2012 November 22 Thursday
Peace Corps Volunteer Wallows In Guilt In Paraguay

Esther Katcoff joined the Peace Corps to go to Paraguay to escape her guilt and the guilt only got worse. To be clear: We taxpayers are funding guilt escape trips of liberals with a severe case of guilt. What are these guilt trippers doing? Nothing to address root causes of poverty.

I tell people I joined the Peace Corps to understand what it means to be poor, but that“s just part of the story. I joined the Peace Corps to figure out how to escape the guilt of having so much while other people have so little.

Well, now I'm in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and surprised to find that it was not the way to go for moral masturbation.

She's around people so poor that anything she does that is slightly selfish makes her feel even worse. But why the tendency to feel so guilty in the first place? Where's it coming from? Some genetic variant? Or liberal guilt indoctrination in college? Or what? The extreme guilt wallowers have emotional reactions that are very foreign to my way of thinking. Yet their guilty feelings are important because these feelings motivate political positions that are foolish and counterproductive.

A 9 year old girl named Marķa wanted lunch from her. As you will find out from the article, Marķa is one of 9 siblings. Hello?

My Marķa. Her immune system, her literacy rate, her confidence level and her general growth rate all depended on me in that moment. I shared my pizza with her.

She ate every bite.

Marķa's poor mom and dad made 9 babies even though they are poor. They would have more food per kid if they had fewer kids. Hey, so what would most help the poor people? Fewer babies.

How to lower fertility? Well, free birth control, training about using birth control, and a steady diet of propaganda aimed at dissuading people from having large families would certainly help. But something else might be even more effective: Watching soap operas lowers fertility. So free TVs, free cable subscriptions, and subsidies for the production of soap operas aimed at every poor group in their native language would cause a big drop in fertility. BTW, Marķa's native language Guarani, not Spanish. So Guarani soap operas in Paraguay should be a Peace Corps priority.

What I've noticed about people who wallow in guilt: they don't address root causes. They tend to aim at short term pain relief, often at the expense of long term progress. Is it that their discount rates on their own pain relief are so high they've got to get action now in spite of the deleterious long term effects of what they advocate?

Was guilt always such a destructive force? When did it start to become a problem in politics? Maybe it was more adaptive on small family settings but causes maladaptive behavior in large organized industrialized societies. How can we cut the amount of guilt motive in modern politics?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2012 November 22 10:56 AM 

Phil said at November 22, 2012 11:34 AM:

Shouldn't you direct your ire at conservatives and Christians, then?

Because it's liberals that promote these things around the world - feminism, birth control, female education, pop culture, homosexuality, abortion rights, etc. that you say are effective at lowering fertility.

Conservatives, on the other hand, either don't promote these things, or promote the opposite - Christianity, anti-abortion, etc.

Tom S. said at November 22, 2012 12:19 PM:

I really don't think it is about guilt. It is not about removing a negative emotion. It is about creating a positive emotion. People do it to feel good and/or improve their status with others. It is about feeling and looking good.

Guilt may be a manifestation of this, and it is certainly much more socially acceptable, even exalted to talk about that than to acknowledge you are doing it for status and/or good feelings. Due to this exaltation, talking about guilt and creating guilt within yourself also accomplish the original goal of feeling and looking good.

The reason they don't address root causes and frequently take very shallow or illogical courses of action is because they are not actually trying to solve the problem(s). A "good" deed is really about the person doing the good. All our actions begin inside us, of course, and these "good" deeds, or altruism, or whatever you want to call it also begin inside the person taking the action. Because the action being taken is actually to benefit the actor, accomplishing the good they claim to be attempting is not that important. It may be important to the extent that to get the good feelings/status for doing it you actually need to accomplish something. But in fact, you don't need to achieve any goals. You just need to feel yourself trying and have others see you trying.

So in fact, solving the problem could even be considered a bad thing as it would remove the source of the emotional and social status benefits they are trying to get in the first place.

Guilt seems very much secondary in my opinion.

