"Relationship Blend" vs. "Productive, Rational Behavior"

Another good article in The New York Times by David Brooks. Here is the starting snippet:

“In the world of public policy, there are ecologists and engineers. The ecologists believe human beings are formed amid a web of relationships. Behavior is shaped by the weave of expectations and motivations that we pick up from the people around us every day.

The engineers believe all this relationship talk is so much mush. They believe behavior is shaped by incentives. You give people the resources they need and socially productive, rational behavior will usually follow.

Most politicians are ecologists who turn into engineers once in office…”

I totally agree with his criticism of Hillary Clinton’s “American Dream” plan. I had exactly the same reaction when I read about it – such a tired approach, such a lack of imagination, such an inability to produce something that may “change the rules of the (social) game” and inspire constituencies…

And here is the predictable (for me) conclusion:

“But the fact is, when it comes to helping people flourish, the ecologists are usually right.”

I find David’s argument absolutely pertinent to my own preoccupation right now – building an online social software service. I am talking about Aidpage – and our current work on its next major upgrade… coming soon on a computer near you… 🙂