Friday, May 11, 2007

Dirty Diaper Theory: Laws that motivate inconvenient action

So I was in my local TARGET parking lot today when I saw that someone changed their kid's dirty diaper and chucked the thing on the ground, insulting the nice green grass that has just started to grow. That really pissed me off. What the &*#!^@ does it take to get people to do the right thing and simply carry the diaper 30 paces to the trash barrel, or at least chuck it into their car and toss it later. This lead me to the overthink the whole situation and create "The Dirty Diaper Theory: Laws that motivate inconvenient action."

Wait, don't skip to the Paris Hilton blog yet... hear me out.

First, a definition: I consider "inconvenient actions" to be something that you know if right but requires having to go out of your way to do it.

Some people try and do the right thing all the time because they feel compelled to do right thing. They'll even go to jail to support the fact they did the right thing. Other people will do the right thing when a police cruiser is sittting across the street, but otherwise they will do what they want. Others will do they right thing cause they don't want to go to hell. And some will do whatever they want, then look at you and say "What the fuck you looking at, Buttercup?" while giving you the finger.

So we have the old ID, Ego, Superego thing going here. Let me try and break it down to a pecking order of doing "the right thing" with that offensive diaper in the grass...

I will throw my kid's dirty diaper in the trash because... up your own mess it the right thing to do.

...I don't want my kid to follow my example and become a schmuck like me.

...That person in the car next to me is watching me, and I don't want her to think I am a schmuck (that I actually AM).

...that cop is standing right there and I don't want a ticket for littering.

...God knows everything I do and I'll burn in a sea of hellfire if I do.

...That dude over there making $5.50 an hour cleaning the parking lot may kick my ass.

OR... I don't give a shit, I'll drop this diaper where ever I want. [PLUNK]

So for those of us who aren't in the goody-two-shoes "right thing to do" category, it seems we need to have some kind of incentive plan. The incentive of shame or penalty seem to be the big ones keeping most in line. But how do we get to that last "I don't give a shit" category? How do you get ENRON not to screw over little old ladies trying to pay their energy bill? How do you get a goverment official to stop taking money from the oil company lobby to screw the world out of it's climate? How do you get that man to leave that little kid alone?

MY QUESTION: If you don't have an internal compass of right and wrong, don't fear justice from man or God, or a sense of personal shame, what does it take to get you to do the right thing? Doughnuts? Beer? I'm willing to dontate a couple of six packs. Just don't toss the empties on the grass when you're done with them.

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