Atlas - New York City Jan 2005

in Economy

What people don’t understand is that the 1 percent has already “gone Galt”

I don’t give a damn who John Galt is so there’s that. But something came to mind when I started thinking about the cult of Ayn Rand conservatives and their cockroach like existence–always around scattering in the sunlight, but ever present. Ever so often I am made aware of the existence of their high priestess’s tome Atlas Shrugged, whether in print or failed movie form, it too is ever present.

From this book arises the term of going Galt, but what does that mean exactly? To me going Galt also means that the well-to-do withdraw from the state financially. They stop paying taxes and close down their businesses in protest of the government its perceived injustices towards their income bracket. It’s the conservative version of leaving the sandbox and taking your ball home with you.

So with that term in mind I started thinking and realized that basically the 1 percent has already gone Galt and they actually have gotten help from the state to do so. Our tax code allows them to spirit away profits to other countries and to pay a lower tax rate than the average working American. They own half of the nation’s stocks, bonds and mutual funds and  enjoy a low capital gains tax rate on those investments. They’re spending little to nothing, depriving the state of desperately needed revenue which then ushers in austerity policies for the rest of us.

With income inequality at the highest levels in decades, the concentration of wealth lies in the 1 percent’s laps and it basically stays there. People in the middle class and the poor naturally spend their earnings and that money goes back into the economy. While those in the 1 percent they put more of that money into investments and etc. As business executive Nick Haneur says in the documentary Inequality for All, there’s only so many things you can buy.

So conservative 1 percenters like Kenneth Langone can threaten going Galt all he wants. The truth is he and the rest of his ilk have already done so.