John Galt

Libertarianism is like the new communism, dude

Michael Hamilton is a libertarian writer living in Washington, D.C. His main interests are economics, drug legalization, immigration, and land-use policy.

Libertarianism is the new communism, at least if you ask Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu:

Most people would consider radical libertarianism and communism polar opposites: The first glorifies personal freedom. The second would obliterate it. Yet the ideologies are simply mirror images. Both attempt to answer the same questions, and fail to do so in similar ways.

This colorful lede suggested they might offer a new critique of libertarianism, but my hopes were quickly dashed. The authors end up retreading old arguments—seemingly unaware that others had done so many times before. Their failure to offer a substantive appraisal of libertarian ideas may stem from low familiarity with libertarianism itself.

Hanauer and Liu start with a decent definition of libertarianism, namely that it is “the ideology that holds that individual liberty trumps all other values.” This is fairly accurate characterization of the moral beliefs held by many libertarians. Unfortunately, the authors struggle to trace these moral foundations to basic philosophical  or policy positions held by actual libertarians.

Gerard Depardieu Goes John Galt

Written by Marian Tupy, a policy analyst, Center for the Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Few Frenchmen are more recognizable at home and abroad than the movie star Gerard Depardieu. Last week, Depardieu caused a great controversy in his native land by moving to Belgium – partly to avoid the 75 percent income tax on the wealthy that was introduced by the socialist President of France, Francois Hollande. Depardieu’s move was condemned by the French political establishment, including the Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault who called the actor’s action “pathetic.”

Depardieu shot back and, in an open letter to Monsieur Ayrault, wrote, “I’m leaving because you think success, creation, talent and anything different should be punished. I am sending you back my passport and social security, which I have never used.” The French actor claims to have “paid 85 percent taxes on his revenues this year [2012] and estimated that he had paid €145m ($189m) in total since he started work as a printer at the age of 14.”

Atlas Shrugged: Q & A with Harmon Kaslow

In case you haven’t heard, Atlas Shrugged: Part 1, the first of three films based on Ayn Rand’s magum opus, is set for DVD/Blu-Ray release on Tuesday, November 8th. And there are no shortage of preorder options as, according to the film’s site, there are four different editions; all reasonably priced at $19.95 each.

The relevance of the book is unquestioned given the parasitic policies coming out of Washington; including bailouts, excessive regulation, the desire to persecute success through higher taxes.

Set in 2016, Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 opens with a stream of news headlines tumultuous economic times, very similar to what we witnessed in our most recent downturn and news of another wreck on Taggart Transcontinental’s Colorado-based Rio Norte rail line. With the company losing business to a competing rail line due their failure to maintain replace aging tracks. Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling) tells her incompetent brother, James Taggart (Matthew Marsden), that she has canceled their contract with Orren Boyle (Jon Polito) struck a deal with Henry Rearden (Grant Bowler), owner of Rearden Steel, to use his new, untested alloy to replace the 100 year old tracks on the Rio Norte Line in hopes that they can save the company.

Why Atlas will never shrug

Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged regained a great deal of attention recently, what with the economic crisis looming and much of the rhetoric coming out of Washington matching the rhetoric uttered by Rand’s various villains.  References to the 1957 novel have made their way onto talk radio, cable television, and Tea Party protests throughout the land.  In the book, the great minds of the world go on strike, and even sort of compared to Atlas – who holds the world up on his shoulders – shrugging.

Unfortunately, it’s never going to happen.

In Rand’s book, all the minds share common ideals.  They all believe they have a right to make whatever they make.  They believed they’re entitled to the wealth they earned from the products of their own mind.  They believed that their own self interest was sufficient cause for their actions.

Reality is another matter entirely.  For the record, I’m a fan of the book.  As I write this, I’m actually wearing a shirt with the first edition’s cover on it.  I’ve read the book four times, and as anyone who’s read it can tell you, you do not read it four times unless you like the book.  However, I can’t escape the fact that Atlas will never shrug.

The reason for that is that many of the minds, the people who make the things that make this nation run, are no different in their own ideologies from the James Taggarts and Wesley Mouchs of Rand’s imagination.  Bill Gates is one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our day, and yet he leans left on most issues…and this is despite being hammered with antitrust violations in the past.  Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, also tends to lean left on most issues.

Comedy or Tragedy?

I confess. Ever since the passage of healthcare-hell on March 21, I’ve been torn between the two conflicting extremes of despondency on the one hand, and hilarity on the other.

Thus, it’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote anything for this site, or even had an inkling to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were). And while I had some real-life situations interfering with writing – a death in the family, a particularly vicious and fatigue-inducing virus – for the most part I just couldn’t think of anything to say that wasn’t being said already and ad infinitum on every talk show and by every conservative pundit in the known world, and for the first time in a long time I found myself asking, “What’s the use?”

