[Paleopsych] reinforcement

Steve Hovland shovland at mindspring.com
Wed Dec 8 06:02:37 UTC 2004

It may be that the original welfare system
was constructed without any concept of
the problems we later saw.  Perhaps it
was an attempt to store surplus labor or
to prevent revolution- a real fear in the 1930's

One basic reason for welfare is that as a civilized
society we can't let unproductive people starve 
while we figure out what to do with them.

It's silly to think that they will find jobs.  Jobs
are scarce right now.  It's been like a glass
wall for several years- if you were outside
there has been very little chance of getting inside.

At the same time, the welfare system has
been all-or-nothing, and tended to penalize

I have long felt that the negative income tax
was a good idea.  Put a base under people
and don't take it away when they improve on it.

If your faith makes you think this is immoral
then perhaps you should pay more attention
to the increased revenue your business gets
from more people having more money to spend.

At the same time, I think we need to consciously
tackle the problem of reducing the birth rate,
particularly of the working classes.  I'm sure some
people are horrified by those words, but the fact
is that there is a working class and that we don't
need as many of them as we did 100 years ago.

Steve Hovland

-----Original Message-----
From:	Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. [SMTP:ljohnson at solution-consulting.com]
Sent:	Tuesday, December 07, 2004 8:54 PM
To:	The new improved paleopsych list
Cc:	Christian Rauh
Subject:	Re: [Paleopsych] reinforcement

Michael, what you may overlook is that any time we give people unearned 
rewards, we are influencing their behavior. It cannot be avoided. See 
Hannes' earlier comments about sick leave. It is an unavoidable 
consequence of any welfare system. To pretend otherwise encourages a 
kind of system-wide pretense that devalues all concerned. Reward 
influence behavior; random rewards influence random responding and chaos 
/ entropy increases. How to reward responsibly is a terribly difficult 
question, fraught with many unanticipated consequences.

So the question stands. As to who bosses whom, I refer to the old 
English saying, "If you take the King's shilling, you do the king's 
bidding." Who pays the piper calls the tune, so it is odd to ask that,  
because if people take money from the government, they owe the people 
who paid the taxes some kind of compensation. (This is a feature of my 
own religious system, so I am clearly not objective there. Welfare is 
received but value must be returned; my church leaders called the dole 
an evil.)

As to IRS, of course, I agree. Solution? VAT like in Europe and no 
income tax? That gets rid of the IRS, and there are serious proposals to 
that effect being floated.

Finally, your Malthusian visions are simply one possibility. Another: 
reduce restrictions on capitalism and you raise the general income of 
everyone in society. Reduce taxes and trim the welfare state to the 
bone, and more people work and raise their income. We know that now 
because of Clinton's welfare reforms. Everyone benefits. Malthus has 
never been right (Club of Rome was wrong too), and so I doubt the 
accuracy of your vision. I am quite optimistic. (Again, read Commanding 
Heights where this point is clearly made)

Finally, I was shocked to see you use China as a good example. Surely 
you must be joking? High unemployment, murder of female babies, 
inefficient government industries, terrible polution . . . How can it be 
a good example of anything except the foolishness of letting the 
government become dominant in society? A small, weak government is my 
ideal. Hamilton himself would be aghast at his federalism gone 
cancerous. (I recommend the Chernow biography, BTW, excellent!)

Michael Christopher wrote:

>>>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.<<
>--And, the oft-unasked question, "What are the
>consequences of treating people as if they are to be
>rewarded and punished in order to engineer their
>behavior to conform to an authority's vision of
>optimum productivity?" Or, put simply, "Who is bossing
>whom around". 
>Taxpayers feel bossed around by the IRS, which treats
>them like a cold, calculating parent. Taxpayers get
>some relief from removing impersonal safety nets from
>the social ladder. There is an undertone of "daddy is
>putting his foot down." This forces people to get
>personal. If the government does not give the poor a
>way to eat and pay rent, someone will have to minister
>to them. A boon for churches, at first. More needy
>people to convert, who will gladly accept a little
>dogma in exchange for a warm safety net of smiling
>faces and hot food. Later, in influx. More unstable
>people ("demonically possessed?") and more conflicts
>of dogma and faith. More violent clashes, boundary
>violations and fear among people torn between obeying
>Christ's commandment to love enemies, and insulating
>themselves in a secure gated community. More religious
>fundamentalism, cults who abuse the human need for
>affiliation and protection, more racial conflict and a
>pervasive feeling of being on the verge of being
>"voted off the island". 
>We can look at various scenarios that may unfold if
>impersonal safety nets are removed and personal ones
>forced to take up the slack. Some options are:
>A: Conformity and dramatic increase in productivity. A
>happy, efficient economic machine like China.
>Government "nanny state" replaced with nurturing,
>womblike interest groups, faith groups and corporate
>neighborhoods with their own means of staying afloat
>B: Regression to childhood humiliation and punishment,
>commonly triggered by rejection scenarios and double
>binds. Paralysis or outbursts of paranoid rage.
>Spiritual conflict requiring sacrifice and
>propitiation ritual, carried out in the form of
>pogroms against groups who do not adapt well.
>C: The "Scrooge Effect". Groups with many options for
>controlling their environment begin to shut out
>awareness of groups for whom options feel like or are
>a balance of evils. Scrooges appear heartless and cold
>to lower classes, with the middle class torn between
>persuit of economic security and the need for social
>inclusion (do we approach the homeless as potential
>parasites or assailants, or do we invite human
>contact?). Corporations scramble to use marketing
>psychology to secure consumer trust, while issues of
>trust are re-evaluated across the community. Who
>trusts whom? Ultimately, scrooges trigger instability
>by trying to reap security at the expense of others
>and crossing the line from investment into
>embezzlement and hoarding. Pyramid schemes and massive
>cynicism break out. Inflation, scapegoating and
>symbolic or real lynchings. Populism develops either a
>redemptive faith or a brutal payback attitude.
>D: The Rapture. Jesus saves the day.
>I'm going with D. Just kidding. I'm hoping people find
>very creative and surprising ways to create community
>and keep people afloat. If someone is to be
>sacrificed, let it be the ones who threaten the
>security of the global organism, not those accused of
>being lazy, unuseful, inefficient, insane or immoral.
>We will not be forgiven easily by our children if our
>collective form becomes that of a funnel, economically
>and psychologically aborting some segment of the
>future as the mad scramble to security becomes
>paramount to the mass.
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