The fundamentals of economic thought are built on the idea that humans are fundamentally self-interested. But, according to historian Rutger Bregman, that’s a misconception — in fact, humans are fundamentally good, and if we want to realistically address our greatest challenges, we need to reconsider our view of our own human nature.

Rutger Bregman is a historian. He has published four books on history, philosophy, and economics, including Utopia for Realists and his latest book, Humankind: A Hopeful History.

Twitter: @rcbregman

Further reading:

Humankind: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316418539

The neoliberal era is ending. What comes next? https://thecorrespondent.com/466/the-neoliberal-era-is-ending-what-comes-next/61655148676-a00ee89a

Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com/

Twitter: @PitchforkEcon

Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics

Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer

 

Nick Hanauer:

How do we organize human societies to maximize the good stuff and minimize the bad stuff?

Rutger Bregman:

We have to go back to the simple insight that what you assume in each other is what you get out of each other. If you believe that most people are fundamentally selfish, then you’ll start designing your whole society around that idea.

David Goldstein:

If we tell this story that you can’t trust anybody, that increases transaction costs in society. The more trusting people are, the lower the costs of running that economy and the better off everybody is.

Speaker 4:

From the offices of Civic Ventures in downtown Seattle, this is Pitchfork Economics with Nick Hanauer, where we explore everything you wished you’d learned in Econ 101.

Nick Hanauer:

I’m Nick Hanauer, founder of Civic Ventures.

David Goldstein:

I’m David Goldstein, senior fellow at Civic Ventures.

Nick Hanauer:

So Goldy, one of the things that I think is just so wrong about neoclassical economics, and we’ve talked about this a million times, this is the behavior model homo economicus, which asserts that people are perfectly reliably selfish and that we can base all our thinking and our models on that. And the fundamental problem with that isn’t that it’s just descriptive, it’s also prescriptive in the sense that if you teach people that people are fundamentally selfish and the they look around the world at all of the prosperity in it, then they must conclude that selfishness is the cause of prosperity. And the more selfish we are, the more prosperity we create. And that view has radically affected our culture and our policy and our politics, and is at the core of a lot of the neoliberal stuff that we hate the most.

David Goldstein:

Right. Anything goes, Nick. It’s the invisible hand.

Nick Hanauer:

It is, it is. And then our friend, the Dutch historian, Rutger Bregman, who thinks in ways very similar to us, is out with a really cool new book called Humankind that basically explores this myth that people are reliably selfish, and he makes this really cool new argument that in fact, that’s not true, that people are reliably pretty great, and that left to their own devices, we actually won’t all just kill one another. We’ll actually pull together and do fine things. And he makes a really interesting subsidiary point that we harm ourselves and our capacity to work together by teaching people that we are selfish. Right? And it’s a negative feedback loop. It’ll be a really interesting discussion.

David Goldstein:

Let’s get straight to talking with Rutger.

Rutger Bregman:

My name is Rutger Bregman. I am a Dutch historian and the author of the new book called Humankind: A Hopeful History.

David Goldstein:

Well, thanks for joining us.

Rutger Bregman:

Yeah. Thanks for having me again.

Nick Hanauer:

Give us in a few words the basic thesis of your new book.

Rutger Bregman:

Well, in a few words, it would be something like: deep down, most people are pretty decent. That’s it. And this is an insight that may sound like, “Oh, well, this guy has written a book about the power of kindness.” Well, that’s nice and wonderful, but also quiet. It’s not really a threat to anyone, but actually it’s a really subversive idea if you really think it through because throughout history, a more cynical view of human nature has been used by those in power to legitimize power differences in hierarchy. And if you say that people are actually, well, maybe not angels, we’re not fundamentally good, clearly we’re not, but that we are inclined to cooperate and that we can actually trust each other. Yeah. Then the question is, why do we still need all these CEOs and managers and kings and princes and princesses and you name it, maybe you don’t need them anymore. So it’s a really, really subversive idea.

