John Galt’s Trail of Death and Destruction Continues to Grow
John Galt has been a deadly and destructive guy lately, with the largest of his most recent attacks taking place in the garment factory collapse in Bangladesh on April 24 where the death toll has now tragically topped 900 and the fertilizer storage facility explosion in West, Texas on April 17 that miraculously killed only fourteen people but injured over 200 and caused damage that is now estimated to exceed $100 million.
In an interesting development, Bangladesh has shown that at least on some fronts it is more civilized than Texas. Both the building’s owner and the engineer accused of colluding with the owner to add three unregulated floors on top of the building have been arrested, while Texas lawmakers, previously known for their refusal to vote in favor of disaster relief when it was in New York and New Jersey, now have called for socializing the losses in Texas. Of course, since the fertilizer plant owner (who has not been arrested) only carried $1 million in liability insurance (and since Texas doesn’t require liability insurance for many businesses operating with dangerous materials), those losses are bound to be socialized anyway.
From CBS News on the response to the disaster in Bangladesh:
Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith spoke as the government cracked down on those it blamed for the disaster in the Dhaka suburb of Savar. It suspended Savar’s mayor and arrested an engineer who had called for the building’s evacuation last week, but was also accused of helping the owner add three illegal floors to the eight-story structure. The building owner was arrested earlier.
The government appears to be attempting to fend off accusations that it is in part to blame for the tragedy because of weak oversight of the building’s construction.
It looks like Muhith went a bit too far in trying to deflect responsibility from the government:
During a visit to the Indian capital, New Delhi, Muhith said the disaster would not harm Bangladesh’s garment industry, which is by far the country’s biggest source of export income.
“The present difficulties … well, I don’t think it is really serious — it’s an accident,” he said. “And the steps that we have taken in order to make sure that it doesn’t happen, they are quite elaborate and I believe that it will be appreciated by all.”
The article goes on to point out that Muhith had made a similar hollow promise to improve safety conditions several months ago when a fire in a garment factory killed over a hundred workers.
In a tragic testament to the shoddy conditions in these facilities in Bangladesh, we have word this morning of another eight deaths in a fire in a garment factory. However, this time the fire was after hours and it wasn’t workers who were killed:
The latest fire, in an 11-storey building in the Mirpur industrial district, broke out at a factory belonging to the Tung Hai Group, a large garment exporter.
“The factory was closed and all the workers had left the premises an hour earlier,” said fire service official Bhazan Sarker.
A fire service official and BGMEA president Islam said the Bangladeshi managing director of the company and a senior police officer were among the dead. The others killed were friends and personal staff of the factory boss, officials said.
Perhaps now that “important” people have been killed due to the unsafe construction of a garment factory, Bangladesh will get more serious about improving safety in these buildings rather than simply shrugging off the tragedies by saying they are mere accidents.
The response by Texas officials to the explosion in West is remarkably similar to Muhith blaming an “accident”. Recall that in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, I found that one of the first profiles of the fertilizer facility owner focused on his church-going habits rather than on his long history of avoiding regulations.
Here is Bryce Covert at Think Progress on libertarian hero Ted Cruz and others in the Texas delegation suddenly calling for socialist federal help:
Some Texas Congressmen have also requested aid to help the victims and the town rebuild. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said he is “working to ensure that all available resources are marshaled to deal with the horrific loss of life and suffering that we’ve seen.” Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) has said that he, plus Senators Cruz and John Cornyn (R-TX), are working with Congressional leaders to extend necessary assistance. Cornyn has also said there is funding under his subcommittee for chemical site security standards and infrastructure protection.
Yet when Northeast cities needed disaster relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a storm that killed hundreds, all three Congressmen voted against the aid package.
It appears that government and individuals will be left to absorb most of the costs of the $100 million in damages from the explosion, as the owner carried a laughably small liability insurance policy:
Tyler lawyer Randy C. Roberts said he and other attorneys who have filed lawsuits against West Fertilizer’s owners were told Thursday that the plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance. Brook Laskey, an attorney hired by the plant’s insurer to represent West Fertilizer Co., confirmed the amount Saturday in an email to The Associated Press, after the Dallas Morning News first reported it.
“The bottom line is, this lack of insurance coverage is just consistent with the overall lack of responsibility we’ve seen from the fertilizer plant, starting from the fact that from day one they have yet to acknowledge responsibility,” Roberts said.
He said he wasn’t surprised that the plant was carrying such a small policy.
“It’s rare for Texas to require insurance for any kind of hazardous activity,” he said. “We have very little oversight of hazardous activities and even less regulation.”
Think about that “very little oversight of hazardous activities and even less regulation” in Texas and then consider that 41 other sites in Texas store large amounts of ammonium nitrate, which now has been confirmed as the source of the large explosion (although what triggered the explosion is still not completely described).
And, despite the fact that there is pitifully little regulation of these activities in Texas, the owner of West Fertilizer, when he wasn’t busy going to church, appears to have spent much of his time working to avoid what few regulations there were.
Given all the death and destruction in his wake, I have to wonder when John Galt will finally be added to the government’s terrorist list. He has certainly done more harm to the United States than officially designated terrorists over the last ten years.
Cannot help but comment on the Authors confusion.
The character John Galt was not a Robber Barron nor a serial Killer.
John Galt was an individual with an amazing creative mind who left behind a parasitic culture to forge a future based upon merit.
Today’s world would be far better if those who access the creative mind where allowed to actually create wealth by ideas.
@Richard: And in doing so, he has created a culture in which those at the highest levels are the parasites, sucking all assets into their “ownership” and leaving the rest of society to wallow in unregulated squalor. That is how Galt has become a terroristic serial killer. Hope that clears up your confusion and delusion about the creation of wealth (which in Galt’s case, is the transfer of everyone else’s assets into his portfolio).
