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I left my management career in 1980 and went back to school. During that time of my enlightenment, I studied Douglas McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y models of human behavior that described two contrasting beliefs about workforce motivation.
Now it's important to make a distinction here: "Theory X and Theory Y have to do with the perceptions managers hold of their employees, not the way they generally behave."
Another way of saying this is these are two different opinions of what motivates people. They are not necessarily attributes of the people they observe. They are the observers' beliefs.
The theory X advocate says most people are inherently lazy, dislike work and will avoid it if they can. The theory Y advocate says that most people are ambitious and self-motivated and will exercise self-control. They are motivated to work.
One of the more interesting and revealing aspects of the theory X model is that "the theory X advocate tends to believe that everything must end in blaming someone." The idea that circumstances just might have something to do with human behavior seems like surrender to the theory X mind.
Okay what does this have to do with the current news?
Today, Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times, "Moreover, G.O.P. harshness toward the less fortunate isn't just a matter of spite (although that's part of it); it's deeply rooted in the party's ideology.["] and that will remain true no matter how hard the likes of Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio try to convince us otherwise."
And I say their ideology is grounded in a theory X view of people.
For instance, the Republicans believe extending unemployment benefits will turn American workers into a lazy bunch of loafers. Even though there are 3 candidates for every open job, they are staying unemployed because life on a couple hundred bucks a week is so luxurious as to be difficult to resist.
And by the way, let's not forget the blame I mentioned above. The unemployed are to blame for the conditions of their unemployment because they don't try hard enough.
So yes, I am accusing most Republicans of being theory X advocates who see people as fundamentally lazy loafers who, given a pittance in benefits, will choose to lay around on their butts and do nothing to help themselves.
Otherwise how could they come up with statements like, "extending benefits only serves to de-motivate people," "a child needs to work for his free school lunch to learn responsibility," and "if you don't work, you don't eat?"
At the risk of over-generalizing, herein lies the chasm between the Republican and Democrat views of people. Even though one could argue that the real issue is differing opinions on the degree of involvement appropriate for government. Still, I maintain that without this difference in beliefs about people's attributes, this question would not be asked.
They disguise their theory X mentality in value-loaded terms like "giving people in need a hand takes away their freedoms." And it works. It keeps those very same people voting for them.
As an example, "meet Terry Rupe. The 63-year-old widower can't remember the last time he voted for a Democrat, ["] Since his wife's death four years ago, he's been taking care of their 40-year-old, severely disabled daughter full time. She gets Medicaid and Medicare assistance.
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