“What is new, surprising, alarming, and often overlooked in the labor force today is the exodus of workers in their prime – and all the growth opportunities they’ve taken with them.” (Jim Tankersley, “WonkFeud Part 2: The Labor Force Participation Debate Gets Real,” The Washington Post’s WonkBlog, 4/30/13)
Atlas Shrugged (published October 10, 1957), Ayn Rand’s fourth and last novel, is set in a dystopian United States where many of society’s most productive citizens refuse to be exploited by increasing taxation and government regulations, and disappear, shutting down their vital industries. Significant in this “alternative future” America is that the bicameral Congress has been replaced by a “National Legislature” and the President with a “Head of State.” The novel explores the consequences when all the creative minds and business leaders of the world go on strike, refusing to allow their inventions, art, business leadership, scientific research, or new ideas to be taken from them by the government or by the rest of the world.
A key premise of Rand’s novel is an America where energy is almost prohibitively expensive and where the national debt is cripplingly high, which means that these numbers should be really disturbing:
- The U. S. National Debt on January 20, 2009 (Obama’s inauguration) was $10.6 Trillion; as of May 24, 2013 (last Friday) it’s now $16.8 Trillion. That’s about a 58% increase (and currently 106.8% of the US GDP). If nothing changes, then in 2017 (after Obama leaves office) the national debt will be $22.9 trillion (135.88% of US GDP).
- The nationwide average price of gas on January 20, 2009, was $1.84/gallon; as of May 24, 2013, it’s now $3.63/gallon. That’s about a 98% increase. (I don’t even want to think about what a gallon of gas is going to cost in 3-1/2 years if nothing changes.)
According to Chris Farrell at Bloomberg Businessweek (“Why Not Target a 3% Unemployment Rate?“), a normal and healthy U. S. economy should have an unemployment rate between 3% and 4%, with up to 5% being considered “tolerable” (understanding 1.5% is considered “full employment”). But, at least as early as February of 2011, we’ve been told to prepare for a “new normal” unemployment rate of 6.7% . . . or higher. If Mr. Tankersley’s observation is correct in that workers in their productive prime – generally considered to be between the ages of 25 and 54 – have simply refused to participate in the American labor force, then even that “new normal” may quickly become ambitiously low.
Recall that I said last week that the “middle class” is a spontaneous creation of any truly free society, and that without it, there is no way for a person to transition from a society’s peasantry to it’s aristocracy of his own volition. I also mentioned that the socialist-progressives who want this country dead, buried, and converted into a totalitarian state ruled by oligarchic elites are also hell-bent on liquidating the American Middle Class as an integral part of their strategy. What I didn’t mention is that there’s another option: that of “going Galt” (a productive member of society who voluntarily decides to reduce his or her productivity in order to thwart the efforts of unproductive people – the moochers and the looters – to sponge off the fruits of his or her labor).
Think that through for a minute. We’re already familiar with accounts of wealthy Americans parking huge amounts of their financial capital offshore (totaling in the trillions, nationally) in order to shield themselves against confiscatory tax rates. That money, if it were repatriated, would theoretically provide an incalculable boost to the American economy in the form of venture capital needed to bankroll business ventures and various innovations. But the problem with repatriation is that, under the current Internal Revenue Code, the Internal Revenue Service is going to take at least 35% of that money, through various capital and personal income taxes, the second it comes ashore.
Chief among the unalienable rights protected in America’s Charters of Freedom are, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Founding Fathers deliberately intended that “pursuit of happiness” implies private property rights; the right, and responsibility, to own one’s failures and successes, to enjoy as one sees fit the profits of one’s industriousness and innovation. This is a core concept of the American Dream.
But somewhere along the way something has been perverted. Now we live in a society indoctrinated into the concept that the government owns everything, even the fruits of our labor, and they decide what of our profitability we’re allowed to keep as our own, if any at all. We have a tax code that soaks us progressively based upon our productivity; the more productive we are, the more the government leeches the benefits of our productivity. The Occupy Movement railed against and demonized private capital (the “one percent”), yet could be plainly seen in pictures using technology that wouldn’t have been possible without the very entrepreneurs and corporations that they professed to hate. The President himself said “… you didn’t build that …”
If I were one of these “prime movers” of the American economy, and if that’s the way that both my government and my customers are going to treat me, then why wouldn’t I want to take my capital (both financial and intellectual) and just walk away from the marketplace? If it doesn’t benefit me to apply myself and be profitable, then why bother anymore? Especially so if I have the financial resources to just go completely off the grid, as far as the government is concerned, for the rest of my life.