David Goldstein:

So on our podcasts, we have spent a lot of time basically destroying the idea of homo economicus. Rutger, you’ve actually coined a new term to describe the human species homo puppy. Explain.

Rutger Bregman:

Yeah. Yeah. I’ll hope I’ll be remembered for that by history and that I’ll go down in the annals of science, but my expectations are not high. Nope. The reason why I talk about this whole concept of homo puppy is that because there’s this new, fascinating theory in evolutionary anthropology and biology, which is called self domestication. Now we all know what domestication is, right? Domestication is this process where you turn wolves into chihuahuas or you’ve got dogs or pigs or cows, et cetera. And they’ve been selected for centuries, for friendliness and for tameness. Now we’ve also long known that if you domesticate animals, then certain things start to happen. You see a list of traits that arise. So for example, these animals get thinner bones, smaller brains. They got droopy floppy ears. And most interestingly, they just start to look friendlier and more puppyish. It’s like this puppyfication of animals.

And then if you look at this list and also at the genes that are associated with domestication, and then you look at us, at human beings, you arrive at this fascinating insight that actually we look like we’ve been domesticated. Now the question is obviously, who has domesticated us and the answer is: we did it ourselves.

Another way to describe this is to say that there has been this process of survival of the friendliest, which means that for millennia, it was actually the friendliest among us who had the most kids, and so had the biggest chance of passing on their genes to the next generation. Because if you wanted to survive in the ice age, you could collect possessions, but that was not what’s going to save you. You needed friends. You needed to collect friends to be able to rely on. So that’s the new theory from biology and we’ve got very powerful evidence for it. If you look at skeletons for example of 50, 40, 30, 20, 10,000 years ago, you really see this process. It’s the puppyfication of humanity.

Nick Hanauer:

There’s a parallel thought that we’ve been developing and it’s consilient with the other point of your book, which is that if you teach people that people are selfish and horrible, they will become more selfish and horrible.

Rutger Bregman:

Yes.

Nick Hanauer:

Correct?

David Goldstein:

Right. If you take an economics course, you will become more selfish and horrible.

Rutger Bregman:

Yeah. Yeah. Literally, literally. This is wonderful evidence. Robert Frank, the economist, did these studies where he literally found that as students progress in their studies and if they study standard neoliberal or neoclassical, whatever you want to call it, economics, they become more selfish in these experiments. These theories create the kind of people that they presuppose.

Nick Hanauer:

Right. And the parallel argument that we have been developing is, and again, there’s a ton of evidence for it, that if you embed the idea in human societies, that people are fundamentally selfish, and then they look around the world that all of the prosperity in it, they cannot but conclude that selfishness is the cause of prosperity. And the more selfish we are, the more prosperity we create. And there you have neoliberalism.

Rutger Bregman:

Yeah. Yeah.

Nick Hanauer:

Right? And this creates a feedback loop of terrible behavior, which is highly corrosive, both to prosperity, but also to human societies.

Rutger Bregman:

Yes.

Nick Hanauer:

And that on the contrary, if you understand, as science now shows, that people actually are fundamentally good, that we have evolved over millions of years to be cooperators. It’s our only superpower, really. Then it’s cooperation and kindness that are the cause, the source of prosperity and stability in human lives. And that is a super subversive idea.

Rutger Bregman:

Yeah. Ideas are never merely ideas. Stories are never merely stories. We humans, we tend to become the stories that we tell ourselves. And this was also the fundamental mistake that an economist like Milton Friedman made. In the fifties, he wrote a very influential essay where he said, “We shouldn’t judge economists when we look at their theoretical assumptions, we just should look at the results.” Right? So if I have a certain theory, and then it turns out that in reality, my prediction comes to pass, then probably the theory was right. But what he forgot there is that if you start believing in something, then it can actually become true. So if you believe that most people are fundamentally selfish, as the neoliberals do, then you’ll start designing your whole society around that idea. Your schools, your workplaces, the way your democracy is organized, even your prisons.

