Libertarians are smarter than liberals

Libertarians are smarter than liberals. Republicans are smarter than democrats. Libertarians the thought leadership of the conservative movement. Liberals and progressives have the space on the curve below libertarians and below conservatives. In other words, liberals are the thought leadership for the proles and the working class, and libertarians and classical liberal conservatives are the thought leadership for the middle classes.

Statistically, liberals are a minority (less than 18%), and libertarians are a minority (less than 10% but climbing). If conservatives and libertarians (the individual spectrum) are compared to progressives and liberals (the collective spectrum) the numbers are in the conservative favor. It’s the fact that libertarians do not self identify as conservatives, yet vote Republican that skew the numbers. This is one of the reasons why Republicans test smarter than Democrats – because libertarians vote republican not libertarian, just as liberals vote democrat not ‘socialist’ – because it’s not in their interest as a minority to waste their vote.

The republican economic program, which is a combination of conservative sentiments and libertarian economics and philosophy, simply appeals to more, smarter people.

Libertarians promote individual achievement. Liberals promote redistribution of other people’s production. Liberals tend to be verbal (and female) and conservatives tend to be spatial-temporal (and male). Liberals tend not to be historians, but exerperientialists, and conservatives tend to be historians. This reflects research into Time Preference, in which liberals have a shorter (higher) time horizon, and conservatives nave a longer (lower) time horizon, and these conflicts are immutable. In Jonathan Haidt’s work, which expands Machiavelli’s and Pareto’s works, liberals only consider two of the five social sentiments, while conservatives value all five equally. To some degree this is an expression of the ancient battle of the sexes.

The reason for the survey data’s (correct) conclusion that many very bright people develop redistributive and authoritarian philosophies was developed by Schumpeter, who said that these people PROFIT both materially and in social status by giving away that which they do not produce. They’re today’s church. Schumpeter said that Marx was wrong: that totalitarianism would not be brought about by the proletariat, but by ‘intellectuals’ who would use their privilege to undermine the system of capitalism that made their privilege possible, and that they would do it in exchange for social status.

The change in political tenor in the country is due to three factors: 1) immigration first of catholics, then of the third world. 2) the concentration of these people in urban areas where urbanites perceive a lower cost of production due to low opportunity costs. 3) the south’s abandonment of it’s civil war era bias against the republican party, changing conservative democrats into republicans. The parties had more philosophical breadth during the southern ‘rejection’ but now that the parties are roughly ideologically opposite, it is not possible to create a compromise position.

Now, this whole discussion tends to ignore the moderate but conservative-leaning majority who actually determine the outcome of elections.

And it should be noted that no civilization in history has survived urbanization and immigration. (The reason is too complicated for a blog posting.) A fact that is OK with liberals and horrid to conservatives.


Whether Or Not To Pay For Free Museum Entry As An Example Of Status Acqusition

Adam Ozimet quotes Felix Salmon when discussing why people pay for entry into a museum even if it’s free.

But here’s the thing about freeloaders: if they value what they’re getting, a lot of them will end up paying anyway. What happened when the Indianapolis Museum of Art moved to a free-admission policy? Its paid membership increased by 3%. When the Minneapolis Institute of Arts did the same thing, paid membership increased by 33%.

Now there are a variety of reasons for this: parents pay something and take their children, rather than not going to the museum at all. But Status plays in here too.

But then Adam goes on to talk about the consumer decision as ‘fairness’, which is a word I object to because it’s both politically correct, and is a code word for involuntary transfers.

My response follows:



This is a wonderful, simple example with which to illustrate grand ideas.

In your example, you’re attributing museum ticket purchase behavior to a supposed ‘fairness’ (which is behaviorally a guilt response), instead of attributing it to ‘status seeking’, (which is behaviorally a status demonstration response.)

At the very least, BOTH emotions (which are themselves a sensitivity to voluntary and involuntary transfers of property) are equally at play. But what does that mean? It means that people who are stronger, higher status, higher dominance, and have more objective value systems seek status, and people who are weaker, lower status, more submissive and have empathic systems operate under quilt. But we are describing the same spectrum from two ends – guilt is a means by which the weaker pursue status through empathy and submission.

