Who Has to Shrug?

Posted by TheRealBill 3 years, 6 months ago to Economics
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In the world of Atlas Shrugged, the key industries were essentially run by their respective heroes. This made it easy, of course, for Galt to know who to watch and who to hep "shrug".

As I mentioned in a recent comment, I'm sure we know enough about the looters to predict and enable them to collapse the failing system. But do we know enough about who would need to shrug? Are we "beyond" the point where a handful, or even a thousand, people are integral enough that if they shrugged it would trigger/advance the collapse?

So I'm wondering: who are some key people that might be "needed" to shrug - not from the pain too view of what the Gulch would need, but to trigger/advance the collapse of the failed system by their absence.


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  • Posted by $ blarman 3 years, 6 months ago
    You don't really have to get people to shrug. The key is that invention has to stop. And that isn't going to happen willfully in the United States because of our culture.

    Unless...

    ... invention is so tightly regulated and new companies are so expensive to start up that innovation is effectively throttled and only approved inventions make it into the marketplace. That is happening with all the red tape around new businesses: everything from licenses and permits and taxes and employment rules to Obamacare. I don't see American Producers actively shrugging. Not happening. What will happen is that government burden will be the deal-killer.
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    • Posted by jdg 3 years, 6 months ago
      You can get the same effect by having Intellectual Property rights last so long (and as veto rights, not just rights to be paid) that new inventions which would improve on the old can't get out the door. This is what's happening in software especially -- you can't be in that business without a whole pile of "defensive" (troll) patents, half of which should have expired decades ago and the other half ought never have been issued because the work they protect wasn't original.

      People won't need to "shrug" to destroy this system if only cartel members are allowed to invent, and only union members are allowed to hold jobs at pay rates an employer is willing to offer.
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    • Posted by 3 years, 6 months ago
      I've personally known some who shrug, but of course on the larger scale it had no effect, which is part of what triggered this question. The government is certainly disincentivizing innovation and at an increasing rate. But I don't think that would be enough.

      We've already hit a tipping point of sorts with productivity. We can get so much done with so little people that there is a real chance you could remove all productivity innovation and muddle on for decades before it became apparently problematic. This has in turn decreased the control in the sense of there being no Hank Rearden equivalent in any industry which could have a dramatic effect (in either direction).

      But there is an interesting development going on that isn't talked about much directly. Research on the "differences" in "millennials" versus previous generations have shown that if you compare them now to the previous generation at their respective ages, there isn't a lot of actual differences. They have just as much drive to do stuff as previous, for example. But what is different?

      1) less interest in penalizing those of different sexual orientation
      2) more acceptance of pot
      3) more distrust of government.

      It is that last one which is the silver lining and unexplored factor. In the end, the fall in AS was an expression of not trusting the government anymore. This is where understanding that plays a key role in applying it to the real world. We don't need to produce a collapse of the current american systems, but a collapse in confidence in the government. In As it happened because the government, through ever more fascist ways, claimed to be the ultimate arbiter and master of an uncontrollable system and in the end proved they could not do it - at which point the collapse of trust occurred. This is the genius of the producer strike verse labor strikes.

      If labor strikes, the reality is that (absent proscriptive laws) you can usually replace them as resume operations fairly quickly. But remove the brains behind the whole operation, which is rarely seen, and make it clearly visible they are on strike, and you plant the needed seed for the trust to go back to them when the trust collapse occurs. This is, IMO, the underlying principles behind the strike/shrug.

      With the "millennials" showing more distrust of government than any generation since we started tracking it, it raises the question of how to preserve or even nourish that mentality. Galt was not out to destroy, but to end the destruction already in progress by exposing it. The millennial generation is apparently the first one in a long time to be primed for such. The challenge, I suspect, is that absent the clear and obvious shrug/strike of major key producers (which I suspect don't exist), how can we nourish this situation?

      The absence of key leaders is that you need them to step in when the distrust reached the needed level. So it is two parts: "who would have to shrug?" is also "who would have to be prepared to step in when the public is looking for non-looters who are trustworthy?".

