I don’t know what we’re supposed to learn from this chart from The Atlantic, but as others have already stated with passion, it’s pretty bad information design. And even without that criticism, almost every conclusion that one would draw from it certainly appears to be simply meaningless or false – at least without some sort of prevarication.

It reminds me of the biggest statistical sin in current economics: using ‘families’ rather than individuals. If someone uses that measure, then everything that follows is false. Families have changed too much. More so than the economy itself. The economy is noise by comparison. Likewise, for such gross categorization as this chart seeks to make use of, economic activity is meaningless without the sizes of the geography and the population. Boundaries are meaningless unless what happens within them is substantially different per person per square mile/km. Perhaps even, limited to per person per acre of arable land.

Otherwise all the chart tells you is that big arbitrary geographic areas produce more income than small arbitrary geographic areas. Which tells us precisely nothing that isn’t absurdly obvious.


What any such chart would allow us to draw the conclusion that:

    i) navigable rivers or seas made a very big difference, and
    ii) a hostile winter environment is beneficially eugenic for an agrarian population, but not for non-agrarians,
    iii) An east-west geography transports knowledge and goods more easily than a north south geography,
    iv) as of the industrial revolution, rivers are slightly less important, and populations with property rights and literacy matter increasingly instead.

Economic history is not complicated. People need:

    a) an environment that is not overly hostile (such as subsaharan africa or siberia),
    b) a means of transportation of goods (rivers),

They need institutional technologies which do not so much require the state as require the state not abuse:

    c) a monopoly of control over that territory within which they feel able to allocate property, take risks, establish norms, and where necessary laws and from which they can prohibit others from establishing different allocations of property, different norms and laws.
    d) property rights (law, contracts, courts), and
    e) tools that allow them to calculate the future and to cooperate in increasing numbers (numbers, money, accounting, banking, credit).

And, they need those institutions that *are* complicated: social aspects we too often ignore, and which appear to require intervention on the part of the state:

    f) the change in mating patterns (outlawing inbreeding) and property rights that allow us to transform human relations from that of tribal familialism to that of commercial universalism; thereby allowing us to trust, risk, produce and trade in increasing complexity. And
    g) the consequential prohibition on rent seeking and corruption that plagues humanity everywhere in the world except among the germanic protestants above the Hanjal line. And
    h) the need for aristotelian reasoning (objective reasoning, debate, and science) as a compliment and competitor to the emotionally and socially binding mysticism that seems to be a required property of all social orders.

A chart that is useful, will be the chart that illustrates that the only value of a state is in creating these institutions (a) thru (h).


From The Global Secular Humanism Group:
“Should ‘Islam’ be considered as a political ideology and a religion at the same time?”

The question should be restated in this fashion in order to illustrate Islam’s political content:

A) Should Islam be considered a Religion? (Yes/No)
YES: Religions consist of Myths and rituals. It does appear that religions require some form of magian reasoning. However, scientism, secular humanism, progressivism, all require ‘faith’ (in methodology, reason, or technology) that is expressly counter to the historical evidence. So, it is quite possible to create a personal philosophy that is the premise for a religion (scientism, secular humanism, progressivism) on faith. Scientism has myths, rituals and institutions. Progressivism has them too. Secular humanism is getting close, but I tend to treat secular humanists as simply anti-christian atheists and progressives as Democratic Secular Humanists. That means Secular Humanism is a minor ideology, and Democratic Secular Humanism as a major ideology. Both of which rely upon faith. But Democratic (Socialist) Secular Humanism, like islam, has both laws (human rights), institutions (academia, the press, the party structure, and it’s developed expressly for use in majority rule under parliamentarianism). So it appears to be both an ideology, a religion and a political system.

B) Should Islam be considered a political Ideology? (Yes/No)
YES: The purpose of an ideology is to obtain political power through excitation of the masses. Islam was invented to obtain political power. Islam was used as a means of conquest, and succeeded in obtaining political power. Islam is used to obtain, justify and use political power. Political power is the power to enforce the primacy of a set of laws. Islam contains a code of laws with explicit commandment to their primacy. Therefore islam is a political ideology.

C) Should Islam be considered a political system? (Yes/No)
YES: While a primitive political system only requires the ability to resolve disputes, A political system capable of coordinating investments (taxes and expenditures on infrastructure) requires at a minimum, laws, and an organization that mandates the exclusivity of those laws above all other laws, rules and norms. Islam has both a set of laws (Sharia) and a system of producing judges for those laws (Mullahs) and a system of intergenerational teaching for the purpose of propagating those laws (Religious Schools). In effect islam is a legal system with magian origins (instead of natural rights). That islam does not include other formal institutions (a parliament) is simply a function of it’s antiquity and tribal authoritarianism. Islam conquered a roman state (Byzantium) and assimilated it’s administrative structure. But did not include it on it’s own. In fact, much of islamic administration relied upon slaves and eunuchs because the byzantine administration could not adapt to Arab tribalism. (See Fukuyama’s recent book.)

Islam is a religion, a political ideology, and a political system. If one argues that it is not, then one must define the terms religion, political ideology, and political system. And that exercise would lead to either confirmation of that it is a religion, ideology and political system, or one would define those terms using selection bias by sampling normative rather than structural rules.


Jonathan Haidt first attacks republicans then rescinds it. I try to put conservative strategy in context. And in that context it’s quite simple. It’s an extension of the tactic used against world communism: “Resist until they go bankrupt.” If you understand this strategy everything the conservatives and Republicans do makes complete sense. Everything.


Very interesting post, and equally interesting comments.

One commenter above writes that you (Jonathan) should perhaps seek to understand conservative elite theory. (People like me.)

The conservative intellectuals succeeded in defeating world communism and socialism through a variety of military, political, economic, and intellectual tactics. But conservatives failed to come up with a strategy for defeating democratic redistributive socialism and the secular progressive attack on the meritocratic hierarchical conservative society. Due to this failure, the libertarians, who are explicitly economic in their strategy, took over leadership of the anti-collectivism, and whenever possible, the conservatives adopted the libertarian economic and political program.

