Freedom 
Keys
a collection of amusing, fascinating, insightful, or maybe even useful information
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men together in a society, they create for themselves in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
– Frédéric Bastiat, Economic Sophisms
"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money."-- Joseph Sobran
Even six-year-olds who scream, "You're selfish!" have agendas.
The pathology of the rich socialist

How a Welfare-State Altruist “Cares”

So you want to be good, and you want goodness to triumph widely?  Great!  That's admirable and even noble; you take responsibility for your actions.  But please don't assume that your definition of "good" is the only one there is, or that it's the best one of them all.  Be especially skeptical if it's used to make you feel guilty(!) about not giving more and more power over your life (or others' lives) to politicians and bureaucrats.

“The power of morality is the greatest of all intellectual powers – and mankind’s tragedy lies in the fact that the vicious moral code men have accepted destroys them by means of the best within them.” -- Ayn Rand

Cheer up!  Altruism (which causes resentment and/or suicide and actually cripples spontaneous good will and benevolence) is NOT the only moral code available to mankind!

Selfishness vs. "Selfishness" 
or ... The "Scare and Switch" Con

by Rick Gaber
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  "Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar.  That is not the issue.  The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime.  The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you.  The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence.  The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal.  Any man of self-esteem will answer: 'No.'  Altruism says: 'Yes'." -- Ayn Rand in Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World

   "...the first thing to be aware of is that the basic principles of ethics or morality are widely disputed, not at all self-evident and uncontroversial.  Thus at the least it should be clear that any claim that the moral or ethical opposes the technological and scientific is brazenly question begging, presumptuous.
    "Apart from the ongoing philosophical debate, we do have some clues lying about us as to what counts as basic in ethics or morality. ..." -- Tibor R. Machan in Ama Gi, Sept., 2001

     "That which is proper to each thing is by nature best and most pleasant for it; for humans, therefore, the life according to reason is best and most pleasant, since reason more than anything else IS human.  This life therefore is also the happiest." -- Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics, Book X, Ch. 7

     "Morality has been the monopoly of mystics, i.e., of subjectivists, for centuries ... Most men, therefore, find it particularly difficult to regard ethics as a science ..." -- Ayn Rand, in The Objectivist Newsletter, HERE

   "Ethics is not a mystic fantasy -- nor a social convention -- nor a dispensible, subjective luxury, to be switched or discarded in any emergency.  Ethics  is an objective, metaphysical necessity of man's survival -- not by the grace of the supernatural nor of your neighbors nor of your whims, but by the grace of reality and the nature of life." -- Ayn Rand in The Virtue of Selfishness

     "What is morality?  It is a code of values to guide man's choices and actions. ... Man has no automatic code of survival.  His particular distinction from all other living species is the necessity to act in the face of alternatives by means of volitional choice." -- Ayn Rand in Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World
 

See: "Paradoxical as it may seem, men and women who are free to pursue individualism and material wealth turn out to be the most compassionate of all."
-- Financial Times,  London, Nov 22, 2001

Conversely, see "Beware the Liberal-Corporate Complex!" HERE.

"Democrats like to present themselves as the party of the downtrodden while characterizing the GOP as the party of the selfish rich. But a study by the Catalogue of Philanthropy suggests the opposite may be true." -- James Taranto

"I came out of college with lots of trappings of '60s radicalism which had been tempered somewhat by the fact that almost all the real radicals I knew were assholes. You know, the guys who were 'for the people,' but really just seemed to hate people. And guys who wanted to be in Weatherman mainly so they could get into fights."Dave Barry, in his interview by Glenn Garvin

"Somebody talkin' 'bout 'peace and love' when they really wanna start a fight."lyrics to "Let Love Carry You Along" by Toni Brown, recorded by the group Joy of Cooking on the Capitol label in 1972. If you have a broadband connection you can hear a clip by clicking HERE.

"Liberals are always running around with their fists clenched.  That's why it's so hard to shake hands with them." -- Neal Boortz 

"Liberals must believe everyone is inherently bad and must be forced to do good.  But there's absolutely no evidence for that. They must be looking into their own hearts." - Penn Jillette on The Independents, 12-30-13  
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Then again, there are people who  demand that others actually be the bad kind of selfish, the short-sighted kind, as shown here.

 "A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality. ... Whoever you are, you who are hearing me now, I am speaking to whatever living remnant is left uncorrupted within you, to the remnant of the human, to your mind, and I say: There is a morality of reason, a morality proper to man, and Man's Life is its standard of value. ... All that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; all that which destroys it is the evil." -- Ayn Rand, HERE

"9-11: The Ultimate Philosophy Lesson"

"To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he's doing is good." – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

"Very little trouble has been caused in the world by insincere efforts. An occasional seduction maybe. There were very few insincere Stalinists or Nazis." -- P.J. O'Rourke

"The Nazis are well remembered for murdering well over 11 million people in the implementation of their slogan, 'The public good before the private good,' the Chinese Communists for murdering 62 million people in the implementation of theirs, 'Serve the people,' and the Soviet Communists for murdering more than 60 million people in the implementation of Karl Marx's slogan, 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.'  Anyone who defends any of these, or any variation of them, on the grounds of their 'good intentions' is an immoral (NOT 'amoral') enabler of the ACTUAL (not just the proverbial) road to hell." -- Rick Gaber

This short story excerpt provides a stunning picture of how altruism destroys peoples' lives.

"Every major horror of history was committed in the name of an altruistic motive."Ayn Rand

"Of all the nonsense that twists the world, the concept of  'altruism' is the worst." -- Robert A. Heinlein's character Jubal Harshaw in Stranger in a Strange Land.

