This article had me rolling:
First Worlders have a moral obligation to give away thousands of dollars — thousands! — a year of personal income to eradicate Third World poverty? Right. Even when Americans had jobs and 401(k)s, they weren’t exactly emptying their wallets for the 1.4 billion people who live in absolute destitution — $1.25 a day or less — in the developing world. How much harder to get people to give when money is tight, so many are broke and even those who are doing all right are worried and afraid for their future.
Even today, though, as Singer would be the first to remind us, an ordinary middle-class American lives like Louis XIV compared to the destitute villagers and slum dwellers of Africa, Asia and elsewhere around the globe. Singer can sound a bit puritanical when he scoffs at our outlays on $4 lattes, restaurant meals, concerts, movies, that second glass of wine we don’t really want and the $600 worth of clothes in their closet that women supposedly haven’t worn for a year. Bottled water comes in for special scorn. His point, though, isn’t that we should forgo all pleasure but that we have more disposable income than we think we do — enough to save the lives of many people. If you put it like that — hmm, do I go out for pie or vaccinate ten children? — the answer is pretty clear.
Haven’t we had enough of guilt?
The scam goes like this: author wants to have some way to market himself, so he emulates Christ and advocates selfless giving, which makes him seem more compassion than you or I. Since we compete for social values, we are now tempted to prove we are as compassionate or more compassionate than he. In short, neither party cares about the starving third world; we’re trying to out-moralize each other.
But guilt leaves a hangover.
The manipulated person always somewhat senses the scam, so they tend to have it both ways. They insist on public displays of altruism, but make sure it’s ineffective and cheap altruism. Send the old clothes to the starving Africans. Maybe they can eat our sweaters. And so on.
The real problem with guilt is that it introduces a bias toward the failing, and therefore, a tendency to skimp on those who might actually provide a good future for humanity — the gifted who, because they come from people who were also gifted, tend to be wealthier, better looking, healthier, more fertile, smarter, etc.
State schools are being forced to prioritise “social misfits” at the expense of the majority of pupils, according to a former academy head teacher.
Steve Patriarca blamed Gordon Brown’s decision to create a new “Orwellian” Government department with dual responsibility for schools and social services.
It meant education for the most able often came second best to the needs of problem pupils, he said.
He also criticised the lack of freedom to control admissions, and he attacked the practice of forcing academies to share pupils expelled from other schools.
“The more disruptive the child is the more attention it receives and the more benefits,” Mr Patriarca said.
When you think in negative terms, like looking for objects of guilt with which to advance your own social standing, you become tuned to the negative, not the positive. That means you take care of the violent and uncontrollable pupils but ignore the brightest, because you’re doing your moral duty in taking care of nature’s failures.
If we threw out guilt tomorrow, we’d all feel a weight lifted from our chests. But we don’t, because it’s such an effective way of manipulating others, and clever monkeys love that even if the long-term effects include self-destruction.