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The Prof G Pod with Scott Galloway

Conversation with Rutger Bregman — Human Nature, Power Dynamics, and UBI

Thu Aug 03 2023
Britney SpearsHuman selfishnessFriendlinessUniversal Basic IncomeSocial inequalityTax paradisesRucker Braggman

Description

The episode covers various topics including Britney Spears' speculated replacement with AI or clone, challenges to the belief in human selfishness, friendliness and human evolution, universal basic income and social inequality, social inequality and factors impacting success, crackdown on tax paradises and moral compass, and Rucker Braggman's background as a Dutch historian and author.

Insights

Humans are not inherently selfish

Challenging the belief in human selfishness, real-life situations and examples from the Netherlands demonstrate that cooperation and empathy prevail even in challenging circumstances.

Friendliness as an adaptive trait

Friendliness was an adaptive trait for early humans during the Ice Age, leading to self-domestication and the development of a social nature.

Universal Basic Income for reducing poverty

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is advocated as a means to reduce poverty and address social inequality, with empirical evidence showing positive outcomes such as lower healthcare costs, reduced crime, and improved school performance.

Factors impacting success

Factors like genetic makeup, country of birth, gender, ethnicity, genetics, and upbringing significantly impact one's opportunities and success.

Crackdown on tax paradises

Efforts are being made to expose and address tax evasion through crackdowns on tax paradises, such as the United States' actions leading to the end of bank secrecy laws in Switzerland.

Chapters

  1. Britney Spears and the Speculation of AI or Clone
  2. Challenges to the Belief in Human Selfishness
  3. Friendliness and Human Evolution
  4. Universal Basic Income and Social Inequality
  5. Social Inequality and Factors Impacting Success
  6. Crackdown on Tax Paradises and Moral Compass
  7. Rucker Braggman's Background
Summary
Transcript

Britney Spears and the Speculation of AI or Clone

00:02 - 07:34

  • Some Britney Spears fans believe she hasn't truly regained her freedom and speculate about her being replaced with AI or a clone.

Challenges to the Belief in Human Selfishness

07:07 - 14:25

  • Rucker Breggman, a Dutch historian and author, discusses his book 'Human Kind' which challenges the belief that humans are inherently selfish.
  • Breggman shares examples of organizations in the Netherlands that practice self-directed teams and deliver healthcare at a higher quality and lower cost.
  • Communism's collective approach failed, but there is a recognition that capitalism has gone too far in prioritizing self-interest and the idolatry of the individual.
  • Many young people are realizing the need for a balance that recognizes we are all in this together.
  • Northern Europe, with its focus on collective well-being and absence of fear, serves as a role model for implementing a better system.
  • A more realistic view of human nature is needed, debunking the belief that people are fundamentally selfish.
  • Famous experiments like the Milgram experiment and Stanford prison experiment have been shown to be flawed or manipulated to fit certain narratives.
  • Real-life situations have demonstrated that cooperation and empathy prevail even in challenging circumstances, contrary to Lord of the Flies' storyline.
  • The survival of the friendliest concept suggests that humans have conquered the globe due to their ability to work together.

Friendliness and Human Evolution

13:58 - 21:01

  • Friendliness was an adaptive trait for early humans during the Ice Age.
  • Humans have undergone self-domestication, becoming more friendly and tame over time.
  • The rise of domesticated animals shares similarities with human evolution.
  • Humans have smaller brains than their ancestors, like Neanderthals.
  • The very rich are generally good people and develop allies to become wealthy.
  • Rich and powerful people can be blind to how the whole system works.
  • Power can corrupt and decrease empathy in individuals.
  • Throughout history, societies have tried to control those in power.
  • Human behavior is shaped by the interplay between biology and culture.
  • Humans are an extraordinarily flexible species due to their social nature.
  • Belongingness is a core need for humans, leading to a desire to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Universal Basic Income and Social Inequality

20:50 - 27:54

  • Insurance company's pharmacy benefit manager denies coverage for a medicine
  • Universal Basic Income (UBI) advocated as a means to reduce poverty and address social inequality
  • UBI seen as venture capital for the masses, allowing people to quit their jobs and pursue other endeavors
  • Empirical evidence shows that basic income experiments have resulted in lower healthcare costs, reduced crime, and improved school performance
  • Giving money to women tends to benefit children more, but giving money to men is still beneficial
  • Give Directly is an NGO that gives money directly to extremely poor people with successful outcomes
  • The saying of teaching someone how to fish may not be applicable in all cases; giving people money allows them to decide what they want to do with their lives
  • European social democracy has downsides of being paternalistic and discouraging entrepreneurship due to reliance on government benefits
  • Basic income is different from traditional welfare systems as it is unconditional and provides a platform for everyone
  • Milton Friedman advocated for a negative income tax, which is similar to basic income
  • Appreciation for the US despite its homelessness problem compared to Europe

Social Inequality and Factors Impacting Success

27:35 - 34:45

  • The US has a higher number of homeless people compared to countries like the Netherlands.
  • The US values and appreciates individuality and weirdness, which is important for progress.
  • Social democratic countries like Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany have a culture that discourages standing out or being special.
  • Economic security in the US is often attributed to big government programs and generosity of taxpayers.
  • Experiencing sickness without adequate insurance in the US can be terrifying and motivating for success.
  • Genetic makeup plays a significant role in drive, ambition, and willpower.
  • Having a social safety net doesn't necessarily make people lazy; altruism is often a luxury.
  • We are incredibly lucky to live in a time with access to conveniences and luxuries compared to previous eras.
  • Factors like country of birth, gender, ethnicity, genetics, and upbringing significantly impact one's opportunities and success.
  • There is no such thing as free will; everything we have is given to us.
  • Tax avoidance at the top has increased because there was little attention paid to it previously.
  • In recent years, there has been more focus on tax avoidance and evasion issues globally.
  • Progress is being made with initiatives like minimum corporate tax rates and crackdowns on tax paradises.

Crackdown on Tax Paradises and Moral Compass

34:33 - 41:20

  • Crackdown on tax paradises led by the United States, resulting in the end of bank secrecy laws in Switzerland
  • Netherlands is a huge tax paradise with American companies stashing billions of dollars there
  • Money flow through the Netherlands to other tax paradises has been declining
  • Progress is being made in exposing and addressing tax evasion
  • Importance of raising children to have a strong moral compass and sense of duty
  • Belief in making a difference and having agency can be instilled in children
  • Practical advice for younger people: spamming multiple opportunities rather than relying on one pitch
  • Embracing rejection as part of the learning process

Rucker Braggman's Background

40:52 - 42:06

  • Rucker Braggman, a Dutch historian and author, has published five books on history, philosophy, and economics.
  • His book 'Utopia for real estate' has been translated into more than 30 languages.
  • He is known as the Dutch wonder kind of new ideas and one of the most prominent young thinkers.
  • The episode is produced by Caroline Shaver with Jennifer Sanchez as the associate producer and Drew Burrows as the technical director.
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