Disagreement and compassion

Seth Godin on ways to disagree with people. He identifies a marketing problem, a political problem and a filtering problem.

I think there is also an identification problem: When someone agrees with you, but won’t admit it because it doesn’t fit in with how they self-identify. But, if I admit that I wouldn’t be in the compassionate crowd, for example.

Steven Landsburg has help for such people. Here’s his response to a commentator on his blog who cares about coffee shop owners on Capitol Hill who are being hurt by the

coffee and tee

In DC or Nebraska? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

shutdown but who must be…

…apparently oblivious to the fact that taxpayers also visit coffee shops, and that for every dime not being spent by a DC bureaucrat, there’s an extra dime available to be spent by a Nebraska farmer or a New York cab driver. Our commenter apparently remembered to care about the guys selling coffee in DC but forgot to care about the guys selling coffee in Nebraska.

The single biggest lesson that economists have to teach is that it’s important to care about everyone, not just about the people who happen to cross your path.

6 thoughts on “Disagreement and compassion

  1. Seth – I enjoyed your post, but I beg to differ regarding the SINGLE biggest lesson that economists have to teach – that would be “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

    I saw this from the NYT regarding Obama’s desire for government run/sponsored pre-kindergarden: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/30/the-push-for-universal-pre-k/?_r=0

    I’m not sure why he’s waiting until they get so old? Why not take the kid at birth?

    With the bevy of cradle-to-grave entitlement programs the federal government has instituted – that is to say (unfortunately) that WE have instituted – we are increasingly teaching each generation to depend on the federal government rather than themselves or their family. Indeed, the leftists’ goal – perhaps already achieved – is to teach kids that the government (not their biological parents) is their family. We now have a society where the government becomes your caretaker almost as soon as you can walk and talk and it feeds and indoctrinates you until you’re a young adult. Once you’re older, it picks up where it left off, providing income and medical care in your old age. In between, there are what I will call “able to work” Americans – those who want to work, can, and those who don’t want to find a way to qualify for handouts.

    That’s a lot of people eating lots of free lunches. But the “free” lunch isn’t really free. There are costs. There’s the cost to the “able to work” American who actually works and buys not only his own lunch, but the lunches of an increasing number of others. There’s the cost to our nation’s production capabilities as consumption exceeds production . There’s the cost to each individual’s freedom as government demands something in return for stealing Peter’s lunch to feed Paul.

    As you noted, many people don’t see this. They have been taught from an early age that the government provides all this “free” stuff and they don’t recognize that some other PERSON is paying (working, sacrificing) for it. When reminded, they may say they appreciate the handout, but they don’t really.

    Their appreciation is much like the regret of the criminal who gets caught – he says he’s sorry, but he’s really just sorry he got caught.


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