The Cult Of Silly People

From FP Magazine:

“How Did Obama Lose Karzai?” … “Karzai now appears mistrusting of the West’s long-term commitment to his country. He considers the Americans to be hopelessly fickle, represented by multiple military and civilian envoys who carry contradictory messages, work at cross-purposes, and wage their Washington turf battles in his drawing room, at his expense, while operating on short fuses and even shorter timetables.”

We have a president, who is part of a philosophical wing, dominated by a left coalition, that believes ‘silly things’. Like jimmy carter, obama is a president who believes ‘silly things’. But what silling things?

The left’s feminine assumption is that we can all agree – like women in a tribal cave. They assume that there is a consensus to reach. Or that such a consensus would persist. Or that such a consensus is advantagous.

[callout]Only a fool thinks he can fly. But at least he is dangerous only to himself. It is the fool that thinks people can agree, who is dangerous to all of us.[/callout]

Except that to do anything substantive at all, humans must take risks to cooperate in large numbers. Groups require a hierarchy in order to make decisions. People attach utility and status signals to their positions in those hierarchies. They have many investments, both personal and collective, and those investments are in both means and ends. Having taken those risks, people have ‘interests’. Each person has a set of interests. Each group one or more interests. These interests include both means and ends. Means conflict even if ends do not.

Humans cannot agree in large numbers. Interests are always in conflict, because even if ends are not, the means and the organizations of humans needed to achieve those ends are not.

THe difference between silly people and sane people is in this simple understanding of the limits of human cooperation.

Our president, like all leftists, is a man raised on feminine rather than masculine virutues. He values the famlial model, not the political. Families can agree on ends and means. Political groups cannot agree on means, even if they can agree upon ends. And they rarely agree upon ends, because do to so would be to the advantage of some at the expense of others.

Marginalism suggests that if we have sacks of flour in store for the winter, every sack we sell has a different value, whth the first having the least, and the last having the most. It explains why water has much use value but little trade value, and diamonds have little use value but high trade value. But marginalism applies to human sentiments as well: humans recalculate their preferences each step you take toward achieving them. Humans seek opportunity. THey seek ‘relishes’.

Only a fool thinks he can fly. But at least he is dangerous only to himself. It is the fool that thinks people can agree, who is dangerous to all of us.



Response To Posner On Guns

(Note: I posted this as a comment on http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/ and am copying it here, as a I always do.)

Guns are for more than hunting and self defense. They’re also a political symbol, and a political institution. Arms have uses. But the purpose of arms is to maintain the ability to overthrow an oppressive government, and to insure that members of a government take no actions that would sufficiently anger even a small percentage of the people, such that they might raise their arms and use them.

Yes guns are cool. Yes they are a status symbol. Yes guns provide one with a sense of security. And yes, they are the material tools by which a people remain free. Even if remaining free is the sentiment of the minority of the population. One is not free if he must rely for his security upon the willingness of others. He is free because he chooses to preserve the existing social order, despite the fact that he has the physical power at his disposal to alter it if necessary.

[callout]There are only three tools by which humans can coerce other human beings: violence, words and payment. Each social class has developed elites that master one of the three tools. And any attempt to deprive us of words, arms or property, is simply an attempt by the elites of one class to deprive members of another class of their political power, and to obtain additional power for their own at a discount. [/callout]

Violence is a virtue: The more of it you have, the more free you are. The more free you make others by possessing it, but using it only to preserve that freedom. Restraint is the most powerful use of violence. If you no longer possess it, you cannot restrain it. It is most powerful if it is a potential.

Actions which are not taken are often not measurable. Economists know this. It is the problem of the broken window fallacy, and the principle behind Opportunity Costs. As such, economists should be wary of applying infinite discounts to a property of human behavior, simply because of the difficulty of measuring the cost of that behavior. Property is an institution that is created by the threat of violence. The use of violence to create property, whether it be the several property of the individual or the shareholder property of the collective, is the most massive and constant application of violence that civilizations apply, from the very broadest group, down to each individual. Property is the highest cost institution. It is the hardest to develop.

The Iron Law of Oligarchy and it’s manifestation in bureaucracies guarantees that all governments, of all forms, will be corrupt, and self serving. The only counter to the bureaucracy of the state is the promise of violence by it’s citizens. Under republican democracy and social democracy, the bureaucracy is demonstrably more self-serving than under other forms of government, and far less subject to democratic change. Tyrants can be killed. Bureaucracies cannot be.

