For the past two weeks, with a big hat tip to Dr. Helen Smith who diagnosed the phenomenon last fall, we’ve had a fascinating and spirited discussion here about the “Going Galt” movement that’s catching on nationwide.
There’s now even a Twitter hashtag for the phenomenon: #goinggalt.
My email box (especially after publication of my recent syndicated column on the subject) continues to fill up with letters from readers choosing in large and small ways to go Galt.
Reader Ron Ruffer of Pa. e-mails:
Dear Ms. Malkin,
First I would like to say that I very much enjoy your commentary column and typically support your point of view. In your column noted above, I can appreciate and certainly do believe that Enough is Enough.
Self-employed for the last 15 years, I have been one of those persons who, throughout my life, I have always – ALWAYS – worked. From age 14, I have always had a job and have always put forth my best efforts to earn money and support myself. I worked through college, worked while I earned my M.S. in Marketing, and worked very long hours and weekends while pursuing my career. My wife and I always paid off our debts – our college loans (early), our credit cards (RARELY having an unpaid balance, and if so usually through a late payment due to issues of the timing of the receipt of the bill), our car loans and our home loans. We started our life together in a rented apartment, then moved to a duplex (which we bought based on my income, not our combined incomes) when our realtor and many of our friends tried to encourage us to move into a bigger, more expensive single home. We bought what we KNEW we could afford comfortably, not what others thought we should have or could afford.
We saved, and we saved. I took a risk and started my own business when my wife was pregnant with our 3rd child. No one was there to catch me should my efforts have failed. No one was going to pay off my mortgage, no one was there to pick up the tab for our health care. Even my boss at the time thought I was making a foolish move. My feeling was that if I did fall – I would simply pick myself up again and move forward. I would rely upon myself, not others.
I did all of these things while others – who were without my education, income or savings levels – were out spending..spending on big homes, lavish vacations, and high end automobiles. Spending money they did not have. Spending away their future. Spending away MY future.
As my income increased, I paid my ever-increasing tax bills. I paid for my company, and I paid for myself. In reality, I was double taxed – taxed on company income, taxed on private income. I paid regardless. I was and am never late. I knew I would most likely never, ever see anything close to a payback on my tax payments. The money went to pay for a bloated, increasingly non-representative government that was run in the interest of the political party in power, not the individuals they were elected to represent.
As you have so noted, there are many within our economy that can be considered “Wealth Producers” (though I disagree with your notion of a lawyer being a “Wealth Producer” as most (but not all) are a drain on our society and on our ability to conduct business – note as well that most of our representatives in Federal and State legislatures are attorneys). These are people who, like myself and my wife, have worked, taken risks, and contributed far beyond the average person. They are people who have acted responsibly and throughout their lives borne the brunt of the taxes and responsibilities of our society. They are the very backbone of our society – and they are under-appreciated and under-represented in our Democratic society.
It is now fashionable and politically expedient to extend blame for the current financial crisis on greedy businesses and predatory lenders. The reality is that individuals and poorly managed businesses were responsible for the bulk of the problems. Government also played a role – and it was both parties – that encouraged and supported unsound business practices. Now the Government “must” step in to “save” these poor people from losing their homes, and “save” these “too big to fail” financial institutions. What about those of us, and those businesses, that chose to act responsibly? Who chose to live within their means? Who chose sound financial decisions over high risk behavior?
Enough is Enough. Let them all fail. It is not too late. I don’t care about the homeowner that borrowed more than they could afford and now find themselves potentially without a home and bankrupt. I don’t care about the businesses that overlooked sound financial decisions in the name of short term profits. We all make choices in life and it is time to let those that made the bad choices live with their decisions and finally reward those that chose to act responsibly. It has come down to this – either we let those that made the bad decisions fail, or we end up sacrificing our nation, our national identity and our very way of life.
The current administration of course feels that more and bigger government is the way to resolve this “crisis”. This follows on the heels of a Republican administration that was one of the worst disasters this country has ever experienced in political, social, and economic terms. Spend, spend, spend – soon to be followed by tax, tax tax. Fewer producers supporting more and more non-producers. Government, as in “Atlas Shrugged”, seems to feel that it is the solution to the problem, not part of the problem. Government seems to think it is a producer..an employer..a creator of wealth. We have a crisis alright – a crisis in leadership, and a crisis in Government. It’s time someone in Government started thinking of ways to “save” the Wealth Producers, because my next step is move to a pond which is not infested with so many leeches.
Long live John Galt.
Blogger Ken Pritchett also weighs in:
If the Left is fighting us, we must be doing something correctly. My wife and I have cut back massively, and are living primarily on her small salary. My Custom A/V business is being scaled back and reworked to survive on under $800,000 in sales per year. Because of this, unfortunately, we are unable to hire the two or three people we originally required within the next twelve months. Those who have small businesses know the absurd levels of taxation we face, from federal, state, and local governments.
Blogger Ross Kaminsky shares his take:
It’s great to see discussions on the web of people “going Galt.” If enough productive members of society decide that it’s simply not worth the risk and effort to strive for the next dollar, it is not primarily they who will suffer economically. It is those who believe in redistribution, who believe that Obama would and should make “government” pay her rent (and we thought she was insane when she said that – turns out she was psychic.) Those so interested in being recipients of government redistribution of wealth, the “looters” and the “moochers” as Ayn Rand calls them in Atlas Shrugged, just let them try to redistribute income from people who simply quit working because we’re not willing to be looted and mooched from. Yes, we are living Atlas Shrugged, and we might as well not quit halfway through the story.
I’ve done this once already…I moved out of the US for nearly 2 years after Bill Clinton raised tax rates, and moved back just in time for the capital gains tax cut. Let me be clear: I gave up two years of at least $200,000 (but probably a fair bit more) per year, just so I didn’t have to pay taxes to Bill Clinton’s government. My money is where my mouth is in a way that few people can claim. And Clinton was a piker and a conservative in comparison to Obama.
So, in case I haven’t been clear enough: As long as we’re already going to have a fairly bad recession, I’m saying let it be worse and longer. Let more people be persistently unemployed, let the economy drag along the sludge-laden bottom of the progressive sewer, let businesses close down or move overseas, let tens or hundreds of thousands of capable people publicly declare how excessive taxation and regulation is causing them to work less, take less risk, and employ fewer Americans, and finally let people recognize that capitalists are not a “necessary evil” but rather that they are a necessary good.
Most people don’t learn truly important lessons unless they are taught in an expensive or painful way. A once-and-for-all repudiation of Keynsianism is a lesson that is too important not to be learned in such a way.
This sentiment is not going away.
Video from the Fullerton CA Tax Revolt: