Friday, September 25, 2009

Money as distorting incentive

What financial incentives are there to write blogs, to post comments all over the internet? People do this in their millions. They care about issues because they care about life and about what they think the right way is. So many of us are motivated by our passion to try and do something that “makes things better,” and that in a culture where the knee-jerk argument is: “money motivates, without it nothing would get done.” With so many millions putting in so many millions of hours motivated by passion or a sense of community alone, surely we can safely say, money is not the only, nor even the best incentive. In the face of enormous pressure to be rich, to acquire stuff, to believe happiness surely follows on the heels of owning shiny things, with advertising bombarding us day and night no matter which way we turn our heads, the fact of this volunteer spirit is awe inspiring.

For me humans are cooperative first and competitive second. If this were not so, why did we develop language? How could anyone be a bad loser? Why are trust and friendship so important to us? Cooperation is our underpinning, our starting point in life. We have to trust our parents because they have life and death power over us. We begin life fully dependent on the whims of those who watch over us. Without trust and cooperation informing our behaviours from the deepest level we would be nothing but snarling beasts, dirty, brutish, and short-lived.

Thomas Hobbes was wrong.

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