Voices for Reason - Your Money Is Your Life | The Ayn Rand Institute

Your Money Is Your Life

Every so often, some pretentious intellectual calls for the government to draft every American into performing a few years of community service. The proposals never go anywhere. The American attitude is: Where does the government get off telling me what I have to do with my time?

But the truth is all of us already perform years of “community service.” It’s called paying taxes to fund the welfare state.

Time is our most precious resource, and most of us invest a third or more of it into productive work so that we can support our lives and make our hopes and dreams a reality. Every penny we earn represents some irreplaceable part of our life — and every penny the government takes from us represents a moment stolen from our life.

Imagine the outcry if a private employer threatened to fire his employees unless they worked over the weekend without pay. We would hear cries of “coercion” and “exploitation” and “slavery.” Yet when the government actually forces us to work without pay, not for a weekend, but for months out of each year in order to provide other people with welfare benefits, this is praised as a great moral achievement.

Your money represents your life, and no one has a right to your life. As Howard Roark declared in Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, “I came here to say that I do not recognize anyone’s right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy. Nor to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim, how large their number or how great their need.”