Defending the Nobility of Self-Interest and Profit

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This is a re-post of an article that was originally published on Medium.

Explain to me how it is, that people, who in their separate, individual lives are driven only by material self-interests, are somehow in their collective capacity, driven by altruistic impulses. — Milton Friedman

It is not possible for us to believe in the collective nobility of a governing body, or the goodwill of bureaucratic central planners, without also disregarding, or abnegating entirely, the belief that human beings are inherently selfish.

Milton Friedman

The great Milton Friedman. | Image via Panampost

Thus, the philanthropic language of those who support larger government, or participate in it, should always raise red flags.

Because most people do serve their own material interests and do not seek power, influence and legalized coercion (perks of being a public servant), to suddenly set those interests aside that they might work for the greater good.

Political self-interest is not nobler than economic self interest.

And what is the difference between the selfish politician and the selfish business owner?

The politician can tax your paycheck, throw you in jail and force you to be charitable for his or her cause.

A selfish business tycoon can persuade you to buy something, and you can refuse.

The former should always be more heavily scrutinized.