Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Sun Oct 9 01:17:14 PDT 2011

On Sat Oct  8 16:37:07 2011, J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
> On Oct 8, 2011, at 12:39 AM, Stephen Williams wrote:
>> Consistently encouraging people to improve and seek the most useful thing to do is one important problem, probably _the_ problem politically and economically.  Doing that while not letting people slip to lower levels of hierarchy of needs is the other major problem.  Some want the first while not wanting to do anything about the second, seemingly oblivious that this is sabotage.  Others are all about blindly helping people while not acknowledging any responsibility for strongly seeking self-improvement and utility.
> People do not select their professions for maximum productivity, they select them for maximum status. Preferences, temperament, and abilities are modifiers to the primary status seeking function.
> This is the current socio-economic problem in a nutshell. The economy is at a point where employability is necessarily about maximizing individual productivity. Most people would rather have us subsidize their pursuit of maximizing status. Their ability to be productive is a secondary factor in their choices and behavior. A reason government programs to reduce unemployment are failures is that they are really status subsidies. Choosing an occupation where one can maximize productivity regardless of social status is a satisfying economic argument but it fits poorly with human nature. Society will continue to expend an extraordinary amount of money on theater that avoids confronting unpleasant realities (which is the rule in any case).
> Many people would rather be unemployed from an unproductive high status job than be employed at a lower status job where they can be productive. They do not work to be productive, they work to maintain and increase their status.

Which comes back to the general problem, and general failure, to 
properly incentivize people.  (The royal) we do it in some cases, but 
not much where it counts.  While we're probably still in a backlash 
against mendacious propaganda from the 50s-80s, we could get a little 
more creative with PSAs at least.  Rather than programs that have cost 
a fortune and resulted in zero or less than zero desired effect.  [1]  
People in key places nudge the culture in various ways.  They should be 
educated to nudge toward something more useful for everyone.

[1] http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/1077650838.html


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