Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Maximum Advantage: Exploiting Shame

The world is full of Chumps ripe for the picking...

I recently happened upon an Arizona Legal Studies discussion paper called Underwater and Not Walking Away: Shame, Fear and the Social Management of the Housing Crisis.  These emotional states are clearly being exploited to Maximum Advantage.   The Technical Morality manages crisis through reinforcement.  Being technical, its tools are inherently limited.  Efficiency is never total.  There is always some loss.

For managing crisis, simple themes are propagated.  Examples include:
  • Things aren't really all that bad.  There are a lot worse places to live.  (Hence, we fall farther.)
  • The economy has been bad before, but it will get better again.  It always does.  House prices will rise again.  Just stick it out.  You won't lose money if you don't sell.  (Even though you may not be able to maintain it.)
  • We (whomever) are in control.  Everything is normal.  Do not panic.
  • If you don't pay you bills your friends and neighbors won't be able to get a loan.
  • Interest rates will go up if you don't pay your bills.*
  • Capitalism is wonderful.**
Instilled notions may promote systemic stability, for a time, but repeated use blunts the effect.  Eventually even the dimmest will stop buying it.  Jobless and living on the street trumps the virtual world any day.  What will be the final crisis?

* Yes, I wrote this after paying my bills.
** Only communism is worse.  It was a feat, but they managed...

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