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Apple vs. GM: Ayn Rand knew the difference. Do you?

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The novel rejects the widespread notion that both the producer Reardens and the looter Boyles are fundamentally united by a desire for profit. Only the Reardens, she argues, deserve to be called profit-seekers, because they earn rewards through productive effort; the Boyles are antieffort parasites seeking unearned loot.

But it’s not only unearned wealth the looters want. In “Atlas Shrugged,” Boyle uses his influence to throttle Rearden with progressively harsher government controls and regulations, because he can’t survive except by hindering the competition.

Producers, however, don’t need special favors, only freedom: the freedom to produce, to trade voluntarily, and, if they succeed, to keep the profits. As a country becomes less free, it creates and unleashes more and more Boyles, who succeed at the expense of the Reardens.

America, today, is still a land of producers. Our country is full of industrialists, managers, and financiers who display the ruthlessly high standards, exceptional intelligence, and extraordinary work ethic that are characteristic of a producer.

When Apple was nearly ready to release the first iPhone, for instance, CEO Steve Jobs looked at the enclosure design and announced to his team, “I just don’t love this. I can’t convince myself to fall in love with this.” Mr. Jobs was asking his team to toss out a year’s work and start over. “And you know what everybody said?” Jobs later noted. “Sign us up.” That is the mentality of a producer – the commitment to settle for nothing but one’s best. It’s a mentality you can still find in many sectors of the economy.

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