I tried to avoid this topic for as long as I could. I tend to agree that selfishness is good and that altruism to some degree should be limited. I don't go to the extreme in saying a handout endangers the world or anything close but I will dispute what the handout should be. I finally get to this topic because partly of how popular the book has become and how people are using it to defend big business. There's an enormous misconception though and people keep leaning on it without realizing the real meaning of it.
The basic story of Atlas Shrugged is what if big business left us to our own devices and its heroes are the selfish industrialists while the villains are big government and those on welfare or looking for handouts which are described succinctly as moochers and leeches, the non contributing zeroes of society. The story itself was written in a time where the majority of people were self employed usually through agriculture or were in a service industry with no fear for technological outsourcing. Back when big business and industrialists and the wealthy were real entrepreneurs making changes in the world and creating entirely new things or finding ways to mass produce them. This is when we had new tech for making industrial steel faster and cheaper than ever before, mass production of automobiles, the invention of the fridge, toaster, early tv's, and more. The real concept of Atlas Shrugged was what if all the thinkers and creators were to leave the moochers behind for their own society.
Today we have people leaning on this idea that somehow big business and the multi billion dollar capitalists are somehow the real creators and inventors of everything these days and produce a society worth living in. If this were truly the case I wouldn't mind the fact they have their huge tax breaks, I might ignore the wealth gap and disparity, I might agree that government should find new ways to pay for public services and let free market rule. Instead you find me saying we need more public service and higher taxes a real middle class as opposed to the few hundred or so people that control over 90% of the US economy, and complaining about inequality and the lack of proper opportunity for social mobility. That is because I have deemed these wealthiest of people as hoarders and leeches on the belly of society. They produce waste and deliberately cause inefficiency seeking to maximize profits which only fuels their greed for more and to hold on to as much as possible. Many of the most successful failing to realize that holding on to their wealth so tightly is stagnating the economy into failure.
The simple truth of our world today is creators are punished and cheated out of their intellectual property only to have nothing done with it other than collect dust on a shelf. You won't see the rise of electric cars until oil has run dry with inflating cost on the way and only truly hyper fuel efficient cars at the same time to hold on till the bitter end. Then electric cars will still be inefficient with hyper inflated electrical cost to compensate for what is already an overburdened system with frequent failures in complete disrepair. These billionaires are sucking the nation dry and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they packed up and moved once we're dead from our current state of decay, likely they may even seek to make this literal if conspiracy theorists are right.
My only solution is the most upsetting which is that those with the money if they can't learn to use it and keep it moving then they should have it taken from them to the benefit of others. This only results in yet a communist system rife with corruption itself though and in turn is no solution at all. So how then do we balance the scales? We must work to find a solution together.