Tag Archives: ayn rand

My Totally Biased Required Reading List for Lovers of Liberty

The Federalist Papers: The best description of the principles of liberty and how to apply them.

The Road to Serfdom: Explanation of how big government leads to tyranny.

The Path to Tyranny: Show how big government has historically led to tyranny.

Atlas Shrugged: Shows what the consequences of government intervention on the American economy.

Please suggest other “Required” books in the comments.

Atlas Shrugged: Tempe Town Lake dam bursts

In another story that could have come straight out of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged:

Tempe Town Lake overnight became a bog after one of the four inflatable bladders at the west end of the lake exploded around 9:44 p.m., sending a wall of water into the Salt River bed.

Tempe spokeswoman Kris Baxter estimated that at least three-quarters of the about 1 billion gallons of water had drained overnight. Officials say the dam breach left some areas of the lake with three feet of water or less; the average lake depth is about 16 feet.

So far, the story just sounds like a normal accident. But there is more to the story:

In April 2009, Tempe officials said they intended to ignore a safety recommendation from the makers of Town Lake’s rubber dams because sufficient safeguards already were in place to prevent the dams from deflating.

In 2009, the dams’ manufacturer, Bridgestone Industrial Products, had urged Tempe to evaluate whether the safety measures at the lake were sufficient “to prevent injury and reduce the risk of loss of life” if the dams were to rapidly deflate. Bridgestone manufactured the eight inflatable dams that contained the lake.

The eastern dams upstream are submerged and have held up. But a plan to keep the western dams wet failed, exposing the rubber to scorching sun that has damaged the material.

Tempe and Bridgestone officials have argued over whose fault that is. In March 2009, the City Council approved an agreement for Bridgestone to replace the four damaged dams at the lake’s western end.

But the question of people’s safety on the lake if the dams were to deflate remained a sticking point. Bridgestone recommended that the city look at increasing the buffer zone between safety buoys and the western dams, adding warning signage and enhancing the alarm system to better warn lake users if the dams rapidly deflate.

The cost to temporarily replace the dams was estimated at $2.5 million earlier this year. Tempe at that time budgeted an additional $250,000 to fund the project’s contingency costs. Bridgestone was expected to reimburse Tempe up to $3 million of the costs to replace the dam.

It is clear that Tempe knew about this problem for well over a year now and did nothing about it except complain and blame the manufacturer. Tempe should have taken Bridgestone’s advice on how to prevent this problem or replaced the dams entirely. Bridgestone may not be blameless here, but they did warn Tempe and Tempe chose to do nothing, endangering the river and people.

The Fall of Civilization Part 2: Asphalt Is Replaced By Cheaper Gravel; ‘Back to Stone Age’

A follow up to my recent post The fall of civilization spreads to Oakland.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue. State money for local roads was cut in many places amid budget shortfalls.

In Michigan, at least 38 of the 83 counties have converted some asphalt roads to gravel in recent years. Last year, South Dakota turned at least 100 miles of asphalt road surfaces to gravel. Counties in Alabama and Pennsylvania have begun downgrading asphalt roads to cheaper chip-and-seal road, also known as “poor man’s pavement.” Some counties in Ohio are simply letting roads erode to gravel.

Fans of Ayn Rand will of course be reminded of the country’s situation in Atlas Shrugged where highways and railroads deteriorated from neglect as economic conditions worsened when the government punished success and rewarded failure.

I am reminded of a much more ancient example. The prophet warns (Micah 3:12):

Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.

The Temple was a beautiful palace and holiest place on earth. Not only would it be destroyed, twice, it would be neglected, becoming a heap of rubble and overgrown with weeds. Is the same thing happening in American? Especially in places such as Detroit and other “rust belt” cities?

In fact, America’s situation may be even worse than ancient Israel’s. In ancient Israel, the temples were destroyed by foreign invaders. In modern America, as in Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, we are destroying our own property through self-imposed economic decline, especially in the industrial sector. We apparently need no help from foreign conquerors to go “Back to Stone Age,” as The Wall Street Journal describes it.