Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 04/26/2021
Decades ago, I never wore a seat belt in a car. I learned to drive and drove for many years without seatbelts even installed in cars. I didn’t use the one in my ’74 Corvette. But then I saw the difference in the results of accidents and heard my kids’ rational arguments. I didn’t begin using them, faithfully to this day, because of the law, I did it because it was the right thing to do for me and my family.
I imagine that many people who stopped smoking cigarettes (smoking is down to about 14% of the US population, a 50-year low) did so not because of tax increases or banned venues, but because of the education that second-hand smoke is also a killer and that they realized they wanted to spend time with their grandchildren.
People routinely speed on the highways and cheat on their taxes. Not everyone, but probably a majority. There is no personal repercussion for so doing. The laws are not a sufficient threat, the chances of being caught not high enough, and the penalties for being caught not severe enough, in most cases.
Education and self-interest will always be more powerful than big sticks, threats, and a paternalistic government or group telling you that they know better than you do. We had a record vote in the last election, not because people would suffer if they didn’t vote (as they do in many countries where voting is compulsory—about two dozen), but because they saw a personal stake in their futures in either candidate.
I like to drive fast, but I never do so in traffic, and I have superb tax accountants who help me avoid, not evade, taxes. I do smoke cigars which, at one a week, my doctor tells me is just air pollution and not dangerous. We all make choices as adults and ought to be trusted before we’re considered to still be children.
The punters know that the horse named Morality rarely gets past the post, whereas the nag named Self-interest always runs a good race. —Gough Whitlam
Nature… is nothing but the inner voice of self-interest. —Charles Baudelaire
Coercion is temporary and resistence is expected. Peer pressure is fickle and doesn’t appeal to the maverick. People react with the highest commitment in their own self-interests. —Alan Weiss