Thursday, April 27, 2006

Selfishness as a virtue

Recently a contributor to the Bay of Plenty Times Daily newspaper wrote a letter placing the blame of the country’s ills on egoism, or self-interest! I disagree with his viewpoint, and replied with the following!

Your correspondent states the typical altruist / socialist interpretation of the term envy ie. envy of those who have or earn more than they do - indicated by his abhorrence of people spending their own money on things they desire.
Socialism/communism, are supposedly selfless economic theories, however those who subscribe to these ideals tend to be those who are envious of others who have what they do not. Envy is itself a form of selfishness - ie "If I can't have it, no one can." Capitalism however is the exact opposite, as individuals look out for their selfish interest to make money. The ones who cater to the selfish needs of their customers are the most successful. Customers look out for “their” selfish needs by seeking out the companies that have the best products. It's this kind of selfishness that inspires entrepreneurs to invent products and perfect services that drives our economy. Therefore, if everybody denied their self interest as your correspondent suggests, we would be still living in the dark ages.
Not only is it rational to pursue your own interests (read selfishness or egoist,) it is "irrational" not to.

John Stossel wrote recently (here) with an excellent article explaining much more succinctly than I could ever hope to:


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