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March 08, 2011

Wisconsin, Union Envy, and the Crab Mentality

A large part of the joy of web surfing is Serendipity, looking for one thing and then finding another, discovering a gem that on examination turns out to be a Faberge egg. I had this experience today when I found this blog post:SlowPokeComics: Union Envy.

Jen Sorenson riffs off a NY Times article describing the mixed emotions with which people view the status of unionized workers, sometimes criticizing the unions for the benefits they bring to their members.

In the accompanying commentary, Jen Sorenson explains the phenomenon called crab mentality, which I'd never heard of before.
Crab mentality, sometimes referred to as crabs in the bucket, describes a way of thinking best described by the phrase "if I can't have it, neither should you." The metaphor refers to a pot of crabs. Individually, the crabs could easily escape from the pot, but instead, they grab at each other in a useless "king of the hill" competition (or sabotage) which prevents any from escaping and ensures their collective demise.

The analogy in human behavior is that of a group that will attempt to "pull down" (negate or diminish the importance of) any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of jealousy, conspiracy or competitive feelings.

This term is broadly associated with short-sighted, non-constructive thinking rather than a unified, long-term, constructive mentality. It is also often used colloquially in reference to individuals or communities attempting to "escape" a so-called "underprivileged life", but kept from doing so by others.

And then the serendipitous web connections took off, and I learned two more phrases that I had never heard of before: Tall Poppy Syndrome and The Dog In The Manger.

Tall Poppy Syndrome

Tall poppy syndrome (TPS) is a pejorative term used in the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand to describe a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements separate them from their peers.

The Dog In The Manger

The Dog In the Manger is used now to describe those who spitefully prevent others from having something that they themselves have no use for.

There was a dog lying in a manger who did not eat the grain but who nevertheless prevented the horse from being able to eat anything either.

Teh interwebs are generous.


MH said...

who spitefully prevent others from having something that they themselves have no use for

You see that element in some of the anti-union side. One the other side, you see the assumption that tax dollars somehow come from only those who didn't actually need the money.

MH said...

To put it more clearly, I may more in local taxes (county, city, school district) than I do for my house (principal and interest). I just finished my tax return and the figures are fresh in my head. These local taxes are also more than I pay for the school I'm actually willing to send my child to. I don't wish local public sector unions ill, but there is no use pretending that they can have what they want without me losing something I want.

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