James Bowery said at November 22, 2012 1:08 PM:

Horizontal transmission evolves virulence. Immigration liberalization enables horizontal transmission hence the evolution of virulence at the level of population parasites. It should be no surprise, whatsoever, that a key mechanism of bookkeeping in civilization -- guilt -- is so abused by virulent parasites evolved by civilization. If you can't identify the parasites (which the parasites are specialized at avoiding) then you have only one option:

Shut down horizontal transmission and enable only vertical transmission so the parasites mutualism rather than virulence.

If you are a truly bold soul, truly scientific and truly compassionate, however, you'll go ahead and identify the parasites that have evolved as a consequence of civilization's enabling horizontal transmission. But for that we're talking 3-sigma out on a dimension that involves more than mere IQ.


Now I do said at November 22, 2012 7:00 PM:

Politics has never had anything to do with guilt, honor or serving other than oneself, with a big f*** spoon.

And I do see guilt as something important, so I don't fully agree with Netzsche. Guilt is an important balance that allows us to keep whatever little sanity is left in all of us. Otherwise we'd just become a selfish, narcissistic country. Oh wait, I think we're already there.

Randall Parker said at November 22, 2012 7:46 PM:

Now I do,

We? Your county is selfish and narcissistic?

I do get curious about where certain commenters are writing from due the positions they take and it is pretty easy to check.


Only the Catholics really oppose birth control for religious reasons. Protestant denominations oppose sex outside of marriage. The Catholic Church opposes sex for pleasure, married or single.

Abortion: It actually has little or no impact on fertility. Its legalization had little effect on long term fertility trends.

I'm really for soap operas as the most effective tool. Give women a different lifestyle aside from motherhood to desire.

Tom S,

I suspect you are correct about quite a few people:

A "good" deed is really about the person doing the good.

Though I figure I can't be alone in just wanting social, economic, and ecological problems solved. Even some people on the political Left must want to see problems solved.

Phil said at November 22, 2012 8:41 PM:


The point is that Catholics and Protestants do promote fertile behaviors and lifestyles, especially relative to secular liberals.

It's the secular liberals that promote the anti-fertile behaviors and lifestyles and the anti-fertile pop culture around the world that you support. Conservatives don't do any of this. They're either neutral or uninterested, or they promote pro-fertility ideas around the world, whether deliberately or inadvertantly, by promoting conservative ideas or Christianity.

Yet you direct most or all of your ire at secular liberals. And you never criticize conservatives for doing nothing abroad or for promoting pro-fertility ideas abroad. Shouldn't you at least support secular liberalism and what secular liberals are doing abroad, while being against it at home?

Randall Parker said at November 22, 2012 10:43 PM:


Liberals are in control. We have a liberal Peace Corps doing things that liberals think make sense. We have liberals blocking the end of low skilled immigration. I do not see conservative ideas as having much impact. The Religious Right's agendas (there splits among the Religious Right) have failed. They are on the wane. They aren't the reason why we are not promoting sensible ideas in places like Paraguay. The liberals are the ones who've marginalized the realists.

Liberals do not promote birth control as a high priority. It was different back in the 1970s when world population growth was considered a legitimate concern. But liberals decided to delegitimize international birth control efforts. They did that both to oppose immigration restriction and because international birth control became an issue involving primarily non-whites. So it was seen by liberals as racist. Older generation liberals like Richard Lamm became outliers.

Supporting secular liberalism abroad: I'm supporting soap operas for the poor masses and those soap operas will deliver very liberal lifestyle messages about having affairs and not having babies. I'm also in favor of secular liberalism to raise up Muslim women so they'll get more educated and have therefore have fewer babies. However, what the (very liberal) State Department supports is mass democracy which in the Middle East means Islamist rule.

Conservative promotion of Christianity abroad isn't done much and therefore it is having very little impact on fertility.