The people in your example, who purchase tickets that can be had for free, are purchasing ‘status’, not fairness – fairness is a vehicle for status. If they use a public resource for free, it means that they are lower status. If they pay for it voluntarily, then the ONLY thing that they can buy with it is STATUS. (Status is as much a function of self image as are the perceptions of status by others.)

In our society, ticket prices at a museum have the same effect as offerings at a temple have had in most of history. People are more charitable where they agree upon means and ends. and less charitable where they disagree upon means and ends. Established norms are ‘charities’. And status is obtained by any individual who contributes to the charity. Status is lost by individuals who do not contribute. The way we get people to pay for things is to attach status to it – to make someone feel better about him or herself by contributing.

**Social status is the human currency. It has to be. If we didn’t pursue status humans couldn’t ‘calculate’ (in the heuristic sense) how to behave any more than they could calculate plans without using prices (in the quantitative sense). If economic calculation is impossible without prices and incentives, then human planning is impossible without status signals and incentives.**

The point here is to help quants understand why people are not acting irrationally. It’s not that they’re innumerate. It’s because STATUS is obtained only in part by money. And monetary decisions, both personal and political are made in pursuit of status. Therefore economically ‘efficient’ actions lead analysts to the wrong conclusions because people make trade-offs. Human society cannot operate without status signals (local feedback) than it can without prices (local information.)

And to relate this concept to current events, they attribute higher loss aversion to status than to money. The USA is in the closing phase of a status war driven by the twin demographic tides of immigration and changing dominance of generations, that is being playing out in politics using the economy as a lever. An opportunity that has come about because we have finally won the 500 year war to propagate our religion-cum-technology of consumer capitalism across the world, and in doing so, lost our advantage.

Economics is second to status. To illustrate this point: if the left was willing to destroy aristocratic society in order to obtain social status, why would the right not be willing to destroy socialistic society in order to retain their status? (Another example: Schumpeterian intellectuals undermine a society in pursuit of status.) Status is the human currency. Money only in part can purchase it.

The combination of communism/socialism, anti-slavery and anti-male-feminism was successful in disempowering the western aristocratic classical liberal tradition and it’s status symbols. This strategy was effective because of the Christian Guilt of the majority. But as these people become a minority, they are acting like one. And they no longer feel guilt. So the lever of the three dominant movements against the aristocratic classical liberal status symbols is weakening.

The question for a political economist,once he understands that STATUS is the human currency, is what institutional framework is possible without the prevalence of the christian classical liberal ‘habits’: the ethical system of soft institutions such as status, myths, morals, ethics, manners, fraternalism, individualism, and the hard institutions of Rule of Law (universal general rules applicable to all), and Republican Democracy.

The SOFT infrastructure of Society is paid for by the forgone opportunity costs we pay by NOT privatizing opportunities we have for personal gain. And these soft costs are codified in cultural habits, and the reason people PAY these soft costs is to gain status, and the opportunity that status affords them. Sure, we pay for the HARD infrastructure with taxes. But if we had to estimate the costs of developing the western fraternal christian republican commercial ethical system, what would they be? They are far more expensive than the taxes we pay – and they are far more difficult to manufacture than law. Demonstrably, they are nearly impossible to manufacture because privatization of opportunities is more natural to man than forgoing them for an abstract good. Creating a system of status that perpetuates the willingness to forgo opportunities is the highest social cost a civilization has.

And unless you understand that principle, you will fail to see why the broader political trend is occurring and why THEY MAY BE RIGHT. We could not create a socialistic society because eliminating the ability to calculate prices eliminated all ‘good’ incentives. If you eliminate status, what incentives do you by consequence, eliminate? You eliminate the very system that makes freedom of property and politics possible, as well as the system that rewards people for forgoing the opportunity to privatize

Small things in large numbers have vast consequences. Many of those small things we take for granted. People in my camp criticize Keynesians for believing that there is a steady state that we manipulate to improve, while being unafraid of failure, when the steady state is actually one of Somalian barbarism, that we protect ourselves from falling into using habits and incentives that are often beyond our understanding.



Emotions Are Universally A Reaction To Changes In Property – An Austrian Criticism Of Immigration

Karl Smith quotes Eli Dourado

It is perhaps unsurprising that those who think they benefit from the current system wish to keep it. They trot out all kinds of practical-sounding excuses for why we cannot completely open the border. All of these reasons have analogs in the system of class-based privilege. Most of us, I imagine, would like to think that if we were aristocrats of centuries past, we would see through the lameness of the arguments for using the state to keep down the lower classes. Yet the widespread opposition to open borders today shows that we are not that good.

