Can The State cure selfishness and greed?

Selfishness and Greed

Statists believe politicians can regulate selfishness and greed.  There are four reasons they cannot..

  • First, politicians and bureaucrats are people too, and just as prone to selfishness and greed as anyone else. You can’t cure an inherent human weakness by giving one sub-set of flawed humans vast power over all the rest.
  • Second, political power will naturally attract the greediest people, thereby magnifying the problem you were hoping to solve. This is like letting the fox guard the hen house.
  • Third, there are few ways to control politicians once they’re in power. It’s very easy for them to pass laws and regulations that benefit themselves, or their cronies. It’s hard to prevent or punish this, or to replace incumbent office holders.
  • Fourth, greed and selfishness are actually self-punishing under normal circumstances.

After all…

  • Selfish people lack friends in times of need
  • Greedy people lose customers

But please notice — The State cannot lose friends and customers. People are compelled to submit to The State’s dictates. So, instead of being self-punishing, statist greed is actually self-rewarding. Politicians actually use their own failures as an excuse to grant themselves more power, and to spend more money.
In fact, statism is inherently greedy, because it initiates force in all that it does. By comparison, voluntaryists believe true generosity is peaceful, voluntary, cooperative, pro-social, and empathetic. True generosity builds bonds of communityStatism does the opposite. This is why…
Voluntaryists believe governments must obey the Zero Aggression Principle. Governments must not initiate force. They must only use force defensively. 

Do these ideas intrigue you? Subscribe to learn more. 

Jim Babka

About the Author

Jim Babka

Facebook Twitter

Jim Babka is co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and President of, Inc. He’s an author and former talk show host.
Previously, he was the President of, Inc., defending free press rights all the way to the Supreme Court. He and Susie are the proud, home-schooling parents of three teenagers. He enjoys theology, UFC, target practice, and Tai Chi.

Perry Willis

About the Author

Perry Willis

Facebook Twitter Google+

Perry Willis is the co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and Downsize DC. He was the National Director of the Libertarian National Committee on two occasions, and ran two Libertarian Party presidential campaigns. He has an extensive background in marketing and fundraising, and has ghost written direct mail appeals for numerous luminaries, including Karl Hess, Ron Paul, Charlton Heston and Harry Browne.

Subscribe form for Lever Pages


Show Comments 9


  1. There is no shortage of resources. This is a lie, that supports a corrupt monetary policy. Allow competing medicine, energy and currencies will collapse a Corportacracy and improve everyone’s quality of life. Greed won’t matter, it will just look stupid.

  2. The “state” is an unfettered coercive monopoly. It does whatever suits it’s selfish nature. It has no moral sense of purpose. From the president on down, they are self serving psychopaths. They have never known a self sustaining lifestyle. All they know is sucking blood from the citizens and pacifying the greedy oligarchs. Without a moral standard, there will be no change in the system. Zero Aggression is the standard by which this country was founded.

  3. Well of course the State can’t “cure” selfishness and greed. But reasonable regulations and laws are not designed to do any such thing…

    1. Post

      Hi Steve. I assume you’re suggesting that reasonable regulations and laws cannot cure selfishness and greed, but that they can somehow treat it. Maybe, but how then do you “treat” the selfishness and greed of the politicians and bureaucrats who are charged with writing these reasonable laws and regulations? As a practical matter there is no effective way to regulate politicians and bureaucrats. They are free to write rules that serve their own ends, and they do that with great gusto. For starters, look up the subject of regulatory capture. If you want to go deeper into the subject, read the word of the economic historian Gabriel Kolko.

    2. The problem with “reasonable” law/regs is that there is no criteria for judging what is reasonable. Those who claim we have such a system in the judicial branch are sadly mistaken. Judges are not chosen for their reasonableness. They are picked by their track record of support for the state. And they are never removed for making what are blatantly irrational decisions. They have the final say, be it ever so political.
      Does this system seem reasonable to you? Should the SCOTUS be without accountability? Should it be able to reverse previous decisions, then reverse back again, based on arbitrary concerns? Are there no objective principles? I challenge anyone to defend pandering to the crowd or politicians.

