January 14, 2017

“Safe grads” and other insidious incentives

David MacKenzieRebel Columnist
 

Before the Bakken oil-formation significantly raised the average home price in some eastern Canadian prairie towns, I heard about a thoroughly enlightened couple who bought a house adjacent to their own so that their adolescent children would have a “safe” place to party.

Perhaps there were already ten too many holes in their own living-room drywall from past weekend “antics” but, regardless of the rationale, that particular purchase etched itself permanently upon my memory.

This is not just one strange familial problem. It is representative of a larger cultural enabling. Modern life has become so morally inept that it now, routinely, incentivizes foolish things, destructive things— even evil things.

Economists have frequently asked whether the rise of elaborate insurance frameworks, for example, have created a disincentive to guard against poor behavioural choices. This issue has become known as “moral hazard.”

When capitalism creates “credit default swaps,” where investors can even profit off bankruptcy, the system begins to value insolvency just as much as solvency. That is terribly odd. (On the other hand, when socialism values wealth redistribution over wealth creation, it virtually guarantees its own long-term bankruptcy. I hope it buys some “swaps.”)

When tax laws reward common-law relationships while fiscally punishing marriage, they subsidize the absence of commitment rather than rewarding commitment itself.

One of the worst things government policy can do is to punish the greater while rewarding the lesser— and yet we routinely do. We even reward evil itself. By making adoption expensive and abortion cheap, we manage to kill on an industrial scale, with precisely this kind of incentivized “kindness”.

In the recent controversy over Donald Trump’s immigration policies, one group seemed to be conveniently forgotten amidst all the rancour: legal immigrants. Whenever a sovereign State sees no moral difference between its legal and illegal participants, it actually demoralizes its best citizens and immigrants and emboldens the manipulative.

This is extremely poor political policy. Why punish the upright?

When emergency personnel feel disinclined to intervene in crime or emergency situations within immigrant neighbourhoods in Malmo, Sweden, or gang-ridden minority neighbourhoods in Chicago, it isn’t because police or fire departments believe that a healthy dose of “karma” is what these communities have coming.

Rather, admittedly dangerous neighbourhood environments help produce localized forms of political appeasement. Conflict and intervention-avoidance become increasingly politically attractive inside contexts that crackle with charges of "systemic racism" or "xenophobia," all while being spiritually inert as regards the human penchant for willful and violent evil.

The ease with which our society is more worried about moral stigma than immorality is yet another tell-tale sign of the same political disease. We deliberately confine issues like promiscuity and addiction to the realm of “public health” rather than examining the moral questions that are every bit as important.

We’ll spend millions to find the next best antibiotic and anti-viral treatment for STIs, all while investing almost nothing in exploring whether our actions are “right” and “good” or not. What, after all, is more commonly found in high school: a health class — or a class in moral philosophy?

Sometimes, the problem is not just incentivizing evil directly, but pushing resources towards eliminating all moral risks and natural consequence. This, too, goes hand in hand with our culture’s permissive liberalism.

We’ll advocate for safe-injection sites. We’ll organize parents to help facilitate our youth’s drunken “safe-grads” on private property. We’ll buy our kids condoms, and make sure their HPV shots are up-to-date, not recognizing that we are habituating them to care less about their actions than their precautions.

Our collective hedonism is remarkable. We are no different than those adults who buy the house next door so that their kids can party harder— caring little whether the occupants of the house are destroyed along with the structure.

This isn’t love. It is indulgence— the enabling endorsement of moral hazard on a generational scale. And it’s past time that conservatives protest. We should start demanding that our politicians think carefully about what they are incentivizing when they dabble in everything from economic to social policy.

Comments
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commented 2017-01-29 04:35:24 -0500
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commented 2017-01-20 16:24:38 -0500
“They will do it anyway”, Andrew, is the language and attitude of fatalism, not of faith, or even of a desire to uphold “the good”. “They will do it anyway” actually tells an adolescent that there’s no other meaningful way to do it. It fails by example, and it fails by ethical capitulation. Why stop there? Why not endorse all crime, and disband all law enforcement, because “we’re going to do it anyway?” If it’s not meaningful to intervene when personal danger is at stake, why is it that much more meaningful when someone else’s rights are at stake?
commented 2017-01-18 23:22:42 -0500
Teenagers have no sense of consequence (most people don’t, actually. See also, texting and driving). Making risky behaviours, riskier by deliberately withholding mitigating factors, does just this. The reality is, they will do it anyway. At least if you give them condoms it reduces the potential problems when they do do it.

This is why places with very conservative (especially abstinence only) sex ed, also tend to have high teenage pregnancy rates. The kids do it either way. It’s also why tough-on-crime policies fail, if deterrents worked, they wouldn’t be committing the crime in the first place.

Moral panic is a poor judge of human nature.
commented 2017-01-17 01:58:34 -0500
Having a so called hidden ability does not go any where near compensating for being a retard or a cripple. It is only the disabled that try so desperately to suppress their misery, that need to remind people of their hidden abilities. Take a quadriplegic that learned to paint by holding a brush in their mouth, and then telling everybody that it is a hidden ability that they have only discovered from being disabled. It is sad, really. The quality of life has been reduced to some meaningless platitude. You would be doing the world a favor by aborting a disabled fetus.

