Christopher Hitchens once said: “I have always found it strange and rather touching that there is movement [Libertarians] in the United States who thinks Americans are not selfish enough yet. Was he right? Are Americans Selfish? A statistic could be used as a strong argument that they are not. Americans donate a higher percentage of GDP to charities than any other nationality. But it is misleading.
America has some of the lowest tax rates among industrialized countries. And these industrialized countries rely on public money to pay for universal health care, parental leave, the social safety net, etc. You won’t find any Germans, Swedes or Canadians who rely on Go Fund Me drives to cover medical costs. Yet, given their Druthers, Republicans would cut taxes even more. And this while fighting the Medicaid extension.
Plus, in the United States, 100% of your charitable donations are usually tax deductible – which is rarely the case. Case In other countries. There, the tax code only allows a fraction of charitable donations to be written off. Or it limits deductibility to certain charities only. Or it strictly limits the amount you can donate before you lose your tax benefit.
Americans are also very generous tips. But this points to another inequality. In other industrialized countries, catering and related workers earn a living wage. So waiters don’t have to rely on the kindness of strangers.
Add to that, despite the fact that the United States is the richest country on the planet, the American minimum wage lags behind many developed countries. One could argue that this has nothing to do with individual selfishness. However, voters choose politicians who promise not to raise the minimum wage. This means that the consumer pays less for goods and services because the workers do not earn a living wage.
And then there is non-monetary selfishness. The inspiration for this journal was a pair of parents who sent their child in elementary school for a week after that child was diagnosed with Covid. I don’t know why they did it. But however you slice it, it’s an incredibly selfish act. He served whatever their purpose while turning many lives upside down. Thanksgiving plans had to be changed as 75 students had to go into quarantine. Plus, you have 60 million Americans who refuse to get vaccinated – allowing COVID-19 to maintain a foothold and mutate, possibly destroying existing vaccines. And most of those who refuse vaccination do not wear masks. For them, their personal freedom is sacrosanct. The fact that they can infect a fellow citizen with a potentially fatal disease is of no consequence to them.
In all fairness, the United States isn’t the only one hesitant to vaccinate. It is not the only country where a noisy minority of the population puts the majority at risk. France, for example, has rioters taking to the streets to protest against sensible anti-COVID-19 measures. But the French, of course, revolt for everything.
The anti-LGBTQ + movement is selfish. Why should others honor your moral code? Sexual orientation and gender identity are not crimes. Bigots might think that being gay is a choice. It isn’t, but even if it was, so what? Denying others the rights you enjoy is not the act of a generous person. As Thomas Jefferson said,
“It doesn’t hurt that my neighbor says there are 20 gods or no gods. He doesn’t pick up my pocket or break my leg.
And no one is hurt by their neighbor’s sexuality or the gender they identify with.
Anti-choice is selfish. A woman’s body is not your property. Leave alone. Racism is selfish. We may no longer have Jim Crow laws, but the governments of the Red States are working hard to deny minority voters the right to vote. The whole concept that America was founded as a white Christian nation and therefore non-whites and non-Christians are not entitled to a piece of the pie is selfish.
All countries that are successful politically have governments based on compromise. The absence of compromise leads to fascism, totalitarianism and tyranny, whether on the left or on the right. Two very different political leaders know this.
A good compromise, a good legislation, it is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Anyone can recognize it. They say, ‘Uh. It works. It makes sense. ‘ ~ Barack Obama
“The capacity for compromise is not diplomatic politeness towards a partner but rather the consideration and respect of the legitimate interests of your partner. ~ “Vladimir Putin
Note that it is probably true to say that Obama was too quick to compromise, often apparently negotiating with himself rather than with the GOP. And most people would realize that while Putin knows the definition of compromise, it’s not someone who practices it. And it would rather be an example of the intransigent nature of totalitarianism.
In modern American politics, one political party has turned its back on compromise. There is no doubt that some progressives are absolutists. But the entire GOP is now the “my way or the highway” party. Or “what is yours is mine and what is mine is mine”. The far right of the GOP will not even compromise with the far right of the GOP. They are like spoiled little kids who think they have all the toys and no one else can play with anything.
Evangelical conservatives keep talking about values. Well, here is their book describing some of those values. But I doubt the hypocrites will pay attention to them.
“It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy. ~ Proverbs 14:21
“No one should seek his own good, but the good of others. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:24
“Do not oppress a stranger; you yourselves know what it is to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. ~ Exodus 23: 9