Posted by: spacewritinguy | March 15, 2009

Going John Galt in the 21st Century

Let’s just accept, for the purposes of this blog, that Ayn Rand’s philosophical SF book, Atlas Shrugged, is being played out today. Government is growing ever more intrusive and socialist, while the achievers in the fields of business and technology have knuckled under or become silent. If they really wanted to, could America’s achievers go “on strike?” Where would they go to escape the current environment? A hidden enclave? Another country? If so, which one? Nations that are right-leaning, libertarian, or at least pro-capitalist are not in large supply, nor do they stay that way for long periods. New Zealand voted in a center-right government, as have Israel and France.

And the next question I’ve heard in response to a Rand-like “strike of the achievers” is, “Isn’t that cowardly? Shouldn’t stay here and fight for the country you love?” Well, sure. This is still my favorite place on Earth, and the nation of ideals that formed my childhood. But what if those ideals have been blatantly subverted, and the situation hasn’t risen to the level of armed conflict? We’re not in a civil war here, merely the transformation of governments from one ideology to another, and the winning ideology is taking rapid and drastic steps to ensure that its victory holds firm. Nothing particularly new there–but. If the party of the loyal opposition cannot find it within itself to offer alternatives to President Obama’s bad policies and third parties don’t have a chance to turn the tide, what’s the damned alternative?

The capitalist system is being dismantled throughout the West, and the end result is goverrnment takeover of businesses, punishment of achievers, mass redistribution of wealth, and a long-term climate of disincentives to achieve unless it’s in the service of the State. Speaking as a middle-aged capitalist, I’d like to continue to practice my craft and be richer in the future, but how do I do so with some assurance of private property? What are the options? How do we stop this? Fixing it is easy, once Obama is out of office (assuming he allows that to happen–some liberal friends tried to convince me that Bush would ensure that he stayed in power, too). The problem is what to do while Obama and his left-leaning party are dragging the stock market down and the country in their direction.



  1. I’m not sure what ‘punishment of achievers’ even means…the people being made to “knuckle under” were so point-blank *awful* at being Captains of Industry that they destroyed the industries they were in charge of running.

    The current conservative murmur about “going John Galt” amuses me…as does anyone that got wealthy in this culture/society and thinks for a second that the phrase “self-made man” has any validity whatsoever.

    I will, however, be gracious and welcome them back when they figure out, after “going Galt,” that they don’t know how to do basic things like manufacture anything or feed themselves, and perhaps they’ll have gained a greater appreciation from all those poor, benighted sods they took for granted while taking advantage of their 401ks to leverage themselves 35:1 and ruin our economy.

  2. Re: punishment of achievers

    Simple translation: government confiscation of money made through capitalism and (yes, it must be said) means that were legal at the time.

    • Other examples of punishing achievement: talking down people who can afford or build private planes or who travel to Vegas for conventions. Planes and conventions have all sorts of “little people” that quickly become unemployed if nobody buys the good or services. And no one is going to buy a private plane or hold a big convention if they think they’re going to get targeted by the President or the media for being elitists or insensitive epicureans for indulging in such luxuries. Obama is supposed to be protecting the interests of all Americans, yes? So he should stop trying to demonize capitalism and foment class warfare because of individual bad acts.

      Americans do not begrudge others getting rich. They will react against individual criminals, but within most of us is the dream that, someday, we too might be able to afford the private jet and the big week in Vegas, New York, etc. Obama is being counterproductive by trying to trash anyone and everyone in the banking or insurance industries. If there are individual, ILLEGAL actions, those folks can and will be punished. If there are ethical lapses in industries or companies, this is an opportunity for the people working in them to force ethical change. This does not require government intrusion, finger waving, and micromanagement at every turn.

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