Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Atlas Shrugged:From Fiction To Fact In 52 Years -- As Told By Steven Moore

I was chided this morning for being too partisan by a dear friend. I wrangled, ranted and raved that it is not a partisan issue for me so much as it is a worldview rather a political ideology. Well my argument was lost on him (sigh). But I ran across this Op-ed from Jan.9th WSJ (BTW, how great is it that we can subscribe to these daily feeds) Anyway, Mr. Moore's article brilliantly conveys what I couldn't regarding this troubling political culture we are facing. How could I have known as a high school senior that I would actually see the workings of this fictional work at play 27 years later (Thanks Mr. Calabrese for requiring that I read this book -- even though I hated it at the time I think it actually shaped my politics).

Mr Moore writes:
"Rand, who had come to America from Soviet Russia with striking insights into
totalitarianism and the destructiveness of socialism, was already a celebrity.
The left, naturally, hated her. But as recently as 1991, a survey by the Library
of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that readers rated "Atlas" as
the second-most influential book in their lives, behind only the Bible.
the uninitiated, the moral of the story 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 article in its entirety here)


JMK said...

GREAT article.

Back in 1992 I was fortunate enough to have been able to interview Dr. Walter E Williams at his PA home. It was a great experience.

During that interview, Dr. Williams explained why he wpouldn't let the Libertarian Party draft him for President in 1992, "There'd be riots in the streets if I won, and I don't mean poor people rioting. Do you know how many Americans, how many businesses now depend on the federal government? If we returned to the original principles of the Consitution, the upheaval would be incredible."

He was right then and his words are even more correct today.

For years working people railed against "the $3 TRILLION transfer in wealth from the working to the non-working via a slew of federal anti-poverty programs over the 30 years between 1965 and 1995." TODAY, we've just seen a $1 TRILLION transfer of wealth from working taxpayers to reckless and profligate corporations (in a sense FROM the middle and working class) TO the rich)...and in a matter of weeks!

Back in 1973 Richard Nixon (a HUGE "Big Government" supporter) infamously declared, "We're all Keynesians now." That proved prophetically UNTRUE, over the next three decades, BUT, today, at this very point in time, it can very easily be said that "We are all welfare recipients now."

We are right now, facing some of the darkest days for Conservatism and for Individual Liberty.

Conservative Black Woman said...

What I wouldn't give JMK to be able to sit a while with Dr. Williams. I didn't know that the Libertarian party tried to get him to run for POTUS. It's too bad that the Republican party didn't draft him. He is an amazing scholar. He sat in for Sean Hannity radio show (or Rush..I forget which)during the week of Christmas and it was such a great show.

I don't know why liberals think that Keynesian ecomonics work.