The following is the opening sentence from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged:
A white rectangle hung over the city, imparting the date to the men in the streets below. In the rusty light of this evening’s sunset, the rectangle said: September 2.
Since today is Sepbember 2, it’s fitting that we remember a lesson from Atlas Shrugged that applies to real life.
Atlas Shrugged, although a novel published in 1957, is essentially the telling of America’s current situation, where incessant government interventions prohibit citizens from making choices that sustain and better their lives and those around them.
Take the recent example of Jerry Seinfield’s son, who ran a lemonade stand to raise money for charity. The policeman put a stop to its operations because he was operating the lemonade stand without a permit.
Any Rand believed that people should not be hampered by regulations that prevent us from performing a service that entails voluntary exchanges. We ought to be given the freedom to make choices that fulfill our own interests and not the interest of the authority. The power of the free market opens to creativity (the lemonade stand) and empathy (charity) that is vital to a well-functioning society.
If we continue to let authority and regulations become even more intrusive, stopping people from making their own choices, even when those choices are not harmful and do not infringe the rights of others, then innovation across all fields will be stunted – not just the lemonade stand.
As Ayn Rand said that “the question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”