Motivation has three distinct yet overlapping sources. These three sources of motivation are: fear, pleasure and accomplishment. These three sources form ascending steps in the quest for enlightenment. Fear is the bottom motivational step and the basis for the vast majority of biological motivation. Pleasure forms the middle step and provides a transitional source of productive incentive. Accomplishment, specifically self-directed accomplishment provides the most enlightened source of motivation.
Fear is really an emotional response based on the anticipation of pain. Pain and its precursor fear are nature's way to discourage non-beneficial activities and to direct effort toward behaviors that enhance survival and prosperity. Hunger, thirst, excessive heat or cold, bitter or sour tasting foods, foul smells, heights, deep water and of course the sight of predators are all stimuli that motivate biological power structures toward pain aversion activities.
Fear is most effective as a motivator under subsistence conditions, because future orientation is not a widely distributed characteristic. Like the grasshopper and the ants, most biological power structures including man rapidly loose fear motivation as soon as present conditions become reasonably comfortable. The scarcity of future orientation is evidence that natural selection has not favored excessively future oriented behavior. Prior to the advent of civilization and technology, rainy day savings was the only motivation for producing in excess of daily needs. Therefore natural selection favored behavior to provide for normal emergencies (like winter), but natural selection did not extend the fear motivation beyond conditions of normal need.
The sensations of pleasure provide the second step of motivational incentives. The pleasure of good food, good wine and good company not to mention warm and secure shelter and of course the many pleasures associated with reproduction and parenting are all strong positive motivators to perform these prosperity enhancing behaviors. The sensations of pleasure overlap the sensation of fear to produce both a continuum and a prioritization of motivational incentive. We respond first to fear and then in the absence of fear, we respond to pleasure.
Humanity has adopted pleasure as the solution to the motivational crisis caused by the advance of civilization and the gradual removal of fear motivated behavior. The creation of holidays and religious festivals for rest, renewal and enlightenment was an important early use of pleasure as a motivator in place of fear. Modern civilization has built on this concept with weekends and the paid two week vacation. The pleasure of good food has led to a proliferation of good restaurants, the pleasure of good company has led to wide variety of social outlets and the pleasure of secure surroundings has led to a vast expenditure of effort on homes, schools and supporting social infrastructure.
While pleasure is not an unworthy source of motivation, the nearly exclusive reliance on pleasure for motivation is a perversion of modern human civilization. While fear is a totally sufficient motivator for prosperous activity, pleasure is not. Since fear is an aversion response, mankind is in no danger of abusing this source of stimulation. However the positive sensations of pleasure present an almost irresistible temptation for abuse. The negative consequences of the abuse of pleasure have been and continue to be one of the greatest threats to both individual human prosperity and to the overall prosperity of human society. The negative consequences of pleasure abuse range from the relatively benign consequences of obesity to the hellish consequences of hard drug abuse. The pleasures derived from material wealth more so than fear of their absence are the primary motivators of the many schemes of legal theft in modern American society and throughout human history. Similarly the pursuit of pleasure by the ruling classes in human societies has been the primary motivation for the self-predatory wars that have so ravaged our species.
The rise of technology offered mankind a whole new dimension of ability improvement and prosperity enhancements obtained through working smarter. Industrial production is one of the most important means by which technology promotes prosperity. Industrial production increases the rate at which material goods can be produced and thereby reduces the labor input required for each item. In a free market for labor and capital, industrialization leads to the flow of capital to the most productive and profitable uses. This also leads to an increase in the wages paid for labor in those industries.
The increased production efficiency achieved by industrialization required an increase in the demand for industrial products. Initially the demand for many basic industrial products (e.g. clothing and building materials for basic shelter) was motivated by fear. The ability of technology to make these items more easily available enabled increasingly large segments of humanity to achieve a higher standard of living and thereby escape fear motivation.
