Addicted to Losing

By Bill Maher

In last Sunday’s town hall, Hillary Clinton said, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Everyone from David Axelrod to Rand Paul jumped on her for this, but she’s completely right. Coal is a dying business. She’s not cruel for pointing that out. The cruel ones are people like Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, trying to dupe their people into staying at Blockbuster Video when the economy has moved on to HBO NOW.

Hillary has a $30 billion plan to turn coal communities into clean energy communities, which is not only good for the survival of the species, it’s where the money is. She’s the only candidate with such a plan. She should be popular in coal country – at least she’s trying to help. But instead, she’s public enemy #1.  

There are already more solar jobs than coal jobs. They’re safer, pay better, and clearly superior in just about every way. Why can’t people in coal country embrace this? Loss aversion.

What’s loss aversion? Studies show people have a powerful tendency to favor avoiding losses over acquiring gains. It’s why it’s so hard for us to stop spending trillions on wars that we’re losing. It’s also why we can’t get single-payer. It’s not just the health care industry profiteers holding us back, it’s the people. Polls always show people love universal coverage in theory, until you tell them their plan might have to change, even if it saves them money. Then they bail, and it becomes unpopular.  

This is the sad but true answer to why societies make so many dumb choices: because we’re addicted to losing.