Is Atlas going on strike?

Contributed by Shell Suber 

The working title of “Atlas Shrugged” was “The Strike.” The plot is based on an intriguing philosophical question in the imagination of novelist Ayn Rand: What if society’s true producers and entrepreneurs were to, by their own choice, just give up on America and leave – go on strike, as it were? What if they became fed-up with the jealousy and greed of an increasingly lazy electorate/government determined to punish over-achievers who, well, achieve too much? What if they got a better offer and just took off? What then?

Some consider “Atlas Shrugged” just another cautionary tale with a far-fetched premise intended to make a dramatic point about trends in society the author finds disturbing, similar to Orwell’s “1984.” But perhaps Rand’s implausible premise is not so implausible after all.

Two recent high-profile US entrepreneurs have renounced their US citizenship to avoid, it is widely believed, the estate tax, AKA the “death tax,” which confiscates a huge percentage of a person’s estate upon their death. Are these isolated incidents or a trend? Are some of the most successful throwing up their hands in frustration and going on strike by relinquishing their very American identity? Will more follow?

Ironically, when similarly confiscatory tax policies were imposed in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries, it was America that made the better offer and benefited from the influx of bold, talented all-stars poached from the greedy, lazy, and corrupt governments of the Old World.

Now it seems Rand’s premise – that it could happen here, too – isn’t so far-fetched after all.

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3 Comments to “Is Atlas going on strike?”

  1. Oh the elitism! Rand is not a philosopher. She uses persuasive techniques not logical techniques which is what a true philosopher does. Your statement “true producers, lazy electorate/government determined to punish overachievers” is very telling on the side you support.

    The entrepreneur is not the person that ruins a bank or manufacturer and is then paid a 7 or 8 figure bonus to leave. The true producer is not the person who makes about 420 times the median wage of his workers while they can barely make ends meet.

    I do not begrudge any person for making a fair wage/salary or a real entrepreneur from taking profits from his enterprise.

    My main two problems are: 1. Following Rand’s atheistic Objectivism. Personally I prefer Christianity. Love one another appeals to me more than selfishness is preferred. 2. This “strike,” if it does exist, will not go the way it did in the novel.

    Who is John Gault? Who freakin’ cares!

    For reasoned progressive commentary and discussion on South Carolina politics and political philosophy http://palmettobug.blogspot.com/

    Palmetto Bug

  2. First, Jed, you are kind of a dick. Just needed to get that out there. Rather than engage in friendly discussion you accuse me of being elitist. Not sure why. I just thought it was interesting that two high-profile 1%-ers (one of which happens to be a close friend and major fundraiser for left-leaning political causes) just renounced their US citizenship to flee from excessive taxes and how that is similar in a certain way to elements of the plot of “Atlas Shrugged.” (It is interesting and it is similar.) Drawing attention to the similarity me an elitist? Oh the hysterics!

    And I never said Rand is a philosopher. I called her a novelist.

    Also, Rand’s government / status-quo characters WERE lazy, greedy, and jealous while her achiever characters where virtuous and heroic. Well, duh. That’s was her point. Drawing attention to her depiction of these characters is not “particularly telling” as to which “side I support,” you hair-trigger, conclusion-jumping, judgmental ass.

    Further, Rand’s heroes were not bank presidents or Wall Street financiers, they were business owners. Like the recent US citizenship renouncers, they were from-the-ground-up millionaires who out-performed their competition and made a ton of money for it. Nothing un-Christian about that.

    Finally, I almost didn’t approve your post your response because you failed to adhere to the spirit of this forum which is open, friendly discussion. Instead, you resort to douche-baggery and direct people to your own blog where you claim they will find “reasoned progressive commentary.” Based on the nature of your response, I would be surprised if that’s what they find.

  3. Shell, to split hairs like you did:

    I’m not the name caller. I was referring to the elitism of Objectivism. Most of the elite have a classy demeanor. You have proven not to be one of the elite. If I were going to attack you, I would have called you out by name.

    Regardless, I did not call you names that referred to body parts or feminine hygiene. You said that you think readers would not find “reasoned progressive commentary” on my blog and your last sentence suggests that you did not read it. My first post suggests guidelines for civil discourse. You violated the first two by using foul language and making an ad hominem attack. You accuse me of that which you are guilty.

    Your post asks if the two wealthy people leaving America is an isolated incident or a trend. The last sentence says Rand’s premise may not be so far-fetched.The conclusion that you support Objectivism and Rand is valid. I am man enough to admit I am wrong and will take your word on it. Tell me you think that Objectivism and Rand are bunk and you were merely pointing out a literary similarity and I will believe you and state so on this site.

    Regardless, Rand is not a philosopher. She was a novelist, on that we agree. L. Ron Hubbard was a novelist. He also created a Scientology. I believe the beliefs of both are at best incorrect. There are institutes at colleges and universities that promote Objectivism. A waste of time and money promoting beliefs devoid of logic.

    Rand’s Objectivism promotes selfishness (her word, not mine) and rejects altruism. Rand specifically rejected religious belief and espoused atheism. One could be an uncomfortable Objectivist and Christian, but I don’t see how it can be logically done.

    If people are leaving our country because of our government, then they are rainy-day patriots. I did not leave when men were elected president or to Congress with whom I disagree. It is the not the purpose of republican government for winner to take all. Rather it is for patriotic people that disagree to find a way to live and to progress together. It is to find a way to compromise.

    I choose to follow a loving God who sent His only Son to save us from our selves. He told us not to be selfish but to feed His sheep. On this belief is based my progressive, liberal politics.

    I will disagree vehemently with you at times in the future. It will be in the spirit of “open, friendly discussion.”

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