efficiency as the highest ideal

by Andrea Elizabeth

Still in chapter 1 of Atlas Shrugged (ibooks free sample), I am thinking of how the two sympathetic characters, Eddie Willers and Dagny Taggert, insist on efficiency. Everything depends on the trains running on time. I am usually an efficiency fan too. Having 6 kids and not very much energy has made me sort of good at it. But now I’m thinking prioritizing efficiency can foster impatience and frustration with others. When you are used to and expect 70mph uninterrupted interstate smoothness, next day free delivery, and 30 minute, tops, meal preparation, anything slower feels like someone is sabotaging your day. Since my husband and I spend a lot of time commuting, these things have indeed become necessary to us or we would not be able to spend as much time with our families and at Church. But I believe these modern conveniences are a necessary evil for the lack of the type life we have prioritized. It is not available locally. But to move closer to work or Church would be to give up our lovely rural setting, and the roots I have put down since my eldest (who is now our third born) was born 21 years ago.

But back to sabotaged days, what about 2 hour traffic jams, on the negative side, or more primitive, less efficient styles of travel and of acquiring food and shelter? While reading, I was wondering if Ayn Rand experienced what I have heard about conditions in Russia where things break and are left broken for long periods, and the fix is by Jerry-rigging. Should one get so upset at this? It goes against American ideals, but could it be an alternate good where people learn to do without what they think would bring them our expectation of happiness? Other cultures are labeled as lazy for not emphasizing efficient, high production. But Russian Churches are prettier, and their people seem tougher.

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