There are many flaws in Atlas Shrugged, deep, abiding errors that haunt her writings to this day. But there is no doubt in my mind that one claim she made is manifestly true – the United States is slowly but inexorably suffocating the value of hard work as a means to prosperity, and replacing it with the value of “who you know in the government”.
You can see this everywhere, if you just look for it – in the favors doled out in earmarks and bizarre addendums to bailout packages, in the secret perks and emoilements of power, in the way that Blago is being castigated, not for wanting to sell the senate seat, but in the direct way in which he went about it. If he had just been a little more subtle, no one would bat an eye at the idea that he’d receive some sort of “favor” in exchange for appointing the right person – a plum position in the Obama administration, or a spiffy ambassadorship, etc. Instead, he demanded a favor with a $ in front of it, and, well, that’s just so middle class.
The Aristocracy of Pull is all about sophistication and refinement – which suits you wear, which Ivy League school you attended, which private academy your children attend. Those are the paths to success in America now. Utterly fail at your business? No matter – if you have the right connections in Congress, you’ll keep your job, keep your perks, keep your salary. Heck, you might even get a big fat bonus.