Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bankers Go John Galt

When we say that populist outrage is mindless, it is not just a rhetorical ploy.

How else can you describe the Congresspeople who were huffing and puffing about how Wall Street bankers ruined the financial system and how they must now be punished.

Congress is now flexing its bureaucratic and regulatory muscle, deciding who does and who does not need a bonus, whose bonus should be taxed into insignificance, and who needs to be reproved in public for sins great and small.

Simply put, Congress is imposing a guilt narrative on the financial collapse. It is forcing those who still work at the major banks to do penance for their sins.

And Newsweek thinks this is not a Christian nation!

What has this gotten us? We know that we need the best minds and most experienced hands to steer the banking system back to solvency. And yet, as two excellent articles today point out, government interference and micromanagement have offered the best bankers little choice but to quit or retire. Links here and here.

So, the best laid plans have run into the wall of human freedom.

This is the message of the "going John Galt" movement. When they raise your taxes to the point where you are no longer really working for yourself, you have an inalienable right to refuse to work for decreased compensation and recognition.

It is not just about money. When your talents are not appreciated and respected, you are likely to lose interest in your job, whether or not you decide to keep doing it.

Congress has not only deprived our best bankers of financial incentives. I has also stripped them of their psychological capital, their status, their dignity, and their self-respect.

How many times would you accept being publicly berated by Barney Frank and Maxine Waters before you would start looking for a new line of work?

If you were thinking that our smartest bankers were going to hunker down and save the banking system, think again.

Many of them are long gone by now. For those who remain, the exit door is looking more and more enticing.

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