The setting: America is in rapid decline. The Constitution has been shredded. Powerful unelected bureaucrats and the national “Unification Board” are ruling the country by Directives. Cronyism and thuggery are the order of the day. Unemployment and shortages of key products are making life unbearable. Key people are just quitting, dropping out and disappearing. Fear and envy empower the statists. They pass a law making it a crime for people to quit their jobs.
On a high Colorado mountainside, the fastest means of transcontinental travel, The Comet, sits stranded at the east end of an 8 mile tunnel. The tunnel’s ventilation system is like so many other things, broken. There is no diesel locomotive to replace the the one that has stranded very important and connected people who are desperate to get to California. An old coalburner is all that is left to send but it’s sure death to try to make the eight mile run through the tunnel in such a smoke spewer.
The elites on the train are demanding and threatening that the train start moving as fast as possible. They can not wait. Do something now! The threats are flying. The phone calls start with the president of Taggert Transcontinental and make their way down to the lowest possible level. Nobody wants to sign an order that will kill people. Finally, late at night, the burden is dropped on a young and panicked night dispatcher. He signs the division order to take the Comet through with an old coal burning switch engine.
The statist elites can have their way because, well, just check out the other passengers on the train:
The man in Drawing Room B, Car No. 4, was a newspaper publisher who believed that men are evil by nature and unfit for freedom, that their basict instincts, if left unchecked are to lie, to rob and to murder one another- therefore men must be ruled by means of lies, robbery and murder . . .
The man in Bedroom H, Car No. 5 was a businessman who had acquired his business, an ore mine, with the help of a government loan, under the Equalization of Opportunity Bill.
The man in Drawing Room A, Car No. 6 was a financier who had made a fortune by buying “frozen” railroad bonds and getting his friends in Washington to defreeze them.
The man in Seat 5, Car No. 7, was a worker who believed that he had a right to a job, whether his employer wanted him or not.
The woman in Roomette 6, Car No. 8, was a lecturer who believed that, as a consumer, she had a right to transportation, whether the railroad people wished to provide it or not.
The man in Roomette 2, Car No. 9, was a professor of economics who advocated the abolition of private property, explaining that intelligence plays no part in industrial production, that man’s mind is conditioned by material tools, that anybody can run a factory or a railroad and it’s only a matter of seizing the machinery.
The woman in Bedroom D, Car No. 10 was a mother . . . a mother whose husband held a government job enforcing directives, which she defended by saying, “I don’t care, it’s only the rich that they hurt. After all, I must think of my children.” –Ayn Rand, from Atlas Shrugged
All of these unAmericans entered the tunnel because a tiny elite had the power to make the insane happen. They had ideals in common that are far and distant from the belief in the merit of the individual and the God-given rights upon which the country was founded.
They entered the tunnel. They perished there. The last thing they saw on earth was the flame of Wyatt’s Torch.
This is John Galt speaking:
Justice is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake the character of men as you cannot fake the character of nature, that you must judge all men as conscientiously as you judge inanimate objects, with the same respect for truth , with the same incorruptible vision, by as pure and and as rational a process of identification–that every man must be judged for what he is and treated accordingly, that just as you do not pay a higher price for a rusty chunk of scrap than a piece of of shining metal, so you do not value a rotter above a hero . . .
America is in the midst of the fundamental change we were promised, for which a slim majority voted. How about you? Will you line up for the crumbs promised by a rotter? No? Then join others who do not ask who will let me, but rather demand, “Who will stop me?”