Thursday, December 30, 2004

Is He an Island ?

I think this is an admirable Op-ed from David Holcberg of the Any Rand Institute, an admirable organization that espouses admirable principles and not so much supports admirable causes as sullies the intention behind admirable causes. The direction of foreign and developmental aid is one issue entirely; whether or not aid should be given at all is a non-starter: We give because we have empathy for human suffering.

(As to the direction of aid: e.g. in giving aid to Colombia the U.S has shown a “reluctance to attach specific political conditions to the hundreds of millions of dollars proposed to ... ostensibly ... combat drug trafficking [sic].” Whereas aid given to such squalid places like Sub-Saharan Africa may, under a particular Administration, be contingent on the promotion of “abstinence-only programs”, as opposed to programs that promote abstinence, sexual education, and, failing that, instruction on contraceptive use—programs of this comprehensive nature have been successful in East Africa, especially as is the case with Uganda. )

But I digress. As to the admirable that Op-ed, here are some of its more gracious passages:

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?

I’m overcome with a sense of solidarity—the solidarity in the human condition that awakes in each of us empathy for the other. Nearly 120,000 human beings have tragically vanished from this large archipelago we call earth. Isn’t that cause for reflection on what it truly means to be a citizen of the world, on what it truly means to see ourselves as part of a larger project, on what it truly means to have an interdependent global market that is inversely affected by tragedies of this magnitude? Events cast longer shadows than are perceptible to us at the time. Let’s not act as though altruism now won’t have its benefits in the future. David Holcberg is admirably a douchebag.

Via Truthlaidbear.

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