Why We Fight, Continued
Just before the conclusion of his not-so-favorable review of Atlas Shrugged in the Wall Street Journal, P.J. O'Rourke has a nifty summation of the domestic battles of the last three years or so. I wish I had seen it on Friday; as it makes the perfect conclusion to the material I linked to from Jonah Goldberg under the headline of "Why We Fight." O'Rourke writes:
The “Atlas Shrugged” movie simply accepts these unimaginative imaginings. No attempt is made to create a “future of the past” atmosphere as in the movies about Batman (a very unRandian figure, trapped in his altruism costume drama). Nor is any attempt made to update Rand’s tale of Titans of Industry versus Gargantuas of government.
An update is needed, and not just because train buffs, New Deal economics and the miracle of the Bessemer converter are inexplicable to people under 50, not to mention boring. The anti-individualist enemies that Ayn Rand battled are still the enemy, but they’ve shifted their line of attack. Political collectivists are no longer much interested in taking things away from the wealthy and creative. Even the most left-wing politicians worship wealth creation—as the political-action-committee collection plate is passed. Partners at Goldman Sachs go forth with their billions. Steve Jobs walks on water. Jay-Z and Beyoncé are rich enough to buy God. Progressive Robin Hoods have turned their attention to robbing ordinary individuals. It’s the plain folks, not a Taggart/Rearden elite, whose prospects and opportunities are stolen by corrupt school systems, health-care rationing, public employee union extortions, carbon-emissions payola and deficit-debt burden graft. Today’s collectivists are going after malefactors of moderate means.
Hence the Tea Party, and Ayn Rand is invited. Not for nothing is Kentucky Senator Paul named Rand. The premise of “Atlas Shrugged” applies to every maker in a world of takers. What if, pace Adam Smith, the takers do indeed expect their dinner “from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker”? And what if the Safeway meat-cutter, the beer-truck driver, and the guy who owns the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise say to hell with “their regard to their own interest”? What if they go off with John Galt to a secret hidden unknown valley in the Rocky Mountains? A lot of people will be chewing air and drinking puddle water.
Which also dovetails into some of Victor Davis Hanson's writings about California's mandarin leftwing ruling elite and their magical thinking:
Our elites liked the idea of stopping new gas and oil extraction, shutting down the nuclear power industry, freezing state east-west freeways, strangling the mining and timber industries, cutting off water to agriculture in the Central Valley, diverting revenues from fixing roads and bridges to redistributive entitlements, and praising the new multicultural state that would welcome in half the nation’s 11-15 million illegal aliens. Better yet, the red-state-minded “they” (the nasty upper one-percent who stole from the rest of us due to their grasping but superfluous businesses) began to leave at the rate of 3,000 a week, ensuring the state a Senator Barbara Boxer into her nineties.
Yes, we are proud that we have changed the attitude, lifestyle, and demography of the state, made it “green,”and have the highest paid public employees and the most generous welfare system—and do not have to soil our hands with nasty things like farming, oil production, or nuclear power. And now we are broke. Our infrastructure is crumbling and an embarrassment. My environs is known as “Zimbabwe” or “Appalachia” for its new third-world look that followed from about the highest unemployment and lowest per capita income in the nation. Again, thanks to the deep South, our schools are not quite last in reading and math. So of course, like the Greeks, we are mad at somebody other than ourselves. Californians are desperate for a “them” fix. But who is them? “Them” either left, is leaving, or has been shut down.
Finally, note how magical thinking, big government corporatism and the memory hole all intersect in a post titled "Let them Buy New Cars," by Rick Richman at Commentary: "Marie Antoinette was the victim of the tea partiers of the day, who attributed to her a remark she never made. Monsieur Le Deficit, on the other hand, actually made the remark that historians will not be able to find in the Associated Press. The video is here and the screenshot is here."