A Breif Note on Incentives

The basic difference between Right and Left is that the Right understand the power of incentive to behavior. Whatever your reward, you get more of.

The Constitution — that ultimate rightwing instrument embodying our worldview — was set up to have limited powers, checks and balances, in order to limit the rewards of corrupt or dishonest behavior in office. It become in the self-interest of one branch to police and check the other two, because their self-interest suffered otherwise. Self interest, the bane of good government, became harnessed as its workhorse.

One thing the Founding Fathers could never have foreseen or imagined was the rise of an ideology that would motivated people to unselfishly and altruistically destroy their system of government and sell themselves into slavery.

And yet that is exactly what the rise of Politic Correctness does. Someone in the Legislative branch or Judiciary acts against his own self interest and takes one for the team in the hope of augmenting the Imperial Executive power to usher in the Party Policies and the sunny candy-colored Utopia of which all Lefties dream.

They are committing self sacrifice for the sake of self destruction.

42 Comments

  1. Comment by KingRichard:

    “The Constitution — that ultimate rightwing instrument embodying our worldview ”
    Mr. Wright,
    Not to be disagreeable on your blog, but the Constitution is certainly NOT a “rightwing document”. The leaders of American rebellion were Liberals and the Constitution enshrined their Liberal values.
    I am aware that Americans tend to think of their Republican Party (a Centre Right party) as ‘right wing’ but in point of fact it is Liberal.

    • Comment by Mary:

      Not in the modern meaning of Liberal, it isn’t.

      • Comment by KingRichard:

        There is no such thing as ‘modern meaning of Liberal’.
        Liberal: An ideological and political position based upon ideas of liberty and equality
        That is the meaning of the word. It hasn’t changed.

        • Comment by Booch Paradise:

          Of course it’s changed. What people mean now when they say liberal refers to a very specific set of policies and beliefs. You could be asinine and say that liberty and equality means that hobby lobby can’t make employment agreements that don’t require them to provide contraceptives, or whatever, but that doesn’t change the fact that the liberal side of that debate is liberal because it’s the side supported by democrats, not because it has anything to do with freedom.

          • Comment by KingRichard:

            Yes, someone would be asinine to say what you typed. But I am not aware of anyone doing that. Are you?
            You seem to be confusing ‘people whose politics I disagree with’ with the word ‘Liberal’.

            • Comment by Booch Paradise:

              Just heading off a possible argument, as often lefties wrap their oppressive ideology in the language of freedom. Didn’t actually know if you were a lefty or not (and yes, I have heard people say that the hobby lobby ruling was a blow to freedom). But either way my point stands, and today when most people describe a person or policy as liberal, they mean that it is left leaning. Whether that is a misuse or not does not change the fact that that is the meaning that is intended most commonly meant.

            • Comment by Mary:

              If you are not aware of the most basic elements of American politics, you aren’t going to have much success in lecturing Americans about politics.

              • Comment by KingRichard:

                Yes, everyone knows that Americans tend to lump Progressives, Left Socialists, Communists, and Anarchists together as ‘liberals’ while calling Centre Socialists, Right Socialists, and Liberals ‘Conservatives'; fine, some Latin American nations do the same (possibly because of Cold War leagicies of American alliance). But this leads to errors such as we see in this thread.
                The ‘Founding Fathers’ were Liberals; the Constitution is a seminal Liberal work and one of the most important pieces of Liberal ideology and politics of the last 300 years. This is simply a fact.
                The American Republican Party is a Liberal Party. This is why it is a full member of the International Democrat Union with such other political parties as the Liberal Party (Australia) and the Christian Democratic Union (Germany). They are also very proudly for individual liberty and equality.
                The concept of Liberal and Conservative, Left Wing and Right Wing have not changed, they are simply misused and misunderstood by some Americans. This leads to confusions such as believing that Libertarians are Conservatives (a notion that Rothbard or Mises would quickly refute) or that the Constitution, a very specifically anti-Monarchist document, is somehow ‘right wing’.
                I did not come here to argue nor lecture, I was simply pointing out a very basic fact about the nature of the constitution of the United States.

