quote:I love that book.
The reporters who came to the press conference in the office of the John Galt Line were young men who had been trained to think that their job consisted of concealing from the world the nature of its events. It was their daily duty to serve as audience for some public figure who made utterances about the public good, in phrases carefully chosen to convey no meaning. It was their daily job to sling words together in any combination they pleased, so long as the words did not fall into a sequence saying something specific. They could not understand the interview now being given to them.
Dagney Taggart sat behind her desk in an office that looked like a slum basement. She wore a dark blue suit with a white blouse, beautifully tailored, suggesting an air of formal, almost military elegance. She sat straight, and her manner was severely dignified, just a shade too dignified.
Rearden sat in a corner of the room, sprawled across a broken armchair, his long legs thrown over one of its arms, his body leaning against the other. His manner was pleasantly informal, just a bit too informal.
In the clear, monotonous voice of a military report, consulting no papers, looking straight at the men, Dagney recited the technological facts about the John Galt Line, giving exact figures on the nature of the rail, the capacity of the bridge, the method of construction, the costs. Then, in the dry tone of a banker, she explained the financial prospects of the Line and named the large profits she expected to make. "That is all," she said.
"All?" said one of the reporters. "Aren't you going to give us a message for the public?"
"That was my message."
"But hell - I mean, aren't you going to defend yourself?"
"Don't you want to tell us something to justify your Line?"
A man with a mouth shaped as a permanent sneer asked, "Well, what I want to know, as Bertram Scudder stated, is what protection do we have against your Line being no good?"
"Don't ride on it."
Another asked, "Aren't you going to tell us your motive for building that line?"
"I have told you: the profit which I expect to make."
"Oh, Miss Taggart, don't say that!" cried a young boy. He was new, he was still honest about his job, and he felt that he liked Dagny Taggart, without knowing why. "That's the wrong thing to say. That's what they're all saying about you."
"I'm sure you didn't mean it the way it sounds and...and I'm sure you'll want to clarify it."
"Why, yes, if you wish me to. The average profit of railroads has been two percent of the capital invested. An industry that does so much and keeps so little, should consider itself immoral. As I have explained, the cost of the John Galt Line in relation to the traffic which it will carry makes me expect a profit of not less than fifteen percent on our investment. Of course, any industrial profit above four percent is considered usury nowadays. I shall, nevertheless, do my best to make the John Galt Line earn a profit of twenty percent for me, if possible. That was my motive for building the Line. Have I made myself clear now?"
The boy was looking at her helplessly. "You don't mean, to earn a profit for you, Miss Taggart? You mean for the small stockholders, of course?" he prompted hopefully.
"Why, no. I happen to be one of the largest stockholders of Taggart Transcontinental, so my share of the profits will be one of the largest. Now, Mr. Rearden is in a much more fortunate position, because he has no stockholders to share with - or would you rather make your own statement, Mr. Rearden?"
"Yes, gladly," said Rearden. "Inasmuch as the formula of Rearden Metal is my own personal secret, and in view of the fact that the Metal costs much less to produce than you boys can imagine, I expect to skin the public to the tune of a profit of twenty-five percent in the next few years."
"What do you mean, skin the public, Mr. Rearden?" asked the boy. "If it's true, as I've read in your ads, that your Metal will last three times longer than any other and at half the price, wouldn't the public be getting a bargain?"
"Oh, have you noticed that?" said Rearden.
"Do you two realize you're talking for publication?" asked the man with the sneer.
"But, Mr. Hopkins," said Dagney, in polite astonishment, "is there any reason why we would talk to you, if it weren't for publication?"
"Do you want us to quote all the things you said?"
"I hope I may trust you to be sure and quote them. Would you oblige me by taking this down verbatim?" She paused to see their pencils ready, then dictated: "Miss Taggart says - quote - I expect to make a pile of money on the John Galt Line. I will have earned it. Close quote. Thank you so much."
"Any questions, gentlemen?" asked Rearden.
There were no questions.
"Now I must tell you about the opening of the John Galt Line," said Dagney. "The first train will depart from the station of Taggart Transcontinental in Cheyenne, Wyoming, at four PM on July twenty-second. It will be a freight special, consisting of eighty cars. It will be driven by an eight-thousand-horsepower, four-unit Diesel locomotive - which I'm leasing from Taggart Transcontinental for the occasion. It will run non-stop to Wyatt Junction, Colorado, traveling at an average speed of one hundred miles per hour. I bed your pardon?" she asked, hearing the long, low sound of a whistle.
"What did you say, Miss Taggart?"
"I said, one hundred miles per hour - grades, curves and all."
"But, shouldn't you cut the speed below normal rather than...Miss Taggard, don't you have any consideration whatever for public opinion?"
"But I do. If it weren't for public opinion, an average speed of sixty-five miles per hour would have been quite sufficient."
"Who's going to run that train?"
"I had quite a bit of trouble about that. All the Taggart engineers volunteerred to do it. So did the firemen, the brakemen and the conductors. We had to draw lots for every job on the train's crew. The engineer will be Pat Logan, of the Taggart Comet, the fireman - Ray McKim. I shall ride in the cab of the engine with them."
"Please do attend the opening. It's on July twenty-second. The press is most eagerly invited. Contrary to my usual policy, I have become a publicity hound. Really. I should like to have spotlights, radio microphones and television cameras. I suggest that you plant a few cameras around the bridge. The collapse of the bridge would give you some interesing shots [sarcasm]."