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Monday, April 25, 2011

33 Ways to Encourage Atlas to Shrug


Ayn Rand's 1957 novel "Atlas Shrugged" is enjoying renewed popularity following the release of the new Atlas Shrugged movie. Rand's story describes a group of American industrialists that lose patience with onerous regulation and taxation, and "shrug"--disappearing from their normal lives to relocate to a hidden valley called Galt's Gulch. While this tale is fictional, it has some strong parallels to modern-day America. And despite the fact that Ayn Rand was an atheist and favored legalized abortion, she was a good judge of both character and the inevitable tendencies of elected governments. When I consider the regulatory and tax burdens that have been implemented in my lifetime--I was born in 1960--I believe that Rand had amazing prescience. Let's face it: We no longer live in a free market capitalist nation. At best, it could called a "mixed" economy with statist tendencies, and verging on socialism.

Reading the news headlines in recent months has led me to believe that the Galt's Gulch concept has a lot of merit. If The Powers That Be wanted to encourage the Atlases of the world to shrug, they couldn't have done a better job. What is the best way to get the most productive Citizens of our nation to go on strike, and retreat to "gulches"? Consider the following "to do" list for those whom Ayn Rand called "The Destroyers":
  1. Remove the homeowner's mortgage interest tax deduction. Yes, they're pushing for it.
  2. Reinstate the Federal estate tax and pre-Bush Administration income tax levels. They want to impose the old tax rates on anyone with an income of $250,000. Oh, and the CBO's budget predictions are all using the assumption that the 2001 tax cuts are reverted. Is this wishful thinking (to make the increases in the Federal debt not look quite so bad), or a fait accompli?
  3. Nationalize IRAs and 401(k)s. Yes, its under discussion.
  4. Increase taxes for unemployment-insurance funds. This is already in progress.
  5. Drag out approval of new mining operations with endless Environmental Impact studies. They're already doing it.
  6. Inflate the currency to rob those who save money--a hidden form of taxation. Standard practice for 40 years.
  7. Drag out approval of newly-developed medicines. Now the status quo.
  8. Push up the rates for "sin" taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and other items. Already implemented in 2010.
  9. Increase the Minimum Wage. Several states have done so, but even worse yet, some unions are pushing for more socialist "Living Wage" laws
  10. Raise import tariffs. Each new tariff causes problems. Didn't they ever hear Ben Stein's high school Economics lecture on the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? (OBTW, Ben Stein is now warning about an economic collapse.)
  11. Increase the tax paperwork burden by requiring "1099-MISC" reporting of all cash transactions over $600. (Attempted, but thankfully set aside for the time being.)
  12. Increase the cost of doing business through mandatory insurance. (The "labor burden" for an employee with a nominal salary of $17 per hour ($35,360 gross, annually) is an additional $20,029 per year.) Workman's compensation, in particular, is getting painfully expensive.
  13. Increase sales taxes. Several states have increased sales taxes, since 2009.
  14. Increase property taxes, as home values decline. Many counties have hiked their tax rates.
  15. Continue to increase the size of the government (and its debts). The Federal debt increases are looking inexorable.
  16. Push for increased mandatory employer-paid benefits for company employees like mandatory health insurance for part-time employees and European-style long term parental leave. Also, push toward excluding companies from government contracts unless they have expanded health care coverage.
  17. Mandate payment of state sales taxes on out-of-state purchases for Internet and mail orders. Yes, they're still pushing for these taxes, and for regulation of the entire Internet.
  18. Create a pervasive Nanny State mentality. For example: penalize companies and consumers for high trans-fat foods, and alcoholic beverages that taste too good.
  19. Sue the makers of guns that actually work just as they were designed. (At least a partial law shield law was enacted, in 2005.)
  20. Use taxpayer funds to destroy classic cars that are in running condition, while subsidizing hybrid cars that use batteries that will pollute landfills for centuries.
  21. Over-regulate small firms out of business. Dry cleaners are a prime example.
  22. Fine farmers and ranchers for using traditional practices.
  23. Create a European-style Value Added Tax (VAT). Yes, they're still pushing for it.
  24. Legislate expansion of company-paid health insurance to cover everything from same sex "domestic partners" and autism to sex change operations.
  25. Lobby for mandating that companies pay for three weeks of paid vacation per year for all employees.
  26. Institute dozens of unfunded mandates from the Federal level, that must be compensated for with higher state, county, and local taxes.
  27. Increase license, permit, and vehicle registration fees. In progress. Meanwhile, institute "temporary" tax increases. These surtaxes on income, sales, or real property are described as "temporary." (But don't be surprised if they are not repealed.)
  28. Providing free education to illegal immigrants while levying taxes on home schooling families for services that they don't use.
  29. Make it illegal for owners to protect their livestock from predators.
  30. Remove the salary cap on Social Security tax "contributions". The liberal think tanks are pushing for it.
  31. Encourage a litigious society where huge lawsuits are filed over trifles, and where the makers of products can be sued even if product buyers intentionally misuse products.
  32. Implement carbon taxes and credits. Still in early stages of implementation.
  33. And lastly, the big one: Implement socialized medicine. Despite a strong public outcry, it is now Federal law. But thankfully there is a push to rescind part or all of it.
The shrugging and gulching has already begun...
Reading the foregoing might have you inspired to find your own Galt's Gulch. Although I admit a personal bias, one practical option that I can suggest is the American Redoubt. (I'm the originator of the plan.) The Redoubt region is inside of the continental United States, so moving there is much more realistic than moving offshore--at least for most of us.
Many folks are now ready to vote with their feet. Atlas is starting to shrug.


