Atlas Shrugged

There was a terrific and thought-provoking piece in yesterday’s WSJ titled, ‘Atlas Shrugged’: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years by Stephen Moore.

Moore points to the parallels between the classic Ayn Rand book, “Atlas Shrugged’ — a fictional story about the economic carnage caused by big government run amok and our current economic crisis. Here’s an excerpt from the article below:

For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises — that in most cases they themselves created — by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.

Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the “Anti-Greed Act” to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel’s promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the “Equalization of Opportunity Act” to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the “Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act,” aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn’t Hank Paulson think of that?

These acts and edicts sound farcical, yes, but no more so than the actual events in Washington, circa 2008. We already have been served up the $700 billion “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act” and the “Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act.” Now that Barack Obama is in town, he will soon sign into law with great urgency the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.” This latest Hail Mary pass will increase the federal budget (which has already expanded by $1.5 trillion in eight years under George Bush) by an additional $1 trillion — in roughly his first 100 days in office.

So…

Are we, as my brother recently suggested, staring down the barrel of the inevitable decline of another great civilization (our own), no different then the Romans, the Greeks, etc. if we don’t return to our roots and the principles established by our founding fathers — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — or is this simply a blip on the screen?

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