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Atlas Shrugs

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Tags Labor and WagesSocialism

Three months ago, the CEO of Gravity Payments, a Seattle credit card processing firm, announced that all of the firm’s employees would be paid a minimum of $70,000 a year, according to this story. Now, the firm has fallen on hard times, and some of the firm’s “higher valued” employees have quit. One employee who quit said, “He gave raises to people who have the least skills and are the least equipped to do the job, and the ones who were taking on the most didn’t get much of a bump.” Another who quit said, “Now the people who were just clocking in and out were making the same as me. It shackles high performers to less motivated team members.”

The real-world Gravity Payments sounds a lot like the fictional Twentieth Century Motor Company from Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, and while the quotations from the real-world employees who left Gravity Payments do not sound quite as passionate as the fictional John Galt, the message is the same.

Rand’s novel was first published in 1957 and has been continuously in print since. I am not the first to observe that many real-world events since the publication of Rand’s novel closely resemble events in the fictional world she described. Here is another example.


Contact Randall G. Holcombe

Randall G. Holcombe is an Associated Scholar of the Mises Institute, DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University, past President of the Public Choice Society, and past President of the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Virginia Tech, and has taught at Texas A&M University and Auburn University. Dr. Holcombe is also Senior Fellow at the James Madison Institute and was a member of the Florida Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors. His books include From Liberty to Democracy: The Transformation of American Government (2002), Producing Prosperity (2013), and Political Capitalism: How Economic and Political Power Is Made and Maintained (2018). His primary areas of research are public finance and the economic analysis of public policy issues.

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