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Friday, January 09, 2009

This is Stephen Moore speaking: Atlas Shrugged, fiction to fact

Rand_typewriter As the US government swoops in with massive new powers intended to stabilize the economy, Moin Yahya isn't the only person seeing parallels between the world today and the world of industrialists and moochers envisioned by Ayn Rand in her 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged. This is supply-side economist Stephen Moore on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal:

For the uninitiated, the moral of [Atlas Shrugged] is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.

In the book, these relentless wealth redistributionists and their programs are disparaged as "the looters and their laws." Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the "Anti-Greed Act" to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel's promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the "Equalization of Opportunity Act" to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the "Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act," aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn't Hank Paulson think of that?

These acts and edicts sound farcical, yes, but no more so than the actual events in Washington, circa 2008. We already have been served up the $700 billion "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act" and the "Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act." Now that Barack Obama is in town, he will soon sign into law with great urgency the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan." This latest Hail Mary pass will increase the federal budget (which has already expanded by $1.5 trillion in eight years under George Bush) by an additional $1 trillion -- in roughly his first 100 days in office.

The current economic strategy is right out of "Atlas Shrugged": The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That's the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies -- while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to "calm the markets," another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as "Atlas" grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls."

Read the rest here.

Don't miss Moore's radical though common-sense Galtian policy proposal towards the end: abolish the income tax. Entirely. That's the road to recovery.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 9, 2009 in Economic freedom | Permalink


A good friend of mine just gave me the book. Its going to be light winter reading.

Posted by: Jason Dever | 2009-01-09 10:11:29 PM

The comparisons from Atlas Shrugged to the events of the day are eerily uncanny.
I see the problem stemming not from unprincipled
politicians, I don't expect politicians to have any principles whatsoever, but from an ignorant and complacent populace.
I don't really blame them either though. How can people be expected to understand things they've never noticed or been taught about.
What we are looking at is simply history repeating itself yet again. The American Experiment in freedom has drawing to a close and with the onset of the "system of pull" this was
entirely predictable and expected. But as in history, and as in Rand's novel, a new breed of freedom lover's and preserver's may well come out of the wreckage. I just hope I live long enough t enjoy it.
We're living in some very interesting times folks.

Posted by: JC | 2009-01-10 6:30:27 AM

I really need to proof read :)

Posted by: JC | 2009-01-10 6:31:44 AM

Congressman Ron Paul was the only Presidential candidate to propose abolishment of the income tax; "and the only way you can do that," he said "is by cutting government spending."

It should be noted that Stephen Moore did not support Paul in the 2008 Republican primaries.

Posted by: NYC | 2009-01-13 1:47:33 PM

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