How can helping "Kids in Africa" be in my self interest

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tro...@gmail.com

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Jun 10, 2006, 10:48:39 AM6/10/06
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Recently Jimbo Wales said on wikipedia (regarding why as objectivist he
would participate in something that appears altruistic).

Original text from the article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Wales
"Although Objectivism holds that selfishness is good and altruism is
evil, Wales claims that his Wikipedia activities do not serve a selfish
end but are for the good of the world ("I am doing this for the child
in Africa")."

Jimbo Wales response:
"Do we have a source for me claming that my "Wikipedia activities do
not serve a selfish end"? No, we do not. That's an interpretation of
what it means when I say "I am doing this for the child in Africa"!
(For what is it worth, I think it is in my rational self interest to
care about what happens to kids in Africa, and far from being
destructive of my self-interest, it is beneficial to my self-interest."

As objectivists, how could caring about what happens to kids in Africa
serve one's self interest?

Curious - Trodel

cr113

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Jun 10, 2006, 11:01:35 AM6/10/06
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tro...@gmail.com wrote:

> As objectivists, how could caring about what happens to kids in Africa
> serve one's self interest?

It doesn't matter as long as the "helping" is voluntary not forced.

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George Vernon Skivington

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Jun 10, 2006, 11:53:58 AM6/10/06
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<tro...@gmail.com> wrote:

(Wales...)


> (For what is it worth, I think it is in my rational self interest to
> care about what happens to kids in Africa, and far from being
> destructive of my self-interest, it is beneficial to my self-interest."

> As objectivists, how could caring about what happens to kids in Africa
> serve one's self interest?

Though bear in mind that he is one of those Branden-style "social
objectivists", not an Objectivist who is a true egoist. He's adhering to a
mystical credo, the "all man is part of a global tribe" mentality. I find
his claim to be completely incredible, although there are certainly
circumstances where there could be a benefit arising from helping kids in
Africa -- I just don't believe for a second that that is applicable to him.

We should set aside Wikipedia itself, because that just complicates
matters -- Wikipedia is a bane, not a benefit, so the fewer children that
think that Wikipedia is how you learn about the world, the better. Also,
it's a lie when Wales claims "I'm doing this for the child in Africa":
clearly untrue. That's just trendy Afro-exploitation. However, suppose I
were a computer-manufacturer, then donating PCs to schools in Afric (in the
old days) would have been a good business move, since it would give you an
advantage over your Mac competitors, so when they can afford to buy their
own computers, they will be predisposed to buying your PCs and not their
Macs (however, that struggle is over so that would no longer be a valid
reason to donate computers).

There are significant potential business opportunities in Africa, but there
are some serious impediments to taking advantage of them. One is the rampant
although not universal cultural problems (mañana syndrome, tribalism,
socialism, mysticism and a general kleptocratic culture), which can be
eliminated by philosophical education. There are also "material" problems,
such as crappy roads, electricity, airports, manufacturing, telecom
(significantly alleviated by the cell phone), non-toxic water, malaria and
some serious soil and weather problems some of which are probably not
practically solvable. People mistakenly think that the material problems are
more important, when in fact they are largely a consequence of the cultural
problems.

The positive view is that Africa represents a huge business opportunity, but
one which can only be exploited by changing Africans. So that is a possible
benefit (but if Bugged were to donate a million dollars to African kids,
that would be inexcusable altruism). The cynical view is, Africa represents
a huge threat, especially Somalia, and keeping them from sliding further
down the road to hell is an act of self-preservation.

The question of whether "caring" costs anything is important -- the whole
concept of "caring about kids" is inherently dishonest. Caring is free, so
you should always care. And failure to self-sacrifice is proof that you do
not care, so the only moral way to go is to self-sacrifice. Or so the story
goes. A more honest approach would be to say that Africans can receive a
benefit from X, at negligible cost to you, and that it would be more work
than it's worth to exclude Africans from X. The question shold be, should I
act in a way that benefits Africans, and *why* should I?

If he were to *really* care about African kids (fuck the adults, eh?) he
would be giving his wealth to somebody who is installing some or better
internet connections, fixing the electrical system, and shipping computers
over there for the poor African kids to use to read his miserable excuse for
an encyclopedia. Of course the money would get embezzled and the hardware
stolen or misdirected, so in fact they won't end up reading anything, not
even a print textbook (they get stolen too).

Ken Gardner

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Jun 10, 2006, 1:09:10 PM6/10/06
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<tro...@gmail.com> wrote:

> As objectivists, how could caring about what happens to kids in Africa
> serve one's self interest?

> Curious - Trodel

http://tinyurl.com/r8u3q

Ken

Bill Carson

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Jun 10, 2006, 1:12:23 PM6/10/06
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<tro...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1149950890....@h76g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...

> Recently Jimbo Wales said on wikipedia (regarding why as objectivist he
> would participate in something that appears altruistic).