But about the time of Reagan, conservative thought leaders looked at the demographic data and determined that the program of expanding statism would win out over time. So, the conservatives abandoned their belief that they could gain a majority and keep control of the state, or even defend themselves against it. And instead, they increased militarism, worked to increase home ownership, and tried to rekindle entrepreneurship rather than government as the central narrative behind western success. They then allied with the capitalist class to attempt to bankrupt the state before european style nanny state could develop. This was consistent with the approach to communism: “Just resist them and wear them out. They will eventually fail because their concept of an economy is unsustainable.” The conservative battle against the state is simply the conservative tactic against world communism replayed.

It is perhaps useful to note that the conservative argument against central planning, urban planning, welfare disincentives, laxity on crime and punishment, the social and economic impact of the dissolution of the institution of marriage, as well as the problem of the ponzi financing strategy of social programs (rather than the Singapore model of forced and subsidized savings) were all correct. The conservative vision of hubristic man and economic incentives is more accurate a world view than the liberal egalitarian ideal. And while it is not that we cannot use the ideas of both sides. It is that progressive desires must be accomplished through conservative means: retaining the relationship between cause, effect and incentives.

The USA, as a set of political institutions, faces the multicultural problem that faces all empires. It currently must cope with the combination of a)”The Demands Of Empire” that give the state greater scope than just the nation + b)”Nine Nations Of North America” which represent geographic differences in culture + c)”Racial Self-Preference in Association, and Differences In Ability” + d)”Gender Biases” + e) The class exaggerating effect of the extraordinary economic advantage of having an IQ greater than 105 in the information economy. All of these biases exist within a set of political institutions designed to resolve conflicts in priority between property owning males with homogenous norms. It is not possible to resolve conflicts over ends using decision making by majority rule. In the market we cooperate on means and are ignorant of one another’s ends. In majority rule government, there are winners and losers because we argue over ends. Majority rule must (as Federalist papers 10 stated) lead to extra-political resolution of conflict between groups with such mutually exclusive goals. Liberals slant toward the female reproductive strategy (the largest number of human births with the most equal experience) and the conservatives slant toward the male reproductive strategy (the most competitive tribe with the best people in charge of it.) This level of conflict over instinctual preference will not be resolved by the liberal desire to use our instituions of majority rule to suppress the instincts of the other side any more than conservatives would succeed in encouraging liberals to adopt conservative norms.

For this reason, something has to give. Either demographics have to play out (it’s possible), or the federal government has to devolve (unlikely without catastrophic military or economic causes) or we will have to develop new institutions that allow us to federate while pursuing opposing social ends (Just as unlikely). But it’s also just as likely that we will lose our high trust society as groups seek extra-political means of status seeking (like Mediterranean’s and Eastern Europeans, and Russians.) And if we lose that we will also lose our risk taking – which is why we’re a wealthy economy. Risk taking creates innovation.

But the USA is too big and too diverse ann empire to persist as we have known it. Classical liberalism is a means of governance for a small state or a small federation. Not an empire. And the USA is an empire. The Classical mutli-house model did not work for the british empire, and it will not work for the american empire.

So while I believe you have finally supplied the social sciences with the language by which to understand political conflcits I do not believe that the conflict is resolvable. People under Russian and Chinese socialism developed ‘black markets’ for everything. People under majority rule who have opposing interests will develop extra-political ‘black markets’ for power. They will circumvent the political institutions to achieve their desired ends. The state will attempt to preserve itself by increasing control, which will only expand the black markets. The liberals circumvented the constitution, and the conservatives circumvent the state apparatus.

There is no solution here without changes to our institutions. In government, big is bad and small is good. The city state and a mobile population allow the greatest diversity and freedom. So the problem we have is finding an institutional solution to that equilibrium: allowing federation of some things but not federation of norms.


The Keynesian debate promoted by such writers as Krugman, Delong, Thoma, Smith, and Stiglitz is misleading. Human beings are well aware that spending can increase demand, and that demand will improve the economy. The problem is, that we’re also aware of the externalities that are caused by that spending: the increase in government interference in our lives, the expansion of government’s size, the corruption created by the use of the funds, the use of the funds to support one’s opposition, the destruction of our savings, and the near prohibition on the institution of saving.

These negative consequences all support the secondary Keynesian objectives: the strong and increasingly egalitarian state. So Keynesians promote spending as much because of it’s externalities as for its impact on the economy. Just as we oppose those externalities because we desire freedom from an oppressive state, even if we must pay a high cost for doing so.

The germans resent supporting the greeks, italians and spanish just as much as americans resent supporting their liberal leaning underclasses. And while it may be true that the scale of our economy allows us to print money, that is not to say that each of us could not be more free, more prosperous, more secure and more competitive, as smaller collections of states rather than a continental federation of states oppressed by the coasts.

The Keynesian arguments are convincing on first blush. But they are only convincing because in their simplicity they ignore the true costs of government spending – the externalities that come from empowering the state: it is not debt alone that we face. It’s the destruction of meritocracy and the submission to the state.

The germans and the americans are right to oppose it.


From Karl Smith by way of Noah Smith

While you don’t want to get trapped into people thinking that cyclical concerns are liberal concerns … I don’t think it actually helps to offer middle ground.

The problem is that too much of the debate is manufactured. That is, it is debate for debate’s sake. There is no underlying reasoning going on. So, if you move the debate towards a compromise the parameters will simply change because people want to continue having some form of a debate.

This is the fundamental question facing political economy, isn’t it?

And I think you’re wrong.

The inter-temporal or “Long Run” impact of monetary and fiscal policy does in fact exacerbate booms and busts, misallocate human capital, and destroy incentives necessary for the maintenance of the polity precisely because it serves the interests of the left(short) right(long) divide . You argue that ‘there will be problems either way’, but you can’t support that argument, and you deny the existence of the opposing argument. The opposition (conservative political economy in contrast to liberal monetary economy) disagrees. Because conservatives are rightly concerned with the maintenance of unique western norms.

Monetary policy can be used constantly. Fiscal policy can be used in the short term. But they are both dependent upon the use of Trade, Industrial, Education and Social policy, which express the remainder of the temporal spectrum. Monetary and Fiscal policy are BOUNDED BY the longer term constraints, aren’t’ they?