The desire to raise all members of society above a fear motivated existence has led to an even further emphasis on pleasure as the source of human motivation. As the standards of living continue to improve through advances in technology, large segments of humanity are able to move economically from fear motivation to pleasure motivation. However continued advancements in material prosperity require both increases in productivity to increase the wage rate and an increase in total production both to pay for the investment in tools and to actually pay workers a higher income. Increased production requires increased consumption and increased consumption requires a motivation for the public to purchase these additional industrial products. The emergence of modern marketing was driven by this need to promote increased consumption of industrial products to support increased industrial production. Since mercifully technology had raised the standard of living for most of American society well above the level of fear motivation, pleasure motivation was the only available incentive for increased consumption.
Marketing employs several strategies to increase pleasure motivated consumption of industrial products. We are urged to buy more of the same thing (e.g. two cars, two TV sets etc.). We are urged to by new things (e.g. microwave ovens). We are urged to consider old items as obsolete ( e.g. old cars) or out of fashion (e.g. old clothes). Finally we are urged to buy more complicated versions of familiar items (e.g. cars with air conditioning, hi-fi systems and cellular phones). The social basis for all these marketing strategies is mankind's struggle to raise all members of society above a fear motivated existence through high value added labor using industrial production. Unfortunately this effort to liberate all humanity from fear motivation through material consumption drives the more affluent members of society uncomfortably deep into a pleasure motivated lifestyle.
The quality of life movement represents humanity's search both for a more complete definition of prosperity and for a deeper meaning to life than the mindless pursuit of pleasure. About 30 years ago the American public began to seriously oppose the consumeristic emphasis on the quantity of life in favor of more emphasis on the quality of life. This movement was led by young people who had grown up in the affluence of the post-war 1950's and who had a different perspective on fear motivation than their parents. In the 1930's one of the campaign posters for Franklin D. Roosevelt showed a factory with tall smoke stacks belching black smoke. Even at that time people knew that air pollution was harmful. However the smoke meant employment and a release from the poverty driven fears of the depression. The quality of life movement is part of the enlightened awareness that prosperity is more than GNP and that the meaning of life is more than pleasure. However this movement needs to be tempered by the realization that with our emerging technology most of humanity still has the wolf of fear nipping at their heals. Part of this tempering process deals with a broader understanding of material wealth.
Wealth is the sum total of the state of ordered matter on Earth. The physical elements which comprise the Earth include some of the lighter higher potential energy elements from the creation of the universe, but more predominately the Earth consists of the heavier lower potential energy elements from the ashes of stellar furnaces and their cataclysmic demise. Since all closed systems move from a more orderly state to a more disorderly state, the creation and even the preservation of wealth requires energy. The energy released by the gravitational consolidation of the Earth and the light from our sun have provided the predominant sources of energy for our Earth. This energy occasionally resulted in the creation of more ordered structures of matter and in particular organic matter, but for the most part the early Earth was a barren planet.
The origin of life began the systematic creation of wealth on Earth. The very essence of life is the ability to use energy to enhance the ordered state of matter. The gradual evolution of life first in the seas and then on land has created a profusion of ordered matter in the thin layer we call the biosphere. With the important exception of the shells of marine organisms, most of the wealth produced by living power structures was in the form of living tissue. When these living power structures died, their tissues were dismantled by living processes and ultimately reconstituted in even more highly ordered states. Thus the evolution of life on Earth has continually reused the finite reservoir of terrestrial carbon to create ever more complex and valuable arrangements of living tissue.
The emergence of intelligence led to the use of the creative powers of life to rearrange non-living matter into progressively more ordered states. From the pyramids of Egypt to the sprawling cities of the 20th century, the rise of human civilization is carrying the creation of ordered states of non-living matter to new levels of sophistication. However when the construction of a city means the destruction of a forest, the creation of wealth through the addition of ordered non-living matter is partially offset by the loss of wealth through the destruction of ordered living tissue. This process requires an appreciation of both forms of wealth and an enlightened tradeoff. I believe our ancestors understood this tradeoff when they used the word "conservation" to denote both the preservation of natural wealth and the development of humanity's artificial wealth.
