Thursday, September 23, 2010

Let's Just Cut The Crap.....

Incentives, incentives, INCENTIVES! Will you please give me more incentives to do the very things I claim to value so highly? If this is how we think as a society, then we value nothing but reward and recognition.

This is a tacit admission that we do not value the very things we claim to value. Rather, we value predominantly, perhaps only, reward and recognition. Not that this is wrong or bad, nor particularly right or good either. Apparently it just is what it is.

With this in mind then, can we cut the crap about claiming to value things in themselves and realize that what we are ultimately after is reward and recognition? Examples follow:

- We need to offer children incentives for working hard in school!
- We need incentives to compel people to better care for themselves!
- We need tax write-offs for charitable donations (to our selfishly selected causes)!
- We need God (or at least belief in Him/Her/It) in order to compel us to be compassionate and merciful
- We need belief in reward and punishment rendered by God to compel us to seek virtue and avoid depravity
- We need others' approval to validate our beliefs and actions

Counterpoint: we shouldn't NEED any of these things if we value, or at least claim to value the underlying values themselves!

My own suspicion is we do not value the values, rather we value only what benefits can be had (if this isn't selfish, what is?) through the practice of said values.

In the end, if society takes an honest account of what it actually values, I'm afraid INCENTIVES are a necessity. For if there were no incentives to do the things we claim to value so highly, I can only imagine the result: a totally self-absorbed society devoid of feeling or sympathy for anything outside of selfishly chosen causes.

What's doubly alarming is that oftentimes the practicing of our selfishly chosen causes is ultimately at the mercy of incentives! Which implies we value very little other than reward and recognition via incentives.

For atheists, this comes as no surprise and is logically concluded. For theists, on the other hand, an account must be made of our ultimately selfish behavior.