[Paleopsych] reinforcement

Christian Rauh christian.rauh at uconn.edu
Wed Dec 8 13:44:11 UTC 2004

I agree with all of you. I agree with Lynn that giving people a minimum 
amount of quality of life makes them less willing to work. However, all 
this discussion is so American/developed country centered that it 
borders the ridiculous. When I think about "welfare", I am not talking 
about welfare where people can pay rent and have a TV. I'm talking about 
people hungry.

But there are two questions to this:

1 - How large is that effect? What is the change in willingness to work 
from a person that is hungry to a person that is not hungry? Certainly, 
people who are hungry will work for less so they are more willing, but 
how much less? Is it a meaningfull change?

2 - If there is a meaningful change, are we willing to improve 
productivity based on other people's hunger? If we are all to live a 
worse life with less stuff so that other people will eat so be it! Sell 
the the Chevrolet Metro by the price of a Hummer. You also get less 
fatal acidents on the side.

As a final point I think that this big government/small government vs. 
welfare/not welfare is secondary at this point. Efforts to reduce 
corruption (private and public) is probably the one major factor to 
improve productivity in developed countries.


Steve Hovland wrote:
> 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
> initiative.
> 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
> www.stevehovland.net
> -----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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>>paleopsych at paleopsych.org
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"I am in a very sad position. I do not see any freedom or any
democracy. If this could lead into a freedom, it is a freedom with
blood. It is a freedom of emotions of sadness. It is a freedom of
killing. You cannot gain democracy through blood or killing. You do
not find the freedom that way."

        - Abu Talat, 19 Nov 2004 (after the raid of Abu Hanifa mosque)


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