Go Galt, Go! March 10, 2009Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts.
Tags: Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Barack Obama, going Galt, John Campbell, John Galt, tax policy
In response to Obama’s tax and budget policies the economic royalists are threatening to go on strike. Angry conservatives of every stripe are taking to the streets brandishing their—well, copies of Atlas Shrugged?
At about 1100 pages of turgid prose I suppose you could use the book as a weapon, or a narcotic.
Via the Washington Independent:
“Just this weekend,” said Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) on Wednesday in an interview with TWI, “I had a guy come up to me in my district and tell me that he was losing his interest in the business he’d run for years because the president wanted to punish him for his success. I think people are reading ‘Atlas Shrugged’ again because they’re trying to understand what happens to people of accomplishment, and people of talent and energy, when a government turns against them. That’s what appears to be happening right now.”
What exactly is Obama’s crime? An proposed increase in marginal tax rates of 5% for people making over 250,000.
Forbes Magazine estimates that for a family of 4 earning $300,000 per year they will pay $1100 more in taxes.
So what are these insurrectionists calling for? The plot of Rand’s fantasy involves a United States run by government bureaucrats who penalize and demonize entrepreneurial innovators. Fed up with being governed by people they hold in contempt, the creative people led by the moral hero John Galt flee to a mountain enclave where they watch society crumble because the engine of capitalism is on strike.
Today’s conservatives are threatening to “go Galt”, to withhold their talents and efforts because we lazy, simpleminded commoners, under the sway of the “communist” Obama, don’t appreciate what they’ve done for us. Without their leadership, society will collapse, at which point I guess we’re supposed to come begging for all those Wall St. wankers and their lawyers to reclaim their perch as America’s finest. (For a defense of this silliness see this piece in the National Review.)
After recovering from your astonishment at how juvenile this is, it is worth considering the multiple ironies connected to this story.
One irony is that the “John Galts” of the real world were producing nothing but financial flimflam—they are what Rand called the “moochers and looters”, corporate welfare queens for which Rand had nothing but contempt. Wall St. may have been, in the distant past, the engine of capitalism but in recent years it was nothing but a casino. Credit default swaps were simply a mechanism for high rollers to bet huge sums on assets of unknowable value—imaginary profits based on imaginary wealth. They created no jobs, no new products, no new technologies.
The greater irony is that these people can’t add. They claim to be willing to forgo a salary, at a minimum, 5 times greater than that of the average American to avoid paying 5% additional tax on income over $250,000 per year. That is just plain stupid.
It is stunning how disconnected these people are from reality. Rand defended a view she called “objectivism”—the pursuit of objective truth is the highest human calling and our judgment ought always to be governed by facts. Here are a few facts that these contemporary “Galts” ought to consider.
John Cole posted this graph recently.
The column on the far-right is Obama’s proposed marginal top-rate. It is lower than Reagan’s in his first term, lower than Nixon’s and Eisenhower’s, and lower than FDR’s when we exited the Great Depression. It is right where it was under Clinton, a period of almost unmatched prosperity.
But all of this gives me great hope, and I want to encourage their efforts. For every nitwit who decides to withdraw from society, there are thousands waiting to take her position—sounds like a solution to our unemployment problem.
And I have a recommendation for a place they can go, a place that operates on pure Randian principles—no taxes, no government regulations, no gun control.
Its called Somalia.
Go Galt Go! (Via Crooked Timber)