Saturday, 7 July 2012

And then Atlas Shrugged

Randites often talk about the book Atlas Shrugged being their rude awakening into the realities of free market economics. Randites often cite this influence to explain why neo-liberal policies are better for everyone and that the policies of the 30s until the 60s were horribly horrible misguided. The government is a powerful form of oppression they scream... it robs from the productive and gives to the unproductive. Those unproductive scum they mumble... those who seek free healthcare, welfare cheques and the Wal-Mart jobs. They are the problem they cry... they are the massive parasites that are destroying our economy.

If they want to make more money, they should go become productive. Anybody can be a businessman they say. Just take your idea, go to the bank, get funding and set up a shop. With hard work the world will fall to your feet. You too can be rich... if you just work hard like the next guy. Wealth is a direct correlation to work they claim. The harder you work... the more you get paid. Tell that to the janitor at Wal-mart or the Cashier at the grocery store.

If you can't make it in the world of business then you must join the working class. Funny word, the working class... it implies that there is a non-working class. They point your attention to those on welfare, those who collect food stamps and those who can't get a job. They tell you that they are the parasites on society... they take your money (And their money, that's the important part) and then blow it on things such as food, shelter and clothes. Look at the unproductive they scream... such useless things they buy. When asked what they'd do with the money, they answer that they'd create jobs. That a rising tide floats all boats and that the wealth would trickle down from the top.

When asked how the water would trickle down they assure you through a massive pipe system. I asked the architect about this distribution system... he assured me such a top-heavy structure would work fine. He said it's practically gravity that the bottom would reap the benefits of the top. It's also practically gravity that, in time, the top would fall and crush the bottom. But that's just details he said, the free market would work that out. He called it economics. I looked at him, a bit puzzled, but would not challenge his credentials. I could not challenge his credentials.

The water distribution system was built and it failed at doing it's job. When it didn't do it's job, we were informed that we just needed more of them. Sure, I said. I was a water system builder and whatever my boss told me I should get about doing. If I didn't, he told me that he'd just hire another water system builder. In time he said he figured out a way to offshore the water system process to a place where they manufactured fine plates and cutlery... China I think was the name.

He told me that the system had too high resistance in the pipes...we needed better materials... something that had a smaller coefficient of kinetic friction. He wanted it frictionless he said... the less friction the freer the water can flow. I nodded. He nodded back. We all nodded together until no one knew what were nodding about. We built the system. Resistance was still too high... must need a new material.

In 2007 the water tower collapsed. When asked why the water tower collapsed, we said it was the rent seekers that had caused it collapse. I couldn't understand why the rent seekers were mucking with the tower... it barely gave them enough water to drink... far from the amount of water required to live. I didn't argue, I might lose my job.

It is now present day. More and more people don't understand why we build water towers upside down and more and more people are starting to ask questions. They go onto websites and talk to others about these water towers. They talk about things called the free markets and how they don't seem to work. They hear that free markets don't really exist, that they've never existed and that the water towers were designed from the start to collapse. They are shocked... they are disgusted... they forget about it and go watch Survivor.

But more and more people are not forgetting about it. They heard about how a cartel of water towers managed to divert their channels such that the water always went to the top. A rising tide floats all boats... too bad the tide has been diverted. It now goes to propping up more and more water towers.

You can't ignore reality. The gravity of personal freedom always wins out in the long run. The day is coming when the builders revolt against the owners. The day is coming when the water towers come crumbling down. The builders are waiting... they are forming mobs. A giant is waking up. It is time for Atlas to shrug. But those who worship Atlas and the free market...they have made a grave mistake. They are not Atlas, they are both dangling on his back.

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