Surely you wouldn’t make the argument that trade, industrial, education and social policy are irrelevant? So if they are relevant, then why so? Surely you wouldn’t make the argument that we could simply ‘print’ money without consequences. WHy not embrace MMT or ‘Social Credit’ then? Would you argue that inflation was the only consequence? But not fragility? Isn’t that Greece’s problem?

How do we coordinate policy across the “production cycle” of an economy? We can’t. Because we have no institutional means of coordinating this inter temporal production cycle as we do with interest rates to coordinate production in the private sector. Or are you arguing that there is no production cycle present in a body politic? If so, then why does education policy matter? Why is social policy meaningful other than as a means of emotional self-gratification?

You’re wrong. It is a left right divide.

It’s a left right divide because the short and the long term are tools of the left and right. While it may not be a THEORETICAL NECESSITY that these tools be biased left and right, it is a PRACTICAL NECESSITY that these tools are biased left and right, because we lack the institutions to prevent inter temporal transfer in government the way that we have institutions for the construction of inter temporal cooperation in the private sector, and therefore these tools are in fact tools of left and right.

It surprises me how the left cannot grasp this, but then, the left is by definition a short term ideology. We cannot expect the color blind to see differences in hue, and we cannot expect the temporally blind to see the production cycle. And we cannot tell the difference between those who are time blind and those who are simply thieves.


What do conservatives, liberals, and libertarians believe is the hidden agenda of the other two political philosophies? From Quora.

Conservatives believe in a meritocratic hierarchical society where a) there are as few ‘cheaters’ living off the efforts of others as is posible, b) that enfranchisement should be earned, c) that government should resolve conflicts not direct society d) that civic duties should be preferred to administrative bureaucracies. e) They believe a good society can best be created by norms, rather than laws. f) They view all property as individual, but wich we must put to collective ends. Jonathan Haidt has shown that conservatives treat all six moral codes equally. (liberty, care-taking, hierarchy, loyalty, purity, fairness)

Libertarians believe in a meritocratic non hierarchical society where there are as few cheaters as possible living off the efforts of others and that enfranchisement should be earned, and that government should be limited to resolving conflicts over property. They believe civic virtues will emerge from this society, and the government bureaucracy (correctly) is the source of all bad government, so that privatization should be used rather than public bureaucracy, whenever possible.

Progressives (Liberals)
Progressives believe in an egalitarian non hierarchical society where people produce what they can and that we redistribute from one another to one another as needed by way of the government. They believe all property is community property and that individuals are just temporary stewards of property in order to achieve what is best for the common good. They believe civic egalitarianism is best achieved through expansionary government that intervenes wherever possible in order to ensure equality of ends and means. Jonathan Haidt has shown that progressives (liberals) care only about two of the moral codes, and ignore the other four: fairness and care-taking.

It’s Gender
What may not be obvious to the average person is that these three groups represent a spectrum that expresses the different reproductive strategies of the genders, and that liberals on one end and conservatives on the other each skew toward gender lines. In fact, if women were not to vote, we would never have had a progressive government in our history. The female reproductive strategy is to give her child every opportunity to rise above his abilities. The male reproductive strategy is to ensure the competitiveness of the group by promoting the strongest. While these are generalizations, when we are talking about genders we are in fact, making very broad generalizations. And the data supports those generalizations.

Our Institutions Could Not Tolerate The Change
Our political sentiments are largely inherited, largely a function of gender and class. Or political system was invented when the church was the authority of all moral teaching, when our voting classes were all some version of protestants, when the state was restricted to the resolution of disputes. And when we were all small business people (farmers and shopkeepers) and so we were all market participants and there were very few ‘leeches’ in the system. The political system was originally structured by social class with the senate appointed from influential people, the house elected from business people (land owners) and the proletariat was uneducated if not illiterate. Our constitution was designed to limit the government to resolution of conflicts and to avoid prescription.

And that political system did not survive the Louisiana purchase, the civil war, the inclusion of women, and the rapid immigration of non-protestants into the country as a means of filling the newly acquired continent, and as new citizens, their inclusion into the voting pool. The industrial revolution and the world wars that threw England’s empire into our hands was an opportunity for profit that we could not pass up .

Each Ideology Fails
So, that is why conservatives fail. Because they are attempting to recreate a political system that is insufficiently complex for the society we live in today.

Liberals fail because the population disagrees with their economic and military program — justifiably so. But more importantly because they do not understand the relationship between the nuclear family, the military requirements of the empire, and the unique property of western civilization: non-corruption.

Libertarians fail because their ethic is antithetical to both conservatives and liberals. WHile libertarians have the best grasp of economics, liberals wil disagree with the libertarian economic program and conservatives will disagree with the libertarian social program.

All people reject cheating. Liberals see individualization of profits as cheating. Libertarians and conservatives see the redistribution of profits as cheating. Conservatives see immorality as cheating. We can try every permutation, but it’s all the same.

In simple terms, liberal=society unified by law, libertarian=society unified by commerce, conservative=society unified by norms. The problem is that we are materially different in our desires and permanently so. So the problem is inventing new institutions that can accomodate the different factions now that we have expanded enfranchisement beyond market-participating males. And we know the lefts economic program is impossible. we know the conservative normative program is impossible. We know the libertarian normative and institutional program is impossible. So we devolve into moralistic banter rather than attempt to solve the problem of creating institutions that allow us to cooperate despite our differences.

The Secret Of Western Civilization
But I will let you in on a secret. This conflict is ancient. And can be answered by one question: why is it that a woman has a right to bear a child that she cannot on her own support? If you can answer that question you can solve the conflict between the conservatives and the liberals. because that one question is what drives it.

The western manorial aristocratic economic system that is our heritage required that men demonstrate their fitness in order to gain access to land, and delayed childbirth so that women could work in the crafts. This process suppresses the breeding rates of the underclasses. The church likewise banned inbreeding which encourages early reproduction. THese two factors led to the advancement of western civilization as much as did the rule of law, science, and the division of powers.

Conservatives are attempting still to restrain the breeding of the lower classes to those who can afford to support their own. Liberals are doing the opposite:they are encouraging all the breeding that is possible. These are just the masculine and feminine reproductive strategies of our distant ancestors writ large. Nothing more.

