Economic traps make good people stick with bad ideas

“What would happen if we paid people to stop doing useless sh*t?”

It’s true enough to say that every modern economy requires it’s citizens to justify their existence economically. Most of us have to convince others that we are worth something, that we have some insight, and from this stems sometimes perverse incentives that leave many people trapped and even perpetuate bad ideas and bad behavior, like fraud and crime. When your livelihood relies on a situation that is corrupt, immoral, inefficient, deceptive, or otherwise a drag to society, you might find yourself with little economic incentive to make it stop. Quite the contrary, you might feel you have to figure out how to keep it going so that you can live. You might even say to yourself, “if I don’t give these people what they want (e.g., take advantage of the situation), someone else will.”

13 best ways to become economically trapped: (presented as clickbait)

  1. Start down a career path that you later come to realize is unnecessary and of no personal value. Stick with it to retirement.
  2. Give up your career to become the 24/7 caregiver of your children. Added bonus, grab yourself an abusive spouse (pun intended).
  3. Become an influencer for anti-aging creams that you later come to know are equivalent in usefulness to selling dog piss and melted snow. Keep selling it because, “people are going to buy it from someone else, anyway.”
  4. Learn to become a productivity guru and market yourself as having supernatural powers to “ten ex (10x)” any business teams’ sales.
  5. Become a day trader. Lose your money. Raise money for investment fund from family and collect a 20% yearly management fee to provide them with “expert insight.”
  6. Join a religion. Become a paid figurehead in some community of said religion. Lose faith. Tell yourself, “I’m just telling people what they need to hear.
  7. Find out your boss is stealing money. Don’t report it… you like your job. Be an accomplice to crime.
  8. Witness your friend commit gang related crime. Witness your friend’s gang tell you to “shut the f*’up or die.” Now prove your loyalty by committing crime.
  9. Go to prison. Serve your time. Never qualify for a job ever again. Go directly to 6.

Imagine you join a cult. At first it seems eye-opening, transformative even, and you feel that you’re becoming a bold and brave new person. You move your family to Podunksville where all the excitement is happening and in order to be closer to the epicenter. Your enthusiasm eventually leads you to getting paid for each new member you sign up.

All of your economic life become closely entwined with life in the cult, as you are paid for your cult marketing services through the money you help to bring in for it. The more members you sign up, the better.

But one day, you get a glimpse that something is off. The cult you used to know and love has become perverted and it’s ideals cheapened somehow. “Stay away,” you think to tell others. But if you do, what happens to your livelihood? Forgetting the social consequences, it’s economically daunting to be honest about your situation, because you will effectively be punished for discouraging new recruits and telling people to stay away.

Welcome. You are now officially trapped, so you continue to bring in new recruits. You feel that if you don’t, your existence will be in jeopardy. Maybe, you also feel that if you had been able to discourage new recruits by showing them the truth of the situation, you might have bettered the entire economy by keeping people from spending time and effort on bad ideas. Alas, no one wants to pay you to give up bad ideas. That kind of thing just doesn’t exist yet.

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