Wayne Root: ‘Atlas Shrugged: Is American Business Going on Strike?’

Wayne Root’s latest commentary published at Townhall.

The U.S. economy is crumbling. Businesses are collapsing in record numbers. The real unemployment rate approaches 15% (or higher). 45 million Americans are on food stamps. Over 10.8 million Americans are on the Disability rolls. Tax revenues are down dramatically. All this while Obama has added thousands of new IRS agents, added over 60,000 new mandates, rules and regulations, turned the National Labor Relations Board over to radical union hacks, passed rules to satisfy radical extremist environmentalists, and chooses to target, demonize, and punish the wealthy. Coincidence? Or are these tragic situations related?

See published commentary here.

36 thoughts on “Wayne Root: ‘Atlas Shrugged: Is American Business Going on Strike?’

  1. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Businesses are collapsing in record numbers.

    Is this true?

    Does anyone have any citations or stats?

  2. wolfefan

    I’d also like to see a cite for the “thousands of agents hired” line. And not something that refers to that “16,500 agents to enforce the health care law” thing. The GOP backed off that one a long time ago. Also not some blog post – a real, verifiable cite. Thanks in advance!

  3. Robert Capozzi

    No doubt it’s been tougher and tougher to do business for decades now. It appears, though, that the migration is more of a work-around than an actual “strike.”

    When Tim Cook chucks it for a job as a short-order cook, that would be a strike! 😉

  4. Thomas L. Knapp

    RTAA@1,

    “Businesses are collapsing in record numbers.

    “Is this true?”

    I guess it depends on what you mean by “businesses” and “collapsing.”

    For example, if you mean “publicly traded companies” and “filing for bankruptcy,” that number peaked in 2008 and has fallen each year since (it fell 17% in 2011).

    Small business is harder to evaluate. According to Dun and Bradstreet, small business failures increased by 40% from 2007 to 2010, but it’s not clear what they mean by “failure.”

    There’s probably some statistical noise there from the increasing ease with which business are STARTED (that number has continuously grown through the recession, and there are more operating small businesses today than there were then).

    The Internet keeps making it easier and easier to start a “small business,” so at least some of those “failures” could be the guy who spends $500 setting up a web site, makes no money, writes it as a loss on his taxes, and shuts down.

    Or, for example, my wife technically ran a “small business” in that she did some consulting on the side in her industry and reported that income as business income on her taxes. It was a few hundred dollars a year — stuff where her employer didn’t want to mess with something, but someone associated with her employer wanted that thing done (e.g. setting up “continuing education credit” agendas for conferences), so she was allowed to do it on the side.

    She changed jobs last year, and is now no longer the “go to person” for that stuff. Next year she’ll have none of that income to report. Is she a “small business failure” statistic?

    Where in, say, 1990 you probably didn’t call yourself a “small business” unless you at least set up as an S-Corp or registered with your Secretary of State as a dba/fictitious name, opened a separate bank account, etc. Those kinds of “small businesses” have always had a high failure rate too, of course, but I suspect a lot of additional businesses “fail” these days that would never have been known to exist back then.

  5. wolfefan

    Hi Wayne @5 –

    Thanks for your citation – I appreciate knowing where statistics come from. The article you cited doesn’t exactly support what the excerpted part of your column says, though. I haven’t read the whole column yet, so you may have qualified your statement elsewhere.

    What the excerpt quotes you as saying is that Obama “has added thousands of new IRS agents.” What the article you linked to says is that Obama’s proposed 2012 budget *would have* added around 5,000 new employees (not all agents) if adopted without change. As you know, Obama’s budget was not adopted without change, so it’s doubtful that the projection for 2012 is accurate.

    I did a little research, and found that the IRS workforce in fiscal years 2009 – 2011 got (slightly) smaller under Obama, and is significantly smaller than it was in 1994. Total employees for the close of FY 1994 – 109,505; FY 2009 – 93,337, FY 2010 – 94,346, FY2011 – 91,380. Total number of special agents (the armed ones that Ron Paul used that 16,000 number about) for the same periods – 3,199, 2,739, 2,751, 2,730. Total number of revenue agents for the same periods – 15,409, 14,264, 14,588, 13,761.

    http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/article/0,,id=207735,00.html

    Thanks again; as I said, I appreciate the citation.

