When to Appeal to Self-interest, Not Self-Sacrifice
If you are in the business of trying to convince a majority of Americans, you know, 60 votes in the Senate, for example, to try to do the right thing, you probably ought to be appealing to self-interest here, not self-sacrifice.
Gernot Wagner is an economist at the Environmental Defense Fund. He teaches at Columbia and graduated from both Harvard and Stanford. He doesn't eat meat, doesn't drive, and knows full well the futility of his personal choices. www.gwagner.com
There’s a reason why Toyota sells a lot more Priuses in Brooklyn and in Berkeley and in Hollywood than it sells in Kansas. Right? Now, it doesn’t mean that people in Kansas are completely oblivious to the argument of wanting to save energy, wanting to save gas for their own good and doing something for their pocket while also protecting the planet. But there’s a reason why Toyota sells pickup trucks, hybrid pickup trucks, without a hybrid label on them at all. Right? Because sometimes you may not actually want to be identified as an environmentalist, you may still want to do the right things because it’s good for you. You do it out of self-interest, but you don’t do it just simply out of a conviction that you are an environmentalist.
So, if you are in the business of trying to convince a majority of Americans, you know, 60 votes in the Senate, for example, to try to do the right thing, you probably ought to be appealing to self-interest here, not self-sacrifice.
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