Friday, May 05, 2017

Women Don't Like Bad Boys. They Like Confident Men, Especially the Nice Ones

A study with the provocative title "Nice guys have more sex than bad boys" makes this larger point.

Women like confident men.  They like the confidence itself, and also like it as a sign of their ability to get resources.  Many women put up with arrogant confident men, and even selfish confident men - bad traits which they sometimes find out about too late.

But women prefer nice confident men the most.  They want the resources, and the sharing of those resources, in the joint project of raising a family.

Sex is part of the project, but not the main point.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Regulations are Protections, Taxes are Investments

George Lakoff is right - conservatives and liberals each have a compelling worldview, but conservatives have been better at framing theirs to appeal to the emotions of more Americans. Worse, liberals have let conservatives reframe the liberal worldview in an unflattering way.

Fighting back with reasoned argument alone misses the basic fact that we are emotional creatures first.

Lakoff names these contrasting worldviews as "strict father" vs. "nurturant parent."  These differences apply to family life and government equally. The different gender politics are also contained in the deliberate asymmetry between "father" and "parent."

At the government level, the liberal worldview sees regulations as protections, and taxes as investments. This is the kind of care for the whole that any good nurturing parent would do. The whole that is envisioned by liberals is all of the people in the nation, together.

Conservatives, by contrast, see regulations as limitations on freedom, and taxes as theft.  They want to toughen up each person under their charge to be personally responsible. The whole they envision is just us - our tribe, our kind, against all others.  The others are constantly trying to infiltrate our tribe, so we must be vigilant in punishing and expelling them, as well as any traitors who help the infiltrators.

There is a real difference in worldview, and each rests on a different metaphysic.  Worldviews grip us through our emotional stories first and most.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Americans are Happy to Pay Taxes

My topic on WKYB this morning.

One of the big books of popular social science this year will be Vanessa Williamson's Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes. She found that "being a taxpayer" is an important part of the identity of most Americans. Two interviews with her, explaining her findings, are here and here.

I would add that our sense of legitimacy of American democracy comes from the feeling that we all pay our bit.  This gives us a voice in what our government does, just as much as voting does.  Indeed, since many more people pay taxes than vote, our sense of democratic legitimacy comes more from being taxpayers than being voters.

What Williamson found is that the great majority of Americans are proud to pay taxes.  What makes them mad is if they think other people are not paying their fair share of taxes, especially if they pay no taxes at all.  This ire is directed at rich people and corporations first, and also, in some sectors, at illegal immigrants.  But there are also widespread misconceptions about who pays taxes, and for what.  We remember the income tax due to the hassle of filing, but forget the sales tax because, except for the poorest people, we don't think about is when we pay it.

While everyone pays taxes, groups differ in how many people they believe pay taxes.  The people who are maddest about our current tax system think, on average, that only 66% of people in this country pay taxes - including themselves.  On the other hand, the people who are least mad about our tax system think that the proportion of taxpayers is above 80%.

Paying taxes is a meaningful activity, which joins us with others in serving a cause larger than ourselves.  This is one of the key components of happiness.