"Of all the irrational moral codes ever foisted upon mankind, altruism has proven to be by far the most evil.  It has been used by countless tribal, religious and political leaders to justify the enslavement of, and the murder of, literally hundreds of millions of their own peoples."Bert Rand

"Force, governmental coercion, is the instrument by which the ethics of altruism — the belief that the individual exists to serve others — is translated into political reality."Nathaniel Branden

"If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject." -- Ayn Rand

"Even six-year-olds who scream, 'You're selfish!' have agendas."Rick Gaber

A 17-year-old hIgh school commencement speaker stands up to the education- establishment "idea police" HERE.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money."-- Joseph Sobran

“Landlords are just being selfish by wanting higher rents.” ANSWER: Why is it okay for tenants to be selfish by wanting lower rents?" HERE

"Sociotropic voters with biased economic beliefs are more likely to produce severe political failures than are selfish voters with rational expectations." -- Bryan Caplan

Most of the wealthy inherited their money, right?  WRONG!!!  But even if they did, it ain't YOURS to dispose of anyway.

"Political power alone should be equal among human beings; yet, striving for other kinds of equality absolutely requires political inequality." -- Tibor R. Machan in Private Rights and Public Illusions

"From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently.  Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time." -- F. A. Hayek

"It is embarrassing to have to remind people of this in the United States of America. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson singled out three natural rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The last phrase, appearing instead of "property," has prompted much discussion. I cannot say what Jefferson was thinking. But here's a plausible theory: Property is already implicit in liberty. If you are free, you can use your belongings as you see fit. But by specifying the pursuit of happiness Jefferson might have been pointing out that the blessing of liberty need not be justified through selfless service to others. One's life and happiness on earth are justification enough." -- Sheldon Richman

"State-mandated compassion produces, not love for ones fellow man, but hatred and resentment.  The breakdown of  'basic civility' and the rise of the welfare state occur concurrently." -- Lizard

"Altruism and The Golden Rule are ultimately incompatible." -- Rick Gaber

"One byproduct of individualism is benevolence -- a general attitude of good will towards one's neighbors and fellow human beings. Benevolence is impossible in a society where people violate each others' rights." -- Glenn Woiceshyn

"Make no mistake about it -- and tell it to your Republican friends: capitalism and altruism cannot coexist in the same man or in the same society." -- Ayn Rand

What??? You think "liberal" means "compassionate"? Nope!!!!
See: "Illiberal Egalitarianism" here.

... and you can find a telling example of how traditionalist "conservatives" are too stupid and/or too cowardly to admit that here.

"America was founded on the principle of inalienable rights, not dictated duties. The Declaration of Independence states that every human being has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It does not state that he is born a slave to the needs of others." -- Alex Epstein

"The Golden Age of human existence has yet to begin.  And it won't begin until the productive members of society no longer have to spend so much time and energy apologizing for, and paying for, their taking care of themselves, their families and their families' futures to whatever extent THEY deem best." -- Rick Gaber

Are Americans Cheap? Or Charitable?

Who REALLY Cares? by Arthur C. Brooks
The Charity Disparity REVIEW

Unrugged Individualism: The Selfish Basis of Benevolence by David Kelley
Nice people expect most others to be nice, and 
mean people expect most others to be mean. 
 
If I said, "The live-and-let-live people I've met are generally warm and generous, although often reserved and respectful, while the control freaks I've met are generally cynical, mean and aggressively obnoxious," would that seem likely to be true? Of course it does. It IS true, and it's obviously logically consistent and what you'd expect.

BUT… if I said, "I've found the intellectual defenders of private property and laissez-faire capitalism whom I've met to be generally warm and generous, while the so-called "liberal" defenders of the welfare state I've found to be often cynical, mean and tight-fisted in their personal lives," would THAT seem likely to be true?

Think about it. Well, it's also true, and to me anyway, logical, natural, and a matter "of course!"

Well, it's a matter of semantics, or word choice; both sentences say exactly the same thing and describe my actual personal experience (and I've met literally thousands of people of all kinds). If you don't see that, possibly you just haven't met enough different people from each of enough different walks of life.

Perhaps you can see it more clearly if we modified the second statement like this:

"The intellectual defenders of private property and laissez-faire capitalism I've met I've found to be civil, courteous and generally cheerfully generous, and even confident most others are like that normally (EXCEPT when they or their fellow citizens are forced to be), while the liberal defenders of the welfare state, while loudly proclaiming themselves champions of 'compassion' (by belligerently advocating the in-your-face forced redistribution of wealth), I've found to be usually cynical and often secretly mean and tight-fisted, and sometimes even larcenous, in their personal lives and apparently expecting virtually everyone else to be just like themselves." Ayn Rand has commented on the underlying meanness of such people.  Wayne Dunn says, "The fact that most people think that being selfish means harming one's fellow man, that pursuing one's own self-interest equates to behaving brutally or irrationally, is, as Ms. Rand noted, a 'psychological confession' on their part.  In fact it is against one's own long-term self-interest to behave irrationally or trample others. Such actions are the exact opposite of selfish -- they're self-destructive." (Emphasis added.  Criminals and other sociopaths do not think in terms of  how their actions affect the society around them and set bad examples for others.  Nor do they empathize with others, certainly not their victims.  And they certainly don't feel the pride of honest achievement or of helping to build civilization.)

Now that it's rephrased, it's easier to see it makes sense, right? But it wasn't at first, was it? Why is this so? It's because of one of the oldest con-games (going back thousands of years) ever perpetrated: the cultural fear of the accusation, "You're selfish!"

I'm selfish? Am I supposed to quiver in fear of being so accused? Yeah, right. Oh, horrors, and all that. Give me a break.

