Perverse Incentives

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June 24 2010 3:49 PM

Perverse Incentives

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Hanna , perhaps by unfortunate coincidence Al Gore has an op-ed today in the Wall Street Journal on "Sustainable Capitalism." In it he and his business partner David Blood-yes, Blood & Gore are partners-write that people often do their best, most dedicated work not for the money but because of the rewards of a sense of purpose. They observe: "Nonfinancial motivators are more effective at building long-term employee engagement." When you read the police report of a masseuse's encounter with Gore, "employee engagement" takes on a different cast. I agree this is an astounding document, and that either the masseuse is completely crazy and has made it up, or Gore-while not able to absorb his former boss’ easy charisma-did pick up some pointers from Bill Clinton on forcing yourself on unwilling women. (One of the more amusing asides in the report is when the masseuse says she mentions the Clintons to Gore and finds, "I really stepped in it because talk about Bill and Hillary is like a sore point with this guy.") In this portrait, Gore alternates between a crude frat boy ("[H]e wrapped me in an inescapable embrace") and entitled sadist. ("He laughed, clearly enjoying himself at the expense of my discomfort, refusal and fear.") One of the best lines turns out to be unwitting political commentary. The masseuse says Gore had an "extremely dictatorial commanding attitude besides his Mr. Smiley Global Warming concern persona." But Gore critics would say that’s no contradiction!

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Photograph of Al Gore and Bill Clinton by Stephen Jaffe/AFP.

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column. 

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