Although Dourado repeats the less than novel convenient ‘metaphor’. It could also be restated as: ‘People demonstrably object to the forcible appropriation and transfer of their opportunities, their social status, their political power, their traditions and their culture so that those who have not earned it may profit by redistributing it to others who have also not earned it. People consider these things their property, and they act as if it is their property.”

But let’s ask a few questions that the positivist does not ask: Just what is it that creates and maintains the behavior of forgone opportunity costs we call property? The high cost of truth telling? The high cost of non-corruption? Where to ‘incentives’ come from? Why are some organizations of people impervious to all attempts at quelling corruption both public and private?

Conservatism is more complicated than Karl or Dourado suggest. Conservatism consists of a series of properties: (a) a general resistance to change in social order: the habits, manners, ethics, morals, and laws by political means. (b) In the USA, it consists of Jeffersonian Classical Liberalism, and the Civic Republican sentiments (real or not) and the predominant culture of the prewar era. (c) In the west it consists of the remnants of Fraternal Aristocracy — and all the social habits, myths and values that it entails.

Railing against conservatives due to (a) and (a) alone, is a convenient ruse by which opponents ignore and fail to consider the value inherent in (b) and (c), and whether the system of property rights, and requisite costs that individuals must pay to create and maintain those property rights (in both individual an political spectrums) as well as the system of economic calculation, incentives and social status, that are implied in (b) and (c) CAN POSSIBLY be perpetuated WITHOUT (a). Especially given the different time preferences of the social classes.

Each of these norms requires individual costs: each of these habits, these cultural forms of ‘capital’ is a cost born by the individuals who adhere to them, day by day, action by action, judgement by judgement. People treat as property that which they pay costs to acquire – even if they are acquiring a ‘norm’. if you take from them that property – even the abstraction of property we call tradition – they will cease paying for it, by abandoning the morals, ethics, manners, habits, and social status – even the very culture and government and nation itself. Because it is no longer an investment for them. Furthermore they will resent the theft of it. In their minds, they have financed a system of meritocratic rotation of elites by serving consumers in the market. Either there is a meritocratic rotation of elites through the service of consumers and society in the market, or there is a dictator who makes a non-meritocratic and arbitrary judgement such that none of us should attempt to meritocratically rotate elites due to service of consumers in the market. It is one or the other.

Immigration is incompatible with the welfare state. It explains why small ethnically homogenous states are redistributive and empires are not. Because people PAY for their social status, their culture, their morals, ethics, manners, habits, narratives, and all other friction-reducing behaviors by acting as if they are making purchases. The more diluted the status, the less it is worth. If you steal the status, then people just stop paying for the state. And THAT IS WHAT IS HAPPENING TODAY.

This is an Austrian analysis of human actions. (Versus some silly Rothbardian ideology, or some simplistic overly reductive positivist explanation) It is also Hayek’s criticism of policy. It is a claim against HUBRIS. In particular, an argument against the hubris of positivism.

We are markedly different from other civilizations due to the secondary effects that were caused by the need of a technically superior but numerically weak fraternity of independently financed warrior-shareholders (Aristocrats), to hold the numerically and economically superior and totalitarian East at bay. This accidental social order led to the technologies of debate, philosophy, science, and the concepts of balance of power, contract, an independent judiciary, natural rights, personal freedom, political freedom, national freedom, and democratic republicanism – without which the western commercial order, and all that has come from it could not have evolved. And (as Hoppe has tried to illustrate) the behavior of monarchs as intertemporal guardians of property rights has been demonstrably superior to that of democratic socialists.

If there is a man alive today that is capable of articulating how we can use a positivist technology to maintain the system of calculation and incentives, and the perpetuate the willingness to pay requisite costs in order to maintain the system of property, manners, ethics, and morals, non-corruption, non-privatization, over four generations of time without these conservative traditions, then I would like to meet him. Because despite a lifetime of attempting to find that some solution to this problem I cannot. Hayek failed, as did Mises and Parsons.

Positivism is an insufficient and hubristic technology for a problem we barely comprehend, and the mechanics of which, at least in the aggregate, we are only beginning to discover.

Children shouldn’t play with dangerous things.