Going Galt

GOING GALT…. Remember, this isn’t some random member of the College Republicans after he’s had a few too many; this is an elected member of the United States Congress.

Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), who gives his departing interns copies of Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged,” told me today that the response to President Obama’s economic policies reminded him of what happened in the 51-year-old novel.

“People are starting to feel like we’re living through the scenario that happened in ‘Atlas Shrugged,'” said 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.”

In Rand’s novel, creative people (the “Atlases” of the title) are hounded and punished for their labor by an oppressive, socialistic state. In response, they retreat from society to a hidden enclave where they watch civilization’s slow collapse.

Right, the character John Galt, the hero of the novel, is the wealthy, white, blond-haired guy who convinces corporate leaders to give up their jobs in order to spite society. As the story goes, these captains of industry were repressed by heavy-handed government, so they walked away and, when society crumbled, taught everyone a valuable lesson about making sure wealthy, white, blond-haired guys don’t feel unduly put upon.

Some very strange conservatives, faced with the prospect of a modest increase in the marginal top rate, see us creating real-life John Galts. We’re supposed to find that terrifying, of course, since the same Wall Street titans who destroyed our economy might be tempted to leave their jobs and take up menial labor.

No, please don’t throw us in that briar patch….

Now would be a very good time to point out how truly insane all of this is. Obama is talking about a 39.6% top rate. In Reagan’s first term, it was 50%. Under Nixon, it was 70%. When FDR pulled us out of the Great Depression, it was around 80%.

And yet, there’s Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), arguing with a straight face, that “the achievers” — before any tax increase has even been voted on for the wealthy — are “going on strike”? They’re deliberately trying to screw the country because of a 39.6% top rate that hasn’t been imposed yet?

The line between Republican satire and Republican reality is blurred a little too often.