Alternatives to money and power as social incentive mechanisms

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The Politicus
Jul 10, 2020 09:14 AM 0 Answers
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Capitalism does a pretty good job of incentivizing people to work on what's economically profitable, e.g., finance, law, tech, and what gives them power over others, e.g., becoming CEOs. Now let's assume for a moment that we lived in some kind of socialist utopia with a substantial UBI, an effective wealth tax, the land being owned by the people, and companies being run as worker cooperatives with a maximum pay gap and colleagues electing their bosses. With the financial and power incentives largely disabled, which alternative mechanisms might nudge people to work on the problems most pressing to society?*

My personal take is that what people really strive for is social recognition. Money and power in capitalism are a good proxy for both, which is why they work so well as incentives. So what one would need is an alternative mechanism to make people feel socially recognized if they work on important tasks.

*Note that "most pressing to society" does not mean "economically profitable". Nurses, teachers, garbage men and small-scale farmers are a few examples that would arguably fall into the former but not the latter category.

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  • July 10, 2020