New at The Week: Ayn Rand: Capitalismâ??s enduring crusader. This article is also at the top of the site’s “most e-mailed” list.
Thanks to Don Hauptman for the tip.
New at The Week: Ayn Rand: Capitalismâ??s enduring crusader. This article is also at the top of the site’s “most e-mailed” list.
Thanks to Don Hauptman for the tip.
From Atlasphere member Steven Schub, lead singer of the world’s only Objectivist Ska band, the Fenwicks:
Music for your “Tax Day Tea Party”: Our (musical) open love letter to John Galt, and a song which may help start a revolution!
“Under The Thorns” by The Fenwicks.
Available now, free for your downloading pleasure!
UNDER THE THORNS
Words by Steven Schub Music by Jimmie Corrieri
Performed by The Fenwicks
Under the thorns and chains lies a firm resolve
Beneath the files and laws a mind that won’t dissolve
Below the big regime a face without the fear
Underneath the meek and weak a face without the shame
Don’t ask him for forgiveness Don’t ask him for spare change
He’s carried all your burdens This man who knows no pain
Above the firm resolve a perverted scheme
Over the decided mind a parasitic dream
In the name of mercy and humanity
In the name of duty, so-called morality
Don’t ask him for submission Don’t pray for his good grace
He’s witnessed all your purges This man who needs no faith
And though they feed on guilt It seems their food’s run out
He will not buy their myth He will not bear their cross
Man may rise But men will fall
Bureaucrats and Priests expropriate your dreams
He shirks the density of the collective mind
Slinging the sacred filth of the collectively blind
They sink below the stench of self-sacrifice
Seizing salvation in their suicide
Don’t ask him for repentance Don’t speak of moral debts
He’ll owe his life to no one This man who got away
From The Atlas Society:
“Tea parties.” “Going Galt.” You’ve probably seen a growing number of references to these in the media, online, and on signs at rallies reacting to new government spending and controls.
The Boston Tea Party was a rebellion against excessive government. Today’s “tea parties” say “no” to spending without limit and the government takeover of our lives….
If you’ve read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, you appreciate the parallels between today’s disintegrating world and the events depicted in that prophetic novel. Atlas Shrugged is the story of how productive people went on strike, withdrawing their services in protest against a society that damned them for being productive and expropriated the fruits of their labor….
What is “Going Galt?”
If you haven’t seen this video of Daniel Hannan yet, do not miss it:
I appears the public flogging he administered to Gordon Brown has turned him into a rising star among free market advocates. His comments spoke for many people’s concerns, have resonated widely, and important people are standing up and taking note.
Take a look at these clips from Hannan’s recent TV appearances on Fox News. Here’s Daniel Hannan being interviewed by Neil Cavuto:
And Part II of the same interview:
And here’s his appearance on Glenn Beck show:
A few notes:
It’s easy to imagine Hannan becoming the voice of a new generation (Gen-X and Gen-Y’ers) of free market advocates. At 37 years old, he’s quite young to have such a commanding presence — which gives him plenty of time to make mistakes, grow, and find his footing as a leader.
Am I the only person who would just love to see him debate Barack Obama?
The allusions to Atlas Shrugged in the mainstream media are just getting better and better. From the new Bloomberg article “Obama Needs AIGâ??s Liddy, Not Other Way Around,” by Caroline Baum:
The hero of Ayn Randâ??s Atlas Shrugged is smiling because heâ??s seen it all before: the governmentâ??s intervention in the private sector; the constraints placed on business in the name of the people; the desperation on the part of government bureaucrats when they realize their leverage is limited; and — this part is still fiction — the decision on the part of business leaders to walk away from the enterprises they built.
Thatâ??s all I could think about when I read that American International Group Inc., recipient of $173 billion in taxpayer funds, was paying out $165 million in bonuses to employees of its financial-products group, the poster boy for risk and greed.
The Obama administration, Congress and the public are outraged taxpayer dollars are going to enrich the folks who got us into this mess. So am I.
Members of Congress want to blame Edward Liddy, the former chief executive officer of Allstate Corp., who was recruited by former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson in September to steer AIG away from the shoals.
Liddy is paid $1 a year for his efforts. â??My only stake is my reputation,â? Liddy said in a March 16 open letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
His only crime, as far as I can tell, is inheriting compensation contracts providing for retention bonuses for certain AIG derivative traders, some of whom have left the company, and listening to lawyers on his options.
See the full article for much more on the parallels between Atlas Shrugged and the current crisis.
