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Jul 19 2010

On Social Engineering

I wrote this yesterday, I think, on a comment thread that turned into a tone-fight, so I doubt that more than the half-dozen or so participants bothered to read far enough down to see it. So here it is. A previous commenter had written that he had hoped that people would donate out of the goodness of their hearts, and not need to be rewarded for doing so; I personally would much rather give out a ton of food donated by selfish bastards than half a ton donated by selfless altruists. Besides, I think the latter are mostly found in mythology, anyway:

If we only take donations
With the purest motivations
And our shelves remain half-empty, it’s the hungry folks who lose.
If the sponsors can afford it,
There’s good reason to reward it!
And the altruists can turn their prizes down, if they so choose.
Do not make it any harder
Than it is, to stock a larder,
With a view of human nature based on freely-chosen good!
I don’t care if it looks greedy,
If it helps the poor and needy–
The alternative is hunger, till we give “because we should”.
If a prize or recognition
Brings donations to fruition–
“I’ll increase my odds of winning if I donate lots of tins!”–
You can say that it looks selfish;
I’m not humanist, I’m shellfish!
When we pay for good behavior, sometimes everybody wins!

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