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Which means, the placing of others above self, of their interests above one's own. 

The man who speaks to you of sacrifices, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.

   --  Ayn Rand

Why is it moral to serve the happyness of others, but not your own? If enjoyment is a value, why is it moral when experienced by others, but immoral when experienced by you?

   --  Ayn Rand

 Mode  Hurt Others  Help Yourself  Help Others  Comment
 Hurtfulness Y N  N  Not a good outcome, we are all worse off
 Selfishness Y Y  N  0 sum game society does not get any better
 Self Interest N Y Y  Helping yourself while helping others, society gains
 Neutral  Either   Either  Either  Actions taken than neither benefit or hurt others
 Reciprocation N Y Y  Like marriage you help each other
 Selflessness (altruism) N Y  Reverse of hurtfulness, its a form of hurtfulness to yourself

This chart explains self interested free market economics has benefited society. Reciprocation also has the same benefits, but is not enforceable, so applicable is many instances. Also it relies on strong trust. But you cannot hope to make friends with as many people as you need goods from, and it doesn't allocate resources efficiently for some markets making everyone poorer .
Both selfishness and altruism are forms of dependency, whereas self interest is a form of interdependency.

Impossible to measure benefit of altruism

“Your standard of virtue is not an object, not an act, not a principle, but an intention. You need no proof, no reasons, no success, you need not achieve in fact the good of others- all you need to know is that your motive was the good of others, not your own. You only definition of the good is a negation: the good is the non-good for me.”

   --  Ayn Rand

What altruism implies

It is immoral to live by your own effort, but moral to live by the effort of others

   --  Ayn Rand

Nature of charity

“I owe nothing to my brothers, nor do I gather debts from them.”

   --  Ayn Rand

Government Charity

Government charity is what Frédéric Bastiat called "False philanthropy". Giving away what is not theirs.

  • Was it appropriate for the state to sweep away charitable, mutual and commercial provision where this met peoples needs?
  • Is it more noble for health care to be provided and funded via a bureaucracy and compulsory taxation or by commercial , reciprocal and charitable endeavour?
  • Is it appropriate for the state to be providing healthcare for all rather than ensuring that all can have healthcare by supporting families, charities and the community in obtaining healthcare from a plurality of sources ?
  • Is coercive state finance and provision a higher value that personal concern motivated charity?

Corporate Charity

Quote 960

"People invest in companies, lending them money in order to generate a yield from it. It is a company's duty to use that money with due diligence for the purposes for which it was lent to them. If they misapply it to themselves, we rightly castigate and even prosecute them. If they apply that money to causes they approve of, perhaps because it makes them feel good, this can be a misuse of funds lent to them in good faith. It was not lent to them to support good causes, however noble. The lenders could have done that themselves. If it aids the business it is a valid use, otherwise it is not. "

   --  Masden Pirie

Corporate charity/philanthropy is nothing of the sort. You cannot be charitable with money that is not yours to give away. When corporates give money away on behalf of their shareholders they might as well have ripped the money directly out of the shareholders wallets against their will. The idea that “corporate social responsibility” must offset the profit motive is ludicrous. The profit motive is benign at worst and necessary to our survival.
Even if the donation to charity will improve the firms image and bring more income, then the argument then becomes how much money can be made, and not how well the money will be spent.
Quite often this chartiable giving by companies often reflects a political view, that can put off, some share holders, employees and customers. Removing this political element can mean we do not have to endorse others poltical beleifs against our will.

Personal charity

Virtue and charity

"Without a doubt, morality and religion make it a duty for men, especially the rich, to deprive themselves voluntarily of that which they possess, in favour of their less fortunate brethren. But this is an entirely moral obligation. If it were to be asserted on principle, admitted in practice, or sanctioned by law, that every man has a right to the property of another, the gift would have no merit--charity and gratitude would be no longer virtues. "

   --  Frédéric Bastiat

Limits of charity

Men have been taught that the highest virtue is not to achieve but to give. Yet no-one can give what has not been created. Creation comes before distribution- or there will be nothing to distribute.

   --  Ayn Rand

Why Governments shouldn't be involved in charities?

Quote 1236

The fundamental evil of government grants is the fact that men are forced to pay for support of ideas diametrically opposed to their own. This is a profound violation of an individuals integrity and conscience.

   --  Ayn Rand

  • If a “charity” receives public funding, it’s not a charity, it’s quango.
  • The accountability, transparency and scrutiny standards of Charities are well below the standards expected in other publicly funded bodies.
  • Government funding isn’t granted on the basis of merit. It’s given to Government favourites.
  • Meaning well is not the same as doing good. There seems to be no accurate measure of a charity’s output. With no way to measure output then there’s no way to conduct a cost/benefit analysis. Whilst giving away your own money on a wing and a prayer is fine, it’s not okay with public funds.
  • If the state and Charity are virtually joined, then Charity is just a way for politicians to absolve themselves of direct responsibility.
  • Public funding makes charities lazy. Chasing public funds is not the same as fundraising from the general public. It is a different game and when a charity does one it usually neglects the other.
  • To have private charity money sullied by being mixed in with funds that have been taken by force from both yourself and others by government diminishes and disfigures the honorable charitable act beyond recognition. 

Why is altruism good?

Quote 1220-1

What is the moral code of altruism? the basic principle of Altrusim is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his own existence, and that self sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value. Do not confuse altrusim with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which in fact , altruism make impossible. The irreducible primary of Altrusim, the basic and absolute, is self-sacrifice- which means : self-immolation, self- abnegation, self denial, self destruction - which means the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.
"Why is that Good? There is no earthly reason for it."

   --  Ayn Rand