Was Marley Right?


Delusions of altruism aside, most humans are fundamentally self-interested. That doesn’t mean that we are all some form of Dickensonian Scrooge awaiting a visit from the three apparitions to put us on the path to righteousness. Instead, the statement simply acknowledges that we mostly tend to do what makes us feel good. Some of us like to run companies. Some of us like to run governments. Some of us like to teach. Others of us like to create. Whatever the proclivity, our natures will find a way to lead us there. Clearly, one’s motivation is rarely neatly segregated – it would be most accurate to understand that there are a plethora of reasons instigating our actions all-the-while recognizing that overarching themes drive us to make important life choices.

This election is being framed, by those who chose to proclaim these kinds of things, as a voter’s decision between competing forms of government. The first, one would imagine, continues to grow and feed the administrative state. The second, implied by reference, would attempt to shrink it by starvation. But as debates like this often become, the discourse has had very little to do with this issue. Instead, lines are drawn and the opposing sides square off talking more about whether entrepreneurs can own their successes and whether welfare recipients are being victimized by government largess.

Does anyone really want to see folks suffer? I have to believe, absent a few sadists, that most of us want good for others. So is it possible that those across the political spectrum are really talking about the exact same thing from very different perspectives? And, if so, how do we come to conclusions about what the best mix might be? And, is it even possible to force an alignment of our individual interests to those of the state?