So when you ask the question, what is it that separates the different political ideologies, almost everything you will hear is an elaborate form of justification: a ruse to distract you from this one underlying difference: should we allow everyone to breed if it means that the middle classes must suppress their breeding so that the lower classes may advance their breeding?

Now if someone told you that this is the single most important factor in raising a civilization out of ignorance and poverty, and that it is impossible to build an egalitarian civil society otherwise, how would that affect your answer?

How you answer that question is how you define your political preference.

It’s really that simple.

Moral Foundations Theory:
1) Care/harm: This foundation is related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. It underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.
2) Fairness/cheating: This foundation is related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. It generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy. [Note: In our original conception, Fairness included concerns about equality, which are more strongly endorsed by political liberals. However, as we reformulated the theory in 2011 based on new data, we emphasize proportionality, which is endorsed by everyone, but is more strongly endorsed by conservatives]
3) Liberty/oppression: This foundation is about the feelings of reactance and resentment people feel toward those who dominate them and restrict their liberty. Its intuitions are often in tension with those of the authority foundation. The hatred of bullies and dominators motivates people to come together, in solidarity, to oppose or take down the oppressor.
4) Loyalty/betrayal: This foundation is related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. It underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it’s “one for all, and all for one.”
5) Authority/subversion: This foundation was shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. It underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.
6) Sanctity/degradation: This foundation was shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. It underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions).


Interesting posts on Modeled Behavior in response to this post by Bryan Caplan on Econlog

Suppose there are ten people on a desert island. One, named Able Abel, is extremely able. With a hard day’s work, Able can produce enough to feed all ten people on the island. Eight islanders are marginally able. With a hard day’s work, each can produce enough to feed one person. The last person, Hapless Harry, is extremely unable. Harry can’t produce any food at all.


1. Do the bottom nine have a right to tax Abel’s surplus to support Harry?

2. Suppose Abel only produces enough food to support himself, and relaxes the rest of the day. Do the bottom nine have a right to force Abel to work more to support Harry?

3. Do the bottom nine have a right to tax Abel’s surplus to raise everyone’s standard of living above subsistence?

4. Suppose Abel only produces enough food to support himself, and relaxes the rest of the day. Do the bottom nine have a right to force Abel to work more to raise everyone’s standard of living above subsistence?

How would most people answer these questions? It’s hard to say. It’s easy to feel sorry for the bottom nine. But #1 and #3 arguably turn Abel into a slave. And #2 and #4 clearly turn Abel into a slave. I suspect that plenty of non-libertarians would share these libertarian moral intuitions. At minimum, many would be conflicted.

Yet bleeding-heart libertarian Jason Brennan doesn’t seem conflicted. At all. He begins by quoting one of his earlier posts:

Imagine that your empirical beliefs about economics have been disconfirmed. Imagine that a bunch of economists provide compelling evidence that life in a strictly libertarian polity would go badly. Imagine that they showed conclusively that if people everywhere were to live in a Nozickian minimal state or a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist civil society, with everyone strictly observing property right rules, that 10% of people would starve (through no fault of their own), 80% would be near subsistence (through no fault of their own), and only 10% would prosper. However, imagine that they also show that in a liberal social democracy with significant redistribution or social insurance, most people would prosper, just as many people living in such welfare states are doing pretty well right now.

In a followup, Brennan adds:

If you are a hard libertarian, you respond to this thought experiment by saying, “Well, that’s too bad things turned out that way. But, still, everyone did the right thing by observing property rights, and they should continue to do so.”…

If you have at least some concern for social justice, you respond by saying, “If that happened, that would be strong grounds to change the economic regime. In that kind of society, it’s unreasonable to ask people to observe the basic institutions and rules. They have a legitimate complaint that the rules works as if they were rigged against them. Perhaps we’d need to tweak property rights conventions. Perhaps we’d even need some sort of redistribution, if that’s what it took.”

This is a good example of what puzzles me most about bleeding-heart libertarians: At times, they sound less libertarian than the typical non-libertarian.* I’m not claiming that the “hard libertarian” intuition is certainly true. But in a thought experiment with ten people, the hard libertarian intuition is at least somewhat plausible. And once you start questioning the justice of the islanders’ treatment of Able Abel, questions about the justice of the modern welfare state can’t be far behind.

Needless to say, bleeding-heart libertarians usually sound a lot more libertarian than the typical non-libertarian. Yet this just amplifies the puzzle. Unjust treatment of the able may not be the greatest moral issue of our time. (Then again…) But unjust treatment of the able is a serious moral issue. And it’s a serious moral issue that mainstream moral and political philosophy utterly ignores. My question for bleeding-heart libertarians everywhere: Why don’t your hearts bleed for the able slave?

* The most egregious example is Andrew Cohen’s musings on parental licensing.

Lets extend the Parable a bit:

If Able needs to wear a shirt to get into a store, that’s an exchange. Cause and effect. It is a cost of entry.

If Able needs to respect property rights to participate in the local market. That is a price of entry into the market. If Able needs to respect manners, ethics and morals, then that is a price of entry into the group that cooperates — even if their only cooperation is negative: to respect life and property by avoiding theft, fraud and violence. If able wants something that he canot produce, he must exchange something for it.

These are all voluntary exchanges.

If Able works harder than others, and they take from him, that’s involuntary taking. It’s a theft. If Able works harder than others and others exchange something with him for it, It’s not a theft. It’s voluntary exchange. If others are materially unproductive, and have nothing to trade with Able, then what else do they have?

They have status. Status signals increase Able’s opportunity to be even more productive by assisting him in concentrating human capital. With that human capital he can exercise his mind, his abilities and his knowledge further. He can eventually control 80% of the resources simply because he knows best how. And others have voluntarily given that control to him.

Status also improves his access to desirable mates. Desirable mates further increase his status. And with that status people who are not productive like Able, will attempt to imitate him. Since, that is the purpose of status in our evolutionary system: to inform others who to imitate.

Status is our natural compensation. Status has been our compensation since before we had money, and a division of knowledge and labor. Very likely before we had speech. Perhaps before we were sentient.

But wait. Now, what happens in the Parable of the island?

