A tall man with short blond hair walked nonchalantly through the door of the little shoe store and entered a closet in the back. After closing the door for privacy, he sat down and switched on a small audio cassette player concealed within a particular shoe box.
"Good morning, Mr. Phelps," came the voice from the tape machine.
"In the folder at your right you will find a picture of one John Galt, a former physicist and inventor who disappeared some time ago without paying his fair share of income taxes. Worse still, Galt has managed to convince some of the foremost businessmen, industrialists, scientists, engineers and other men and women of intellectual ability to go with him to a secret mountain compound and no longer produce for the good of our society anymore. If enough men of such ability dropped out of society in this manner, it would put our whole system in great peril. With no one producing or inventing new machines and industrial processes, our government would not have enough taxes to support the many progressive and altruistic programs in which it now engages. The hungry Third World countries could no longer receive our government's generous foreign aid and development funding. In addition, the United Nations -- that wonderful monument to global peace, world order and universal brotherhood -- would soon have to fold its operations for lack of money.
"Indeed, our domestic bureaucracy would suffer as well -- and many loyal government employees would have to find jobs in the private sector! Without sufficient private investment and capital formation, however, there would probably be mass unemployment. Why, our Federal Government might have to abandon its welfare and foreign aid programs altogether! This would be a terrible blow to social progressivism. People would be left to fend for themselves without Uncle Sam's generous aid!
"Jim, I think you can already see that Galt and his cronies are selfish, anti-social, and potentially dangerous right-wing extremists. If Galt's plan to get the key men of ability to go on strike should succeed, we would have virtually no more to tax in order to support our federal establishment and our sister states overseas. This could greatly jeopardize America's crucial role in the emerging New World Order. The world as we now know it could fall apart!
"And, Jim, you and I would be without a job. I think you realize that we both depend on these men of ability for our survival in the long run. Unfortunately, many of them have become tired of being taxed and regulated for the public interest and the common good. These selfish producers think they have a right to what they produce and that neither the National State nor the world community has a right to any of it! Clearly, they are shrugging their obligation to Society. And, Jim, that means us -- you and me. WE are society! Those selfish bastards are shrugging at US!
"This may be the most important assignment your team has ever undertaken. The continuance of our welfare-state system and of the other progressive peoples' states around the world depends on the success of your efforts in this matter. You may use any means whatsoever. You have a license to kill with or without provocation. We can even provide military equipment and BATF boys to assist your team if you need them!
"Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to find Galt's Gulch and stop Galt and his men of ability from destroying our world by withdrawing their moral sanction and financial support. As always, should you or any of your agents be caught or killed in the pursuance of this mission, the Secretary of State and President Clinton will disavow any knowledge of your activities and this proposed covert action. Good luck, Jim."
After a momentary pause, the tape recorder spoke again:
"This tape will self-destruct in five seconds."
As Jim Phelps walked out of the shoe store, he wondered about the moral implications of a society which maintained itself by exploiting its most productive members, the men of ability, ingenuity, reason, and intelligence. It was a society that was set to self-destruct -- like the tape.
© 1997 by Sam Wells
1972 by The Tech Talk, Louisiana Tech University
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