Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute asks and answers a href=”http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123698976776126461.html”this question in an op-ed in the WSJ/a:br /br /blockquoteAyn Rand died more than a quarter of a century ago, yet her name appears regularly in discussions of our current economic turmoil. Pundits including Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santelli urge listeners to read her books, and her magnum opus, a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0452011876?ie=UTF8tag=wwwviolentkicomlinkCode=as2camp=1789creative=9325creativeASIN=0452011876″”Atlas Shrugged,”/aimg src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wwwviolentkicoml=as2o=1a=0452011876″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” / is selling at a faster rate today than at any time during its 51-year history.br /br /There’s a reason. In “Atlas,” Rand tells the story of the U.S. economy crumbling under the weight of crushing government interventions and regulations. Meanwhile, blaming greed and the free market, Washington responds with more controls that only deepen the crisis. Sound familiar?br /br /The novel’s eerily prophetic nature is no coincidence. “If you understand the dominant philosophy of a society,” Rand wrote elsewhere in a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0451147952?ie=UTF8tag=wwwviolentkicomlinkCode=as2camp=1789creative=9325creativeASIN=0451147952″”Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal”/aimg src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wwwviolentkicoml=as2o=1a=0451147952″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” / “you can predict its course.” Economic crises and runaway government power grabs don’t just happen by themselves; they are the product of the philosophical ideas prevalent in a society — particularly its dominant moral ideas./blockquotebr /br /While many people profess that Rand promotes unhealthy selfishness, that does not appear to be the case according to Brook:br /br /blockquoteThe message is always the same: “Selfishness is evil; sacrifice for the needs of others is good.” But Rand said this message is wrong — selfishness, rather than being evil, is a virtue. By this she did not mean exploiting others à la Bernie Madoff. Selfishness — that is, concern with one’s genuine, long-range interest — she wrote, required a man to think, to produce, and to prosper by trading with others voluntarily to mutual benefit./blockquotebr /br /While many people think that others will continue to produce for no other reason than helping others, even if they have to turn over most or all of their earnings to the government, I think we will learn otherwise. Human nature, without a lobotomy, does not change all that much. People will do what is in their interest, though, they will lie through their teeth and tell you otherwise (or do it subconsciously). br /br /Hence, the easy way guys like Geithner talk a good game about how those who are successful must pay more for the greater good, but all the while, cheating on his own taxes. For in our society, claiming to be for the collective is now in vogue. But perhaps the pendulum will swing the other way and the rights of the individual and capitalism will prevail. Crazier things have happened.