              • Comment by KingRichard:

                I am not lecturing, simply stating simple facts.
                The ‘Founding Fathers’ were Liberals, the constitution of the United States is a seminal Liberal document. The meaning of the word ‘Liberal’ has not changed.
                The Republican Party is certainly Liberal – it is a member of the International Democrat union, an association of Liberal political parties from around the world.
                Yes, I am well aware that some Americans lump anarchists, Communists, Left Socialists, and Progressives together and call them Liberal while calling Centre Socialists, Democratic Socialists, Centrists, and the Centre-Right all ‘Conservatives’ but it seems this leads to fuzziness about what positions truly are Liberal and Conservative. I assume this is because of the rather narrow range of politics within two-party system.

                • Comment by John C Wright:

                  Technically, the word liberal refers, as you said, to anyone who favors a classless, nonmarchical society based on representative democracy and honoring the Rights of Man. Unfortunately, the word ‘liberal’ for the last hundred years or so has been used by the socialists, communists and statists, the worshippers of Big Government, to describe themselves. They do this because they are liars.

                  The fuzziness is deliberate, a tactic adopted by the socialists, communists, statists, the worshippers of Big Government to obscure their goals from followers and outsiders, and in certain cases from the statist himself, even in his own mind.

                  • Comment by KingRichard:

                    Then why participate? If you acknowledge that the improper use of words leads to confusion and is a tool of deceit – why join in? Why not ‘call a spade a spade’?

                    • Comment by Tom Simon:

                      There’s an old saying about locking the barn door after the horse has gone. Perhaps if you exert yourself, you will be able to see how it applies in this instance.

                    • Comment by John C Wright:

                      I notice that King Richard also left the comment that ‘Lawful’ means ‘accepting proper hierarchy, submitting to legitimate authority, adhering to objective morality’ and ‘chaotic’ means’ rejecting hierarchy, not accepting inherent authority, adopting relativist morality in at least some situations’

                      I would appreciate it if he and anyone else who want to continue this purely semantic yet pointless discussion do so with him, and not here.

                      This is his email: royaledan@gmail.com

        • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

          If you seriously think that today’s “liberals” are interested in promoting freedom, you are a fool.

          • Comment by KingRichard:

            I do not know to whom you are referring when you write “liberals”. Perhaps, like others here, you are confusing ‘American Democrats’ with ‘Liberals’.
            I hate to repeat stereotypes, but that is a very parochial (and wrong) view

            • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

              You’re talking mostly to Americans here. If you want to be understood, you should make some effort to adapt to our way of speaking and understanding. On the other hand, if your goal is merely to feel superior and not actually to communicate anything, please carry on as you have.

              Yes, we are aware that the commonly understood definition of “liberal” has shifted. We are not fools. However, we have to speak in terms that people will understand, even if they are not as accurate as we would like.

              • Comment by KingRichard:

                After implying I am a fool you wish to lecture me on not trying to feel superior?
                “Yes, we are aware that the commonly understood definition of “liberal” has shifted. We are not fools.”
                Let me repeat – the definition of Liberal hasn’t changed one bit. It may be misapplied in some instances but, well, that sounds a bit foolish, doesn’t it? And if you truly do understand that, yes, the authors of the constitution were Liberals and that the constitution is a Liberal document – why the rudeness? I am only stating a fact that is easily verifiable.
                “However, we have to speak in terms that people will understand, even if they are not as accurate as we would like.”
                The first step to avoiding confusion is to use words properly.

                • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

                  FIne, then please describe for all of us American morons what a real “right wing” political ideology looks like, OK?

                  By the way, if your examples include Nazis, don’t bother starting.

                  After implying I am a fool you wish to lecture me on not trying to feel superior?

                  Didja notice the if-then pair back there? I said IF you made claim X, THEN you were a fool. You keep on telling me that you don’t believe that, so by that logic, you aren’t a fool, right?

                  By the way, did you notice the quotes I placed around the word “liberal” in that post? That indicates that I am aware the word is being abused, but I find it convenient to recognize the common usage in some cases anyway.

