The Department of Carrots and Sticks Mission Statement – Liberty through Behavior Modification

The phrase “carrots and sticks” appears in political discussion so often, the first results on Google for “carrots and sticks” are about politics and not about animal husbandry. The Beast of Burden is officially human.

Example: President Obama speaking about dealing with Iran

“If we show ourselves willing to talk and to offer carrots and sticks in order to deal with these pressing problems — and if Iran then rejects any overtures of that sort — it puts us in a stronger position to mobilize the international community to ratchet up pressure on Iran.”

A good way NOT to make progress with Iranians is by analogizing them to donkeys and the USA as their master.

This phrase is dehumanizing , in that carrots and sticks are used on beasts of burden by their masters. It is one of the few honest appraisals you’ll hear a politician utter on how they view the world. From their perspective, you and I and other nations are the dumb animals to be steered in the direction of their desires.

You don’t use carrots and sticks on someone you consider to be your equal. You wouldn’t threaten a neighbor with a club or bribe them with money to resolve a dispute. When you consider someone your equal, you let them decide how to act for themselves without coercion.

You don’t use carrots and sticks on your friends. If you were to say to a friend, “Come over to my home for a superbowl party; there’ll be lots of snacks for you if you come–and if you don’t show up, I’ll flatten your tires,” they won’t be your friend long.

You wouldn’t say to your spouse, “If you’ll lose some weight I’ll help clean up around the house, and if you don’t, I’ll have sex with someone else,” unless the goal was to divorce so you could have sex with someone else.

Politicians are loaded with these carrots and sticks; they’ve got them for health care, cap and trade, banks, buying cars, and the economy in general. Politicians see so much more work to be done, and have an arsenal of creative ideas to corral the masses. That’s what politicians do; they pat themselves on the back for thinking up new forms of behavior modification.

Why is it acceptable to use laws to modify other peoples’ behavior? We wouldn’t treat people we know and care about with a carrot and stick approach, so why is it considered acceptable to treat strangers this way?

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