Last time I checked, we'd already grown out of the barbarous tribal times when superstitions and religions and scare stories about vengeful gods were invented to frighten all the short-sighted perpetrators of constant violence into submission. Nowadays superstitions are for children to invent for the fun of it (As for me, I step on cracks all the time. Unless there's a hapless worm in one. Then, of course, I usually pick it up and restore it to the dirt where it belongs. Doesn't everybody?).

Distinguish good selfishness from bad selfishness 

You've heard of the "bait-and-switch" con? Well, guess what? This is the "scare-and-switch" con: "Selfish" has two entirely different meanings. One is: "taking advantage of people against their will." The other is: "taking care of yourself and your family first and foremost and to whatever degree YOU deem appropriate."   Obviously, the latter is a virtue, and the former is a vice. But if you fail to distinguish between the meanings you're prey to being suckered by con artists of either the deliberate variety* or of the more common unwitting, unthinking "disease carrier" kind.

First they make you extremely fearful of ever being seen to take advantage of anyone unwilling, and then they twist it with the sneakiness of a magician and the cleverness of a lawyer to make you ashamed of ever being seen to take care of yourself and your family first.

Then, while trying to get you to accept the ridiculous notion that every kind of "selfishness," even just making money in the private sector (earning a living and growing a nest egg) is morally vicious,** they also try to get you to accept the even more absurd idea that the accumulating of political power by government employees and politicians (and their legal machinations to steal or control the property of others) is morally good. This is sold along with an implicit demand that their professed concern for "others" be accepted without question at face value, together with an implicit threat: "Don't you DARE point out that grasping for and accumulating political power definitely IS a kind of 'selfishness,' only this time it's the bad kind, the vicious taking-unwilling-advantage kind, the kind that's the hallmark of  criminals, politicians, their intellectual excuse-makers and other aggressive parasites." ***

This is so important that it bears rephrasing: There are two different kinds of selfishness, the good kind and the bad kind.  Keep them straight so you don't get suckered.  Even more importantly, keep them straight so you can feel proud -- and not ashamed -- of taking care of yourself and your family.  And remember this always:  America's unprecedented freedom and the worldwide spread of prosperity which it spawned WAS BUILT UPON ACCEPTANCE OF, AND PROTECTION OF, THE GOOD KIND OF SELFISHNESS.
 
  • Again, the good kind of selfishness is a virtue.  It encompasses taking care of yourself and your family, the pursuit of happiness and engaging with others only in mutually agreed-upon transactions for mutual benefit.  
  • The bad kind of selfishness is a vice.  It involves taking advantage of others without their permission, even by having the government do it for you, even if politicians or other con artists tell you it's okay.

Perhaps now you can appreciate how so many people can get caught up in the fashions of the moment, as popularized by today's politicians, journalists, entertainers and educators. And/or how people don't have (or don't use) enough of their logical, critical abilities or a world-view large enough in terms of both time and geography. If so, I encourage you to question authority, apply logic, and think for yourself from now on. Look at the forest, not the trees. And the centuries, not the months. Or you might risk being lead willingly, as a sheep, to the slaughter.  And always remember, as Ayn Rand said with the piercing clarity of her insightful wisdom, "Every major horror of history was committed in the name of an altruistic motive." And here she said, "The meaning ascribed in popular usage to the word 'selfishness' is not merely wrong: it represents a devastating intellectual 'package-deal,' which is responsible, more than any other single factor, for the arrested moral development of mankind."

Further, now that you recognize the "scare-and-switch" con, I'm sure you won't fall for it any more. And for freedom's (and honesty's) sake, please don't use it.

Politically correct double-talk

It's hard to find another word or concept that has two meanings which are not only vastly different from one another, but where one is a virtue and the other is a vice.  Such a word can be a pretty powerful and evil weapon in the hands (mouth?) of a politician, con artist, clergyman, parent, teacher, or celebrity or journalist with an agenda, right? Especially when they get you to accept the vice as a virtue and the virtue as a vice. That's how they get the unthinking many to sacrifice so much so willingly to the conniving few, actually getting them to feel guilty about the virtue of taking care of themselves and their families first! If you've ever wondered why the American housewife has marched quietly into the workplace because she had to (not because she wanted to) now that it takes two incomes to maintain the same standard of living that one income provided before, well, now you know.

And if you'd previously thought it was an inexplicable paradox that some of the most self-serving people (far-sighted capitalists) have brought more blessings, opportunities and powerful tools of productivity to more people than anyone else, and that some of the most supposedly "compassionate" and "caring" people (socialists) have brought more misery and death to more people than anyone else, well now you know why.

It's important for your own personal clarity to reject any conception of selfishness which includes the thoughtless indulgence in random temptations or disregard of others' interests.  Those definitely do NOT represent genuinely self-interested behaviors, and people who think they do are hurting themselves in the long run.  Such thinking actually clouds their minds and restricts their thinking to an extremely narrow,  strictly altruist view of ethics, and the confusion and self-sabotage which ultimately results from that.****

Finally, there is no rational basis on earth for accepting altruism as your personal moral code.  It is so fundamentally foreign to life itself that it can only be smuggled into your psyche in the first place by peer pressure and blind faith.  Your enlightenment about that fact would be dramatically enhanced by reading THIS brief essay about "altruism ... the poison of death in the blood of Western civilization."

*Many of the deliberate con artists are the "true believers" of fanatical religious or political sects who actually accept the dogma that it is a mortal sin for you to take care of yourself and your family first and in any way exercise your right to the pursuit of happiness while their precious cause is in any way neglected, underfunded or even unaccepted.

