Soon after the Boxing Day tsunami struck, the Ayn Rand Institute
issued an uncharitable op-ed
saying that the United States government should not give any money to help the tsunami victims, because the money is not the government's to give. This is like claiming that because there's nothing wrong with eating meat, it's OK to slaughter and dine upon the family pet. Whatever the merits of that argument, it's not going to win over any vegetarians.
Belatedly realising this, the ARI subsequently issued an almost-as-embarrassing Clarification of ARI's Position on Government Help to Tsunami Victims
One of the most annoying things about Ayn Rand's disciples is their Rand-speak. They say, "The American public's predictably generous response to assist these efforts is motivated by goodwill toward their fellow man... This benevolence, which we share, is not the same thing as altruism." Sorry, Randoids, but benevolence
are pretty much the same thing. They then go on to define altruism as "the moral view that need entitles a person to the values of others, whose corresponding duty is to sacrifice their values for that person's sake." Wrong again. That's socialism, not altruism.
The thing is, their view, that the money the government gives in aid is not theirs to give, is essentially correct. Would that they could do a better sales job. What the ARI needs is Don Brash!
Don Brash was dubbed "Hurricane Brash" in the wake of his Orewa speech
last year. Political columnist Colin James referred to the Don Brash phenomenon as the "Don Brash tsunami
" - unfortunately, just 6 days before Boxing Day. Well, Brash has issued a press release
critical of the government's response to the disaster. "I would be the last person to argue for frivolous Government spending but this is one of those cases where the Government response has been inadequate. New Zealanders are a generous people and would expect their Government to be more forthcoming."
Recognise this as essentially the same claim as the ARI's? No? That's how good a salesman Don Brash is! Let me explain.
40% of New Zealand's GDP is government spending. The money the government spends is money stolen in a multitude of ways from tax-payers - ordinary, working New Zealanders. Once that money is out of our wallets and in the hands of the government, we no longer have any real say over how it gets spent. The government decides, not us. So, if we want to give less money to charity, we can't. More importantly, if we want to give more to charity, we can't - not, at least, from the 40% of our money the government has appropriated.
If it's true that the government should not give money to help the tsunami victims, because the money is not the government's to give, then neither should the government withhold money which could go to help tsunami victims, because it is not the government's to withhold.