Going John Galt
Many of us are numb today. Numb with the implications of what happened last night. Numb with dread.
Endless days and countless lines of print will be expended in the post mortem of the election, from a conservative perspective. Romney's failures and shortcomings will be examined with electron microscopes. Why didn't he do this? Shouldn't he have done that? "For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these..."
But these things don't really amount to much. Because the real reason for our election results were neatly summarized by Bill O'Reilly at about 7:00 last night, as the faint shape of events to come began to emerge.
"The people want stuff -- they like politicians to tell them they can have stuff."
And that about sizes it up. The majority of the electorate, even many who voted for Romney, will base their vote on protecting or acquiring "stuff" -- goods or perquisites to which they feel entitled by virtue of rights or precedent. The feckless "Obamaphone" enthusiasts and the otherwise responsible, kindly grandmother make common cause in "revenge" voting when they sense or are told their stuff is threatened.
That's why politicians rarely stray from veiled inferences or broad outlines, and why any hint of specificity can expect to be the target of fearmongering. The modern social contract is one of positive rather than negative rights, about actively offering stuff rather than creating the conditions (by suppression of external threats) under which stuff can be obtained.
The deals that have already been made regarding "stuff" are being fulfilled with fictional money, based on a global confidence game in which countries supply fake money to each other in a circular dance that dares not reach a finale, yet is beginning to do so at the frayed edges of the breakdown of traditional Western morals -- Greece, Spain, France.
Ultimately, however, all accounts must be squared. But "responsible" politicians in every country imply that this can be done by expropriation of the excess, unnecessary capital of the wealthy -- the fair share we hear so much about.
The engine of real "stuff generation" is responsible entrepreneurs who depend on stable rules and access to capital. If they are good, they now know for certain that they will be squarely in the sights of the social engineers. Moreover, they know that the capital that they rely on will be rapidly redirected to government entitlements, or to larger players who can participate in government "protection" and stock markets that resemble crack addicts, dependent on ever more "Quantitative Easing" to keep the high going.
These entrepreneurial innovators are terrified and infuriated by the looming crises that our modern social contract has engendered. Necessarily prudent, they will now operate in "fight or flight" mode. Many will attempt to fight their way through by consciously limiting growth (and thus government scrutiny), keeping their employed population a small as reasonably possible. Others have and more will merely exit the field. Others will stay, with regret, in more secure positions rather than enter a rigged game. They will manifest the numbness that grips many a normally stout-heart today.
The result will resemble that depicted in Atlas Shrugged, as entrepreneurs cease to grace us with their presence and best efforts.
Ayn Rand misunderstood many things -- the role of Christianity in providing the unprecedented ethical underpinnings upon which market interactions ultimately depend, for one -- but she absolutely understood that you can cause the "motor of the world" to stop. Expect to see the sad employment results as thousands of current and potential entrepreneurs "go John Galt" as the effects of our "generational election" play out.