Thursday, March 19, 2009

If you "Go Galt", I'll "Go Marx"

Just so you know I am not in the habit of criticizing books I haven't read. I do make an exception for Ayn Rand's books. Throughout my life I have run into fans of "Fountain Head" and "Atlas Shrugged" who breathlessly tell me about how they love the books and how Ayn Rand blew their mind and inspired them to be objectivist libertarians. For awhile there, my hubby and I belonged to a political discussion group with some of these rabid fans. From what we were able to gather, Ayn has constructed fiction that rationalizes greed and social Darwinism. If you are unable to make economically optimum choices for yourself, or accumulate wealth at others expense, then you deserve to be poor and become a leech on society. In this fantasy world, there is a class of highly productive, creative wealthy people who are victims of those who are not. These people decide to go into hiding to avoid an oppressive government. Taxation to the Galtists is slavery.

Taxation to me means I am making money. Good thing. I am glad to make money so I can hopefully help pay to keep our government going.

When you talk to these people they completely ignore that they thoughtlessly take advantage of government they despise so much. Individuals and commerce depend on safe roads, public safety, drug and food safety, our military, our educational system, and our infrastructure. This all costs money. They some how think that individuals or the private sector will take care of all of these things. You can fill volumes about the failures of individuals or the private sector to do the right thing and take care of the needs of our country. The market has failed this country over and over because they are concerned more about profit than the best interests of their fellow citizens or our country. Individual consumers are powerless to change private markets, but citizens can press their governments to regulate markets in their favor. This is why we need to regulate markets and tax citizens to pay people to enforce regulations.

Now that Obama is president, there is a movement of "Going Galt" because they see that Obama is taking away money from the talented and giving it to the unsuccessful. They claim that the bailout is what gets them angry and I am angry about that too. I am angry we have to bailout a greed-motivated system of booms and busts run by people who are culture says are the creative job making elite who deserve tax breaks.

Where we disagree is the Galtists do not want government to invest in our infrastructure, our people, and our future. They rely on this fantasy that private markets are the answer to everything, even if it was private markets who caused this disaster. If government did anything wrong is that they listened to the Galtists in holding back needed regulation to keep private markets from self-imploading.

I believe objectivism based on the old Calvinist and Social Darwinist individualism hurts our country, because it is based on fantasy. It institutionalizes greed over the common good creating a nation of winners and losers that has little to do with merit.

None of us pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We all get where we are with the help of others. We deliver our goods on roads and bandwidth paid for by our tax dollars. We stay healthy by paying people to check the safety of our drugs and food. We get whatever skills from our teachers, and are protected by our police officers and fire fighters. What we decide to pool our money for tells the world and history what kind of people we are. Government is us, it doesn't seem like it is because citizens are not doing their jobs keeping our government in check.

Rich people are no better than poor people. In fact, people who are not rich often are far more productive, creative, and resourceful than rich people. Without workers, rich people would have no means in delivering the products that make them rich. Without workers, rich people would have bad lawns, dirty houses, and would have to parent their own children.

We are all human beings who should be able to have the dignity of shelter, health care, food, education, and if they can - work. Our country is healthy when more people get a part of the economic pie instead of the wealth being hoarded by the top 1%. We need more socialism that works for all the people. If we go on strike, we need to strike for worker's rights and fight for our tax dollars to be spent investing in the American people. We need to spend our taxes on education, health care, infrastructure, renewable energy, science, and art.

What we spend on is who we are.

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