Ayn Rand Institute on South Asia: Selfishness as Stupidity

I occasionally get “op-eds” sent to me from the Ayn Rand Institute, and generally ignore them (like I do most of the low-grade think-tank spam I receive). But today’s submission caught my eye:
U.S. Should Not Help Tsunami Victims
By David Holcberg
As the death toll mounts in the areas hit by Sunday’s tsunami in southern Asia, private organizations and individuals are scrambling to send out money and goods to help the victims. Such help may be entirely proper, especially considering that most of those affected by this tragedy are suffering through no fault of their own.
The United States government, however, should not give any money to help the tsunami victims. Why? Because the money is not the government’s to give…

Sigh. The piece continues on in quite predictable fashion to decry the government for “doling out money that they have no right to and that does not belong to them” and declaring the altruism that justifies such confiscation as “a vicious morality that demands that we sacrifice our values instead of holding on to them.”
Really, you couldn’t have written a better satire of classic Randthink if you tried. (Actually, you could: this piece would be rejected as too over-the-top if it wasn’t for real).
Okay, here’s a quick slice and dice:
First, “the government” is elected, and if the taxpayers don’t like their money being spent on charities, they have every opportunity to vote them out of office. So stop bitching about “the government.”
Second, Mr. Holcberg seems completely oblivious to the notion that perhaps it is in the selfish best-interest of the citizens of the United States to help ensure that the people of South Asia are not starving, dying, and generally living in misery. Might we entertain for a moment the idea that large populations of destitute, desperate people (as opposed to healthy, properous ones) are just a bit more likely to lash out at the United States and the rest of the world? You don’t have to accept a poverty-causes-terrorism argument (which I don’t) to grant that the United States would be safer and better off in a world rid of desperate, miserable populations who can be easily swayed by radical and dangerous ideologies of hatred against America.
Anyway, that’s about all the time this one is worth. The piece doesn’t appear to be online, so I’ll put the full text after the break. Read if you dare.
PS: Irony alert: why does the Ayn Rand institute have a page asking for volunteers?


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U.S. Should Not Help Tsunami Victims
By David Holcberg
As the death toll mounts in the areas hit by Sunday’s tsunami in southern Asia, private organizations and individuals are scrambling to send out money and goods to help the victims. Such help may be entirely proper, especially considering that most of those affected by this tragedy are suffering through no fault of their own.
The United States government, however, should not give any money to help the tsunami victims. Why? Because the money is not the government’s to give.
Every cent the government spends comes from taxation. Every dollar the government hands out as foreign aid has to be extorted from an American taxpayer first. Year after year, for decades, the government has forced American taxpayers to provide foreign aid to every type of natural or man-made disaster on the face of the earth: from the Marshall Plan to reconstruct a war-ravaged Europe to the $15 billion recently promised to fight AIDS in Africa to the countless amounts spent to help the victims of earthquakes, fires and floods–from South America to Asia. Even the enemies of the United States were given money extorted from American taxpayers: from the billions given away by Clinton to help the starving North Koreans to the billions given away by Bush to help the blood-thirsty Palestinians under Arafat’s murderous regime.
The question no one asks about our politicians’ “generosity” towards the world’s needy is: By what right? By what right do they take our hard-earned money and give it away?
The reason politicians can get away with doling out money that they have no right to and that does not belong to them is that they have the morality of altruism on their side. According to altruism–the morality that most Americans accept and that politicians exploit for all it’s worth–those who have more have the moral obligation to help those who have less. This is why Americans–the wealthiest people on earth–are expected to sacrifice (voluntarily or by force) the wealth they have earned to provide for the needs of those who did not earn it. It is Americans’ acceptance of altruism that renders them morally impotent to protest against the confiscation and distribution of their wealth. It is past time to question–and to reject–such a vicious morality that demands that we sacrifice our values instead of holding on to them.
Next time a politician gives away money taken from you to show what a good, compassionate altruist he is, ask yourself: By what right?
David Holcberg is a research associate at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

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