Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How do you spell Relief? By not giving it, that's how!

-by Mike McGowan

I know, I know, I know. I can already hear the blood curdling cries of “heartless” and “monster”, but I don’t think America now has any reason whatsoever for being in Haiti. (Here is where you would expect him to make a rational case, to dispel this notion that he is a monster. Yet, Mr. McGowan seems to relish in the fact that he is not only a monster, but an incompetent boob as well. If you can stand the assault on your precious brain fluids and connectors, please read on...) This represents a change from my previous position, immediately following the earthquake, where I was of the opinion that any life-loving individual who was able to help had a moral responsibility to assist. Let me explain…

Ayn Rand wrote the following in her essay “The Ethics of Emergencies (1963)”, found in her book The Virtue Of Selfishness:

The proper method of judging when or whether one should help a person is by reference to one’s own rational self interest and one’s own hierarchy of values: the time, money, and effort one gives or the risk one takes should be proportionate to the value of the person in relation to one’s own happiness.

To illustrate this on the altruists’ favorite example: the issue of saving a drowning person. If the person to be saved is a stranger, it is morally proper to save him when the danger to one’s own life is minimal; when the danger is great, it would be immoral to attempt it: only a lack of self-esteem could permit one to value one’s life no higher than that of any random stranger. (And, conversely, if one is drowning, one cannot expect a stranger to risk his life for one’s sake, remembering that one’s life cannot be as valuable to him as his own.)…

A rational man does not forget that life is the source of all values and, as such, a common bond among living beings (as against inanimate matter), that other men are potentially able to achieve the same virtues as his own and thus be of enormous value to him. This does not mean that he regards human lives as interchangeable with his own. He recognizes the fact that his own life is the source, not only of all his values, but of his capacity to value. Therefore, the value he grants to others is only a consequence, an extension, a secondary projection of the primary value which is himself.
(So, in other words, Ayn Rand is a self-loving atheist who does not believe in the golden rule. Nor can she truly believe that Jesus' injunction to love your neighbor AS yourself has any true value. This disturbs me for many reasons. I'll start off with a memory ingrained in my mind as a young fearful Christian that I was impressed to treat 'Secular Humanists' with the utmost disregard. This bothers me now because I realize that even though the SHs may not love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind and soul - hence the 'Secular' part of their name - they do a pretty good practice of loving their neighbors as themselves - the 'Humanist' part of their name - or at least enough to fight for privileges that they may have to be extended to those that don't. On the other hand, Ayn Rand and her acolytes - many of them fine people in other regards - would rather that every person fend for herself. This is true Darwinism at its worst, and it seems more fitting in an oligarchial system than in a true democracy, let alone with the many young self-professing Christians who are now a-smitten with Ayn Rand's atlas shoulders.)

Now, whether or not you like Ayn Rand or think she was the devil’s mother-in-law (Go on...), you cannot seriously argue that you know that you would try to rescue the drowning stranger from her illustration. (Boy, I'd love to see the connection that he makes here. If, say, you give five dollars to Red Cross by sending out a text, you may accidentally open yourself up for attacks by life-threatening phone bills, or radiation emanating from your headset. Or get struck by lightning. But in any case, there's got to be an extreme danger of everyday citizens' lives at stake here in order to make as bold claims as Mr. McGowan is making, surely.) You may like to say and think that you would, but there is no way you could know if you would dive in until faced with the situation. Ayn was telling us why we cannot have that certainty: A rational individual, possessed of self-esteem, cannot place just anyone’s life above their own in terms of value. The closeness of the bond with the other individual is what determines where on the 0% to 100% sliding-scale-of-inherent value they land, and the position an individual holds on that scale determines whether or not you’ll go in after them, with the whole thing being governed by the severity of the situation’s danger. ("Danger"? See. Ok, big boi, give us your best shot. Tell us what kind of danger awaits your typical aid-giver.)

When the news of the earthquake started coming in, when the pictures started showing up on the TV and internet and we began to see the loss of life and devastation, I felt about the same as every other person on Earth felt: We need to help those people.

Why that reaction? Two reasons: 1) “We” usually means “Other People” (Well, for you it does. And I could see why, based on your picture. Holy cow. I mean, HOLY COWS), and 2) “Help” usually means “Give some money to those other people.” Giving to the Red Cross and other charities, while at times a dubious activity where you never know what the money will be spent on (Do you ever know where that money is truly spent on? Say you, Mike McGowan enter into a McDonald's and order a couple Quarter Pounders with Cheese, a Large Shake, two orders of fries, a couple apple pies, and a supersized Diet Coke to wash it all down. Now, before you give your money over, do you ask where exactly your ten or so dollars is going to? Do you demand a detailed list to make sure that none of this money is going to end up in the hands of some drug dealer or as pay-off bribe money for the CIA? Nope, you put down your mother's hard-earned twenty dollar bill, wait for your change and order, maybe bark a little, and scarf down the remainder of your humanity along with too much corn to be safe for human consumption, NQA.), is at least a safe, relatively easy method of satisfying the impulse to aid people in an emergency. Here in America, being as fortunate as we are to have the lives of relative luxury we have, we can usually afford charity, and we give a lot to charity, mainly because there are many moral, ethical people here who truly value life (And here's where you tell us why you're an immoral, unethical monster).

I was all for an extension of relatively-safe charity to the people of Haiti, as was the entire country. But no longer.

