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Abolish the income tax: the Atlas Shrugged Alternative

January 14th, 2009

This article in the WSJ raises a provocative question: if government policies brought us the current crisis, shouldn’t we abolish government rather than double down with a gianormous stimulus package?

So, this part is quite interesting:

In the book, these relentless wealth redistributionists and their programs are disparaged as “the looters and their laws.” 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)…

but then it starts stretching a little bit:

…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?

And now the article plunges off the deep end and the analogy seems to be only relevant at the highest level of government bashing:

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.

Well, I think that Ayn Rand is a dystopic future that is not inevitable. And I hope–and believe–that despite some similarities between the current crisis and the book’s premise, that Obama is both not doomed and in fact unlikely to make the same mistakes that animate that famous book.

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