Spheres of Reality. The composition of this world can be analyzed and defined in many ways. There is the sphere of economics, the sphere of politics, and other social science spheres. From a material perspective, there is the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and biosphere. Most of these spheres are dominated by a particularly complex organism called “human,” which has developed a sophisticated collection of linguistic, cultural, and ritualistic behavior patterns that exist within a sphere of reality that I call the “Incentivesphere.”
What is the Incentivesphere? Humans are driven and sustained by the incentives and incentive structures within their environment; this is the Incentivesphere. Without the Incentivesphere, human life cannot exist. What exactly is the Incentivesphere? It is an intricate web of interdependencies between individuals, organizations, communities, nations, their individual and collective hopes, fears, dreams, ambitions, insecurities, and the finite material resources that are necessary to sustain their biological existence, their relationships, and their emotional well-being.
How Does the Incentivesphere Impact Human Behavior? The Incentivesphere governs human behavior by controlling the material and human resources that humans need to survive, thrive, and achieve their goals. Whether they are homeless and living on the street with an existential goal of surviving until their next meal or a civic-minded corporate executive with a political goal of becoming the president of the United States, all humans must live and work together within the Incentivesphere to achieve their individual and mutual goals.
Distorted Incentives Corrupt Human Behavior and Institutions. When humans fail to work together, or when they pursue their individual goals at the expense of other humans, the Incentivesphere becomes distorted. Distortions in the Incentivesphere distort human behavior in ways that lead to individual corruption, institutional dysfunction, cultural decay, political and economic instability, and war among nations.
From Patriotic Saviors to Bloodthirsty Imperialists. After WWII, there was a small handful of humans inside the U.S. Government who were ostensibly passionate about protecting the United States from danger. (See references.) The most significant threat that they perceived was Communism, which from their perspective seemed to be spreading like wild kudzu across the planet. In response, these humans championed the U.S. National Security Act, which was enacted in 1947. These humans and their ideological descendants then proceeded to build the most destructive clandestine service apparatus this world has ever seen.
Distorted Incentives Destroy Nations. They used this apparatus as their personal playground, piggy-bank, and laboratory to conduct all manner of grotesque experiments on their fellow humans . . . when they were not murdering them with chemical weapons, bombs, and economic and political sabotage. Their distorted incentives distorted their actions, which effectively destroyed several nations over the past 70 years, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Iran, Iraq, and severely destabilized many other nations. The entire human race is still suffering from their distorted incentives and actions to this day.
The Integrity of the Incentivesphere Depends on Truth & Transparency. History is filled with political officials who abused their power to dominate and inflict pain upon others. To prevent this, citizens must impose transparency on their government’s policy-making processes. Institutional integrity starts with individual integrity, which requires individual accountability. Effective, sustainable government policies and good-faith diplomacy depend on an educated citizenry that demands truth, transparency, and accountability from their elected officials.
Butler, S. D. (2003). [amazon text=”War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated General”&asin=0922915865]. Feral House.
Chapman, J. M. (2013). [amazon text=”Cauldron of Resistance: Ngo Dinh Diem, the United States, and 1950s Southern Vietnam”&asin=0801450616]. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Coll, S. (2004). [amazon text=Ghost wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001&asin=0143034669]. New York: Penguin Press.
Denton, S. (1990). [amazon text=The Bluegrass Conspiracy: An Inside Story of Power, Greed, Drugs, and Murder&asin=152382462X]. New York: Doubleday.
John F. Kennedy: Speech of Senator John F. Kennedy, Cincinnati, Ohio, Democratic Dinner. (October 6, 1960).
Webb, G. (1998). [amazon text=Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion&asin=1908699744]. New York: Seven Stories Press.
Weiner, T. (2008). [amazon text=Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA&asin=0307389006]. Anchor Press.