An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Wednesday, February 05, 2003  

The Irish and Carrots and Sticks

My colleague Darren Barefoot is revisiting this theme on his blog prompted by a theory from our mutual colleague Keith. In my treatise below, I credited the acceptance of the proposed smoking ban to a mature Irish audience identifying that this move was worthy of support due to the rather obvious public health benefits. It appears not. Rather, for whatever reason, (speculation on which will appear tomorrow) we simply respond very well to the stick rather than the carrot.

Examples - despite encouragement hardly anyone recycled plastic bags until the 15c charge came in. Recycling was whole heartedly adopt within a week and consumption of plastic bags dropped massively. There was no respect for parking laws, with parking tickets being treated as souvenirs, until clamping was introduced. Within a week, parking was easy to find on Merrion Sq. These are just two examples, but they worked and without any civil unrest. Now the smoking ban is being calmly debated.

Accepting that disincentives are cleary more successful than incentives in improving our behaviour, this means that politicians should use this principle for a wide range of activities. For example, I had expressed my standard liberal minded abhorrence at the proposed refusal of state allowances to parents who do not get their children immunised, but I will have to re-explore this. I've always agreed with charging for refuse disposal (fortunately the EU agrees with me). I think the Australians are quite right to put people in jail for not voting.

Bullying works. And without much complaint. Hmmm.....

posted by Sarah | 16:06 0 comments
Comments: Post a Comment
Previous Popular Posts
Other Blogs