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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro


Incentive is a word we all know. Put simply, it is something that encourages a person to do something. Incentive is intrinsic to basically everything we do. A person exercises because she wants to be healthy. A student studies chemistry for the joy of learning and because he wants to be a pharmacist. Etcetera.

In his book, What Money Can’t Buy, Michael Sandel examines what part incentive plays in the field of economics. The discussion juxtaposes “market reasoning” and “moral reasoning,” and begins to make a case for the need to balance the two. Space limits explicating his examination here, but the book is recommended for the larger picture.

There is an Incentivist Party of America; at least they have a Facebook page, on which one finds this: Incentivism is an Economic Theory that encourages people to do things that help their Neighbor, Community, and Country. It understands human emotion by rewarding those who do good, without forcing others to do the same. Incentivism is the balance between Socialism and Capitalism. It encourages a Free Market system that is Ethical and Efficient. It is designed to strengthen the Economy without being detrimental to workers or consumers. Incentivism encourages a balance between Collectivism and Individualism. It introduces a concept where all people strive to the best life they can dream to achieve (individualism) while, at the same time, helping those around them (Collectivism). These two ideals combine under Incentivism in the form of Cohesivism.”

I’m not ready to join the Incentivist Party (if even possible), but I kind of like the expressed economic philosophy. It’s seems close to what I’ve been calling for years either Socialism with Incentives or Capitalism with Controls. It is likened to what an ancient prophet said to a people exiled to a life of slavery: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

We seem to have great difficulty in the U.S. finding a balance that is acceptable for a large-scale majority.

I wonder why.

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