Idaho Legislator Wants “Atlas Shrugged” Taught in Schools

In Idaho, a Red State bastion, a state legislator has introduced a bill that would make reading “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand required reading for high school kids.  Now I hate to give John Campbell or Don Wagner any ideas, but the notion kids will have to read this work of fiction, be tested on it, presumably have to write essays about it compared to other great literature should scare the hell out of you as a parent.

Here’s the story:

State Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde (R-Coeur d’Alene) introduced legislation Tuesday that would require the reading of Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged by every high school student in the state, and the passage of a test on the book, in order to graduate, The Spokesman-Review reported. Goedde said that he only introduced the bill as a way to send a message to the state over a series of recent decisions, and not to force the reading of Rand’s book.

“It was a shot over their bow just to let them know that there’s another way to adopt high school graduation requirements,” Goedde said to committee members, The Spokesman-Review reported. “I don’t intend to schedule a hearing on it.”

Atlas Shrugged has become a popular book among the Tea Party for its pro-capitalism and anti-big government message. Among the fans of the book are Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and conservative pundit Glenn Beck. Goedde said he choose the book because it stresses “personal responsibility” and that it caused his son to become a Republican, The Spokesman-Review reported


We’ll note, the real purpose of requiring this book to be read by High School students is to turn kids into Republicans.  The truth of the matter, it’s a terribly written book.  We might as well require the reading of the entire Narnia series to instruct kids on public policy.  The difference here being “The Chronicles of Narnia” is more believable than “Atlas Shrugged.”  Imagine the outcry if “Profiles in Courage” or “The Audacity of Hope” were proposed to be required reading?

  1 comment for “Idaho Legislator Wants “Atlas Shrugged” Taught in Schools

  1. March 4, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Ayn Rand/Atlas Shrugged caused sequester


       John Galt, the evil genius of Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged,” is “alive and well” roaming the halls of Congress.

    A figment of Rand’s imagination, Galt continues to do serious damage through any number of assorted tea party/GOP extremists, like Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Michele Bachmann, and Rep. Eric Cantor. If, like most Americans, you’ve asked yourself how and why a radical minority of the GOP has refused to do business with the president, Democrats, and even members of their own party, no matter how dire the potential consequences for the country, the answer is simple: As latter-day John Galts, they are living out the plot of a work of fiction.

    That’s right! They are committed to using the same destructive tactic Galt did to bring the nation to its knees — to save it. They won’t tell you that’s what they’re doing: It’s too crazy. But that’s what it all boils down to.

    Rand idolizes Galt as the perfect hero: the ultimate capitalist, a rabid anti-socialist, a philosopher, inventor, leader, independent thinker, the consummate rebel against government and bureaucratic “moochers” who stand in the way of those who he believes really create and drive the economy. Surely, you can hear echoes of the rhetoric of the tea party/GOP. Now, you know where so much of it comes from.

    As the torturous pace of Rand’s story unfolds (1168 pages in my paperback edition), it ultimately becomes clear that Galt isn’t only Rand’s “man” but her man “with a unique plan”: “The Strike,” the ultimate tactic for bringing about sweeping economic and social change, a revolution to take the country back for the 1 percent, in today’s political rhetoric, from those he brands communist, collectivist, socialist leeches. To that end, Galt entices one after another of those he considers the engine-drivers of the economy, captains of industry, simply to follow his lead and stop producing. That way, those he marks as lazy lowlifes (Mitt Romney’s 47 percent/Paul Ryan’s 60 percent who are “takers not makers”) will no longer enjoy what he considers their free ride at the expense of others.

    Eventually, Galt and his cabal retreat to a hidden valley. They watch as the country falls deeper into desperation. The economy collapses. It’s a dream-come-true for the perpetrators — and so simple: Just say no; opt out; let things fall apart. Finally, when Galt gives the word, they return to the shambles they’ve precipitated, forever vindicated and presumably ready to claim the spoils of victory.

    Depending upon your literary and political preferences, Galt’s “strike” may sound brilliant, ridiculous, evil, or preposterous as social commentary and a prescription for change. But surely, you can’t imagine anyone could possibly be so unglued as to want to implement such a deranged fantasy for real.

    Think again! Most of us have been living it without realizing it! It took the election of Barack Obama — and his perceived socialistic agenda — to coalesce a group around a full-fledged, real-life equivalent of a “strike,” more sophisticated and under-the-radar than Galt’s original but from the same playbook. A conspiracy of Galtans in Congress has gone beyond its efforts simply to indoctrinate young minds with the narcissistic ideology of “Atlas Shrugged.” (Chief acolyte Rep. Paul Ryan, who would have been a heartbeat away from the presidency had Romney won, made his staffers read it). Their forcing the nation into a manufactured debt-ceiling crisis, holding endless filibusters, relishing sequestration, doing anything and everything to stop administration initiatives, no matter how dire the consequences — all are John Galt 2.0: the way to win elections after losing them, to destroy the economy to recreate it. It’s constitutional government replaced by the outrageous plot of a bad novel.

    I know that for some people my equating John Galt’s “strike” with tea party/GOP tactics will sound like conspiracy-theory run amok: I will be branded the kook; the real kooks will get off the hook. So, I urge everyone to slog through as many of the 1168 pages of “Atlas Shrugged” as they can endure until they see the light. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    Contact Stephen Goldstein on Twitter@drslgoldstein or by email at

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