Enough about John Galt, already

Conservatives are starting their own version of Craigslist, to let the free market run... a marketplace. Its name? Galtslist.

Published April 13, 2009 8:24PM (EDT)

The publishing industry may be the only one dying faster than the news business. But the recession of 2009 has probably been pretty good to at least one publisher: the Plume imprint at the Penguin Group, which owns the rights to Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" and other works.

That's because conservatives, facing a popular president who sees government as part of a solution to the country's woes, have decided now is the time to "go Galt." Yes, they actually call it that; the idea refers to John Galt, the engineer hero of "Atlas Shrugged," who inspires a mass movement of plutocrats by quitting work as a protest against socialism. (In case you haven't read it, the plot really is that silly. The plutocrats go on to form their own perfect society, inspired by free market ideals, in the mountains of Colorado.)

Today, after weeks of mounting Galtmania, conservative blogger Michelle Malkin announced that her friend Tennyson Hayes was launching a new project: a "classified ad service for free-marketeers." Its name? Galtslist.

Finally, a free market Web site where people can post listings and work out the terms of their own transactions with other people taking part in the marketplace! If only there was something like that out there already. The new free-market marketplace -- for the discerning free marketeer, naturally -- only had eight listings as of this afternoon, and two of those were dummy listings to show would-be Rand disciples how to craft a classified ad. But to be fair, Hayes said in a blog post explaining what he was up to that it wasn't supposed to go live until Wednesday. Which is April 15 -- tax day, in case you're up for a Cabinet-level post in the administration.

Here's Hayes, on the philosophy behind the new site:

On April 15th 2009 I will attend my local Tax Day Tea Party. The mainstream media won’t cover it and the entrenched government corruptocrats won’t care but I will go anyway. I will stand up. I will fight back.

And in my spare time I think I’ll create a little website where other folks who’ve had enough can find each other and engage in some free-market transactions. On their own terms.

All this Rand-inspired bluster from the right would be more compelling, of course, if one of her longtime followers, Alan Greenspan, hadn't helped preside over the free-market-inspired events that led to the collapse of the global economy. Greenspan admitted last fall that he "found a flaw" in the laissez-faire dogma he pushed for his whole career. And no matter how loudly Glenn Beck declares it to be so, President Obama has yet to don a beret and shout, "¡Hasta la victoria siempre!" But why let reality get in the way? After all, Ayn Rand didn't.

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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