  4. Martin Luther’s concept of “Selbstlichkeit”, was a construct he devised, for the purpose of spreading the Christian gospel. According to Luther, since all people are always selfish, we cannot ourselves choose to earn the love of God, and depend upon Jesus Christ to intercede for us.
    As a propaganda tool for explaining the basic concept of a religion, the notion of “selfishness” as Unavoidable Sin has been helpful to many evangelists, which explains it’s popularity. They love to tell us how selfish we are, right before they pass around an offering plate, with which we can absolve ourselves of some selfishness and inflict it upon the evangelist, by giving up a wee bit of money for the evangelist to spend meeting selfish personal needs.
    It’s also a fatally flawed concept, theologically speaking.
    The fatal flaw in equating selfishness with sinfulness, is that God is perfect and without sin. In the beginning, when God said “Let there be light!”, God was alone. There was nobody else for Him to please. He created light to please Himself.
    Going forward a bit through the Bible’s storyline, we meet the words of Jesus Christ, commanding his followers to “Love God above all, and your neighbor as yourself”. Taken literally, the words of Jesus say that we are to love life, both our own, and those with whom we empathize. Nowhere in that command, can be found Luther’s notion, that desiring things for yourself causes Sin.
    What actually takes place, when we try to turn Luther’s theory into an ethical principle, is that we create an imaginary sin, where none existed. And then, in the next breath, we create a worldly authority that imagines it can absolve us, of the imaginary sin. That false worldly authority is the Collective.
    How does this scam work?
    Very simply, it works because we choose to believe what we were told about Selfishness.
    When somebody selfishly objects to our personal conduct and demands that we absolve ourselves of that imaginary sin by giving him something he wants, we choose to believe two lies: The lie that we acquired something he wants, sinfully. And the lie that giving it to him, makes our sin go away. No matter how many people repeat these lies, they cannot, by believing, force the lies to become true.
    The Collective erects itself as a super-human entity that has no sin. The Collective condemns us for the sin of Achievement. Then absolves us of that sin, when we give it the results of our achievements. (For example, when we make it a payment of money it demands.). Because the Collective is nothing more than the sum total of everybody’s selfishness, it has not actually transcended the alleged sin of selfishness that it decries. Rather, it bought everyone’s silence…temporarily, no one is accusing anyone of acting selfishly, because everyone in the Collective is, temporarily, satisfied.
    If Martin Luther could see what Collectives have done to the world in the last century or so, he would view Selbstlichkeit as a teaching success. Despite the Collective’s own best efforts, it was unable to create paradise on earth. As an ethical principle, an absence of selfishness is not love. It’s merely an absence.
    For this reason, I no longer praise anyone for their selflessness or unselfishness. A dead tombstone is selfless, as it has, literally, no self-awareness nor personality nor empathy. It’s completely, selflessly, passive.
    When I witness, or receive, an act of kindness by someone, I thank the person for showing kindness. I didn’t cause their kindness to happen. They caused it to happen. It’s my place to thank them and their place to enjoy it.
    Thought of in this way, it’s trivially easy to comprehend Jesus Christ’s teaching, that it is “more-blessed to give, than to receive.”. If I received something I needed, to stay alive, but could not provide it for myself, and the person who gave it to me, knew how to make more of it, that person is in a whole lot better position than I am! Saying “thank you”, is way more honest, than praising someone for their absence of self.

    1. thanks for the thoughtful and thorough examination of the inherent contractions in praising “selflessness” ….well-expressed.

      1. Post
  5. Well reasoned Bob S.
    This is the inner, unspoken attitude of most:
    “Greed/selfishness is other people’s ambition, desire to improve their life materially. My desires are a natural fulfillment of survival requirements. I do not require governing. But other people do, so I want to force it on everyone, because I can only trust myself. I am good, others not so much.”
    A prejudice, self centered perspective is the psychology of the immature. And it is common. But it is also a rational, productive attitude sometimes, depending on the circumstances. The free enterprise system takes selfishness and turns it into an asset for everyone, creating a win-win. For example, not many inventions were conscious attempts to benefit humanity, or get wealthy. They started out as curiosity and the personal joy of exploration. Next the continued development of the discovery was for economic exchange, but still for a personal thrill of being recognized by others as a creator of value. And this benefits everyone, hurts no one. It is win-win.
    The first humans thrived not out of self sacrifice, but fear of self annihilation, and satisfaction of their own basic needs. Without this motivation our species wouldn’t exist. Nor would any species. I doubt the spear or bow/arrow was motivated by a desire to serve or please the tribe. Nor was procreation. We start out self aware, self absorbed, and acquire an appreciation for the value of others to our self development, happiness. It is still self based, but is also other orientated. They are not mutually exclusive but complementary. It does not have to be either/or. We can learn to see how others are a mirror, and this is very necessary for full self development, full enjoyment.

Leave a Comment:

Fields marked with * are required