We Are John Galt
An editorial, by Jordan B. Rickards, www.RickardsReview.com:
Can it really get much worse than this?
The stock market is becoming increasingly volatile. State insolvencies seem ever more inevitable. The housing market is nearing collapse. Gas prices are hovering around $4 per gallon, and we refuse to drill. Inflation is at five percent. 47 million Americans are on food stamps. True unemployment is around 16%,which is nearly Depression-level. Our bond rating has been downgraded for the first time in history. Consumer confidence is at the lowest it has been since the presidency of Jimmy Carter, a name we hear all too frequently these days. And to top it off, we have $61 trillion in outstanding debt and unfunded liabilities, a sum so large it represents more money than there is in the entire world.
Well, what did you think was going to happen? This is not an accident, this is the predictable result of electing the most openly hostile, anti-business, anti-capitalist, anti-private sector President in American history. What other President would openly advocate for a cap on income, saying “at a certain point you’ve made enough money“? He has referred to bondholders as “speculators” who are “refusing to sacrifice like everyone else.” He has railed against the “arrogance and greed” of Wall Street for having the temerity to give out bonuses, as though it is somehow harmful to the economy for people to earn more money. He likes to refer to bankers as “fat cats.” As early as 2007 he indicated that he believes in keeping gas prices high to discourage gas usage. He wants to impose energy taxes on Americans that he admits will make their electric bill skyrocket, and will bankrupt the coal industry, to go along with the private health insurance industry he’s also trying to destroy.
Then, when it became obvious in the weeks before the 2010 elections that the country was about to serve him with a stiff rebuke, he retaliated by blaming his plummeting poll numbers on the Chamber of Commerce, accusing them of some kind of undefined election fraud conspiracy. And he has personally threatened CEOs for paying high salaries, saying he is the only thing standing between them and an angry population brandishing pitchforks. Frankly, I’d rather face the pitchforks.
More philosophically, he has denounced what he calls the “ownership society,” where people can keep their money and buy and hold property, saying “it won’t work. It ignores our history.” He says that “Belief in Capitalism is blind faith, this philosophy of letting people fend for themselves has failed.” In place of that, he has said the economy works best when “We spread the wealth around.” So he advocates for what he calls “redistributive change,” saying that he considers the taking of one person’s earnings to give to another to be “neighborliness.” Never mind that in the four years before becoming a United States senator he never gave more than 2% of his income to charities.
If this guy wasn’t the President of the Untied States, he would be the faculty advisor for some undergraduate Marxist student organization! But according to him, none of this economic mess is his fault. So far he’s blamed the Bush Administration, greedy banks, and Wall Street. When that act got tired, he blamed the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Then he blamed Greece for falling into bankruptcy… by establishing the same welfare entitlement system that our President seeks to establish. He blamed state and local governments for having too few employees, but then made the bizarre statement that “public sector job losses are evidence that the stimulus worked.” He even blamed ATMs, complaining that they take away jobs from bank tellers, just as all machines do work that could otherwise be done by humans with far more effort and cost.
Listening to him attempting to explain the mechanics of economics is a lot like listening to a child give a report on a book he hasn’t read, groping for answers in front of the class, hoping that something comes out of his mouth that might make some semblance of sense, or failing that, that the teacher would just have mercy on him and allow him to resume his seat.
Sadly, governing isn’t that easy.
Of course, he hasn’t said a thing about the ineffectualness and waste of his stimulus package, he hasn’t blamed himself for turning the United States Treasury into the largest counterfeiting operation in the world, he hasn’t blamed his commandeering of the one-seventh of the economy that is (or was) the healthcare industry. Instead, he divorces himself from reality and tries to create a new one simply by fiat, as his administration insists that food stamps create jobs, and more incredibly, so do unemployment checks!
No wonder only 26% of Americans approve of how Obama’s handling the economy, though it does make one want to know who the heck those 26% are.
In response, the President has promised finally to deliver an economic plan in the upcoming weeks. But you don’t need to be Adam Smith to see why no plan this President puts forward will ever work. The great contradiction in the Obama economic doctrine is that he seeks to create a prosperous economy that is devoid of prosperity. He sees private wealth as, at best, a necessary evil, but evil nonetheless, so all of his plans are based on minimizing the role of private money in the economy. He has an almost cartoonish faith in volunteerism (see here also), as though any monetary system could be based around not working for money. He discourages young people from working in corporate America, instead exhorting them to take public sector jobs that cost, rather than create wealth. He tries to guilt trip businesses into profitability, saying “businesses have a responsibility to America.” But businesses only have one responsibility, and that is to their shareholders. Businesses are not community property. Still, he begs them, saying “Now is the time to invest in America,” reminiscent of when Nelson Mandela begged American businesses to invest in his impoverished nation.
It’s one thing for the leader of a third world nation with no economic structure to beg for American business investment, but when an American president begs his country’s own businesses to produce, it demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of how and why businesses operate. Obama cannot comprehend, or perhaps simply does not want to, that money is its own motivator, that production will follow where profit will lead, and that there is no greater economic force than that which is unleashed when economic freedom is maximized, and individuals are permitted to pursue their own interests for personal gain. When you base an economy on “sharing the wealth,” however, you soon find that there is none.
So, the real question we should be facing as a nation should not be “what is the economic plan,” but rather “who should do the planning for who?” And the answer must be crystal clear: it is not the government, but rather each individual American who knows best how to maximize his or her individual productive potential and thereby drive the economy.
In Ayn Rand’s magnum opus Atlas Shrugged, Rand imagines a dystopian America where government controls and taxes overwhelm the private sector. In protest, an industrialist named John Galt organizes a strike of society’s most productive members, causing the economy and society to grind to a halt. But though Rand had the right idea about capitalism and the deleterious effects of an overbearing government, she missed the most basic point. In reality, the economy does not suffer because productive members have an organized pout in reaction to policies they despise. The market economy is itself the organizing factor, not any one person or group of cohorts, and negative changes to the economic climate will automatically have negative results. In other words, in reality there would never be a John Galt leading a strike. We are John Galt, and to look at America today is to know what it looks like when Atlas shrugs.