On Behavioral Bias, Framing, Status Quo Bias, the “Socialism” Bogeyman, and the USA’s Present Lack of True Capitalism

My writings to two commentators on Facebook about Behavioral Bias, Framing, Status Quo Bias, the “Socialism” Bogeyman, and the USA’s Present Lack of True Capitalism.

Richard Thripp (Me): Libertarian principles sound good as ideals but don’t hold up well with actual humans. If you live in a food desert, you’ll eat more junk food. If not for Social Security, Americans will NOT put aside huge sums of money throughout their working career for their retirement.

Commentator: I know a lot of Democrats think they know better than the average person, and you very well might. But I would recommend that you don’t publicly admit that you think you know better than the average person.

Richard Thripp (Me): This isn’t about me at all. Please read a bit about behavioral economics, nudges, and psychology and get back to me. Take a cognitive psychology course… or even a free online course or watch some videos. People are vulnerable to psychological tricks like framing effect, anchoring, and so many others. It’s why As Seen on TV ads are so effective at selling junk at huge markups. This isn’t about being arrogant or superior. Even highly educated professionals are vulnerable to these phenomena. Ignoring them or wishing them away by pretending people know best is foolish.

Commentator: Dr. Thripp, I know you wrote your dissertation on this sort of stuff, I know you are literally an expert and that is fine. I know that you’re right, you’re missing my point. It’s not that you are incorrect. I’m stating that a message that can be distilled down to “regular people are too stupid and/or can’t be trusted to take care of themselves so the government has to do it for them” isn’t going to win you any votes that weren’t already going to vote Democratic in Volusia County.

Richard Thripp (Me): I wouldn’t phrase it that way but I suppose there is danger in the Republicans phrasing it that way or critical commentators doing so? But they would do that anyway and are already doing it. I would be more optimistic in saying when we set up people to succeed, they will make great decisions. The idea is that the naysaying logic of people being able to take care of themselves can be used against Social Security too… but we have Social Security, have had it for 75 years, and it works well and is very popular.

There is also a status quo bias favoring what already is happening and disfavoring any change. For instance, corporate welfare and giveaways to the rich are happening, so we get a lot of people saying its justified and they earned it. Even Michael Bloomberg is out-of-touch… in his first debate performance he could have been magnanimous and even inserted some self-effacing humor about his $62 billion fortune but instead he argued he deserved every cent… which could literally buy 1,250 Orange Avenue bridges in Daytona Beach, 6,500 Matanzas Woods Parkway interchanges on I-95, or 310,000 houses at $200,000 each. Is that fair?

Richard Thripp (Me) to another commentator who presents socialism as a bogeyman and Millennials as having a victim mentality and being lazy:

It’s not an either/or and even small business owners like yourself are getting squeezed when big firms, super-rich people, and big corporations get too many tax breaks, lack of enforcement, lobbying to get laws their way, privilege, corporate welfare, and giveaways. You can worry about the bogeyman of socialism by the government… and then your small business is crushed by Walmart, Amazon, Zillow, or some other behemoth that was created not by free-market capitalism, but corporate crony capitalism.

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