Instead, one of the other nine people specializes not in being productive, but in preaching. In preaching redistribution. His name is Cain. Cain makes the argument that it is a moral duty to support the less productive people. Cain offers Job and Lot jobs if they forcibly take from Able in order to fulfill the moral demands of the non productive that Cain has been preaching. Cain then redistributes half of what he takes from Able, and demonizes Able for his reticence.

Able is deprived of the status, the future productivity he could create with control of his assets, his influence on the others in making them more productive through imitation, and deprived of the mates he could enjoy. And his genetic legacy is even deprived of the better genes he might capture.

Not only is he deprived of these things, but Cain has now stolen that status. Job and Lot have stolen his productivity, and status. This has all been involuntarily transferred (stolen) from Able, in order to profit Cain, for the benefit largely of Job and Lot, and for some symbolic benefit of everyone else.

On the horizon are nine other islands. Eight of those islands succumb to the proces of involuntary transfers. One does not. On that one Island Erik is ten times as productive as all the others, and they herald Erik at the quarterly festivals. Erik organizes the other people on his island in exchange for the product of his efforts. Over time, the people on Erik’s island become increasingly more productive, and genetically more competitive. On the other islands, the opposite happens. Because it’s dysgenic.

Humans object to involuntary transfers and are highly agitated by them. If the taxes are used for purposes that the productive agree with, then this objection usually disappears. But status is the human currency and money and ‘objects’ are just means of obtaining it. Because in the end, we are just gene factories algorithmically searching by trial and error for better solutions than those we have today. And we cannot alter that behavior. We will simply create black markets.

This is the insight of the Propertarians. That human nature is little more than emotions attached to changes in property.

On another much bigger island, the Crusoe tribe develops respect for property, but then, afterward Kevin discovers a hoard of coal that can be used for cooking fires on his property. And simply sells buckets of it at high prices to everyone on the island. The Friday tribe wants it very badly and so the Crusoe tribe must defend it. Furthermore, the Crusoe tribe already pays the cost of respecting property by forgoing opportunities for theft fraud and violence. These are a high cost for any society to develop. So, since they pay to defend the territory, and pay for property rights, they see his high prices as an involuntary transfer. The locals object because the resource is part of the island, the product of Kevin’s labors. They are comfortable paying a high price for his labor, but not for the resource, in which by any and all accounts they are shareholders. He’s not actually adding anything of value. He’s just created a toll booth, and an expensive tool booth, in order to gain access to a precious resource. He’s no different from an extortionist.

This parable can be extended to answer all moral and ethical questions of politics. The reason for that explanatory power, is that human nature is propertarian in origin. We are property calculators, and our emotions reflect changes in the state of our perceived property. THe primary difference between individuals is just which property we categorize as shareholder, and what we see as individual. But emotions are descriptions in changes in state of individuals’ perceptions of property. We could not have evolved as sentient beings otherwise. It would be impossible.

The change in politics over the past century and a half, has been driven largely by the inclusion of women into the work force and the voting system. They have expanded government. They have done so by using the government not to resolve conflicts in priorities, and not to concentrate productive capital, but to redistribute from the productive to the non productive using the artificie of government. The classical liberal model of institutions was designed for farmers heading nuclear families: business owners who participated in the market. But very few people actually participate in the market as business owners today. Most sell effort or skill for wages, or join bureaucracies to seek rents rather than participate in the market and its risk. And the productive class who participates in that market cannot defend itself from the unproductive classes using the institutional model built for egalitarian farmers. So the society polarizes as the factions compete over futures that are diametrically opposed to one another: one which appropriates money without status compensation, and one wich desires status compensation, and control over norms, in exchange for money.

Mediterranean, Russian and Slavic men have abandoned their societies because of endemic corruption. i.e., because of Involuntary transfers. The black market won and the society is not impossible to fix. Status signals in southern italy, spain and greed are anti-social. In ireland they’re anti-productive Luddic signals. In the states, vast numbers of hispanic and african american males have developed alternative masculine signals outside of the market and outside of the nuclear family. These signals are spreading to other males who are disenfranchised. Males over 50 are dropping out of the work force (and not voting over 50 and under 34) out of hopelessness. The wealthy abandoned society in the sixties, and have been out of sight since then. We do not even know their names. Many people do not know that they even exist. Their status has been totally appropriated. And they are only members of society in sense that they reside here.

You can redistribute money, but not status. Status, not money is our motivator. Society is constructed of a web of signals. otherwise it’s just a mechanical process that we each exploit for our individual benefit.


From Econlib

RE: “they insist that social justice ought to be part of libertarianism but are unwilling to tell us what it means.”

Thats right. They have no program, no argument, no artifice. Only a sentiment. This is why they’ll fail.

But libertarianism, or at least propertarian reasoning within libertarianism, provides the solution to ‘social justice’ — if that term has any meaning other than ‘redistribution’. The solution arises from insight is that the ethic of voluntary exchange does not require unanimity of belief in anything. It only requires institutions that provide a means by which we can construct exchanges between groups that are not possible to construct by alternative means due to pervasive ‘cheating’. Cheating which is expressed as competition, is beneficial in a market for consumer goods, but a form of privatization or corruption when applied to infrastructure or services (commons). Institutions are necessary for creating those exchanges free of ‘cheating’– private appropriation of common investments.

The problem for us lies in constructing the institutions that allow exchanges between groups. Even assuming representative government is a good, if for no other purpose than to divide the labor of decision making, the classical liberal model of multi-class government should have been expanded and reinforced so that classes could conduct exchanges, most of which are inter-temporal borrowings from one another. Instead we undermined that feature of the classical liberal government with fully democratic solutions disconnected from the material differences in interests in the population.

Furthermore, institutions of all forms are under attack by ideological libertarians. Rothbardian Anarchism has stolen the libertarian movement. But, we don’t need to give up on institutions. We need to give up on creating institutions that depend on a unanimity of belief in ends, means and virtues. A requirement that does not pass the most casual scrutiny.

Most ‘justice’ is simply accounting for and settlement of differences in production cycles. There is no reason we cannot bring forward to the disadvantaged the benefits of the difference in production cycles between the classes, in the same way we bring forward productivity through borrowing and interest between capitalists and entrepreneurs.

There is no reason that is, other than we lack the political institutions to accomplish in politics what we accomplish daily in banking as a matter of course.

