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Ragnar Danneskjold's Justification

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"What else," asked Galt, "have you accomplished this year?"

"I've [Danneskjold] defied the law of gravitation."

"You've always done that. In what particular form now?"

"In the form of a flight from mid-Atlantic to Colorado in a plane loaded with gold beyond the safety point of its capacity. Wait till Midas sees the amount I have to deposit. My customers, this year, will become richer by -- Say, have you told Miss Taggart that she's one of my customers?"

"No, not yet. You may tell her, if you wish."

"I'm -- What did you say I am?" she asked.

"Don't be shocked, Miss Taggart," said Danneskjold. "And don't object. I'm used to objections. I'm a sort of freak here, anyway. None of them approve of my particular method of fighting our battle. John doesn't, Dr. Akston doesn't. They think that my life is too valuable for it. But, you see, my father was a bishop -- and of all his teachings there was only one sentence that I accepted. 'All they that take the sword shall perish by the sword.'

"What do you mean?"

"That violence is not practical. If my fellow men believe that the force of the combined tonnage of their muscles is a practical means to rule me -- let them learn the outcome of a contest in which there's nothing but brute force on one side, and force ruled by a mind, on the other. Even John grants me that in our age I had the moral right to choose the course I've chosen. I am doing just what he is doing -- only in my own way. He is withdrawing man's spirit from the looters, I'm withdrawing the products of man's spirit. He is depriving them of reason, I'm depriving them of wealth. He is draining the soul of the world, I'm draining it's body. His is the lesson they have to learn, only I'm impatient and I'm hastening their scholastic progress. But, like John, I'm simply complying with their moral code and refusing to grant them a double standard at my expense. Or at Rearden's expense. Or at yours."

"What are you talking about?"

"About a method of taxing the income taxers. All methods of taxation are complex, but this one is very simple, because it's the naked essence of all the others. Let me explain it to you."

She listened. She heard a sparkling voice reciting, in the tone of a dryly meticulous bookkeeper, a report about financial transfers, bank accounts, income-tax returns, as if he were reeading the dusty pages of a ledger -- a ledger where every entry was made by means of offering his own blood as the collateral to be drained at any moment, at any slip of his bookkeeping pen. [...]

"...and the names of my customers, Miss Taggart, were chosen slowly, one by one. I had to be certain of the nature of their character and career. On my list of restitution, your name was one of the first."

She forced herself to keep her face expressionlessly tight, and she answered only, "I see."

"Your account is one of the last left unpaid. It is here, at the Mulligan Bank, to be claimed by you on the day when you join us."

"I see."

"Your account, however, is not as large as some of the others, even though huge sums were extorted from you by force in the past twelve years. You will find -- as it is marked on the copies of your income-tax returns which Mulligan will hand over to you -- that I have refunded only those taxes which you paid on the salary you earned as Operating Vice-President, but not the taxes you paid on your income from your Taggart Transcontinental stock. You deserved every penny of that stock, and in the days of your father I would have refunded every penny of your profit -- but under your brother's management, Taggart Transcontenintal has taken its share of the looting, it has made profits by force, by means of government favors, subsidies, moratoriums, directives. You were not responsible for it, you were, in fact, the greatest victim of that policy -- but I refund only the money which was made by pure productive ability, not the money any part of which was loot taken by force."

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