      I think Musk would be good in the second half of that, but lacks the first part. But maybe that is how it has to start.
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  • Posted by $ Temlakos 3 years, 6 months ago
    The key people are the hands-on managers. Hank Rearden was important because he did things, not because he played the stock market.
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    • Posted by $ Thoritsu 3 years, 6 months ago
      Indeed! The inspiration part is not so hard. The perspiration part is not either. It is setting up, maintaining, manning, managing and inspiring an efficient, constantly innovative process that is REALLY hard!
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  • Posted by gpecaut 3 years, 6 months ago
    It will happen. Atlas will shrug. However there are not just a handful of industrial leaders today. It will happen more like Cloward-Pivon planned. It will come as welfare starts paying more than working. Hard working Americans paying half or more of their incomes to support the ultimate moochers. I can see oil workers just not bothering to show to work, ghost trains and trucks. A generation of 18-30 year olds that can't even change a tire, build a simple shed, or even write a letter without a computer to do spell check. A simple section of power grid going down can already lead to major destruction via loss of so many daily nessesaties like refrigeration, C-Pap machines, computerized cash registers ( watch today's youth try and make change without the register) . It is the skilled labor that is gainfully employed that will shrug. Even before that happens, machines will have replaced the low skilled labor. Higher labor costs due to mandatory increases in minimum wage, more paid time off, higher employment taxes, ACA, rules, regulations, call them directives.
    The rich will go Galt by pulling their wealth and going somewhere more favorable, theoochers will just keep demanding more. The workers will become slaves.
    Some of the "Rich" and the Looters will remain. Mostly because those rich that make their money due to Croney Capitalism are as bad, if not the same as the moochers.
    Lastly, Socialism is for the People not the Socialists. The elite all think they should be exempt, and run the lives of the pions. They believe it will not effect them.
    The "Strike" is coming, the questionnaire is when, or can it be avoided.
    Our whole world would collapse overnight with just one solar storm, one EMP, or if China and or Russia just called their loans.
    It's not the "Shrug" Ayan envisioned, but it would be the end of American as we know it.
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    • Posted by $ Temlakos 3 years, 6 months ago
      I think you're describing the final stage of the strike. After John Galt made his speech, everyone whom Galt had not recruited, founded his own version of the Gulch, or joined one who did.
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    • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 3 years, 6 months ago
      And in the end nothing will have changed. I'll give you the question. Ask any surviving WWII veteran. "Why after going to all that trouble do defeat the worst socialism has to offer did you return to the USA and vote the same system into existence?

      I woudn't dally there are not many left.
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  • Posted by $ Olduglycarl 3 years, 6 months ago
    Believe it or not...Silicon Valley. From what I hear from those that have visited and asked...these people get it.
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    • Posted by 3 years, 6 months ago
      In some ways SV is starting to shrug, though it is in the form of moving to other enclaves which provide similar advantages without the State of California, and increasingly the locals, getting all up in their grill. I've seen some pretty strong entitlement whines (colloquially called "open letters") aimed at the tech industry there, and it is starting to have an effect. An effect I'm sure they will not enjoy, and blame the tech companies when it happens.
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  • Posted by Lysander 3 years, 6 months ago
    Well, without the intellectual class demeaning the current brainwashing, nothing will happen without violence. Medical, industrial and engineers should strike first, then I quite frankly don't know. I think there must be just free thinkers saying "screw it!" And at some critical mass, ka-boom!
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    • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 3 years, 6 months ago
      Ever write a book? Know the difference between ballots and bullets? OPM versus OPB. Violence in this case is NOT the only option. Come on. think about it. We're in the middle of a counter revolution and it's last half of the ninth. Who do you turn to for a four point home run?

      Clue There are seven thousand of them that do exactly that for a living. Revolutions and Counter Revolutions are their bread and butter.
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  • Posted by ewv 3 years, 6 months ago
    Needed for what? Ayn Rand did not advocate a strike to reform the country. She emphatically explained that the only solution is to spread the right ideas of reason and individualism. The plot in Atlas Shrugged was intended to illustrate how a culture and an economy depend on the best minds, not to advocate a strike.
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    • Posted by 3 years, 6 months ago
      It isn't merely a matter of advocating or intentionally causing a strike, it is also one reflective of a natural progression. We have seen it happen in recent years and there was no organized strike. We call that place "Detroit". The names are different, but Detroit has been and is living the final chapters of AS today. It hasn't fully collapsed, but if you really dig into what happened in Detroit it really is a case of "Atlas Shrugged, now Non-Fiction". The culture shift to a letter based economy? Check. The producers/rich checking to? Check. The utter lack of understanding economics, people, and what happened? Check. The plunge of economy into shambles? Check.

