Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Humans are Driven by Consequences

I was thinking today about all the things that our government is "trying" to do in the name of helping us and something dawned on me...when are we all going to "get it?"

I know its because it is my work, but when are we all (both government and non-government alike) going to realize that people don't just function in a vacuum. Human beings are driven by consequences. I believe we all have this innate ability to quickly measure a situation and take actions that will be in our own best interests...at least we think so at the time.

Why do we as a society constantly create situations that make people less productive and less happy. This is nothing new...I first saw it in the several unionized jobs that I held where it became clear that because no one could earn a higher pay rate than anyone else, people did the next best thing...they did the minimum amount of work to get by, thereby maximizing their own personal return on investment of their time.

We see it in government programs that encourage people to not work. We see it in health insurance policies that give us the impression that we can go to the doctor for "free" so we go more often than we really need to, which in turn drives up health insurance costs. We see it in the endless late night television advertisements by lawyers telling me that I am "entitled" to some sort of settlement for something someone else did to me. I see it when I actually have students tell me they deserve an A in a course because they paid tuition.

I guess the final straw today was when I read the Wall Street Journal assessment of the House Health Care Bill, in which I learned that our elected representatives want to spend a trillion dollars on something that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will help 2 percent of the population. It also didn't help to read that in the Cash For Clunkers program the government (because of its wonderfully efficient systems) spent something like $24,000 on each clunker it took off the road!

So, the bottom line is...people do things because they either pay off, or appear to pay off. Wait, maybe I just answered my own question....our elected officials do get it...what they are doing pays off for them! Not for the rest of us! But then why would any elected official really care about those who elected him/her anyway? I guess they are smarter than I gave them credit for being.