Every individual is consciously interested to maximize his or her own welfare. It is not bad to think about oneself but it is surely unjust, immoral, unethical and bad to think about oneself at the expense of others. Individuals are always self-interested. That simply means there are few things each person cares about; some ends or values matter more to them than to others.
This article attempts to coherently examine the definition, differentiation and discussion on selfishness.
Selfishness is a virtue when applied responsibly. It is chaotic when applied collectively. See Tragedy of the commons.
- Mother Teresa used her Nobel Prize award to build a leprosarium. She was selfish and that is why she acted in a self-interested manner. She used those resources to advance something she cared about.
- Do you go to work out of kindness to your boss? No. You do it to earn and enjoy your life.
- You do not hire a plumber because you feel sorry for him. You do it because your tap needs repair.
- Farmers don’t plough because they want to feed you. They work so that they can reap benefits from their production.
Everyone is selfish; everyone thinks individually. Only a dead body is selfless. Preaching altruism (selflessness) is also an act of selfishness. Anyone calling you “selfish” is selfish too, since s/he is also acting in their own self-interest.
In the current state of our economy, politicians are serving or fulfilling their own self-interest. They do not care about efficiency, economic freedom, rule of law and individual rights. Check our index to know more. Economist Thomas Sowell pointed out, “No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind”.
In this article “Planned Economic Crisis“, late economist & Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman highlighted how central planning system is dangerous for the development of Indian economy. Even today India is continuing with the bureaucratic system of economic planning and law of rule belief. This is not good for the growth story of India because our market economy is not based on voluntary cooperation and liberalism. We don’t have ‘right to property‘ as a fundamental human right anymore. This clearly explains that government is a master of the people. That is why people end up paying more for the political cost of the legislators’ self-interested plans.
Last but not least, the truest principle of selfishness is when individual rights of each individual to act as s/he deems best–are respected and protected, each of us is free to produce and trade values. Each of us is free to pursue the values that we want, and our interactions with others must be based on their voluntary consent. When individual rights are protected, each of us is free to be selfish–to pursue our own happiness.
Free A Billion (FAB) movement is endeavoring to alter the equation of our status quo by making our people to master over the political controls of our government. FAB needs your support. FAB intends to deflate the tyranny of the governmental power by making our government more accountable, transparent and socially responsible.