Friday, May 14, 2004

Even More Proof Welfare is Destructive
This is a follow up on the last post. It's not just Republicans who object to welfare payments. Monkeys Show Sense Of Fairness. When researchers give a capuchin monkey an unearned reward, other monkeys are angered, stop cooperating, and even refuse reward opportunities. First researchers allowed a monkey to trade a token for a cucumber reward. Then:

Partners of capuchins who made the swap either received the same reward (a cucumber slice), or a better reward (a grape, a more desirable food), for the same amount of work or, in some cases, for performing no work at all.

Brosnan said the response to the unequal treatment was astonishing: Capuchins who witnessed unfair treatment and failed to benefit from it often refused to conduct future exchanges with human researchers, would not eat the cucumbers they received for their labors, and in some cases, hurled food rewards at human researchers.

Those actions were significant. They confirmed that not only did capuchins expect fair treatment, but that the human desire for equity has an evolutionary basis.

A welfare payment is not an isolated incident with no further impact beyond the payment. First, it changes the expectations and motivations of the recipient, usually in negative ways. But it also affects the behavior of those not involved in the transaction.
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