The quality of life movement combines the conservational appreciation for natural wealth with an overwhelming sense of guilt over modern society's excessive emphasis on pleasure motivation. This sense of guilt biases our judgment concerning tradeoffs between natural and artificial wealth and leads to illogical statements like, "mankind is a blight on the planet". We should all view with concern the loss of natural wealth caused by human development to support our exploding numbers. However our perspective needs to consider the vast majority of humanity who are still struggling to escape fear motivation. Since we have not experienced the fear motivation of our parents nor do we experience the fear motivation of most of humanity, we have a distorted view of the contribution of artificial wealth to human prosperity. The consumption of Earth's natural wealth by mankind is the result of: a) too many people b) humanity's motivation for a higher standard of living and c) our emerging technology that inefficiently uses natural resources to meet human needs. The solution to human prosperity is both better technology and better directed technology using a free market which should include democratically established social costs as free market incentives.
The selection of government power in the 1960's to promote the quality of life helped fuel the present explosion of both right wing and left wing theft in American society. The use of government power to handle crisis situations like wars and the Great Depression is a necessary expedient, because free market controls usually take longer to develop. However the continued use of government power to control social decisions is destructive to individual freedom which is the basis of American prosperity. Government power places economic tradeoffs in the hands of central authorities whose prosperity is determined by the further enhancement of government power not by the free market control of the American people. Furthermore government power by definition substitutes fear motivation (fear of the law) for any free decision making process.
As an example, the free market approach to pollution control should have been and can still be used to establish by democratic means a social cost associated with air pollution. This social cost should rationally vary by both the type of pollutant and its location. For example the social cost of air pollution would be higher in Los Angeles than in the middle of Nevada. Industries and individuals could select the level of pollution control based on the penalties they would otherwise have to pay. The social costs set by society would provide the research and development incentive to devise better and less costly means to control pollution. Drivers of private automobiles could elect to reduce their air pollution penalties by: a) driving less b) buying a car with better mileage c) buying a car with better pollution controls or d) moving to an area with lower pollution penalties. This same free market approach would also work for gasoline consumption. Assuming that there is a social cost associated with gasoline consumption other than pollution, a tax on gasoline provides a free market disincentive for its consumption. While technology and a free market together with reasonable controls on human population offer a path to lift mankind above a fear motivated existence, technology does not offer the answer to the guilt and loss of purpose resulting from modern America's excessive reliance on pleasure motivation.
The solution to modern America's excessive reliance on pleasure motivation is to rediscover the tremendous motivating powers of accomplishment. For this discussion accomplishment is defined as the creation of wealth or the enhanced understanding of how to do so. While all wealth is tangible, because wealth involves more ordered states of matter, knowledge is a high form of accomplishment. New knowledge is the enhanced understanding of the laws of the universe which determine the ways in which matter can be ordered. This enhanced understanding provides direction in the creation of more ordered states of matter with less expenditure of energy.
The sense of accomplishment is the third and most enlightened source of human motivation. The sense of accomplishment is a direct result of the creation of more ordered states of matter or of the knowledge of how to do so. Social interactions are also an important source of human accomplishment, because education whether from parents, teachers or friends enhances the order of the mind and body. The sense of accomplishment obtained from these activities requires neither the whip of fear motivation nor the "treat" of pleasure motivation.
There is no better example of the motivational vacuum that exists within many of America's large corporations than the sign so often tacked to company bulletin boards which reads, " The worst day of fishing is better than the best day of working.". For the many individuals that agree with these sentiments, work offers little or no sense of accomplishment. For them work is simply a task to be endured to obtain money to support the pleasures of leisure activities like fishing and Monday night football. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the pleasures of life, because pleasure is one of nature's important motivation rewards. However a society in which many individuals' prosperity enhancing activities bring little or no sense of satisfaction and accomplishment is a society that has taken a wrong turn on the road to prosperity.
The prosperity of the United States of America is to a very significant degree due to the motivation provided by the sense of self-directed accomplishment. The American frontier provided both an environment that was free from the theft of feudal power structures and the opportunity to experience the thrill of self-accomplishment. America is no longer a frontier society and our more crowded conditions require social cooperation and teamwork. However true teamwork is really the coordinated efforts of individual excellence. True teamwork which provides for self-directed accomplishment obtained through theftless competition is the most satisfying form of motivation. However the call for teamwork in hierarchical structures is hypocritical if the hierarchy uses their power to distort the reward structure.