**I thought it should have gone without saying, but judging from some of the inquiries I get, I guess it doesn't. So here goes:  NO, making money does NOT have to include ANY type of criminal or shady activity.  In fact, literally millions of people have generated a terrific living through totally honest work and trade.  If you have a hard time seeing that, it's YOUR motives and character which should be suspect, and no one else's.

***Always remember the difference between economic power and political power: You can refuse to hire someone's services or buy his products in the private sector and go somewhere else instead. In the public sector, though, if you refuse to accept a politician's or bureaucrat's product or services you go to jail. Ultimately, after all, all regulations are observed and all taxes are paid at gunpoint. I believe those few who can't even see that have been short-sighted sheep, and I suggest they learn how to think conceptually, develop consistency and grasp principles soon.

****For further elaboration on this cautionary admonition, see What does Ayn Rand mean when she describes selfishness as a virtue? HERE. And the context in which she says the concept of selfishness, in its exact and purest sense, is "concern with one's own interests ... It is not a concept that one can surrender to man's enemies, nor to the unthinking misconceptions, distortions, prejudices and fears of the ignorant and the irrational." HERE.


"The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves" -- Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind

"The fact that altruism turns out to be a really bad choice for a moral code doesn't mean you don't need a moral code, or that all the other moral codes are equally valid.   After all, being a moral relativist is worse, even, than being an altruist.  Human beings absolutely require a good moral code as a guide to decision-making, and proclaiming that the evil ones are equal to the good ones serves nothing but the evil.   Even in the face of civilization-threatening perils, moral relativists are staunchly uncertain, adamantly indecisive, self-righteously impotent and defiantly irrelevant." -- Rick Gaber

"Altruism is a code of ethics which hold the welfare of others as the standard of  'good', and self-sacrifice as the only moral action. The unstated premise of the doctrine of altruism is that all relationships among men involve sacrifice. This leaves one with the false choice between maliciously exploiting the other person (forcing them to be sacrificed) or being 'moral' and offering oneself up as the sacrificial victim." -- Jeff Landauer and Joseph Rowlands HERE

       "Approximately 1.3 Billion Dollars (Pounds 900m) has been donated to benefit the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. While this is a considerable sum, it is consistent with Americans' generosity. According to the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, in 2000 Americans gave 203 Billion Dollars to charitable organisations, or 2 per cent of gross domestic product, far surpassing the contributions of any other nation. Further, those other countries that were runners-up in private philanthropy were nations that share US values and traditions. 

        "Why are Americans such big givers? Some say this generosity is merely the outgrowth of the spectacular success of capitalism at wealth creation. And no one should argue with capitalism's success in generating wealth, or that possessing wealth beyond that required to meet one's immediate needs makes contributing to humanitarian causes easier. 

        "But surely there is more to the link between capitalism and humanitarianism than wealth creation. After all, there are plenty of things one can do with one's wealth other than contribute it to meeting the needs of others. Humanitarianism rests not just on wealth but on an ethos. And two aspects of the ethos of capitalism - materialism and individualism - are what make humanitarianism possible.

        "Materialism is the belief that the quality of one's life on earth is important: that life should be more than a daily struggle to meet immediate needs. This is important, for if one does not believe that the material conditions of life are important, no value exists in meeting the material needs of others. 

        "The individuals who commandeered the aeroplanes and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon did not think the material conditions of life mattered. Indeed, they did not think life itself mattered. They willingly brought death to themselves and thousands of others and suffering to tens of thousands for a non-material purpose.

        "Indeed, their acts and the rhetoric of their leaders are not just non-material, but anti-material. They believe in tearing down. Capitalism, by contrast, is the ideology of building up; it is the best ethos for making our dreams and aspirations concrete that mankind has ever found." -- Lawrence Lindsey, "The generosity of capitalism: The US is the world's biggest giver because its ethos of individualism encourages humanitarianism" Financial Times, London, Nov 22, 2001

See:"Popular understanding of economics is at least two centuries behind economists' understanding of the economy"  HERE.
And:"Wealth is not a fixed quantity and one person's success does not come at the expense of others ... Economists have understood  [that]  for over two centuries, but moralists have not caught up." HERE.
And:"One byproduct of individualism is benevolence -- a general attitude of good will towards one's neighbors and fellow human beings.  Benevolence is impossible in a society where people violate each others' rights."-HERE
And:"There is a non-sacrificial code of morality -- and an objective standard of value on which it is based."-HERE
   "Many academicians and self-styled intellectuals, with a habitually arrogant and condescending attitude, treat the rest of the world with contempt.  These so-called 'intelligentsia' congratulate themselves for, not only having high IQs and lots of education in their particular fields, but for having achieved the allegedly momentus insight that free-market capitalism and altruism are ultimately incompatible (duh).  Yet they're still too damned stupid to realize and too damned ignorant to acknowledge that altruism is NOT the only moral code available to mankind.  (It is, in fact, the bloodiest and most regressive one of all).  This stunted thinking has resulted in their committing the intellectual atrocity of rejecting the capitalism and freedom instead of the altruism and coercion." -- Rick Gaber

   "The secret dread of modern intellectuals, liberals and conservatives alike, the unadmitted terror at the root of their anxiety, which all of their current irrationalities are intended to stave off and to disguise, is the unstated knowledge that Soviet Russia [was] the full, actual, literal, consistent embodiment of the morality of altruism, that Stalin did not corrupt a noble ideal, that this is the only way altruism has to be or can ever be practiced." -- Ayn Rand

