[Paleopsych] the welfare state

Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Tue Dec 7 02:03:44 UTC 2004

Dr Eisler is pointing out some of the dilemmas to the welfare state. 
What kind of behavior do we want to support? What reward system will 
promote those behaviors? I think it is to society's advantage that 
everyone capable of productive work be contributing to society. That 
certainly made Hong Kong an amazing place. That is my fear of welfare 
state politics, they are controlled by self-interest pressure groups, 
not by the wisest principles of reinforcement.

All systems seem to have unplanned consequences built in, so there must 
be a constant re-evaluation and change system. Capitalism has that 
without any government control (at least, that is how I see it) but 
socialism and the like requires a strong counterbalance. Look at the 
USA's problem with Social Security. There is no question we are headed 
over a cliff here, since short term has ruled the thinking of our 
legislators. But no one has the courage to do what needs to be done. 
Bush is excoriated for his half-baked suggestion, but the left provides 
no real alternative. MEdicare is another disaster, waiting to fall in on 

Thanks, Hannes, for your thoughts.

Hannes Eisler wrote:

>> 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 discussed.
>> 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 
> childbearing.
>> 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 able?)
>> 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 optimally.
>> Steve Hovland
>> www.stevehovland.net
>> -----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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