Be wary of those who speak of the common good or the public interest

Author: Rory B. Bellows

There are no such things as the common good or the public interest. Who decides what the common good and public interest are? My definition varies greatly from someone else’s. That is OK. Freedom is the bedrock of any successful society and individuals should be free to pursue their own interests so long as they do not harm anyone else.

As I understand, Chairman Obama used his speech as an occasion to advance the idea we are all in this together and sacrifices for the common good must be made.

Politicians who speak of the common good, shared sacrifice or the public interest are making a very eloquent, but still harmful case for statism. Statism is define as the use of physical force by the state against its own citizens. This force comes in many forms. Most often it is the threat of arrest for not following the whims of the central planners. Or it could come in the form of fines. Either way, you are compelled to act as the government wishes or face retribution.

Sacrifice for the common good meas some do without so others can do with. This may be all well and good, but it is accomplished through government force and not voluntary consent. This is the danger of statism. Statism is rule by force. You are now being compelled under threat of fine or arrest to sacrifice to those who are unable or unwilling to pay the price of success. This is not charity of philanthropy. Charity and philanthropy are private act made by those who can give; it is not an act made at gun point. The mugger who asks for your money or your life is not the beneficiary of charity, he is a criminal who used a threat of force to obtain what he wanted. Make no mistake, there is no difference between a mugger waving a gun in your face and politicians who call for sacrifice to the common good. Much in the same way you cannot give free consent to turn your wallet over to a gun toting mugger, sacrificing to the common good is also done without the benefit of voluntary consent.

The common good also implies that some individuals are expendable. Some members of society exist so their production can be turned over to others who receive unpaid for and unearned benefits. Nothing was contributed to the production of these benefits. These benefits, given in the name of the common good, were obtained because the political group they belonged to accumulated enough power to use the state’s monopoly on the use of force to advance their political agenda.

In today’s society, people find calls for sacrifice to the common good extremely compelling. We are taught to help each other and not to be selfish. While we should help each other and engage in private charity, we should never forget the words of John Galt. “I will never live my life for another an’s sake nor ask him to live his for mine”. These powerful words kneecap any arguments in favor of sacrifice for the common good. The common good implies that your life is not your own. Someone else has a claim on it. When someone else has a claim on your life you cease to be a free person. When people cease to be free, society turns to mob rule. Mob rule means the means the worst among us rise to power as they are ones with the least compunction towards using force on other members of society.



1 Response to “Be wary of those who speak of the common good or the public interest”

  1. 1 Ethan February 10, 2009 at 9:53 am

    You missed the entire point of what Obama was saying: he doesn’t want anyone to give up what they’ve earned, he just wants every person to have the opportunity to build the American dream themselves. I, for one, would much rather see people working and motivated than sitting at home collecting welfare and feeling sorry for themselves, if for no other reason than that their labor makes the world a better place for me to live.

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