There is an inherent conflict between the concentration of power and wealth in feudal hierarchical power structures and the opportunity for either freedom from theft or a sense of accomplishment by the workers in these systems. Large social structures work better in countries like Japan where there is greater altruism. However in western society we have less social altruism and more individualism which provides the seed for innovation. However these conditions turn our large social structures into political power structures motivated by the prosperity of those in control.
Enhancement of "sense of accomplishment" motivation in America requires downsizing America's large political power structures to permit more people to experience a sense of self accomplishment. This movement away from large political power structures to small political power structures also mitigates the opportunities for feudal theft in society. Downsizing of political power structures requires a smaller more privatized government at all levels as well as fewer large corporations and many more small businesses and self-employed individuals. This double motivational benefit of enhanced sense of self-accomplishment and a reduction in legalized theft will strengthen the motivational tire carrying us to an American Renaissance.
The profound nature of education requires that this chapter start with a big picture assessment. Life is a continual process of education. Every waking moment, every experience or social contact provides "input" which we use to improve our ability to more effectively deal with the world. We have 24 hours each day to experience the world and the challenge we face is how to use those hours most effectively. Human activities are normally broken down into three categories: work ( use of abilities to produce today's prosperity), education(investment in improving our ability for tomorrow's prosperity ) and pleasure (use of time and material resources for the enjoyment of life not specifically related to work or education).
The following discussion of pleasure and the activities we pursue for pleasure builds on the discussion in the previous chapter and provides some valuable insights into deficiencies in the activities we pursue for work and education. The fundamental question of pleasure is the source of our motivation for activities which often appear to be unrelated to either present or future prosperity. Pleasure involves behaviors that produce physical responses that we are biologically conditioned to find rewarding. We need to try to understand the biological basis for this conditioning before we try to make value judgments on the apparent frivolity of pleasure time activities.
Sleep is by far the most time consuming pleasure activity. Sleep originated as a diurnal hibernation activity to conserve energy during the nighttime hours when darkness both prevented normal activities and increased the danger from predators adapted for nighttime hunting. Sleep provided a convenient time for biological refurbishments that then permitted more sustained activities during daylight hours. In higher animals sleep provided a time to mentally sort out the day's activities through the process of dreaming. With modern civilization we have lights that permit nighttime activity and we are no longer threatened by nocturnal predators. However these modern conveniences do not eliminate the basic biological functions of sleep namely physical and mental renewal. Only by thoroughly understanding these biological functions can we hope to develop methods to reduce the required amount of sleep and thereby expand the number of waking hours in the day available for prosperous activities.
All the other so called pleasure activities also have a basis of biological utility. The pleasurable process of eating is necessary for refueling. Exercise and sports provide physical conditioning that is often missing in our sedentary work activities. Socializing maintains the fabric of our social power structures and provides us with information and language skill practice (both educational functions). Travel provides a stimulating educational experience. Recreation provides physical stimulation missing in normal activities and a sense of renewal missing in the alien artificial environments we often work and live in. Finally hobbies provide us with a sense of accomplishment often missing in the narrowly focused work activities of modern civilization.
The issue with pleasure as with all other activities including education is defining the proper balance of time and resources for each activity. Over sleeping robs our lives of time for prosperous activities. Over eating reduces our physical abilities and impairs our health. Similarly abuse of pleasure producing or stimulating substances (e.g. sweets, alcohol, coffee and tobacco) or illegal drugs reduces our ability to prosper. An important educational objective for a free society is to help people learn to evaluate the relative benefits of life's many activities and to make intelligent (i.e. prosperity enhancing) choices on the allocation of their time and resources among those activities.
The big picture view of education shows that formal education is only part of the life long process of learning and personal ability improvement. Modern society is an experience of information overload. We have books, magazines, newspapers, music concerts, art exhibits, museums, theater, movies, radio and of course television. In a free society our choice of educational alternatives determines both the knowledge base which will strongly influence our own prosperity, and our vote also helps determine the mix of educational experiences that are available to others. Therefore another objective of the educational process should be to help people learn to evaluate the information they are receiving and to avoid overdosing on sugar rich material whose "empty calories" provide short term excitement, but do not provide the basis for prosperity enriching experiences.
