He needs to believe this not only for himself but also for those that follow and place their trust in him. He declares that money is the root of all evil and that it "can't buy happiness, Love will conquer any barrier and social distance" (392). These kinds of platitudes are nice to hear but they do not pay the bills. It is extremely important that the Looters believe these concepts, however, because they keep everyone on the same level, which leads to a lack of individuality and an overall sense of nihilism. James Taggert's philosophy brings people down instead of lifting them up and encouraging a sense of importance in the world. James Taggart resists at every opportunity the realization of what he is encouraging, which is a life of emptiness and lack. Orren Boyle and Bertram Scudder reinforce this attitude and conduct. They are "men who used words as a public instrument, to be avoided in the privacy of one's own mind. Words were a commitment. Carrying implications which they did not wish to face" (393). With this, we see how these men know that what they speak is wrong. They realize that they are not equipping people to be their best but they also know they are products of the government.
Rand also explores how the Moocher and Looters destroy lives with the tramp, Jeff Allan. Dagny encounters him on the Comet when he confesses to her that he actually voted for a plan in which 'each to work according to his ability, but would be paid according to his need" (660-1). Hard work was never rewarded and those who did not work as hard made the same amount of money regardless. This system removes the incentive to work. It also removes any happiness that might be associated with work. Those who ran the company did not believe that happiness was important but he tramp, proves otherwise. The plan corrupted everyone involved, Jeff tells Dagny that the plan "turned decent people into bastards, and there was nothing else it could do -- and it was called a moral ideal!" (665). The truth lies in his question, "What were we supposed to work for? For the love of our brothers? What brothers? For the bums, for the loafers, the moochers we saw all around us?" (665). Here Rand illustrates that when the incentive to work is removed, there is very little left in the world. Mankind functions best when there are rewards for achievement. The government would love individuals to think otherwise because when people pursue their individual dreams they are more dangerous and more difficult to control. However, control kills the human spirit.
Perceptions of money are represented through two very different sets of people in Atlas Shrugged. These views are not much different from the ones we encounter today. There is a disconnect between those that want to make money and those who seem to think they are above wanting money. Some believe that wanting more money is evil in itself; therefore, they resist the capitalist mentality. However, the world as we know it will never exist without money so these people who wish to remain above the lure of money are living in a dream. Rand reveals this in her novel as we see the corrupt government stripping people of their individuality and basic desire to live. Rand's heroes view money as a tool and a way of life. It is moral in that it brings with it a sense of self and a measure of success. It is practical and when the government does not interfere, the free market works well. The villains in the novel cannot separate the desire to have money from the values of those who want to acquire more of it. They seek to destroy and, as a result, lift themselves up in the process. This is the only way in which they can achieve success, unlike the heroes in the novel, who find success on their own after struggling to achieve it. The villains can only take from others and this is the image Rand wants to expose. The takers will never win because they are not smart enough to survive on their own as they have relied on the inventions and advancements made by the achievers. Rand flips the moral attachment with this concept, reinforcing the devastating results of a society without a free market system.
Sources Used in Document:
Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House. 1957.