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Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Who is John Galt?

By Mike Gorbell
Exclusive to California Chronicle

Who is John Galt? The hero of Ayn Rand’s fictional magnum opus might just become the worst nightmare of Barack Obama, John Reid, Nancy Pelosi and their secular progressive fellow travelers. Unless, of course, the Hollywood establishment succeeds in their considerable effort to keep viewers from going to see Atlas Shrugged, Part I, currently in limited release throughout the United States. After keeping Shrugged out of production for more than 40 years, Tinsel Town’s critical campaign to dissuade viewers from seeing the film at their local theaters got underway even as the movie began production. It continued into this opening weekend, where the elite critics panned a movie that cost $10 million to make and grossed $1.7 million on its first weekend even though, as a limited release, it was only being shown in some 300 theaters nationwide. The major complaint by those who have been steadily slamming it for four months is, ironically, that Rand’s novel of Objectivism should’ve cost more to make.
 
This time, though, Hollywood’s resistance at every turn to the team of independent filmmakers at Strike Productions didn’t stop at least the first part of Atlas Shrugged from making it to a handful of theater screens last weekend. If the reaction of viewers in Santa Barbara, coincidentally the heart of secular progressivism on the Central Coast, is any indication, Strike Productions may well get financing for Shrugged parts II and III in short order. And that, as anyone who suffered through analyzing the original, published version of Atlas Shrugged  in Philosophy 101 can attest, may well be a problem for those who believe that the nation’s creators of jobs should be taxed more heavily so that those who choose not to work can be “fairly” compensated for their lack of industry.
 
Exposition of the currently popular buzzword “fair” as a code word for wealth redistribution from the able to the supposedly needy is a key theme of the movie, as it is in the book. As politicians in Shrugged’s fictional American society of the not so distant future seek to make civilization more and more “fair,” increasing amounts of income are accordingly and arbitrarily seized from those who work and create jobs and given to those who don’t in return for the reliable vote of the latter. The economy becomes increasingly untenable as those in the former group tire of working for nothing and drop out of society. Sound familiar?
 
I won’t spoil the movie as I encourage you to see it for yourself, but I will let you in on a little secret of my own. If I chose to misuse the skills that I acquired as an intelligence officer, I could live a relatively comfortable life producing nothing and essentially being a drag on our economy and its capitalist system. But I don’t make that choice.
 
Rather, I choose to engage in a business where my labor produces income and creates jobs. And I choose a business that helps and encourages other producers in our society and our economy to passionately pursue their goals and dreams for the benefit of themselves and their families, creating yet more jobs. All of those who are working in these businesses pay taxes, thus lessening the tax burden on all of us.
 
I thought that this was what America was all about. But ever since Barack Obama lectured Joe the Plumber on how Joe’s sense of charity wasn’t to be trusted, how seizing enough of Joe’s earnings so that Joe couldn’t start his own business and hire employees, then redistributing Joe’s earnings to the people, both here and abroad, that the government felt in “fairness” needed the fruits of Joe’s labor more than Joe and his family, I’m not quite so sure. The economic and fiscal performance of the first two years of the Obama administration and Democratic majorities in the Senate and (until recently) the House haven’t made me any more sanguine that my government knows how to spend my money more efficiently and effectively that I do.
 
Atlas Shrugged, Part I lays all of this out compellingly on the big screen. For some, the message will be, “I told you so.” For others, Shrugged may well be a wakeup call. For those who look forward to that day when American society has fewer taxpayers than tax takers, though, it may just be the beginning of a 19 month nightmare.

Mike Gorbell is a retired Senior Intelligence Service officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. He is currently a financial advisor and business affairs consultant on California’s Central Coast.
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