Multi-billionaire Andrew Grant was delighted. Since the year 2000, he and his staff of engineers and computer technicians had struggled desperately to successfully produce a revolutionary hovercraft car. Millions of man-hours of creative effort across a span of twenty years had at last come to fruition.
The car was a technological marvel. Its air-cushion drive meant that it could travel safely over any type of terrain. It was light in weight and thus very fuel-efficient. Its patented spherical design supported by interlocking ribs composed of a new metal Grant had invented made the car exceptionally strong. This, plus a computerized laser detection system that automatically moved the car up, down or sideways if a collision were imminent, had cut by 90 percent the injury rate of people using his car.
Grant's car proved to be a brilliant success and enabled Grant Motors to gain a 60 percent, and growing, market share. Grant never sought publicity or acclaim, but he expected that his achievement would be appreciated. He was wrong.
His "Big Three" domestic competitors, Titanic, Reliable, and Safe Motor Companies, had reacted with fury. They demanded an anti-trust investigation, claiming that, through a series of interlocking patents, technological innovations and high pressure sales tactics, Grant Motors had achieved an unfair stranglehold on the automobile market. An international consortium of foreign car companies demanded a monopoly ruling by the World Court. None of these companies mentioned that the reason Grant Motors was taking away their business was that people liked its cars better than theirs.
The U.S. Automobile Dealer's Association protested that Grant Motors was coercing them by requiring them to order Grant's own anti-collision system with every car rather than installing a competing model. They failed to note that it takes two to trade, and that neither party is required to make a deal if they do not like the terms.
The automobile unions screamed that Grant was causing unemployment as factory after factory owned by the Big Three was closed and union membership evaporated. They did not mention that for every Big Three factory that had closed a new, non-unionized Grant Motor factory had opened.
The Green Earth Society warned that the air turbulence caused by Grant's cars could conceivably cause global warming, global cooling, global flooding and global drought. These predictions were backed up by computer models based on "reasonable" assumptions. The society did not mention that there was no actual evidence for any of their claims.
Automotive Magazine screamed that Grant's patents were a public trust and therefore the patents should be given away to anyone who wanted them. They did not suggest that the copyrights to their magazine's articles should also be given away.
Professor Gerald Spookin, chairman of the Economics Department at Peoples University, wrote that Andrew Grant was another in a long line of "robber barons" who made his fortune by destroying the little guy and holding the common man in the vice-like grip of his monopolistic power. He did not explain how America could have become the wealthiest country in the world if its businessmen simply stole rather than created wealth.
Senator Oswald Lunt, chairman of the Joint Committee on Anti-Trust and Monopoly, went on TV to announce, "We will immediately begin hearings on the anti-competitive implications of the fact that Grant Motors is so successful, er, that is, dominant."
Fantasy you say. But was our fictional Andrew Grant treated any better than John D. Rockefeller, or Andrew Carnegie, or Bill Gates? There is only one fundamental reason why great businessmen or great companies are hated, and it has nothing to do with so-called monopolies. They are hated, as Senator Lunt let slip, because they are good, that is, smarter, more visionary, more creative, more tenacious, more action-focused, more ambitious, and more successful than everyone else. Haters of the good do not want the less able to be raised up to the level of the great producers (which is impossible); they want the great producers to be brought down. They want to use government coercion to cripple the greatest minds so that lesser minds will not feel inferior.
Government coercion against the productive is a clear violation of their moral right to trade freely with other men. Furthermore, depriving great minds, such as that of Bill Gates, of their right to economic freedom also deprives the rest of us of what they could produce. The freer such people are to function, the richer we all will be.
Edwin A. Locke, a professor emeritus of management at the University of Maryland at College Park, is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.