It turns out that I am not the type that will have my life dictated around by religion. Besides, what religion is worth following, if it’s god gives you disabled babies. God created disabled babies, but people invented abortion.
commented 2017-01-16 21:41:42 -0500
Anonymous:

Most people would want their children to be completely healthy, of course. But, for me, it goes to my Faith. Do I devalue life, unto death, just because it isn’t “perfect”? Do I believe in hidden ability in the midst of disability? Most importantly, do I believe in a God who promises to be with me, and with His creation, in order to redeem entire situations— even when we have weaknesses, flaws, and imperfections? I do.
commented 2017-01-16 20:26:47 -0500
There is a certain sense to eugenics. It is just that the government were wrong in how they did it in the past. Sterilizing the living with force is wrong. Getting disabled fetuses abortion makes more sense.

Would you want to have a retarded and/or crippled child?
commented 2017-01-16 11:54:13 -0500
Anonymous: Statism and eugenics have often gone hand in hand. It markets itself as “freedom” when it is actually slavery.
commented 2017-01-16 02:56:58 -0500
I support everybody in having the right to access an abortion.

I would even go so far as to make abortions mandatory to anybody who is carrying a baby that will be born disabled. I would be happy to give my tax dollars to this cause.
commented 2017-01-16 01:42:22 -0500
I support the right to post-natal abortions. Of my choice, of course.
commented 2017-01-15 14:41:20 -0500
(trigger warning)

I support the right to call Anonymouse a morally incoherent moron – it’s my right, I’m exercising it.
commented 2017-01-15 12:36:48 -0500
The low percentage of attention seekers are to be easily ignored , the more governments pander to these non-issue troglodytes, the more the general public should turn a blind eye.

Just keep doing the right thing.

After a very small and squeaky opposition was ignored, my wife and I continued with a clothing swap in our small southern Alberta town, which has proven quite successful.

It’s a win win, while those that oppose lose.

While we watch the degradation of the this small population, we also see the rise of common sense and humanity.
commented 2017-01-15 11:50:25 -0500
It takes a certain kind of stupid to believe society will flourish more fully if morality were just put away in a safe space so individuality could reign supreme. My feelings, my NEEEDS are more important than your stupid sense of right and wrong, good and evil…No?
commented 2017-01-15 11:40:16 -0500
A perfect example of this would be how Vancouver is dealing with the fentanyl epidemic, I have heard of first responders treating a single abuser up to three times in a single day in that city, this, of course, takes resources away from other situations where a responsible, contributing member of society may be in need of assistance.
It seems that politicians are more concerned with their displaced sense of compassion, all the while ignoring the fact that they have become nothing but enablers.
commented 2017-01-15 11:20:09 -0500
Anonymous:

But would you still support abortion if your mother had the right to do it, retroactively?
commented 2017-01-15 03:04:51 -0500
Anon i support the right to not pay for it. And it is not a right.
commented 2017-01-15 02:20:00 -0500
I support the right to an abortion!
commented 2017-01-14 23:54:04 -0500
Socialism has become a substitute for religion in a large portion of society, of course it sells itself as a moral cause but that is just a justification for buying into a kleptocratic ideology – so yeah what most think of as their moral imperatives are just temporary situational morality – society reflects post modernist relativist ethics.
commented 2017-01-14 23:54:04 -0500
Socialism has become a substitute for religion in a large portion of society, of course it sells itself as a moral cause but that is just a justification for buying into a kleptocratic ideology – so yeah what most think of as their moral imperatives are just temporary situational morality – society reflects post modernist relativist ethics.
commented 2017-01-14 22:57:06 -0500
I am sick and tired of hearing about the fucking Children. Bunch or allergic Pussies.
commented 2017-01-14 13:48:13 -0500
Here’s how you can, without God or religion, analyze an “immoral action” as judged by most societies.

Something we think of as “bad”; doing drugs, teen sex (or sex outside of marriage if you believe); being lazy; eating too much; stealing, whatever, significantly increase the chances of you having some kind of a wreck, and having a wreck, means you have to recover from it, getting back to a former level of prosperity before getting ahead.

Like it or not, our lives are measured in terms of our levels of health, wealth, and family. “Immoral acts” jeopardize those levels, and resources – time and money – spent on recovery can only come from resources formerly being used to get ahead.

Those who chose to avoid committing “immoral acts” for the most part don’t care about how somebody else lives, UNTIL they’re forced to PAY for other people’s mistakes.

Why?

There are plenty who have wrecks through no fault of their own – it’s called “Life” – and those ahead have no problem helping such recover.

But those who, through free choice, continue time after time after time to commit resource wasting actions, we couldn’t care less about.

If it’s a choice between an addict (to immoral behavior of any kind) starving and freezing on the street, and someone else is in the same situation because their job was eliminated or they have REAL medical issues, the latter will always be helped first, and willingly, and the addict is always going to be way down the list.

If they’re even on it in the first place.

Creating these “safe places” only serves to teach kids there isn’t a price for risky behavior.