A sampler of Skinnerian thought: On Help:
Too much can cause harm. For instance, help in nursing homes robs the elderly of doing some important daily tasks for themselves. "It's much cheaper," he says, "to give things to people and to do things for them rather than having them do it for themselves." In old age homes, this translates to providing senior citizens with meals, rather than having them help with the food choices and preparation in the kitchen.
Too much help for children makes it easier for parents and teachers but ultimately makes it harder for the youngsters. Saying to a child, "Here, let me tie your shoelace," may take the parent less time than having the child do it, but in the long run, Skinner says, it denies the youngster the opportunity of practicing how to tie a shoe. On Work:
People don't go to work because they got paid last Friday; they go because they don't want to get fired. And when people work "only to avoid losing a job, study only to avoid failure and treat each other well only to avoid censure or institutional punishment," they view all life in terms of threats. As a result very few people are able simply to do nothing. They cannot relax without sedatives or tranquilizers, or unless they deliberately practice relaxation. They cannot sleep without sleeping pills, of which billions are sold in the West every year. They are puzzled by, and envy, those in less developed countries, whom they see happily doing nothing." On Wages:
"People think that wages are a reward," Skinner says. "Well they're not. They're sums of money given to you if you follow instructions and are taken away if you don't follow them." On Health Technology:
"We've got to make some big changes in medical ethics.
"I think we're going to have to assume that if you're heart wears out, you're dead . . . we're keeping alive people with this artificial heart business at enormous cost . . . I think that we just have to accept that a baby born too early dies," says Skinner. "That's the way life is."