Sunday, April 12, 2009

Going Galt

Madness is something that is rare in invididuals - but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche
This entry has nothing to do with Afghanistan.

With all the bad news about the economy it's been a nice time to be out of the country. But now that I have internet access and the slight market recovery has buoyed my investment accounts a bit, I'm starting to read more and more about the state of the country. Reading through a few different blogs I came across the "going Galt" concept. "Going Galt" referring to the protagonist in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged who decided that rather than work and have the government tax away all of his earnings, he'd just shut down. This article sums it all up pretty well.

I've read a lot of books in my life, but Rand's epic has not been one of them. I had no idea until now what it was actually about. Somewhere along the line I had heard it characterized as being extremely long and boring, and that's been my enduring impression of the book.

Anyway, this "going Galt" concept is how I can now explain my behavior over the past 15 years to my parents. In that time, I've spent years earning degrees I did not use, traveled extensively purely for the hell of it, and spent lots of time deployed to tax-free zones in support of (in the parlance of our celebrity in office) "overseas contingency operations". See, I was ahead of my time, I did all of this as a way to keep the government from taking any of my money. I've got principles...

Actually, I just did all that stuff because it was what I felt like doing and because it made sense to me at that time. What all those experiences add up to I'm still not sure yet, but it's been fun. At any rate, as a libertarian I'd love to see the "going Galt" thing catch on - in its essentials, the concept is about incentives and behavior, and I'm a firm believer in "incentivizing" behavior we want to encourage. Since people are likely to do what's best for them we may as well see to it that those self-interested acts add up to something good for all of us - the unselfish act in self-interest if you will. The way I figure it, the sooner the country reaches bottom (by this I mean a bankrupted and weakened country brought on by rampant socialism) the sooner we can rebuild it in the image of its former self.

Maybe I'll give Rand's book a look when I get home for leave next month.

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