Tag Archives: Ayn Rand

If government is paying the piper, then government is calling the tune

Veronique de Rugy

Check out this post from GMU economist Veronica de Rugy on Big Government. (H/T ECM)

First, she puts up this chart.

Veronique writes:

On this chart we can see the changes over time in the composition of personal income in the United States since 1929. The most notable trend is the increase in the portion of personal income coming from government transfers (mainly social Security payments, unemployment benefits, food stamps, and personal and business tax credits.)  And the increase isn’t minor: the proportion of total personal income constituted by government money has grown from 0.9% to 17.2%.

Complementary decreases of wage earnings as percentages of total personal income (from 59.5% to 52.3%) are also going on.

The problem with government giving people money is that it creates a culture of dependency, as with Greece. Politicians take money from job-creating business-owners, or from productive individual workers, and they redistribute it to whiny unproductive, immature victim groups like unions, in order to buy their votes. Eventually, the government goes too far making promises and the productive people just stop or slow their working or they move away, since they keep less and less of their own money for the same amount of work and risk-taking.

And that’s when welfare checks of the losers dry up, and they have no choice but to riot and kill people. Why do they riot? Well, if they were earning their own money by working, then they would know that they are responsible for themselves, not government. They would understand that something might go wrong, and they would know that they had to cut their spending and save for a rainy day. So when things do go bad, they would have known how to live cheaply off of their savings while they find another job.

But people who take welfare don’t save – they think the money will always be there. What do they do when the taxpayers slow or stop production? They have no skills, and they have no savings. They can’t just find a new government because a new government isn’t going to find any more money from somewhere – there isn’t any left. So the only way to get their welfare back is to revolt – which is exactly what the socialists in Greece are doing right now. They’ve been spoiled rotten and they want their welfare back, like little babies crying for their mommies.

It’s sick. And this is what Obama and the Democrats idolize, because that’s how they grew up – begging their rich parents for money and bailouts for their own irresponsible behaviors. Their policies aren’t thought through – it’s just reliving their silver spoon childhoods of never having to work for anything.

Would you like to know what Republicans are like? Consider Michele Bachmann.

At 13, Bachmann was forced to become almost financially independent after her parents divorced. She used her babysitting money to buy her own clothes and lunches at school and saved up enough to purchase her first pair of contact lenses. Between college semesters at Winona State University, she took her hardworking streak to Alaska where on one memorable day she cleaned 280 salmon.

She also quit her job as a tax litigation attorney to homeschool her five kids, because she didn’t like the job the public schools were doing. Her business runs a small business, and she helped him to start it. That’s what Republicans do. We work. And we give.

We need to stop increasing the size of government so they can “take care” of all our needs. We need to take care of all our needs, and to take care of our neighbor’s needs, too. That’s capitalism. Having something to share from what you can make from your own industry and labor.

How redistribution of wealth kills the entrepreneurial spirit

There is a perception, especially on the left, but also on the “big government” right, that the federal government should be responsible for redressing every inequality that occurs in society. This is true whether the person brings misfortune on themselves or whether it is accidental. The problem with this wealth redistribution is revealed when you think about the incentives this introduces to the producers and the victims.

  1. Government does not transfer wisdom, skill or responsibility from producers to victims
  2. Government transfers money from producers to victims
  3. Being productive involves risk and hard work on the part of producers
  4. Receiving money involves ingratitude and rationalization on the part of victims
  5. If the government confiscates a large enough portion of the earnings of the producers, they stop producing
  6. Every dollar taken from producers is a dollar less they have for engaging in their productive plans, (e.g. –  running a business or raising a family in a responsible way)
  7. The more money is that transferred to victims, the more the frequency of bad behavior increases – because being a victim is easier
  8. If you subsidize being a victim, you get more of it
  9. If you tax production, you get less of it

“Going Galt” is named after the character John Galt in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugs. Galt is an industrialist who withdraws from the economy when faced by punitive tax rates and burdensome regulations. Going Galt refers to slowing down or ceasing production, because the risks and effort involved in producing are not worth the portion of the earnings that producers keep after taxes are redistributed to the victims.

The idea was first brought up afresh by Dr. Helen Reynolds in October 2008 on her blog Ask Dr. Helen. A more recent discussion of the phenomenon is here at the Washington Independent web site.

Excerpt:

“Just this weekend,” said Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) on Wednesday in an interview with TWI, “I had a guy come up to me in my district and tell me that he was losing his interest in the business he’d run for years because the president wanted to punish him for his success. I think people are reading ‘Atlas Shrugged’ again because they’re trying to understand what happens to people of accomplishment, and people of talent and energy, when a government turns against them. That’s what appears to be happening right now.”

The plot of Rand’s novel is simple, despite its length — 1,088 pages in the current paperback edition. The United States is governed by bureaucrats, “looters” and “moochers,” who penalize and demonize creative people. The country is in decline because creative people are disappearing — they have followed the innovative John Galt to a mountain enclave, “Galt’s Gulch,” where they watch society crumble. Creativity has gone on strike (the working title of the novel was “The Strike”), and the engine of capitalism cannot run without it.

For Campbell, this is a powerful and relevant story. The congressman calls “Atlas Shrugged” an “instruction manual,” and inscribes the copies that he gives to interns. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, also gives copies of the novel as gifts and refers to it to make the case against President Obama’s policies. “It’s an audacious scheme,” said Ryan in his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference last week. “Set off a series of regulatory blunders and congressional meddling, blame the free market for the financial crisis that follows — then use this excuse to impose a more intrusive state. Sounds like something right out of an Ayn Rand novel.”