   "As the death toll mounts--as many as 25 million in the former Soviet Union, 65 million in China, 1.7 million in Cambodia, and on and on--the authors systematically show how and why, wherever the millenarian ideology of Communism was established, it quickly led to crime, terror, and repression. An extraordinary accounting, this book amply documents the unparalleled position and significance of Communism in the hierarchy of violence that is the history of the twentieth century." -- Harvard University Press' review of The Black Book of Communism     "The myth of the well-intentioned founders--the good czar Lenin betrayed by his evil heirs--has been laid to rest for good." -- Tony Judt, New York Times 

  "Anything other than free enterprise always means a society of compulsion and lower living standards, and any form of socialism strictly enforced means dictatorship and the total state.  That this statement is still widely disputed only illustrates the degree to which malignant fantasy can capture the imagination of intellectuals." -- Lew Rockwell

    "The three values which men held for centuries and which have now collapsed are: mysticism, collectivism, altruism.  Mysticism -- as a cultural power -- died at the time of the Renaissance.  Collectivism -- as a political ideal -- died in World War II.  As to altruism -- it has never been alive.  It is the poison of death in the blood of Western civilization, and men survived it only to the extent to which they neither believed nor practiced it. ..." -- Ayn Rand

     The Chinese are coming, and it's a good thing -- they'll make the pie bigger for all of us.  Once the free-market protections for contracts and private property are totally established in mainland China, their entrepreneurs will buy up the world unless we get our philosophical act together.  You see, entrepreneurial enthusiasm should be nothing to be ashamed of -- and the Chinese are not the slightest bit ashamed of it; they (and other far east Asians) have neither concepts of, words for, nor histories of  being ashamed of it.  Thus they do NOT suffer from that nagging, residual (and often crippling) self-doubt about whether their productive selfishness is a virtue, as so many Americans, Canadians and Europeans still do (but can no longer afford to in the face of this fierce competition).  Their business leaders, unlike American ones, don't get intimidated into funding public policy institutes, activists and politicians who act to cripple the economy so often. Look to the history of Hong Kong for inspiration -- and/or a warning.

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The Ultimate Absurdity
During the 1990's politicians and journalists alike heaped scorn on Microsoft Founder Bill Gates for not giving "enough" to charity.  Here is a man who could be called the greatest benefactor of mankind in our lifetimes who, by the nature of his business, doubled, tripled, and even QUADRUPLED the productivity of millions of people.  Yet these philosophical barbarians could measure his value only by what he had or hadn't given away to whomever THEY thought should receive his attention.  Beyond disgusting.  Sadly, the philosophically crippled Mr. Gates finally gave upwards of 20 Billion dollars to charities which likely did less than ten percent as much good as his donating it to his friend Warren Buffett could have done.  The investment genius Buffett, of course, could have invested it in vastly more wisely in tremendously more productive, and thus life-improving, enterprises if Gates couldn't invest the money in his own business.  Philosophy does matter.
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For further reading on these subjects see:
Reflections on the Ethics of Selflessness
The Selfish Basis of Benevolence
The VIRTUE of Greed
History of the altruism-self debate
On Generosity  More Generosity
 "Greed".. Good Greed!..
Adler on Aristotle on Virtue
Harmony from Liberty
More Greed. Even More
Great articles on ethics
Sacrifice as used in politics
"Greed" as bludgeon  "Soak" the Rich??
Calvinist Selfishness
POLITICS: Altruism and Power
Self-Interest,  part 1     part 2
Self-Interest
Private Rights and Public Illusions
Altruism and Capitalism
The Value of Selfishness
The Foundations of a Free Society
Is Self-Interest Selfish?
The Virtue of Selfishness
How a just society works
The Importance of Money
The Virtue of Individualism
That "Gap" between rich and poor
Is Selfishness Good or Evil?
Egoism,YES, Egotism, NO
Self-esteem: the basis of responsibility
Are We Selfish?
"Selfishness" without a self
A "Final Authority" in Ethics?
The Right to NOT "Give 'Back'"
How to practice being selfish
Without Selfish Individuals, Nothing
Give Back What?  More Nonsense
Appropriate Self-Assertiveness
Real vs. phony self-esteem
Moral questions, Aristotelian answers
Altruism: The Morality of Fallacies
Pat Tillman's so-called "unselfishness"
"This is John Galt speaking."
Why dictators can never "breed for" 
unselfishness (although they always try)
The right to the pursuit of happiness
IS the right to be selfish.
THIS is THE best place to start!
Book Excerpt: "The song of an immense deliverance"
Find books by or about Ayn Rand: HERE, HEREand HERE
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“The greater the desire to perform humanitarian deeds through legislation, the greater the violence required to achieve it.” -- Ron Paul
“It is easy to be conspicuously 'compassionate' if others are being forced to pay the cost.” -- Murray N. Rothbard
“The point to remember is that what the government gives, it must first take away.” -- John S. Coleman
“Government is not reason.  It is not eloquence.  It is force.” -- George Washington 
"The 'private sector' of the economy is, in fact, the 'voluntary' sector; and...the 'public sector' is, in fact, the 'coercive' sector." -- Henry Hazlitt
"It stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting sacrificial offerings.  Where there's service, there's someone being served.  The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters.  And intends to be the master."  -- Ayn Rand

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men together in a society, they create for themselves in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” – Frédéric Bastiat

“A nation brought up to regard the principles of duty and self-sacrifice as cardinal virtues will be helpless when confronted by a gang of thugs who demand obedience and self-sacrifice.” -- Ayn Rand

"The indecision and paralysis engendered by moral relativism, coupled with the appeasement and self-sacrifice engendered by altruism, is suicidal. If America does not throw off these moral chains, it will continue to be the prey of the Baby Kims, Ayatollahs, Arafats and bin Ladens of the world. Just as an individual must act unapologetically to preserve his life, so must America." -- John Dawson, HERE