This John Gault/lassie-faire attitude led to the first codification of punishments: an eye for an eye. Regulation and mandatory insurance are actually low-cost alternatives to archaic systems of justice.
@Jim White: As the author of the piece and, presumably, the site you can say anything you want. That doesn’t make your statements reasoned nor factual. You could say that Mother Theresa was a whore and in your petty little universe, who has the power to call you out, eh?
The FACT is (perhaps I shouldn’t confuse you with facts?), in the novel, John Galt initially only withdrew his support for a system he saw as corrupt and, where he thought reason might be useful, tried to reason with others. Only at the end, when thugs INITIATED gross violence against him and his beloved did he respond with force.
I’ve got a question for you, since you appear befuddled yourself about the distinction between creating and stealing wealth: What, specifically, is ‘wealth’ and how, specifically, is it created? For extra credit, can you explain the distinction between wealth transfer and wealth creation IN DETAIL? Your silence or twaddle or deleting my challenge will amount to the same. I will only be impressed if you can make a cogent and authentic response.
“focused on his church-going habits rather than on his long history of avoiding regulations”
Remember this analogy the next time you are confronted with a fake Christian: Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car.
John Galt is a straight-up psychopath, a inter-species predator completely devoid of any human qualities. How sad that you also seem to be one: only a psychopath could admire another psychopath.
@steve: Not that your sophistry really deserves a reply, but my point through my entire series of John Galt posts is that I see a large cadre of people who call themselves libertarians while rallying around a mythical John Galt who now stands apart from whatever details might have been in Rand’s piece of shit book. These folks see ANY attempt at regulation of the “free market” as outright parasitism by the “takers”.
And if you want an example of “wealth creation” that is nothing more than theft, look no further than the massive mortgage fraud committed by the large banks where their robosigning foreclosure got so out of hand that they foreclosed on many people who were completely current on their payments. This was a direct result of years of effort by both parties in Congress to free the hands of the “wealth creators” at the banks. The banksters’ response was to help themselves to many houses while thumbing their noses at regulators. In the “settlement” heralded by Congress, many of those homeowners got token settlements of about $300. And I read this week that a number of those checks bounced because the banksters just couldn’t bear the thought of returning any of the wealth they had stolen from these innocent people whose lives have been ruined by John Galt.
@jim white: You think the banksters are parasites? Guess what? I agree with you! And you know what? I’m also fully confident that if Ayn Rand or “John Galt” were presently alive and able to post on your forum they would also agree the banksters are parasites (the term commonly used in the book and in Ayn’s other writings is “looters”; people who use government, connivance, and other Fascist connections to take).
Looters got Ayn’s utmost disdain; she regarded them as the epitome of evil and was direct and scathing in her characterization of them. Her heroes in the book were pretty much universally people who produced real wealth; the only financial or government “worker” in the whole book who wasn’t a looter was the banker Midas Mulligan who closed his bank early on, returning every penny of his depositors’ money and earned interest, rather than countenance or profit from the looting and deception.
Ayn deliberately used a “romantic” style of writing in _Atlas_Shrugged_ to make it impossible for any reader to confuse the good guys with the villains. We can surmise this was a deliberate chosen style both because she as much as said so and because she demonstrated much more realistic/ shades-of-grey/ conflicted characterization in her earlier books such as “We the Living”. Folks like Obama, Bernanke, Bush, Romney and Jamie Diamond had all their rationalizations and veneer of decency stripped from them in _Atlas_Shrugged_.
So … you never actually READ the book and the author you are trashing??? Or did you only skim it or read someone elses’ explication of the book?? You certainly couldn’t be more upside-down in your characterization of what John Galt was about, how he acted in the book, or what he likely would have condoned, condemned, or done in our current nightmare “reality”.
You would gain a lot of respect from me, and would be doing yourself and “our” cause a big favor if you would take the time now to question your premises. You and I shouldn’t be at odds, I don’t think; not while there are still banksters and empty jail cells.
You also should give some really hard thought to the questions I posed before. They aren’t trivial questions and I wasn’t practicing “sophistry” in asking them. Your enemies have you by the gonads to the extent you don’t know the answers. How can we make decisions to increase wealth if we don’t even know what wealth is nor how it is created? How fascinating that isn’t found worth of teaching, or at least debating, in our “schools” and churches.
Thank you for posting my initial comment. I apologize for coming on too antagonistically. You acted better than I and that indicates real integrity and courage on your part and I respect you for that. Now take another step toward the light! Read a good book!
@steve: Hah ha ha ha. Don’t hold your breath waiting for me to have a Come to Jesus (or John or Ayn) moment. I did read the book, cover to cover, when I was younger and it has done nothing for me. You see, I just don’t believe that it’s possible to exclude those parts of society we don’t like–for any reason. We are all stuck here together and have to find the best way to deal with it. And that best way is to have laws and regulations that assure everyone gets a fair chance so that those who “grab it and growl” don’t win out when there are no rules to prevent them taking what isn’t theirs without punishment.
I’m afraid I have some very bad news for you, though. It appears that your champion of free enterprise, who wrote so lovingly of that wonderful valley where all the creators of wealth and industry could be unleashed, ended her life on Social Security (and most likely Medicare: http://firedoglake.com/2011/01/27/tea-party-patron-saint-ayn-rand-applied-for-social-security-medicare-benefits/), becoming one of the moochers. But I’m okay with that. We have to help those who need help, and clearly the free-market ideas she created with her “good book” didn’t work out so well to support her in her old age.