It began this weekend, when I caught this bit in a story by the Washington Post:
But there was rising frustration — and scattered looting — among the desperate Haitian population. On Friday, the World Food Program had to suspend distribution of high-energy biscuits near the destroyed national palace when a crowd revolted, complaining that they were not getting better food.

Well… My first reaction was “Ingrates”. That put a pretty sour taste in my mouth. Beggars can’t be choosers, and revolting because you’re getting MREs and not T-Bone steaks when there isn’t a lick of food in your whole damn city kind of pissed me off a bit (Let them eat cake! LOLZ). I didn’t get a T-Bone steak last night either! Don’t see me revolting because of it…

(No. I did not touch this article. Teh stoopid things he writes are intact. I swear to almighty jeebus he is that spiteful a man to rush to the judgment of a people starving and think that they are complaining because their food is not four-star quality. That it never once crossed his mind that they might be complaining because the food is actually inedible, or that they needed something apart from dry biscuits. Or rather, because this is a case near the capitol building that maybe, just maybe these are the very few pampered Haitians on the island, ones not previously forced to subside on, say, dirt pies.)

But today’s headlines and opening paragraphs sealed the deal for me.

About 30 Americans were hurt Monday during a massive relief operation in the Haitian capital in what was described as a “mass casualty event,” US officials said.

WASHINGTON - Some incidents of violence in Haiti have hindered rescue workers trying to help earthquake victims, a top official leading the U.S. government’s relief efforts said Sunday.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Some 2,200 U.S. Marines arrived off the shore of this crumbled capital city on Monday, their mission to protect a huge relief operation from marauding looters as hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors wait desperately for food and medical care.

Violence, looting, attacking Americans who have volunteered to come and give you aid? Hell to the naw! I’m sorry, but the earthquake didn’t hit America, there is no need for it to claim American lives (And yet Saddam Hussein didn't hit America either... Wait, what the f00k? What American lives were claimed by this? Even if one or more were - though they weren't, which the above cited articles make abundantly clear - these Americans - these OTHER Americans as Mickey "Poop My Pants" McGowan made abundantly clear himself just earlier - are trained and know the dangers. They are brave men and women who feel a need to actually DO something that may COST them something. That is why they volunteered, Mike McDumbass). If this is the thanks we’re getting, fine, screw ‘em. Let them starve, die because of a lack of medical care and infection, get pulverized by drug lords and the like. I have not one iota of pity for those who strike at the people coming to help them! (The truth is, that when it comes to other people, specifically "colored", "foreign", "dark", "poor" or "funny-talkin' Frenchy-like" people - all of which apparently the Haitians have against them - some inconsiderate xenophobes will not bother trying to appreciate their point of view - let alone why they may be scrambling to try to get relief. Let me break it down for some of these people: They are starving. If you are starving in a McDonald's and the line seems to be taking too long, you get a little impatient. But the difference is that you know that you will eat soon enough - if not here, then somewhere else. If not now, then shortly. You will eat, and your children won't die of starvation, or internal organ damage. You have no reason to be aggressive. The Haitians don't have those guarantees. They don't have that luxury. Try walking a mile, just a mile...)

If they’re going to go on the war path because aid isn’t getting there fast enough, let them stew in their own misery for a bit with no aid and no promise of aid in the future. Let them see how bad it really can get. It’s what they deserve. (Yeah! Shows them right for getting in the middle of an earthquake. Stoopids!)

To head back to Ayn Rand’s example of the drowning man: One of the first things they teach lifeguards is that you never swim right out to a drowning individual and try to pull them to safety. The drowning person, scared out of their mind and incapable of rational thought, will kill you to try to stay above water. They’ll stand on you, try to push up off of you, hold you under even if it means you both die, because they want to survive. It’s our natural instinct. The lifeguard must instead wait for them to quit struggling, wait till they slip below the waves, then grab them and pull them to shore. (Note: I can't swim and, hence, never trained as a lifeguard. But apparently neither did Mikey, as one of his own readers points out just how inaccurate this analogy is. Drowning to save? Yeah, doesn't work in your fantasies even, Mike...)

This follows Ayn Rand’s model of ethics in an emergency to an absolute “T”. (Except for the fact that neither you nor Rand would even volunteer your awesome lifeguarding skillz. Too weak to swim on their own means too weak to survive, suckaz!) Haiti is a drowning nation. It is fighting, kicking, individuals are fighting not only to survive, but to advance themselves (yes, to undeserved statuses such as "living". Boy, they sure do know how to make billions in Haiti!). This is not the proper climate for us to be delivering aid. As we bring in aid, the various gangs and warlords (which are already there) will be taking it and selling it or holding it back from the people. It’s happened to US relief efforts all over the world. We’re risking the lives of American doctors, soldiers, etc for no reason but to give petty tyrants power and an easy life (and maybe to help some black families that speak the Frenchy language and practice teh devil-worship), and that is not worth it to me (who has not offered to risk my life or any money in the first place).

Let the nation restore its own order, then we (immoral, unethical monsters that we are) can move in to help. (Truly, all they need is to restore their government and self-control. They don't need food, shelter, medical relief, supplies, time, international aid, UN, doctors, councils, the US to stop meddling in their government... After all, if every other nation can so hold themselves up so high by defeating parochialism, poverty, violence, injustice, and corruption, why can't the Haitians do it? Because they're shiftless and uppity, that's why!)

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