret of energy that its author had found. It’s his basic principle that we must discover.”

As they’re leaving they see two lunkhead workers — who clearly don’t know WTF they’re doing — hammering at a switch on the rails.

“You’ve been at it for an hour”
“Yeah”
“How long is it going to take?”
“Who is John Galt?”

The Doc chimes in that he doesn’t like that saying. Neither does Dagny. But he follows up with a big revelation. . .

“I knew a John Galt once. Only he died long ago. . . . I used to think that he was still alive. But now I’m certain that he must have died. He had such a mind that had he lived, the whole world would have been talking of him by now.”
“But the whole world is talking of him.”
“Yes . . . yes . . . Why?” The word was heavy with the sound of terror. “Why are they talking of him?” . . .
“He has to be dead.”

Wonder how he emphasized that last line. “He /has/ to be dead.” Or a more monotone declaration, “He has to be dead.” I think the former would signal a disbelief that a man of such great intellect could still be alive without holding some immense influence over the world. That if he were alive, none of this would be happening. It would be a recognition on his part that the world’s in a world of shit.   That would be a man that Dr S could respect.

No matter, I guess we know who the third student of the Francisco, Ragnar triumvirate was . . . John Galt. Fan fare aaaaaaand section .

Back in Hank’s office, the SSI is attempting to requisition 10,000 tons of Rearden Metal for Project X. Rearden has Gwen send the order back where it came from. He won’t be selling Rearden Metal to the state.

Production regulations and restrictions have by now made his daily life a struggle just to keep his mills running.

“Act first, keep the mills going, feel later.”

And of course regulations constraints by the G are totally nonsensical. First they had directed that he

“. . .could not produce Rearden Metal in an amount greater than the tonnage of the best special alloy, other than steel, produced by Orren Boyle. But OB’s best special alloy was some cracking mixture that no one cared to buy. Then he had been told that he could produce Rearden Metal in the amount that OB could have produced, if he could have produced it.”

I think we have similar unmeasureable legislation today. Or maybe it’s that “create or save jobs” bullshit emanating out of the POTUS’s pie hole. Anyway. . .

To solve the problem, the G sent a college boy with the title “Deputy Director of Distribution” but the factory workers had nicknamed the “Wet Nurse.” (A term whose meaning has long been lost over the years, I think) The wet nurse determines that every one gets 500 tons each in order of their application.

Problem is, 500 tons isn’t nearly enough for any industrial purpose. It would only lay 2 miles of rail for Taggart — would barely fabricate one bracing for Ken Danagger’s coal mines. Rearden’s biggest and best customers were being shut out.

But it wasn’t all bad. Now you could buy golf clubs, waffle irons, garden tools, bathroom faucets . . . all made of Rearden Metal.

(The principle is that resources go where they are most needed. This action violates the principle like a 350 pound, tattooed prison cellmate.)

When the Wet Nurse heard about the rejected order of Rearden Metal for the SSI he went to speak to Hank (“confronted” is far too strong a word for this kid. . .)

“Mr Rearden, you shouldn’t have done that.”
“”Why not?’
“There’s going to be trouble”
“What kind of trouble?”
“It’s a government order. You can’t reject a government order.”
“Why can’t I?”
“It’s an Essential Need project, and secret too. It’s very important.”
“What kind of a project is it?”
“I don’t know. It’s a secret.”
“Then how do you know it’s important?”
“It said so.”
“Who said so?”
“You can’t doubt such a thing as that, Mr, Rearden!”
“Why can’t I?”
“But you can’t.”
“If I can’t, then that would make it an absolute and you said there aren’t any absolutes.”
“That’s different.”
“How is it different?”
“It’s the government.”
“You mean there aren’t any absolutes except the government?”
“I mean, if they say it’s important, then it is.”
“Why?”
“I don’t’ want you to get in trouble Mr Rearden and you’re going to , sure as hell. You ask too many why’s. . .”

The Wet Nurse is showing a little respect and realizing his basis of thinking has no grounds. (Ah logic. . . )

A week later Hank is visited by another young man from the G. Hank is busy busting his balls over why the SSI is not going to get any of his metal. But one section in the exchange jumped out at me.

“Why does the SSI need then thousand tons of metal? What is Project X?”
“Oh that? It’s a very important project of scientific research, an undertaking of great social value that may prove of inestimable public benefit, but unfortunately, the regulations of top policy do not permit me to tell you its nature in fuller detail.”
“You know,” said Rearden “I could tell you — as my reason — that I do not wish to sell my Metal to those whose purpose is kept secret from me, I created that Metal, It is my moral responsibility to know for what purpose I permit it to be used.”
“Oh but you don’t have to worry about that, Mr Rearden! We relieve you of the responsibility.”

Kiss of death. It is responsibility that drives these great men. And the G’s relieving them of that – – – speaks for itself. . .

The exchange gets heated — from Hanks side at least. The young man doesn’t see the need for speaking of things like “arrests.”

Hank leaves him with his option.

He pointed to the siding door where ingots of RM were being loaded onto freight cars. “There’s Rearden Metal. Drive down there with your trucks — like any other looter, but without his risk, because I won’t shoot you, as you know I can’t — take as much of the Metal as you wish to. Don’t try to send me payment. I won’t accept it. Don’t print out a check to me. It won’t be cashed. If you want that Metal, you have the guns to seize it, go ahead!”

The boy objects.

“You need my help to make it look like a sale — like a safe, just, moral transaction. I will not help you.”

That’s key. For the looters to actually get away with their plan in this situation,they have to make Hank complicit in it. If he doesn’t comply, he has substantially weakened their position.

Shift to Dagny’s apartment. She’s waiting for Hank. . .

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One Comment

  1. Sunnyfunny
    Posted September 17, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Jobs created, jobs saved…. and now, since those numbers don’t amount to a hill o’ beans even in our G’s estimation… LIVES ENRICHED. Mmmhmm.