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U.S. News and Commentary



Friday
Jul172009

I-95 John Galt billboard mystery solved

Georgia businessman Craig Root provided this shot of the billboard he erected.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)

~Update~
July 30, 2010

The first in a trilogy,  Atlas Shrugged the film will come to theaters in the second half of 2011.

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Reader Comments (39)

The billboard should have addressed to 0bama with John Galt's demand:

"Get the hell out of my way!"

July 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlan

Alan, thanks for commenting. I love that billboard. best, KBD

July 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKay B. Day

We just drove by the billboard for the first time and googles it immediately. Thank you to Mr Root!!! If only Atlas Shrugged were required reading.......

November 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

We just passed the "northbound" sign yesterday on our way north from Jacksonville to Atlanta! Keep up the good work.

November 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Henry

Thank you Mr. Root for your excellent work in advertising Ayn Rand's greatest fictional hero, John Galt, whose revolutionary and daring feats in her greatest novel-Atlas Shrugged-can return America and the world to civilization.

December 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Cons

“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.”

Although Ayn Rand's atheism is a part of her philosophy the essence of her philosophy is man's mind must be used to discover the facts of reality. It's the ethical code of altruism or self-sacrifice that Atlas needs to shrug off or rebel against. It's the ethical code of egoism or selfishness that Ayn Rand advocated. With this moral foundation the politics of limited government, individual rights, and freedom will not stand. I refer the reader to Ayn Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness for further investigation into her moral ideas.

December 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRagnar D

I too just finished reading Atlas Shrugged and have already purchased Fountainhead, another novel by Ayn Rand. They should be required reading in our public schools. In answer to the question about a movie, it is in the works. Check out the following link http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0480239/fullcredits#writers

I look forward to seeing the movie. It is set for release in 2011, just prior to the next Presidential election.

December 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLee Johnson

I have just emailed Nancy Fletcher, President of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, informing her of Mr. Root's billboard. I have requested her association, at the very least, run an article about Mr. Root and his billboard in their trade magazine, which might lead other billboard owners to do the same thing across this country. I would encourage others to email Ms. Fletcher at nfletcher@oaaa.org and share your opinions as well.
We CAN make a difference......

December 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLee Johnson

Lee, that's an excellent idea. best, kayday/ed

December 5, 2009 | Registered CommenterKay B. Day, Editor

Kay,
Thank you for your kind comment. Please contact me directly at CEO@TransformU.com; I have some additional ideas on how to increase exposure to Atlas Shrugged and would like to share them off-line.

BTW, Ms. Fletcher replied back within a matter of minutes (and on a Saturday) thanking me for sharing the information. I hope she will now follow up after having a chance to digest the information.

December 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLee Johnson

Does anyone know how to get in touch with Mr Root? I would like to start posting these all over the country. Mr Root did a great job starting this, but if we can group together (as Francisco, Hank Rearden, Dagny, etc did), I think we can do a great thing here and get a WONDERFUL message to the masses!!!

does anyone have a web page, email address, etc of Mr Root?? or would anyone be interested in starting a small web page/chain email that we can all link to? I'd create one if there was enough interest!! please email me or message me here!!

Thanks!!

"Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."

December 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJ.P.

pavlick@email.com

December 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJ.P.

I LOVE the fact that Ayn Rand was an atheist. It throws a spanner right into the brains of people who like to have their philosophy, ideas and opinions spoon-fed to them. There are too many people who jump on the Ayn Rand bandwagon without fully considering all the ideas (or ludicrously, in many cases, without even bothering to read her books). Ayn Rand's great contribution to the world was her articulation of objectivism and rationality. Big government does not stand up to objective analysis; neither does religion.
Yes - we love to see your heads spin as you try to reconcile those two facts, hating the nasty liberals but yet still clinging to your irrational religious beliefs. You don't understand (yet) that collectivism is evil in all its forms - not just political but religious too. Who is John Galt? Not a Christian, that's for SURE.

December 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephen

The billboard owner's comment about Rand's atheism suggests that he is religious. It's probable that he's a Christian. He must lack a thorough understanding either of Rand's ideas or of Christ's, because they are profoundly incompatible.

December 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMDC

Simply Inspirational, I was blown away when I saw the billboard last week. I have always been a huge fan of Rand's work and was so impressed with the message this billboards give to those who understand it, or the curiosity it might invoke to those who don't know about John Galt. Thank you Mr. Root. Thank you very much. Let's spread the word before we need to build our secret society in the Rockies.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJesse Jerabek

I about flipped my sh*t when I saw that billboard last week travelling south to FL with some friends. We all went berserk! ... That kind of thing gives me hope for the future. THANK YOU to Mr. Craig Root!!!!

January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRocco

I just discovered a number of new comments.

