Tricky Question Here

Two little quotes.

Firstly, Ritchie Baby approvingly quotes Polly.

The instinct for fairness is hard-wired into human beings, never more so than in times of adversity.

Secondly, Robert Schiller:

In good times people are willing to cooperate and accomodate others, but when optimism for the future starts to sour, they can become introverted, angry, fearful, and selfish.

Who to believe, eh? Who to believe?

I think we\’ll have to plump for Professor Schiller actually. Not because I like his proposed solution any better, it\’s pretty much the same imposed collectivism that Polly wants. But because his proposed solution flows naturally from his appreciation of human nature.

If we do indeed in bad times start to act selfishly then, for those who insist upon unselfish behaviour, insisting with the force of law upon unselfish behaviour makes logical sense.

However, the logic doesn\’t actually work the other way: Polly and the R Babbie seem to have something of a disconnect there. If people do indeed act more fairly in times of adversity, then in times of adversity the power to compel of the State would not be necessary, would it?

13 thoughts on “Tricky Question Here”

  1. It strikes me this is one of the main failings of socialists. They simply do not understand human nature. (Far from the only failing but one of the ones which causes their policies to do the most damage).

    A good example is all this furore about bins. What in the name of flying fuck do the one eyed cunt and his mates think people are going to do when they cannot fit their rubbish in the bin without overfilling it and being stung with a huge fine. I will tell you what they WILL do. They WILL either put it in their neighbours bin or dump it somewhere down the road, after carefully ensuring there is nothing in that bag which can be tracked back to them.

    I GUARANTEE that is what will happen but has the one eyed cunt thought of this? Does he care?

    Fucking useless twat has NO business being in charge of this once great country.

    Frankly I think we are overdue a fucking revolution. Who’s going to join me for a stroll on November 5th?

  2. No – what will happen is that some people will cut their waste output, some people will do more splitting into recycling, some people will be fined, and some people will dump their crap in neighbours’ bins.

    It’s unlikely the government have done enough valid research to find out which, but it’s a damn sight more likely than your equally facile predictions coming true…

  3. Polly reads way too much into this ‘74% of people say the gap is too wide’ stuff. Yes, they may well say that – but it doesn’t f*cking mean anything!

    It almost certainly does not mean “The instinct for fairness is hard-wired into human being”.

    Here’s an alternative explanation. It means:
    “I wish Bill Gates and David Beckham would give me some of their loot”.

  4. “what will happen is that some people will cut their waste output, some people will do more splitting into recycling, some people will be fined, and some people will dump their crap in neighbours’ bins.”

    I think john b is underestimating the legendary obstreperousness of the great British public. For every household that meekly complies with the laws, there’ll be five or six that (while they might have been prepared to do these things voluntarily) devote a lot of time and effort into gaming the system.

    Plus the underclass who don’t care and can’t be made to care…

  5. The instinct for fairness is hard wired, but only to the extent that we demand fair treatment for ourselves…
    Isn’t the gap between rich and poor a good thing?
    As long as the poor have enough to eat, what are they complaining about?

  6. In good times (when money income is increasing people spend some of the loot on gaining status (giving to charities etc), the other side of the coin is that when income is falling people economise on the status purchases first. At all times people will accept a little status in return for SAYING that someone should give their money away, so long as they think it wont be them. Thats arguably one of the virtues of a secret ballot- people can vote for what they actually believe in rather than what is seen to be right.

  7. “As long as the poor have enough to eat, what are they complaining about?”

    Yes, let them eat cake.

    Actually, having just come back from Scotland and seen what a land of lard arses it is, cake must be the staple food there (while in a service station I took a photo of a cool cabinet labelled “salad” that was full of – and I kid you not – fresh donuts).

  8. Anyone around who experienced the last war in Britain or, for that matter, in some of the more interesting war zones currently active? From the stories I’ve heard, Zorro’s rather more realistic than Polly in situations when push *really* comes to shove.

  9. Eva hints at it. You need to distinguish between the cause of adversity. If it is an external, existential threat that can only be survived through collective action, then the propensity for fairness can increase, e.g. rationing during world wars; in circumstances where there are not threats or they are more localised then I would expect an interest in fairness to decline.

    Note that there is no culture of any size that has managed to have fairness without some form of pressure, either legal or social. Which suggests that of the two, selfish behaviour is the default as you have to encourage the alternative.

  10. “Note that there is no culture of any size that has managed to have fairness without some form of pressure, either legal or social.”

    So when societies do fall apart completely – after natural disasters and during wars, let’s say – default human behaviour kicks in for a large portion of the population: everyone’s out for themself and Devil take the hindmost:

    There’s looting after hurricanes, child traffickers move in after earthquakes in Asia, people rat on their neighbours in occupied France, profiteers get rich during the time of rationing in wartime England, and best not get into what happened in Europe during the times of plague and Darfur today.

    What’s most interesting is that there are always people who do behave fairly and even altruistically. Maybe that’s Polly’s ‘hardwired fairness’. Children do seem to have an inbuilt sense of fairness, and game theory deals with the subject, especially as regards economics, but unfortunately I’m not competent in the last subject, though read about it with the admiring incomprehension.

  11. The two views are not really incompatible.

    In hard times (or rather on the downward curve) there will probably be more focus on fairness-for-me, accusations of others having been favoured etc that are quite consistent with introversion, anger, fear and selfishness.

  12. But still… if it’s hard-wired, why do we need the State to enforce it?

    It really seems that the Left are now the ones cynical about human nature, whereas the Right are the optimists.

    It will be interesting to see the reaction to draconian bin overfilling fines, but my money’s on a noticeable increase in flytipping, and police being called into disputes between neighbours over bin-stuffing.

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