And if the president and his political allies (and business cronies) are still so deluded as to honestly believe that what they’re doing is popular with the people, then they ought to look at some of these poll numbers:
- 77 percent: Say they will either be worse off under ObamaCare or the law won’t make a difference. (NBC/WSJ 6/6)
- 68 percent: Are very dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country. (Q Poll 5/30)
- 56 percent: Want to go back to the pre-ObamaCare system (55% of independents) (FOX 5/23)
- 55 percent: Say that each scandal raises doubts about the “overall honesty and integrity of the Obama administration.” (WaPo 6/5)
- 55 percent: Polled said they would be helped “little” or “not at all” by ObamaCare (AAF 5/17)
- 55 percent: Polled held negative views of ObamaCare (AAF 5/17)
- 55 percent: Americans that believe the Obama Administration is trying to cover up the facts about Benghazi (ABC News/WaPo 5/21)
- 54 percent: of the public oppose ObamaCare – highest number recorded by CNN/ORC since 11/11 (CNN/ORC 5/27)
- 53 percent: Of independents don’t believe the administration when it comes to the scandals. (Bloomberg 6/5)
- 53 percent: Say they will be worse off under ObamaCare (51% of independents) think they will be worse off. (FOX 5/23)
- 49 percent: Say ObamaCare is a ‘bad idea.’ Highest number recorded on this question since 2009. (NBC/WSJ 6/6)
- 49 percent: Say Obama is “able to get things done.” Down from 57% in January. (PEW 5/8)
- 49 percent: Obama’s approval rating. Down 3 points since May 1. (Q Poll 5/30)
- 47 percent: Say Obama isn’t being truthful about the IRS scandal. (Bloomberg 6/5)
- 45 percent: Of young adults would no longer keep health insurance if premium costs increase 30% (AAF 5/17)
- 38 percent: Believe that ObamaCare will leave Americans & their families worse-off. Highest percentage of respondents to express negative outlook since 2010. (NBC 6/6)
So it’s not really any large wonder that those who’ve achieved the happiness that they’ve pursued, who’ve benefitted from their own calculated risks, have been, for decades, taking their financial capital and its associated assets out of the economy . . . on purpose . . . because they’re tired of people who haven’t earned it (the moochers and looters) stealing the fruits of success through the gunpoint of government wealth redistribution, including making a profit off productive efforts without the producers’ permission. Nor should we be surprised that some are just walking away from the “rat race” entirely, taking not only their financial capital, but also their cognitive capital (and the associated assets), completely out of the market place.
In the final analysis, what are we looking at here? We’re looking at a government that is out of control, at what is probably the quite natural endgame of socialist-progressivism, at the designed liquidation of the middle class. And so, for their own preservation, many of the entrepreneurial class will just pull all of their resources out of society, go to whatever the equivalent is of “Galt’s Gulch,” and just hang out until society collapses under its own weight, knowing that they’ll be the ones who’ll have the means to come back and rebuild the country that our Founding Fathers intended.
The necessary course correction to prevent our self-destruction as a nation is as obvious as our own history, to those who read it rightly from honest sources.
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From the “flying pigs” desk: A little over a week ago, the Illinois State Legislature passed an expanded concealed carry bill . . . and defeated a same-sex marriage bill. That’s not a typo. Illinois, Barack Obama’s home state, infamous for being reliably deep blue, surprised the hell out of both the conventional wisdom and the safe money schools of thought. Specifically regarding the same-sex marriage bill, it was, in a nutshell, defeated in Illinois because of the incredible pressure on Black legislators from Black ministers and the African-American church community. This was in spite of tremendous – unrelenting, really – pressure on these legislators from Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, and Barrack Obama himself (who personally reached out to key legislators)! I have also been told our resolutions affirming our party’s commitment to traditional marriage and our 2012 platform influenced the outcome. Key lessons to be learned from this:
- The people, given an actual choice, prefer our platform . . .
ethnic minorities included.
- The Republican Party can win minority communities, provided
we stick to our platform
- You have to honestly hold the moral high ground before
you can accomplish anything else
The Status Quo Economy Is Unacceptable
According to Friday’s jobs report, 175,000 jobs were created in May, but the unemployment rate increased to 7.6%. 21.8 million Americans are struggling for work. In 2009, President Obama promised the unemployment rate would be at 5% by now. The really bad news is that this “recovery” does an injustice to the word “anemic,” because a normal recovery would have added $1.4 trillion to the GDP by now. Yes, it’s good that a few lucky Americans have found work, but the economy is stuck and not creating jobs even close to fast enough. President Obama is overseeing an economy that is not bringing relief to the middle class. Campaign speeches on the economy won’t cut it. It’s beyond time that he work with Republicans, who have been offering pro-growth policies for well over two years now.
Read more at: “Status Quo Economy”
Americans Are Still Waiting For Answers On IRS’s Targeting
When will Americans get answers? Who ordered the targeting? Why weren’t liberal groups included? Were individual taxpayers audited because they contributed to conservative groups? Did the IRS take their cues from the top of the administration – after years of hearing Obama and his allies malign conservative groups? Can we really trust the IRS to implement ObamaCare? The Obama administration continues to avoid answering the tough questions on the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups. At a hearing this week, the National Organization for Marriage explained that the IRS has failed to take action after the organization’s donor list was given to their political opponents.
