Does Altruism Exist?

By Chandrashekar (Chandra) Tamirisa, (On Twitter) @c_tamirisa

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Philanthropy is the love of the fellow human. It is about giving. Those who cannot give money give work. They work during the day for a wage and work on their own uncompensated time for the welfare of others. In raising the well-being of the causes they believe in they derive satisfaction.

Adam Smith believed that working for a wage, in virtue, should be sufficient to derive satisfaction from work and to benefit the society at the same time. Working for charity besides working for the self is a non-existent notion in classical economics. All work can be remunerative and tangible. Intangibles do not exist. All work is real. Fiat money is its proxy. These are basics of equilibrium price in the framework of virtuous love of the self.

The marginal utility of work, or the satisfaction derived from every direct additional unit of labor supply by a worker, as measured in derived income is directly correlated to the desire of a worker to engage in that additional unit of labor supply within the constraints of available time in a given day, maximized by the capacity of technology to make the utilization of available working time more effective and efficient. Technical change blurs the line between leisure and work. Worker preferences, in the world of Adam Smith, can make leisure work or work leisure. Capitalizing on leisure makes leisure work and enjoying work makes work leisure.

Indirect labor, as in leadership, fundamentally alters the shape of the labor supply curve and its elasticity when the quality of labor is introduced into the labor supply function. Higher income individuals contribute higher quality labor and are, therefore, compensated higher even if they contribute only a few hours of that labor, all else remaining constant. That said, they do not necessarily supply fewer hours at higher incomes. Meaning, the labor supply curve need not be bent to the left at the top of the income distribution and relatively inelastic for all other income groups.

In the world of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profits, and of grassroots organizations, uncompensated volunteerism betrays either the needs of workers to derive satisfaction outside of compensated employment, or satiation in compensated work, or a multitude of interests from which variable satisfaction is derived by the worker.

The question of examining the correlation between charitable work and income distribution has not yet been explored in economic science and, in particular, the role of uncompensated volunteerism during periods of high unemployment when the labor market equilibrium clears at a lower wage rate across occupations, in theory, in perfect and flexible labor markets (unlike, for example Wall Street wages).

If three income groups – all incomes at and below the poverty line, all incomes in the top 5 per cent of income distribution, and all those in between – are examined for the correlation between amount of time spent in charitable uncompensated work and income it can be conjectured that, at the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment (NAIRU) given an economic structure, those at the bottom contribute least in charitable work, in between contribute most (despite the large numbers of the middle classes), and those at the top (Gates and Buffet) contribute charitable work as a function of delayed tangible gratification.

All philanthropy is in the self-interest. The economics of altruism does not exist. Virtuous love of the other is also the love of the self.

Universal love is in the self-interest.


About Chandrashekar (Chandra) Tamirisa
This entry was posted in Economics, Sociology, Theology, Transformations LLC and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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