All of the government's pesky market intrusions have people snapping up copies of Atlas Shrugged like they were bailout packages. Since it's not like Ayn Rand's laissez-faire fantasies got us into this mess.
Former Fed chair Alan Greenspan, architect of the endless free credit of the 2000s, was famously an acolyte in Rand's "Objectivist" inner circle. He and George W. Bush were all for lighter regulations and oversight of an already-wild Wall Street.
Now, of course, everything has come crashing down. Corporations of all sorts beg the government to socialize their losses. The SEC was, in retrospect, incompetent. De-regulation (of say credit default swaps) and under-regulation (of say Fannie Mae) helped bring on the crash. Free market mechanisms like credit ratings and elaborate risk-hedging failed.
And yet Atlas Shrugged, the worst sort of libertarian porn, went to an average monthly Amazon ranking of 127 from 542, spiking recently to around rank 30, according to the Economist.
It's hard to tell which is more sad: That bailed-out financiers are successfully agitating the masses against bailed-out poors via tools like CNBC's Rick Santelli, or that Atlas Shrugged is still the go-to polemic for people pissed at the government. Surely someone can write a superior manifesto, and make it popular? It stands to reason someone will. But then counting on people to behave "rationally," as Rand might put it, hasn't panned out very well lately.