Self-interest and Individuality

by Rocket Finance

individual

The country that I call home leads the world financially, technologically, and militarily. We are the most successful experiment in self-government and freedom. We are one of the most compassionate people groups in history and when given a chance to flourish under truth, justice rises to the top. Obviously, our country is not perfect, no one would make that case, yet our founders left us with a great heritage. But what makes our country great? Ben Franklin famously said that America was “A republic, if you can keep it”. Freedom requires constant vigilance and an understanding of why we have been successful.

There are many principles that have made the United States great. One such principle is something I have heard called “individualism”. A better term for our topic today might be “self-interest”. The idea¬† of self-interest should not be confused with selfishness or greed. Self-interest is the idea that you are free to seek those things that you value. If you value money, you are free to pursue it ethically. If you value beauty, you can spend all of your time in art. Other things that individuals value are family, power, influence, popularity, some like to build, some like to organize, some just like to play around. Our Constitution is based on the idea that men are created equal and should be free to reap the rewards of their success and be responsible for their failures. This is called the freedom for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. In a free society, choices have consequences. When consequences are removed, man does not govern himself.

The liberal or collectivist does not like the individual. He despises him or thinks that he is a dullard. People are not smart enough to eat healthy or save for retirement on their own. The liberal or progressive does not believe in the freedom to pursue happiness, the liberal wants the government to guarantee that everyone has the same outcome. They would like to guarantee success to every individual. The result is that while no one fails, no one learns from failure and no one really succeeds either. Those who wish to guarantee success to every person must do so by restricting liberty and stifling creativity.

The government never provides solutions, it only restricts freedom and piles on layers of bureaucracy. The solutions to the problems of poverty, health care, education, and retirement lie in the direction of our families, churches and local communities, not Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid or even Jim Boehner or Newt Gingrich. Less government gives power to the individual. More government concentrates power in the hands of a few.

Photo by Tim Pierce

  1. 2 Responses to “Self-interest and Individuality”

  2. By Phyllis on Jan 5, 2010 | Reply

    I TOTALLY agree with 90% of your statements. The only addition I would make is that SOMEONE must make sure that business and life in general is able to be conducted in an ethical manner – and it appears that government MAY fit that slot. In my book, less (government) is better. And government attempts at solutions often are a joke. Unfortunately, I know whereof I speak, as I am a housing counselor for a nonprofit legal clinic, working hard to help people keep their homes out of foreclosure. In my experience in this arena, much of the governmental attempt at a bandaid on this solution is totally bureacratic, usually leading to false hope and just postponing the inevitable. While a number of imminent foreclosures stem from the current economy, much of what I see is a result of bad business practices in the real estate/banking industry that should never have been allowed to flourish in the first place. If legislation/government/big business had not been allowed to make some of these deals in the first place, our current situation would not be as severe. THIS is government’s primary job, in my opinion, to make the PLAYING FIELD level, not the outcome.

  3. By rocketc on Jan 5, 2010 | Reply

    Phyllis, you are exactly correct – remember that bad business practice was encouraged by our government. They incentivised and even forced banks to make loans to subprime borrowers even thought they knew that they were not going to make any money from those loans. Their search for a profit forced them into riskier types of investments as they resold the loans.

    Government needs to enforce the law and protect everyone, but sadly our government has become more interested in protecting those who can contribute to political campaigns.

    Your organization is just one example of the many charitable and free market solutions that Americans can use to solve problems. Washington DC just makes things worse.

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