Saturday, January 28, 2012

Objectivisim, Ayn Rand, and Anti-altruism - Why I Hate the World EP 57


  1. I have a few questions/comments regarding this video.

    1. I think you do a decent job of explaining Rand's philosophy (or at least what I understand of it), but in regards to 'accomplishing one's goals' I'm not sure if I agree that the only goal that is worthy of accomplishment is to make money. So for instance you bring up art; if your goal is happiness (pretty much everyone's goal) and art makes you happy then I don't see how art would be considered anti-Objectivist. Why is earning money the only allowable goal?
    If you've read Atlas Shrugged you will remember the famous composer who went on strike. The book never really mentions his wealth (from what I remember) but basically says that he went on strike because, more or less, he felt like his work was being stolen from him by the government. I think Rand considers the creation of this art to be 'productive' and she values productivity, not simply making money, as the standard of worth.

    2. Regarding helping others or helping the less fortunate, from reading AS I pretty much agree with your summary of Objectivist beliefs. That being said, I would like to think a majority of libertarians/conservatives (this might just be wishful thinking on my part) don't have a problem with helping people but more so have a problem of being FORCED to help people. And by that I mean through taxes and wealth redistribution. In fact I'm fairly certain if you look at tax returns by party affiliation Republicans have far more charitable contributions on a per-capita basis than do Democrats. I know, it's probably mostly to churches, but like it or not churches do a lot of social work with mostly private money.

    I believe this is a very big difference. Simply calling all libertarians/conservatives heartless is over-simplifying their position. I believe most libertarians/conservatives are against forced altruism for 3 reasons. 1. It's forced. 2. Historically the government is terrible at it (in terms of efficiency) and 3. I think most people want to help people who want to help themselves. I think a lot of libertarians/conservatives believe, whether it is true or not, that the government does a poor job of weeding out the people who are actually just down on their luck from those who prefer to be lazy and live off the system.

    I agree with the whole Karma mindset of being nice to people leads people to be nice to you. I personally volunteer at a hospital and am involved in a Financial Literacy Initiative where I go to lower-income schools and try to teach kids about how money works (I'm a CPA; it's boring as hell); basically how to get out of poverty. I guess where we disagree is that this act can also be performed by the government. I just think it doesn't work and always has unintended consequences which, for the most part, are worse than the problem that the government altruism was trying to fix to begin with.

    1. Sorry I just saw this comment right now.

      1) The way I understood it was that the only moral action one could engage in, is an action that furthered one's goals, correct? Well since most people usually put their career goals first, I was just using that as an example. I suppose the goal then one would set for one's self would be "leisure time" or something, which I guess is consistent. But should every action you engage in have to be in regards to advancing your "goals," whatever they are? It doesn't seem to leave a lot of time free for reflection, or creativity, or just screwing around. What if you just like drawing just because you like it? What if you like playing video games, not to win or get to the top of the leaderboards or get the most kills, but just because it's fun? Does everything you do have to be productive?

      Why read fiction? Why go to a movie? Why hang out with friends? Are you being productive in these instances? Not really - so is it "immoral" to engage in these actions?

      For instance, say my friend needs help moving, and it's a pain in the ass that's really going to inconvenience me, like say I need to take a day off work to do it. But, without my help my friend can't move all his stuff. According to objectivisim then not only should I not do it, no matter how much he needs my help, when I turn him down I should't even really feel bad about it. In fact, to help my friend would be an "immoral" act, because I don't directly benefit from it, in fact I lose productivity. Sorry, but that is just unacceptable to me. What the hell kind of a friendship is that? Not everything you do should be treated like a business transaction.

      Now, as for being "forced" to "help people," I don't see taxes as "thievery." Yes technically you're being forced to pay them, however you have representation from your elected officials. You have a say (albeit indirectly) on who gets taxed, how much the taxes are, when they are collected, etc. You can even get said taxes repealed. Can you repeal thievery? When you get stolen from, do you get a say in how much, or who the money is spent on? The analogy is incorrect.

      The way I see it, government services should be limited to those things services which are not profitable for private industries to engage in, or that have to be evenly distributed to citizens without the interference of a profit motive. Thus the government should be in charge of things like police, fire departments, military, etc - as all people should have access to these services/protections equally. Personally I think this should also extend to healthcare. Actually, if I were in charge I'd make ALL insurance government run, or at least regulate the shit out of it. Seriously, insurance is a business model designed about taking money for a service, then denying said service when it comes to paying up. It's an industry which revolves around ripping people off.