Fear as producer of useless #government programs

A couple nights ago I saw the movie, After Earth.  The movie, starring Will Smith and his son, Jaden, was not only about a father-son relationship, but about how we face fear.  “Fear is a choice”, remarked Will Smith’s character.  It is the apprehension about a future event that may not occur.  To address fear, we should root ourselves in the here and now.

I found the character’s view interesting because prior to viewing the film I had a conversation with a journalist friend where I shared with him my opinion of the concept of “future”; that futures were not real.  They were boxes of constraints that may not even happen so why waste time and emotion thinking about something that doesn’t exist much less may not even occur.

Danger, on the other hand, is real.  I believe you can reconcile non-existent futures with the reality of danger by treating danger as a constant.  Dangers are always present; they are a given.  All you can do is learn to recognize them when they occur and consider different contingencies when they pop up.

Fear, unfortunately, produces our need for third-party intervention; for entities  that can order and coordinate events such that the negatives of the unknown are offset, mitigated.  Fear of the unknown gave us social security, private insurance, affirmative action, and “God”.  Politicians play on this fear by creating and expanding affirmative action, health care, and retirement programs.  Some people want to know that someone will pick up the tab should they get sick or injured or retire and don’t have the capital to pay for their health or retirement.

What would our behavior be if these programs didn’t exist?  What actions would we take knowing we had to depend on ourselves by staying rooted in the moment and facing the realities of retirement and health care, the realities of the dangers surrounding us?

About Alton Drew

Alton Drew brings a straight forward and insightful brand of political market intelligence. Alton Drew graduated from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in economics and political science (1984); a Master of Public Administration (1993); and a Juris Doctor (1999). You can also follow Alton Drew on Twitter @altondrew.
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2 Responses to Fear as producer of useless #government programs

  1. Ken Ciszewski says:

    “It is the apprehension about a future event that may not occur.”

    I think that we are afraid if we anticipate a future event that we don’t know how to handle, or that we view as catastrophic–it results in death, serious disability, impoverishment.

    If we think we can handle the event and mitigate or negate it’s negative consequences, then we are a lot less likely to be afraid. If we feel we have no alternatives or control, we probably feel fear.

  2. Ken Ciszewski says:

    “Fear of the unknown gave us social security, private insurance, affirmative action, and “God”.”

    It seems kind of strange that “private insurance” showed up in this post, since some (but not all) of that is voluntary. Business insurance is voluntary (for loss due to fire, theft, etc.), for example.

    Does this mean that the buying and selling of commodity futures and options, as well as “puts” and “calls” on stocks, financial hedge funds, and credit default swaps, should all be abolished? How about private mortgage insurance (PMI) on home mortgages that don’t have enough down payment/equity? These are all forms of attempted risk reduction based on various “fears”.

    Businessmen engage in “risk reduction” (I would argue these are “fear reduction”) activities all the time. Some of the prime responsibilities of business management and project management are risk identification, reduction, control. People get paid every day to deal with risk.

    From a project management and business point of view, the whole idea of doing “due diligence” is to identify risks (or fears) and plan ahead to try and deal with them. This would seem to be the intelligent and prudent thing to do. Why just “wing it” all the time and always be surprised? Plan for what you can, and roll with whatever else shows up.

    Businesses hire lobbyists to identify legislative risks and help mitigate or negate them.

    I’m not sure it was fear that gave us social security, private insurance, and affirmative action. Each of those were based on history that identified specific problems (risks) that some people thought should be dealt with in a proactive manner.

    Whether or not anyone likes affirmative action, there was a reasonably clear history of discrimination against African Americans that some thought needed legal help improving access to education for African Americans.

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