Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

09 January 2009

Stephen Moore on Atlas Shrugged

Stephen Moore, who is senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal, wrote an opinion piece in the 9 January 2009 issue of The Wall Street Journal entitled 'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years. He points out how closely there are parallels to the fictional decay of the American economy, with panicked Washington politicians and many incompetent businessmen, and the present atmosphere of economic bailouts. The present bailouts also reward the more incompetent businessmen at the expense of the more competent. The politician's names for rescue and stabilization programs sound remarkably similar to those of Ayn Rand's masterpiece, though Rand's names are slightly more pithy. Finally, the sense of utter panic in Washington is well portrayed in Atlas Shrugged.

Moore notes, "Ultimately, 'Atlas Shrugged' is a celebration of the entrepreneur, the risk taker and the cultivator of wealth through human intellect." "When profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society, they start to disappear -- leaving everyone the poorer."

He also quotes the panicked Mr. Thompson, the American leader in the novel, begging John Galt to become his Economic Dictator, which is apparently the contemporary role which has been held by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Galt, knowing this is nonsense, says that the income tax should be abolished. Mr. Thompson, of course, will not go along with that even though he has just told Galt that he can do anything to save the economy. Moore comments that abolishing the income tax really would be an economic stimulus. He is right about that.

But better yet, we should abolish all corporate and investment taxes, if we give a fig about growing the economy and wish to have everyone possible employed. The latter goal would be greatly helped by eliminating the foolish minimum wage laws. Then we should institute a flat-rate income tax without exemptions and tax breaks at a low rate such as 15%. If our bloated government should then need to be pared down, fine. More likely than not, so much more revenue will soon pour into the government that tax revenues will still allow government to grow, most unfortunately.

David Kelley, founder of the Atlas Society, is also quoted as saying that we are now living Atlas Shrugged.


stshillebert said...

So now the question is not who is John Galt, but who will be John Galt. Perhaps there will be a great historical irony; not one, but thousands, a collective John Galt to convince Atlas to shrug and relive himself of the burden of two centuries of accumulated detritus and allow the great to be great and allow my gang, the mediocre free to achieve what we can and benefit from the work of the great without resorting to theft.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

In today's context, anyone who takes charge of his own life, refuses to use force to make others provide for him, and who does not use force to make others serve others, might be said to be great. When this was the common attitude, America was truly great. It was the Land of the Free, the Home of the Brave. Now, it is mostly the home of the perpetual child forever doomed to obey its Nanny, who is not a very thoughtful or thinking Nanny.

As often happens with the children of awful parents, the child increasing takes on bad traits. Yet, all of these children demand respect, which they have not earned and do not believe they need to earn.