Monday, November 05, 2007

Altruism and Selfishness

Europeans, who are snobbish about American culture, are also shamed by American altruism. Once they have made their fortune, Americans devote themselves to giving it away. They lavish gifts on their school, their church, their college, or their hospital, taking an obvious pleasure in doing so.
Of course, Europeans are great preachers of altruism. But the more they preach, the less they give. For they do not regard others as their personal concern: It is the state, not the individual, that has assumed the duty of charity, and when things go wrong – as in the recent floods in England – it is the state that must step in to help.
We should not be surprised, therefore, to discover that European cities are full of disoriented teenagers who think of the laws of morality as rules of longterm self-interest, and who seem unable to imagine what it would be, to do something for any other sake than their own.

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