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wundayatta's avatar

If someone advocates a policy change that will not affect you personally, but does affect someone close to you,do you take it personally? What if it does directly impact you?

Asked by wundayatta (58377 points ) October 5th, 2011

Cuts in social security will hurt the elderly. If this does not affect you directly, and if you’re not counting on social security, it may never affect you that much.

Hypothetically, let’s say you believe in the social security program. You think it’s crucial for the elderly and for the economy. Would you hate the people who want to cut the program? Can you respect them even while hating the policy they believe in? Do you think they are deliberately malicious towards the elderly?

If you were elderly, and your benefits were cut and you could no longer afford to stay in your home, would your view towards them be different? Would you take their view as personal animosity towards you?

And what about, for example, a psychic reader? What if she advised you to do something like divorce a spouse and this threw you into poverty? Would you hate her even if she firmly believed the stars said to do this? Should you respect her and just hate her horrible advising skills? Or would you take it personally, as evidence of malice towards you?

I would also like to point out that this could work equally well with people who believe that keeping taxes on the rich low is crucial for the economy. They might believe that anyone who doesn’t see that is ignorant. Should they hate those who do not agree with them and accuse them of personal malice, or should they respect the person even though that person’s policies might ruin the country?

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14 Answers

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Somewhat yes, and somewhat no. I believe that we are all self preserving to a certain resepct and that is good. It’s like the movie Jerry McGuire where people actually believed so much in him and his ability that they walked out with him to their own potential detriment.

I have always been that way, and it hasn’t always worked out to my benefit. Taking up for the under dog is a good thing, but one must be self preserving to a certain extent as well.

as always I believe that supporting someone else, when it is to your own detriment and you end up sharing that condition, puts you in a position where you then can’t help them if and when said change effects their life so it’s tricky and has many hidden variables.

Caution is the word for the day here.

Linda_Owl's avatar

In this instance the proposed changes do impact me directly. I retired in May of this year, after working for 51 years (I got my first job when I was 14 & passing as being 16 – they did not check that closely then). I paid my taxes for all of these years & now they want to do away with the only income I have which is Soc.Sec. (I had a simple IRA, but it bit the dust when the economy collapsed). Soc.Sec. has been & will continue to be a key ingredient to senior citizens being able to live when they reach retirement age. Any number of things could be considered as an alternative, mainly the military budget could be cut drastically, ending the wars would be great, & bringing home the troops. Then put people back to work repairing & rebuilding our sadly neglected infra-structure.

Mariah's avatar

This is not really how my mind works. I don’t necessarily dislike a policy because it will harm me or somebody close to me. I have a set of beliefs on what is right and what is wrong and I dislike a policy that I consider wrong, whether it harms me or not. Of course, my ideas of what is right and wrong have inevitably been shaped by my life experiences so I will be biased towards considering a policy wrong if it harms me.

I’m not sure that I’m answering this quite right. Point me in the right direction if I’m not.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

On the point of the psychic… anyone who would take such advice, deserves whatever they get.

Unless of course Dionne Warwick is also a good divorce attorney, I suggest she relax!

That to me is likened to all of the abortion clinic picketers. Ask even one of them to actuall DO something in the way of adopting one of these babies that they “save” and in many more cases than not their position becomes slightly less militent when and where the end result of their opinion actually ends up impacting their own life.

JLeslie's avatar

If I can identify with the person I would likely take it persoanlly to some extent, and I try to put myself in other people’s shoes.

As far as social security, I don’t hate the people who want to cut it or drastically change it, like privatization for instance, but I think some their ideas are uninformed, lack empathy, and give Americans more credit for saving than they deserve. Sure some Americans plan for retirement, but most have no clue and little control or willingness to sacrifice for the future. I do hate our political leaders who steal from social security and use the monies in other parts of the government. Unnacceptable.

As far as taking advice from others, whether it be a psychic, friend, family member, in the end it is my decision, and I don’t hate any of them. This type of thing has happened many times in my life, in fact I was just mulling this over yesterday about the house I am trying to sell, that I partly wound up in because I listenend to other people. It is a life lesson, that is how I look at it. I hope I learn it this time. Everyone who gave their advice had no ill will towards me, in. Fact they were trying to help. Their intention matters to me.

Things like right wing going on about not wanting to pay the poor welfare, many of them say they don’t want to pay because the program keeps the poor poor, by making it easy to do nothing. I do think there is some truth in that, but with some people who use this line I question their intent, I think mostly they don’t want to give their money to people who they don’t identify with, and don’t care about the greater good, the big picture, or the long term consequences. People around me talk about black inner city kids as being hopeless, and that they will never change. The message to me is they don’t want to throw their money out on a lost cause.

I guess my perceived intent of the person matters a lot to how I react.

wundayatta's avatar

@Mariah If I understand you correctly, you are saying that a policy that does not directly harm you will be judged by a set of beliefs you hold. Whereas, if it directly harms you, you will be opposed to it. Does that mean that you will be opposed to it even if it follows your beliefs?

I would not accuse you of hypocrisy if this is the case. I believe that people do see direct self-interest differently from indirect self-interest and again differently from things that do not affect them one way or another.