    Best regards –

  6. wolfefan

    It looks like the two commas kept the hyperlink from working properly – if you cut and paste into your browser you should get the page I got my figures from.

  7. Thomas L. Knapp

    DWP@8,

    Well, obviously Obama hasn’t helped.

    And if past history is any indication, Romney (if a miracle happens and he wins) will be less fiscally conservative than Bush, who was less fiscally conservative than Clinton, who was less fiscally conservative than Bush, who was less fiscally conservative than Reagan, who was less fiscally conservative than Carter … I don’t think anyone, with the possibility of Mao, was less fiscally conservative than Nixon …

  8. paulie

    I know many people that started businesses, or tried to, and got crushed by red tape. I’m not sure that’s a case of Atlas shrugging, but I can see looking at it that way.

  9. FLAMETHROWING LIBERTARIAN !

    @9 and every single one is a vermin leech living on the private sector. Private Taxpayers foot the bill for all the fleas and ticks getting money whether WELFARE/WARFARE [non-producers or statist SWINE]. ALL are parasites who need to be fumigated and eliminated from the rolls !

    Get a REAL JOB get a PRIVATE SECTOR JOB you statist SWINE !!

    This is an election cycle, time for each self-professing libertarian to start BOMBING the Obama administations vast failures in all libertarian areas. Everywhere and anywhere you can BLAST the Obama and Co. failures we suffer under. It’s now or never. Stop pulling punches !!!

    Q: What is a Libertarian?

    A: Let’s start with Webster’s definition:

    Libertarian: A person who upholds the principles of individual
    liberty especially of thought and action. Capitalized: a member of
    a political party advocating libertarian principles.

    Libertarians believe in, and pursue, personal freedom while
    maintaining personal responsibility. The Libertarian Party itself
    serves a much larger pro-liberty community with the specific mission
    of electing Libertarians to public office.

    Libertarians strongly oppose any government interfering in their
    personal, family and business decisions. Essentially, we believe
    all Americans should be free to live their lives and pursue their
    interests as they see fit as long as they do no harm to another.

    In a nutshell, we are advocates for a smaller government, lower
    taxes and more freedom.

  10. FLAMETHROWING LIBERTARIAN !

    Kay says-
    Romney is NOT the one to bring us out of the economic crisis. Under his governorship, MA was in the bottom three of the nation for job creation, only above post-Katrina Louisiana and Michigan.

    His MA Govt. Mandated Healthcare program has almost bankrupted the state. He will say and act in any way that will get him elected but he is totally inept behind his facade.

    If America doesn’t wise up about Romney, we are lost as a nation. Everyone needs to read this book (CAN MITT ROMNEY SERVE TWO MASTERS?) to see just what kind of further MESS we will be under a Romney Presidency.

    Under Romney, Massachusetts was in the bottom three of the nation for job creation, only above post-Katrina Louisiana and Michigan

    January 5, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Every Cent You Make (I’ll be taxing you) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRRsfCD1Bh0&feature=endscreen&NR=1

    Anti-Obama 2012 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=kO6CL6eWhZk

    Screw Obammy and the Jackass he rode in on !!! [Use condoms as advised elsewhere.] Send him back to the hood in South Chicagy !
    PLEASE !!!

    Throw the bums out, Vote Libertarian !!!!!

    Keep Your Flamethrowers Dry !!!!!!!

    Got Jobs? Johnson, Romney, Obama – http://garyjohnsongrassrootsblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/charles-lupton-created-nice-job-growth.html

  11. Tom Blanton

    As my blue collar butcher father once told me, “I’d love to hate rich people, but no poor person has ever given me a job.”

    I get so tired of hearing that tired bromide from right-wingers. Any poor person can give themselves a job by starting a business of their own with nothing more than a credit card. If the business prospers, they may even be able to hire others without ever being rich.

    Root is pro-business, but he’s not pro-market. He often seems to be saying that the rich should be rewarded additionally simply for being rich as if being rich wasn’t enough.

    Root seems to believe that arbitrage should be rewarded at higher levels than actually producing something and he seems to have no problem with gaining wealth through political means instead of economic means – as long as the recipient is wealthy.

    When the rich decide they are paying too much in taxes and suffering too much from government regulation, maybe they will quit funding Republicans and Democrats. It isn’t the poor that donate literally billions to the mainstream parties every election cycle and it isn’t the establishment elite aren’t poor people.

