Did Sustainable Atlas Shrug?
By Pierre Lemieux
Ayn Rand’s 1957 philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged may not be a literary masterpiece or the last word in political theory, but it does hold some lessons. It tells the story of very productive and creative individuals who, harassed by politicians and bureaucrats, shrugged and retired in their own secret anarchic community. The rest of the world suffered.
These days, more than one million Californians have suffered from prophylactic power cuts meant to prevent falling electric lines from starting wildfires. Some fires did break out anyway. In Venezuela and other centrally planned countries, power cuts are staged for other reasons.
An editorial in the Wall Street Journal (“California’s Dark Ages,” October 10, 2019) writes about PG&E, the main electric utility involved:
For years the utility skimped on safety upgrades and repairs while pumping billions into green energy and electric-car subsidies to please its overlords in Sacramento. Credit Suisse has estimated that long-term contracts with renewable developers cost the utility $2.2 billion annually more than current market power rates.
Environmentalists will claim that the high winds that fall power lines are a result of climate change. That may be true, but the scapegoat is a bit too convenient. As Occam wrote, numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate (personnally and aesthetically, I prefer the neater, apocryphal but equivalent, entia non sunt ponenda sine necessitate). So perhaps, more simply, Atlas shrugged—and just started following the political mob and obeying the state master.