However, I am asking about it a little more personally. In specific, what are your feelings towards the people who are advocating this change? Are you more likely to attribute good motives to them if the policy doesn’t affect you compared to if it does? Would you accuse the people of being malicious if their proposed policy affected you personally? Would you say, if you were (hypothetically) elderly, that they hate elderly people?

jerv's avatar

I do, and that is why I oppose many of the things that Republicans have been pushing lately.

Mariah's avatar

@wundayatta That’s not quite what I was trying to convey, no. I judge policies based on my set of beliefs whether they harm me or not. There are some instances in which I will be okay with a policy that harms me because I believe that harming me in that way is morally permissible if it is for the greater good. For example, if somebody wanted to raise my taxes in order to fund programs designed to aid those less fortunate than me, I would be okay with this because I think it is fair. That is to say, I don’t automatically reject a policy just because it harms me; after all, the alternative probably harms somebody else, who has just as much of a right to not be harmed as I do.

To answer your intended question, I do have a tendency to take it personally when people intend to impose a policy that harms me in a way that I don’t consider acceptable. If someone were attempting to make a policy that would make it harder to get access to health care, for instance, I would probably believe that that person’s priorities were horribly awry and that they probably had never been chronically ill before, or they would understand what an awful thing it is to place more burden on those who have some of the most need. On the flip side, though, I would feel badly about someone for the same reasons if they meant to cut programs that aid those in poverty, although I have never been in poverty myself before. But it’s the same principle: I strong disagree with policies that make life harder for those who already have some of the hardest lives in this country. I will admit, though, that I wouldn’t feel quite as passionately about it due to my lack of personal experience with the issue and not being familiar with the day-to-day struggles of a person in poverty.

Jaxk's avatar

Generally I don’t take things personally unless they are directed at me personally. In other words a policy to change Social Security, I would weigh on its merits. A policy that would change jaxk’s Social security, I would take personally. Overall, I’m much more inclined to address the policy rather than the person. If I took the Psychic’s advice and divorced to my detriment, I would blame myself for being so stupid, not the Psychic. If you believe that raising taxes will grow the economy, I would attack that issue, rather than assuming you want to do harm to the country. Same with Social Security. If you propose a change, I will address the issue rather than assuming you mean to do harm to the elderly. I will weigh the issue on it’s merits rather than my personal benefit.

Right or wrong, I assume people are trying to do the right thing as they see it. That doesn’t mean everyone has good intentions but most do. I’ll assume your intentions are honorable until proven otherwise.

Hibernate's avatar

Depends mostly of the changes.

john65pennington's avatar

Each time we have a new Police Chielf, policies and rules and regulations change. Our last Chief pulled each officers personell file and checked their education level. With this information, he began switching officers to a position they were best suited for, based on their education. Did this ever upset the applecart? Yes. Officers with children, already had babysitters lined up and a daily routine established for many years. Also, arrangements for picking up their children after school and so forth. It came to the point that the men and women officers hated this new Chief and just quit issuing traffic citations in rebellion. Politicians notice it when traffic citations revenue has ceased.

We never reverted back to our old system and positions. This Chief left and the men and women threw him a good ridance party.

Change effects everyone, even the police.

cletrans2col's avatar

This is a good question. Before she died, my mother used disability and SSI. Now me being 39 at the time, this would not effect me. But knowing how certain cuts effect people like her, I did become more pragmatic in my views toward social programs. When I was young and really dumb, I figured that people on social programs were more than likely freeloaders and lazy. But the older I got and with the experience that I had with my mother made me rethink my views on the role of social programs.

Are there some people on public assistance that are lazy and freeloading off the backs of Americans? Yes. Do I support reforming the system and controlling waste? Yes. But if you listen to the likes of Orrin Hatch, Michele Bachmann, and fmr. South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre’ Bauer, you would think that 100% of folks on public assistance are a waste of space.

I support changes, but not wholly unnecessary ones that do more harm than good.

cletrans2col's avatar

And on the other side, the tax increases and 5% surcharges that the Democrat Party wants will not effect me at all. I’m not rich, or do I have private jets or run an oil company. But the thought that government wants to take 40–45% of anyones income is simply not appealing, especially since there is no realistic plan from either side to reduce spending and cut waste.

jerv's avatar

@cletrans2col Only from those who take 40–45% of the income of the working class. Put another way, take all of the raises that the average worker has not received over the last few years and give all of that money to top “earners” such that their incomes triple/quadruple while the rest of us stagnate.
You are correct that neither side has come up with a realistic plan to reduce spending or cut waste. Some have come closer than others, but any plan that doesn’t give in to every demand of the Tea Party has zero chance, and those that don’t cave to the Democrats are not mch more likely to pass. I don’t see it getting beter any time soon.

The reason I take things personally like this is because they often do affect me. The problem is that too many people can’t see the big picture; they only see enough of it for some confirmation bias. They tend to look at how things affect them directly in the short-term without taking any unintended consequences/side-effects or the end-game into account.

I take things personally because the unrealistic optimism of others often means bad things for me.

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