The origin of formal education was for specialized training in written language and theology to prepare men for the clergy or for positions of secular authority. The general population was illiterate. Those that worked at skilled occupations learned their skills through apprenticeship programs. Early public education was directed at fundamental skills (e.g. reading, writing and arithmetic) that promised a high return both to the student and to society. The tremendous value of education to economic prosperity has led in the last century to a virtual explosion in the resources devoted to formal education. Unfortunately this explosion has created a system that is in many respects out of touch with the educational needs of American society.
The purpose of formal education is to develop the abilities of the young through the acquisition of knowledge and specialized skills to promote their prosperity and thereby promote the prosperity of society. While prosperity may be broadly defined, education should be objectively directed. I believe that formal education has three fundamental educational objectives and two important supporting social objectives. The three educational objectives are: career development, societal interaction skills and cultural appreciation. The two supporting social objectives are to provide a screening process for social placement and to provide a holding tank for social maturation.
The primary purpose of formal education must be the development of career skills which a free market will find useful. The purpose of education is not simply to prepare a student for more education. The almost total absence of any discussion of career planning in modern education is an absolute travesty of the objectives of education. In the seventh grade I decided that I wanted to be an engineer. This decision both motivated me to work hard in junior and senior high school and focused my attention toward the academic skills I would need for the engineering profession. My parents also strongly encouraged me to do well in English, because ideas are of no value if one can not articulate them. The motivation and direction of my career focus formed the basis for my successful college work and professional career in engineering.
The process of formal education should include a continual assessment of career planning. The school system needs to help the student ask and answer the following questions. What are you talented in? What do you enjoy doing? What types of careers require these talents? What special skills do they require? What do they pay? The school system needs to go beyond these "easy" questions to the real question: Do you realistically have the motivation and talent to acquire sufficient proficiency in these skills to be successful in that candidate career? School systems avoid the process of career assessment because every parent wants their child to "go to college". Rather than help the student and the parents realistically measure and direct their child's career potential, the schools duck the issue of career planning. When I graduated from high school, the state university was required by law to accept every student with a high school diploma. However marginal students were required to take a brutal summer English course which many of them failed. The university used this method both to reduce the size of the freshman class and to screen out students who were really not college material. Failure of summer English abruptly threw these students into the job market with no specific job skills and with an initial feeling of failure. The present educational system extends this process by encouraging many of these students to spend several years in junior college before finally seeking a career they should have been prepared for in high school.
4.1 RECOMMENDATION: REQUIRE CAREER PLANNING IN SECONDARY SCHOOL - Schools should be required to provide students with comprehensive career planning starting in junior high school. This planning would include an honest annual assessment of the students abilities and career prospects.
The lack of career planning and vocational training in high school is at least in part due to resistance of trade unions which seek to control the supply of individuals able to compete for vocational jobs. The issue of union representation of workers must be separated from the ability to decide who can join the union. The school systems should both provide vocational training in a wide variety of skills and coordinate this training with apprenticeship programs so that high school students not going to college would have a marketable skill when they graduate. Federal and state laws should require unions who represent these trades to accept graduates from these programs into their membership.
4.2 RECOMMENDATION - REQUIRE VOCATIONAL TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION - Schools would be required to offer programs of vocational training (either at school or contracted out) as part of a vocational degree program. These programs would lead to state certification of at least entry level competency in each field. State law would mandate this certification as sufficient for entry into any union representing workers in that field.
SOCIAL INTERACTION SKILLS
Social interaction skills are the next most important objective of formal education. These skills include reading, writing, public speaking, basic mathematics and basic science. Students headed for college will of course concentrate in these areas, but even these students miss training in fundamental skills deemed to be "too practical". In English along with the study of great literature schools should include more emphasis on expository writing and business letters as well as writing and presenting speeches. Course work should include essential social skills such as handling a check book, understanding and handling credit, understanding insurance, filing a tax return, interviewing for a job, and understanding basic legal requirements and rights. Science courses should ensure technological literacy as well as theoretical competency even for college bound students. For example students should understand the basic operation of an automobile and major home appliances. Just because these skills are not required "to get into college" does not mean they are academically unworthy.