                  If you want to talk with Americans about American politics, have the courtesy to not tell us what words we are allowed to use for it, okay? I wouldn’t tell you what political labels you’re allowed to use in your own country.

                  • Comment by KingRichard:

                    Please do not pretend to be aggrieved. This is a public form where anyone may examine the flow of conversation. At best your statements confirm that improper use of words leads to confusion.
                    It appears that the gist of your statement is,
                    ‘I know what Liberal really means and I acknowledge that you are using it properly, now stop using it properly when you speak to us’.
                    I have made no statements as to what is or is not ‘allowed’.
                    I would like to note that you have not attempted to refute anything I have said but have merely attempted to shift the focus of the discussion from the nature of the constitution of the United States to a discussion of what language I am or am not allowed to use.

                    To your question: ‘right wing’ (or more properly ‘la droite’) means ‘the ideological or political position that holds that hierarchy and inequality are inherent and thus desirable to any social condition’.
                    Yes, I am aware that Americans call Liberals ‘right wing’. But the constitution was used by the actual original left wing as an inspiration to oppose the original right wing. Since ‘right wing’ properly means ‘monarchist’ the Constitution was a great definition of ‘the opposite of right wing’ when it was written and remains so to this day.

                    • Comment by Tom Simon:

                      You are being thoroughly disingenuous. Nobody is trying to stop you from using the word ‘liberal’ according to its original (political) meaning. What everybody is taking offence at is your continued insistence on rudely hectoring everyone else for using the word in its current meaning.

                • Comment by Patrick:

                  “Let me repeat – the definition of Liberal hasn’t changed one bit. It may be misapplied in some instances but, well, that sounds a bit foolish, doesn’t it?”

                  If it’s ‘misapplied’ in basically all modern instances, we should conclude that the meaning of the word has migrated, and accept that contemporary usage applies the term according to a contemporary political taxonomy, and cease our lobbying for an anachronism.

                  The first step to avoiding confusion is to use words properly.

            • Comment by erik1880:

              Modern Liberals are so called “Right Wingers”. “American Democrats” is another term for “American Marxists” (if not the entire constituency the party most suredly)

  2. Comment by ConceptJunkie:

    Everything that is wrong in this country is caused by power imbalance, whether it’s the checks and balances of the three branches of government being out of whack, or corporations having too much power and the government being unable to prevent them from doing harm, or the government having too much power, and among other things, picking and choosing which corporations will be the winners and losers.

    The leftists are always critical of power, when in the hands of anyone other than themselves. They rail on endlessly about the powerful and corrupt corporations controlling our lives, completely oblivious to the idea that their solution always is to cede more and more power to the most powerful corporation in the world, the U.S. Federal government.

    It’s like using terrorism to protest violence. Oh, wait, they do that too.

    • Comment by Jakeithus:

      The current binary societal arrangement, with an immense amount of power invested either in government or in corporations, is what is at fault in my mind. As the only 2 games in town, there is no true check on the power of one or the other, and there is no incentive for each side not to do everything within their ability to accumulate as much power as possible.

      What is needed is for there to be a 3rd branch, so that if any one organization amasses too much power, the other 2 can team up to oppose it and create some sort of harmony. There needs to be an incentive to maintain balance.

      Only one type of power is capable of being the 3rd branch in society, and that is the Family/Church/Local Community. Unfortunately, society has let this branch wither in search of individualism, and both government and corporations have been happy to see it go. Leftists rightly fear the unlimited power or corporations and work for a stronger government, blind to the problems with that. The Right rightly fears the totalitarian nature of government, and many counter this by granting corporations more power. In my mind the solution is to take power from both of these, and give it to the only other organizations strong enough to stand up to the market or to Caesar, those being the family and the Church.

      • Comment by Mark:

        What binary arrangement? There is only one with any power, and it is government. Corporations in and of themselves, no matter how large, have zero power unless and until government enables that power. Walmart cannot take the property it wants and cannot force you to go into its store. Government, however, can take your property and give it to Walmart. After the ACA decision, government can now apparently force you to shop at Walmart as well.

