The Political Value of a Pandemic

The American Sun

Submitted by Bryce Laliberte

A perverse incentive is an incentive which actually stimulates a destructive or counter-productive behavior. They exist wherever a reward is associated with bad behavior. One particularly vivid illustration of perverse incentives is when the French government established a program in Hanoi paying people for rat tails. The intention was to reduce the rat population, but in fact the rat population exploded. This occurred because the natives, mostly poor farmers, started farming the rats so they could harvest the tails. The system is rife with perverse incentives, some established as the result of mere human limitations for understanding consequences, and some even intentionally prolonged and worsened where actors have found a reward through the conditions brought about by those perverse incentives. Sometimes what is construed as an accidental perverse incentive was intended all along, but will be played off as an accident because foolishness is excusable but…

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