Jim Thompson’s paean to Ayn Rand (“What’s the fear of Ayn Rand,” AFN, May 11) redundantly betrays his ignorance. “Atlas Shrugged” is the work of a literary hack who knew nothing about the U.S. economy. In this bombastic novel, the federal government blocks introduction of a high-strength alloy steel that would, for example, have lengthened bridge spans.
It so happens that several years after “Atlas Shrugged’s” publication, U.S. steel companies introduced five new alloy steels. Through strength-enhancing alloys like manganese, silicon and chromium, they raised yield strength up to 250 percent that of conventional (A33) structural steel and made exposed steel structures practicable through improved corrosion resistance. The federal government played no role whatever in this process, as Rand postulated in “Atlas Shrugged.” New design, fabrication and erection standards were promulgated by private organizations: The American Institute of Steel Construction and the American Society of Testing and Materials. It’s obvious that Rand knew nothing about these organizations’ existence, much less their function. In summary, Rand’s plot in “Atlas Shrugged” was a preposterous myth, credible only to the gullible masses.