Yeah, exactly. And it becomes this self-fulfilling prophecy. And this is something that’s been happening in Western history for centuries.

Nick Hanauer:

And economics is simply a set of stories and ideas. It’s not like physics, right, where force equals mass times acceleration, no matter what you want to believe. One of the things that got you to write this book, which I found just absolutely fascinating, was your discovery of the real Lord of the Flies. Right? Tell us that story.

Rutger Bregman:

Well, A big part of the book is about debunking veneer theory. Veneer theory, it’s a content from Frans de Waal, the great primatologist. And he uses this to describe an old idea in Western culture, which says that civilization is only a very thin veneer, a thin layer, and that just below the surface, there’s a Nazi in each and every one of us. There’s a monster or a savage, right? That deep down, we’re just selfish. And it’s only something small that needs to happen, a small change in our circumstances, and we quickly reveal who we really are. And this idea has been so deeply embedded in our science, in our literature, in our music. You just find it everywhere. And one of the most famous expressions, I think, of veneer theory in the 20th century has been the novel Lord of the Flies written by William Golding, published in 1954.

It’s a story about a group of kids that end up on an uninhabited island. And even though they’re from a really good British boarding school, they’re very well behaved, and there seems to be nothing wrong with them, they quickly turn into savages. And at the end of the novel, three of the kids are dead. And what the message basically is, freedom is dangerous. People can’t handle it. Here you have these very innocent kids and they very quickly turn into monsters. So this is where evil comes from. It’s just below the surface. Now for the book, I was interested in the very simple question, whether it had ever happened. Is there one in all of world history where real kids shipwrecked on a real island and well, maybe we can see what really happened.

And yeah, it turns out after a couple of months of research, I did actually manage to find one case in 1965 near Tonga, which is an island group in the Pacific Ocean. Six kids shipwrecked on a small island called ‘Ata. They were also part of a British boarding school or an Anglican boarding school, sorry, I should say. And they were bored. They didn’t like the school meals. They said, “We’re going to go on an adventure,” but already in the first night that they went on the sea, they ended up in a storm, drifted for eight days, shipwrecked and survived for 50 months on this lonely island for 15 months. Pretty extraordinary. And how did they survive? Well, by staying friends. So yeah, sometimes they did end up in fights, but then one will go to one side of the island.

The other will go to the other side of the island. They will cool off a little bit, come back and say, “Sorry.” They’ve worked in teams two to cook, two to tend to the garden, two to be in the lookout. At one point, of the boys even broke a leg. Well, they healed that with traditional medicine. It’s just this extraordinary story that in every single way is the opposite of the fictional Lord of the Flies. Now I’m not saying that this is a scientific experiment. It’s obviously not. But I am saying that if millions of kids around the globe still have to read the novel, then maybe we should also tell them about the one time that we know of that actual kids, real kids severely shipwrecked on an island because something completely different happened. I think one of the most important stories that I try to tell here in the book is about the Stanford Prison Experiment, right?

Because this is another example of veneer theory. This was in the early seventies, Philip Zimbardo, the most important living psychologist right now. He’s just extraordinarily famous. He talks to crowds of, I don’t know, 5, 6 thousand people whenever he’s invited. And his Stanford Prison Experiment ended up in all the textbooks, of all the psychology students around the globe. Basically everyone knows it. It goes viral every now and then. There’ve been multiple documentaries about it. It’s this super viral thing. And I used to believe in it as well. I really did. I’ve written books that luckily have not been translated into English where I, again, talked about the Stanford Prison Experiment. For those who don’t know, maybe this is not necessary, but let me do it anyway. So, Stanford Prison Experiment, you have 24 students. Again, very nice kids.

