19 December 2010

Dignity is a motive

The key question with the economic incentives of scarcity is whether it is easier to produce value than it is to take the value that another has produced. Taking the value another has produced is not only a matter of plunder and enslavement, it is not necessarily only a matter of taking by force what belongs to another; it could also be taking what belongs to no-one, or taking what belongs to those who do not have a material presence in the moment of purchase. Those could include God, future generations, past generations, commons property (public goods), etc. 
These are instances of not only market failure but also of the disincentives of the resource curse. The masters develop a culture that disdains productive work; the slaves do not work well because their product does not reflect on or contribute to their self-respect. 
Dignity is a motive. Motives, not incentives, drive creative product. 
The difference between incentives and motives is the difference between fairness and desert. 

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