Egoism holds that one is entitled to what one has earned. Altruism holds that one is entitled to what one needs.
By Harry Binswanger
So, we see that they are not even going to try to repeal Obamacare ...
The temptation is to say, “Those g----mn spineless Republicans.”
That is a mistake. The problem is not in the moral character of the representatives. They are our representatives, after all. They should not need a spine, only the desire to be re-elected.
And the electorate, as they read it, does not want to cut off the looting of the productive to fund the irresponsibility of the parasites. Or, as the public sees the situation, we must not strip away from the helpless that which is rightfully theirs, by virtue of their need.
And right there you see the power of ideas. Egoism holds that one is entitled to what one has earned. Altruism holds that one is entitled to what one needs. Egoism holds that rightful ownership of a value comes from the act of creating it. Altruism holds that rightful ownership of a value comes from the state of lacking it.
The altruistic theory of entitlement through need cuts the ground out from under the popular notion that the issue is whether or not charitable acts should be forced on us by law. But “charity” depends on a concept of “property,” and “property” depends on the concept of “ownership,” and “ownership” depends on the standard of morality.
On the altruist standard, the dispossessed, the disadvantaged, the distressed, the underprivileged, the have-nots, the underclass, the downtrodden, the weak and helpless, the ability-challenged, “the most vulnerable among us”— the needy, have been robbed. The goods which are theirs by right have somehow ended up in the hands of others. And not just in the hands of random others, but in the hands of the worst, most ruthless, most depraved, sociopaths: those who, absurdly imagining themselves to be autonomous and self-made, claim that they did “build that,” flaunting their yachts, limos and private jets in the faces of their victims.
Adopt that altruist framework for the moment. Now imagine how you'd assess the idea that “altruism is fine, I'm only saying it must not be forced on us by government.” For an altruist, that's the equivalent of hearing “Rights are fine, I'm only saying they must not be forced on criminals by government.”
That's why Obamacare can't be repealed. The public thinks its essence —protection of the needy — is our highest moral duty.
Those who are unwilling to denounce altruism and uphold rational selfishness have no hope of defending capitalism.
Harry Binswanger, Ph.D., is a member of the Ayn Rand Institute Board of Directors and teaches at ARI's Objectivist Academic Center. This article appeared in the summer edition of The Objective Standard magazine.