    While Atlas is shrugging, many people are dropping out of the American fascist business model and going System D – black market/gray market. Their numbers don’t show up because they don’t want to be counted by the government or the Chamber of Commerce. They are too busy being the freed market to bother with lobbying the oligarchs for tax breaks and special privileges that reduce competition.

    Meanwhile, the friggin’ Republicans and their Democrat buddies cling to economic fascism. And Root clings to the fiction that Obama is a Marxist and is somehow different than the Republicans he hopes we will all vote for in November to prevent the evil Obama from imposing Sharia Communism.

  12. Root Sucks

    Root doesn’t seem to have a lot of support here at IPR. Is his position going to be reconsidered at the upcoming LP convention? Anyone have a sense of his prospects for involvement within the party going forward? Does he have the support within the party apparatus to continue occupying an official party office?

    Just some questions from a casual observer. Thanks.

  13. Thomas L. Knapp

    RS@17,

    My guess is that if Wayne wants to remain an at-large member of the Libertarian National Committee, he’ll do so. It’s a “top five approval voting” position, and love him or hate him, he has significant support in the LP.

    He’s probably even less beatable in 2012 than in 2010, as he and his supporters have spent the last two years functionally transforming the LNCC (Libertarian National Campaign Committee, formerly “Congressional” rather than “Campaign”) into his own all-purpose personal campaign committee, with considerable assets (including the LNC’s own mailing list, likely access to updates to that list even if the LNC disowns LNCC, and at the moment carte blanche to raid LPHQ for anything they want and aren’t getting).

    I once knew someone who died of brain cancer. If it had been caught earlier it could have been treated, but by the time it was diagnosed the tumor had basically interwoven itself with the parts of the brain responsible for breathing, etc., such that cutting it out would have killed her anyway.

  14. Jill Pyeatt

    TK @ 19, RS @ 17: I think we’re kind of over Root here at IPR. Even though he continues to do outrageous things,

    those who participate on this site tend to either love or hate him (as TK says), and I guess we finally got tired of talking about him.

    I’m not sure that he’ll be more popular in 2012 than he was in 2010, however. Yes, he’s had two years to build alliances, but he’s also had two years of bad behavior and bad judgment calls on his part. We know him better now which, for many of us, isn’t a great thing for Wayne.

  15. Robert Capozzi

    19 tk, yes, I fear the NAP may be in the LP like your friend’s brain cancer.

  16. johncjackson

    Yes, and businesses will be around for quite awhile as long as there is stuff to be sold and money to be made- which there is, unless they operate out of spite or need political scapegoats.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think the U.S govt ( and govt in general) makes conducting honest business somewhat difficult and inconvenient, but the whole idea that Obama is responsible for all these bad changes and people can’t hire anyone because of him and all this bs is, well… bs.

    Plus, anyone who really wants to do business will do business and anyone who wants to live free does so.

  17. Thomas L. Knapp

    paulie@22,

    “I think the LP will be around for quite a while”

    There’s a difference between being around, and being alive.

    Just to pull an example out of a hat, the Prohibition Party is still around, but it is for all intents and purposes, dead — it almost certainly missed, and will almost certainly never regain, the opportunity to plausibly implement its stated purpose.

    The LP’s case is different than the Prohibition Party’s in several respects, of course, but not necessarily for the better. To the best of my knowledge, the Prohibition Party never forgot its purpose, where the LP seems to be in mid-stage Alzheimer’s on that front.

  18. Matt Cholko

    “anyone who wants to live free does so.”

    “So why are we here?”

    We are here because living “free” ( I think he means more like, “people who really want to do something can just do it”) right now comes at considerable risk of loss of freedom, if that makes sense. We’re here because we are working to remove that risk.

  19. paulie

    So why are we here?

    Personally, I blame my parents.

    living “free” ( I think he means more like, “people who really want to do something can just do it”) right now comes at considerable risk of loss of freedom,

    That’s not living free.

    TLK,

    I’m not as pessimistic about the LP’s loss of direction, either. It may just be a phase.

  20. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    The LP will be around well into the foreseeable future because, for better or worse, it is a social club/fraternal organization to a large extent.

    I’ve seen many second generation, and even a few third generation, libertarians come to party meetings.

    The LP provides many people with community (friends) and/or identity (a purpose).

    This is true for many third parties and political movements, but especially so for ideologies that attract many atheists. The party becomes a kind of surrogate church for many people.

