delina_m asked in Politics & GovernmentPolitics · 1 decade ago

Are selfishness and egotism American values?

The United States was founded on several assumptions. A key assumption, which led to several others, was that “the sum of individual interests” was equivalent to “the common interest.” In practical terms, this meant:

1. Individuals know best how to solve their own problems.

2. Government should promote economic growth to create jobs so that individuals can solve their own problems.

3. The best way for government to promote economic growth is to ask business leaders what can be done to help them make more money.

Today, we know that our founders were fundamentally wrong on this point. The lesson of “The Tragedy of the Commons” is that “the sum of individual interests” is NOT “ the common interest.” In his 1968 classic, “The Tragedy of the Commons”, Garrett Hardin illustrated why freedom in the commons brings ruin to all

1. Business-as-usual depends upon jobs and markets to distribute goods and services.

2. Economic growth and increasing job availability require increasing net energy.

3. Net energy correlates with peak oil and both are expected to decrease for decades. See the “Net Hubbert Curve”

4. Decades of decreasing net energy will cause job opportunities to decrease for decades because less and less energy will be available for economic development.

5. Globally, millions of new workers enter the job market each year, but job availability is expected to decline by millions of positions each year. Eventually, the projected high unemployment among young men will cause catastrophic political failures similar to those that led to Hitler’s takeover of German democracy. Therefore, business-as-usual is no longer a viable method of distributing goods and services and a new method must be found

Update:

I see no one is familiar with "the commons" so here it is:

The tragedy of the commons refers to a dilemma described in an influential article by that name written by Garrett Hardin and first published in the journal Science in 1968.[1] The article describes a situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently, and solely and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this to happen

13 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Both you and Hardin are correct. The only obvious 'rational' solution for the masses of dispossessed and disenfranchised our current culture produces is ultimately extermination of 'unnecessary' humans. For that reason, I (like many others) characterize our economic tradition as a bleak and dismal death cult.

    During one of our regular meetings about a year ago, the owner-operator of the company for which I work asked us (the employees) to tell him how we want to strategize and react to the 'economic downturn' and made us decide whether we want to reduce all our hours evenly across the board as circumstances dictate, or if we would prefer he permanently lay off individuals to maintain a full time schedule for the rest. (He of course did not identify whom among us he would permanently lay off to accommodate the full schedule for the rest.) It's funny how modest everyone's assessment of their talents and abilities becomes when wagering their incomes on it. (I'm too lazy to look it up right now and can't remember the guy's name but a sociologist wrote an article on this, and called it something like 'the society behind the curtain'. It's a utopian theory in which any given subject lays out the blueprint for the perfect society THEN someone else picks the people that constitute that society. If the subject designs a society in which physical prowess or intelligence act as advantages to determine who 'rules', then the one that picks the members of the society assembles a society in which the subject is the weakest or the dumbest, respectively. The intent of the sociologist is to demonstrate that what is always in our best 'self-interest' is a cooperative and sympathetic society that does not arbitrarily choose then reward esoteric advantages.)

    The only obvious alternative to the extermination of 'surplus' humanity is cooperative apportionment of labor and benefit. The idea of 'competition' is unsophisticated, primordial, brutish and antiquated, and has been so for thousands of years already.

    'Selfishness' and 'egotism' ARE contemporary American values along with hatred of society, contempt for fellow humanity, celebration of the deprivation and misfortune of others, morbid narcissism and sadistic fetishism. The mythology of 'self-reliance' and 'fierce rugged individualism' in American culture has long since morphed into an overzealous psychopathic religious death cult. It is an extemely toxic and hazardous ideology that poses a very real potential for the kind of 'rational' extermination policies practiced by the nazis.

    There are no 'individuals' - Humanity is collective. Our worship of 'individualism' has stripped us of the ability to appreciate, respect and preserve our individuality, and the only hope for the future is the conclusion of the age of psychopathic individualism.

    EDIT ADD: I cite as evidence, the several psychopathic reactions your question attracted best represented by Disco Stu:

    "Individuals know best how to solve their own problems. (Agreed.) Government serves the economy the best by simply getting out of the way."

