This past week I thought about the wisdom of Ayn Rand and the timelessness of her message when I saw Obama’s former treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, boasting on TV that he, and a few other smart people, had saved the U.S. economy from a second Great Depression in 2008-09. Mr. Geithner was saying that we had to violate nearly every principle of the free-enterprise system in order to save free enterprise.
It’s an amazing delusion: Five years later, with the economy contracting in the first quarter of the year, family incomes still lower today than in 2007, unemployment honestly measured at above 10 percent, 47 milllion Americans on food stamps, and the debt $6 trillion higher – that anyone would boast that the economy is on the right path.
In reality, the Bush-Obama policies have directly inhibited a normal recovery and put America in a deeper hole of debt.
The policy prescriptions we hear today are nearly imbecilic. The economy isn’t growing fast enough, so we should raise the minimum wage. Increase taxes on the rich and the producers by up to 80 percent, says the New York Times, and give the money to the nonproducers. Stop oil and gas drilling (the one sector of the economy that is working) and subsidize windmills. In Rand’s book, these very policies are given innocuous titles like the “anti-greed act,” but they only incite poverty and more havoc. Ms. Rand disparages the authors of these laws, and those who want to steal from those who have earned their wealth, as “looters.”
For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises that in most cases they themselves created, by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations, which, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs, and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of fairness, equality and do-goodism.
The rich in society today are routinely trashed by Nancy Pelosi and other leaders in Washington. Look at the propaganda campaign against the Koch brothers, who are treated like villains for merely defending the free-enterprise system. They have created tens of thousands of jobs and energy that makes our economy function. Harry Reid calls them “un-American.” The Left would like to burn them at the stake.
One pertinent warning resounds throughout “Atlas Shrugged”: When profits, wealth and creativity are denigrated in society, they start to disappear, leaving everyone the poorer. In one unforgettable passage of the book, Rand writes that the creator thinks, “It is, therefore I want it”; while the looters’ mindset is “I want it, therefore it is.”
Let’s make “Atlas Shrugged” required reading in the schools. Or for parents who just want to educate their kids this summer, I would recommend the six-hour audiotape version of the book masterfully recorded.
Americans – especially our politicians – need to learn the lesson of “Atlas Shrugged” or we are going to travel down the same path of economic destruction. That will mean many more quarters of negative growth and a spiral of despair.