(CNN) -- "Where is John Galt?" reads a sign in the back of a vehicle heading down Interstate 85 in Atlanta, Georgia.
The quotation is wrong. As any reader of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" can attest, the correct line is "Who is John Galt?" but the point is well taken.
In the midst of the credit crisis and the federal government's massive bailout plan, the works of Rand, a proponent of a libertarian, free-market philosophy she called Objectivism, are getting new attention.
"If only 'Atlas' were required reading for every member of Congress and political appointee in the Obama administration. I'm confident that we'd get out of the current financial mess a lot faster," Wall Street Journal columnist Stephen Moore wrote in early January.
It's obviously getting attention from the general public. Rand book sales are "going through the roof," said Yaron Brook, the president of the Ayn Rand Institute. According to Brook, "Atlas Shrugged," her most famous novel, has sold more copies in the first four months of 2009 than it did for all of 2008 -- and in 2008, it sold 200,000 copies. It's been in Amazon.com's top 50 for more than a month.
Not bad for a 1,100-page doorstop of a book that came out in 1957, by an author who died in 1982. So many people see the parallels with actually what's going on, with the government taking over the banks, with the government kind of taking over the automobile industry, a president who fires the CEO of a major American corporation. These are the kind of things that come out of 'Atlas Shrugged,' " Brook said.
If you want to know more of what all the buzz is about, read the whole column.
And for the record, I believe one of the major distinctions in objectivism is that what is defined as "self-interest" is not a synonym for "selfishness." There are points of intersection, of course, but there are also differences. I may believe that this country's future depends on individuals acting in their own self-interest (capitalism), but I'm certainly not advocating selfishness. I just strenuously object to being forced by my government to act unselfishly. Whether or not it meshes with Rand's philosophy, I believe there is a place, an important place, for sacrifice. But when sacrifice is mandated, it ceases, by definition, to be true sacrifice.
And yes, I'd like to know, "WHERE is John Galt?"
hat tip: Dr. P.