"Every Human Life Counts"

by Don Boudreaux on May 28, 2008

in Myths and Fallacies, Politics

The Cato Institute‘s David Boaz has this wonderful essay in today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal.  In it, he challenges the claims by both John McCain and Barack Obama that persons should commit themselves to higher causes.  Here’s David’s conclusion:

The real issue is that Messrs. Obama and McCain are telling us Americans that our normal lives are not good enough, that pursuing our own happiness is “self-indulgence,” that building a business is “chasing after our money culture,” that working to provide a better life for our families is a “narrow concern.”

They’re wrong. Every human life counts. Your life counts. You have a right to live it as you choose, to follow your bliss. You have a right to seek satisfaction in accomplishment. And if you chase after the almighty dollar, you just might find that you are led, as if by an invisible hand, to do things that improve the lives of others.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments

comments

30 comments    Share Share    Print    Email

{ 15 comments }

vidyohs May 28, 2008 at 8:28 am

You vill be part of the collective!
You vill participate.
You vill like it!

Get used to it. They have vays of makink you do it.

Per Kurowski May 28, 2008 at 8:59 am

But when Mr. Boaz says “The real issue is that Messrs. Obama and McCain are telling us Americans that our normal lives are not good enough” he sort of implies that our normal lives are good enough, and that could incite risky conformism. More clearer would be to have said that normal lives have equally in them the ability to take us higher.

What on earth would have become of all those extraordinary lives had it not been for the ordinary lives?

PaulD May 28, 2008 at 9:44 am

I quite frankly am offended by the notion that pursuing political power is somehow public service that is more worthy of praise than developing and profiting from a new product or innvovation that makes the lives of ordinary people much better.

dave smtih May 28, 2008 at 9:50 am

What scares the bejesus out of me is that McCain and Obama's rhetoric resounds so much with the people.

MT May 28, 2008 at 10:26 am

It's amazing how much socialist dogma has permeated into American culture. I think the biggest thing influencing this is the public school system.

Couple that with popular culture influences.

It's hard to innoculate kids against years of indoctrination into this collectivist mindset.

Where have you gone, Horatio Alger.

Freedom_Lover May 28, 2008 at 11:06 am

Brave New World indeed. "History is bunk".

andrew May 28, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Of course, "higher cause", simply means McCain's cause, Hillary's cause, or Obama's cause.

Greg May 28, 2008 at 1:55 pm

That’s the problem with trying to defend Capitalism from a purely economic or practical perspective and not a moral one. Socialists take the moral high ground with "other-ism" "altruism" and "sacrifice" which have been the dominate moral values for the last 2,000 years (not to mention religious conservatives are completely defenseless against.) John Galt anyone?

"It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master." http://www.aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/sacrifice.html

Randy May 28, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Greg,

Great post. I'd like to make just one small correction. I disagree that "Socialists take the moral high ground…" They do not. That's just the propaganda. The Socialist in action is a looter, plain and simple.

Pete May 28, 2008 at 5:01 pm

The corralary to:

"And if you chase after the almighty dollar, you just might find that you are led, as if by an invisible hand, to do things that improve the lives of others."

Is:

If you are motivated by "loftier goals" you just might find that you cause untold misery and suffering for others.

FreedomLover May 28, 2008 at 5:04 pm

If you are motivated by "loftier goals" you just might find that you cause untold misery and suffering for others.

Posted by: Pete | May 28, 2008 5:01:07 PM

If in every human endeavor, people strove to keep to the scientific method instead of relying on their blind emotion humanity would be far better off.

David P. Graf May 29, 2008 at 12:43 am

If someone's definition of the pursuit of happiness means a life spent in service to others, then why should Mr. Boaz criticize that choice?

Keith May 29, 2008 at 9:55 am

Quote from David P. Graf: "If someone's definition of the pursuit of happiness means a life spent in service to others, then why should Mr. Boaz criticize that choice?"

He shouldn't. The problem only arises when that person (or people) decides everybody else also needs to spend their lives in service of others, as defined by him, and then uses force to coerce that service.

People can be as "altruistic" as they want to be, just leave coercion (i.e., government) out of it.

David P. Graf May 29, 2008 at 9:26 pm

Ken,

When the government passed laws against child labor, would you have considered that "coercive"?

Sam Grove June 1, 2008 at 6:04 pm

When the government passed laws against child labor, would you have considered that "coercive"?

Certainly.

If a child of 15 chooses to work as an apprentice to an automobile mechanic, what business is it of anyone else other than that child, the child's guardian, and the mechanic?

I presume that you are operating under the assumption that it was legislation that brought an end to child labor. In fact, such legislation followed the trend, made possible by rising living standards, of parents sending their children to school rather than to work. Further, I think it likely that such legislation was promoted by unions to protect the jobs of their members.

Previous post:

Next post: