In the first part of this series I put forth a somewhat heretical concept, namely paying people to consume. A similar (but more primitive version of this) concept called ‘negative income tax’ was put forth in the Nixon presidency, but failed for two reasons- whites believed blacks (and ‘others’) were undeserving and money was still mostly physical, not electronic.
However things have changed since then. Today education, ‘good work ethic’, skill or competence do not ensure even whites a decent stable job, unlike the late 1960s-early 1970s. This phenomenon is often blamed on immigration, affirmative action and outsourcing but that is not the case for a simple but overlooked reason: technological changes have made many older jobs redundant, therefore the bulk of the poorly employed would still have the same shitty jobs even if they could stop ‘others’ from taking their jobs.
The real problem is that technology, in the last 30 years, has destroyed more well paying jobs than it has created.
However most of the economy of “rich” countries is based on high levels of internal consumption by average people, a situation with no real precedent in human history. For most of human history trade was mostly local, and most long distance trade was for a couple of essentials for the masses and luxuries for the rich. The majority of people had an existence that was barely above subsistence.
Paying money has been linked to jobs, because less productive civilizations could not afford many free riders. However today high productivity makes it necessary to have unproductive people who consume and support the productive. How can the jobless (and moneyless) still keep previously productive people gainfully employed? Any attempt to optimize this system via job cuts (in reality income cuts) causes a deflationary spiral that is much steeper than before because of high productivity.
The productive cannot exist without consumers in a system characterized by high productivity.
To put it bluntly..
We have to separate the idea of having a job with having a decent income.
While we should pay people with jobs more, those without jobs must make enough to keep a certain level of demand (and employment for those who still have jobs). Example: A person with a job can afford a BMW/ Lexus/ Porsche while the jobless can only afford to buy a Corolla. So both have cars, but the productive have much more luxurious cars than those who are jobless. It maintains the incentive to work and move up, without killing aggregate demand.
While I have a lot more to say about this subject in future posts, let me quickly discuss some of my ideas on implementing it.
It is my opinion that human beings have both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides. However these sides are merely different approaches to solve a problem, and are not inherently problematic. The problems arise not as a result of our sides but the context and possibilities in different eras. A society that encourages the ‘bad’ sides can muddle around upto a horse, gunpowder and sail-ship civilization, and stay there for some time. Retaining those attitudes and further technological progress gives you ww1 and ww2. You see, such levels of technology require a different mindset to handle them without destroying each other in genocidal wars. Pre ww1 and ww2 attitudes led us into those wars. The world we live in today is far more constrained to act like in previous eras, precisely because we all have so much to lose in any significant war. However that does not mean that the ape mind won’t regain control, especially if people feel desperate and some group cracks. If that happens, the living will envy the dead in a manner that was never possible even thirty years ago.
Even if we do not reach that depth, a serious systemic defect in our system could cause enough bad faith to cause the system to come apart. Complex systems do not fail in predictable manners nor are they reproducibly rebootable.Simply put, many of our old ideas and attitudes are both outdated by technology and carry massive downside risks.
I have however no delusions that such a change will be easy or voluntary. It took ww1 to convince europeans that their old ways were dead, it took the great depression to discredit a lot of old fashioned morality and economics, and it took ww2 to get many nations to see the light. In each case, only a lot of suffering and mass casualties caused by adhering to old fashioned ideologies convinced the survivors that their “natural leaders” were out of it.
I do not think that any system can be made perfect, foolproof or impossible to abuse. The key is creating something that is less fucked up than what we now have. Moreover any system that does not consider human behavioral characteristics is doomed to fail.
So let us start with a blueprint of how to implement such a system:
1. The MCE should be paid in monthly installments, with month-to-month carryovers to buy big ticket items. However no year-to-year carryovers should be allowed.
2. The MCE cannot be used to pay any debts or invest in anything, no exceptions. It is meant for consumption, and that is all.
3. The reasons behind paying the MCE should be made very clear and transparent to everybody. It is not welfare, just a way to keep civilization working and progressing.
4. To implement the MCE properly, we require government paid education, healthcare and disability coverage (and legalized drugs).
5. You have to pay every adult, irrespective of whether they have a job or not. Their job earnings, if any, are extra. Therefore people are still motivated to work and improve their lifestyle.
6. The MCE should never be adjusted for the number of kids a person has… I repeat NEVER. The idea is to pay enough for a single person to live well OR a single person + 1 kid to live OK.
The idea is that it will be advantageous for people to form families to raise two-three kids, as opposed to getting a bigger check from the government.
7. Eliminate alimony and child support! If the government pays you enough to live a middle class level lifestyle and raise a kid nicely, you have no business asking your ex- for any money.
8. Misuse, stealing or abuse of any cards by others will be treated like any other felony. In any case the ID will be on multiple cards, so losing one won’t have any dire consequences.
9. Only you can accesses the money in your MCE account, even your spouse has to ask you to withdraw it for her. No joint MCE accounts!
