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"Going Galt" is a right-wing fantasy that if you impose any kind of regulation on the rich they will simply give up making money and go live in a hole eating dirt. It completely ignores the fact that most rich people are rich because they like running businesses, engaging in deals, and generally making money. The name derives from the writings of Ayn Rand, an imaginative but eccentric Russian-American novelist and darling of basement-dwelling libertarians.
It became a catchphrase for right-wing bloggers to describe a fantasy response to changes in American tax policy proposed by former President Barack Obama. The idea is that having to pay 4.9% more in taxes on income above $250,000 per year constitutes such an intolerable burden that affected people should deliberately cut back on their business to lower their income to $249,999 per year (which is truly indicative of how little they understand the American tax bracket system), or flee the U.S. altogether.
It is largely promoted by idiots who can't do math, and by scaremongers trying to take advantage of idiots who can't do math (or can't be bothered to).
Who is John Galt?
As the name implies, this is inspired by the character of John Galt, the "hero" of Ayn Rand's Objectivist doorstopper, Atlas Shrugged, who destroys civilization to avoid paying taxes. They apparently think this is a good idea, and hope to follow in his footsteps.
In the novel, John Galt declared his opposition to collectivism by starting a community called Galt's Gulch.[note 1] He expressed his opposition to organized labor by organizing (what else?) a strike.
Also, a "Galt" is a castrated pig in Scandinavian. So if a Swede looks worried when you announce that you are going Galt it is not because he feels the Socialist system crumble.
How it usually ends up
Eric Dondero, a man deemed too crazy for the Ron Paul campaign, has proposed going Galt, going so far as to recommend people should quit their jobs if they work for a Democratic voter. So much for capitalism, eh?
In practice, though, if anyone has actually gone Galt, it's had no measurable effect. As a result, the usual response to a Galt-going threat is "so go already." In 2013, however, a Galt's Gulch in Chile was announced by anarcho-capitalist Jeff Berwick. You too can reserve a spot today (Unless you're a dirty collectivist, that is)! Turns out all is not well in Rand's realized Capitalist paradise—seems good old-fashioned greed got in the way of idealism.
Why it's not going to happen
If you ask a left-winger they'll tell you that business people like having power, making deals, crushing trade unions, appearing in Forbes magazine, going to galas, hanging out with celebrities, and preparing a Presidential bid. If you ask a right-winger, they'll tell you that business people like creating jobs, building businesses to pass on to their children, and making America great again. None of these things can be done while living up a tree in the Amazon rain forest.
A number of US companies and individuals are already based abroad, or have bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, Switzerland etc. Most of these are megarich people, not well-off wannabes. The results of dozens of corporations gone Galt can be seen in the US economy today.
As any U.S. passport will remind one, though, "All U.S. citizens working and residing abroad are required to file and report on their worldwide income." Expatriating citizens must have been tax compliant for the past five years and must pay exit taxes and fees before they can renounce their U.S. citizenship.
On a happier note, some survivalists who have disappeared into the wilds have done civilized society a great favor. Enjoy the undercooked bear burger folks!
- The Citadel
- Galt's Gulch Chile
- Men Going Their Own Way, for the MRA version of this concept.
- Rapture, for the supernatural woo version of this concept. Not to be confused with the city in BioShock, a better supernatural woo version of this concept.
- Tax protester
- We Surround Them
- Seasteading, one method of going Galt.
- Who Is John Galt? We don't know!
- Where the Rawlsian Rubber meets the Randian Road.
- Going Galt
- Bob the Angry Flower gives it a shot
- Ayn Rand also had an organization of devoted followers.
- "Ask Dr. Helen: Is It Time to ‘Go John Galt’?" Oh, Pajamas...
- "Atlas Shrugged 2: Shrug Harder"
- The end of liberty in 'Merca!
- "Ayn Rand's Vision of Galt's Gulch Has Become Reality as of Today"
- Gawker.com: archive.is, web.archive.org "Ayn Rand's Capitalist Paradise Is Now a Greedy Land-Grabbing Shitstorm"