"The fact that altruism turns out to be a really bad choice for a moral code doesn't mean you don't need a moral code, or that all the other moral codes are equally valid.   After all, being a moral relativist is worse, even, than being an altruist.  Human beings absolutely require a good moral code as a guide to decision-making, and proclaiming that the evil ones are equal to the good ones serves nothing but the evil.   Even in the face of civilization-threatening perils, moral relativists are staunchly uncertain, adamantly indecisive, self-righteously impotent and defiantly irrelevant." -- Rick Gaber
 

     If a moral code (such as altruism) is, in fact, impossible to practice, it is the code that must be condemned as "black," not its victims evaluated as "gray."  If a moral code prescribes irreconcilable contradictions -- so that by choosing the good in one respect, a man becomes evil in another -- it is the code that must be rejected as "black."  If a moral code is inapplicable to reality -- if it offers no guidance except a series of arbitrary, groundless, out-of-context injunctions and commandments, to be accepted on faith and practiced automatically, as blind dogma -- its practitioners cannot properly be classified as "white" or "black" or "gray": a moral code that forbids and paralyzes moral judgment is a contradiction in terms.

     If, in a complex moral issue, a man struggles to determine what is right and fails or makes an honest error, he cannot be regarded as "gray"; morally, he is "white."  Errors of knowledge are not breaches of morality; no proper moral code can demand infallibility or omniscience.

     But if, in order to escape the responsibility of moral judgment, a man closes his eyes and mind, if he evades the facts of the issue and struggles not to know, he cannot be regarded as "gray"; morally, he is as "black" as they come.  


     "The basics of morality and the Golden Rule, the OBVIOUS requirements for human beings to live together in a cooperative society, come from REALITY.  Whether or not your particular religion happens to coincide with reality on any particular guides to behavior -- only shows whether or not yours is a fundamentally moral or immoral religion, NOT whether or not reality is fundamentally moral or immoral.  If your religion claims to be the 'the source' of morality, then, I submit, it is perpetrating both a despicable fraud and a horrific atrocity:  THAT's what causes millions of rebellious youth to throw out the baby with the bathwater when they consider the idea that religion is just so much arbitrary ritual, especially when the morality served with it is ridiculous (and when they've been prevented from learning that there is a reality-based morality which most definitely is NOT)." -- Bert Rand

"One of the worst aspects of altruism, if not THE worst aspect is that it teaches the bizarre falsehood that self-interest includes ignoring or brutalizing others, or at least trampling on their rights (and advocates of altruism actually believe this!)" -- Rick Gaber

"Morality has been the monopoly of mystics, i.e., of subjectivists, for centuries -- a monopoly reinforced and reaffirmed by the neo-mystics of modern philosophy.  The clash between the two dominant schools of ethics, the mystical and the social, is only a clash between personal subjectivism and social subjectivism: one substitutes the supernatural for the objective, the other substitutes the collective for the objective.  Both are savagely united against the introduction of objectivity into the realm of ethics. ...  Observe that most modern collectivists -- the alleged advocates of human brotherhood, benevolence and cooperation -- are committed to subjectivism in the humanities.  Yet reason -- and therefore, objectivity, is the only common bond among men, the only means of communication, the only universal frame-of-reference and criterion of justice." -- Ayn Rand, Who is the final authority in ethics? HERE
 

"If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?" -- Robert Anton Wilson

"Psychologist Nathaniel Branden speaks of a benevolent sense of life possible to those with rational, productive values, vividly contrasted with the coercive parasitic group-culture of mystics and altruists we live in, where people all around you seem a burdensome annoyance, a threat to your survival.  Having been told from childhood that life is a zero-sum game in which you owe everything to others, at some level you worry all the time that someday the bastards will collect.  And collect they do, every April 15th.  Why do you think they call it collectivism?"-- L. Neil Smith
 

"Observe, first of all, that in equating unselfishness with morality, the implication is that self-interested actions are either immoral or nonmoral. ... This doctrine takes for granted as self-evident a clash between self-interest and morality: We can pursue our self-interest or we can be moral, but we can't be both. ... In this doctrine, selfishness is presumed to be narrow, petty, small-minded, materialistic, immature, narcissistic, anti-social, exploitative, mean-spirited, arrogant, ruthless, indifferent, cruel, and potentially murderous. These traits are evidently regarded as being to one's self-interest, since they are labeled as expressions of selfishness. It is interesting to speculate about the psychology of those who believe this." -- Dr. Nathaniel Branden, here
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     "Utopians are like a rhinoceros trying to stamp out a forest fire. All too often in its frustration it becomes dangerous.  Instead of realizing that their schemes are flawed, they begin to see their perfect society being frustrated by people.  If we can get rid of only those people, then the scheme would work, they say, and the blood begins to flow."Charley Reese

     One of the favorite face-saving myths of the altruists is that the bloody dictators of the 20th century were self-described evil men. The fact is the vast majority of them saw themselves as benefactors of the people who happened to believe: 1. that the group (proletariat, master race, the fatherland, the motherland, the state, society, the greater good, the unlimited majority, whatever) was supreme, 2. that the group required sacrifices from individuals, 3. that they, the rulers, were not the mere equals of others, but rather were uniquely empowered to choose or effect those sacrifices, 4. that the ends justify the means, 5. that if the means required murdering millions of people, and destroying the lives of millions of others, so be it. Only the moral code of altruism, which not only apologizes for, but demands, sacrifice of individuals, makes such things possible even in modern, so called "enlightened" societies. Only altruism can make such things "justified" in the minds of self-styled "intellectuals" who never, ever seem to question whether altruism itself is at fault, nor, indeed, whether there are any other moral codes to serve as superior, benevolent alternatives.

