Tuesday, August 28, 2012
IN MY OPINION (Column)
Ayn Rand Used to Be Crazy
By CLIF SMITH
We heard a lot of talk about an author by the name of “Ayn Rand” around 1980, especially in connection with the Kemp Roth Tax Cuts—which became “Reaganomics.” The simple proposition behind those cuts was that if you allow people to keep more of what they earn, they will earn more. As a side effect, the government receives a lot more money—in the Reagan years, in fact double. The Left, and many Republicans, said it would not work. It did. Rand was the philosophical “godmother” of the movement.
Rand’s most famous novel, Atlas Shrugged, presented a world where producers were taxed and regulated out of existence, starvation was the norm despite farming plenty, and all resources were allocated based on perceived “need” or cronyism. “Producers” were evil, greedy, exploiters of everyone else. Work became irrelevant. Only “need” backed by political force was given credence. The other main impetus to resource allocation was cronyism—if you were “in” with the government, you got bailed out. The government punished the producers. The movement was worldwide and in short order the world collapsed.
Until Barack Obama was elected president, much of Rand’s fictional piece seemed pretty far-fetched, really even over-the-top.
That Ayn Rand was prescient cannot now be doubted. She saw what was coming, in no small part because under Revolutionary Soviet Communism she saw it first hand.
Today’s world—at least the United States, Europe and much of Latin America—has bought into this “punish the rich” “give it to the needy” doctrine. Why work when you can “vote” yourself money from someone else?
Every day, President Obama preaches that anyone who is successful should be taxed and taxed and taxed. Today, over half the United States’ population takes government money. Only about 20 percent of the population contributes to federal income taxes, according to the Congressional Budget Office and the Internal Revenue Service. Why is it “fair” for one American to work to pay for four others? Former Gov. Romney is pilloried for “only” paying a tax rate of about 13 percent, but let’s assume that 13 percent is in the millions. How many people do his taxes support? What’s the tax rate on the 80 percent of the people who don’t pay taxes?
In Rand’s world, the producers simply disappeared. They stopped producing. They stopped fighting government or government killed their businesses. Government and union bosses took from the producers and gave to their cronies. That is exactly what Obama has done with General Motors (United Auto Workers got bailed out; white collar workers got zero along with bond holders). Ditto Solyndra and dozens of other politically-connected cronies. In Rand’s world, the producers just got tired of it and left.
The Atlas Shrugged scenario has been played out over and over again, but when cited the Left answers with scorn. Well, why work more when all that happens is you are forced to turn over what you have produced to the government?
With a few updates for technology changes, Rand’s Atlas Shrugged describes the real world today as accurately as George Orwell did in his 1984. Both authors saw what was coming.
We see it every day.
“Government” must control. “Government” must dictate. We are reduced to servants of government, not the other way around. If you earn, it will be taken from you. During that, you will be pilloried, insulted, criticized and treated with hate. “You didn’t do that, everyone else did.” That’s what President Obama said.
The Left will respond: “You just want to abolish government.” No. That’s nonsense. As a society we must have organization as well as publicly-funded operations to serve us all. That’s common sense. Experiencing the lack of these institutions and services is what led to the drafting and adoption of our Constitution in the first place.
But that Constitution has been shredded. It no longer protects us from the excesses of government. Accordingly to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, it enables vastly larger government. His “Obamacare” decision destroyed the last remaining protection we have against majoritarian oppression. Some “conservative.”
Reduced to the basics, our political debate today is about punishing producers and rewarding those who do not produce. Rand predicted the producers would just quit. Maybe they will. They surely have no incentive to work harder, invest or grow businesses. Jobs? Nope. It should give us all pause that Communist China, of all places, accordingly to its authoritative English-language newspaper, the China Daily, has no problem with letting entrepreneurs get rich as long as they create jobs. China doesn’t create barriers and it doesn’t tax its own to death.
And that’s where Ronald Reagan found us in 1980. He simply took the boot off our necks and let us do what we do. It worked. President Obama and his party have stomped that boot back onto our necks and they increase the pressure every day.
Rand had it right—the urge to take from those who produce and give to those who don’t is strong.
It’s what November 2012 is all about.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company