The vast efforts of the West for the past few centuries have been to create the institutions of property elsewhere. And our primary advances in human productivity and cooperation have been the result of the tools to account for, the legal systems to administer, the education to teach children how to use, and the new types of money and credit instruments, finance, banking, capital and markets to facilitate, the ordered use of property. And we have spread those instituions of property, almost always by the force of arms. This has occurred despite movement after movement by one class or another, from the base proletariat to the elitist public intellectual, to deprive us of that violence, so that they may use the violence of the state to remove from us our freedom, and to alter our definitions of property, and therefore appropriate the institutions, the property, or the results of our labors for the benefit of one group or another.

Adherence to property definitions, and use of the tools and institutions to manipulate property, are the foundation of learning in every culture. The Justice that is used to resolve conflicts, and the government that is used to create and regulate markets, both sit upon the technology of violence. And governments, if they are over free men, are created and maintained by the fraternity of individuals who are wiling to forgo the institution of violence in order to preserve their definitions of property, their systems of justice, and their institutions of government.

Guns, more than any type of arms in history, equalize our capacity for violence. They make us equal in age, health, strength and choice. Each of us possesses violence. It is a natural human potential. The more skilled we are, the more armed we are, the more we possess of it. The greater the store of it, the wealthier are our people. The more secure are our trade routes. The more respectful are our governors. The more free are our citizens. The more prosperous our people. The more choices for happiness are open to each of us. History does not favor the weak — whether as a nation, or as individuals.

In the west, our social order, our history, derives from our unique development of cities, which was accomplished through the cooperation of a fraternity of warriors. We should understand that cities are synonymous with markets. Warriors built markets with the threat of violence, and it was done at high cost. Our trade system today is one of high cost. And common americans benefit from that high cost. Even if we are exporting debt and currency to pay for our military system, rather than simply taxing everyone else for our world trade routes.

Our fraternity is what makes us unique among other civilizations. Its origin is in our weakness against the stronger, wealthier and more populous east. With smaller numbers, and better technology, our shareholders defended their markets against superior forces. And while in our lifetimes we have been majority for a brief flicker in time. We are a minority again. A minority who protects our markets, our trade, and our institutions and our freedom with a wealth of violence. By our actions-not-taken. Against the constant drum of talkers and scribblers who would take from us our violence and deprive us of our freedom.

Today we use the word ‘shareholder’ instead of ‘citizen’ for our voluntary orders. We do so to obfuscate the cost of being a shareholder or a citizen. So that many people may become shareholders without first paying the cost of obtaining one’s share. By respecting the institutions of property, we gain admission to the market. To respect property is to refrain from violence and fraud.

There are only three tools by which humans can coerce other human beings: violence, words and payment. Each social class has developed elites that master one of the three tools. And any attempt to deprive us of words, arms or property, is simply an attempt by the elites of one class to deprive members of another class of their political power, and to obtain additional power for their own at a discount.

I hope that the meaning of that statement is not too subtle to be clear.

Curt Doolittle


Teacher’s Unions: Unaccountable And Arrogant Entitlement Unable To Withstand Scrutiny

A Perfect Quote:

“Thirty years ago, the public saw teachers as underpaid and overworked professionals trying to prepare the next generation for leadership. These days, the teachers unions are doing their best to present an image of arrogant entitlement combined with an inability to withstand scrutiny and accountability. ” – ED MORRISSEY, of Hot Air

Teacher’s unions need to be broken and banned. As Do All Government Employee Unions.


Military Violence Creates The Institution Of Property, and Private Government

Whence comes Property?

The answer is a strong army and navy, a strong diplomatic corps, a strong currency free of debasement

Trade rests on trade routes. Trade routes rest on the military.

THe purpose of militarily established order is to create teh institution of property, and the market for trading it.

It’s purpose iis to deny corruption of the market to others.

The purpose of government is to determine which form of corruption wins.

the puprpose of an ancient repubic, which means, property holders, is to disallow corrutpion of trade and trade routes.

a republic of shareholders was the first and remains the only means of preserving trade.

It is a private government.


The Luddism Of Marxism And Anarcho Capitalism

All human beings seek to game the market.

The market system depends upon it.

Without the desire to game the market and prices, we would have no innovation, no production increases, and no price decreases.

