Do U.S. TEA Partiers Have the Guts to “Go Galt?”

Now that the Democrats have taken over Congress and the White House, Republicans all across America have snapped out of their 8-year trance and remembered that they have a passionate loathing for wasteful government spending, centralized bureaucracy, executive overreach, reckless deficits, and the taxation that backs it all up.

This suspiciously-timed discontent has lately manifested itself in some “Tea Parties” in several cities. Meant to be evocative of the Boston Tea Party, they have mostly been occasions to gather and complain and wave signs.

There hasn’t been any actual rebellion, withdrawal of allegiance, or tax resistance so far as I have seen, except for the many references to “shrugging” or “going Galt.” John Galt was a character in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, which fantasized about what would happen if the most productive, innovative, and industrious elite of America went on strike and refused to do any work that was subject to government taxation and regulation.

Promoters of the recent “tea parties” hint that the shrugging has begun, or is about to begin. Some even insist that they’re on the verge of shrugging themselves. But in all of the reports, I’ve heard a lot of talk of shrugging but so far only one credible report of anyone actually doing it: This one, from the comments here at The Picket Line.

One commentator compared it to the “if Bush is reelected, I’m moving to Canada” phenomenon, in which it was easy to find examples of people saying this before the election, but not so easy to find examples of people actually doing it afterwards.

I did find one example of a potential shrugger taking inspiration from actual real-life tax resisters who put their money where their mouths are:

[Dr. Helen] Smith, who’s still mulling over ways that she can “go Galt,” sees a possibility for a moral stand. During the Iraq War, she read about a painter who’d painted less, reducing his income, in order to dodge taxes and thereby make sure he didn’t fund the war. “I’d go John Galt just to not pay for programs I don’t believe in,” said Smith. “If we’re opposed to socialistic concepts — if we know they don’t work — why should we pay to support them?”

But my favorite of the recent Rand meditations was this one:

A banking company, BB&T Corp. of North Carolina, has given $30 million in grants in the last decade for various universities to teach [Atlas Shrugged]. Most recently, in , BB&T gave UT-Austin $2 million for a Chair in the Study of Objectivism. Then in October, BB&T took (wait for it) $3.1 billion in bailout money.

Thanks to Matthew Yglesias for this heads-up: “Military-Industrial Complex Planning to Use Taxpayer Dollars to Lobby for Waste”

Note that “the [armed] services’ legislative outreach and public-affairs offices” [that are pressuring Congress to continue to fund porky weapons programs] are technically part of the United States government. Indeed, they’re technically not supposed to be doing any lobbying at all. In fact, they regularly lobby congress against positions taken by the civilian leadership of the United States and on behalf of the defense contractors they’re hoping will employ them post-retirement.

It’s not like this is any great enlightening surprise to a cynical fellow like me, but it churns the bile nonetheless.

Cherice at Quaker Oats Live discusses her feelings about war tax resistance. The issue came up at a recent Friends meeting, and she seems to have gone from curious to gung-ho in a hurry:

My solution: Quakers, Mennonites, Brethren, and whomever else wants to participate refuses to pay war taxes for a few years, and we suffer the consequences. I think we should campaign for a war-tax-free in all Quaker meetings and Mennonite/Brethren/etc. communities. What are they going to do — throw us all in jail? Maybe. But they can’t do that forever. No one wants to pay their taxes for a bunch of Quakers and other pacifists to sit in jail for not paying taxes. It doesn’t make sense.

So are we willing to actually suffer a little bit to be consistent about our peace stance? Are we willing to make a bit of a sacrifice to ensure that our money isn’t paying to kill people?

Anyone with me on a war-tax-free ?