Further Insanity by way of Ayn Rand

I’ve remarked before on the teaching of Ayn Rand in, among other places, business schools, and how that can lead to dysfunctional political discourse. When I wrote that, I had no idea how extreme it would get.

“People are starting to feel like we’re living through the scenario that happened in ‘Atlas Shrugged,’” said [Rep. John] Campbell. “The achievers, the people who create all the things that benefit rest of us, are going on strike. I’m seeing, at a small level, a kind of protest from the people who create jobs, the people who create wealth, who are pulling back from their ambitions because they see how they’ll be punished for them.”

There are, of course, a wealth of misconceptions there, the leading one of which is that people are somehow ‘punished’ by taxes. This is especially ludicrous since this complaint arises from allowing the highest federal tax bracket to return to what they were under Bill Clinton, a 4% increase. This means that for every dollar in income over $250,000, an additional 4 cents in tax. Unfortunately, based on this ABC News report, those ‘going Galt’, don’t seem to understand how marginal tax systems work.

A 63-year-old attorney based in Lafayette, La., who asked not to be named, told ABCNews.com that she plans to cut back on her business to get her annual income under the quarter million mark should the Obama tax plan be passed by Congress and become law.

“We are going to try to figure out how to make our income $249,999.00,” she said.

“We have to find a way out where we can make just what we need to just under the line so we can benefit from Obama’s tax plan,” she added. “Why kill yourself working if you’re going to give it all away to people who aren’t working as hard?”

That last statement is horribly patronizing. I have the benefit of knowing incredibly hard working and devoted people who make far less than a quarter of a million dollars per year. Benefit to society or the economy cannot be measured in terms of income, otherwise teachers would make a great deal more money than they currently do. Hard work and innovation deserve reward, but they are not the exclusive province of the wealthy.

Meanwhile: Brad DeLong reminds us that John Galt is not a Christian. And OC Progressive points to an updated Atlas Shrugged for the financial crisis.


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