2013 December 29 Sunday
The Industrial Welfare State Enables Greater Irresponsibility

She makes less than $20k per year as an actor and has 2 medical conditions. What is wrong with this picture?

"I am so deeply clueless about all of this," acknowledged one new buyer, Adrienne Matzen, 29, an actor in Chicago who's mostly been without insurance since she turned 21. Though she needs regular care for asthma and a thyroid condition, she says she's looking for a low monthly premium because she makes less than $20,000 a year.

She's being irresponsible. She's not unusual on this score. Millions of people choose careers and make other decisions that leave them at risk both during their working years and in retirement. Why? Because they can. But that is not the only reason. While conscientiousness attracts attention as a basic personality trait I'm also thinking that there are big differences in levels of innate instincts for safety and security.

Take someone who acts in spite of poverty. They want attention more than they want security. Got a serious health problem? In some minds that doesn't compete with the desire for adulation and attention. Could be they have weak desires for security and safety or do not feel any nervousness about anything that isn't an acute problem. Or it cold be they have really strong desires for attention. Or both.

I am reminded of Gregory Clark's book A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World. At least in England the Malthusian Trap selected for important middle class attributes such as higher intelligence, desire to save for the future, and other cognitive characteristics that make people behave more responsibly. The end of the Malthusian Trap caused these selective pressures to reverse and this is not good.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 December 29 07:00 PM 


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