Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Joys of Selfishness

                             

by The Urban Blabbermouth
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On my way home, I saw a woman offer to pay the train fare of a young lady standing by the turnstile.  The young lady declined the offer and thanked the woman.  Seems like there are some kind, generous, and charitable people still around our city.  Well, that is wrong.  The woman who made the offer was just being totally selfish.

The woman, lets call her Generous Jeanie or Genny for short, was quite selfish.  Genny wanted to help because she thinks of herself as a generous, kind and charitable person. She acts this way so that she can feel good about herself.  She was only thinking of her own feelings and was using the other person to achieve her pleasure.  This is the virtue of selfishness.

Don't abhor selfishness, our society is built on it.   Adam Smith, considered by some to be the father of modern economics and the father of capitalism, said that it is good to be selfish.  Capitalism runs on selfishness.  Businesses are started by people who want to make lots of money, to be rich, and they sell you stuff to get rich.  Adam Smith says that their selfish desire to get rich forces them to sell you great products or you would not buy from them.  If you do not buy from them, they will not get rich and will go out of business.  So it does pay to be selfish.

The Rockefellers gave money to many communities and in turn the communities named buildings, parks, and streets after them.  There is a  Rockefeller University funded by, guess who...  Rockefeller was not alone.  Vanderbilt and Kennedy, to name two other well known people, gave money to communities and all have buildings, parks and streets named after them.  We all think of Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Kennedy as kind, generous, and charitable when what they really wanted was to see their names on buildings, parks, and streets.  The great and enduring virtue of selfishness.

We are not immune to the virtues of selfishness.   You give to the Red Cross and you feel good that you have helped someone in distress.  You also give because you worry that when you are in distress, when you need the Red Cross, will someone give to help you?  You give to ease your guilt because you have so much and others have less.  The more in need is the person you are helping, the greater the virtue.

Gordon Gekko was wrong. The true saying is, "Selfishness is Good.  Go forth and be selfish."