Thursday, September 1, 2011

Time Horizons

TNC is making a different point here, one about slavery, but FLG found this interesting vis-a-vis his time horizons theory:
The Left has long believed that a significant swath of the working American electorate does not vote their interests. But this defines "interests" in a narrow and crude terms.

Part of your "interests" may well be in the maintenance of a financial aristocracy which looks culturally familiar to you. (Think Wal-Mart.) Part of your interests may be the dream -- however slim -- that your kids may one day enter into that aristocracy. Indeed, there's a way of looking at the American Dream as precisely that -- the Dream of fighting your way into the aristocracy.

If you imagine yourself as a future homeowner, or your children as such, if you actually believe that the Dream is possible, you might well support tax-breaks for such people. After all, you're going to be among them some day. That this vision is flawed is important to note, but isn't uppermost when it comes to the work of trying to understand how people think.

FLG would argue that the problem isn't that "interests" are defined in narrow and crude terms, but specifically with short time horizons. If somebody believes, in the long run, that they'll be a homeowner, then they are more amenable to support tax-breaks for home ownership.

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