Don’t miss this new John Stossel special tonight on ABC’s 20/20:
The Conceit of the Ruling Class
Politicians and pundits say government must do “something.” It sound like a Viagra ad: “Does your economy have performance issues? If it’s hard to achieve and maintain growth, ‘stimulus’ is right for you!” But shouldn’t “stimulus” come with a warning label? “Side effects may include hyper-inflation, dollar devaluation, horrible debt, growth of welfare state, and unrealized expectations. Stimulus has not been proven successful, so it should not be used in the hopes of achieving actual growth …”
While politicians claim that “all” or a “consensus” of economists agree that something “big” must be done, more than 300 economists say that the government’s action do more harm than good. I interview some, calculate the amount the stimulus costs per taxpayer (about $16,000) and ask lawmakers: Where will you get the money? If too much debt was a problem, why is more debt now a solution?
I confront House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer about his claim that “all economists agree.”
Land of Opportunity
Even before the current recession, we were told that the American dream was out of reach for many. Arthur Brooks of The American Enterprise Institute says: Don’t believe the doom and gloom — wages and living standards have been on the rise since the 1950s. Despite what folks like Barbara Ehrenreich claim (“It is definitely harder to be middle class today than it was a generation ago”), the American dream is alive and well. Ehrenreich published “Nickel and Dimed”, a best-seller that argues that it’s almost impossible for an entry level worker to make it in America. College student Adam Shepard decided to test her theory. He picked a city out of a hat, went there with $25 in his pocket, telling no one of his college degree. Soon he had a job, an apartment, enough savings to buy a used truck, and thousands of dollars in the bank. He says he thinks Barbara Ehrenreich “wanted to fail.” I confront Ehrenreich.
Yesterday President Obama made a speech promoting Universal Pre-School. The promise sounds wonderful: Let’s help sweet little pre-schoolers get a strong start in school. But SHOULD that be the job of our government? President Obama says, “We’ll see a $10 return for every dollar we spend.” I investigate those statistics. They turn out to be largely bull, based on a tiny study of severely disadvantaged kids. States like Oklahoma and Georgia have already spent billions on universal Pre-K and have nothing to show for it. Even the famous Head Start turns out to have no noticeable effect by the fourth grade. Dumping more money into an already failing government-monopoly school system? Give me a break.
Run for the Border
Do you sleep better at night knowing there’s an expensive fence on America’s southern border? Will a giant wall really secure our country? So far, those wanting to come here just go around the wall, climb over it, or cut holes in it. If we further reinforce the entire southern border, then what about Canada? Won’t terrorists, illegals, and drug smugglers just come across from the north? And what about the miles of east and west coast beaches? Will we patrol our coastline with machine guns? In fact, half the illegals in America entered legally by using tourist or student visas, and staying after their visa expired. It’s absolute BULL to think an expensive fence will keep anyone determined to get in this country out.
Got traffic on your morning commute? It’s only going to get worse. Drew Carey and I profile workers with terrible commutes. Wouldn’t traffic flow better if we had some extra lanes on the freeway or new roads? Wouldn’t it be good if they were paid for by someone other than taxpayers? Some politicians say yes: privatize the roads. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels did that with the Indiana Toll Road. Of the company that now leases the road, Daniels says: “They either build and maintain a road that is attractive enough and inexpensive enough, or they’ll lose money. Your first insurance that they’re gonna run a better road than the politicians did is, if they don’t, people won’t drive on it and they’ll lose a lot of money. They have every incentive to make traffic flow swiftly, to make that drive as pleasant and safe as possible.” Indianataxpayers made billions of dollars on the lease, but Congressman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., says :”Privatizing existing taxpayer infrastructure is not a solution for anybody.” I confront Defazio.
Melissa Etheridge, Montel Williams and thousands more say that without medical marijuana, they would be very sick. Fortunately for them, 13 states now allow medical marijuana. Unfortunately for them, U.S. government says federal rules trump state law, and the federal government classifies marijuana as worse than crack cocaine. This is odd, since politicians from the party in power like Barack Obama, John Kerry and John Edwards have all joked about their own marijuana use. Charlie Lynch made the mistake of running a medical marijuana dispensary that tried to obey all the state laws. But still fell afoul of federal prosecutors. He now faces up to 100 years behind bars in a federal prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced March 23.
From Robert Bidinotto:
Here is another example of how tax policy is leading to “Atlas shrugging.” In this case, the “Atlas” is Hollywood — meaning, big Hollywood production companies — and they are “shrugging” by what is called “runaway production” — that is, they are “running away” from California to produce films elsewhere because of the state’s outrageously high taxes.
