[Paleopsych] reinforcement

Steve Hovland shovland at mindspring.com
Thu Dec 9 02:19:38 UTC 2004

There's nothing magic about the private sector.

I've seen just as much incompetence and
inefficiency in corporations as I have in
government, and seen just as much intelligence
and competence in government as I've seen
in corporations.

Either sector can have efficient processes and
measures of success that ensure good results
at reasonable cost.

Hunger is not the only thing that makes people
want to work, and it's absurd to pitch people
into starvation in order to avoid demeaning them
by providing a subsistence living for them.

Steve Hovland

-----Original Message-----
From:	Christian Rauh [SMTP:christian.rauh at uconn.edu]
Sent:	Wednesday, December 08, 2004 5:44 AM
To:	The new improved paleopsych list
Subject:	Re: [Paleopsych] reinforcement

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.
>>Do you Yahoo!? 
>>Yahoo! Mail - now with 250MB free storage. Learn more.
>>paleopsych mailing list
>>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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