Some of them call themselves pacifists. They’re clearly these liberal hippies. They sign up for an experiment at the Stanford University. And what Philip Zimbardo says is, “Okay, 12 of you are going to be guards. 12 are going to be prisoners. I’m going to put you in this fake prison, in the basement of Stanford University. And the guards will have uniforms and they’ll have the power to do whatever they want.” The standard story says that very quickly, these guards turned into monsters. They started behaving in a very nasty, sadistic way, and the experiment had to be canceled after, what is it? Six days. This story became incredibly famous, like all the newspapers around the globe reported on it. And it’s been used so many times by so many people to explain, basically human evil in the world.

“Well, look at the Stanford Prison Experiment,” then we say. What we now know actually, because the archives have recently opened up, is that the whole experiment, and I really don’t think there’s another way to put this, the experiment is hoax. It’s really a hoax. So we now know that Philip Zimbardo specifically instructed his students to behave as nasty and statistic as possible, that many of the students said that they didn’t want to do that. That they said, “We can just, I don’t know, play cards or make music together and have a good time.” Then Zimbardo said, “No, no, no, you don’t understand. I need these results for the study because then we can go to the press and say, ‘Look, prisons are horrible environments. We need to reform the whole thing.’ And come on, you’re a liberal hippie. You want to help me with this?”

And so then some went along and then very quickly after the experiment, Zimbardo went to the press and it became this huge thing. But for 50 years we’ve been telling this… I asked a French researcher, [inaudible 00:16:05], who’s done really the most important work here. He’s written a book called The History of a Lie. It’s only available in French, but he’s really the one who’s done the important work. And I asked him, “Is there still something we can learn from the Stanford Prison Experiment?” And he said, “Yes, I think we can. It’s a pretty perfect summary of everything that can go wrong in science.” So there you go.

David Goldstein:

It’s also, by the way, I think the best example of the thesis in your book, because he actually wanted to reform prisons and he chose to do it by attempting to prove the conventional story, that we’re horrible, cruel, violent, vicious animals, when in fact you could have gone the other way and tried to prove that no, no, we’re more like homo puppy, and that our prison system goes entirely against our nature.

Rutger Bregman:

Yeah. This was a really interesting moment in U.S. history. At the time, there were experiments with really extraordinary prisons like they have in Norway right now. I talk about that in the book. So in Norway, you have these prisons where the guards socialize with the prisoners. They often don’t even wear uniforms and the prisoners have the freedom to make music, have a good time together. They take care of their own community. They have their own music label, which is called Criminal Records. It’s really pretty bizarre if you first heard about it. But then you look at the results, the statistics, and it turns out that Norway has the most effective criminal justice system in the whole world. The lowest recidivism rate, lowest chance that someone will commit another crime once he or she gets out of prison. And then you look at the history of this idea, and actually it starts in the U.S.

So it wasn’t the U.S. that the first experiments with these kinds of prisons we’re done, but what happened is that there was a group of liberals, or maybe I should say radical leftists who were sort of completely against prisons at all. They basically wanted to abolish the whole prison system because they thought that they were inherently nasty corrupting places.

And there was also this researcher called Robert Martinson, who wrote this big report, or was one of the co-authors. It’s called the Martinson report, 1200 pages of research. But he wrote a short summary that was called What Works. And his answer was, “Well, nothing works. Prisons just don’t work. You can’t reform criminals. You just can’t do it. So let’s just abolish the whole thing.” And then what happened was it was a very dark irony. Conservatives took over that argument. So conservatives said, “Yes, indeed, nothing works. So let’s just lock them up and throw away the key.” And so basically the road for the very harsh environment, the very terrible criminal justice system that was created in the eighties after Reagan had rose to power, the road was paved by these radical leftists, like Philip Zimbardo and Robert Martinson.

I think it’s a fascinating history. A little bit similar, by the way, to the history of universal basic income that was also almost implemented in the United States at the beginning of the seventies. But then it went in a very different direction. As a historian, I’m always fascinated by these stories, because there are so many weird things and surprises and things that don’t turn out to be the way you expect them to.