      What is primarily different can be boiled down to two things:
      The destructive culture is still there
      Nobody has stepped in to fix it (primarily because of the previous item)

      BY knowing who/what would be required to trigger a situation you also learn how to avoid it, or how to correct. For example, consider the aforementioned Detroit problem. That is an existing situation. How to correct? Obviously with the primary producers of the area having already shrugged it is more difficult, but the exercise would still be useful because it has neither recovered nor completed self-destruction. Whether you want to help/let it finish the cycle or pull it out of the nosedive you have to know what the key components and players would be.
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      • Posted by ewv 10 months ago
        Ayn Rand wrote about people naturally dropping out of their careers or cutting back in her article "Is Atlas Shrugging". That natural progression is not a "strike", does not have an intent "to collapse the failing system", and does not require "do we know enough about who would need to shrug".
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      • Posted by term2 3 years, 6 months ago
        I think shrugging happens slowly and quietly on its own. I used to manufacture medical devices. It just became too onerous to deal with the FDA regulations that came in 1976. By 1999 it just made no sense to deal with the regulations and I just liquidated and got out. Now I make off road lights with no regulation (as of now)

        Look st Venezuela to see how shrugging occurs. Airlines, bleach mfr Chlorox, polar (beer mfr), and many others just stopped production. That's how it will go here
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  • Posted by Herb7734 3 years, 6 months ago
    I doubt if a strike of the creators would have a positive effect. In this era, it would be an incentive for the moochers and looters to fill the gap and then take over. Dark Ages, here we come!
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    • Posted by 3 years, 6 months ago
      That sounds like exactly what happened in AS. It is a deviously clever strategy more colloquially known as "given them the rope to hang themselves". I think in today's world it wouldn't necessarily be enough (see Detroit) - we may also need 'the shining city on the (Martian?) hill" to show people a life w/o the looters in control.
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      • Posted by Herb7734 3 years, 6 months ago
        I'm afraid that we are on the downward slope of the bell curve.A part of me wants to see the shining city, but the rest of me knows that there's not a chance. If there is a turnaround to become that society that never was, it will take a long arduous road, all uphill.
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    • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 3 years, 6 months ago
      I always thought the ending was the reader saying let's go write our own ending. Instead we get Starship Troopers movie mentality instead of those who read the book.

      People deserve what they ask for. I expect more and do not settle for less.

      But then I already know where the true Gulch is and the rest of you, for the most part are still searching.
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  • Posted by Abaco 3 years, 6 months ago
    I recently realized that those who make a ton of money often tend to turn hard left. Gates is one, Soros, etc. Take that for what you will.

    I think the bigger issue is when/if the educated, hard-working middle-class will shrug. It's happening already, I think.
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    • Posted by 3 years, 6 months ago
      I've noticed that trend as well and I think there are several factors which push in that direction. A common condition for the left turn is that they stop being producers. Whatever their internal drive to produce is, it became satiated and they switch away. But underlying that drive is a deeper drive that, lacking its primary implementation, looks for another way to fulfill itself. Maybe they tire of the effort staying on top requires, at which point intellectualism (where ideas aren't challenged in terms of validation by real world, but by other intellectuals) becomes more appealing.

      Couple that with a history of society accepting/demanding that philanthropy "excuses" the massive production one created and the turn in that direction is all but assured. When you look at what the looters did when they came into power (think Standard Oil, Carnegie, at al) the biggest effect was to create this notion that the producers are the looters. So with the absence of validation that production provides, and the craving for significance still present, they turn toward "altruism" in the form of philanthropy and espousing the idea that others should follow their lead.

      At that point they are stuck. It is easy to "become a philanthropist" - they'll let anyone with money to give in the club. But to stop doing so is the "height of selfishness". Few among the intelligentsia are as reviled as those who turn away fro bit having been in. So the uber-rich stay there. A parallel is seen in the religious industry. You can "become" a christian and then not be one. But you can't really escape islam except through death and death threats. Islam treats never-beens better than once-was.

      You can also see it in other settings such as dietary. Vegans (generally) trash anyone who isn't vegan, but they save their most vitriolic hatred for those who once were and have since stopped - and the more high profile the escapee was, the worse they attack them. Can you imagine how the looter left would descend on Soros if he stopped given monetarily supported their cause and went into an actual production oriented business - especially if it wasn't in their list of approved causes? Just for a fun mental exercise, imagine Soros funding fracking. The left would shat themselves and throw it at him day and night.

