Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

February 16, 2014

ED VASICEK: Loss-avoidance obsession and the 2014 elections

America has lost jobs, and voters want them back.

The joke below (slightly altered from jokes.com) is funny, but also offers a lesson in human nature:

A retired man moved into an apartment near a junior high school. He enjoyed his first weeks appreciating the peace and quiet. However, when school began, three boys beat on every trash can they encountered. They did this daily as they walked home from school.

The man came up with a scheme. He met the boys and said, “You kids are fun. I’ll give you each a dollar if you’ll promise to come around every day and beat on these trash cans.” The kids loved the arrangement and continued to beat on the cans.

After a few days, the man spoke to the kids, “This recession’s putting a dent in my income. From now on, I’ll only be able to pay you 50 cents to beat on the cans.” The noisemakers were displeased, but accepted his offer.

A few days later, the retiree approached them again: “Look,” he explained, “I haven’t received my Social Security check yet, so I cannot pay more than 25 cents. Will that be OK?”

“A measly quarter?” the drum leader exclaimed. “If you think we’re going to waste our time beating these cans around for a quarter, you’re nuts. We quit.”

Now I want to add a real story to the equation. I knew of a church parking lot with a basketball hoop in it. Because neighborhood kids used it during church times (with cars around the hoop), the church leaders decided to take it down. The result? The kids vandalized the building.

Both the above joke and the real-life situation demonstrate how much we humans detest loss. If we are never given something, we are typically OK with that; but take away something we have been given, and the garbage hits the fan.

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