Why, in a country that consumes 25% of the world’s resources (the U.S.), is there an epidemic of loneliness, depression, and anxiety? Why do so many in the West who have all of their basic needs met still feel impoverished? While some politicians might answer, “It’s the economy, stupid,” Based on scientific evidence, a better answer is, “It’s the lack compassion, stupid.”
I have no problem with Compassion. Aside from the good feeling I get when I choose to be compassionate, I recognize that it is in my rational self-interest to be compassionate for many of the reasons listed in this article.
To be clear, I am not opposed to giving to those less fortunate. I am against being given no choice in the matter about it, which is essentially the way our current welfare and similar aid system works. They are funded by taxpayer dollars, which unless I suddenly develop a desire for orange jumpers, three hots and a cot, and living in a 10×10 cell, I have to pay.
Governments have been proven to be horribly wasteful at spending money. And this is by no means a new phenomenon, either. According to Ronald Reagan’s “A Time of Choosing” speech (where he was stumping for Barry Goldwater in 1964):
We are spending $45 billion on welfare. Now, do a little arithmetic, and you will find that if we divided the $45 billion up equally among those 9 million poor families [making less than $3,000 a year], we would be able to give each family $4,600 a year, and this added to their present income should eliminate poverty! Direct aid to the poor, however, is running only about $600 per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead.
The government is compelling me to give them money, which they are turning around and wasting, depriving me of any joy that I might get from those compassionate actions. Furthermore, they are significantly lessening the resources I have remaining, thus depriving me the resources to make my own independent choice to be compassionate.
Maybe if the rent weren’t too damn high, more of us could actually afford to be compassionate, much less make the choice to be compassionate–and have the opportunity to feel good about it, to boot.