I have been reading about Rand's philosophy since my teens. I have also been on disability for my entire adult life. I am now on medication that enables me to be able to function independently if I choose to. (I am currently diagnosed with "schizo-affective disorder", a disorder that causes psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, pananoia, and delusions.) Since I have recovered my ability to function as an independent individual, I have asked myself whether it is in my self-interest to go back to working full-time. I know that Objectivism would countenance my doing so, but I wonder whether I would be able to make more money by work alone than I get in terms of disability payments, food stamps, and housing assistance. I am fully aware that Objectivism would label me as evil for choosing not to work, but I feel, especially in hard economic times like this in the U.S, that I honestly kind of have it made. I have no fear of unemployment, my money is as gaurunteed as it gets, and I am free either to work or not to work...it is entirely up to me. My question is "Why might Objectivists say that my choice not to work, should I make that choice, represents anything other than selfishness?" By the way, I have two job interviews tomorrow, and intent to at least work part time. However, I can't see in my case why self-interest would necessarily involve working. Can anybody help me out on this one? (Edited by Christopher Parker on 7/30, 9:22pm)
"Why might Objectivists say that my choice not to work, should I make that choice, represents anything other than selfishness?"
It might well be selfishness, and yet not be the best selfish plan - or even a really good one.
There is bare survival and then there is flourishing where life is passionate excitement. And there is a lot that is in between those extremes. That in-between stuff can fool you into excepting a life where the sum of your experiences falls far short of what it could have been.
Nathaniel Branden said it quite well when he said, "A productive purpose to which you give yourself fully and joyfully is one of the great adventures of life. It is a uniquely human source of happiness."
It isn't about the money... it isn't about counting out which path gives you the most pennies... it isn't about which is the most secure. Life is about the excitement, the commitment, the passion, the challenge, the sense of living a bit more fully than you first thought you could.
Add to that the fact that your subconscious will never let you entirely off the hook if you live off of the money earned by others, while at the same time holding the belief that man should live by the product of his own efforts. And it is in that subconscious that our self-esteem forms... and it measures our integrity, our efforts, and our degree of personal responsibility.
It is also a built in part of who we are, that the positive intensity of our experience of life will be proportional to the fullness with which we live up to our potential.
And there is the issue of your personal identity. The less that any disorder defines your life, or sets limits, or you allow yourself to be defined by it, the more flexibility there is for growth into a person you would like to be.
The act of voting for wealth redistribution is an initiation of force, but accepting wealth redistribution is not.
Maybe one day Objectivists or the like will band together and refuse government redistribution and demand different tax schemes and regulations than the rest of the nanny state citizens.
Since voting is anonymous, maybe one day individualists will attack the government and redistribution recipients since they can't retaliate against the anonymous decision makers. Something like: government is now an anonymously empowered redistribution by force scheme, so now we individualists will start (anonymously) declaring various forms of redistribution as unnacceptable, that anyone receiving or enforcing them will be considered enemies, and retaliated against (anonymously). Kind of like how military personal take an oath to defend the constitution, and are self responsible for following criminal orders, same should apply with other government and citizenry actions.
Eventually the dollar may lose significant value, and no one may accept Treasury bonds, both due to uncontrolled inflation. Hence a major source of government income (inflationary spending) will no longer be available. Then the Fed would have to get all of its resources from taxation, and have a balanced budget. Benefits to wealth redistribution recipients would necessarily go down.
I think the last of the three is most likely. Maybe you should do craigslist/cash paying jobs to improve your practical skills while keeping your reported income to an acceptable level? Also you if you have some land you can learn how to grow your own food. Find some practical things to do, that you enjoy, that increases your long term success and happiness. Working for yourself is an excellent form of unreported income: there's no transaction, no evidence of trade to tax.
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