10. The MCE cannot exist unless it pays every adult equally, and any basic inequality will kill the system. What you make above the MCE is your own business..
11. To keep things fair, extremely high progressive estate taxes are necessary. If you are billionaire, philanthropy is a good idea as very little (maybe 10-20 million equivalent) of it will reach your kids after your death.
Hereditary aristocracies do not lead to progressive societies.
12. The basic utilities such as sewage, water, electricity, hospitals, fire departments etc will be paid through taxes + user fees. So will education and comprehensive health coverage.
The MCE will support buying stuff like buying clothes, gadgets, cars, houses, vacations, restaurants, vacations etc.
13. Since the MCE is good enough for a middle class level lifestyle, we can eliminate large conventional pensions. The idea is to pay people enough to consume at a lower middle class level from adulthood to death.
14. It is extremely important that any such system is accompanied by the ability to fire governmental employees more easily. In any case, the ones without jobs will still have a decent lifestyle.
15.To keep people work ready, have job sharing schemes where the otherwise unemployed can still work a little and keep their skills and make some extra money.
More in another post, which is now up: Minimal Consumption Entitlement: 03
This post will introduce a concept that I have often briefly mentioned in my replies on other blogs. The idea is both heretical and somewhat hard to imagine, for most people.
I will start by defining my starting point, which are the ideas of Hyman Minsky. He believed that boom and bust cycles were an inherent feature of capitalism. Google the concept of a “Minsky moment”, if you are interested. His most heretical ideas were however two concepts, one of which has already become reality. He believed that the government should become the lender and employer of last resort if a bust paralyses confidence in the private sector. Underlying these ideas is one unspoken concept, namely economies can suffer crises of confidences so severe that it is not possible for the “free market” to reboot the system. Essentially if people lose confidence in the system they will stop participating in it crippling any attempts to re-equilibrate and causing a further wave of bad faith until the system becomes inoperable.
While a simpler system like an Egyptian or Roman level civilization can recover, more complex systems cannot recover if damaged beyond a certain level. Consider the effects of a nationwide electrical grid failure for two months. If you believe that everything will just “come back”, you are dreaming. Similarly cardiogenic shock lasting more than a few minutes will have a lasting effect of the person. Even if you could bring most organs back, the brain would not survive more than a few minutes of total hypoxia, at room temperature.
Which brings us to the whole business of what makes our economy function.. It is the flow of money, rather than the amount of money per se that makes the world go around. Now there are those who believe that only zero sum money, like gold, can survive over the long run. However we no longer live in a zero sum world, indeed every phase of the industrial revolution has made the world less zero sum and more productive than the last, and as Keynes famously said “in the long term we are all dead”.
The high and ever increasing productivity of our world creates some unique problems, not experienced by previous generations. You see, for most of human history productivity was so low that people who consumed but did not produce were rightly considered parasites. However we now live in a world where a fraction of the population can provide all the necessities and luxuries for everyone else. The real question then is: how can the rest of the population pay to buy these products and services. Part of the solution lies in price deflation, I am writing this on a 200$ iPhone, a concept that would have considered almost laughable a decade ago.
However this does not still solve the major problem:
How can you employ most of the people who do not perform any obviously important function?
Some might suggest eugenic genocide, but the problem still remains. A smaller population makes many people with previously useful jobs redundant, as high productivity removes the necessity for most people to work. The logical conclusion would be one human who could produce everything, but had nobody to sell it to. Don’t laugh, it may not be ultimately necessary for humans to do anything to produce everything.
The other option is paying people to consume.
I can immediately see your main objections to this idea, so let me go through them.
1. How do you motivate anybody to work?
A: The answer to this is quite simple. Pay people to work beyond their minimum consumption entitlement. So a person with a job makes x + y, instead of just x. He/ she is free to use ‘ y ‘ any way they see fit, including not spending it.
2. How do you stop this free money from being used for anything other than consumption?
A: In the old days, this was hard to enforce. But interac cards and income tax departments make it possible to track how people use their money. Plus it would be helpful if the true purpose of the free money was explained to it’s recipients.
3. Why should the “undeserving poor” receive free money?
A: Because you are only one job loss or innovation away from losing your fortune and importance for good. In any case, most high earners in society are rentier parasites.
4. How can you motivate people to innovate?
A: Easy! A stable life makes it more easier for people to develop truly revolutionary ideas and concepts. The big jumps in human innovation never came from micro managed projects with job instability. A decent and stable existence might actually help us innovate and dream further than is now possible. Scarcity encourages survivalism over speculative thinking, guess which one leads to big innovations.
5. How do you stop the “masses” from voting more stuff for themselves?
A: This one is easier than you think. Since more demand creates more jobs for producers, I fail to see the problem. Of course, we have to abandon old ideas about money supply, that originated in a gold standard based world.
