Fifty years ago today Ayn Rand published her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged . It's an enduringly popular novel -- all 1,168 pages of it -- with some 150,000 new copies still sold each year in bookstores alone. And it's always had a special appeal for people in business. The reasons, at least on the surface, are obvious enough.
As the prices of oil, gasoline, and natural gas have skyrocketed over the past year, many people have demanded that the government do something about it. They have short memories. The last “energy crisis,” complete with fossil-fuel shortages, soaring prices, long lines at gas pumps, occurred during the Seventies. President Jimmy Carter wore a sweater, preached conservation, and in 1977 signed a law creating the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
In 2005, at Minnesota’s St. Olaf College, the stirring peroration of that year’s commencement address advised the graduating seniors to observe three virtues acclaimed by Taoism: gentleness, frugality, and humility.
  Last year, on November 16 (the anniversary of the Federal Reserve System, ironically), Milton Friedman died at the age of ninety-four. The editorial in the next day’s Wall Street Journal carried the headline “Capitalism and Friedman,” playing off the title of his 1962 work Capitalism and Freedom. The article’s subtitle read: “The man who made free markets popular again.”
Frank Quattrone has just become the greatest businessman in three generations to escape the anti-business persecutions of twentieth-century liberalism. On August 22, government lawyers offered investment banker Quattrone a laughable “deferred prosecution agreement” that will result in their dropping all charges against him after a year, in return for his agreeing to such onerous conditions as not associating with known felons for the next twelve months.


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