The Growing Class Disparity In The US: Who Is John Galt?
Who is John Galt? This is a question that many people will perhaps not understand. For those that do understand, some may not want to hear, nor answer. But the fact remains that the climate today in the United States is beginning to resemble that in Ayn Rands Novel, Atlas Shrugged.
Here is a quick answer to that question. In the novel, John Galt is a man who attempts to “stop the motor of the world” by organizing a strike amongst the worlds greatest creative leaders. Galt’s main point is that what he sees as the purest of evil, collectivism and ideas of collective sin and guilt should be replaced with the respect for individual rights and rational selfishness.
The title of the book, Atlas Shrugged, is a reference to what would happen if the wealthiest people removed themselves and their wealth from general society because they were tired of being blamed and ridiculed for their success. If Atlas, the mythical man holding the world upon his shoulders, were to shrug, he would essentially be allowing the earth to plummet and collapse.
You may now ask yourself why I claimed the current climate in the U.S resembles that in the book. Well let me begin by first mentioning that the Congressional Budget Office reported that the highest-earning 20% of taxpayers paid 94% of the total Federal income taxes in 2009. This number has been steadily increasing for many years, with no sign of changing.
The Federal Income Tax brackets for 2012 are as stated:
Tax Bracket Married Filing Jointly Single
10% Bracket $0 – $17,400 $0-$8,700
15% Bracket $17,400 – $70,700 $8,700 – $35,350
25% Bracket $70,700 – $142,700 $35,350 – $85,650
28% Bracket $142,700 – $217,450 $85,650 – $178,650
33% Bracket $217,450 – $388,350 $178,650 – $388,350
35% Bracket Over $388,350 Over $388,350
Once you view this chart, it becomes apparent as to why those with the highest earnings, pay such a large portion. It also helps to understand that those who make more money are more likely to actually pay Federal income taxes, as they are more likely to be found out by the IRS if they didn’t. Those with lower incomes are more capable of flying under the IRS radar. Makes sense though, whom would you go after first if you worked for the IRS? The man making $400,000 a year, meaning he owes $140,000 in taxes, or the man making $9,000 a year, meaning he owes $900.
Now the concern with everything is that the wealth distribution in America is believed to be unfair, or uneven. The whole “We are the 99%” is fueled by that belief. Now I will agree it is uneven, certainly. But the thought that it is “unfair”? I’m not entirely sure I can subscribe to that belief. Many people will agree, the wealthy and poor alike, that the wealth gap is too wide and the middle class is diminishing. But who could be blamed for that?
Certainly you cannot blame the entrepreneur who risks his savings to make a dream a reality. You shouldn’t blame the inventor who focuses all his time and energy on a single idea. No blame can be put on them especially when both of these individuals meant no harm to be done to anyone, by any means. When in fact, the entrepreneur provides both a service to customers and employment for others, while the scientist creates medicine, or a device that helps to make life easier and better for many. Why are their successes “unfair”?
The successful are often demonized as being both greedy and evil, stepping over countless people to get to where they are. However, though that may be the case some of the time, it is certainly not the rule to which success is achieved. One of the reasons for the growing wealth disparity in the U.S is that technological developments strongly favor highly skilled workers.
Those that have been educated in a realm that employers will find useful, are more capable of finding higher paying jobs. This becomes especially apparent when you consider the fact that we all now compete in the global market. So in this sense, when hundreds of millions of low-skilled workers enter the work force, there should be no surprise that they are unable to find worthwhile jobs. As what can you offer if you have no formal education, training, or skills?
At what point during all of this do you cry that things are unfair? That you deserve better even though it’s not owed, while in the same breath complaining that those who have worked hard, deserve less. To me, this seems a bit perplexing. It even begins to rise to the level of an annoyance because people are quick to blame others for their own problems.
So what needs to be discussed, rather than how to knock the rich down a notch, is how to educate enough people, with the skills and knowledge needed to help them compete in the global marketplace. How do we show that the rewards can be had, if only the work is put forth towards achieving it?
I will agree that there are those who have hurt countless people with their greediness, and that fortunes have been made off the sweat and blood of others. But again, that is the exception not the rule. If you want to make true change in the world and in the US economy, lets not knock people down to our level, but raise ourselves up to theirs.
In Atlas Shrugged, when the main character Dagny Taggart is asked, “Who is John Galt?” Her answer becomes “A name I’m tired of hearing.” This is because the name as well as the man becomes the catalyst that drives the story forward. A protagonist to those that have, and an antagonist to those that have not. It’s a name she is tired of hearing, because the answer does not change anything once found out. It’s simply a question as to who takes responsibility for their condition, and who hands off that responsibility to others.
The author of this article was Damien S. Wilhelmi, a Content creating machine and SEO liberty loving know-it-all. You can follow me on twitter @JakabokBotch to realize you really don’t know Jack! I am writing on behalf Premier Trade Solutions who specialize in purchase order financing.