Exclusive from The US Report
In a previous column I issued a call for information about the ‘Who is John Galt?’ billboard near the St. Mary’s, Ga. exit, visible to travelers heading south on I-95. Many curious readers found the story by way of search engines. I conjured ideas about the person responsible for the billboard. I told my husband the person had to be a small business owner, a successful one, to have both the fortitude and resources to erect such a billboard.
Ayn Rand’s novel ‘Atlas Shrugged’ made the character of John Galt perfectly fitting for this time in our history, as politicos in charge of our government adopt tactics similar to those of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt whose enabler was President Herbert Hoover.
Small businesses, which create the vast majority of private sector jobs, will be especially hard hit as the Democrat-controlled government aggressively seeks sources for new tax revenue.
A late afternoon email on Thursday confirmed my theory—the creator of the billboard came forward. He is a small business owner, operating Vista Outdoor since the early 1980s. Craig Root wrote, "I am the man who placed the billboard on I-95 near the GA/ FL border.”
I thanked Root, who lives in Georgia, and told him for me, the billboard stands as an icon of liberty. The fact it’s nonpolitical makes it doubly charming.
“If people will read Rand’s book,” Root responded, “or even just a short such as ‘Anthem,’ they can draw their own political conclusions. I think ‘Atlas Shrugged’ would perhaps be even more powerful without her atheist tenet but in any event, I am one of those who consider their first read as life-changing.”
Root’s response to Rand is universal—most who read and understand the validity of Rand’s value of individualism experience an awakening when reading her novels. The book focuses on individual worth rather than collectivism. Society reaps benefits, on Rand's terms, as a direct effect of a truly free market. An effort to save society, the poor or the world is not part of the scheme of things. Rand is reaching a whole new platform of readers. The Ayn Rand Institute said in a recent news release, "Penguin USA, publisher of the four American editions of Ayn Rand’s 'Atlas Shrugged,' has reported that in the first half of 2009 it shipped well over 300,000 copies of 'Atlas Shrugged'..." This represents an increase of approximately 250 percent over the entire previous year.
I spoke to Root by phone on Friday. Like many of us he is concerned about government spending. But he went one better. He did something tangible about his convictions.
As for the public’s response to the billboard, Root said, “I’ve received only positive comments. Of course, only those of us who know the book and Ayn Rand would get the reference but it’s been great to rekindle the notion in our current atmosphere. I’ve also convinced some people to read the book just based on the sign. If 50 people read the book because of the billboard, that will meet my primary objective.”
Ayn Rand would likely admire the man who created a billboard devoted to one of her most complicated characters. And Root isn’t quite finished.
“I’ll probably add a northbound version soon,” he said.
I-95 John Galt billboard mystery solved
by Kay B. Day
The US Report (Jul. 17, 2009)
July 30, 2010
The first in a trilogy, Atlas Shrugged the film will come to theaters in the second half of 2011.