Friday, January 16, 2009

'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years

NO room on the bookshelf (thanks JM) but interesting for it's take on our present economics...
From the WSJ:

...For 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


Jeff Miller said...

Catholic Democrats allowed the party to go pro-abortion even if they did not like it. Sure there was an initial reaction to this happening, but it was not something continuous. It simply became something they "didn't like" but were willing to put up with for other issues.

I am quite thankful that many Catholics were so adverse to Rudy Giuliani's run. If only Catholic Democrats had such a strong reaction. Though there were certainly many Rudy apologists in the GOP including some Catholics.

I would love to be arguing about prudential matters instead about things that are intrinsically evil.

Jeff Miller said...

Darn somehow an old comment got pasted in.

Jeff Miller said...

What I wanted to say find another book for your bookshelf.

I was quite the fan of Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged at one time. She has good insights on government and its excesses. The problem is that she as the creator of atheistic positivism preaches radical selfishness. Sacrifice for her was a moral evil, while profit itself was a moral good. Her view of the individual as a total autonomous being is rather sick. Positivists are largely people who don't have children (she didn't have any).

Three is no love of neighbor in the Randian world it is all the individual and to hell with everybody else if they don't do what I want or they are worthless producers.

eutychus said...

Thanks Jeff, actually for both comments. I knew there was a reason I hadn't read the book. Apparently I had just forgotten why. Thanks for reminding me. But the part athat I excerpted was rather chilling insofar as its accuracy in seeing our current morass of government intervention.

Jeff Miller said...

She certainly did have good insights in the nature of government which who growing up in Russia certainly helped. She just made her own mistake by going in the extreme of the total opposite direction.