Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I'm a liberal here at Patrick Henry College. Compared to the philosophies espoused by most students, mine is liberal. I think it's flatly libertarian (you stay out of my business and I'll stay out of yours), but I'm among a small minority who is willing to vote for Bob Barr on principle.

I'm also one of half a dozen or fewer who have read Ayn Rand and I'm the only PHC student who has read any of Ayn Rand's non-fiction work.

This is assuredly a pity. Nigh on a tragedy.

I support pure laissez-faire capitalism (including deregulation of all industries and the elimination of trade-inhibiting tariffs and excises), a reduction in the size and power of the government - federal, state, and local - and a greater focus on national defense, and generally a vast reduction in the number of programs devised for the general welfare.

I understand the constitutionality of the phrase, "general welfare," but it lacks grounding in reality. Men are naturally inclined toward self-interest. Altruism is never the main goal; it is incidental or, in some cases, a second purpose. Politicians who claim to do something for the "general welfare" use it as a means by which to gain political sway, manipulate their peers, or win more votes to keep themselves in office. Just as a business works to maximize its profits, government works to maximize its power.

I've been reading about Public Choice lately. Political economic theory rules.


brgingerich said...

This post is almost universally incorrect, from your assertion that no one else has read Ayn Rand's nonfiction work to your denial of altruism.

Michael Garofalo said...

Oh? Of the people I talked to here prior to writing the post (and my perception has not changed), only one had read any of her non-fiction and knew of four or five others who had.

And on the denial of altruism, I contend that everything people do is to benefit themselves. That doesn't mean that they cannot do anything to benefit others; it means that when they do things to benefit others, they have a selfish motive. That's not cynical, it's realistic. Even if the motive is being nice, people do it because they like being nice or because being nice is right and doing right things is good and they like being good. It all comes back to a selfish motive, and that's not a bad thing - it's just the way it is.