That’s the answer to bleeding heart libertarianism: institutions.

But we have to understand Rotbardianism as all but a prohibition on organization first.



1) Yes, FB is trying to pump its share price via advertising in anticipation of the IPO. We should expect advertising higher costs as the public awareness of FB’s income limitations increases.

2) Even if FB produces only 1B a quarter in revenue or only $5 per user, the costs of running that company are small in practice, and marketing expenses are controllable. It can be a profitable business. The question for investors is, can it be a GROWTH business?

3) If FB solves mail and search and duplicates the Google advertising tools, it can improve its value to advertisers even if its knowledge of customers is not as thorough as they hope, because customers will prefer less noisy searches to Google’s noisy and dirty searches. This is probably the strategic internal error they are making. They are very likely overvaluing the data about the individual in pursuit of mass advertising dollars instead of accurately valuing the desirability to the user of the interface and the protection from ‘noise’.

FB will not become another Google. Google profits from the fact that its results are BAD. Because its results are bad, it can sell advertising to small business. FB however, can profit from the fact that its search results CAN be GOOD by narrowing acceptable results and narrowing advertising and therefore increasing advertising rates over those of Google. The problem Google has is that it CANNOT ATTRACT TOP BRANDS. The virtue of FB is that it CAN if it creates a walled garden. FB can strategically create a flight to quality for good brands just as Google has created a flight to opportunity for small and weak brands. “FB is television, and Google is the yellow pages.”

4) THE QUESTION FOR INVESTORS THEN is whether FB will pursue the short term trend, and continue to overvalue customer information — which looks bad but may not indicate anything other than an issue of timing — or whether FB will pursue the long term opportunity, of creating a less cluttered garden on the internet which converts their perceived weakness into a strength that is both desirable for users, consumers and for brands, and one which can rival google’s revenue, but rival it with UPMARKET revenue. The important point here, is that investors can INFLUENCE THAT STRATEGIC DIRECTION.

I have no idea whether this strategy is commonly understood inside the company or without. But as one of the few people who has built a large scale technology and marketing company (Top 25 Digital Agency), and who has worked with other strategic Fortune 100 technology leaders to try to solve this problem, the business opportunity is obvious to me since Google’s challenge at attracting top brands due to its all-encompassing aspirations is legion. Google helps small business. FB can help large brands. And advertising large brands requires a bit of a garden. And FB has it. But the client interface for that business model is not Google’s. It’s more intimate. It has to be.

That is what I suspect FB’s strategic error is: they’re looking in the wrong direction. That direction can be fixed however. And investors should invest in the OPPORTUNITY to create that wealth even if FB’s numbers look depressed because of timing.

Curt Doolittle


I loosely follow Mitchell Powel on FontWords.com. In a recent posting he commented on John Fensel’s ten Questions For Conservatives. He was having a bit of fun with it, and I”m trying to avoid finishing my chapter on Ideology, so I had a go at it.

Dear David. Here is a lengthy and detailed response to your Questionnaire for Conservatives.

First, “Conservative” means simply “reaction to the status quo”. One must be conservative about something. In the case of americans, they are conservative about the anglo classical liberal institutions, the most important of which are rule of law that limits the actions of the state, and a division of labor and knowledge between the classes that are represented by two houses in an institutional arrangement that allows procedural exchange between groups (classes) with different interests (and abilities). They are conservative about the aristocratic manorial system (and therefore its modern instantiation in the corporation) because it is a meritocratic organizational structure. They are conservative about the nuclear family, since that is a unique institution that gives each man and woman leadership of the smallest tribe possible, and by dong so makes them visibly accountable for its success and failure. The nuclear family system with prohibition on near-breeding, is a bottom-up means of organizing society so that the fewest involuntary transfers are created, in an institution that trains people to be personally responsible due to the perfect transparency of the family. They are conservative with regard to human nature in that conservatism is first and foremost a warning against pervasive human hubris. They are conservative with regard to external threats, for which a hierarchy is necessary since it allows rapid response to threats and opportunities. They are conservative for good reason: they invented the one and only high trust society in the world with those traditions.

But even with that shared background, American conservatives fall into three camps, each of which favors using one of the three possible social forms of coercion:

1) Ostracization/inclusion at the cost of obeying norms: Social conservatives (The church, farmers and peasantry) give higher priority to the enforcement of the social order by way of norms which are indoctrinated by pedagogy and ritual under penalty of ostracization from the geography and the market.

2) The institution of property/honesty (law) under the threat of violence: Classical liberal conservatives (The Aristocracy and the military) prefer meritocratic rotation of a hierarchy whose membership is determined by demonstrated service of others in the market, where their only purpose is to maintain rules that apply equally to all, but where punishment rather than ostracization is the means of coercion.

3) Benefits from voluntary exchange under the treat of lost opportunity: Commercial conservatives (The bankers, small business owners and trade craftsmen) prefer anarchic market orders where commerce alone serves those according to their contribution.

The fact that conservatives speak in allegorical language rather than ratio-empirical language is immaterial other than the fact that it obscures the content and reasoning of their arguments. This unfortunately makes their arguments useless with liberals. And it is a convenient way of avoiding a meaningful conversation on the part of conservatives who themselves may not understand the content of their own traditions. (And who rarely do, actually.) Allegorical language is perfectly effective. It just isnt’ as useful in debate as it is in pedagogy. And it is demonstrably more effective in pedagogy than ratio-empirical language. So the test of any philosophy, regardless of its linguistic construct as either allegorical, ratio-empirical, is not its form – it’s the result of using it. It is pretty hard to argue against the European aristocratic achievement. Passing asian from far behind is pretty impressive.

The alliance between religious conservatives, and the martial and commercial conservatives has been highly effective, but it is uncommon. The church tended to err on the side of progressives. So there are two conservative traditions: the aristocratic martial classical liberal, and the common and religious groups. WHile it serves the left to cast conservaties as religious, it is simply an argumentative device for the left.