4.3 RECOMMENDATION - REQUIRED SOCIAL INTERACTION SKILL TRAINING - Schools would compile a list of social interaction skills needed for an adult to function in modern society and would offer training in these skills. Students could opt out of this training by passing tests on each skill, but would be required to master all skills to graduate.
Formal education has a responsibility to provide students with an understanding and an appreciation of human culture. This includes the study of history, government, foreign languages, art and music. In general school systems spend sufficient time presenting this material. However various studies indicate that student retention of this material is often lacking. I am personally grateful for the educational experiences I received in cultural appreciation. I found this knowledge extremely valuable both for social interactions as well as for my career in engineering. Furthermore I would not have been able to write this book with a basic education in human culture.
SCREENING PROCESS FOR SOCIAL PLACEMENT
One of the most important though largely unacknowledged functions of formal education is to provide a screening process for social placement. Social power structures are like a tree. Each branch represents a different talent such as musical ability, athletic ability, spacial reasoning ability etc. Talented individuals may simultaneously exist on several branches. A fundamental challenge of society is to properly place individuals on the branches much as players on a tennis ladder. The formal educational process is like a marathon where the students compete against each other. Over time students spread out as they either distinguish themselves or fail to do so in various fields. Those who excel in high school may choose to go on to college where the screening process repeats itself. When these students flow into society, their educational attainment provides the basis for initial social placement. Their degrees and the transcripts that support them are indicative of the mastery of specific skills. However just as important, academic ranking is indicative of an individual's relative ability to handle work and responsibility in society.
Unfortunately there are groups in American society that seek to remove all indicators of individual distinquishment based on superior effort and accomplishment. In school systems this leads to pressure for pass/fail grading systems with very few failures and automatic promotions. Under these systems a high school degree is nothing but an attendance certificate and worthless for guiding social placement. Therefore students go to junior college, four year colleges and even graduate school in an attempt to distinguish themselves from their peers. The basic issue of "What ability improvements am I going to obtain by going to college ? " gets lost in the objective of obtaining a college or even graduate degree.
The motivation to attend college in America is largely driven not by the desire to obtain training in a specific field or even the desire to gain knowledge or broader cultural understandings. The motivation to attend college for most students is simply to obtain the social placement credential represented by a college degree. However as more and more students obtain college degrees, the social placement function of the college degree becomes devalued.
Ironically the debasement of academic credentials has been paralleled by an increasing reliance by society on the college degree for employment. Employers desperately need some measure of an applicant's motivation and ability to use as a basis for hiring. As academic credentials become debased, employers require junior college degrees for positions that used to only require a high school diploma and college or even graduate degrees for positions that really do not require that level of academic achievement. This situation is leading to a vast misallocation of national resources to higher education. This misallocation is both for students who do not need a college education for their careers and for courses which may be enlightening, but which have little relevance to the student's future prosperity or to the prosperity of American society.
4.4 RECOMMENDATION: RESTORE THE VALUE OF A HIGH SCHOOL CREDENTIAL - All prospective high school graduates would be required to take a national test to demonstrate competency in basic verbal and mathematical skills. Like the SAT these tests would be numerically graded. Individual states would be permitted to set their own minimum requirements. Student's transcripts would show their test scores (as well as their grades) and the statistical compilation of the test scores would be available by school, school district and state for public review. Students could retake the examination even after graduation with the results and dates of all tests appearing on their transcript.
4.5 RECOMMENDATION: BAN DISCRIMINATION IN HIRING BASED ON A COLLEGE DEGREE- Employers would be required to define specific job skills as being necessary for a specific position. They could use successful completion of college level courses in each discipline as evidence for fulfilling each job skill requirement. However they could not simply use a college degree as a job requirement. This recommendation would force students and universities to consider career job skill requirements in formulating their degree programs. This recommendation would also permit nondegreed candidates to prepare for careers by acquiring the specific skills required for that occupation.
