I hope Deval Patrick studied the ground-breaking work of psychologist Abraham Maslow at some point, whether at Milton Academy or Harvard.
Abraham Maslow studied a culture that involved both fishing and farming. He noted greater resilience among the fisher-folk, and ultimately wrote a ground breaking book, Toward a Psychology of being:
In this book, and his subsequent work, he choose to study the healthiest and most functional folk he could find. He developed what is called “a hierarchy of need”.
So far as motivational status is concerned, healthy people have sufficiently gratified their basic needs for safety, belongingness, love, respect and self-esteem so that they are motivated primarily by trends to self-actualization (defined as ongoing actualization of potentials, capacities and talents, as fulfillment of mission (or call, fate, destiny, or vocation), as a fuller knowledge of, and acceptance of, the person’s own intrinsic nature, as an unceasing trend toward unity, integration or synergy within the person).
These healthy people are there defined by describing their clinically observed characteristics. These are:
1. Superior perception of reality.
2. Increased acceptance of self, of others and of nature.
3. Increased spontaneity.
4. Increase in problem-centering.
5. Increased detachment and desire for privacy.
6. Increased autonomy, and resistance to enculturation.
7. Greater freshness of appreciation, and richness of emotional reaction.
8. Higher frequency of peak experiences.
9. Increased identification with the human species.
10. Changed (the clinician would say, improved) interpersonal relations.
11. More democratic character structure.
12. Greatly increased creativeness.
13. Certain changes in the value system.
If we define growth as the various processes which bring the person toward ultimate self-actualization, then this conforms better with the observed fact that it is going on all the time in the life history. It discourages also the stepwise, all or none, saltatory conception of motivational progression toward self-actualization in which the basic needs are completely gratified, one by one, before the next higher one emerges into consciousness. Growth is seen then not only as progressive gratification of basic needs to the point where they “disappear,” but also in the form of specific growth motivations over and above these basic needs, e.g., talents, capacities, creative tendencies, constitutional potentialities. We are thereby helped also to realize that basic needs and self-actualization do not contradict each other any more than do childhood and maturity.
Anotherwards, those who do not live in fear, are well fed, and have stable communities are more productive.
The basic functions of government should be safety, which includes not just police but safe roads, dams, bridges, schools; production and provision of sufficient food for all, no matter what; and stable communities for the nurturance of children and care of the ill. Taxes are how we do that, and I remember very well how proud my immigrant parents always were to pay their fair share.
The inherent streak of meanness that says the unfortunate deserve misfortune, let them suffer, and the fortunate deserve good fortune, put them on a pedestal is bad psychology as well as immoral.
Unless the basic needs of a human for food, clothing, shelter and safety are met, the ability to plan for the future or care about others is lost. The “why” for this is spelled out better by Maslow than anyone else before or since.
So, we either start taking better care of one another, and accept that the “economy of scale” achieved by taxation to do this is necessary, or witness a continuing decay of everything around us.