In our market, innovation is the only ‘fair’ means by which we tolerate winning.

Because winning in this market, means consumers reap the rewards of competition.

Credit innovation is perhaps the most powerful advantage that the west has possessed.

But all human beings seek to game the market.

The market is a construct of man.

As a construct it needs to be maintained.

Not just from external forces, not jjust from governemnts, not just from cooperative organizations, but from individuals as well.

Marxism is an effort to game the market.

Anarchic libertarianism is an effort to game the market.

Both seek to obtain the rewards of market activity at a discount.

Both are luddite strategies. Both seek trade rather than market.

Both are regressive strategies.

The market, it’s incentives, it’s rules, and it’s communication system of prices are a construct of man.

And like any other machine, it needs maintenance.

It does not need direction – no human can provide the knowlege to guide it.

Instead, It needs to protect against rust: the human propensity for corruption.

The very propensity for curruption that guarantes that ihumans innovate to drive the market itself.

And silly philosophies whether they be the marxist suppostion that people will not ‘cheat’ or the libertarian suppostiion that people will not act with corruption, are both no more than wishing that gravity did not exist, or that iron did not oxidize.

Or, that there is a divine god who gives us scritpture and determines the course of our lives.


Cause And Effect In AGW Debate

Over on Climate Etc, Judith Curry writes Blame on Heartland, Cato, Marshall, etc.

The fossil fuel industries have been funding dedicated minions at the Heartland, Cato, and George C. Marshal Institutes (among others) to generate misinformation about global warming and global climate change. They have attempted to attack the climate science message (such attacks actually part and parcel of the scientific process), but without much success, since the foundations of climate science are more than strong enough to withstand such challenges. Having failed in discrediting the climate science message itself, they have resorted instead to attacking the climate science messengers with character assassination, political innuendo, stolen e-mails, etc.

To which I replied:

There is another answer:
1) Libertarians and libertarian theory are economic disciplines with economic history that they rely upon for judgement. Economics is a chaotic and mathematically rigorous discipline. It also consists of a long and deep history of narratives and logic within the history ideas.

2) Libertarians have, and continue, to represent the branch of logic that advocates that economic models are not predictive. Not only that they are not predictive, but that they CANNOT be predictive. Not only that they cannot be predictive but that statistical analysis is only relevant to closed systems – and economies, due to innovation, the plasticity of utility of resources, and changing human wants, renders categorical forecasting impossible. This logical framework is supported by the fact that economic models are in fact, not predictive. And this is one of the issues with current political methods: that we rely upon economic models for policy purposes despite the fact that they are decidedly not predictive.

3) External entities with economic interests fund libertarian institutions because they are disposed to view government solutions as detrimental to the economy, and because libertarians are naturally hostile to models which purport to be predictive. They are highly agitated because of the rapid increase in external competitive forces run by non-market governments, and their advantage is being weakened by both external competition and an increasingly academically unprepared and uncompetitive work force.

4) Libertarians do not generally take the position that AGW is true or false. Their position is that (a) the AGW models are highly questionable, (b) there are alternative explanations that seem more probable, and certainly that previous climate movements to date have been false, and (c) even if AGW is true, that the solution is to create a green social movement rather than a system of increased taxation.

The current green movement is working.

It has become a generationally dominant social value. People will not pay for the long term, whether it is saving, retirement, health care. They will not pay for what they suspect.

The AGW movement will do far better and make better progress if it does not seek legislation and in fact, actively does NOT seek legislation, but eschews legislation. This will make it more acceptable. Otherwise all libertarians and conservatives hear is that it is an excuse to fund abusive government. It is hard for liberals to understand that they are the minority of 20%, and that libertarians are the thought leadership of the conservative party, and while they, like convicted marxists, are a minority, they provide the thought leadership of the majority and are more likely to, and have consistently created, more conservative policies – ie: policies that do not empower government to make economic decisions.

We are in a period of economic and cultural and even political uncertainty. Until we exit this period (which according to economic history, may or may not ever happen) people will have nearer term priorities. They will not be charitable to future generations in the face of current circumstances of decline and uncertainty.


