Free Markets, Free People

Atlas Shrugged


The flight of the ‘greedy rich’

France’s prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, is hopping mad. In response to the French socialist government’s plan to significantly increase taxes on "the rich"—including a proposed 75% tax on incomes above €1 million—rich people are moving out of the country. This is intolerable to Mr. Ayrault.

"Those who are seeking exile abroad are not those who are scared of becoming poor," the prime minister declared after unveiling sweeping anti-poverty measures to help those hit by the economic crisis.

These individuals are leaving "because they want to get even richer," he said. "We cannot fight poverty if those with the most, and sometimes with a lot, do not show solidarity and a bit of generosity," he added.

It could be a scene right out of "Atlas Shrugged".

Mr. Ayrault is angry because rich Frenchmen are fleeing the country to keep their money, instead of handing it over to him. And he is joined by the baying of the other hounds in France’s left wing. Case in point, French actor Gerard Depardieu, whose announcement that he was moving to Belgium provoked responses such as:

Socialist MP Yann Galut called for the actor to be "stripped of his nationality" if he failed to pay his dues in his mother country, saying the law should be changed to enable such a punishment.

Benoît Hamon, the consumption minister, said the move amounted to giving France "the finger" and was "anti-patriotic".

In a stinging editorial, Libération, the left-leaning daily, called him a "drunken, obese petit-bourgeois reactionary".

They are owed this money, by God, and how dare you try and steal it away from them!

This is always the implicit argument of the Left: They have the first claim to your income, and you have a duty to honor that claim. No matter how you earned that money, they have the right to take as much of it as they please away from you, and if you dispute that right, you’re unpatriotic, and should be punished.

This is Leftism in a nutshell. You are not a free individual, but rather a serf of the state or some other politically-defined "larger community" that has an absolute claim on your property and income that you may not defy. This is no different in concept, or in practice, than the idea of ancient Babylon or Akkad that every subject is a slave of the king.

You can dress it up in high-sounding phrases like "solidarity" or "social justice", "helping the poor" all you want, and it still amounts to nothing but the simple declaration that the state owns you.

The people who believe in this idea are the enemies of freedom, and should be treated as such.

~
Dale Franks
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CPAC day 2

The first day was spent sort of getting the lay of the land, meeting and greeting (new acquaintances and old friends), the Rumsfeld lunch and a few speeches.

Listened to Donald Trump talk – entertaining anyway – and heard him tell the Ron Paul crowd “your guy doesn’t have a chance”.  The way he did it was a true laugh-out-loud moment.  He’s right, but speaking of not having a chance, well I don’t think “the Donald” has much of one at all.  But it was entertaining to see him stir up the Paul crowd.

Speaking of Paul’s, I listened to Rand Paul’s speech and was pretty pleased with what he had to say.  He says the cuts the GOP is putting forward are insignificant and unacceptable.  He mentioned that the amount is what government spends in 5 days.  He also pointed out that both parties have budget projections that add more than three trillion to the debt.   He said that must be cut and cut drastically.  100 billion of it, he claimed, could come from shutting down the Dept. of Education and returning schooling to where it belongs – with the states and local school boards.

That’s been a dream of the right for decades, in fact since the inception of the DoE.  I have no idea if there’s the will or the stomach within Congress to address that, but Paul is right – cuts must be much more significant than those proposed.   But given that after promising 100 billion they came up with 32 billion in cuts, I’m not that hopeful.

He also said, in so many words, that the GOP and Democrats are going to have to grow a pair and address entitlements, to include increasing the   retirement age for both SS and Medicare.  He was mostly greeted with enthusiastic applause from the crowd.  How enthusiastic they’ll be when it comes time to cut spending and move the retirement age remains to be seen (in theory it’s all important and the “right thing to do”, but in reality, people have a tendency to back off – especially if it effects them).

Another bit of entertainment occurred during the award ceremony for former SecDef Rumsfeld.   One of the surprise presenters was Dick Cheney who received a standing O from the audience as he came on the stage (and after a while finally took the mic and said “thank you, thank you, now sit down and shut up” – brought the house down).   As things quieted down someone  – exercising his right to free speech – shouted out, “you’re a war criminal”.  The crowd then exercised its’ right to free speech and, chanting “USA, USA” essentially drown the fellow out as he was escorted from the floor.  Cheney’ reaction was something along the lines of “I’m glad to see we’re still having spirited debate”.  Some have claimed the shouter was a Ron Paul supporter – I have no idea who he was.