     It is said when Pol Pot was a college student in Paris, he swore to bring "pure" communism to Cambodia, and not the bloody, dictatorial, "perverted"-type communism that was put into place in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. Unfortunately, by the time he took over in Cambodia, he found that it was "necessary" to become the most murderous (per capita) dictator in history as people still seemed to want to take care of their families before they took care of his vision for them, and a bloodbath and reign of terror was the only way to squeeze out even a show of cooperation. This step-by-step progression from altruist idealism to butchery and unimaginable horror has been repeated time and time again in country after country. I submit to you who are still in a state of denial: yes, THIS is the REAL ultimate consequence, and legacy of, the preaching of self-sacrifice for "the common good".

     "The standard view of Nazism is that the root of the Nazi atrocities was an excess of certainty and selfishness, which gave the Nazis the confidence to impose their interests by force. In reality, even a cursory examination of Nazi propaganda shows us the opposite. ... as for self-interest, the Nazis were thoroughgoing collectivists, who held that the interests of the individual must be ruthlessly sacrificed to the interests of the race. Hitler declared 'Du bist nichts, dein Volk ist alles' -- 'you are nothing, your race is everything'." -- Robert Tracinski, HERE

     "Fascist ethics begin ... with the acknowledgment that it is not the individual who confers a meaning upon society, but it is, instead, the existence of a human society which determines the human character of the individual. According to Fascism, a true, a great spiritual life cannot take place unless the State has risen to a position of pre-eminence in the world of man. The curtailment of liberty thus becomes justified at once, and this need of rising the State to its rightful position." -- Mario Palmieri, "The Philosophy of Fascism" 1936 

      "It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation; that the position of the individual ego is condiditoned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole  ... that above all the unity of a nation's spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an individual...
     "This state of mind, which subordinates the interests of the ego to the conservation of the community, is really the first premise ... The basic attitude from which such activity arises, we call -- to distinguish it from egoism and selfishness -- idealism.  By this we understand only the individual's capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow men." -- Adolf Hitler, Oct. 7, 1933, as quoted in this book.

    "So many idealistic political movements for a better world have ended in mass-murdering dictatorships. Giving leaders enough power to create 'social justice' is giving them enough power to destroy all justice, all freedom, and all human dignity." -- Thomas Sowell 

    "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." -- Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin 

"Throughout history, no tyrant ever rose to power except on the claim of representing `the common good.´ Napoleon `served the common good´ of France.  Hitler [was] `serving the common good´ of Germany.  Horrors which no man would dare consider for his own selfish sake are perpetrated with a clear conscience by altruists´ who justify themselves by -- the common good." -- Ayn Rand, HERE

      "We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society." -- Hillary Clinton, 1993

"Since the world began and men have killed one another, no one has committed such an idea without consoling himself with the same idea.  And that idea is le bien publique, the hypothetical welfare of other people." -- Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

See:  THE MEGA-HOLOCAUST THAT ALL TOO MANY PEOPLE DENY here.



See: "The single most damaging error of the modern age is the misperception of government as an agency of compassion." HERE

"Voting is no substitute for the eternal vigilance that every friend of freedom must demonstrate towards government.  If our freedom is to survive, Americans must become far better informed of the dangers from Washington -- regardless of who wins the Presidency." -- James Bovard in Voting is Overrated

..
Guess what? "Altruism" was NEVER meant to mean just "everyday kindness"
“The word 'altruism' was coined in the early nineteenth century by the French philosopher Auguste Comte (who also invented the word 'sociology' ). For Comte, altruism is not simple benevolence or charity, but rather the moral and political obligation of the individual to sacrifice his own interests for the sake of a greater social good. It should be noted that Ayn Rand did not oppose helping others in need, provided such actions are voluntary.  What she opposed was the use of coercion--that is, the initiation of physical force--in social relationships. The doctrine of altruism, in Rand's view, is evil partially because it serves to justify coercion, especially governmental coercion, in order to benefit some people at the expense of others.” -- George H. Smith 

"In short, altruism requires the systematic sacrifice of the good and valuable for the vicious and the worthless. ... But it is impossible to sell people on total, unadulterated sacrifice. It is too glaring a contradiction to tell them to find value in the destruction of values -- so it is necessary to pretend that it is not really destruction.  The facts must be distorted, hidden, or declared to be irrelevant.  Whatever the method, altruism requires and sanctions a war on reality. ... Philosophically, this war is manifested in the attempts to base morality on any bizarre fantasy philosophers can dream up ... this dependence of altruism on dishonesty demonstrates its weakness and vulnerability as a moral code. ... reality is altruism's enemy." -- Robert Tracinski, "Altruism's War on Reality", HERE

“Both altruism and duty fail to acknowledge that benevolence is volitional, and that when volition is overridden (forced) it ceases to possess any of the qualities of benevolence and becomes bare-bones extortion.” -- Richard Rieben
 

   "Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others.  These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible.  The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice -- which means: self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction -- which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as the standard of the good.

   "Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar.  That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime.  The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you.  The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence.  The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal.  Any man of self-esteem will answer: "No."  Altruism says: "Yes."  ...

   "As to Kant's version of the altruist morality, he claimed that it was derived from 'pure reason,' not from revelation -- except that it rested on a special instinct for duty, a 'categorical imperative' which one 'just knows.'  His version of morality makes the Christian one sound like a healthy, cheerful, benevolent code of selfishness.  Christianity merely told man to love his neighbor as himself; that's not exactly rational -- but at least it does not forbid man to love himself.  What Kant propounded was full, total, abject selflessness: he held that an action is moral only if you perform it out of a sense of duty and derive no benefit from it of any kind, neither material nor spiritual; if you derive any benefit, your action is not moral any longer.  This is the ultimate form of demanding that man turn himself into a "shmoo" -- the mystic little animal of the Li'l Abner comic strip, that went around seeking to be eaten by somebody.

