There is a widely held belief that when designing public policy or legal systems, it makes the most sense to assume that all citizens are entirely self-interested and amoral. It’s a theory known as “homo economicus” or “economic man.” But, economist Samuel Bowles argues against that belief in his book The Moral Economy: Why Good Incentives are no Substitute for Good Citizens. Bowles laid out the case for his argument during a recent talk at UC Berkeley.
Bowles says there are two key reasons to move away from the economic man idea. First, he says polices that follow the paradigm can be self-fulling – making the assumption of universal amorality truer than it might otherwise be under different policies. Second, he argues that fines and rewards often do not work as intended.
The problem Bowles argues, is that incentives can “crowd out” otherwise altruistic motives people might have for any given action. He cites the classic example of a daycare that imposed a small fee for parents who showed up late. The result? Many more late parents. The thinking goes that the fee turned being late into a commodity rather than an inconsiderate action. Thus, the incentive backfired, and ended up having the opposite of its intended effect.
However, Bowles says incentives themselves are not to blame. He argues they can be designed in a such a way to encourage good civic behavior, while avoiding possible pitfalls. For example, when Ireland wanted to get rid of plastic bags, lawmakers imposed a small tax. But, they paired the tax with a huge media campaign about not trashing the Emerald Isle. Appealing to citizens better nature made the difference, and most shoppers stopped using plastic bags within weeks.
Watch — The Moral Economy: Why Good Incentives are No Substitute for Good Citizens
How can students leverage their college years to find their ideal career path? From connecting with an alumni network to finding the right summer job, your campus career center is here to help. They can take you beyond building a resume to thinking about your personal goals, the art of networking, and building marketable life skills.
Kris Hergert, executive director of the Career Center at UC San Diego, talks about how to work toward your future and translate the world of academic rigor to the world of work.
Watch Career Planning for College Students with Kris Hergert – Job Won
“Any time two people are together and one is working with another, that is education. And what it requires today is for us to reconceive of education because opportunities are abundant but they may not be where you think they are.”
Traditionally, a career in education has meant becoming a classroom teacher. Though that is still an option, there are increasingly more and more ways to find an impactful career that helps others learn and thrive. Institutional research, support services, online instruction, administration, business development and more are all integral to today’s educational landscape.
Morgan Appel, director of the Department of Education and Behavioral Sciences at UC San Diego Extension, discusses how to find your niche in the world of learning and what new opportunities are available.
Watch Careers in Education with Morgan Appel – Job Won
Emotional intelligence is important for work at all levels. Don Phin helps executives expand, grow and adjust their careers. His lessons about coaxing, encouraging and inspiring apply to anyone in the workplace.
Phin, an Executive Coach and Leadership Trainer, has been a California employment practices attorney since 1983. He litigated employment and business cases for 17 years and quit once he figured out that nobody wins a lawsuit. He now coaches executives and investigates challenging workplace problems.
Watch Executive Coach and Leadership Trainer Don Phin – Job Won
Dr. Rebecca Berman was recently recruited to UCSF to direct the internal medicine residency program, generally considered to be one of the nation’s finest. Dr. Berman comes to UCSF from Harvard, where she directed the primary care residency program at Brigham & Womens Hospital.
She sits down with Dr. Bob Wachter, Chair, Department of Medicine, UCSF, to discuss her upbringing, her surprising undergraduate pursuits and her longstanding commitment to social justice and health equity. She discusses her approach to mentoring and career development, and her view of how medical training needs to evolve to meet the needs of trainees and patients. She also talks about how her work-life balance and describes being a doctor as a great Mom job.
Watch Dr. Rebecca Berman – A Life in Medicine: People Shaping Healthcare Today