David Goldstein:

Well, America has a long and rich history of failed prison reform experiments. But starting with the Quakers, the Eastern State Penitentiary and their experiment with solitary confinement.

Rutger Bregman:

Yeah. And now you have these prisons that are basically universities for crime. So very expensive taxpayer institutions, and you bring in people for small drug offenses and you lock them up for a very long time and you make criminals out of them. That’s basically what you do. You ask the taxpayer to fund the education of criminals. In Norway, they have the opposite. So they bring in people as criminals and they make taxpaying, law-abiding citizens with jobs out of them. That’s what they do. The economics of that system is really interesting. There was recently a paper that was published by two Norwegian and two American economists where they looked into the financial side of the Norwegian prison system. And they found that every bit of money that they invest in the system there, they get it back with double the rate of return.

So they get it back twice. It was really, really fascinating because they saved so much money in terms of what they have to spend on healthcare or benefits or whatever, because they create these people who have a 40% higher chance of finding a job. Well, that’s a pretty great system. There was a group of American prison officials who went to a trip to Norway, one from North Dakota. And initially they were very skeptical, but then they looked at the system and they looked at the numbers. And even these very conservative people said, “It’s just more practical.” So this is a wonderful quote from someone who said, “I’m not a liberal, but this is just more practical.” I love that line.

David Goldstein:

So what does this say to the moment now in the U.S. with the calls for a defunding the police and carceral reform? Does it lead you to think that we can and should vastly reform our criminal justice system here?

Rutger Bregman:

Well, I completely understand the call for “defund the police”, because there’s a long history of talking about community policing and talking about courses for racial awareness and ethnic profiling awareness and blah, blah, blah. And it hasn’t really delivered. And then if you look at the kind of money that the U.S. spends on what we call guard labor, security prison, a bit of the army as well, and then compare it to other countries, it’s just ridiculous. What a real good police officer should be is a kind of social worker, where you just know the people in your community, you know the grandfathers and the aunts and uncles and people like you, and they trust you so that when there’s really something bad that happens, when they’re serious crime, that they can be your allies. They can give you valuable information. But yeah, the U.S. system is all about seeing a potential criminal in each and everyone.

And I mean, we earlier talked about the self-offending prophecy. If you look at other people like savages, then wow, you’re going to behave like a savage. That’s basically what you’re going to do. I mean, if there’s a crowd of peaceful protesters and you show up in riot gear, what do you expect?

Nick Hanauer:

Right. So Rutger, I’m super sympathetic to the core of your argument. People are mostly good. For my own part, I see human beings, homo sapiens, as falling on different kinds of continuums. Everybody is different and people have different kinds of personalities. And it is indeed true that most people are fundamentally decent, fundamentally honest, fundamentally cooperative. But we also have our Donald Trumps, people who are horrible people and who are narcissistic sociopaths.

Rutger Bregman:

Yeah.

Nick Hanauer:

So how do we organize human societies to maximize the good stuff and minimize the bad stuff?

Rutger Bregman:

Okay. So, a couple of things. In Dutch, my book is called Most People Are Pretty Decent. So focused on the most, not all people are pretty decent, right?

David Goldstein:

I think that’s important to recognize.

Rutger Bregman:

Yes, people who are inherently trusting. And that’s what we are. We have this what psychologists call truth default bias. We just are quickly inclined to believe and trust each other. And that is exactly what makes us successful. I mean, imagine a society where we distrust each other all the time, where you’re at a dinner table and someone says, “Pass me the salt,” and you’re like, “Well, let me consult my lawyer. let’s draw up a contract and then see.” That will be very ineffective society. So trust is just economically, practically, so much more efficient than distrusting other people. This is actually one of the things that I, as a Dutchman, dislike a little bit about the U.S. I mean, I do interviews and then they send me this release form afterwards, which is absolutely ridiculous.