    Thus there will always be an LP core that shows up, regardless of the LP’s ability to win elections or its internal strife.

  21. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    @ 30, maybe. But I don’t see what the LP can do that it hasn’t already tried.

    The LP has run both Purist and Republican Lite candidates, and neither have made much headway.

    It’s tried to get the word “libertarian” parroted by the media, and there it’s succeeded, but to no discernable effect. Many right-wing talk show hosts (e.g. Hannity, O’Reilly) now say “I’m really a libertarian.” — but that’s not resulted in any vote gains, only in spreading the notion that “libertarian” is a kind of conservatism.

    The word and the party are better known today than they were 30 years ago, yet Ed Clark’s election remains the high water mark, which the LP has never since come close to equaling, never mind building upon.

    I don’t see that the LP can do anything it hasn’t already tired, many times before. I predict that in 40 years the LP will remain more or less exactly where it is now.

  22. paulie

    There are many, many things that have not been tried, and others that have been tried, were working, but were not sustained.

  23. Robert Capozzi

    31 teeth (Sipos?), P is certainly correct that no approach has been sustained. It’s also the case that a truly moderate L approach has also not been tried. GJ could be the first such experiment.

    More importantly, I don’t see the point of your prediction. OK, the status quo is maintained for 4 decades…and?

    While I personally am disappointed that L-ism and the LP have not only not gained traction in terms of outcomes, liberty is in retreat. OTOH, it’s no surprise that the ideas of liberty are slowly filtering into the thought stream. Changing those ideas takes time in being consequential.

    Perhaps a paradigm shift will come when it does. The ideas need to ripen; the evidence needs to be marshalled.

    For some Ls, the axioms and syllogisms seem to “prove” the liberty (anarchy, really) is “moral.” Since that is so, anyone who doesn’t buy the construct is “evil.” This line of thought is generally unattractive in its sanctimony, so we shouldn’t be surprised that liberty lags its potential in the marketplace of ideas.

  24. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    It’s also the case that a truly moderate L approach has also not been tried. GJ could be the first such experiment.

    Sounds like you’re focusing exclusively on the presidency. Although even there, I don’t see that Johnson is any more moderate than was Barr. Barr leans more conservative, Johnson more liberal, but both are moderate by Purist standards.

    However, the success or failure of the LP’s strategies cannot solely be measured by its presidential runs.

    There’ve been so many Libertarian candidates over the past 40 years, in so many states, in so many elections, under such diverse conditions — I’m sure that any number of “truly moderate” Libertarians (and Purists) have run for governor, senator, Congress, Assembly, or whatnot, only to be defeated.

  25. Thomas L. Knapp

    @28-33,

    “Membership” numbers are not necessarily the best way to measure an organization’s success.

    Neither are presidential election results when the entire data set is constrained in the below-one-percent range.

    But since the LP itself seems predisposed to use those metrics, they probably have at least some value.

    If we look at membership numbers, they are essentially the same now as they were in 1992, accounting for population growth.

    While the growth spurt from ~11k to ~30k between 1994 and 2000 is interesting, it’s probably not significant given lack of retention and lack of ability to continue the growth once a very small subset of highly-LP-predisposed people had been hit with the appeal.

    Setting aside the early growth phase (1972 and 1976) and the two extreme outliers (Clark’s angel-funded $3.5 million campaign in 1980, and Bergland’s post-intra-party-civil-war campaign in 1984), the LP’s presidential candidates have performed in the 0.3% to 0.5% range.

    No real membership growth in 20 years.

    No real presidential vote total growth in 24 years.

    Can anyone offer a different metric that DOES show the LP moving in the direction of implementing its purposes since, say, 1980?

  26. Robert Capozzi

    34 teeth, I see GJ as being reflexively, instinctively L. I see BB as being a conservative who was undoing his conservative instincts.

    Position-wise, not a huge difference, but it’s clear to me that GJ is comfortable holding the liberty banner on social issues. That he does so without his neck-veins bulging is to his credit.

    Yes, it is factual that Ls of all stripes and all levels almost always are defeated. This is non-controversial. It is also non-controversial that the degree of difficultly is enormously high, given the inertia of the 2 party system and legal impediments.

    The experiment has always been long term. Unfortunately, IMO, the initial premises were based on sub-optimal premises, e.g., the Leninist strategy.

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