1. the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others
Altruism is the single most dangerous concept in politics.
The concept of altruism comes to us from religion. The great irony is that in no religion I am aware of does altruism ever get applied to government actions. Altruism is a personal commandment.
Yet somewhere in history, altruism was picked up by politicians as a means to sell their ideas. Don't think for a second that most politicians are truly displaying "unselfish concern for...the welfare of others".
When you hear altruism being given as the reason for a government program/action, be afraid. When government enters the realm of "unselfish concern for...the welfare of others", that means they are about to use force against one part of society in order to provide something for another part of society.
But taxes aren't "force", right? Wrong. Try not paying your taxes, and you will quickly learn about the force of government.
But what about the poor people? Folks, if you are truly concerned about the poor, donate to charity. If you know someone who is poor, help them. You won't get to Heaven any quicker by passing your personal altruistic responsibilities to the government.
But can't government help people? Sort of. But at what cost? When you pay government for a service, you are also paying for all kinds of government bureaucrats to make sure the service is provided, as well as accountable. Even then, government fails (Remember the debit cards handed out by FEMA after Hurricane Katrina? Remember the stories of them being used at strip clubs?).
If you want to be altruistic, do it on your own dime, not mine. And not the government's.