PhontabulousThe internet (including this blog) is awash in whiny complaints. Evidently it’s human nature to covet the grass on the other side of the fence… ah, so much greener! In our increasingly-competitive culture we’re all prone to gleeful schadenfreude at the failure of others, or we seethe in irrational frustration when someone else wins, somehow chalking that up as a loss in our own column.

It’s strange. People loudly pronounce how badly our public school system sucks while refusing to pay for better-trained, better-qualified teachers. Instead, School Board administrators and other middle-management money miners perch like vultures atop the actual educational work force and are rewarded for squeezing the system of every penny. Everyone seems sympathetic to the plight of the poor ill-used teachers… until the teacher of MY kids goes on strike, at which time all selfish Teacher Unions must be crushed for daring to inconvenience MY family with their dumb problems.

That’s how most people react to the needs of others these days. We wish them well and support their effort to “get what’s rightfully theirs”until it directly affects us, or until “what’s rightfully theirs” crosses the line into “what’s rightfully mine.” Then we shoot them the finger and accuse them of selfish assholery.

Such hypocrisy abounds : the most vehement complainants are often the first to flip the script when their own best interests are concerned. Example: Ayn Rand— a seriously smart lady and an extremely perceptive commentator on the virtues of capitalism and the pitfalls of Western society— eventually spread her cultural analysis too thin, drawing the wrong conclusions to invent the hilariously-named “Objectivism”: an economically-derived ethos based on the uncluttered virtue of unabashed self-interest and the beneficial purging of the less-talented by an elite intellectual avant-garde of industrial supermen, all paragons of “moral virtue” (in which she herself was included among the best and brightest, obviously). But when— after years of her own extramarital affairs— she viciously sought to ruin the life of her ex-lover on hypocritical grounds of “extramarital infidelity,” the mask slipped. She also roundly denied the health hazards of her own chain smoking, denouncing scientific evidence to the contrary as a government scare hoax— until she contracted the lung cancer that ultimately killed her. At which time she directly violated her own philosophy’s admonishment against any who partook of any form of government aid as being weak and worthless by filing for Social Security benefits under an assumed name.

In Rand’s defense, moral absolutists NEVER fully satisfy the qualifications for moral perfection demanded by their systems… not without bending the rules when nobody’s looking. Perfection, where humanity is concerned, is usually an unattainable goal. Even the smartest people err in their own favor unless objectively policed. And if those external police have a vested interest in being less than objective..?

We complain about Congressional gridlock because our government “doesn’t work,” yet seem content to let big industry write what laws they prefer, reduce their own taxes to increase profit ratios, and systematically buy the support (and legislative votes) of politicians.

We all want better government services. And lower taxes. And our own needs met, and our own causes funded. But a lot of people like to say “I love America,” but what they really seem to be saying is “I love America unless it stops giving my group* preferential treatment at the expense of others.”

So everybody loves America… except no one seems to want to pay for it.

*pick one. All are applicable.