Read more at: “When Do Americans Get Answers?”
Has Obama Lost Control Of His Government?
At a time when government should be cutting waste and abuse, many departments and agencies have shown no respect for taxpayer money. Moreover, scandal after scandal reveals the government is out of control. There’s zero accountability, and taxpayers are paying dearly for it. Worse, the administration’s only response is to investigate itself for its own wrongdoings. Last week, Inspectors General reports revealed numerous instances of government waste:
- The IRS spent $50 million on employee conferences between 2010 and 2012. They included luxurious accommodations and frivolous spending on dance videos, Gilligan’s Island-themed training videos, and “happiness experts.”
- EPA Director Lisa Jackson used a pseudonymous email account (“Richard Windsor”), and her pseudonym was given employee awards. EPA employees built hideaways in a warehouse filled with expensive, unused equipment.
- Despite its own rules limiting what it can charge news organizations for fulfillment of FOIA requests, the Labor Department tried to charge the AP over $1.03 Million to fill a FOIA request.
- In a recent transparency dodge, the Department of Veterans Affairs cited the sequester for its failure to respond to FOIA requests, even though the department is exempt from the sequester.
In Obama’s “most transparent” administration, dodging FOIA requests is par for the course, and fulfilling FOIA requests is clearly not a priority for Obama officials.
NSA Monitoring Has Obama On Defense
Last week, we learned that the NSA has been collecting data on millions of Americans’ phone calls, including all current Verizon customers. Further reports show the NSA has been data-mining major websites and personal emails with a program code-named “PRISM.” This brings a fresh wave of criticism and attacks on a weak administration, already struggling to defend itself against the numerous scandals showing government over-reach and incompetence. Even Obama’s traditional allies are outraged, as the NSA’s monitoring of personal information has even the staunchest liberals up in arms. Obama is losing support-and fast. As a Senator and presidential candidate, Obama promised not to engage in these sorts of actions; he’s clearly broken that promise. He once attacked the Bush administration for “[putting] forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide.” So, this is blatant hypocrisy on his part.
Read more at: “NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily” and “Facebook and Google insist they did not know of Prism surveillance program” and “No Comment Necessary: Obama on Surveillance in 2007”
We’ll Get More Of the Same With Susan Rice As National Security Adviser
This week, President Obama promoted embattled UN Ambassador Susan Rice to be National Security Adviser, despite the lingering questions about her role in the administration’s post-Benghazi storytelling. The promotion of Susan Rice tells us everything we need to know about this administration: no transparency, no accountability. Is she really the best person for the job? After all, she’s the one who went on all the Sunday shows after the terrorist attack in Benghazi and willingly misled the American people about the facts. Also, with the appointment of Rice, Obama adds yet another senior-level official with questionable foreign investments. We can’t expect administration’s culture of obfuscation to change if the people who enable it don’t change.
Read more at: “The Big Fail: Obama’s Not-So-Advisable Appointment”
Behind the scenes, a familiar operation to sell ObamaCare
On Friday, President Obama tried to tout some “good news” about ObamaCare in California. The truth is, California will see higher premiums (as much as a 146% increase) under ObamaCare and the state’s exchange, Covered California, will hide its spending and decision making from taxpayers and the media. A majority of Americans still oppose ObamaCare. Healthcare costs are rising, and Millennials will see higher premiums. HHS Secretary Sebelius has been shaking down private companies to spend money to support its implementation. California’s new government health exchange will be shielded from public accountability. The discredited IRS will enforce it. There’s nothing “affordable” about the “Affordable Care Act,” and it’s creating more opportunities for government waste and abuse.
Powerful Senate deal-maker being deliberately snubbed by Obama
As the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has primary jurisdiction over two of the president’s highest domestic priorities: gun violence and immigration reform legislation. But Grassley has received scant personal attention from Obama’s latest “charm offensive.” In 2009, Obama basically had Grassley on speed dial, calling him frequently during negotiations over an overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system. The relationship unraveled after a meeting at the White House in August 2009, the time that the third-longest-serving Republican senator told the president he could not support his healthcare reforms
Read more at: “Grassley: Obama hasn’t called me in four years”
Nicaragua gives Chinese firm contract to build alternative to Panama Canal
Nicaragua has reportedly awarded a Chinese company a contract with a 100-year lease to build and operate a canal linking the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans across the Central American nation, with a capacity that dwarfs that of the Panama Canal. The proposed 178-mile canal, which will have double the capacity of the Panama Canal (even after the current expansion project is complete), will have “profound geopolitical ramifications” in that it will cement Communist China as a major player in Western Hemisphere economic matters and significantly undermine America’s strategic dominance in the region.
Read more at: “China Firm Gets Concession for Massive Nicaragua Canal“