At the 2017 NCCI Annual Issues Symposium, Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Ethical Leadership from NYU Stern School of Business and noted author, discussed the important work done by our industry and our reason for doing it.
The Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911 is credited with being the rallying point for the present workers’ compensation systems nationwide. People were morally outraged by this accident and the lack of compensation for all the victims. However, the reason change happened quickly after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire is because there was already significant momentum toward some type of a workers compensation protective system. Since the implementation of workers’ compensation there has been a constant debate about the balance of the system, benefit levels, and the amount of fraud in the system.
How you view the morality of workers’ compensation depends on your point of view on many issues.
Those who are left leaning:
- Worry about market failures.
- See the government as a hero and protector.
- Feels the government much hold back capitalist predators.
- Views unions as heroic and essential.
- Feels injury claims are under-reported due to fear and intimidation.
- Therefore we need more government intervention to protect workers and strengthen unions.
Those who are right leaning:
- Worry about government failures.
- View the government as a failure.
- Feels the government holds back innovation and growth.
- Views unions as corrupt and inefficient.
- Feels injury claims are often fraudulent and linked to corrupt lawyers and doctors.
- Therefore we need less government intervention and more prosecution of corruption.
Both these points of view have some level of truth. When debating issues like this it is important to understand the point of view of the other party and acknowledge that some of their arguments have merit. Unfortunately, that does not happen often enough and these days with political polarization the problem is even worse.
There are so many areas of ambiguity in the workers’ compensation political debate. People choose to believe what they want to believe, and challenge things that go against their chosen beliefs.
There are six intuitive foundations to morality and all of these enter into the workers’ compensation morality debate:
- Care/Harm – Care and compassion are basic human characteristics. However, on the left there is a much stronger focus on this.
- Fairness/Cheating – People tend to hate cheaters. The left often see fairness as equality linked to compassion. The right sees fairness as proportionality. No one should have a free ride.
- Liberty/Oppression – The right views government intervention as opposes Simon.
- Loyalty/Betrayal – Only humans can cooperate in large groups that are not related.
- Authority/Subversion – Social conservatives focus much more on the importance of authority and respecting those in a position of authority.
- Sanctity/Degradation – Humans regulate their body on moral issues. This enters less into the workers’ compensation debate.
Moral arguments for strengthening workers’ compensation regulations:
- Suffering, innocent victims.
- Inadequate benefits, need for care.
Moral arguments for weakening workers’ compensation regulations:
- Don’t reward cheaters.
- Government overreach.
Visit www.YourMorals.org to take a survey and see how you score on the left/right divide which will reflect how you view the morality of the workers’ compensation debate.