"I earned this"
Before linking to this Debi Ghate article about Thanksgiving in the Christian Science Monitor [irony noted] I checked to see if I had done an Objectivist take on the holiday in past seasons. As far back as '07 the only thing I found was this excellent John Stossel piece that jk linked. So without further ado...
So, on Thanksgiving, we should thank ourselves and the other producers who make the good life possible. Why don't we?
From a young age, we are bombarded with messages designed to undermine our confident pursuit of values: "Be humble," "You can't know what's good for yourself," "It's better to give than to receive," and, above all, "Don't be selfish!" We are scolded not to take more than "our share" – whether it is of electricity, profits, or pie. We are taught that altruism – not mere benevolence or generosity, but selfless sacrifice for others – is the moral ideal. We are taught to sacrifice for strangers, who inexplicably have a claim to our hard-earned wealth. We are asked to bail out failing banks and uninsured patients. We are asked to serve rather than lead. We are taught to kneel rather than reach for the sky.
As for the CSM, perhaps they printed it only as an excuse to re-link their flawed Atlas Shrugged opinion from 2007. Like Martha Stewart of Sarah Palin, the author calls Rand's ethics "dangerous." In both cases - a danger to what, exactly?
Posted by JohnGalt at November 28, 2009 5:17 PM
Interesting writing from Skousen. He was once the president of the Foundation for Economic Education, until he decided to invite Rudy Giuliani to make a speech at the annual Liberty dinner (for a $30K honorarium, no less). FEE's trustees quickly demanded his resignation. So I'm not too surprised that he'd make an off-the-wall criticism such as "Her defense of greed and selfishness..."
But as we've talked about before, Judeo-Christian charity and "altruism" are things I think Rand misunderstood. Being charitable is still up to an individual's freedom, so whether I drop money into a Salvation Army pot or buy a new CD, it's no one's business but my own and the recipient's. Bastiat would tell us that there's no economic difference, anyway: the money would be saved or spent by the recipient anyhow, just in different ways.
There's nothing mutually exclusive about being a capitalist and a devout and charitable Judeo-Christian. Would Abraham have tolerated incompetence in his herdsmen, or would he have managed his immense well so he could afford to give tithes and be generous to the poor?