A common belief among those who disagree with the Objectivist philosophy is that in an Objectivist society nobody would become a firefighter or police officer, since, in their mind, those careers are essentially altruist and therefore incompatible with selfishness. As an example, note the common cultural depiction of police officers and firefighters who died on Sep 11th as "selfless" heros.
Other than the self-evident benefit of a salary, what are some of the other reasons an Objectivist may choose a career as a firefighter or police officer?
The premise error in this "common belief" is that selfishness as encouraged by objectivist principles is the same as that which is decried in pulpits and other such places. That so called selfishness involves theft, deceit, and other forms of immoral taking of others' possessions for one's own fulfillment. Such persons are indeed unlikely to partake in professions involving hazard or delay of reward.
Selfishness extolled by objectivism does NOT allow for immoral seizure or taking of other people's property or values. It very much involves loving one's self to the degree that leads to honest and moral decisions and to wanting to live in a society in which all members can be assured of the sanctity of their property and other rights. This means that selfish persons are and will be willing to work in professions that help to achieve such a society. Their actions are incredibly selfish.
Let me once again state that the most insulting "compliment" I received as a career soldier was praise for my selfless service and for my sacrifices. I considered that career to be very rewarsacrding for many reasons and never considered it to be sacrificial. I do experience fear for soldiers whenever I hear politicians encourage them to be willing to sacrifice. When you are asked to make a sacrifice, you need to prepare to be immolated on a sacrificial altar. I, for one, have no intention of mounting such an altar peacefully.
answered Dec 17 '10 at 10:46