I think that Ken Dyck disagrees with my comparison between the current situation of federal government spending and the philosophies of Ayn Rand. He uses research described in a New Scientist article, Charity begins at Homo sapiens, to suggest that “it would seem entirely possible that self-interest and altruism are not as incompatible as Rand made them out to be”.
Actually, Ayn Rand would probably argue the true altruism wasn’t really possible. Let’s look at the definition of altruism:
Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.
You may give to charity, or perhaps you volunteer your time to help others; I do both. But I do so because I want to and because it makes me feel good. I get a feeling of pleasure from helping, therefore I am not selfless, and as such I am not an altruist.
Even if you aren’t so sure about that, you must understand that the government cannot be altruistic because they are motivated by the desire to stay in power, thus the recent $4.6 billion agreement between the Liberals and the NDP. Besides, the government doesn’t actually have anything to give – they generate no revenue.
Forcibly extracting money from those who have it (which is what taxes are) so that it can be given out to certain groups who need it, as defined by an unelected union leader who was giving orders to the Prime Minister – that is not altruism. There is no selflessness involved. Every party gets something out of the transaction, except of course for those who actually worked to earn the money that was paid in taxes. They were denied the ability to practice any form of charity with the money that was taken from them, ostensibly by people who claim to know better how to spend it, and benefit themselves in the process.
Much like communism, where some higher classes often became rich even while the workers barely eked out a living, all of these intermediaries benefit. While they may truly care about these people, they also act out of self-interest, so this is not altruism either.
The “rich” often choose to donate time and money to worthy causes, and in Rand’s books the capitalists worked to improve society as a whole, which benefits everyone. Corporations generate the employement and the wealth that drive the Canadian economy, and any impact on those corporations will ripple through the economy. I’m having trouble remembering the last time a union created thousands of new jobs.
I could just equate the government to Robin Hood; stealing from the rich to give to the poor. I guess though that I should be happy that my selfless act of paying taxes was able to help so many downtrodden advertising agencies, as I sure that they were selflessly working to keep Canada together and the Liberals in power, with no thought of benefitting themselves.
I think that generally people are concerned about those who are less fortunate than themselves, and willing pay taxes that they know will benefit those people. However, everyone has their limits.