Could it be true, our neighbor’s need is a claim on your wealth and property?
Well, if so, then you must keep your brother by providing him with a guaranteed retirement (Social Security), an endless supply of medical care (Medicare, Medicaid, S-CHIP), a roof over his head (public housing), and an education for his kids (public schooling). If self-sacrifice for the needs of others is a moral imperative, then so is the entitlement state.
Critics call any kind of budget cut immoral, they are counting on a simple train of logic: Since the entitlement state is a moral imperative, anyone who wants to cut it back is at war with morality.
If you are your brother’s keeper, the case is unanswerable. But are you? While the Founding Fathers recognized a man’s political right to live and work for his own sake, Ayn Rand completed the case for limited government by defending the individual’s moral right to live and work for his own sake. A character in Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, summarizes this outlook: “I refuse to accept as guilt the fact of my own existence and the fact that I must work in order to support it. I refuse to accept as guilt the fact that I am able to do it and do it well. I refuse to accept as guilt the fact that I am able to do it better than most people. . . . I do not seek the good of others as a sanction for my right to exist, nor do I recognize the good of others as a justification for their seizure of my property or their destruction of my life.”
The moral justification for ending the entitlement state, Rand held, is a man’s absolute right to seek his own good and keep the rewards of his work.
Behind all their fiery bluster, Rand observed, the defenders of the entitlement state have a weapon: the tacit premise that a man who demands to be left free to live only for his own sake and his own profit is the equivalent of a criminal who tramples, robs, beats, and sacrifices others. Cut Social Security? That’s no different than stealing food out of the mouths of old people.
This is what Rand challenges. In morality, she argued, a man who truly lives and works for his own sake neither sacrifices himself to others nor others to himself–he produces the values his life requires. In politics, a limited government that protects an individual’s right to the product of his own effort does not sacrifice “the needy”–it refrains from sacrificing anyone by protecting the freedom of everyone. Cut Social Security? To do so is, in reality, to stop depriving men of the wealth they’ve produced.
In Rand’s words, “Since material goods are produced by the mind and effort of individual men, and are needed to sustain their lives, if the producer does not own the result of his effort, he does not own his life. . . . Whoever claims the ‘right’ to ‘redistribute’ the wealth produced by others is claiming the ‘right’ to treat human beings as chattel.”
Rather than what you've been doing (standing on street corners with signs) which, so far has been unproductive, let's together occupy our own lives within the bounds of the freedoms bequeathed to us by our founding fathers. We can create a society based upon the celebration of individual entrepreneurial spirit rather than a hive mentality where everyone is a loser.