Thursday, December 29, 2005

Shades of Atlas Shrugged

In the classic Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged, the world economy collapses as all the producers and businessmen are driven out of business by government regulations and intrusion from a host of "social engineers." Couldn't really happen, right? Wrong!
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - The thefts began shortly after the day surfers call Blank Monday, when the surfing community from San Diego to Santa Cruz and beyond felt caught in the undertow of what Grubby Clark had done.

Mr. Clark, a reclusive surf industrialist whose given name is Gordon, is responsible for producing foam cores, or blanks, for most of the nation's surf boards.

On Dec. 5, Mr. Clark abruptly went out of business.
"Abruptly" going out of business is a classic Atlas scenario. But it gets better (or worse) still:
In 2003, Mr. Clark received a notice from the Environmental Protection Agency for, among other things, failing to safeguard workers against the accidental release of toluene diisocyanate, or TDI, a liquid catalyst and known carcinogen used in making polyurethane foam.

There was also the cost of workers' compensation, insuring machines of his own design and "a claim being made by the widow of an employee who died from cancer," he wrote.

"For owning and operating Clark Foam," the letter began, "I may be looking at very large fines, civil lawsuits, and even time in prison."
One wonders if Clark is now hanging out in Colorado with John Galt.


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