“Over the weekend, â??Iron Manâ?? director Jon Favreau organized a meeting with Marvel Studios producer Lou D’Esposito, California Film Commission member/producer Stanley Brooks, and actor Tom Arnold with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to talk about the problem of runaway production. . . .Saturday’s meeting was pushed by Favreau who wants to keep â??Iron Man 2′sâ?? $140 million production in Los Angeles. . . .Marvel, of course, only cares about the bottom line and wants to make the â??Iron Manâ?? sequel anywhere the studio is given the best financial deal. “Marvel got an 8-figure [tax] rebate check on ‘The Incredible Hulk’ which was shot in Canada,” Favreau tells me. “It’s hard to compete with that. But a little bit of a tax incentive in California could go a long way.”
So, what exactly is the problem with producing films in Hollywood?
“Unlike about 40 other states, California does not offer a tax credit program to keep Hollywood at home. So the number of film production days shot on location in Los Angeles has plummeted nearly 40% since 1997, according to FilmL.A. Inc, a non-profit group that handles film permits. What’s at stake? Well, a major production can pump tens of thousands of dollars a day into local economy what with hotel room stays, catering, services and permits. One figure cited is that 3 weeks of filming of â??Memoirs Of A Geishaâ?? generated more than $4 million for Sacramento and El Dorado counties.”
” . . .Schwarzenegger explained that the problem isn’t him: it’s the state legislature looking at a $15+ billion budget shortfall. Democrats want to use that tax money for more humanitarian concerns, and see providing services for the poor as more important than providing tax incentives to rich moguls. . . .”
Yes, we have to punish all those “rich moguls” in Hollywood in order to provide more help “for the poor.” But, um, erâ?¦where the hell do the politicians expect to GET tax money if those “rich moguls” move their productions elsewhere, taking with them all the jobs and secondary businesses that a big Hollywood production creates? Punitive taxes are thus costing California big-time:
“[Schwarzenegger] most recently railed against runaway production at a news conference on May 9th — but that was scheduled only after he received heat during another press conference. . .from reporters annoying him with questions about “Ugly Betty” leaving Los Angeles for New York to take advantage of an Albany-passed package of fat [tax] rebates. . . Since then, the TV shows “Life On Mars,” “Fringe” and “Kings” have left Los Angeles or Toronto (where the Canadian dollar is suddenly expensive) to move to NYC as well.”
Put simply, Atlas is indeed “shrugging” â?? and this time, at least, Hollywood leftists are paying the price for their own socialistic lunacy.
From The Economist:
According to data from TitleZ, a firm that tracks bestseller rankings on Amazon, an online retailer, the bookâ??s 30-day average Amazon rank was 127 on February 21st, well above its average over the past two years of 542. On January 13th the bookâ??s ranking was 33, briefly besting President Barack Obamaâ??s popular tome, â??The Audacity of Hopeâ?.
Enough to give a guy some hope. The article continues:
Tellingly, the spikes in the novelâ??s sales coincide with the news (see chart). The first jump, in September 2007, followed dramatic interest-rate cuts by central banks, and the Bank of Englandâ??s bail-out of Northern Rock, a troubled mortgage lender. The October 2007 rise happened two days after the Bush Administration announced an initiative to coax banks to assist subprime borrowers. A year later, sales of the book rose after Americaâ??s Treasury said that it would use a big chunk of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Programme to buy stakes in nine large banks. Debate over Mr Obamaâ??s stimulus plan in January gave the book another lift. And sales leapt once again when the stimulus plan passed and Mr Obama announced a new mortgage-modification plan.
Whenever governments intervene in the market, in short, readers rush to buy Randâ??s book. Why? The reason is explained by the name of a recently formed group on Facebook, the worldâ??s biggest social-networking site: â??Read the news today? Itâ??s like â??Atlas Shruggedâ?? is happening in real lifeâ?. The group, and an expanding chorus of fretful bloggers, reckon that life is imitating art.
See the full article for more.
Eric Etheridge has a new roundup post on the NY Times blog looking at the phenomenon of everyone going Galt in response to the Obama administration’s various policies, “stimulus” packages, and bailouts.
Definitely worth reading, as this could be the start of the most widespread and meaningful discussion of Ayn Rand’s ideas in our lifetime.
UPDATE: Also from the NYTimes, don’t miss the Atlas Shrugged Index.
Stephen Moore, senior economics writer for the Wall Street Journal, compares today’s bailout orgy and economic stimulus plans to the “economic lunacy that Atlas Shrugged parodied in 1957.”
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 full article.