Wednesday Roundup: Yeah, I Think I Know Who John Galt Is

11So if I’ve been sporadic (thank you word-a-day calendar) in my posting, it’s part summer break — the Girl’s, not mine — and part a general bewilderment that I can only appreciate when I step back from reading the daily headlines every day reading the headlines daily.

Now, I don’t much do much preaching here or elsewhere. A spell of that is I ain’t churched. The other is that even when it comes to secular preaching, I always reckoned that people who preach at others probably read their poetry aloud and spit in front of women. You know, it’s just bad form. But it’s no secret that I do like the fiction and non-fiction of one Russian lady immigrant, Alice Rosenbaum — you may know her by her pen name — who in some overly wordy novels and a long series of essays, lectures and harangues laid out the ethics I hang my hat on.

The biggest problem with her most famous novel-treatise — aside from the wordiness — is that folks say her antagonists and her general milieu are too unrealistic, and too much a caricature.

But then I read the opinions of the so-called best and brightest of the chattering class and the ruling elite and, of course, Dear Leader in the White House. Respected editorial writers who will tell you with no sense of irony that the purpose of a business is to provide jobs. Which then puts them at odds with the White House, which says government’s role is creating (or saving!) jobs. We have successful businesses pilloried for the sin of posting profits (see Exxon Mobil) and fundamentally flawed businesses being propped up and dictated to by politicians and bureaucrats who’ve never earned an honest buck in their lives. The most important thing in business these days is pull — as in how much pull do you have in Washington? Everyone has their Wesley Mouch.

We have monument builders from top to city level, justifying every People’s Project (ahem) and handout demand (see today’s South Dallas wish list in the Metro section — a mere $25 million or so) while paying lip service to private enterprise and wearing the false cape of responsibility.

The current occupant of the White House, meanwhile — a superficial, shallow, and wholly incompetent man — has a press corps following him more sycophantic than Pravda in the Stalin years. And that current occupant is jetting around and behaving exactly like you’d expect one of his parvenu class — the class of people who’ve stockpiled wealth/power not through honest labor and enterprise, but by donation and election. It’s like Mr. Obama read Atlas Shrugged and picked exactly the wrong characters to emulate.

So if Ms. Rosenbaum was right, where are the D’Anconia’s, the Wyatts, the Reardens, and the (good) Taggarts? Much less the main man himself?

Well, life is never dramatic as fiction even if it gets weirder. The fact is, I think there aren’t any single ones out there living up to the high drama of the roles. Or they’re very few. But I run in a lot of circles and have friends in high and low places. People talk to me. And the chatter I’m getting says there is a lot more to the gray market and the underground economy than the clock-punchers and the civil servants could ever imagine. (Not that most civil servants have a surplus of imagination, mind you.)

Money under the table, service for service, trade and barter, and random acts of off-the-books capitalism are being practiced far beyond the usual nanny and lawn service you’d think. I’m not just talking about the repair shop in Mesquite or the landscape service in West Dallas. I’m talking the white collar professional service with offices in Preston Center, and the guy down the street from Dubya in Preston Hollow. Not to mention all the official loophole surfing at the corporate level going on that gets more active the more rules they pass, and all the things possible with the Intertubes.

“The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” To mix fictional metaphors.

It takes smarts to operate like that. The kind of smarts that doesn’t advertise itself. I’m kinda thinking there’s not any one Hollywood perfect set location for a Galt’s Gulch, but rather people all over who are sick of incompetents looking over their shoulder and parasites picking aways at their profits, who are doing what they can in subtle ways the tax man and the regulator in the bad suit could never hope to find. These folks are all making their own little version of Galt’s Gulch in their own backyard or boardroom. It’s my observation — anecdotal though it may be — that there are more and more of them every day who’ve had enough people reaching into their pockets while preaching about good intentions and service to society.

Do I think it’s wrong? Is it wrong not to tell the mugger taking your wallet you have an extra $100 bill in your other pocket? You can make your own judgment on that.

As always, the most important thing to me is the bottom line. And the bottom line here? I know who John Galt is. Maybe he’ll reach a breaking point, and maybe not. Either way, he’s not on board with what the chattering class and the elected lampreys are pushing. He’s all around us, and he’s not interested in making three-hour pirate radio speeches, because he — and she — have a a life to live. He’s doing his own living and thanks to no man for the right. So look all you want but you’ll probably miss the forest for the overused metaphor.