> As objectivists, how could caring about what happens to kids in Africa


> serve one's self interest?
>
> Curious - Trodel

Helping kids in Africa may be in my interest out of a general appreciation
of the potential of kids and empathy with their suffering. Or it could be
from my interest in securing a safe helpful environment for my decedents
or those of people I personally know and care about. Or more fundamentally
from a basic desire to be productive, strategically directing my recourses
to where I think they'll do the most for my values. I could be from lots of
things without requiring any mystical credo.

Being an Objectivist doesn't mean I'm a cold-hearted, near-sighted or
self-obsessed sociopath, just that I don't allow others values or needs to
dominate mine.

Bill Carson


John Alway

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Jun 10, 2006, 3:06:48 PM6/10/06
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tro...@gmail.com wrote:

[...]

> As objectivists, how could caring about what happens to kids in Africa
> serve one's self interest?

It's always in your self-interest for their to be more good people
in the world, and if they are productive and happy, all the better.
It wouldn't be any where near a priority for me, but I promote
capitalism around the world exactly because it's in my self-interest to
do so. It's a win-win for everyone.

Now, if they became members of Al Qaida or something similar, then
it would be a negative. So, I endorse the spread of capitalism and
individual rights.

...John

John Alway

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Jun 10, 2006, 3:09:58 PM6/10/06
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cr113 wrote:
> tro...@gmail.com wrote:

It doesn't matter from the stand point of rights, but it does matter
at a more fundamental level. It may well not be in his interest if
those kid's become members of al Qaida, but if they become productive
citizens in a free world, it would be in his interest.


....John

Trodel

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Jun 11, 2006, 1:36:12 AM6/11/06
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I thought that the idea was that to help (or give something) to someone
who does not deserve it (i.e. does not work for it) is contrary to
objectivist principles. That is why I am questioning the quote - is
there something I am missing from my understanding of the objectivist
view of the interplay betewen capitalism and charity?

Thx again - Trodel

Ken Gardner

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Jun 11, 2006, 11:22:10 AM6/11/06
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"Trodel" <tro...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> It doesn't matter as long as the "helping" is voluntary not forced.

> I thought that the idea was that to help (or give something) to someone
> who does not deserve it (i.e. does not work for it) is contrary to
> objectivist principles. That is why I am questioning the quote - is
> there something I am missing from my understanding of the objectivist
> view of the interplay betewen capitalism and charity?

You are begging a very important question. What makes you think that
"working" for something exhausts the ways of earning it?

Ken

Trodel

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Jun 12, 2006, 1:27:06 AM6/12/06
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I don't :)

I am discussing this issue with someone who appears to be much more up
to date on objectivism than me - so I am trying to 1) understand the
issue better and 2) frame my discussion more intelligently than what I
remember from reading Rand in High School.

One thing that has suprised me over the last few days is the extent to
which my personal worldview was shaped (IMHO usefully) by the influence
of Rand and Objectivism. I am trying to figure out how to usefully
describe this - but I view myself and others as acting primarily for
our own interest even if we don't admit it to ourselves. I view the
chaos of capitalism and its ability to be efficient even though some
individuals suffer from making choices the market did not endorse as a
very good thing.

That said - I think that someone can earn something in many different
ways - work being one of them. And the debate re Wales being
contradictory is difficult to me because it seems so obvious to me that
it is not "necessarily" contradictory (although it could be).

If it helps, the person I am debating with is a follower of Kant - and
I recently learned that Wales quote on h.p.o re Kant being the most
immoral person really annoys him/her.

Trodel

Message has been deleted

Ken Gardner

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Jun 12, 2006, 11:44:54 PM6/12/06
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"Trodel" <tro...@gmail.com> wrote:

[...]

> If it helps, the person I am debating with is a follower of Kant - and
> I recently learned that Wales quote on h.p.o re Kant being the most
> immoral person really annoys him/her.

If you are talking about Mal, then dude, you ain't kidding. And if it is Mal,
it's a him. :)

Ken

John Alway

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Jun 13, 2006, 12:15:21 AM6/13/06
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Trodel wrote:

[...]

> I thought that the idea was that to help (or give something) to someone
> who does not deserve it (i.e. does not work for it) is contrary to
> objectivist principles.

They don't necessarily have to work for it, they can just be a good
person. With kids you can give them the benefit of the doubt in most
cases, i.e. assume they are good.


Just as an aside, the real answer to "kids in Africa" or other
similar regions is to spread capitalism.


...John

Robert J. Kolker

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Jun 13, 2006, 7:52:36 AM6/13/06
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John Alway wrote:
>
>
> Just as an aside, the real answer to "kids in Africa" or other
> similar regions is to spread capitalism.

Give a man a fish, you have fed him for today.
Ignore him entirely and you can forget him forever.

Every kid in Africa saved is a potential carrier of AIDS when grown up.

Bob Kolker

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Reggie Perrin

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Jun 13, 2006, 11:19:10 AM6/13/06
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Every kid everywhere is a potential carrier of AIDS when grown up.

x
x
x
x
x
x

George Vernon Skivington

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Jun 13, 2006, 3:29:46 PM6/13/06
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"Reggie Perrin" wrote:

> Every kid everywhere is a potential carrier of AIDS when grown up.

Every kid everywhere is potentially the person who discovers the cure for
AIDS.

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