Comment Of The Day: “Let’s Play “What’s Wrong With This Guy?”!”

There I was, thinking dark thoughts and moping about the horrible traffic here over the weekend, and along comes A.M. Golden to remind me that this blog has always sought to inspire quality rather than quantity, with this superb Comment of the Day on the post about the enterprising Mr. Clifford, who feels that IBM isn’t him paying him enough not to work for 30 years, Let’s Play “What’s Wrong With This Guy?”! Here it is; it even has a “Facts of Life” reference!

* * *

Stipulated: The plaintiff’s disability could be a legitimate one. We don’t know. That doesn’t really change my answer.

How did we get here?

The Deep Pockets Rationalization aka The Jo Polniaczek Excuse: Named for Nancy McKeon’s character on the ’80s show “The Facts of Life.” In one episode, Jo borrows a watch belonging to her frenemy, wealthy Blair Warner, without asking so she can time herself while taking an exam. On her way back, the watch is damaged when she jumps into a quick basketball game. She blows it off because Blair is wealthy and has a lot of watches.

The Deep Pockets Rationalization states that the person with the most money should pay even if not at fault. A guy driving a Hyundai hits a guy driving a BMW. The Hyundai driver tries to argue that the BMW driver should pay for everything because he has more money. A person trips in a store and tries to compel the business to pay even though she tripped because she wasn’t paying attention to what she was doing. Or a restaurant is pressured to pay for a disfigured child’s surgery after the family failed to extort money with false allegations against employees (Remember the KFC incident from a few years’ back?).

The Faultless Corollary can be added to this which covers when no one is at fault, as in a weather event or, possibly, Mr. Clifford’s disability. This Corollary is the infamous “I don’t feel that this is my fault so I shouldn’t have to pay” excuse that is the bane of Customer Service reps everywhere. In other words, it’s not Mr. Clifford’s fault he is disabled so the company should afford him the same benefits as those who are working.

The Slacker Rationalization aka the Fairness (or Equity!) Doctrine – The Slacker is the guy or gal at work that doesn’t show up on time, fails to do his or her best work and yet still expects to be given raises, promotions and other benefits equal to hardworking, reliable employees. These are sometimes those who rely on the Seniority Fallacy which states that an employee who’s worked at a business longer than others should make more money than those who have worked there for less time, regardless of merit. A relative by marriage of mine is a good example: slow to change habits or learn new things, prone to mood swings and unpleasant public reactions, calls in sick at the first sight of a snowflake (to the point of getting warnings for attendance) and yet complains when no raise has been forthcoming for years.

Add a bit of the One-Sided Social Contract Rationalization aka the My Former Co-Worker Excuse: One day, I read a ridiculous story about how some city government somewhere was suggesting paying criminals not to commit crimes. A co-worker, who ironically moved to Massachusetts later because she’d been accepted to a Harvard adult-extension style class, nodded her head and opined, “That’s a good idea.” I explained the philosophy of the Social Contract as it pertains to citizens agreeing not to do certain things for the betterment of the culture, including not committing crimes. Of course, this is the same co-worker who, when I foolishly attempted to explain how we got a professional Civil Service by relating how, prior to reform, Civil Servants were picked by the political party in power, interrupted me right there with another “That’s a good idea” because, apparently, she thought her own political party would always remain in power…or something? So maybe it wasn’t ironic that she got to go to Harvard. But I digress…

The practitioner of the One-Sided Social Contract would have no problem demanding that society honor its duty to protect or provide for those in need while not holding up his or her end of the bargain at the same time. As a result, such a person believes that people should be paid to behave themselves and those who are not working should be getting the same benefits and perks that those who are working receive.

We got this way because of well-publicized arguments over many, many years about how rich people should pay “a little more” in taxes, large companies should pay “their share,” wealthy minorities should “give back” to their community.

We got this way by permitting the idea that fairness means everyone gets the same, regardless of merit. From children being given presents on a sibling’s birthday to everyone getting the same grades at school to minimum base pay for everyone, our culture is being poisoned against innovation and invention. We got this way by allowing sympathy to set untenable economic precedents for individual, companies and governments.

We got this way by forgetting the Social Contract.

2 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Let’s Play “What’s Wrong With This Guy?”!”

  1. Oddly – as I was ready, my mind wandered as it is wont to do… and I hit the bit about paying people not to commit crimes. First my brain said, that sounds like universal basic income. You pay people not to commit crimes and then when they do, you cancel their UBI. Then I thought, well, you should pay everyone to not commit crimes equally, because equity and equality are important, and what is the best value to government to pay to everyone to not commit crimes that is equal for everyone and extremely easy to calculate and track? Zero, nothing, nada, zilch. We all pay $0 towards UBI and we all receive $0 for UBI – cheap and effective and perfectly in balance. But then my brain said, “great, so we’re back to where we started and we actually pay more money for people to commit crimes than to not commit them (prison housing, prison food, insurance increases, business losses, productivity losses).

    It’s a giant circle.

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