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Updating Atlas Shrugged

Here are a few excerpts, to share Updating Atlas Shrugged by Jeremiah Tucker, and an Introduction by Barry Ritholtz.  In an effort to focus on the political and economic theory being parodied, I’ve left out the sexually explicit parts. 

Updating ATLAS SHRUGGED for the Financial Crisis

Excerpt from Barry Ritholtz’s introduction:

Friday flame bait:

Has ever a more pedantic, tedious tome been penned by any theorist before or since Atlas Shrugged? The odious combination of ideological rigidity and academic purity makes for a compelling manifesto for the naive and weak-minded.

The work has become the Das Kapital of the 20th century . . . Both were wrong, too long, and poorly written — and each has proven to be wildly destructive to the political economy.

Ironically, only one has been shown to be damaging to capitalism itself — and that wasn’t Marx’s s work,…

Excerpt from Updating ATLAS SHRUGGED for the Financial Crisis,

How he hated his debased need for her, he who loathed self-sacrifice but would give up everything he valued to [leave to your imagination]… Did she know?

“I heard the thugs in Washington were trying to take your Rearden metal at the point of a gun,” she said. “Don’t let them, Hank. With your advanced alloy and my high-tech railroad, we’ll revitalize our country’s failing infrastructure and make big, virtuous profits.”

“Oh, no, I got out of that suckers’ game. I now run my own hedge-fund firm, Rearden Capital Management.”

“What?”

He stood and adjusted his suit jacket so that his body didn’t betray his shameful weakness. He walked toward her and sat informally on the edge of her desk. “Why make a product when you can make dollars? Right this second, I’m earning millions in interest off money I don’t even have.”

He gestured to his floor-to-ceiling windows, a symbol of his productive ability and goodness.

“There’s a whole world out there of byzantine financial products just waiting to be invented, Dagny. Let the leeches run my factories into the ground! I hope they do! I’ve taken out more insurance on a single Rearden Steel bond than the entire company is even worth! When my old company finally tanks, I’ll make a cool $877 million.”

Their eyes locked with an intensity she was only beginning to understand. Yes, Hank … claim me … If we’re to win the battle against the leeches, we must get it on … right now … Don’t let them torture us for our happiness … or our billions.”

Excerpt Part 2

Dagny and Hank searched through the ruins of the 21st Century Investment Bank. As they stepped through the crumbling cubicles, a trampled legal pad with a complex column of computations captured Dagny’s attention. She fell to her hands and knees and raced through the pages and pages of complex math written in a steady hand. Her fingers bled from the paper cuts, and she did not care.

"What is it, Dagny?"

"Read this."

"Good God!"

"Yes, it’s an experimental formula for a financial strategy that could convert static securities into kinetic profits that would increase at an almost exponential rate."

Hank studied the numbers. "The amount of debt you would need to make this work would be at least 30-to-1, but a daring, rational man who lives by his mind would be willing to take that risk!" 

"Yes, and it’s so complex the government could never regulate it."

"It’s perfect. There’s only one problem—half the pages are missing. Could you reconstruct it, Dagny?"

Her answer escaped her lips like air from a punctured galvanized-steel duct:

"No."

"I didn’t think so, but why leave such an achievement to rot here? It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever laid eyes on,…

Source:
ATLAS SHRUGGED UPDATED FOR THE CURRENT FINANCIAL CRISIS
JEREMIAH TUCKER
McSweeney’s, November 20, 2008

 


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