      This is part of why I think it a smart strategy to not have your "charitable contributions" public knowledge. It isn't so much a matter of not bragging about it, but insulating yourself against the public demand that you never stop or change it.
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      • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 3 years, 6 months ago
        Gates did so well at it he's now worth about 80 billion. When everyone else saw the value of their dollar sliced and diced he simply double the amount of his dollars. Ended up with a true zero sum gain and is laughing all the way to the bank.

        At my end of the economic scale it' s much the same. We just went where the value is more than double and made a profit. Capitalism at it's finest.
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    • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 3 years, 6 months ago
      It's camouflage. Gates well remembers when his own political party went after him tooth, nail and attorneys - back when he used to be their number one contributor. Now he just states an accurate description of reality. Most people deserve socialism and welcome to it.
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  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 3 years, 6 months ago
    Bill Gates, George Soros, Elon Musk, Tim Cook... We excoriate them as evil but we excuse Hank Rearden for employing Wesley Mouch as his lobbyist.

    T. J. Rodgers, Mark Cuban ...

    Largest US Energy Producers
    http://www.statista.com/statistics/23...

    Largest US software firms
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...

    But my intuition is that the leaders in those businesses read Atlas Shrugged long ago. They "got" it, but chose to make it part of their personal philosophies, rather than a dogma to be obeyed.

    The other side of the gold coin is the dream of Gulchers that the whole rotten system come crashing down so that they can shoot their way to a gold-based economy. In in her book, Enemies of the Future, Reason editor Virginia Postrel included them in with leftists and religionists who want the same thing.
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    • Posted by $ CBJ 3 years, 6 months ago
      If George Soros ever read Atlas Shrugged, I doubt that he made it part of his personal philosophy.
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      • Posted by lrshultis 3 years, 6 months ago
        Since I first read Atlas Shrugged in 1965, I have found that there are those who understand it in opposite ways. I found that I liked the hero types and their capitalist business orientation and disliked those other who were to different extents were evil bad guys . But there are many who understand and see it oppositely with the hero types, to them, being the bad guys trying to live off the others who seem like the good guys to them. Soros would possibly see the book as affirming his view of capitalism being evil and that it was too bad that the business types might have won in the end.
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    • Posted by 3 years, 6 months ago
      I don't see much really changing if Musk or Gates disappeared tomorrow. Gates is out being altruistic rather than producing and Musk isn't a big enough player.

      Make no mistake I think what musk is doing is fabulous and all, but it is still small potatoes. That and at least for his car he made available for free use the patents involved. He has already handed over the key "secrets" to the Tesla.

      Cuban isn't really a key economic player either. Sure he owns some stuff and is a "shark" but lacks significant clout in the national scale.

      I think you are on the right track with energy companies, but here we aren't talking about their actual control and influence but their market cap. Combine that with them already being in bed with the moochers and not being led by a single visionary and I don't see the potential for a shrug making any impact there.

      In AS copper production was essentially owned by one man. Steel was effectively owned by one man. Oil production was essentially owned by one man. Rail transport was effectively owned by one woman. Gates doesn't own Microsoft. He doesn't even run it anymore. Musk owns SpaceX but the vast majority would never know if left - if they even knew it exists at all. If Tesla Motors died (which it nearly did) it would be chalked up to another failed car company startup.

      In AS those who shrugged and dismantled what they left behind were dismantling their own property. You couldn't say the same for a CEO of a power company or software company today.

      If anything I'd say AS was indeed taken to heart and showed the "weakness" of any takeover was, as it always has been, in the fundamental right to property and individual ownership.

      Thus I wonder if the "shrug" is even possible from that aspect. It seems to me a more realistic possibility might be to simply start fresh somewhere else, leaving the new old world behind much as America left Europe behind.
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      • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 3 years, 6 months ago
        Rearden and Mouch was a learning process. But he learned and changed. Who else do we know that fits that description. Well Trump WAS a Democrat and learned something from it and then became a Republican and LEARNED something from it. I know it's not the lesson many would wish had been taught but tough *said the kitty...etc.

        Lesson is there's a reason why the puiblic despoisonizes politicians and insiders. And they deserve it.

        Slippin' and a slidin' ha ha ha

        Average 8/26 - 9/11 -- -- 41.9 39.9 9.0 2.9 Clinton +2.0
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    • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 3 years, 6 months ago
      What they did was embrace subjectivism and in the end did exactly nothing. No shooting, no system crashing just willing participants and their couch potato dreams.
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