So, friends, it seems that more and more, you are going to hear criticism of the Obama tax plan framed around the magical thinking inherent to Ayn Rand novels. The newest fantasia is "going Galt" - in which the fabulously affluent "withdraw" from "producing" which somehow leads to the end of civilization. I shall now let the good people at the National Review's blog "Dan White's Got An Issue!" aka "The Corner" explain this:
The doctors, lawyers, engineers, executives, serious small-business owners, top salespeople, and other professionals and entrepreneurs who make this country run work considerably harder than pretty much anyone else (including most of the chattering class, and all politicians). They are not robber barons, or trust-fund babies, or plutocrats, or even celebrities. They are mostly the meritocrats who worked hard in high school and got into the better colleges and grad schools, where they studied while others partied. They pushed through grueling hours and unpleasant "up or out" policies in their twenties and thirties at top law firms, banks, hospitals, and businesses to earn salaries in the solid six figures (or low seven) today -- in their peak earning years. Their work ethic is prodigious, and...in their spare time they sit on the boards of most of the complex charities and arts institutions that provide aid and pay for culture in America. No group of people contribute more to their community. And now the president, who followed a path sort of like that, and who claims that his wife's former six-figure income was a result of precisely such qualifications and efforts, is demonizing them. More problematically, he is penalizing their success and giving them very clear incentives to ratchet back on productivity.
So, what happens when the heart surgeons, dentists, litigators, and people who employ 10 or 20 other people in their mid-size businesses decide that they don't want to pay for the excessive, pointless spending that the president finds so compelling? Instapundit speculates on people "going John Galt." I think golf -- a time-intensive sport that the hard-working have eschewed for the past decade or two because it took too long -- will make a comeback. But while we're watching, "working affluent" is a far more useful and less loaded moniker than "the rich," which has overtones of dilettantes, poodles, and yachts.
What happens? Well, since there's going to be no lessening of the aggregate demand for heart surgery, dental work and litigation, that work will go to younger and smaller producers who will have the opportunity to absorb the unserved clients kicked loose from the Galtian financial Rapture, and those new businesses will have need of the employees that once worked for those mid-sized businesses. Plus, some of those people who used to work for these John Galts will probably be shrewd enough to open businesses of their own to take advantage on the coming upticks in golfing, poodling, yachtery and dilletantism.
Also, this new weird layabout class will continue to be served by the policemen, teachers, firefighters, soldiers, and civil servants whom this tax plan targets with benefits.
Anyway, this looked like a job for the Anonymous Business Consultant, star of our ongoing series, "Ask an Anonymous Business Consultant."
HIM: Golf has been in decline among the hard working? I must have missed that. Did Tiger scare them all away from the country clubs? Did they take up squash?
ME: If "squash" is that thing with all the credit-default swaps, then yes.
HIM: I love the premise of this argument, immensely. Let's see. "Listen up, America! I will PRODUCE if you give me $350 an hour. But if it's $320 an hour, you can forget it!
ME: It's like negotiating with terrorists.
HIM: What people don't realize is that when you've been earning top dollar at a job, there comes a point where you're no longer doing it for the money. Those heart surgeons enjoy performing heart surgery.
ME: I am wondering what sort of apocalypse we're facing, when a small percentage of heart surgeons refuse to "produce."
HIM: I suppose that a younger, less experienced cohort of heart surgeons could lead to a slight uptick in the mortality rate.
ME: I'd like to test that premise, personally.
HIM: The blogger's depiction of high school meritocracy is comical. As if WHICH HIGH SCHOOL you attend has anything to do with anything. The kids at St. Albans and Landon must be the hardest-working MFs on earth!
ME: HA. Like the Kids In The Hall "Bad Doctor" sketch: "How far, I wondered, could I get by, coasting on charm?" PRETTY FAR, ACTUALLY.
HIM: Well, I've heard this "Atlas Shrugged" argument many times before, and in my experience, there have been two constants. The people who make it are first, not very bright. And second, they are not very wealthy.
ME: I have to say, if I were a blogger for the Corner, I'd encourage "going Galt" myself.
HIM: Clearly, it would be your best shot at job advancement.