   "It is Kant's version of altruism that is generally accepted today, not practiced -- who can practice it? -- but guiltily accepted.  It is Kant's version of altruism that people, who have never heard of Kant, profess when they equate self-interest with evil.  It is Kant's version of altruism that's working whenever people are afraid to admit the pursuit of any personal pleasure or gain or motive -- whenever men are afraid to confess that they are seeking their own happiness -- whenever businessmen are afraid to say that they are making profits -- whenever the victims of an advancing dictatorship are afraid to assert their "selfish" rights.

   "The ultimate monument to Kant and to the whole altruist morality is Soviet Russia."Ayn Rand

"May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish* ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government." -- Thomas Jefferson to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826.  Jefferson died 10 days later on July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day after the adoption of his proudest work, the Declaration of Independence. .

* "monkish" was Jefferson's word for altruism-indoctrinated, "altruism" as a word having not yet gained common usage.
 

To [Adam] Smith sympathy and self-interest were not antithetical; they were complementary. "Man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only," he explained in The Wealth of Nations

Charity, while a virtuous act, could not alone provide the essentials for living. Self-interest was the mechanism that could remedy this shortcoming. Said Smith: "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."  

-- from Biography of Adam Smith (1723-90), HERE
..
"Altruism is a code of ethics which hold the welfare of others as the standard of  'good', and self-sacrifice as the only moral action. The unstated premise of the doctrine of altruism is that all relationships among men involve sacrifice. This leaves one with the false choice between maliciously exploiting the other person (forcing them to be sacrificed) or being 'moral' and offering oneself up as the sacrificial victim." -- Jeff Landauer and Joseph Rowlands HERE

Remember, pure altruism teaches that if you receive ANY benefit of ANY kind whatsoever from any action you take, that action is not and CAN NOT BE "unselfish." Just because the benefit you receive may be only long-term, or accrue only to those people you care about, this still amounts to YOUR RECEIVING A BENEFIT (because it's true that "what goes around comes around), and therefore you cannot honestly claim unselfishness (acknowledging, of course, that many crooks, politicians and other con-artists readily will). Obviously the ONLY way to practice PURE altruism is to either: a) Help an evil person -- to do evil, not good -- so no real benefit ever accrues to you or anyone you care about. Or: b) Do the most dramatically helpful thing you can and commit suicide immediately afterwards -- therefore no benefits can ever accrue to you, even by accident. These are the ONLY logical choices. Duh. However, I never finally figured all this out (wasn't I ever so stupid?) until I reached the ripe old age of 12, just in time to ensure a miserable, deeply depressed, suicidal youth. Please don't EVER torment another child by teaching unselfishness like that again. Thank you.

..
     "Man's life, as required by his nature, is not the life of a mindless brute, of a looting thug or a mooching mystic, but the life of a thinking being -- not life by means of force or fraud, but life by means of achievement -- not survival at any price, since there's only one price that pays for man's survival: reason." -- John Galt in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
     "I have presented the barest essentials of my system, but they are sufficient to indicate in what manner the Objectivist ethics is the morality of life -- as against the three major schools of ethical theory, the mystic, the social, and the subjective ... which represent the morality of death. ...  These three schools differ only in their method of approach, not in their content. In content. they are merely variants of altruism, the ethical theory which regards man as a sacrificial animal, which holds that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only viable option." -- Ayn Rand, "The Objectivist Ethics"
     "The foundation of individualism lies in one's moral right to pursue one's own happiness. This pursuit requires a large amount of independence, initiative, and self-responsibility.
     "But true individualism entails cooperating with others through trade, which facilitates the pursuit of each party's happiness, and which is carried out not just on the level of goods but on the level of knowledge and friendship. Trade is essential for life; it provides one with many of the goods and values one needs. Creating an environment where trade flourishes is of great importance and great interest for the individualist.
     "Politically, true individualism means recognizing that one has a right to his own life and happiness. But it also means uniting with other citizens to preserve and defend the institutions that protect that right." 
-- Shawn E. Klein, HERE
"For the first time in history, the rational and the good are fully armed in the battle against evil. Here we finally find the answer to our paradox; now we can understand the nature of the social power held by evil. Ultimately, the evil, the irrational, truly has no power. The evil men’s control of morality is transient; it lives on borrowed time made possible only by the errors of the good. In time, as more honest men grasp the truth, evil’s stranglehold will be easily broken." -- Dr. Andrew Bernstein, HERE
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Classical Individualism
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Question Altruism sticker
          from Poor Richard's Print Shoppe
Bumper Sticker from Poor Richard's Print Shoppe
 

... BECAUSE IT'S A NECESSARY PART OF THE ETERNAL VIGILANCE REQUIRED FOR LIBERTY



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tongue-in-cheek?
"We are here on earth to do good for others.  What the others are here for, I don't know."
-- W. H. Auden, THE WEEK, Nov. 16, 2002, p. 19
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"I'm fed up with "one-size-fits-all" religions and child-rearing guidelines.  Shy children should be taught to be more assertive, even as selfish as they can be. Otherwise they could become suicidal.  I know; I speak from personal experience.  And in my opinion, those who teach unselfishness to shy children are guilty of spiritual murder.  It's the bullies who really need to be taught respect, both self-respect and respect and consideration for others. But out of far-sightedness, good will, and an enthusiasm for giving and receiving affection, not out of any fear of any authority anyone can see through; that's obviously going to backfire sooner or later. Usually sooner." -- Rick Gaber