Why Self-Interest is Good and Moral
I was engaged ina short Facebook discussion with a highly confused blogger who somehow believes that self-interest is evil and
that “most Filipinos have the mentality of an egoist or an individualist.” The focus of this post is self-interest and altruism; it won’t include any discussion about egoism and individualism since I was able to prove that the blogger doesn’t really know the concept of egoism and individualism. Individualism, which is a very specific political term, simply means that man is an end in himself, not the means to the end of others. Politically, individualism champions and upholds the concepts and principles of individual rights, reason, and capitalism. The opposite of this concept is collectivism. So this simply means that the statist blogger is so naive and ignorant of basic concepts and principles.
Here’s what this statist-apparent blogger wrote:
There is no denying that there are a lot of Filipinos who tend to put their own interest first before others. They also believe that the right to self-survival is intrinsic in every individual. To put it simply, a Filipino would find it easy to pretend that the squatters living along Pasig River and those people living among the dead in the North Cemetery are okay as long as he is comfortable in his home in Forbes Park.
So it would seem that most Filipinos have the mentality of an egoist or an individualist. And since a lot of the public servants in Philippine government are also considered moochers on account of the way they pocket public funds, they too can be considered individualists because they don’t seem to care about the welfare of others.
Isn’t it in every individual’s interest to help others to be more self-reliant so the number of moochers or those who are reliant on dole-outs will be less in the future?
On Facebook I called the attention of this blogger with the following comment: “What are you trying to attack there? It’s OK to help others so long as you don’t sacrifice your own well-being and that of your loved ones. But it’s WRONG and IMMORAL to use the powers of the government in order to help other people. You cannot be generous by using other people’s money.” I also said that “it’s certainly NOT in your self-interest to injure or take advantage of others.”
The blogger’s reply is as follows: “After the individual has taken care of her own interest. What comes next?”
That’s it. Here’s my commentary on this issue.
Some flips’ FAILED attempt to justify altruism by mentioning the charitable activities and works of a number of corporations and billionaires is so hilarious and pathetic.
That simply shows these Flips’ failure to understand the concepts of and the difference between self-interest and altruism.
In biological terms, SELF-INTEREST is evidenced by any human beings’ willingness to survive by going to work, finishing a college degree, starting a business, working on a potential invention or discovery, etc. You work, study, and mingle with the right people in order to live, to improve your life, and to learn from others. Is self-interest evil?
ALTRUISM means self-sacrifice or putting the welfare of others above your own. The altruists (like missionaries, nuns, environmentalists, etc.) are free and have the right to serve others so long as they don’t advocate for political measures that call for a national or social sacrifice (e.g., political advocacy like the passage of the Reproductive Health bill, socialized health care, etc.)
In business terms, SELF-INTEREST is manifested/evidenced by every business’s or corporation’s desire to maximize its profit margins and to encourage productivity. These naive Flips miserably try to prove their claim that ALTRUISM is good by pointing at some corporations and wealthy personalities that embark on charitable causes and activities. But in reality, are these corporations and wealthy people really ALTRUISTIC by engaging in charities and community services? The answer is NO, stupid.
Charity, as the term connotes, should be voluntary. Charity cannot be made possible by means of coercion, force or compulsion. You cannot force your neighbor to be charitable or to feed or help others. Forced charity is a contradiction in terms. Just as you don’t have the right to use force on others to render or perform charitable works, so you cannot urge the government to be charitable and generous with other people’s money.
Ever heard the concept of CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY or CSR? Most global corporations like Starbucks, McDonalds, etc. engage in CSR activities or charitable causes in order to improve their corporate image, brand, and reputation. The sole motivation is internal, not external. They engage in these generous activities and efforts NOT to lose money, but to be more successful. The ultimate purpose of these CSR activities is to improve a firm’s or company’s profit margins and sales. In business, profit symbolizes corporate self-interest. Thus in the eyes of competent corporate executives, CSR, charitable and generous activities are now a new form marketing strategies aimed at improving a company’s overall image and reputation.
So this should DEBUNK that so idiotic a claim that corporations’ charitable activities are a form of altruistic endeavor. They are NOT! These activities are motivated by CORPORATE SELF-INTEREST, not altruism!
A business or corporation cannot achieve corporate success by cheating on its consumers or by taking advantage of others. Businesses that make profits from engaging in fraudulent activities, selling substandard products at high prices, offering low quality products and services will not be able to achieve long-term success. In a free market society in which anyone is free and has the opportunity to work, to make money, and to start a business, no one or no company or corporation could ever succeed by means of force and fraud and/or by charging exorbitant prices.
However, in a society in which protectionism is rampant and that regulations and failed economic policies create artificial monopolies by the government and by domestic corporations, some politically connected businesses still make a lot of money and profits despite the inferior quality of their products and services due to lack of competition. Just look at the kind of services you get from your internet service provider.
It is not in the interest of anyone or any business to take advantage of others or to injure their rights. In a rights-respecting society, anyone guilty of fraud or violation of rights would be and should be put to trial and penalized according to established civil and penal laws.
LOGIC, folks! It exists!