Rock, Paper, Scissors: Three Coercive Technologies, and Three Social Classes

There are three means of coercing groups of people with institutions

1) Force, or the threat of force
A person has a VIOLENCE INCENTIVE to behave in a particular way when it has been made known to him that failure to do so will result in some form of physical aggression being directed at him by other members of the collectivity in the form of inflicting pain or physical harm on him or his loved ones, depriving him of his freedom of movement, or perhaps confiscating or destroying his treasured possessions.

2) Remuneration or payment
A person has a REMUNERATIVE INCENTIVE to behave in a particular way if it has been made known to him that doing so will result in some form of material reward he will not otherwise receive. If he behaves as desired, he will receive some specified amount of a valuable good or service (or money with which he can purchase whatever he wishes) in exchange.

3) Moral claims (collective goods)
A person has a MORAL INCENTIVE to behave in a particular way when he has been taught to believe that it is the “right” or “proper” or “admirable” thing to do. If he behaves as others expect him to, he may expect the approval or even the admiration of the other members of the collectivity and enjoy an enhanced sense of acceptance or self-esteem. If he behaves improperly, he may expect verbal expressions of condemnation, scorn, ridicule or even ostracism from the collectivity, and he may experience unpleasant feelings of guilt, shame or self-condemnation.
And a persuasive argument can consist of one or more of these strategies, often in great complexity.

People give priority one or more different weighted combinations, or perhaps ‘chordic’ representations of these strategies. They do so out of habit, and class inclination, just as they follow religious and class sentiments due to their upbringing.

People who belong to institutions have different capacities for adopting these strategies. Force requires discipline and long Time Bias. Remuneration requires cunning and invention. Moral claims require loyalty to consensus, and absorption of, and therefore payment of, opportunity costs. Different social classes have different time biases and consist of people with different time preferences, requiring different types of discipline under different social and economic conditions. ie: it is easier to have a long time preference if one is genetically disposed to better impulse control, and lives in greater security. It is easier to have a short time preference if one is more persuaded by impulses, less disciplined, and in an environment of scarcity.

The social classes are organized by intelligence. Intelligence is the ability to absorb content in real time, to learn abstractions in time, and to permute those abstractions in application to problems in real time. Intelligence regresses toward the mean over generations. THerefore class membership is an indicator of the likelihood of class mobility, and upper class position is difficult to maintain. While we use the word ‘middle class’, and most people in the west live middle class lifestyles, the middle class means possessing disposable income and participating in the market. Therefore the majority of citizens are in the upper proletariat and lower middle classes, which we call the working, white collar working and craftsman classes.

There are different costs to these institutions: Force is extremely expensive. Creating non-corruption, and order (some network of property definitions and their means of transfer). Property is a term for a scarce good that must used, consumed or transformed in the process of production, even if that process is human sustenance. Remunerative institutions require the complex task of concentrating capital then maintaining it in a constantly changing kaleidic and competitive environment. Moral claims require constant advocacy, verbal skill, maintenance of numerous relationships, and constant payment of opportunity costs.

The Social classes have different access to each of these forms of coercion. Those in the institutional class, or upper class, have access to force in the form of policy and law. Those in the capitalist class, or middle, have access to capital : money, and market institutions.

In each strategy people form elites, and organizations for utilizing those strategies. The elites create philosophical frameworks. Each of these frameworks consists of moral claims, and institutional means of perpetuating those claims, and the social benefits of adopting those claims.

Each of these institutions is open to corruption, which is the privatization of opportunity and reward, for personal consumption at group expense. Corruption is fraud.

Each of these strategies, their organizations, institutionas and elites compete against other strategies, organizations and elites, and each attempts to use it’s organization for discounts against other organizations.

This competition is analogous to the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, if more complicated: each group can sucessfully compete against one another under most circumstances, but can defeat and be defeated by some other combination of forces.

The human mind is comfortable with identity and causality. It can with practice, understand a one dimensional causal spectrum. It can, with effort, understand two dimensions of cuasality. It can with more effort understand three dimensions of a causal spectrum.

Human emotions for example, consist of probably no more than three stimuli: dominance, pleasure and activiation. And that all human emotions, in their seemingly infinite varieity can be described as using these three axis of stimuli. Likewise, human social behavior consists of three different forms of coercion, in some combination, and this leads set of axis leads to seemingly infinite variety.

But it only seems infinite. At it’s base, there are only three forms of social organization.These three forms can be combined, as they are in the majority of the population in some manner or another. Or they can be used as one of three specializtions, each of which attempts to play rock, paper, scissors, with the other two.