- Editor’s note: The is the last of a two-part column on patriotism by Earl Hiatt. Part one ran in the Sept. 13 Irrigator.
Individuals flourish by acting for their own benefit. A moral code aimed at promoting individual well-being must be egotistic, although self-interest is not advanced by rabid consumption or wanton indulgence. Circumventing moral principles, which are designed to advance a person’s life, is not in one’s self-interest. No one in a free society needs to justify his or her existence by service to others.
Advancing one’s self-interest requires considerable thought and discipline. A basic social principle is that each person has the moral right to live as an end to himself, neither sacrificing himself to others, nor others to himself. Self-interest living also depends on meeting the needs imposed by reality.
We all remember John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
Milton Freedman wrote that neither half of that line expressed a relationship between the citizens and a government “that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society.”
Necessity is the plea of every infringement on human freedom. We should be for individual liberty and self-responsibility on all issues at all times.
Obama suggests that sacrifice for the common good is patriotism.
“Each generation must understand that the blessings of freedom require our constant vigilance, and that true patriotism also means a willingness to sacrifice for our common good.”
Little do most people realize that after each of our sacrificial wars, there is a little less democracy to save.
The Constitution was not designed to save us from foreign nations but was meant to save us from our own government. It outlines strict limitations on the federal government, although at this point in history we have basically abandoned any limitation of federal action. The only politician to really follow the Constitution is Rep. Ron Paul, and you can see how much support he had in his presidential run.
Obama continually speaks of the need for Americans “to come together behind a common purpose.”
McCain asks people to join him if “they believe in a national purpose that is greater than our individual interests.”
The question is: Why should we all get together behind a common or national purpose? This country is not an anthill where we all work for the common good of the anthill, but is a country of individuals who should be allowed to plan for themselves.
It seems that we would be better off if we all pursued our own rational self-interest and had a government with the goal of protecting the rule of law, individual property rights, limited government, sound money and free markets instead of setting some goal that we all need to meet.
Obama — who made more than $4 million last year and lives in a multi-million-dollar mansion and is one of our best-dressed — disdains college students who might want to “chase after the big house and the nice suits.” It seems a whiff of hypocrisy.
But the hypocrisy is not the biggest issue. Obama and McCain are telling 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 for our families is a “narrow concern.”
They both are wrong.
You have the right to live as you choose, to follow your bliss. You have a right to seek satisfaction through your own accomplishment. Your happiness is the moral purpose of your life. Our lives are ours to live as we wish, free from guilt, with or without the approval of others. I am my brother’s keeper only if I choose to be.
Remember, Nazism was made possible by the German philosophers who advanced unreason and self-sacrifice. It was called patriotism.
Many parts of this column were plagiarized from too many authors to list.
Patterson resident Earl Hiatt is a semi-retired agribusinessman whose major interests are nutrition, economics and religion. His columns appear occasionally on the Irrigator Voice page. His e-mail is email@example.com.