The debasement of educational credentials is echoed by the legal restrictions being placed on employment records as a guide to future employment decisions. Anonymity strikes at the very heart of individualism by discouraging motivation and ability improvements needed for prosperity. Most of our public sector employees are paid based on time in grade with little opportunity for reward based on excellence. Loss of individualism is also one of the most detrimental effects of unionism. Depriving individuals of the right to establish a record of excellence is a form of legalized theft whereby those who are less productive steal from those who are more productive. Changes in the legal requirements both for hiring references and for firing have fostered a civil service mentality in the private sector. Individuals need to be protected from capricious acts that threaten their livelihood; however one of the most capricious acts is depriving individuals of their right to be rewarded based on what they produce.
4.6 RECOMMENDATION: RIGHT TO AN EMPLOYMENT RECORD - As is commonly practiced all employers would be required to conduct an annual or semiannual job performance appraisal for each employee. An appraisal form would be used to rate the employee's performance in all areas applicable to his position. In many occupations, peer review could be an important part of this appraisal. The appraisal form could have verbal comments, but the primary evaluation would be a numerical score in each category. Each company would set up an internal procedure to review evaluations deemed unfair by an employee, but by law such proceedings would not be appealable to the civil courts. Within one month after the appraisals, the company would compile a statistical summary of the scores of all employees in each area rated. They would provide each employee with a copy of this summary and send a copy to the state employment office where it would become a public record.
Employment termination actions could be justified either on unusual special circumstances or on chronic poor job performance. Unusual circumstances would of course require special documentation. However the job performance appraisal sheets would form the only admissible basis for chronic poor performance. In general companies would be justified in firing an employee whose overall performance habitually fell in the lower 10 percentile. Layoffs (where not preempted by seniority considerations which I recommend abolishing in a later section) would be based on performance ratings with no more than a 20 percentile difference allowed between the highest performing employee laid off and the lowest performing employee retained. When an employee left a company, the company would be required to retain his employment records for 20 years.
The performance appraisal forms would provide the only basis for past employment references. When an individual sought employment he could authorize that only the dates of his past employment be released or he could authorize his former employer to send copies of his appraisals. Since the applicant would also have copies of his past appraisals, his authorization would by law release his former employer from any civil actions over the contents of the past appraisals. Employers would rightly be more cautious in hiring applicants who refused to release their former employment appraisals.
HOLDING TANK FOR SOCIAL MATURATION
The role of providing a holding tank for social maturation is another important, but unacknowledged function of formal education. Mankind's long period of adolescence is a biological adaptation of our species to allow for the extensive development of the human brain in response to education. While three year old horses run in the Kentucky Derby, a three year old human is far too immature socially and intellectually to function as an adult. Mercifully our biology keeps children physically small and manageable until our brains have attained a reasonable level of development.
The time of puberty defines nature's selection of the period of adolescence. This selection is always a survival tradeoff between the advantages of complete development and the disadvantages of a longer period of dependency and vulnerability. The lesser amount of education required during humanity's early development and the comparatively short human lifespan favored a metamorphosis to physical adulthood at about 13 years. However humans at 13 years of age are still socially immature.
The prosperity of human society required that young people be held in adolescence only until they became sufficiently mature to assume the responsibilities of adulthood. For the last few hundred years, the age of 21 years for legal majority has represented a social consensus on the period of adolescence required in civilized society. In rural communities the children lived and worked on their parent's farms until they were socially mature enough to function as adults. When they reached social maturity (usually late teens for girls) and early 20's for boys, they got married and joined society as adults. In urban social settings, formal high school education ended at 18. However for boys a four year period in the army often provided the necessary bridge between adolescence and adulthood.
In modern society the university experience provides a period for adolescents to break free of their home environment and achieve sufficient social maturity to functions as adults. This important social role of universities in no way demeans their intellectual function. The focus of higher education must not be that you have to stay in school until you are 22, but rather that you can only stay in school until you are 22. Because when you reach social maturity society is going to throw you out in the real world and put you to work supporting yourself and contributing to the prosperity of society. Unfortunately the social maturation role inevitably contributes to a " holding tank mentality " that is responsible for much of the perceived irrelevance of both high school and university course material. Hopefully the previous recommendations to promote a more objective career focused educational system will also help restore a proper sense of urgency to the educational process.