Sunday, July 23, 2017

Are We Now a Nation of Moochers and Thieves?

In reply to my comments posted under Linda Stamato’s op-ed Under Trump, ask not what you can do for your country. He doesn't care (see yesterday's post), a correspondent replied regarding my position:

There will be few takers.The wealthy are the only ones who can afford to,and you can bet that most of them are not willing to live under Spartan  conditions to help people in 3rd world countries.As I mentioned earlier.1 of our former neighbors sons went to Africa with the Peace Corp after college.If he had to fund it himself he couldn't have afforded it.The airfare along would have made it a no-go. [sic]

The assumption underlying this rebuttal is both disturbing and corrupt. Have we now reached the point in America where not being able to afford something automatically entitles you to other people’s wallets? Are we now a pick-pocket nation? It seems so, at least in many people’s minds.

If the neighbor of bayshore lady, the correspondent, couldn’t afford to go, why not get a job, save up, and pay for the trip himself? Is self-responsibility now dead? Presumably, his college education qualified him for a remunerative job.

Some would probably respond, “But he’s not doing this for himself. He’s selflessly serving others.” First of all, if he’s doing it selflessly, shame on him. The measure of a person’s moral character is determined by his level of self-support and responsibility. It’s easy to give up self-responsibility—to selflessly serve others. Selflessness is self-denial—a betrayal of one’s own life requirements, values, and convictions, as if they don’t count. Lack of integrity is not an admirable character trait.  

If a Peace Corp stint means so much to him—if, for example, he wants to score “altruistic” points he thinks will pump up his job résumé—then if he had integrity he’d do it on his own, or with voluntary contributions from like-minded people like bayshore lady. Not being able to afford the cost of his altruistic venture does not justify using the government as his hired gun to secure funding any more than not being able to afford a meal at Ruth’s Chris Steak House justifies it. But then, that is the predatory nature of altruism. An young American who thinks needy Africans have a moral claim on his life and time will necessarily believe his need is a moral claim on the wallets of his fellow Americans.

Stamato condemns Trump’s Peace Corp funding cutbacks as “promoting self-regard.” But if we had more self-regard, we would have more regard for others and less incentive to prey on them.

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