Detroit asks: Who is John Galt?

A woman reads "Atlas Shrugged." (Photo: Seth Tisue)

A woman reads “Atlas Shrugged.” (Photo: Seth Tisue)

Detroit once had the highest per-capita income of any city in the world. Yet today it stands bankrupt and abandoned. What happened to the once-great city? While there were many factors in its decline, some of the major influences are ripped straight from the pages of Ayn Rand’s seminal novel, Atlas Shrugged.

In the book, Rand paints a picture of an economy where some people use their talents and hard work to produce valuable goods and services, thereby enriching themselves and the economy as a whole, while others use the political system to eliminate competition, enriching themselves at the expense of the economy as a whole.

The protagonist in Rand’s story, John Galt, foresees the rise and inevitable collapse of the “Takers” group and decides to speed up the process by convincing the “Producers” to abandon the world so that there would be nothing left from which to mooch. The phrase “Going Galt” has entered the modern lexicon as the term for when government manipulation of free enterprise drives out productivity and restricts economic growth.

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