[Paleopsych] the welfare state

Hannes Eisler he at psychology.su.se
Mon Dec 6 16:51:19 UTC 2004

>I doubt that the existence of a social safety
>net has much effect on the will to work.

Things are a bit more complicated. When the sick insurance waiting 
(or deferring) period decreased from three days to one day the 
frequency of sickness increased conspicuously. (For a short time of 
sickness you don't need a physician's attest.) Have people being 
going to work with, e.g., a slight cold before, or are they more 
disposed to discover their own cold now?
What is unbelievable, particularly so to Americans, I guess, is that 
sick leave under certain conditions is used instead of strikes (the 
unions declare that the present working conditions with so little pay 
entails diseases). Also a person accused of, e.g., fraud, might not 
be discharged directly but urged to take a sick leave. Furthermore, 
sick pay exceeds unemployment pay, so there is a trend to replace one 
by the other, which also keeps the unemployment figures lower. All 
this is, of course, examples of misuse, the frequency of it being 

>Sure people work to survive, but Maslow
>still means something.  I suspect that the
>highest levels of achievement have very little
>to do with money.

A certain number of youngsters prefer travelling, etc., to working, 
delaying the beginning of the "achieving time." This is the opposite 
of many adult women who are looking at their career and postpone 

>Many people such as great teachers function
>at a very high level for relatively little money.

Right. And cleaning women are forced to.

>As one rich man said, once you have that
>first million, every succeeding million means
>less and less.  Then why continue?  Because
>it's no longer the money.  It may very well be
>the satisfaction of doing things.

Rich people very often compare their relative income. If your 
neighbor earns ten millions you want to make at least eleven without 
pondering what to do with the money.(Evidence that you are the more 

>It may be that only a small percentage of mentally
>ill people can never satisfy their hunger for money.

A new definition of mentally ill.

In summary: In spite of all drawbacks I am for a welfare state, but a 
well-balanced one, one that is not built on pure ideology, but one 
that is based on psychological knowledge in order not to go awry. 
Still, I don't want to be confronted on the street with homeless 
people, neither with beggars, nor with robbers. And I don't care 
whether they themselves are responsible for their misery. So I pay my 
taxes dutifully, though often wondering whether they are used 

>Steve Hovland
>-----Original Message-----
>From:	Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. [SMTP:ljohnson at solution-consulting.com]
>Sent:	Sunday, November 28, 2004 3:52 PM
>To:	The new improved paleopsych list
>Subject:	Re: [Paleopsych] the welfare state
>Very thoughtful comments. The key here is that welfare state politics is
>a long-term experiment, with some serious consequences if youth do lose
>the desire to work.  Like the cartoon about two scientists, one is
>saying, "It very well may produce immortality, but it will take forever
>to test it!"
>Hannes Eisler wrote:
>>  Living in a welfare state myself I have a few comments.
>>  First, we have to distinguish different groups. One group consists of
>>  people who cannot help themselves: mentally ill, retarded, alcoholics,
>>  junkies, etc.
>>  To be brutal: I don't want to see them running around on the street
>>  and perish.
>>  But also as a fellowman I want to help them, not privately but by
>>  gladly paying taxes.
>>  Second: The welfare state's intention is to redistribute your (own)
>>  income over your life cycle. An example: You get paid a certain amount
>>  for every child (from your taxes) as long as children are dear (in
>>  more than one meaning); when they are grown up and do not cost anymore
>>  your taxes are considered a repayment. This is valid for all citizens,
>>  though no personal humiliation. It works automatically.
>  > Sickness is something similar; you pay only a part of the costs of
>>  visits to physicians and medicines. However, as a healthy individual
>>  you can earn money and pay taxes, so the government (i.e., the
>>  taxpayers) may make a profit.
>>  Finally there is a group whose income does not cover their living
>>  expenses, or people who cannot handle money. Again, part of them may
>>  have gotten into some kind of trouble, say having become a victim to a
>>  fraud, and need some monetary help. For them there is another kind of
>>  social welfare; they have to ask the pertinent authority in person
>>  with all the entailing humiliation. But this is only a small part of
>>  the Swedish welfare state.
>>  But there is some trouble ahead. Many young people (according to
>>  interviews) don't place work as central in their lives as their
>>  parents and grandparents did. And many people claim to be sick when
>>  just feeling bad (not an outright cheat) which raises the amount of
>>  costs to unbearable high levels.
>>  We shall see how the welfare state will develop. As yet cannot Sweden
>>  be compared to the pre-Thatcher UK as Lynn Johnson described it.
>>  I may add: when I was about ten years old I thought it a shame to work
>>  for money--note: not to work in itself, but to earn money for a living.
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Prof. Hannes Eisler
Department of Psychology
Stockholm University
S-106 91 Stockholm

e-mail:   he at psychology.su.se
fax   :   +46-8-15 93 42
phone :   +46-8-163967 (university)
           +46-8-6409982 (home)
internet: http://www.psychology.su.se/staff/he

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