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The America That Inspired Ayn Rand?

Posted by ohiocrossroads 3 years, 8 months ago to History
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Came upon this video as I was surfing YouTube, and thought I would reference it in The Gulch. As I was watching it, quotations from Atlas Shrugged kept popping up in my mind. It's quite an historical document, with a political commentary at the end by the president of the New York Central RR calling for reform of transportation policy.

SOURCE URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXW_QQ8kbOY&t=1231s


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  • Posted by ewv 3 years, 8 months ago
    Ayn Rand conceived of the theme and plot of Atlas Shrugged in the 1940s, but this documentary generally shows a great sense of life in the accomplishments of the railroads, starting with the opening line "It had a job waiting for it from the beginning, power on the move looking for wilderness to eat up", and continuing until the very end when the political commentary compromises with collectivism asking for equal government support in the name of the 'reform' you referred to. It's so typical of the pragmatist businessmen's failure to defend themselves on principle -- which is not in Atlas Shrugged. But the anticipated destruction of the railroads from progressively increasing statism came true. Good histories are Hacker's The World of Andrew Carnegie and Carson's Throttling the Railroads. Thanks for linking to the video. It was posted under "nostalgia" for 1950s railroads. I wonder what the original source was. It sounds like it was produced around the 1950s.
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  • Posted by wiggys 3 years, 8 months ago
    The America that inspired Ayn Rand no longer exists and in my opinion is gone for possibly ever, certainly it is gone in my time.
    maybe this video should be shown to the entirty of the congress to include the presidents old and new. Today their are over 1000 train engines sitting still!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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  • Posted by $ jbrenner 3 years, 8 months ago
    Interestingly, not long after arriving in America to escape Communism, Miss Rand got a jolt of Communism's little sister, socialism, from a series of presidents that Rand must have detested.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 3 years, 8 months ago
    f ever there was a more sensible plea for fairness, I've never found it. This little film could have been the starting point for Atlas. Wouldn't it be nice if modern day CEOs pled their case as forthrightly as this fellow.
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  • Posted by handyman 3 years, 8 months ago
    This video has the look and feel of one of the old "Industry on Parade" episodes from the 1950's. They were produced by the Nat's Assoc. of Manufacturers.
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    • Posted by wiggys 3 years, 8 months ago
      All the more reason it should be shown to OUR employees so the can see and hear what industry can, has done to make America the greatest country in the world to live in. Also the greatest example of what "free thinking, free people are capable of accomplishing". This morning on the history channel I was viewing what we are ding with respect to going to Mars, which I happen not to agree with, waste of money, but that aside it certainly is a major human accomplishment. The dunces in wash. d.c wouldn't understand anyway.
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  • Posted by $ ObjectiveAnalyst 3 years, 8 months ago
    Hello ohiocrossroads,
    Taggart Transcontinental! Fun!
    The President of New York Central was right when asking to end the subsidies of others... Everyone involved should have learned the lessons of James J. Hill and the Great Northern Railroad. http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/h...
    Respectfully,
    O.A.
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    • Posted by 3 years, 8 months ago
      I thought the president of the NYC was correct in pointing out that the taxes they pay were used to build facilities for their competition; airports for the airlines, and superhighways for the trucks. He was advocating primarily for that to be reformed so the railroads could compete on a level playing field. But he went on to say if that couldn't be accomplished, then provide railroads with a subsidy. That was where I got off his train! But he was prophetic in that the reforms he asked for did not happen, and Penn Central (the merged RR of the NYC and the PRR) went bankrupt in 1970, which basically marked the end of intercity passenger railroading in the US. Amtrak has been a continuing national embarrassment since it was formed, and has required operating subsidies ever since. To me, what the government did to the railroads since the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act perfectly illustrates the dictum that whatever the government sets out to regulate, it eventually kills.

      I wrote a college term paper on James J. Hill and the building of the Great Western railroad when I was in college, so I am familiar with the story. I was inspired to research Hill based on reading about him in Ayn Rand's non-fiction writing. I actually quoted Rand in my paper, and my prof loved it.
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      • Posted by $ ObjectiveAnalyst 3 years, 8 months ago
        Hello ohiocrossroads,
        Excellent! I too agreed with all he said, short of equalizing the playing field by any other means than removing "all" the subsidies. I would prefer the government never have that power or money in the first place. I am afraid I am a bit of a laissez-faire zealot. :)

        I quite concur with your other current comments.The history of our railroads provide a perfect vehicle for demonstrating the folly and failure of big government meddling. Clearly they make a good vehicle for a novel too... :)

        Respectfully,
        O.A.
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  • Posted by dbhalling 3 years, 8 months ago
    Fun. Plenty of subsidies for trains existed by then. Remember the transcontinental railroads
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    • Posted by 3 years, 8 months ago
      Yes, land grant railroads like the UP and CP benefitted from government largesse, but others like the Great Northern and the New York Central were mostly built without help from the government.
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    • Posted by ewv 3 years, 8 months ago
      What are you counting as subsidies? The land grants along the right of way across Federal lands in the west were for unowned land that was supposed to be settled and claimed as it was used privately. We can question how it was allocated and how much, but in principle it was the way it should have been done, not subsidies.
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      • Posted by dbhalling 3 years, 8 months ago
        I disagree. The railroads (original transcontinental) were only built to get the land, not to run the railroad. There were also government bonds (tax breaks), which the railroads quickly defaulted on.
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        • Posted by ewv 3 years, 8 months ago
          There were fraudulent characters involved but the railroad companies built a transcontinental transportation industry. Whatever all of their motivations, they built an industry using previously unowned land for rights of way. Claiming previously unowned land isn't a subsidy. Tax breaks aren't subsidies either, though favoritism through connections is bad for other reasons, there were loans that were improper, and some of the policies on land not used for rights of way were dubious.
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  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 3 years, 8 months ago
    Interesting. Thanks. In this link (https://archive.org/details/BigTrain1...) I believe that the speaker at about 8:00 minutes in is part of the same production. Here, he justifies the regulations on the "monopoly" that the railroads enjoyed circa 1900. Of course, they did gain that by cartelizing the industry under the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1886.

    Most people do not know that the railroads (and trucking companies that forwarded freight to them) were nationalized during World War I. When the railroads were returned to their owners, the freight forwarders were not. REA (Railway Express Agency) was created instead. REAX was finally privatized in the 1970s, but by then, it was too late, of course.

    Also, tangentially, during World War I all radio receivers and transmitters were seized by the federal government.
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