"Who is John Galt?"
Fans of philosopher-novelist Ayn
Rand will recall that question as the opening line of her
massive tome, "Atlas Shrugged". Over the course of the next
1,100 pages, the reader learns that John Galt is the novel's
capitalist hero, a man who methodically has become the catalyst
of a successful attempt at recruiting the best and the brightest
entrepreneurs of American industry to withdraw from the commerce
of their country. The result is a steady decline of the U.S. economy, as America's producers refuse to continue paying for
Rand's vision was a warning that
the socialism she had seen in her native Russia was creeping
into the expectations Americans had of their own government. And
this was in the 1950s!
Fifty years later, the American
producer of goods, services and creative ideas labors under a
financial and regulatory burden Ayn Rand could only have
contemplated in her worst nightmare. And while the miracle of
free-market capitalism still remains a strong motive, the
insatiable appetite of government at every level to redistribute
wealth is rapidly destroying the incentive to create it. (Witness the recent shameless pandering of Democrats and
Republicans alike to give "tax credits" to an entire class of
Americans who pay no taxes!)
It has been estimated that if all
the assets of every individual American were confiscated and
redistributed evenly, within a few decades those assets would be
right back in the same hands. That sounds about right. Spenders
spend. Savers save. Producers produce. Parasites do not.
Enter the Libertarians. It might
sound Quixotic, but a real movement is gaining ground among a
growing number of people who have become alarmed at the pace
with which the United States is racing toward confiscatory
taxation for the purpose of redistributing assets.
In a scheme that would make Ayn
Rand proud, the Libertarians are plotting to take over a state,
revamp the government with policies of minimal taxation,
spending and regulation and possibly even threaten to secede
from the Union. They think they will need about 20,000 hard-core
believers in a small state to accomplish this. I think they just
might be on to something.
Former Republican Senator Malcolm
Wallop once said that the difference between Democrats and
Republicans was that if Democrats introduced a bill to burn down
the Capitol, Republicans would offer an amendment to phase it in
over three years.
Put another way, in the words of a
frustrated conservative House Republican with whom I spoke
recently, Democrats seem willing to lock arms and step off the
cliff together into the socialist abyss singing "We are the
world", while his Republican colleagues seem perfectly content
to line up and march off single file.
True Libertarians will tell you
they believe that government should defend the shores and
deliver the mail – unless, of course, someone else can deliver
the mail more efficiently and cheaper. In other words, pure
Libertarians advocate maximum liberty with minimum restrictions
in any and all arenas of human activity.
This sounds good, but carried to
its logical extreme, it involves decriminalizing virtually every
"vice" known to man: gambling, prostitution, the personal use of
illicit drugs and abortion on demand performed by anyone
anywhere. I have often said that I would become a Libertarian in
a heartbeat if it were not for these social issues. However,
when it comes to economics, they are right on target.
Fifty years ago, the average
family of four in America paid just four dollars in federal
taxes out of every $100 earned. State and local taxes were also
at a minimum, with many states not even utilizing sales or
It was this economic freedom, not
the power and authority of government to confiscate our assets
and solve our problems, that made us the world's greatest
superpower. Libertarian economic philosophy may be our last hope
of escaping the tax burden that is threatening the vitality of
nations all around the world.