How to Stop the Motor of the World Without Chaos

Sometimes I feel at one with John Galt, even if it isn’t on purpose. The hero of Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, stopped the motor of the world by convincing the men and women of the mind to go on strike, thus rendering society dysfunctional and rebuilding it from the ashes. Although going on strike sounds somewhat impractical, and unproductive, you can always turn off the rest of the world by continuing to go your own way, regardless of where oppressive elements seem to be leading you.

There’s not much to do when the world wants to go in another direction, it seems. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, you might think. However, you don’t have to join ‘em and can still beat ‘em by pretending they don’t exist, or not think of them, as another Rand character would say.

DollarsToward the end of the 1990s, Nobel-prize winning economist Milton Friedman commented on how the apparent collapse of socialism with the fall of the Soviet Union and liberation of Eastern Europe would seemingly convince people that socialism is a failure only remedied by free market ideas. Yet, despite the obvious, governments around the world and in the United States continued to get bigger. Friedman pointed out that there’s a great lag between the obvious conclusions of people in general and intellectuals.

The average guy and gal might know that collectivist, big government measures stifle productivity, leading to slow or no economic growth, high unemployment and general malaise in a society. It takes a longer time for the smart bigwigs in universities, media and government to figure that out. This has been true through modern times as thought patterns of the masses go through phases, Friedman noted.

Great Britain developed tremendously from the Industrial Revolution and became the world’s leader in trade in the 19th Century. Unfortunately, its greatness was overshadowed by the defects in society. Because people in general were better off, they had more time to focus on the poor who were suffering. Even though free market ideas would be the best way to improve the conditions of the lower classes, a new mindset developed among the intellectuals, thanks to Marx and other comedians. So the thought patterns changed once again with shifts that occurred over the decades.

The Great Depression convinced many people wrongly that capitalism was the cause, giving the intellectuals more ammunition to create more government programs, which only extended a recession into a decade-long depression. Sound familiar? By the 1970s, skyrocketing inflation highlighted the failures of collectivist and socialist solutions. So the U.S. and Britain shifted to a free market phase, only too briefly. The later collapse of the Soviet Union would seem to have put the final nail in the coffin for socialism.

Yet, today, we have a bigger, fatter, disgusting government that steals more of our money while continuing to snoop into our private lives with the never-ending claim of security. Friedman might be right that we have to wait a long time for the intellectual pinheads to understand there is no difference between free minds and free markets. In the meantime, we just have to ignore them and their continued efforts to take away the fruits of our labor. Not easy. It takes a lot more work and some maneuvering around the latest government regulations. That means coming up with creative ways to save and invest. The great thing, though; as long as you feel free, you don’t have to care about being a slave to a dinosaur mentality. You don’t have to stop the motor of the world to go on strike.

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