Atlas Shrugged Chapter 9: The Sacred and the Profane

I’m not sure if it’s my commitment to try to be more pleasant towards the book, or if this chapter was genuinely better than the previous one. Either way, it was a more positive experience.

Chapter summary: Taking up where we left off in the last chapter, Dagny and Hank have an, um, discussion about sexual mores the morning after their hot sex. Elsewhere, Jim acquires a groupie, although he’s honorable. Yet elsewhere, a factory owner laments the closing of East Coast factories because the Evil Liberal Law makes industrialists choose between East Coast factories and Colorado factories (they can’t have both), and most choose to go west. Dagny and Hank decide to go walkabout for a few weeks, during which they visit the ruins of a failed car factory and Dagny finds the remnants of a static-electric motor… enough to know it was functional, but not enough to rebuild it. Hank and Dagny go off in search of the motor’s engineer.

Rand’s drumbeat against public-face liberalism, as represented most obviously by Jim Taggert, hits a high note this time, in the cynical (and possibly unintended) observation that, no matter what government does to mitigate corporate greed, corporate greed will find a way to undermine, exploit, and screw things up. In this case, the “Equal Opportunity” bill leads successful businessmen to divest themselves of weakened East Coast factories and use the capital to build fresh in the West. The plummeting job availability in the East Coast is no doubt an unintended effect of the bill.

The long walkabout of Dagny and Hank, which feels out of character for them and seems like a ham-fisted device to set them on the quest for the motor’s designer, was refreshing, as if Rand temporarily forgot she was writing an Epic Novel for Epic People and instead had some actual fun at the typewriter.

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