The other tradition is the pragmatic aristocratic. Aristocratic Conservatives failed to develop a language capable of moral argumentation with the left. They stayed with historical analogy as their main form of argument. The libertarians developed that language that the conservatives failed to, which is why the libertarians have taken over all of conservative thought leadership. It is that libertarian language I”m using to discuss these topics. So the three movements use three languages: religious mystical allegory, conservative historical reasoning, and libertarian analytical philosophy supported by ratio-empiricism. The problem for the entire right, is that the extremist anarchists have appropriated the libertarian movement so conservatives have not adopted the lines of reasoning. (That’s what I’m doing for them.) Now, back to aristocratic manorialism.

But there is a dirty little secret to the aristocratic model, that is not very tasteful. By requiring a man demonstrate his ability to perform in order to obtain a lease on the land from the landholder, where that lease was necessary to wed and support children, a natural eugenics program was put into place by delaying marriage and childbirth and preventing access to land to the lowest of the underclasses. There is a current argument that the nuclear family, prohibitions on inbreeding by the church, and property-manorialism is what created the higher IQ distribution among northern europeans that led to the enlightenment. There is a further argument that our IQ distribution has declined since 1850, taking europeans from parity with the ashkenazim, to a five point disadvantage. If this argument is true, and the dirty little secret is confirmed, there is even more to argue in support of the conservative model than we had thought. As distasteful as it may be to our current perceptions.

The other failure in conservatism has been the inability to predict the combination of the loss of the church as a separate entity responsible for norms, and the transfer of the management of norms to the state. As well as the unanticipated impact of women on the voting process and the consequential impact that women’s decidedly non-meritocratic preferences have had on those institutions, and the institution of property rights. Conservatives did not anticipate that the differences between female and male mating strategies, which was masked by the nuclear family, would be written large under democracy and the ability to legislatively and financially obligate males. As such, our political arguments are absurd, since the distribution of sentimental voting patterns between the genders guarantees that all decisions are merely reflections of gender participation in the voting process. Nothing more. Our arguments are tilting at demographic and biological windmills.

Again, we would love it if all our political pontifications and justifications were of substance, but when aggregated by a process of voting they are no longer obscured by verbal artistry and are revealed as mere reflections of our primate past. And the difference in distribution between men and women — with men having wider and women having narrower distributions — and the difference between the majority male concept of creating a meritocratic tribe that can persist over time, and the majority desire of each woman to have her offspring persist regardless of merit to the tribe, are natural conflicts that our system does not account for. And perhaps cannot account for.

So with those definitions and contexts in mind, here are the answers to your questions articulated with greater granularity and precision than you will find among most conservatives. Which isn’t always a good thing. :)


QUESTION 1. “Do first world societies have a moral obligation to help its poor, elderly, and disabled?”

This question like most moral puzzles is a fallacy of composition. Is unintentionally a trick question. I’ll try to fix that by answering it completely.

a) Institutional responsibility. First, caretaking is the responsibility of the church. Conservatives would prefer that caretaking were as separate from the legislature as is the judiciary or the army. THe conservative concept of society sees the purpose of the state as proviging a means for the resolution of disputes. Moving charity into the state opened it, and society to corruptoin. People are not invested in the society becausthey do not act in order to be invested in it. There are planty of modern options for breaking out caretaking services from the legislature, and putting it back into civic hands, so that we could recreate civic virtues. Even if service were compulsory. And conservatives would prefer it that way. (they use the word church but anything outside of politics would be fine with them.)

b) Moral Obligations. No. First world citizens have a moral obligation only to refrain from involuntarily harming the poor, elderly and disabled. “Do nothing unto others that you would not have done unto you”. Moral obligations cannot be positive only negative. But this statement is only true because of how the question was phrased.

So, if phrased differently, then conditionally Yes. If the INDIVIDUALS who are poor, elderly and disabled eschew fraud theft and violence, which is necessary to create the institution of property, then they have contributed to the society (market) by forgoing opportunities for self benefit by way of theft, fraud and violence, then it is an involuntary transfer (theft) from the poor, elderly and disabled, not to provide them with the food, healthcare and shelter necessary for survival, since they paid the minimum cost of entry for the social order that everyone else profits from.

But that care must be limited to food, health care, shelter and training (education), and cannot not extend to pleasure, entertainment status-signaling and the right of reproduction, since at that point, they deprive the productive without providing anything in exchange. That would be a theft, and dissolve the obligation for care taking. “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

c) Religious obligations can be positive. Legal obligations can be positive. But moral obligations must be exchanges, even if that exchange is an act of charity for which our compensation is the improvement of our ‘soul’.

d) Preferences and Luxuries. We can provide for the poor, elderly and disabled if we are able to, and we prefer to. In that sense, like a charity, charity is a luxury good.

e) Behavioral practicalities. Human beings instinctually demonstrate social behaviors:
i. NURTURING. Care Taking and Nurturing. The difference between conservatives and liberals is that liberals think ONLY in terms of harm and care. and conservatives think in terms of the long term competitiveness of the tribe in relation to other tribes. Again, this is just female versus male breeding strategies expressed large.

ii. ANTI-CHEATING. The two necessary sides of the coin of cooperative behavior: reciprocity, and punishment for cheating. The problem for conservatives is that it’s pretty hard to tell who is cheating. Or rather, the definition of cheating (poverty) is arguable, and therefor we are creating a malincentive. Conservative responses to immigration are driven by the same issue: it’s cheating. (Theft).

And human beings are much more active about cheating than they are about any other human behavior. THe difference between the left and right is that the right views transfers as cheating and the left views prohibition on transfers as cheating. WHich is just how men and women look at propagating their genes. Something which is also true for male ‘betas’. If we mix rent-seeking transfer-seeking women and beta males together we have a slight majority of the population (approx 47%) versus the conservatives (approx 37%) with the rest of the people ambivalent but slanting conservative because of established norms, and who vote their pocketbooks rather than sentiments.

Given these different actions, we have a limited moral obligation to protect the poor, elderly and disabled as long as our protection does not encourage others to cheat at being dependent citizens. WE have a RELIGIOUS obligation to do more than that. But practicaly speaking, all reasons above feed into our behavior, with the most important today being that the ‘poor’ can afford to breed, have an air conditioner, two televisions, a car, and their own apartment or home, and eat enough calories that the greatest threat to their health is obesity. Furthermore, we do not ask fair compensation from them: which is to refrain from childbearing until you are capable of doing so, rather than exporting your preferences and costs onto the middle class who must under-breed in order to pay for your luxury.

