Comparing the Underlying Themes of Dirty Jobs with those of Atlas Shrugged

Thirty-five years ago, a librarian in Baltimore County handed me a novel the size of a telephone book and told me to read it. It took me two weeks, and it kept me up for more than a few nights, but when I finally finished Atlas Shrugged, I knew I had read an important book. I also knew, in the years that followed, that many of the decisions I made in life were impacted by the characters that Ayn Rand had created, and the philosophies they espoused. What I didn’t know, and would have never dared to imagine, was that three and a half decades later, a noted expert on Ayn Rand would devote a few thousand words and a considerable amount of research comparing the underlying themes of Dirty Jobs with those of Atlas Shrugged.

To say that I’m flattered would miss the point, though I am. How could I not be, with passages like this?

“Rowe highlights man’s heroic spirit by spotlighting individuals who choose elbow grease over entitlement. These are folks who agree that “Somebody’s gotta do it.” And that somebody is every individual—because each and every one of us is responsible for supporting his own life and pursuing his own happiness. Both Rowe and Rand understand the necessity—and virtue—of personal responsibility. Their work offers powerful guidance for individuals to effect positive change in their own lives and beyond.”

I guess what I feel after discovering this in my newsfeed and reading every word, twice, is a weird mix of delight and gratitude. I’m grateful to the librarian in Baltimore, whose name I don’t even remember, for handing me a book that would inform a lot of what I’ve come to believe is true and good about human nature. And I’m delighted – profoundly delighted – to see the underlying themes of Dirty Jobs, Somebody’s Gotta Do It, and the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, compared and contrasted with two of the most important books ever published. It’s always gratifying when someone looks beyond the dad jokes and the potty humor to examine the real reasons these shows are still on the air.

Big thanks to Carrie Ann-Biondi for taking the time to research such a thoughtful piece, and for making my Saturday morning an unmitigated delight. Guess it’s time to re-read The Fountainhead…

The Objective Standard: Mike Rowe and Ayn Rand on the Virtues of Thinking and Producing