Commentary by Ron Miller
I went to the Harbour 9 Theater in Annapolis yesterday with an old friend who was visiting from Phoenix, Arizona to see "Atlas Shrugged
Part 1." It was well-paced and kept my attention, and anyone who spends any time observing today's political climate will find an eerie symmetry between the fictional world created by the book's author, Ayn (sounds like "I" with an "n" at the end) Rand, and the events of the 21st century.
For those not familiar with the plot, the challenge of "Atlas Shrugged" is what would happen to society if the producers
the captains of industry, the risk takers, the innovators, the entrepreneurs - decided to "drop out" of society and create their own community, leaving the "looters"
unions, government, layabouts (my new favorite term for able-bodied, able-minded people who refuse to work) and the like
to fend for themselves. In other words, the ones who produce the wealth and the jobs in society decide to go on strike.
If you ever hear the phrase, "going Galt," it's a reference to the mysterious character in Rand's novel, John Galt, who is persuading the "producers" of society to willingly drop out of society and join his wealth-makers' paradise, leaving the rest of society to crumble. "Who is John Galt?" is the question that drives the movie's plot, and it's not clear until the end who he is.
Just so you know, I'm not an Ayn Rand disciple or devotee. I don't subscribe to her philosophy of objectivism because it leaves no room for God, altruism, or the spiritual and moral character of mankind. It reduces human beings to creatures whose happiness is determined by material goods, and for whom selfishness is the primary motivation for achievement. In that respect, she makes the same fatal error as Karl Marx, because he believed humans were driven solely by their material circumstances, and used that false premise to construct an ideology, Marxism, that was doomed from the start.
Objectivism is essentially a Darwinian philosophy in that it advocates "survival of the fittest" and has no compassion for anyone left behind, regardless of the reason.
Many conservatives will go to see it, however, because it takes aim at a collectivist government, a corrupt media, extortive unions, and individual spongers
the "takers" of society and, to them, the antagonists of today's real-life political drama.
Despite Rand's atheism, her support of abortion, and her professed disdain for conservatives and libertarians, these people will go to see the movie because 1) the enemy of my "enemy" (and I use that term loosely) is my friend, and 2) it is refreshing to watch a film where the capitalists are the "good" ( and I use that term loosely) guys.
My wife doesn't care about politics and she's not going to see the movie because she thinks it, and the novel as it's been described to her, paints the world too starkly and ignores the gray in between. She doesn't understand how anyone who disagrees with Rand concerning the existence and the sovereignty of God can embrace her work based simply on having a common enemy, and she thinks the captains of industry who care only about creating and possessing great wealth are unsympathetic characters at best.
All that said, I wondered as I left the theater, "What if 'Atlas Shrugged' in Maryland?"
What if the producers got fed up with Maryland's escalating tax rates, unbridled government spending, hostile media, insatiable unions, illegal aliens and the politicians that pander to them,
politicians that pose as conservatives but don't vote that way, and all their sycophants?
In some respects, that is beginning to happen already.
Remember the millionaires tax enacted in 2007? The idea was that people making above $500,000 needed to pay more of their "fair share" of taxes, a common refrain among today's liberals. The tax, however,
failed pretty miserably, losing $257 million in its first year. Some of it was due to the impact of the recession on everyone's bottom line, but an analysis of federal tax return data showed that Maryland lost $1 billion of its net tax base because of people moving to more hospitable climes.
As a result, Maryland has a $1 billion plus annual deficit that it's kicking down the road with smoke and mirrors, and Montgomery County, home to more millionaires than any other jurisdiction in Maryland, is bleeding red ink.
Even the producers who aren't millionaires yet are "going Galt" in their own way. They may not be forming their own colony, but the message is the same: "It's mine, I earned it, and I'm not giving it to you so you can pour it down a rathole of your choosing."
With the increased alcohol tax, people are making plans to buy alcohol elsewhere, just as many of them buy cigarettes in Delaware, to avoid the increased "sin" taxes. Others are shopping less, or shopping online, to keep the sales tax revenue out of Martin O'Malley's clutches.
Anecdotal accounts of people and businesses leaving Maryland are common on Facebook these days. One correspondent asks, "I personally know folks and businesses who are relocating. If everyone leaves MD who will be paying all these taxes?"
Good question. If Annapolis continues on its current course, we may have the opportunity to find out.
Ron Miller of Huntingtown, Maryland is a conservative writer and commentator, and author of SELLOUT: Musings From Uncle Toms Porch. He is the president of Regular Folks United, which promotes and defends individual liberty, and president of the Frederick Douglass Foundation of Maryland, the state chapter of the nations preeminent organization of Christian black Republicans. The nine-year plus veteran of the U.S. Air Force and married father of three writes columns for numerous online sites and print publications, and his own website, TeamRonMiller.com. Join him on Facebook andTwitter.