QUESTION 2. “Can all religious beliefs, including ones not shared by you, justifiably be used to influence public policy and law?”

This question is more challenging than the first because of its assumptions. Lets see if I can fix that.

a) It assumes that unanimity of belief is possible or desirable in a body politic. This is false on its face if only because we have evidence that unanimity of belief is possible, and we finally know why: beliefs are genetic in origin.

b) The inverse must be asked, “Can laws and policy be used to influence religious beliefs?” Essentially this nullifies the question as meaningless, and solved only by who possesses the greater violence with which to compel the others.

c) Religious beliefs are a form of law, coded in allegory, reproduced by repetition, under the threat of ostracization from the group, its security, and its opportunities. This process creates norms. The question is not whether the narratives are expressed in rational or empirical terms, but whether the economic and organizational content of those narratives when they are acted upon by human beings, produces a material outcome. Once reduced to economic an organizational principles, it is irrelevant which language is used to express them. The question then becomes the debate over the results produced by the content not the form. As such, arguments over allegorical thinking versus rational and empirical thinking is part and parcel either eristic or a process of deception or oppression.

d) The answer is, to the extent that any group can enact policy for any reason over the will of others, the reasoning for doing so is immaterial. The difference is that religion ostracizes because it is independent of geographic monopoly and law oppresses because it is defined by geographic monopoly. The profundity of that statement may not be readily apparent.

QUESTION 3. “How should people be taxed: in terms of dollar amount, percentage, or capability? Why?”

The question of taxation cannot be asked intelligently outside of a context for the method of government. In the sense conveyed by our democratic republican form of government, there is no known optimum system. However, there are two extremes. The first is that we do not tax at all, but simply ‘print’ the money needed to cover spending, thereby diluting everyones real wealth without the need to distort the economy with multiple perverse incentives. No country has had the courage to try this, but various forms are discussed by theorists under the heading “Modern Monetary Theory”. The second is to tax income as a five year rolling average against balance sheets, rather than straight income, combined with mandatory retirement savings, and healthcare accounts, and publicly register the contributions of individuals, so that there is a status associated with their paying for government. This model forces the government to think in terms of creating a competitive economy for all classes.

QUESTION 4. “Would Jesus want to spend federal income on programs for the poor, healthcare, or military?”

Jesus was a rebel using the allegorical language of the Persians by way of Abraham to criticize his local group for their surrender to the romans. Paul did most of the work. Jesus doesn’t appear to have said very much other than that the common people should take care of one another as a means of resisting corruption on all levels. So I have no idea what he would say. If you read greek text from that era it borders on incomprehensible because ideas from that era were pervasive with violence, poverty, ignorance and mysticism. So I do not know. Later writers altered his ideas sufficiently, and later philosophers augmented it. But it remains a personal religion of rebellion. And that is how christians use it today: as a means of rebellion against the modern ‘Rome’.

QUESTION 5. “Was Reagan justified in raising taxes on wealthy Americans multiple times? Why or why not?”
The question is meaningless outside of the context. The way it is asked, implies the thinking of the left — a narrowness of thinking that is alien to conservatives who tend to be broad and historical in their thinking. Reagan was attempting to correct the mistakes of the Johnson thru Carter era which had proven the failure of the idea of the great society and it’s incorrect concept of human nature. He wanted to put an end to the world communist movement outside the country, and he wanted to direct money away from the state and to private industry within the country so that he could reverse the collectivism that had impoverished the country and its culture. In that sense, his actions were pragmatic not ‘just’.

QUESTION 6. “Should the existence of poverty be a moral concern for first world societies?”
WHy isn’t this a repeat of the first question? It is, isn’t it? That said, it is not a moral concern, it is a practical concern.

QUESTION 7. “In what way does homosexual marriage infringe upon your rights, or the rights of anyone else?”
This question is predicated on a false premise. For a conservative rights are not involved, only a leftist would consider this topic a question of rights. Instead, the question is why do you oppose homosexual marriage? The answer is that conservatives oppose all threats to the nuclear family, and treat the nuclear family as a ‘sacred’ institution that society grants special privileges, and which solves very complicated problems. Secondly, it is an assault on traditional gender roles and the ‘peace’ that has been made between the genders by traditional gender roles. Thirdly, it produces unknown affects upon children, which takes a person’s preference and transfers the cost of that preference to children who do not have a choice whether they do so.

Until recently, and throughout all of history, it was believed that homosexuality was a choice — a form of selfishness that could corrupt the young and ruin their chances at a successful (nuclear family) life. We now are fairly certain that it is the byproduct of an in-utero process, possible related to an immune reaction (and therefore at some point preventable) but it is not voluntary. So the fourth argument has been eliminated by science. But it is unlikely that the damage to the nuclear family will be disproven. We seem to be reverting to our ancestral relationships: serial monogamy and migratory males.

QUESTION 8. “If society is left with only two options: let uninsured patients who need life-saving surgery die, or pay for their surgeries through taxpayer money, which would you choose?”

False dichotomy. The question is whether we mutually insure people for catastrophic illness outside of the last year of life, and ask them to pay for their own prescriptions and maintenance like canada does. This is the solution that we need to adopt. Framing the question otherwise is argumentative deception.

QUESTION 9. “Should tax cuts only be accompanied by equal spending cuts?”
This question only makes sense in current context. The republican argument is that they want ‘dangerous’ political institutions dismantled in excahgne for tax increaes and they see this as an opportunity that rarely arises to transfer power back to the states by eliminating the DOE, Energy, and HUD organizations that are the remnants of the great society.

QUESTION “10. Ultimately, how do you judge the “success” of a society? Ie, what indicator is the best way to judge the progress of a developed society (possible answers: gdp, happiness of its citizens, freedom, rights)?”

That it persists in relation to other societies by developing technology that allows a minority to resist conquest by a larger majority. That is the essence of conservatism. The manorial west was a poor and backward minority that through discipline and technology held back the superior numbers of the autocratic east.

In other words, as a hierarchy:
—-Innovation in all things including the arts.
Notice that equality is not in that list, because conservatism is conversationally allegorical, but procedurally scientific: humans are unequal in ability and survival of the group depends upon competitive excelence.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.