    For the respondents (including Stu) that question the authenticity of your references, I as usual am too lazy to spend any time on it now, but I did however write an article on it available on my website in which I in fact cite specific references, ironically for the specific phrase, "government serves the economy the best by simply getting out of the way". In its current contemporary form, this idea is popularized by Ayn Rand in the 1950s and I follow the ideal through quotes by the likes of Reagan & Bush all the way to the current president of (former Soviet Republic) Georgia, fully intact, in all its original glory. For Disco Stu to ask where you came up with this stuff then quote Ayn Rand (which is where you came up with this stuff) is a profoundly clarifying and disturbing indication of the current quality of the ideology: overzealous fanaticism and repitition of learned phrases without comprehension of their origins or meanings.

    (reference link)

    http://www.nokilleye.com/020322.pdf

    (commences on page 5 under subtitle: 'Six Degrees of Separation from Ayn Rand to Kevin Bacon')

  • 4 years ago

    Well first off those values existed long before this country was ever founded so let's not be so quick to label them as "American"....We grow up in a society where most of us never want for basic things like housing, education, clothes and food or jobs so we naturally learn to take things for granted especially if our parents are not instilling these values in their children. In some ways you answered you own question. It's easier to be selfish and think about yourself and not others. We bemoan the fact that we need greater security in this country but we turn right around and complain about longer lines at the airports or that the price of travel has gone up. We're socialized from a very early age to be self reliant, which can be a good thing but somehow this translates into self indulgent. If you wonder why our value system has hit the toilet start by looking at parents and schools which are the two largest institutions of instilling values in our youth.

  • 1 decade ago

    First, job creation was not a consideration of the founding of the U.S. Liberty was the primary consideration.

    Second, we've heard about peak oil for years, and it still isn't happening. As energy from one source becomes less available, it will become more expensive. As such, there will be an incentive for businesses to do a few things. They may use less energy, they may develop new energy sources, or they may develop ways to get oil more efficiently.

    What you are implying is that there must be some person or group to direct the lives of others. I would respond, but I'm sure my response would be deleted.

  • Pfo
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Where do you get these ideas?

    The sum of individual interests is most assuredly the common interest for the short term. I can guarantee you that.

    Points 2 and 3 in the first list are dead wrong, the assumptions are wrong, and they were not the assumptions of the founders of this country.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Where did you get this from?

    1. Individuals know best how to solve their own problems.

    Agreed.

    2. Government should promote economic growth to create jobs so that individuals can solve their own problems.

    No. Government serves the economy the best by simply getting out of the way.

    3. The best way for government to promote economic growth is to ask business leaders what can be done to help them make more money.

    No. The best thing the government can promote economic growth is to stop doing things that retard it.

    I'm not engaging on the rest of your cut-and-paste drivel.

    What's your point? We need socialism, right?

  • 1 decade ago

    so what is your solution? I think that things have worked well in this country for the last 233 years of our countries existence before government got involve in every aspect of our daily lives and got in the way of free enterprise by picking winners and losers. we need to back up about 25 years and remove some of the environmental and tax laws that are in place now.

  • The first 3 are what made America great and will continue to do so.

    I urge you watch just some of these

    Walter E Williams - Capital & Wages

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvKEK0ZBlXs

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    &NR=1

    Walter E Williams - Redistribution of Income

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNlwe00fOj8

    Youtube thumbnail

    &NR=1

    Walter E Williams - Government Charity

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FILFov52owk

    Youtube thumbnail

    &feature=related

    Walter E Williams - Economics of Liberty

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUL152yGVGI

    Youtube thumbnail

    &feature=related

    Walter E Williams - Washington Lies

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJmblM3kFZw

    Youtube thumbnail

    &feature=player_embedded#t=60

    Milton Friedman Power of the Market - The Pencil

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5Gppi-O3a8

    Youtube thumbnail

    &feature=related

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I think the utter failure of Reagan's 'trickle down economics' proves your point nicely.

    'Why on earth should I share my wealth with you?'

    You are on your own, buddy!

  • toad
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    They are not American values. They are the values of the money grubbing politicians are their suck up friends.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Yes, for the lazy liberals who want to live off of taxpayer dollars.

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