For a week I didn’t read anything online, including Mark Steyn’s columns, which for anyone who knows me well suggested symptoms of deep depression. I barely even glanced at the Wall Street Journal, again a sure sign of an impending retreat to recluse-land.

Being a Randian (Ayn Rand, that is) intellectual and philosopher of the first order, I figured now was as good a time as any to say to heck with freedom-fighting and do the John Galt thing:  Stay off the radar and watch the economy collapse. That is, after all, what Rand’s superman did through most of his fictional life before Mulligan established Galt’s Gulch. He worked as a track walker for Taggart Transcontinental at some hideous minimum wage, all the while developing his super-motor in a dilapidated tenement in New York City.

Here’s the movie trailer for “Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt?”

The makers of Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? the final chapter of the trilogy based on Ayn Rand’s magnum opus — released the trailer for the film ahead of its September 12 release date.

The trailer focuses on the heroine, Dagny Taggert, and the mysterious John Galt, one of the proud producers who has gone on strike in protest against a government that constantly exploits them and a society that demonizes them for being successful.

With an economy nearing ruin and a world turmoil, Taggart refuses to join the strikers and returns to society. Galt follows her and decides to take a stand by taking over the airwaves to give a manifesto in defense of the morality of individualism and capitalism. He also explains the motives behind the strike.

Given that the speech takes up a chunk of the novel, one would assume that the writers trimmed it down to a manageable length for a viewing audience, hopefully without losing the substance of the message that Rand conveyed.

The trailer very briefly shows a clip of former Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), who has a cameo in the film. Conservative talkers Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck and American for Tax Reform Presiden Grover Norquist, among several others, will also appear in the final chapter of the trilogy.

Watch the trailer for Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? below:

Atlas Shrugged Part II - Behind the Scenes at the Rearden Steel Factory

See Video

Nice try Yglesias, but no cigar

Matt Yglesias posted this yesterday in reference to a clip from the new Atlas Shrugged film, due out April 15.  The clip involves a union official telling Dagny Taggart that he wouldn’t allow her to run that train.  If you’ve read the book, you know that Taggart doesn’t really respond well to people telling her what she can and cannot do.  The clip has been made private on YouTube, but Yglesias posted the following:

Why does the sexy capitalist want to build a socialistic train? If only Ayn Rand had listened to George Will.

The post Yglesias links to is one where Will blasts high speed rail as a socialist enterprise. However, it’s still a big fat FAIL for Yglesias. You see, the “sexy capitalist” paid for the railroad out of her own money. No socialism at all. Taggart, in fact, has to battle all manner of government intervention just to get the line built. There was no government funding, no grants or subsidies. The truth was that she built that line in spite of the government, not because of it.

Honestly Matt, I expect better from you.  Maybe you should have read the Wikipedia entry for the book before making your pathetic attempt at pointing out irony or hypocrisy or whatever you were trying to point out.  The fact of the matter, other than trains themselves, the fictional John Galt line and high speed rail have nothing in common.

Please try again.

Who is John Galt?

In Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, the question “Who is John Galt?” is asked as a metaphor for “what can we do”?  In reality, John Galt was something more.  He was a driving force for leading the minds of the world, those who refused to be used any longer by the moochers and the looters, into a new era of prosperity in a secret location.

Galt isn’t a real person unfortunately.  He was a figment of Rand’s imagination, like her other characters.  Also like them, Galt was larger than life, a perfect human being who’s thin form and competence in anything he attempted made him more a god than a man.

The truth is that if John Galt were to spontaneously appear out of Rand’s work, he wouldn’t be able to accomplish a tenth of what he did inside the pages of Atlas Shrugged.  While it seems clear that Rand’s villains were all to realistic, her hopes for the innovators was far from accurate.  Far to many of them have bought into the idea that we, as people, are clearly beholden to others and government is the perfect vehicle for transferring the wealth.

However, Galt wouldn’t be a waste in this world.  No, even with his competence constrained by the simple reality of being human, Galt – or someone like him – could do wonders. Imagine a world where a man builds a machine that creates electricity essentially out of thin air.  No carbon emissions, no pollution of any kind, and an unlimited amount of electricity for all.  It would be everything the left could dream of.  However, he demands payment for his machine.  It would be at that moment that the reality of leftist ideology would bump into the dreams of the average American.

“Atlas Shrugged” movie trailer

We got a sneak preview of the first 15 minutes of Atlas Shrugged last night here at CPAC thanks to the folks at FreedomWorks. I’ll say this, the movie appears to be better than I expected.

Here is the trailer:

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