Last night I attended a Freedom Works function where The Atlas Society introduced the independent film production of “Atlas Shrugged”.   We were privy to the first public viewing of scenes from the movie.  I thought, “ok, indie film, mega challenging book, this might not end well”.

I was very impressed with the production values I saw in the clips we viewed.  The acting was well done and while not name actors, are all people you’ve seen before in various supporting roles in movies and TV.  And frankly, the word that kept coming to mind was “lush” as in a lush production – very pleasing to the eye and in the clips we saw, faithful to Rand’s book.  Got to speak to both the executive director of the Atlas Society, David Kelly and Harmon Kaslow, the producer of the film.  They were obviously interested in our reaction.  You can find info about the movie here.   It is actually a 2 part movie and this is part 1.  It looks like an excellent attempt to bring Rand’s most famous book to life on the screen and will, I think, give a new generation – a video generation – a chance to experience the lessons taught by Rand in “Atlas”.  And none too soon.

More to come from today.  I’m staying in Arlington and commuting so I probably won’t show up there until around 10 but won’t miss much.  Dressing for comfort today – hell, no one recognized me yesterday in a coat and tie.  As Stephan Kruiser said last night, we’re not social people and usually we do what we do in the privacy of our basements in various stages of undress.

~McQ


Quote Of The Day

One of my favorite actors, 76 year old Michael Caine, gives us the quote of the day:

“The Government has taken tax up to 50 per cent, and if it goes to 51 I will be back in America,” he said at the weekend. “We’ve got 3.5 million layabouts on benefits, and I’m 76, getting up at 6am to go to work to keep them. Let’s get everybody back to work so we can save a couple of billion and cut tax, not keep sticking it up.”

“Atlas Shrugged” becomes more and more relevant as governments take more and more of what people earn while leveraging such actions on the support of those “layabouts” Caine cites. The good news is that Caine has America to fall back on, which has relatively lower taxes. The bad new is, given the amount of debt being piled on, that is going to change.

~McQ


Atlas Appears To At Least Be Warming Up

As you might imagine, the 5% (the taxable “rich”) are trying to figure out how to become a part of the 95% (the “tax cut” rest):

President Barack Obama’s tax proposal – which promises to increasetaxes for those families with incomes of $250,000 or more — has some Americans brainstorming ways to decrease their pay, even if it’s just by a dollar.

I’m sure this comes as a horrific surprise to those who have been clapping their hands gleefully in anticipation of the “rich” finally “getting theirs”. But the “rich”, or at least some of them, may have other ideas. The following anecdote best illustrates the most important points:

Dr. Sharon Poczatek, who runs her own dental practice in Boulder, Colo., said that she too is trying to figure out ways to get out of paying the taxes proposed in Obama’s plan.

“I’ve put thought into how to get under $250,000,” said Poczatek. “It would mean working fewer days which means having fewer employees, seeing fewer patients and taking time off.”

Generally it means being less productive,” she said.

The motivation for a lot of people like me – dentists, entrepreneurs, lawyers – is that the more you work the more money you make,” said Poczatek. “But if I’m going to be working just to give it back to the government — it’s de-motivating and demoralizing.”

Like the probable results of the Obama plan so far?

Fewer employees (that’s jobs for those missing the point), less money (which means a tax cut instead of a tax increase), less production (scarcity), less in taxes for the government and thus less in revenue with which to meet its spending goals.

She is, of course, exactly right – working to make the government’s coffers fatter is both de-motivating and demoralizing.  

So assuming that the majority of that percentage of the population now under the tax hike gun is successful in lowering their earning profile  to the “tax cut” category,  what alternative does that leave for a government hungry for revenue?

It can redfine “rich”.  

The cycle repeats with the “new” rich going through the same type of cutting back – letting employees go, doing less work and leaving government with less anticipated revenue.  The engine of commerce – the engine of prosperity and jobs – goes into reverse as each new attempt to secure the funding necessary to move the dream agenda forward is scuttled by selfish Americans not willing to work just to hand over what they earn to government.

I can’t imagine why people still wonder why I want to see the Obama agenda fail?

~McQ

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