All People Are Selfish
I’m a selfish person. I want the best for me, all the time. In fact, I’m one of the most selfish people I’ve ever met, and I really have no qualms about it.
Now, you may be thinking, “How rude!”
But, being selfish doesn’t make me a bad person. In fact, just the opposite is true. Being selfish makes me a good person.
I give to charity because it feels good. I’m greedy to give. I don’t have much money, but I still give a good portion to charities around the world. Yet – even that is a selfish act. I only give because I want to feel good.
In a classic episode of Friends, Joey says, “There’s no un-selfish good deed.”
Phoebe says, “Yes there are! There are totally good deeds that are . . . self-less!”
“Well, may I ask for one example?” Joey asks.
Phoebe says, “Yeah it’s . . . you know, well . . . No you may not!”
Joey is right. Every single thing that you’ve ever done has been to make you feel good. Whether it be working out, or taking medicine, or eating, or calling your mom . . . it’s all done for ultimately selfish reasons. And in that sense, everyone is selfish.
Sometimes people say, “You know what the problem is with the free market? Some people are greedy.” But – hold on there. Is there anyone in the world who is not greedy?
The weird thing is, we live in a society where it looks like some people are being greedy, and other people are being good. But everybody is greedy! When I go to the grocery store, the lady at the check-out counter smiles at me and asks, “Did you have trouble finding anything?” It seems like this business is not being greedy at all. They even put all my food in my bags – and if I asked, they would carry it to my car for me. What Samaritans!
Yet, the only reason they do that is because they are competing for my business. They are selfish Samaritans.
There are only three ways greed can operate in this world:
3. Voluntary Exchange
In stealing, one person wins, and another person loses. The same is true with cheating; one person wins, and another loses.
But in a voluntary exchange, both parties benefit. It’s the only way that two greedy people can gain, and feel happy afterwards. What a miracle!
Government is based on stealing and cheating. But the free market is the only a system based on voluntary exchange. It utilizes greed to it’s most helpful potential, and entices greedy people to work together in perfect concert. I give you the dollar, and you give me the milk. In the end, we’re both happier. This is multiplied a billion times throughout the world, every day, and it helps make everyone happier.
Yes, it is true that businesses can lie, cheat, and steal, but when they do, they shoot themselves in the foot, because they lose their reputation. And in the business world – reputation is everything.
In the free market, they can only trick you once or twice, and then most people learn their lesson, and don’t visit those places again. Most people spread the word, and try to visit the businesses that have a good reputation. But governments don’t need to worry about reputation. They can trick you again, and again, and no one can ever get away.
Voluntary exchange is so powerful that it actually discourages cheating, and stealing. Any business that behaves poorly gets punished by their competitors. Greed is not the problem, it’s the solution. Because as long as everyone is selfish, doesn’t it make sense that we stop wasting energy trying to “make everyone good”, and start using greed to our advantage? The free market entices greedy people to do good things. But for greedy people to do bad things, without the fear of any consequence – it takes government.