Saturday, April 16, 2011

An Evolved View of Poverty

Sarah Hoyt (via Instapundit) says some very interesting things about the role of adaptation and natural selection in the context of the welfare state: own housekeeping is, btw, far from immaculate, but I can't stand to live in filth, so I put myself through an insane amount of effort to clean, on top of the massive amount of work my day job demands. And I thought 'Oh, that's because most of us are willing to work this hard and no harder.' My friends think I'm insane for how much I clean, but I'm willing to work that hard. OTOH I don't really care how much better the house would look with a non-dead lawn -- that would be working too hard as far as I'm concerned. And it would be insane.

The operative word there is 'insane'. If my theory is right, then those of us who keep pushing and 'achieving' after we've secured what to our Neolithic ancestors would be luxury beyond dreams, are mutations, and probably a relatively small percentage of the population. And while it's possible to instill bourgeois virtues in the population (thrift, industry, cleanliness) it doesn't come naturally to most of the population. And to some percentage, it will be so antithetical that those virtues simply can't be instilled in them at all.

If I'm right the problem is we're looking at endemic, generational poverty through the wrong end of the prism. The people who will eat/enjoy/use whatever they have when they have it; destroy what they can't keep/take; never be able to do long-term planning; never work more than ABSOLUTELY necessary are NOT mal-adapted. We who plan ahead, save and build are.
What's most fascinating about this analysis is the conclusions that  it leads to:
Look, what we're doing is the worst thing we can do. We are giving things to people who are genetically programmed to only work to get what they NEED. Their wants might be there but don't motivate them. When we remove need, we remove the incentive to work. Which means, in the modern era, they also don't develop habits of work and/or skills.

And then we end up with completely dysfunctional people, being paid to stay dysfunctional.

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