Scratch Notes on Benevolent Self-Interest

  • On a grand scale, no one else can figure out what you need to take care you.
    • Secure your own mask before helping others with theirs.
    • Self-interest gets a bad rap when the range is lop-sided. When we see a person destroying their long-term goals (and maybe those of others) in pursuit of the short-term gain, it’s hard to feel like this person is doing justice to himself/herself or the world. Self-interest is often benevolent when the range of a person’s actions are not lop-sided.
    • It is easier to trust a person when you can understand how they benefit from their own actions and that it isn’t at your expense.
    • Self-interest doesn’t preclude and often includes concern for the well-being of your associates and respect for those engaged in a similar struggle.
    • Two people engaged in a relationship that don’t speak their minds will find that the relationship will reach a point of frustrating mediocrity. You have to represent your perspective, your likes, and your interests. You have to take positions and be willing to revise them.
    • Free-Market Capitalism, the political philosophy of self-interest-therefore-liberty, has done more for the poor than the altruistic and tyrannical political philosophies.

Every American understands these things on some gut level but a lot of Americans struggle with being identified as self-interested.