        Successful corporations are usually run by smart people. Smart people see that it is a lot easier to have government do your heavy lifting (from taking property to regulating your competition out of existence), so they naturally leverage government to the maximum extent possible. This doesn’t mean the corporation has any kind of authoritative power; if that were the case no corporation would ever go bankrupt or go out of business.

        • Comment by Jakeithus:

          I don’t disagree with most of what you’re saying. Of course the power wielded by government and by corporations are not the same, and the authoritative power of government has a far higher potential for damage and abuse in my mind, but I do not think this is the only form of power that exists. The amount of capital that is controlled by the corporate sector gives it a level of power that is tangible and significant, even if it cannot force compliance in the same way that government can.

          There are different types of power, and we appear to be focusing on differing aspects. As a Christian, I disagree that the government is the only one with any power, as ultimately even its power is limited and finite in the face of a higher power. For those who do not fear the government’s ability to use force, what power does even the most totalitarian government truly have over the individual?

      • Comment by erik1880:

        Are you calling for a Theocracy? Also I would argue that in modern America the left is in bed with corperate American more than the Right is. That old canard that the Right is in bed with big business is absurd, since big business loves big government, all the better to squeeze out competition and get government bail outs.

        • Comment by Jakeithus:

          Nope, not calling for a theocracy. I don’t believe churches should have authoritative power, nor should they be solely responsible for setting policy or the direction our society should head. There is a legitimate role and use of power by both the state and the market/big business, the problem in my mind is that if these are the only 2 systems with any real power in our society, alone they are not enough to put a check on the power of the other. Just like you say, the temptation for government and business to collude together to increase their own power at the expense of everyone else is far too great.

          I don’t think the Right is looking to get in bed with big business, to the extent it does happen I believe it happens by default. If the empowering of the individual and a less invasive government is the goal of the Right (and it is truly a noble goal), the market can be a natural ally in this, but the interests of big business and the individual do not always align either.

          In the face of government of big business, the individual is nothing. If people are not supported in their times of need, they will cede whatever power they do have to something greater who can help them, in most cases this ends up being the government, which is all too happy to devour whatever power it can even from those who don’t need the help. Trying to limit the power of government without offering an alternative won’t be successful. At the core of this alternative support is the family, and a natural outgrowth from that should be the church and local community supports.

        • Comment by Patrick:

          “Are you calling for a Theocracy?”

          Reading this question, here of all places, makes me lose faith in humanity. We are most probably a drone species, lorded by our televisions.

          • Comment by ConceptJunkie:

            Watchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

            • Comment by Patrick:

              Google the terms “america theocracy” and marvel at a million and a half meaningless uses of the term “theocracy”. The word is now an automatic ad-hominem, spoken only to suggest that one’s opponent -might- soon begin raving his way off the reservation right before your eyes.

              My point is that merely asking the question “do you want a theocracy?” is an example of non-thought about a non-issue in contemporary politics, whose purpose is to destroy a rational conversation by invoking an unanswerable suspicion of bad faith. Nobody wants a theocracy. However, when even conservatives can be found observing liberal shibboleths against each other, I begin to suspect some kind of hidden determinism to our politics. Perhaps we flatter ourselves, who imagine that men are free.

      • Comment by ConceptJunkie:

        It’s not that you want a third branch. You want the people in the other two branches to listen to the Church and apply Her teachings. You want what Pope Leo called for in “Rerum Novarum”, which oversimplified says: “Being a capitalist is fine and being a worker is fine. You both have rights and responsibilities. If you don’t treat each other in a properly Christian manner, you’re doing it wrong.” Obviously, this also applies to the government… more so, in fact, since the government has a gun to our heads in case we decide we don’t what to do what it says.

        The Church has eschewed temporal power, seeing as how when it held it, the people in charge were as much subject to corruption as anyone else. If most people are acting properly, you don’t need to worry about too much power accumulating because people and institutions will tend to keep each other in check. When there’s no moral underpinning, things will inevitably devolve into anarchy or totalitarianism.

        Economics isn’t a zero-sum game, but power is. You can only get power at the expense of someone else. If you are able to take power, there’s really nothing anyone can do about it unless and until they are able to take it back. If everyone minds his own business, and helps each other to do so, then power is balanced.

