And why do we lack self-restraint?
"... new technologies have removed the built-in delays that gave reason time to tame our baser instincts. Meanwhile, the erosion of community and hierarchy, of church and family, has robbed us of the external supports we relied on to keep ourselves in check. And while democracy and capitalism both demand and nurture self-mastery, they can also corrode it."
What is the solution? Where might we find an answer to this problem?
"Any inquiry into self-control also needs a standard, some ideal balance between severe self-denial and wretched excess. For his model, Mr. Akst chooses Odysseus from Greek mythology. Though Odysseus does occasionally yield to temptation—his interlude with Circe is one example—he mastered enough self-command to return to Ithaca. "When it counts," Mr. Akst notes, "he can resist." Readers may be less able to resist thinking of Odysseus' faithful wife, Penelope, as an even better exemplar of self-command."
Odysssues had his sailors tie him to the mast as their ship passed near the Sirens. Their song normally dangerous and would cause ships to be destroyed on the rocks. But his crew plugged their ears. So they were able to sail through without being destroyed.
Some economists have written a paper called TYING ODYSSEUS TO THE MAST: EVIDENCE FROM A COMMITMENT SAVINGS PRODUCT IN THE PHILIPPINES.
Freakonomics says commitment devices are "tools that hold you to your promises, like putting a replica glob of human fat on your kitchen counter to remind you to keep to your diet, or signing a contract to have yourself fined each time you smoke a cigarette."