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The Value of Guilt


The self-monitoring individual, who benefits from the ills of guilt, is regulated by the expectations of future gain or pleasure which are vaguely estimated and weighed against alternatives in a present in which those options may be at odds. 

When considering going for a run, for example, when tempted by sleep, Olympic programming on TV, a relaxing reading session or a satisfying breakfast, how does the individual determine the value of a suspension of one in favor of the other? It seems that there may be some chronological compatibility or avoided guilt-induced trauma which may, after all, enhance the quality of some experience in the future, which may supplement the aforementioned suspended endeavors or may, in the end, completely exceed their expected value to justify the chronological configuration or even their outright displacement. 

This is extremely important to the discussion of the welfare state, whereby the nudging force of guilt is displaced from the financial sphere of influence to the mere spaces of ethical or moral appeal, prevalent in the attending guilt following some semblance of failed responsibility which may or may not apply to any given individual. 

The financial cost imposed on the individual is perhaps the most palpable and reliable regulatory mechanism. Individuals are surely motivated by a vast array of incentives, but the versatile characteristics of money relieve any single central planner of the responsibility of determining what exactly what inspires every individual. 

For this reason, the relaxation or easing of these costs as imposed upon the individual will effectively undermine the most successful, reliable driver and gauge of human behavior in the voluntary world.

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