[ExI] Psychology of "Entitlements"

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Wed May 13 04:25:32 UTC 2009

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

> It doesn't make sense that you say you would have taken the dole, yet
> ended up retraining and (I assume) working full time. What if there
> were no dole but you had, say, a couple of hundred thousand dollars
> from savings or inheritance, which you could have invested for a
> modest lifelong income, similar to the dole;

Of course I would have preferred that. People
usually take the path of least resistance,
integrated over their foreseeable future
(taking into account time discounting).

I didn't *want* to stop doing what I was doing.
I felt forced to. I felt forced to move far
away and take up another line of work entirely.
Charities and especially government assistance
all too often keep people from making choices
that will in the long run benefit them.

> in fact, even easier than
> the dole, since you would not have had to apply, continually justify
> to the government your need, explain to others that you were on the
> dole, etc.

You could make the same arguments against any
kind of addiction. But when you're on the hook,
making the long-term best choices for oneself
is not so easy.

> Would the money have been an equally great or greater
> personal disaster?

In my case, yes, and I think that it's true for
most people. A productive living confers many,
many psychological benefits, as the studies will
tell you (as well as a host of ancient homilies).

> Should we worry that savings can corrupt moral
> fibre and urge people to spend their income as
 > soon as they are paid,

Certainly not. But go ahead if you want. The "urging"
that we do to people is seldom effective (that this
is the case is what was never clear to the early
collectivists, who really believed that constant
exhortations to the masses to contribute to the
social well-being would be effective).

People end up feeling quite different about money they've
earned as opposed to money they've stolen or have been
given. The psychological profiles are distinct. In one
case there is a kind of sense of justice, and in the
other a sense of injustice, just to mention one facet.
The people I know or knew who were getting something for
nothing rather resented the entire system, and especially
hated the rich (and for some reason, especially hated
Bill Gates). The mechanisms in play here are obvious.


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