Right now I’m about 100 pages from finishing Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I’m at the section where (spoiler…spoiler) John Galt commandeers a radio station that the entire country is listening and speaks for 70 pages(!!). (This is the only portion of the book that I have found becoming a little repetitive and monotonous…) While Ayn Rand’s philosophy is contained throughout the whole novel, it is here that she lays out her entire philosophy in one long diatribe through the mouth of John Galt.
I’ve also been highlighting interesting quotes throughout the book as I’ve been working my way through it on my Nook. My goal is to write a future blog post in which I list all these quotations and then discuss them in context. More on that later…
Two recent financial news stories draw so much of a parallel to Atlas Shrugged that I had to bring up the comparison here. It is absolutely scary how similar the world that Ayn Rand envisions is becoming like our own. Everyone in Congress and the government, but especially Obama and the democrats, should be required to read Atlas Shrugged.
Financial story #1: A few months ago in Cyprus it was announced that 47.5% of savings held in Cypriot banks above USD$132,000 would be
lost taken in order for the country to receive a eurozone rescue package. And, to stop the expected run on banks, restrictions on withdrawals and transfers were imposed.
Financial story #2: Recently it was announced that the government of Poland
would transfer to the state – i.e., confiscate – the bulk of assets owned by the country’s private pension funds (many of them owned by such foreign firms as PIMCO parent Allianz, AXA, Generali, ING and Aviva), without offering any compensation. In effect, the state just nationalized roughly half of the private sector pension fund assets, although it had a more politically correct name for it: pension overhaul.
The Polish finance minister stated that this change would reduce the public debt by 8% of GDP. Poland has restrictions on issuing more debt if the public debt percent of GDP goes past 50% and 55%. By stealing this money Poland can borrow more debt until it once again reaches its threshold.
And then guess what the government can do once again? It can simply confiscate from the private sector once more until there is nothing more left to take.
How long before the US begins a similar path? How long before the government will decide that private citizens who have sacrificed their entire working lives to save for retirement now have more than they need to retire? Why should John retire with $2 million in the bank when Paul down the street has saved little and is reliant on government handouts? Wouldn’t it be for the common good of the United States to distribute retirement money fairly? John surely doesn’t need all of that money to be comfortable.
How long before the US government decides to tax money held in a Roth IRA or 401k? Would anyone that mattered really be that upset? After all, over half the country isn’t paying federal income taxes yet still votes. Couldn’t these citizens simply vote for “equitable” distribution of that wealth?
These questions are exactly what is addressed and happens in Atlas Shrugged. I just hope that we can ward off this same story from playing out in the United States as it has started to throughout Europe.