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Going Galt


Dr. Helen Smith has been going on for a while about "going John Galt." If you're unfamiliar with the premise, it's pretty simple: Ayn Rand writes in Atlas Shrugged of what happens to the world when the most productive in society decide to go on strike. The movement is led by a guy called John Galt. A great line from Galt's speech at the end of the book is this:

You did not care to allow rewards to be won by successful production - you are now running a race in which rewards are won by successful plunder.
There are a number of successful, productive people today suggesting that they will do exactly this. They refuse to pay for the missteps of adults and companies who now turn to the government like children who abused a broken toy and demand a replacement by tantrum from mom and dad.

"Productive," by the way, doesn't come with title. There are a number of executives with a "C" in front of their title who aren't worth a day's salary, much less their entire compensation. I wrote more about that a while ago, but I think a simple way to discern those folks is how quickly they turn to the government for money. In what I wrote back then, I mention the canned CEO of Home Depot, Bob Nardelli, and his unproductive management style. Is it any wonder that Chrysler, with that same Nardelli now at the helm, is drowning and begging for assistance from you, the taxpayer? Unproductive? Oh hell yes. He's a great example of how corporate America will hire an incompetent boob based on an undeserved resume alone. But I digress... sort of...

How do you teach people productivity? How do you teach people the necessity of strident self-sufficiency, except in extreme circumstances when the afflicted can ask for the free will benevolence of others? (Sidenote: who is it who really believes in mankind - the person who believes that people will respond as they can to a personal request for assistance, or those who seek to confiscate and reallocate so that they might ration help as they deem appropriate?)

How do you teach people productivity? Ayn Rand dealt with this conundrum by removing the self-sufficient. She believed that by showing the dependent that "business and earning a living and that in man which makes it possible - that is the best within us, that is the thing to defend." She aimed to show the world that the producers are not evil, but essential. Not greedy, but mentors - for those willing to listen and unafraid to work.

Capitalism is the pinnacle of liberation. You are free to be as productive as you choose, in any manner you choose, in any trade you choose - so long as there is a market for what you produce. No other system teaches the importance of productivity so directly. You are pulled along into greater and greater output by the rewards directly given to you through productive commerce.

Don't like your job? Switch employers or positions. Start your own business. You have choices. The productive know this. They thrive on it. They'll do what it takes, and go further yet.

How is that person not a role model to others? But somehow, there are people who have come into prominence who freely ridicule and heap scathing disdain on the productive.

Capitalism needs no defense. Its historical effectiveness in prosperity speaks to the lies of those who reject it. What it does need are the frank practitioners, unapologetic and open in what they know.

I'm not sure that Galt's solution is the best method of education, but I am sure that capitalists have no business cowering from the ill-informed words of those who want to plunder the achievements of the successful.


by Brett Rogers, 3/7/2009 1:16:49 AM


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