Basic psychology. If you reward a behavior you will get more of it. If you repeatedly reward a behavior you will get more of it. So the worst thing anyone could do is reward bad behavior…and even the dumbest person in the world, even before B.F. Skinner, knows this. So how stupid do you have to be to be a government that does just that?
So while I have covered bits and pieces of this basic concept, the entire U.S. government needs to adopt a policy that we need to stop subsidizing and encouraging bad behavior.
Let’s take a look at some ways we do this. Do you run a crappy business? Is it about to go belly up because you make the worst product in your field, have the dumbest advertising, the most inane management and you pay unskilled workers more than most college graduates make. Well don’t worry because someone in the government will say you’re “Too big to fail.” So you get to keep doing everything that made you a business that is eventually going to fail. Why do we do this? Do we think that businesses succeeding or failing is just something random and not directly a result of the choices made by that business? Businesses succeed because of good practices, not because of bad luck. Bailing out the losers only rewards the losers and prevents the people who have good practices from expanding to fill the gap.
Or how about this one? Have you done something absolutely brain dead like not save for retirement? Don’t worry we’re going to pay you 140% of what you paid into to our Ponzi scheme. Why should you save, you’ll have life subsidized no matter how poorly you planned or saved. And for the kicker, not only did you raise terrible children who won’t let you come and move in with them (thus also hurting all of society by the fact that you didn’t teach them even a small piece of charity) but you’re now going to screw not just your children again, but also your grandchildren by having to pay for the fact that we like to reward your inability to plan for something that there is actually no question will occur.
Then of course there is Medicaid and Medicare. Yes we all get sick, we all get old and our bodies all break down and die. But let’s be honest here most of the money is spent on entirely preventable conditions (heart disease, lung diseases, Type II diabetes…hell most cancer have a certain amount of behavior and bad habits as their cause). The more idiotic your decisions the more rewarded you get with more and more money spent on your numerous medical problems.
And then of course we have welfare. Did you not study in school and are thus completely un-hirable? Well let’s give you money. Do you not go to find a job no matter how far below your ideal job it might be? Don’t worry we’ll give you money. We won’t require that you get an education, do a certain amount of community service, or even go look for a job…no we’re just going to give you money.
Now with all of these we need to stop rewarding bad behavior. Some of these programs we just need to kill (Bailouts, social security, Medicaid and Medicare) and others like welfare we need to require certain things like requiring good behavior (like making all payments dependant on education and community service).
With every single expenditure made by the government we need to start asking are we encouraging good behavior or subsidizing bad ones? And if the answer is we are wasting money encouraging bad behavior we need to not pay for it. If we just followed this basic principle then it would save us trillions of dollars in the long run.