I mean, why do you think I just gave the interview? Because you have to release it. Right? But I don’t know, that it seems to me a sort of a sign of distrust that you think that I’m supposedly going to sue someone. It’s not very effective and it’s a huge waste of time. So nomadic hunter-gatherers already knew that even though most people can be trusted, you have to be wary of the sociopaths, of the Donald Trumps, basically. Now imagine Donald Trump in prehistory, because we were for 95% of our history, we were nomadic hunter-gatherers. Well, I think the anthropologist would agree that Donald Trump wouldn’t have survived for a long time.

Nick Hanauer:

No, no, no.

Rutger Bregman:

People wouldn’t have liked him.

Nick Hanauer:

They would’ve chucked him in the river.

Rutger Bregman:

Yeah. Yeah. Well, you wouldn’t have had a lot of friends.

So the most likely scenario was that he just died alone. And you just can’t survive, so he would have gone hungry and then died alone. If it would have been really nasty, then indeed, he would’ve been expelled from the group. If he were to start killing other people, then he would have been executed by the group at some point. That’s what we know from anthropologists who’ve studied nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes around the globe. And there are really striking similarities. They’re also big differences here. So obviously it’s a controversial way. It’s very hard to know how we live 20, 30 thousand years ago. But I still think that this is convincing because you see it in all these different societies, whether we’re talking about the north of Alaska or the Kalahari Desert near Namibia, you see these pattern again and again, that these nomadic hunter-gatherer societies are quite egalitarian and humbleness is so, so important.

So if you are a leader in such a society, you have to be self-depreciating all the time. And if you’re a fantastic hunter, then you come back with some great prize or you just killed a deer or something like that, or a gazelle. And then someone asks you, “Well, did you catch anything today?” And then you say, “No, no, not ready.” And then that person would know, “Oh, tonight’s going to be a feast. We’re going to have a great dinner.” Obviously we’ve now ended up in a very different kind of society where it’s not survival of the friendliest often, but it seems to be survival of the shameless, which is pretty much the opposite. And that is I think, a real indictment of our current, what we call democratic system, but that I would call an elective aristocracy.

And the reason that this happens is I think because a very fundamental force that psychologists have known about for a very long time, which is called the corruption of power. We just know that power is an incredibly dangerous drug and any sane society needs to be very, very wary of this.

Nick Hanauer:

Yeah. Interesting. So where do we go from here? What’s your prescription for the future?

Rutger Bregman:

I think we have to go back to the simple insight that what you assumed in each other is what you get out of each other. So if it’s true that we’ve designed the society in the past, I don’t know, 40 to 50 years, especially in this era that we call the neoliberal era where so many of our institutions, our schools, democracies, workplaces were based on the dogma that people are just selfish and that we have to deal with it. Then maybe we can turn that around and maybe we can start building different kinds of schools and workplaces that start with an assumption of trust.

And in my book, I just try to give a couple of case studies. I don’t think we should think in blueprints, so what may work here may not work there. But yeah, there are a lot of really exciting examples to look at. I’ve got one example of an organization in the Netherlands that is called Buurtzorg, which translates as something like Neighborhood Care. And it was founded in 2006, started with two self-directed teams of nurses, 1230 nurses in a team. And the founder, Jos de Blok, decided to basically not work with any management. Now it’s an organization with 15,000 employees, voted five times Employer of the Year, delivering higher quality healthcare for a cheaper price, and paying the employees a higher salary as well. It’s like win, win, win, win, win. And the simple philosophy of this organization is all about trust, trust, trust. So let people, let professionals do their job. They hired their own colleagues.