I don't believe it matters what your faith is or isn't when you discover Rand. You can still appreciate aspects of her philosophy. And I'd also add Christianity doesn't endorse slovenly or lazy behavior either. Some might revisit the Bible if you think it's all about human self-sacrifice.

Note to others: I'm removing the nonsensical code that was left by a reader.
Please don' t take up bandwidth with such messages that mean nothing to other guests.

January 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKay B. Day

when you start erecting billboards, and force feeding things to the masses, and forming groups, isnt that a form of collectivism? maybe you should practice a little individualism. you all think youre something youre just not.

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercp

Well, CP, I think we have the choice to ignore the billboard.

January 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterKay B. Day, Editor

I just drove to Florida and for this drive I chose to listen to the audio book "Atlas Shrugged." I broke out laughing when I saw the billboard!! It was perfect! Thank you, Craig Root!

[I'm sure many are now saying, "who is Craig Root?"]

February 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBud

I saw the sign and stopped to make a photo. Actually I've seen several of these, on
I 95 and also on I 75.
Too bad some of these posts don't realize the book is not about religion, although Rand was an atheist, it is about captiliam. It is about FREEDOM. It could have been written about this administration.

April 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhmhm

It is about freedom. And we are literally living 'Atlas Shrugged.' In my opinion. I've always pointed out to those who focus on Rand's ideas about religion that her ideals were in line with the essence of every major faith. best, kbd

April 9, 2010 | Registered CommenterKay B. Day, Editor

The midwife precisely each makes the assumption that the publication of an typographical error is duplicate with the origination of truth - that the error and fact are plainly opposite. They are nothing of the sort. What the age turns to, when it is cured on entire error, is normally only another fault, and peradventure united worse than the triumph one.

EDITOR'S NOTE:
Left your message but removed your commercial link and email address. Your message makes no sense whatsoever. I'm assuming you copied and pasted a language you cannot speak. SPAM elsewhere, please.

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlogitech

Thanks for all the positive comments about the John Galt billboards I placed on I-95. I haven't looked at this comment string since last fall and after reading it, wanted to add a few thoughts.

Regarding Rand's atheism. To those of you who assumed I am a practicing Christian just because I made the comment that I though the book would perhaps have been more powerful without her "atheist tenant" are completely off base (check your premises). I am not an atheist and do believe in a higher power but I do not practice any organized religion. My thought was that many people reject Rand's works, without reading them, because they are told that she in an atheist, her philosophy rejects all forms of altruism and is based on selfish objectives. I personally don't have any problem reconciling the existence of God, partaking in altruistic acts and believing in Objectivism.

I never heard a word from Nancy Fletcher at OAAA ( The national outdoor advertising trade association). My company is not a member, I don't know if that has any bearing on it.

My company is a member of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia. The web site is www.oaag.net

April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Root

Craig, well put. Thanks so much again for the great opportunity to share your John Galt story with my readers. best to you, Kay B. Day/editor, TUSR

April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKay B. Day

Hello to the author and readers of this article, and particularly to Craig Root.
Mr. Root, I'm a research assistant at a think tank in Washington D.C. We 're called The Atlas Society and we promote Objectivism, Ayn Rand's philosophy. I am wondering if we might feature your John Galt billboard in our newsletter. If this is okay, please email tas@atlassociety.org or call us at 202-296-7263. That's 202 AYN RAND. Thank you.
Anyone else here is welcome to contact The Atlas Society too, of course, if you are interested in learning more about Ayn Rand, Objectivism, and our work.

May 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Atlas Society

****** was established under supervision of experienced gold trading specialists, who have been active in the gold market since 2007. In early 2010 they joined forces and established *****.

ED. NOTE: SPAM LINKS AND REFERENCES TO COMPANY ARE REMOVED.

June 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCPCalvin

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to say hi to everyone and introduce myself,

My name is Joshua, im 25 years old and live the good old USA

I am a **** trader****, and am also a programmer*** wich allow you to***trade****.

I got a girlfriend, and we got a daughter together.

Anyways, just wanted to greet you all, ill be hanging around!

[ED. NOTE: Hi,Joshua. Nice try. Don't SPAM our site. Your links have been removed.]

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterForestradez

I went to the library with my daughter and saw Atlas Shrugged. I had read Anthem in college and always meant to read Atlas Shrugged. I was reading it for my long road trip to South Carolina from South Florida to visit my brother - in - law. Imagine my surprise as I am reading it to see a hugh billboard with "Who is John Galt". It was very freaky, but I loved it. He did place one southbound as well, but this time it was more comforting as I was almost done with the book. Just wanted to let him know that his billboard affected me as profoundly as the book. Money well invested.

July 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlucy

Lucy, thanks so much for sharing that. And the S.C. to S. Florida journey is a long one indeed--I have shared that pain. best, KBD/ed./TUSR

July 30, 2010 | Registered CommenterKay B. Day, Editor

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