How did we get to multi-trillion dollar spending bills? Ayn Rand had an answer.

How did we get to the point of passing trillions of dollars in new spending while already $28T in debt? The $6T for “infrastructure” and new entitlements the President is proposing, just for the next budget, would be a nuclear inflation bomb. In addition to that, he wants to commit America to trillions in international aid over the next few years. In her book, The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand explains how leaders with a collectivist mindset can justify such lusty sums for pet projects and public largess even though we are experiencing record inflation partly due to previous enormous spending. It comes from altruism, paired with a neurotic lack of self-esteem in a leader or among lawmakers that fuels the need for ever more spending on “the public good”. It is based upon the need to feel good, rather than actually doing good. The cost to the individual is not weighed in this calculation, as the collective is more concerned with its benefit and that of its leadership than that of any individual, save that of the decision-maker him or herself.

Rand explained the motivations of such people playing fast and loose with the wealth of others:

Humility and presumptuousness are always two sides of the same premise, and always share the task of filling the space vacated by self-esteem in a collectivized mentality. The man who is willing to serve as the means to the ends of others, will necessarily regard others as the means to his ends. The more neurotic he is or the more conscientious in the practice of altruism (and these two aspects of his psychology will act reciprocally to reinforce each other), the more he will tend to devise schemes ‘for the good of mankind’ or of ‘society’ or of ‘the public’ or of ‘future generations’ —or of anything except actual human beings.”

Rand would define altruism roughly as the complete subordination of one’s interests to those of others, even to the point of death. While this sounds noble, nowhere in this definition is the concept of free-will mentioned. For her, the moral problem with altruism is not the idea of self-sacrifice, it is the choice and the reason for it being determined by others, not by oneself. In the name of altruism, collectivist leaders feel free to spend as much human capital as is necessary.

Hence the appalling recklessness with which men propose, discuss and accept ‘humanitarian’ projects which are to be imposed by political means, that is, by force, on an unlimited number of human beings. If, according to collectivist caricatures, the greedy rich indulged in profligate material luxury, on the premise of ‘price no object’—then the social progress brought by today’s collectivized mentalities consists of indulging in altruistic political planning, on the premise of ‘human lives no object.’

The hallmark of such mentalities is the advocacy of some grand scale public goal, without regard to context, costs or means. Out of context, such a goal can usually be shown to be desirable; it has to be public, because the costs are not to be earned, but to be expropriated; and a dense patch of venomous fog has to shroud the issue of means—because the means are to be human lives.”

The problem then on the scale of out of control government spending is that the government is choosing for others what sacrifices they must make, and then acting as if no sacrifice is too great for the good of the collective. Any objection or dissent is dismissed as “selfishness.” The collective (the ruling class actually) gets its moral validation without regards to the costs to the individual. Human lives are the currency that pay for their feelings of self-esteem. In much the same way Lincoln would say slavery means: “You work, I eat,” Rand would probably say altruism means: “You sacrifice, I feel good.” This especially being the case when altruism determines the spending habits of a country. When played at the scale of government, the notion of public interest good, private/individual interests bad, and a President governs according to “human lives no object,” then inflation, even the prospect of hyper-inflation, play no role in his decision-making process. The collectivist ruler knowing of the altruistic tendencies of the public, takes those tendencies (carefully cultivated over the course of decades) and uses, or rather abuses them towards satisfying their own neurotic proclivities towards false self-esteem. The public who support these policies get to feel good about themselves too, but only for a little while, until the bill comes due. By the time they’re paying $5 for a loaf of bread, and $6 for a gallon of gas, it’s too late. They, and the rest of us, will be forced into government dependence, and relinquishing their right to self-determination to the state. It is not a stretch then to postulate that it is this massive transfer of power from the individual to the state that the President and his party are really after.

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