They decide for themselves what additional education they need. They have got this internal online platform where they sort of share expertise and knowledge. It’s really an interesting model. And I think it’s just so exciting what can happen in an organization if you actually say, “Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m not supposed to be this manager high up in the tower, trying to make things happen. Maybe that’s not what real leadership or a real management has to look like.” Another company that I looked at, they called it reverse management. So there are the ideas that actually, managers don’t do anything unless they’re asked to by the self-directed teams, sort of the upside down of the current hierarchical model that we often have. Again, shouldn’t think in blueprints, but we can experiment, I think, in this direction.

David Goldstein:

We’ve come to the end of our time with you, Rutger. Is there any particular point you think we’ve missed here that you’d like to make?

Rutger Bregman:

Well, if people say, “Hey, but wait a minute. This sounds a little bit naive. This sounds a little bit romantic,” then I always reply that, actually what I’m trying to do in my book is to redefine what it means to be a realist. So often when we say, “Oh, you’ve got to be a bit more realistic,” we say, “You’ve got to be a bit more pessimistic, be a bit more cynical.” But I think that actually the cynics are really naive and the cynics are intellectually and practically lazy. Cynicism is another word for laziness. So I think that we should move to a new realism. That’s what the book is all about.

Nick Hanauer:

Cynicism is a form of laziness. I love that. Hear that, Goldy?

David Goldstein:

I’m not a cynic. I’m a skeptic. There’s a difference.

Nick Hanauer:

Yes, I totally agree. That’s an important difference. But a lot of cynics hide behind the label of “I’m a skeptic.” No, you’re actually a cynic.

David Goldstein:

If we were all true cynics, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing.

Nick Hanauer:

That’s true. Trying to change the story. And we thank you, Rutger, because your books have been great. Your public contributions have been tremendously helpful towards changing the narrative out there.

Rutger Bregman:

Thanks, man.

Nick Hanauer:

Thank you for being with us today.

Rutger Bregman:

Thanks for having me, guys. Until next time.

Nick Hanauer:

I think that one of the most interesting things I learned from Rutger’s book in this conversation is what a thin veneer theory is. Veneer theory, which is something, by the way, I’d never heard of until-

David Goldstein:

You’ve heard of it. You just didn’t know the name.

Nick Hanauer:

That’s right. I had absolutely incorporated that idea into my worldview in all sorts of conscious and unconscious ways. And it is really fascinating when you pause and realize that most of the available evidence shows that in the absence of constraint, people tend towards cooperation and the good.

David Goldstein:

And that if we tell this story that you can’t trust anybody, well then that increases transaction costs in society, because now you have to have a contract for every single relationship, whereas in a truly cooperative economy, which is what we believe the market fundamentally is, the more trusting people are, the lower the cost of running that economy and the better off everybody is.

Nick Hanauer:

That’s right. And this is why, for instance, companies run by leaders who have huge amounts of integrity tend to out compete companies run by jerks because in a company that’s run by people with lots and lots of integrity, everybody trusts one another. It’s like rocket fuel for a competitive organization. When people trust one another, it makes getting stuff done so much easier. If we want to tackle the greatest challenges of our times, we do absolutely, as Rutger says, need to completely start with a review of human nature. And if we get that right, a lot of our policies, politics and practices will be more right in the end.

So Goldy, in our next episode, we get to talk to the prescient Stephanie Kelton of modern monetary theory, fame, who is getting to see her theory explored in real time in the United States, by the very people who derided her as a charlatan.

David Goldstein:

Right, well, we’ll be talking to Stephanie about her new book, The Deficit Myth, a little bit about the applications of MMT in the real world. And also, Nick, the most cogent and persuasive argument for a federal jobs guarantee I’ve ever heard. So, looking forward.

Speaker 4:

Pitchfork Economics is produced by Civic Ventures. If you like the show, make sure to subscribe, rate, and review us wherever you get your podcasts. Find us on Twitter and Facebook at Civic Action and Nick Hanauer. Follow our writing on medium at Civic Skunk Works and peek behind the podcast scenes on Instagram at pitchforkeconomics. As always, from our team at Civic Ventures, thanks for listening. See you next week.