Steve Hayward says that if Barack Obama’s trillion-dollar tax increase is implemented that he will go on strike in the fashion of John Galt, Ayn Rand’s famous lead in Atlas Shrugged.
…my bigger idea is to go all Randian and literally go on strike (and I’ve never really been much of a Rand fan, by the way–Whittaker Chambers had her down right). I’m going to start converting income opportunities into more leisure by deliberately reducing my income. Already between federal and state income taxes, self-employment taxes, the AMT, and phased-out dependent deductions as income rises, I’m at a marginal rate of about 50% on my last dollars earned from writing or anything else. So it will pay to keep below Obama’s high income threshold. I suspect a lot of self-employed people will make similar calculations and adjustments, and the revenue yield will be far below what Obama’s people project.
If the economic disincentives to work are pronounced enough, it’s certainly possible that others will follow in Hayward’s footsteps. Not sure what Steve means by a lot, however.
I suspect that most of the self-employed, who in many ways define ambition by their willingness to forsake the relative safety of corporate/government work, will continue to keep plugging along if only because their ventures require a certain amount of care and feeding in order to produce anything at all. But it also seems likely that small business owners will re-invest in their companies rather than pay higher marginal tax rates on money they pay themselves, thereby achieving some of the same impact as an outright strike.
As many of you know, I am a big-time admirer of Rand. However, it must be said that her work ignores some of the realities of life, the most poignant being children and the love, attention, and costs they bring with them. Pure individualists may disregard such concerns but for most of us they are the reality of why we work. That’s one reason why I don’t think that Hayward’s plan will lead to a mass Galtian movement.
The other is that, unlike the liberal fascist American government in Atlas, I seriously doubt that today’s liberals would: A) recognize that their policies are what is killing western civilization as we know it; or B) have the courage to admit it if they did realize the effect of what they are doing.
Then again, who is John Galt?