Jerry Della Femina, the legendary advertizing visionary, restaurant owner, and alleged inspiration for the popular AMC television show, Mad Men, has shrugged. As he wrote recently in The Independent (East Hampton), in 2008 he “decided that this country was falling in love with an attractive, great-speechmaking hustler/socialist”, and due to the country’s further lurch towards statism, Della Femina has decided to drop out on the way to selling “my houses, my advertizing business, my newspaper and my restaurant.”
Ayn Rand purists will say Della Femina hasn’t exactly shrugged in the Atlas Shrugged sense given his plans to sell his holdings. In Rand’s essential novel, the heroic individuals of commerce simply disappeared, leaving their assets to worthless looters lacking business skills. But that’s nitpicking, and only in fiction would the productive give up all that’s rightfully theirs.
Della Femina has by any rational measure shrugged, and his decision to do so tells us what happens when society’s achievers are fleeced so that the activities of the failed and indolent can be subsidized. Some, as Della Femina plans to do, depart, and we’re all worse off as a result.