Phil said at November 23, 2012 12:26 AM:


It's secular liberals, not conservatives, who produce and promote abroad the anti-fertility pop culture that you like. Conservatives don't make and promote things like Sex and The City. It's secular liberals, not conservatives, that promote anti-fertility memes such as feminism, female education, liberalism, homosexuality, birth control, abortion, etc. Secular liberals still do promote birth control abroad. Secular liberal NGOs and governments never stopped promoting birth control methods abroad. Countries in the Mideast under secular rule, such as Syria and Egypt, have much higher birth rates than countries with Islamist rule such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Conservatives either have no impact because they're neutral or uninterested, or they promote pro-fertility ideas.

So shouldn't you at least support secular liberalism and what secular liberals are doing abroad, while being against it at home and against it in ways it affects the domestic sphere, such as immigration?

Randall Parker said at November 23, 2012 9:41 AM:


What are secular liberals doing abroad on a significant scale with the intention of lowering fertility? I'm criticizing policy intentions because because liberals far more than conservatives define what are considered to be morally legitimate policies. We can't get better policies as long as the better policies are held to be morally illegitimate. Also, for demographic reasons the Right in America looks like road kill. It certainly is in California and more states are shifting toward the left due to demographics.

There are a few parts of why fertility has dropped. Most of it has nothing to do with liberalism versus conservatism. Industrialization pulls people into urban environments where large families are not an economic asset. So fertility drops. The cultural products of secular liberals are not produced in order to lower fertility even though some of their cultural products have that effect. These products are made for other reason. Secular liberals do not promote low fertility.

Secular liberals promote other policies that raise fertility where we most do not need it. For example, welfare state policies that make child raising more affordable for single moms give us higher fertility of a sort that is harmful. Also, immigration amnesties boost fertility as the Public Policy Research Institute of California has found (I think I've linked to those results in comments of previous posts). Again, policy that not only raises fertility but does it among people who produce welfare state dependents and social pathology.

I read table 3 of this AEI report on Muslim country fertility as saying that Saudia Arabia's fertility is higher than Egypt's by maybe about 0.3. I suspect that higher affluence in Saudi Arabia is the explanation. Does Saudi Arabia's government try to lower fertility? I've long been aware that Iran's government does (or did, see below). I do not understand what causes Iraq's higher fertility.

Iran's an interesting story regards government fertility policies. Ayatollah Khomeini favored high fertility for military prowess. Iran's Islamists actually promoted low fertility starting in the early 1990s with great success. Fertility dropped to below 2. However, recently the Iranian goverment has reversed course and is now trying to raise fertility. Ayatollah Khameini wants to more than double Iran's population. Not good.

Randall Parker said at November 23, 2012 8:56 PM:

IndexMundi puts Saudi Arabia's fertility rate at 2.26, much lower than AEI. Egypt at 2.96, a little lower than AEI. Why the bump up in Egyptian fertility in 2009? Poor unemployed guys staying home knocking up their wives? Also, IndexMundi shows Saudi TFR dropping by about 2/3rds in the last 12 years. Why? More female education? What made the transition so fast?

Phil said at November 24, 2012 2:02 AM:


The effect, not intention, is what matters.

Based on what you've professed here, shouldn't you at least support secular liberalism and support what secular liberals are spreading abroad, while at the same time being against it domestically and against how it affects immigration and welfare domestically?

Randall Parker said at November 24, 2012 10:33 AM:


Let me be clearer: What's going to happen accidentally is already going to happen accidentally. Might Sex In The City or other TV shows lower fertility on Paraguay? Probably. Beneficial if it does? Again, probably. Though it depends on the average IQ of the impacted women versus the average IQ of the overall population. But it is going to happen anyway.

Intention matters for incremental policy changes in good or bad directions. We can't get a wide variety of incremental changes in good directions because in the world as imagined by liberals a wide assortment of policy options that would make the world a better place are either evil or useless. It is far more liberals than conservatives who are blocking needed policy changes at home and in our foreign dealings.

Even the term abroad depends on where you mean. Secular liberalism or any other influence that lowers fertility in South Korea is bad for the world because the South Koreans are smart and capable of great engineering feats. South Korea has one of the world's lowest fertility rates. Not good.

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