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Fox business analyst: Serving the common good is 'un-American'
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday July 15, 2008

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Both presidential candidates have been telling audiences recently that it's a good thing to devote themselves to a cause greater than themselves.

Fox Business Channel analyst Jonathan Hoenig, however, thinks otherwise.

Hoenig, a managing partner of the hedge fund Capitalistpig Asset Management LLC and the author of Greed is Good, given a platform on the Murdoch-owned channel Monday, considers it a terrible idea.

"It was Thomas Jefferson who once said that public service and private misery are inseparably linked," Hoenig told the hosts of Fox & Friends, referring to a letter in which Jefferson expressed a concern near the end of the Revolutionary War that 13 years of public service had left his private affairs in "great disorder."

"There is a belief now," Hoenig went on, "that individuals, especially young people, should essentially ... 'devote themselves' to something greater than themselves -- sacrifice their own wants, their own interests, to serve the common good, whatever they happen to believe it is at the time. To me, that's very un-American."

Hoenig denied that there is any such thing as the "common good" beyond what a politician might say it is. "I just don't think it's the role of the government," he complained, "to have me tutoring young kids if I don't want to or digging latrines if I don't want to or cleaning up trash at housing projects."

Even when asked about the value of military service, Hoenig insisted that "people who serve in the military do so voluntarily, and I think they do so out of their own self-interest. They do so because they want to attack and kill a militant Islam. They do it very selfishly."

"Would we have been better served if Bill Gates had joined the Peace Corps during college?" Hoenig asked. "This country's prosperity has come from people looking and serving their own self-interest."

"We're in this culture of altruism now which worships self-sacrifice." Hoenig concluded scornfully. "Anything you do for yourself is bad. Any time you sacrifice your own wants or desires to help someone else, well that's inherently good. I just think there's something unbelievably un-American about that. People should pursue their own wants."

This video is from Fox's Fox & Friends, broadcast July 15, 2008.

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