I’ve heard Stephen Colbert summarize the Objectivist mindset — and by extension, libertarian mindset — as “I’ve got mine, Jack!” This is true as far as it goes, but it is also a lie by omission.
Consider this story in the Wall Street Journal:
There’s no free lunch, goes the old saying. The IRS may take that literally.
The Internal Revenue Service is looking into the “free lunches” that companies like Google Yahoo Facebook , and other Silicon Valley heavyweights provide to their employees, and whether those meals should be subject to taxation.
“It appears for a lot of these companies that they’re not actually including (them) in their employees paychecks or W-2s and therefore the question is whether there’s some skirting of the tax laws,”
I think that illustrates the government mindset pretty well, which could perhaps be summarized as “Oh, you’ve got nice stuff! I’m going to take some.”
You see, what Stephen Colbert and other critics leave out is that libertarians always follow “I’ve got mine” with “and you’ve got yours.” Leaving that out makes libertarianism seem pretty selfish.
To be fair, Ayn Rand also criticized people for giving in to their altruistic impulse, as if helping the needy was some kind of weakness. Then again, even the staunchest Ayn Rand disciple wouldn’t have done this:
In 2006, the City of Las Vegas became locked in a bizarre war with homeless advocates, and decided that no one should be engaging in charity in the public parks. The City began ticketing good Samaritans who shared food with more than 24 people, under the belief that giving food to people already in the public park violated statutes requiring permits for gatherings of 25 or more people. When the ACLU of Nevada took issue with this interpretation of permit laws, the City took a more direct approach: it explicitly outlawed the sharing of food with anyone who looked poor…
Other homeless individuals were being kicked out of parks under a questionable trespass policy called “86”ing, where Park Marshals essentially took photographs of certain people – almost always homeless people – who were then kicked out of the public parks on pain of a trespass misdemeanor if they returned. The 86ing process had no paperwork, no right to appeal, and no due process whatsoever.
I’m not even sure how to summarize that mindset…maybe “How dare you help the poor yourself! You should be paying us to help them.”
(Hat tip: Reason 24/7)