A common charge by socialists against non-socialists is that we are selfish and don’t care about our fellow human beings. We are motivated by greed and profit and don’t value the dignity and life of others.
They on the other hand claim that you cannot put a value on human life and people must be helped regardless of the cost.
Of course what they really mean is that their favoured special interest group of people must be helped, regardless of the cost to other people.
The reality is that despite noble words, people don’t really care very much about their fellow human beings. They care about themselves, their family and friends and to a lesser extent their neighbours and acquaintances. They couldn’t really care less about people they don’t know. (If you disagree then take the coffee test, it’s coming soon)
This makes evolutionary sense, you need to pass on your genes to survive so those that cared about their own life survived and produced the next generation, those that didn’t became extinct. A large proportion of your genes are shared with your family, so it makes evolutionary sense to care about them. Friends and neighbours provide the support structure that allowed you to remain safe, so it makes sense to care about them.
Those with the “Can’t put a value on human life” gene were quickly killed off by the rest of the hungry tribe as they tried to carry off half the mammoth meat to feed the tribe over the hill.
“But we are different” the socialists will cry, “we do care for all our fellow human beings, we have risen above evolution we are rational, caring, altruistic people who put the needs of others before our own selfish desires”
It’s easy to claim to believe things, but actions speak louder than words.
In economics you express your preferences through actions, you may claim to prefer eggs to oranges, but if you buy oranges then at the point of purchase you preferred oranges. (Even if the oranges were for someone else, you still preferred to get the satisfaction of buying oranges for someone else than buying eggs for yourself).
People have limited resources and satisfy their greatest wants and desires first. People do not starve to death to buy clothes. The food required to avoid starvation has a higher value to them than a new pair of jeans. They will spend their resources on the highest value things to them at that point in time and work down through their priorities.
This is the problem for socialists, what you spend your money on, reveals your true values.
Every time you chose to purchase something for yourself, instead of giving that money to save the life of a fellow human being, starving in Africa or dying of disease in rural china, or anywhere else, you are demonstrating that (at that place and point in time) you value your purchase more than the life of a fellow human being.
Here is the Coffee Test:
Do you ever drink coffee or tea or anything other than water ?
If you ever enjoy a cup of coffee (Or Tea) then you value the pleasure you get from a cup of coffee, more highly than you value saving the life of another human being.
You could have sent the money to a charity providing fresh water to a village in Africa and saved the lives of fellow human beings, but you didn’t.
You can’t argue that this is not true because you do send some money to charity. That simply demonstrates that you value the feeling you get from giving surplus money to charity more highly than other things you could do with it. There are still people dying and you still have money that could help. Each decision is independent of the previous ones.
The coffee test question is simple:
“Right now, would I rather save the life of a fellow human being and drink water, or would I rather put my personal pleasure first and enjoy a cup of rich, hot coffee ?”
Of course the same applies to anything you purchase above subsistence level. Would you rather buy new shoes or save a life in Africa and buy second hand. Would you rather drive a car or save a life in Africa and take a bus. Would you rather eat a western meal or save a life in Africa and eat half a bowl of rice.
Libertarians have no problems with socialist giving up everything they own to save the lives of their fellow human beings, but before they lecture others on being selfish they need to demonstrate that they value human life more highly than a cup of coffee.