Sunday, March 08, 2009

Going Galt: the latest propaganda.

Hilzoy writes: It's a reference to the famed Ayn Rand novel "Atlas Shrugged," in which protagonist John Galt leads the entrepreneurial class to cease productive activities in order to starve the government of revenue....

I agree with Hilzoy about the reference. He says it's strange that the producing entrepreneurs seem to be staying in place.

Much more obvious is that it is not the Randian Ubermensch that are dropping out: it is the workers/consumers. They've closed their pocketbooks and ceased spending as much, starving the entrepreneurs who now have unaffordable overhead on their idle productive capacity.

The interesting thing is that Rand had wrong in so many ways if you want to consider this analogous to "Atlas Shrugged". The causes were a real estate bubble and interlocking dependencies between banks. The players are essentially all from publicly owned corporations, rather than privately held corporations led by the owners. I haven't read Rand in 35 years (who could stand it as an adult?), but I don't think she mentions bubbles or bankers or non-owners as causing the collapse.

So if anybody is using the term "Going Galt", they're WAY OFF, and probably trying to pretend they're powerful in this crisis, rather than helpless. They'd like our supplication, not our scorn.


Jeremy said...

Amen, 100%. It ALWAYS bothered me that Atlas Shrugged is used as the excuse to defend corporations that behave more like James Taggart than Dagny. And therein lies the poverty of objectivism.

Mark Plus said...

These libertarian cranks can't get their story straight about a lot of things. My favorite example comes from their rants against the Federal Reserve System, which allegedly creates money from "thin air." That same money doesn't look like "thin air" to them when tax time comes around. Our fiat money has all the backing it needs because the government accepts it as payment for taxes.

They also don't see the cognitive dissonance where they complain that the Federal Reserve is allegedly privately owned, and they want the government to nationalize it. Uh, excuse me? I thought libertarians want to privatize as many of the functions of the government as possible. And what about the Fed owners' property rights?

And another one I've noticed lately: They advocate going back to a gold standard because a finite amount of refined gold exists on the planet and nobody can inflate the supply like with paper money. Yet these same people, following Julian L. Simon's lead, ridicule warnings about the finitude of other natural resources like petroleum.

jjensenii said...

@Mark Plus: It's the same story, over and over: come up with an idea, fantasize it into a utopia, absolutize it into a maxim, rationalize it into the Truth, and vilify anybody who dares to dissent.

UUbuntu said...

It was nice to see Stephen Colbert pick up on the Going Galt theme last night.