Michelle Malkin is posting a lot of messages on her blog from people who are suggesting other ways to Go Galt.

Excerpt from one of the producer’s letters:

It is now fashionable and politically expedient to extend blame for the current financial crisis on greedy businesses and predatory lenders. The reality is that individuals and poorly managed businesses were responsible for the bulk of the problems. Government also played a role – and it was both parties – that encouraged and supported unsound business practices. Now the Government “must” step in to “save” these poor people from losing their homes, and “save” these “too big to fail” financial institutions. What about those of us, and those businesses, that chose to act responsibly? Who chose to live within their means? Who chose sound financial decisions over high risk behavior?

Enough is Enough. Let them all fail. It is not too late. I don’t care about the homeowner that borrowed more than they could afford and now find themselves potentially without a home and bankrupt. I don’t care about the businesses that overlooked sound financial decisions in the name of short term profits. We all make choices in life and it is time to let those that made the bad choices live with their decisions and finally reward those that chose to act responsibly. It has come down to this – either we let those that made the bad decisions fail, or we end up sacrificing our nation, our national identity and our very way of life.

Related posts.

Two ways to conduct a Tea Party revolution against socialism

GatewayPundit is reporting that the economic news is getting even worse.

Along with raising taxes on businesses, raising taxes on the “rich,” and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire…
President Obama will also announce the implementation of an expensive cap and trade energy policy this week to battle pretend global warming.

He cites Human Events’ report that we will lose between between $444 billion and $1.308 trillion of GDP output, and unemployment would increase 2.7% (= 4 million jobs lost), mostly in the manufacturing sector.

Well, we’re doomed. Or are we? I’ve found a couple of clever ideas for dealing Obama’s plans to plunge the United States into socialism.

The first idea is from Biola University professor Doug Geivett, who is a first-class evangelical Christian scholar. I met Doug at a philosophy conference on Providence and Open Theism at Wheaton College, IL in 2000. I remember asking him whether investments were a form of gambling. He explained that investing was not gambling, because investments fund the creation of new products and services that grow the economy.

Doug starts by noting Rick Santelli’s rant against Obama’s socialist policies which involve wealth redistribution from those who produce to those who consume. (Note: there is now a new rant up, with supply-sider Larry Kudlow).

In his post, Geivett enumerates the points made by Santelli:

First, fiscally responsible Americans don’t want to pay the bill for borrowers who can’t keep up with their mortgages.

Second, fiscally responsible Americans shouldn’t have to pay the bill for borrowers who can’t make their payments.

Third, this plan doesn’t rob the rich to give to the poor. It takes from every tax-paying American and turns it over as free cash to people who can afford to rent but can’t afford to buy.

Fourth, there are ways to get the federal government to pay attention, ways the government is totally unprepared for.

Santelli suggests that responsible, productive Americans may want to consider a revolution – a kind of Chicago Tea Party. Right now, the banks are being more careful about who they give credit to. This is not a problem for responsible people with good credit history. The government is giving out bailouts to banks in order to ease credit for irresponsible consumers – the same ones that got us into this mess in the first place.

Geivett describes what he thinks this Chicago Tea Party might look like:

For example, what do you think would happen if 30% of all Americans with an income of $50,000 or more organized to do the following two things:

  1. Convert all of their assets held in the stock market and at banks and credit unions into cold, hard cash (or gold bars holed up in their bank’s safe deposit boxes)?
  2. Refused to pay income tax for 18 months (or indefinitely)?

This would remove the money that banks use for consumer loans. If no one can get credit, then no one can default, and there is no need for bailouts to these delinquents. By refusing to pay income taxes for a period of time, the government would have no funds available for bailing out their favorite special interest groups. People might finally have to stop spending and start working and saving again.

Geivett goes on to describe how this plan should incorporate reduced consumer spending, which I agree with. Somehow, America has gone terribly wrong. We use to be a nation of workers and savers. But the progress of left-wing socialism, with all the redistributing of wealth from producers to free-riders, has caused us to drift into an irresponsible, immature, hedonistic culture.

Geivett’s plan made me think of a post I read before on “Going Galt”. What if all the people who produced wealth just stopped producing?

Do you ever wonder after dealing with all that is going on with the economy and the upcoming election if it’s getting to be time to “go John Galt”? For those of you who have never read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the basic theme is that John Galt and his allies take actions that include withdrawing their talents, “stopping the motor of the world,” and leading the “strikers” (those who refuse to be exploited) against the “looters” (the exploiters, backed by the government).

Obama talks about taking from those who are productive and redistributing to those who are not — or who are not as successful. If success and productivity is to be punished, why bother? Perhaps it is time for those of us who make the money and pay the taxes to take it easy, live on less, and let the looters of the world find their own way.

The National Taxpayers Union explains who pays the taxes that Democrats are redistributing to their freeloading constituents. The top 50% pays 97% of all income taxes collected! The lazy half the country is freeloading off of the productive half.

The second idea that I found for responding to Obama’s socialist bailouts is to move to Canada. Captain Capitalism had this post in which he compares the two economies and concludes that Canada has a better future than the United States. Canada has a smaller deficit, a smaller debt, and is not facing a meltdown from entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, like we are.

Investor’s Business Daily reports that:

By 2041, Social Security will be essentially broke, having exhausted its trust fund, those dollars amassed through decades of surplus payroll tax revenues that Congress will have already squandered on general budget expenditures. Medicare’s future is just as bleak. It is already spending more than it is receiving in payroll taxes.

The prime minister of Canada right now is economist Stephen Harper, a strong fiscal conservative in the mold of F.A. Hayek.

UPDATE 1: Michelle Malkin has even more ideas on what to do here.