My syndicated column this week is about what is most likely to make you happy.
Charity -- helping people who have trouble helping themselves -- is a good thing two times over. It's good for the beneficiary and good for the donor, too. Stephen Post's fine book, "The Hidden Gifts of Helping," reveals that 76 percent of Americans say that helping others is what makes them most happy. Giving money makes us feel good, and helping face-to-face is even better. People say it makes them feel physically healthier. They sleep better.
... But while charity is important, let's not overlook something more important: Before we can help anyone, we first need something to give. Production precedes donation. Advocates of big government forget this.
Today's resented billionaires do more for the world pursuing their own self-interests than by giving to charity. Yaron Brook, author of "Free Market Revolution" and president of the Ayn Rand Institute, puts it this way:
"How did they become a billionaire? By creating a product or great service that benefits everybody. And we know it benefits us because we pay for it. We pay less than what it's worth to us. That's why we trade -- we get more value than what we give up. So, our lives are better off. Bill Gates improved hundreds of millions of lives around the world. That's how he became a billionaire...And when you start thinking about the multiplier effect, $50 billion for Bill Gates? That's nothing compared to the value he added to the world. That is much greater than the value he'll ever add in any kind of charitable activity."
... Gates now donates billions and applies his critical thinking skills to charity. He tested ideas in education, like small high schools, and dumped them when they didn't work. Good. But if he reinvested his charity money in Microsoft, might he have helped more people? Maybe.
The rest of my column here.