  3. Comment by Stephen J.:

    Or to riff on Heinlein’s ideas in STARSHIP TROOPERS, they act against their personal self-interest for the sake of their ideological self-interest; the psychological rewards of advancing their worldview’s position exceed those of advancing their own, because they have invested their values more strongly in the former than the latter and thus identify more strongly with it.

    Perhaps this is why fanatical self-sacrifice seems to happen more in the poor, or the wealthy-by-inheritance, than in the struggling or successful bourgeoisie? The poor have nothing to lose, and those born to wealth don’t appreciate it enough that their first instinct is to invest in keeping it.

    (Of course, all of the above assumes honesty in the ideology. The crony capitalism that benefits from PC merely knows how to get others to make this sacrifice for what they think is the ideology and you know is your bottom line.)

  4. Comment by Mark:

    I guess I’m more of a cynic in this regard, I think the Constitution established too strong a central government which in turn provided the unscrupulous with a means to power, control, and money, and proved to be too much temptation for the scrupulous to resist.

    Bear in mind that the Constitution is Version 2.0 of our governing documents; the Founders involved in the Revolution came up with the Articles of Confederation. The Articles did not create a very strong central government. Once Great Britain was no longer a threat, there were those in the States who understood the Monarchy presented the opportunity for the “elite” to both control and take from the people, and that without a central government, there was little opportunity to profit. These folks were advocates of returning to something close to a monarchy, which they actually admired (e.g., see Alexander Hamilton). The Constitution remedied this problem, and very shortly after that a central bank was created, thus giving those who wished to plunder the populace the means to do so.

    As for what has happened to the Constitution, early on in our history a concern arose that instead of checking one another, the three branches of the federal government would simply work together to accomplish what they wanted, without regard to what the Constitution says. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison penned the “Principles of ’98”, which set forth that individual states had the right to nullify unconstitutional federal legislation, precisely because the Presidency, Congress and the Courts could not be counted on to prevent unconstitutional laws from going into effect. The ’98 refers to 1798, well before the current leftist ideology was in full blossom.

    I do agree that the Leftist ideology is the reason the power grab is accelerating. Leftism has made it much easier for those in power to continue their pillaging of the country, since the Leftist wants the very things that give power to governments (curbs on speech, arms, property usage, large taxes, etc.). All of these bring wealth to the central government, who in turn doles it out to their favorites. We claim to live in a free country, but this is an absurd claim when one considers that all ten planks of the Communist Manifesto have been either completely or partially put in place by our own federal government.

  5. Comment by Joseph M (was Ishmael Alighieri):

    Yesterday, heard on the radio that the City of San Francisco is considering a $.02 per ounce tax on sugary sodas, the greatest threat to our republic since, oh, polyunsaturated fats. Or something.

    This is nothing new; however, the reporter dutifuly reported that the experts behind this bill expect it to decrease consumption of sugary death-potions by 30%.

    OK, so an extra $0.24 on your 12-oz small drink, or a whopping $0.96 on you 48-oz mega drink will cause massive reductions – 30%! – in consumption.

    Yet, strangely, taxes on business activities magically have no meaningful effect on such activities, in fact, we can tax business to our heart’s content and they’ll just keep on hiring people selling stuff at the same – or better! – levels.

    You get more of what you subsidize. You get less of what you tax. Is it too much to ask that we keep this in mind not only when we want it to be true, but also when we’d prefer it to be false?

    (That’s a rhetorical question – it is of course OUTRAGEOUS! to suggest taxes on businesses are anything other than simple justice with only salubrious effects, chief among which is the just punishment of evil business people. Good business people will simply learn their lesson, take their medicine, and keep producing jobs and paying wages. Only double-evil ones will decide they’d rather not, and move their factories and money elsewhere. It is completely deranged and triple evil to even entertain any other possibilities.)

  6. Comment by Tamquam:

    From: http://associationforaresponsiblefuture.org/the-promised-land/

    The top levels of the Marxist/Leninist cabal that runs the Democratic Party understands incentives perfectly well, though they teach their Low Information minions to believe in magic instead.

    They structure perverse incentives to achieve evil ends.

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