  1. yn Rand also modeled "The Fountainhead" protagonist after a serial killer, so let's keep perspective. Rand advocated for the "supermen," aka the super-wealthy, to be able to do anything they pretty much wanted. The funny part about your love affair with Rand and "Atlas Shrugged" is that I don't think you understand your own country's history; i.e., the railroad. As you know, the railroad line is the vehicle for this novel - however, guess who funded the building of the transcontinental railroad? That's right, the US congress with US taxpayer money. Guess who got EXTREMELY wealthy by selling steel spikes, rails, etc. to the govt. to build that railroad (which was an incredible boon to the nation, for passenger travel, freight, trade, etc.)? Andrew Carnegie, a well known robber-baron (who treated his employees atrociously but got rich doing it) who would be considered a super-man by Rand's standards.

    And that darn evil govt. is how he made his money.

    Vanderbilt, another Rand "super-man" made millions by scamming the govt. during the Civil War, inflating prices and taking kickbacks for providing troop transport vessels to the govt. Many vessels of which were of rotting timber placing lives at serious risk.

    William Whitney (as in "we're going to the Whitney museum") made his fortune off of graft; specifically, looting a NYC public transit project (again, taxpayer funded).

    JP Morgan made his fortune from selling faulty rifles to the US govt. during the Civil War, costing both the taxpayer quite a bit and the lives of hundred, maybe thousands, of soldiers. Wow, what a super-man, eh?

    The point being, govt. functions can be beneficial. Perhaps it's what is DONE with the taxes as opposed to just the act of taxation that should be at issue. None of these "super-men" could have survived and prospered WITHOUT govt. and taxpayer money. Perhaps you, and others, should keep that in mind while you're sucking Ayn Rand's dick.

  2. Why is it so impossible for Rand haters to make a point without including obnoxious commentary? Typical statist whining. You have missed the entire point of this post, which I totally expected from so-called "liberals," who have completely forgotten the traditional definition of the term. Without the state none of this "graft" would be possible because the state would not be extorting income to be grafted, but I know people like you will never get it.

  3. ok kids, admit that you BOTH have good arguments. now kiss and make up!

  4. His argument only reinforces my point! It's the state that makes all this corruption possible. Without it to set the example of compliance by brute force corporations would have never gained a foothold, much less taken over, this country. So thanks to all the crooked politicians, they couldn't have done it without you. I will close with this working poor hater Rand quote:
    Government “help” to business is just as disastrous as government persecution… the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.
    That sums up the post.

  5. The world where there are no governments is a total fantasy... quite childish, really. In the real world, OTOH, the governments are run by giant corporations (that's what those 'real Atlases' are doing nowadays). Where's the daylight between the US govt and Goldman Sachs? None can be seen.

    But then, if in some drooling fantasy-like re-enactment the govt _really_ vanishes, we'll all be stuck with Goldman Sachs only. Woe be unto us if the libertarian alternative reality ever come to pass...

  6. Woe? Seems to me that Woe is all we've had with your ideas and democracy in general. Things will never improve because people don't even have 20/20 hindsight. And your comment reveals you have absolutely no conception of Libertarian philosophy, which would never allow Goldman Sachs to exist in the first place because it's a detriment to the free market and individual liberty, something the state has made possible for nearly 100 years. Believing everythinisOK is childish, in the extreme.

  7. "... Libertarian philosophy, which would never allow Goldman Sachs to exist in the first place"

    And how can this happen unless it's the government that did it? Who else could limit the encroachment of Goldman Sachs?

    Please don't misunderstand me, I certainly don't have much love for the govt -- you don't have to be a libertarian to be critical of govt. But what I find rather simplistic is the idea that the very concept of govt should be demonized.

  8. Not the concept, if kept local and accountable. The very point that Goldman Sachs exists and breaks every law on the books is proof the govt. enables that sort of corruption, it doesn't do a damn thing to stop it, I don't care if there are a million regulations in place, there is always enough money to get around regulations when you have crooked politicians in your back pocket. These banksters exist because our govt. gave them the keys to the treasury in 1913, it has been downhill for Amerika ever since. The state is all about graft because power draws the worst type of person, a person wide open to bribery and blackmail. It doesn't work and it never will when it has become the rampaging Frankenstein we have today. It is time for something new, we can do much better than this.

  9. "The state is all about graft..."

    Well, here you are doing it again, engaging in a one-sided demonization of government. And, in reply, I'll say, "Big Corporations are all about graft". And this adds some important balance.

    This type of govt demonization started in a big way during the Reagan years. Ronnie Reagan was a big time fraud; he opened up the way to corporate take over, and look where US is now. The destruction of the middle class, bankruptcy, fraud and criminality on all levels. This is what the privatisation of the government got us. And the libertarian propaganda certainly played a substantial role in providing ideological backing for all that... Think of Alan Greenspan, this great fan and disciple of Ms Rand.

  10. The govt. has done a fine job of demonizing itself, they are the ones who allowed the corp. to take over the country. Your defense of the state has no merit since the state has demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that it does not work for the interests of the people but rather in the interests of the highest bidders, it has been that way for decades Reagan was just another cog in the juggernaut. The state is war, death and destruction paid for by illegally extorted taxes coerced, at gun point, from the people. This post is not a defense of Rand, it is pointing out the myriad destructive powers the state wields at the expense of the working class, the producers, to feed the parasites, that is all. You may read my post Manufacturing Poor People to gain a greater insight as to what the state has done, and my latest as well about the militarized FDA, then please present a defense there if you choose.

  11. This is brilliant. I'm not a Repugnantcan or a Democrap. Like the majority of Americans I am an independent. I simply want what the Constitution promises - government staying out of my pockets and my business but protecting me from evils that conspire against the American way. Oh and free mail. I can handle everything else myself, thank you.