As many as 7% of working Americans may have gone Galt. The main difference between Rand’s phenomenon and what we see today is that in the novel, intelligent, caring people – who got shut-down by big-mouthed liars who wouldn’t know the truth if it jumped up and bit them – deserted to a secret hideaway where un-regulated hard work and common sense contributed to a strong economy. Today, they just live in squalor, batting down offers for government assistance like an infestation of stink bugs.

The 7% estimate was derived from this important, must-be-true internet thingy that you’ve probably read too many times already:

COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America.
ABBOTT: Good subject. Terrible times. It’s 9%.
COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?
ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.
. . . [iterated ad nauseum]
ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work… Those who are out of work stopped looking. They gave up. And, if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.
. . .
COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you. That means they’re two ways to bring down the unemployment number?
ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.
COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?
ABBOTT: Correct.
COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?
ABBOTT: Bingo.
COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to just stop looking for work.
ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like an economist.
COSTELLO: I don’t even know what the *$^# I just said!
ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like a legislator.