Quote of the Day: On Justifying Selfishness

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


From Matt Yglesias, on the question of whether broader access to health insurance would save lives:

To be even having this conversation is for the right-wing point of view to win the argument. It’s like the fake climate change “debate” — the point is not so much to actually persuade anyone of anything but simply to shift the rhetoric around. A lot of people have perfectly good selfish reasons to want to resist comprehensive climate legislation, but few people are comfortable self-consciously espousing selfish political beliefs. So it’s comforting and useful if they’re able to instead anchor themselves to the idea of some “controversy” over whether or not uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions are harmful.

And you see something similar here. There’s obviously a lot of discomfort with the idea of a highly moralized debate about the values implicated in the decision to support or resist efforts to expand access to affordable health insurance, so creating an air of technical controversy around the fact that the exact degree to which lack of insurance is harmful helps resterilize things.

Or to put it another way, “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” Some things never change.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate