By DAVID HOLCBERG
As the death toll mounts in the areas hit by the tsunami in southern Asia, private organizations and individuals are scrambling to send money and goods to help the victims. Such help may be entirely proper, especially considering that most of those affected by this tragedy are suffering through no fault of their own.
The U.S. government, however, should not give any money to help the tsunami victims. Why? Because the money is not the government's to give.
Every cent the government spends comes from taxation. Every dollar that the government hands out as foreign aid has to be extorted from an American taxpayer first. Year after year, for decades, the government has forced American taxpayers to provide foreign aid to the victims of every type of natural or man-made disaster: from the Marshall Plan to reconstruct a war-ravaged Europe, to the billions recently promised to fight AIDS in Africa, to the countless amounts spent to help the victims of earthquakes, fires and floods -- from South America to Asia.
Even the enemies of the United States were given money extorted from American taxpayers: from the billions given away by Bill Clinton to help the starving North Koreans to the billions given away by George W. Bush to help the bloodthirsty Palestinians under Yasser Arafat's murderous regime.
The question that no one asks about our politicians' "generosity" toward the world's needy is: By what right? By what right do they take our hard-earned money and give it away?
It's not theirs
Politicians can get away with doling out money they have no right to and that does not belong to them because they have the morality of altruism on their side. According to altruism -- the morality that most Americans accept and that politicians exploit for all it's worth -- those who have more have the moral obligation to help those who have less.
This is why Americans -- the richest people on Earth -- are expected to sacrifice (voluntarily or by force) the wealth they have earned to provide for the needs of those who did not earn it. It is Americans' acceptance of altruism that renders them morally impotent to protest against the confiscation and distribution of their wealth.
It is past time to question -- and to reject -- such a vicious morality that demands that we sacrifice our values instead of holding on to them.
Next time that a politician gives away money taken from you to show what a good, compassionate altruist he is, ask yourself: By what right?
X Holcberg is a research associate at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.