“Going Galt” and other Randian Fantasies

“Going John Galt”…A more silly idea from right-wingers would be hard to imagine if I were not already familiar with their claims about supply side economics and the “fact” that tax cuts pay for themselves. For those of you who are not adolescent boys holed up in your bedroom reading Ayn Rand’s pulp fiction magnum opus Atlas Shrugged, here is a refresher on John Galt from Tristero at Hullabaloo:

John Galt is the copper-haired, white-boy protagonist in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Galt leads a revolutionary movement in which all the top leaders of the banks and corporations forsake their corporate jets and perks to work in diners or as subway repair guys. No they weren’t fired by Galt. Rather, Galt urged them to go on strike and withdraw their expertise from an increasingly socialist world. Deprived of the genius of their genius, the world economy collapses.

Going John Galt,” then, is when the so-called Achievers in our society threaten to stop doing…well, whatever it is that they do. Apparently, Republicans believe that the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street will threaten to go on strike if Obama raises the top marginal tax rate from 36% to 39.6%.

So, what would happen if the so-called “Achievers” in our society went on strike? In my nomination for best blog post rant of the year, Hunter at Daily Kos says this:

Oh, yes please. By all means, let’s give that “strike” a go. I’ll tell you what, “achievers” — you keep your Collateralized Debt Obligations, and we’ll keep the food. You take away your energy futures trading, and we’ll keep the actual power plants. You run off to your own private island with your structured corporate insurance derivatives, and we’ll keep the automobiles, and the boats, and the oil, and the coal, and the grain, and the batteries, and the electronics, and the cows, and the roads and bridges, and the drinking cups, and the indoor plumbing, and the light bulbs, and the televisions, and the art, and the music, and the trees that grow the fruit, and the lumber, and the recycling centers, and the actual pills to cure what ails you, and the fishing lines, and the books, and the buildings, and the railroads, and the little metal clips that hold the little hydraulic lines that keep that gigantic, thundering airplane you’re on in the air. We’ll keep the borax, iron, salt, aluminum, and steel. We’ll keep the corn, the soybeans, the lettuce, and the water. We’ll spot you as many U-haul boxes as you need to pack up your money and your stock certificates, and then please, by all means — teach us a lesson.

Go live your Randian fantasies, go create that wonderful utopia in which only the most wealthy are permitted entry, and you are not burdened with the outrageous insult of having to contribute back a proportionate share of your income in order to help maintain the very fabric of the nation around you. I can see now that the thought that you might have to pay the same share of your income in taxes that your housekeeper does has drained your already blanched faces, and the thought of having to pay as much in taxes as your wretched mothers and fathers did, a few decades before you, is nothing less than an armed assault on your beachheads.

Hunter’s post is solid gold. Go read the whole thing here. My favorite paragraph is this one:

So yes, please, by all means, teach us a lesson, Achiever Class, and do it quick. You take your money, and we’ll take the people who know how to fix your goddamn plumbing at three in the morning. You grab your portfolio and hold it high above your heads, a symbol of your lifetime of accomplishments, and we’ll take all the firefighters. I can only presume you will not need our doctors, our schoolteachers, our grocers or even our tax accountants. Ayn Rand would have wanted it that way: Ayn Rand, oracle of the prickish class, official trumpet section for anyone and everyone that thinks themselves a king.

It’s hard to believe that for the last 30 years our national economic policies…yes, I’m talking to you Alan Greenspan…were Randian fantasies from a 1957 pulp fiction novel. Pathetic. Keep that in mind when the right-wingers try to lecture Obama on economic policy.


This Much Is True

Paul Krugman explains bipartisanship

But the part that really got me was Broder saying that we need “the best ideas from both parties.”

You see, this isn’t a brainstorming session — it’s a collision of fundamentally incompatible world views. If one thing is clear from the stimulus debate, it’s that the two parties have utterly different economic doctrines. Democrats believe in something more or less like standard textbook macroeconomics; Republicans believe in a doctrine under which tax cuts are the universal elixir, and government spending is almost always bad.

Obama may be able to get a few Republican Senators to go along with his plan; or he can get a lot of Republican votes by, in effect, becoming a Republican. There is no middle ground.

Bipartisanship is a joke. The sooner Obama learns this the better. It’s time for him to remind the Republicans that elections have consequences.


This is what Smart Governance Looks Like

From President-Elect Obama’s 60 Minutes interview:

We’ve gotta come up with solutions that are true to our times and true to this moment. And that’s gonna be our job. I think the basic principle that government has a role to play in kick starting an economy that has ground to a halt is sound.

I think our basic principle that this is a free market system and that that has worked for us, that it creates innovation and risk taking, I think that’s a principle that we’ve gotta hold to as well. But what I don’t wanna do is get bottled up in a lot of ideology and is this conservative or liberal. My interest is finding something that works.

And whether it’s coming from FDR or it’s coming from Ronald Reagan, if the idea is right for the times then we’re gonna apply it. And things that don’t work we’re gonna get rid of.

This is what Chris was talking about in his column “Ideology or People?” Are we going to actually try to help people, or are we going to cling bitterly to a failed ideology.

Obama is charismatic, popular, and pragmatic. The ideologues days are numbered.



Frank Rich delivered the definitive post-mortem on the 2008 election in his column here. My favorite part is this:

The post-Bush-Rove Republican Party is in the minority because it has driven away women, the young, suburbanites, black Americans, Latino-Americans, Asian-Americans, educated Americans, gay Americans and, increasingly, working-class Americans. Who’s left?

Who’s left? White, non-college educated males over age 65 who live within 100 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, that’s who.

Keep these demographics in mind when the conservatives say President-Elect Obama shouldn’t “over-reach” and try to enact progressive policies because we are a “center-right” nation. Personally, I would like to see a bold, rather than a cautious, President Obama.



In the battle of ideas, Progressives blew the Conservatives out of the water. The “most liberal United States Senator” was elected decisively by a broad and diverse coalition of Americans.

President-Elect Obama was delivered a mandate in the voters’ rejection of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. Specifically, voters rejected the economic policies and the incompetent governance of conservatives.

There will be much to talk about in the coming days as we sift throughthe exit polling data. But for now, think about this. The two most memorable Republicans in this campaign cycle are Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. Nothing says more clearly that Republicans are a small, white, Christianist, regional rural party…out of touch with mainstream America and bereft of ideas…than these two fake culture warriors.

Or, you can just look at this map which shows which counties nationwide trended Democratic in the 2008 election in comparison to 2004: