As Eddie enters Taggart Transcontinental, it seems Rand meant the company to be metaphorically the United States, with the slogan “From Ocean to Ocean,” presumably a reference to the words from America, “From sea to shining sea.” Further, the description of the lines being like blood vessels is saying that business is the life of the country (and, I believe, that later on, she essentially says it’s synonymous with life itself).
Clearly, as we first meet James Taggart, we are meant to be disgusted, given his description, with resentment being a core part of his personality; I believe this theme comes up repeatedly with respect to those who Rand wants to disparage (“looters”? “moochers”? I don’t remember the precise term; I ‘m sure we’ll see it later). Actually, at this point I think we’ve met essentially the three major categories of characters that Rand has: those who lead (Dagny, as yet unnamed), those who follow the leaders (Eddie), and those who resent the leaders (James, and, I suppose, the bum). We’ll see if this classification works as we go.
Interesting, I had forgotten that Orren Boyle was technically introduced before Hank Rearden (although we see Rearden Steel mentioned just past Boyle and his company, Associated Steel). I find it interesting that the “good” companies are all named after their founders, while the “bad” companies thus far are named something generic, just to bring home that implication of personal responsibility (and, I’m sure many would say, egotism, although I’m not remotely ready to start considering that type of criticism).
A number of characters seem to be popping up in this section. James mentions his sister (though not by name), and Ellis Wyatt (whom I’d completely forgotten). Oh, and look — “Wyatt Oil”, the name thing again.
Ahah, and James says, “…there are more important things in life than making money.” This, of course, strikes at the heart of Rand’s core position (no surprise that it’s being said by the disgusting James), which is that money is life. I’m going to have to give in and respond to this message now from my personal point of view, although it won’t be strictly complete until we hear Rand’s (Galt’s) own words on it during the big speech.
The way I see it, the right way to view money — or, to be more precise, production of material goods — is fundamental to life. In that sense, Rand is completely right. Nothing is more important than sustaining life, and that requires things like food and clothing. Money itself is nothing but a tool to help the production and distribution of those vitally necessary (and some, not so much) goods happen in the first place. It’s all too easy to be dismissive of money when one has a full stomach and is warm and safe.
However, James is actually right in the sense that life is not just about meeting material needs. Life, broadly speaking, should be (and, I think, unavoidably is) about seeking happiness and fulfillment, which is only partly about the material needs; there are a host of others. Meeting some level of material needs is fundamental, and by ignoring problems with Taggart Transcontinental, James is literally not taking care of business, like a farmer eating his seed instead of planting for next year. That’s obviously foolish and shortsighted. Nonetheless, for every individual, there are vital non-material needs to meet, too, in pursuit of happiness. Actually, I’m sure that Rand would have supported that statement, but I figured it was worth spelling out.
Stopping on p. 17.