Feel Good Politics (New political philosophy)

Discussion in 'Politics' started by TimeTraveler, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. TimeTraveler Immortalist Registered Senior Member

    I'd like to introduce a new political theory/philosophy of politics which I'll label the feel good theory of politics. This theory is based entirely on neuroscience studies which has shown that partisans make political decisions not using the reasoning/frontal lobes part of the brain but using the emotional portions of the brain such as the amygdala.

    Policy is chosen by a society or democracy not based on effectiveness, usefulness, outcomes/results, but on how the policy feels. Under this theory we can make sense of policies such as the war on drugs, the war on terror, gun control, and many others. These policies are limited in their effectiveness because they aren't meant to be effective. These policies are set up to provide for the emotional needs of it's supporters and nothing more.

    Polices that both right and left cherish accomplish nothing positive and weren't designed to accomplish any goal. These policies were designed to accomplish nothing other than making the right people feel good. A prime example which we can use is that of a charity. The charity does not have to accomplish anything to receive donations. It exists simply to make people feel good about themselves.

    The result of feel good politics are feel good policies and feel good governments. Society does not have to improve or accomplish anything as long as the right people feel good. More prisons will be built so people can feel like we are being tough on crime. More people in the middle east will be killed so people feel like we aren't being soft on defense. More people in the USA will be locked up for possession of drugs and prostitution so that other people in the USA can feel good. We also will have laws against gay marriage so that people who aren't gay can feel good.

    The long term consequences of our policies do not matter, as long as they feel good in the short term.
    This has been proven by the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on poverty and it's many many charities which people have been donating to for years with absolutely no results. Politics aren't about results, it's simply about making the leadership and powerful individuals feel good.

    A result oriented approach would use the scientific method to define policy based on the policies which would be proven to generate the greatest return for the investment. Micro finance generates a greater return than donating to charity. Libertarian drug policies generate a greater return for the economy as a whole as well keeping prison space and police resources available for violent criminals. There are a range of policies which would make both the elite on the left and right feel bad, but which would actually accomplish goals. Society is currently a construction of how people feel rather than a rationally constructed machine.

    My next topic will be on how to rationally construct a society based on doing what works and avoiding what is proven not to work. This involves applying the scientific method and seeing policies as medical treatments rather than simply legal or moral documents. The purpose of policy should be to protect and enhance society as well as increase the quality of life of it's members. My next thread will highlight how that can be done, if any of you have any ideas on this topic or on the next, share your thoughts in your replies.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2009
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  3. leopold Valued Senior Member

    well duh.
    how in the hell can a policy be chosen based on outcome when the outcome hasn't even occurred yet?
    i think "common sense" and "how a policy feels" is synonymous in this case.
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  5. TimeTraveler Immortalist Registered Senior Member

    Use the scientific method to predict the outcomes of policy. What are the factors? What is the goal? What about probability? What about measuring the initial results of a partial implementation to decide whether to fully implement?

    Example being Micro finance vs Charity, collect data such as how much of the money donated to charity actually reaches the intended target, how that money influences the economy and quality of life of the intended target, the objective measurements can be taken to determine the success or failure of a policy. Charity is a failure most of the time because its not result or outcome oriented. The success or failure of a program should be measured on the outcome just like we do when we want to test a new drug or medical treatment and we conduct a small study before we implement and prescribe it on the large scale.

    I'm saying we should use this same mechanism for policy making. Policies should be proven with science to be successful before they get implemented on the grand scale. If I make an investment, I want to be sure of the return on that investment. I'm not going to invest because it feels good unless I have a gambling addiction and like losing money.

    The war on drugs as a program costs billions, it doesn't save us any money, it's merely an expense. It doesn't accomplish anything positive for society, no objective measurements can be cited to prove that the war on drugs is an effective policy. That should be grounds to cancel it as a policy. It's considered a wasteful feel good policy, not just based on how I feel about it, but just look at the objective facts. How many non-violent individuals are in prison? How much does it cost society and the economy to house them in prison? How much does it damage our image, or harm the quality of life of communities?

    The result of these measurements can show that the policy itself does more harm than good and doesn't accomplish any goal at all beyond making people feel good. The same measurements can be taken when you look at the effectiveness of charity. We look at poverty in Africa and its worse today than it was 50 years ago, even though charity has been increasing.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2009
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  7. desi Valued Senior Member

    They already do that.

    The purpose of a charity is not to make a real difference in the lives of the people it is said to help. It is to collect money from dupes who will feel better about themselves for emptying out their pockets, and to support the charity workers.

    They already do. ie The bank bail out was not meant to help you or me. It was made to pad the pockets of people who fund political campaigns at a time when borrowing is decreasing because the 'average Joe' is leveraged to the hilt.

    The war on drugs is something for politicians to point to and say, 'See, we are doing what we can to get drugs off the street.' As the CIA smuggles them into the country...

    The results of making people feel better about the drug war and giving to charity are the goals. If people really cared about substance it would be different.
  8. TimeTraveler Immortalist Registered Senior Member


    The war on drugs is a convenient excuse to launch a war on Americans. Since when did punishment ever work on people who are addicted? And they don't reward people who aren't addicted to drugs, so it's just an excuse to build prisons and punish people, it accomplishes nothing and this is proven by objective statistics.

    It costs more to put drug users in prison than to treat them. And it costs more to put drug dealers in prison than to send them to college.

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