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Public Shaming Is More Effective Than Fines

New York sues Purdue Pharma and Sackler family

Museums Cut Ties With Sacklers as Outrage Over Opioid Crisis Grow

I strongly believe that the latter will be significantly more powerful than the former in effecting change in society. That matters a lot when you have a crisis as terrifying as this.

Charlie Munger says no matter how much weight you give to the role of incentives in decision making, it’s probably not enough 1. But financial incentives are a small piece of that puzzle, and even then with limits. The above article on the excommunication of the Sackler family from the world of big money donations made me consider this again because I think this is exactly the kind of thing that works exceptionally well. Far better than any financial penalties from civil suits 2 or the like.

Laws can only go so far in curbing behaviour, public shaming on the other hand…



  1. “The iron rule of nature is that you get what you reward for. If you want ants to come, put sugar on the floor. " — Wesco Annual Meeting, 2001 " ↩︎

  2. Criminal prosecutions with the threat of jail time are another matter altogether ↩︎