Reward and Punishment…are we getting it right?

I have just been reading a few things on the internet and came across a person called Thomas Sowell. He has a brilliant mind  and I have been watching a few videos of him and have found him to be a voice of reason and logic which is tragically missing because of the rhetorical megaphone these days …Thomas Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution. He writes on economics, history, social policy, ethnicity, and the history of ideas. [source]

One of his quotes speak about reward and punishment in society today. I read this and thought… WOW! This is exactly what is going on. The punishments quite often don’t fit the crimes. Rewards often don’t fit with genuine efforts and we are pretty much seeing the decline of social behaviour because of this (among other reasons)…

“I’d like to get them [liberals] to think in terms of incentives and empirical evidence, and not in terms of goals and hopes. Over the years, I’ve reached the point where I can hardly bear to read the preamble of proposed legislation. I don’t care what you think this thing is going to do. What I care about is: What are you rewarding, and what are you punishing? Because you’re going to get more of what you’re rewarding and less of what you’re punishing.” — Thomas Sowell.

After reading this quote I came across an article about the recent London riots. This article is a perfect example of this rewards/punishments conundrum…

The capacity for self-control, and the willingness to suppress one’s innate selfishness or cruelty, is something that adults must consciously instil in children and reinforce in other adults by their attitudes to them. The indispensable tools of social stigma and moral judgment that communities used to have at their disposal for this purpose have been stripped away, and the result – the fearless defiance of helpless authority – is what we saw in its terrifying logical conclusion on the streets. That is what real people know: that they were right all along. [source]

I love it when 2+2=4


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