6. What about inflation?
A: Technology will cause product/ service price deflation. Let me ask you a counter question:
Who does inflation hurt? Does more harm come from deflationary job and income loss or from inflationary destruction of savings? Inflation merely increases the numbers on a price tag, deflation causes misery and deprivation. Miserable and desperate people start looking for and supporting egomaniacal dictators. Read some history!
In any case, fiat money created by a stable government is far less inflationary than debt based money created by banksters. I will explain that concept in another post.
Stay tuned for my next part of this series, hopefully answering some of your feedback to this article. The next part is now up: Minimal Consumption Entitlement: 02
If given the choice, many people would like to live in an unchanging world. However the world, indeed the universe itself, changes and often takes directions that people do not like. While the desirability of living in past eras is debatable, many would like to somehow ‘reverse the clock’ and live in some era when people like them supposedly had a better life.
There is one major problem with that wish, namely:
Complex systems are not reversible, and they cannot reach an earlier equilibria (or anything even close to that).
Before we delve into the ‘why’ of irreversibility, let us define some concepts. So what is a complex system anyway?
I prefer to define a complex system as one in which the number of components, or their interactions, cannot be determined with any degree of certainty.
Therefore a rifle firing match grade ammunition is far closer to a simple system than a complex one. Let me explain.. We can create and manipulate metal, explosives and machines with an extremely high degree of confidence. It is also possible to compute the effects of gravity, wind and altitude to a degree allowing them to be factored. So while a good rifle can still fail, miss or jam, such occurrences are tractable and correctable. It is possible to hit the target with the 5th shot, even if you missed the 4th because of bad firing technique, after successful hits with the first three.
Complex systems either have many components that are poorly understood, unknown or whose interactions are not well characterized. An additional factor operating in complex systems is emergent phenomenon. Living Organisms, Cultures, Nations, Civilizations are easily understood examples of complex emergent systems.
Let me start with a few examples derived from living organisms:
While fish and some amphibians have gills, aquatic reptiles or mammals (either alive or extinct) never redeveloped gills. Mosasaurs, Plesiosaurs, Crocodilians, Aquatic Birds and Cetaceans would benefit from the ability to extract oxygen from the water like fish. But in each case adaptations were made in existing systems rather than evolve gills again. Considering that animals rarely lose genetic material altogether, it is paradoxical that inefficient solutions such as air sacs, better tolerance to hypoxia and blowholes were preferable over regression, even for truly aquatic genera like some prehistoric aquatic reptiles (mosasaurs) and cetaceans (whales/dolphins).
The answer to this question underlies the main reason why complex system are not reversible, and is paradoxically also the reason behind the success of x86 based CPUs.
The simple answer is: compatibility of existing applications. You see, both evolution and CPU architecture are constrained by the inability of older or newer de novo designs to run routines that were developed for the system in question (and which are poorly transferable to older or brand new architectures). Every new feature implemented in an existing system or architecture makes it harder and harder to revert to the ancestral forms. It is easier to add new routines to emulate a desirable feature, even if the result is mediocre than revert or go back to the drawing board. In living systems, the drawing board approach is especially problematic.
Changes in our civilization present a similar problem. You cannot uninvent birth control pills, electricity, automobiles, flush toilets, the internet and universal sufferage. These concepts (and technology) have diffused and any group which gave them up first might be at an disadvantage to one that did not. Though each innovation creates its own problems, many routines our world depends upon require their continued presence. Moreover many innovations, such as nuclear weapons, are game changers in that a world with many nuclear powers is very unlike a world with one or two nuclear powers. The mere presence of a few crude nukes can change the bargaining posture of larger nuclear powers, because such weapons are far more damaging to countries that depend on more complex and interconnected systems and supply chains to maintain high productivity than those who do not have them in the first place.
There is no way back, and even a collapse will give us a world that is unlike one that we have ever lived in. Many aspects of our age, such as top heavy demographic profiles, widespread diffusion of technology, near instantaneous communication on redundant networks and widespread technological diffusion have no historical precedent. Consider the effect of digital cameras in cellphones (barely a decade old) on aspects of our lives such as news reports, multiple records of incidents and teenage girls sexting their ‘boyfriends’. An innovation as cheap and small as fixed focus digital cellphone cameras has changed our world in ways that we have still not fully appreciated.
Everytime, we open a few new doors we close an old door for good. It is not intentional, but inherent in the very action of opening new doors. These new doors open up possibilities that are far more lucrative than retracing your steps and giving up the new possibilities.
Evolve or Die, Your Choice! If you choose to keep practicing old behaviors with negative survival value in this world, do not blame others for your demise. An ape mind with trans-human capabilities will kill itself, eventually. What worked for most of human history may now be counterproductive. It is important to be aware that a lot of “ingrained” behavior is actually choice, even if it is not evident at a conscious level.
Complex systems such as civilizations and economies share a lot of “behavioral” characteristics with multicellular organisms, of which are one. Autophagy, is a catabolic process involving degradation of a cells components, or whole cells to maintain a balance and keep the organism healthy and alive. However cancerous cells often pervert this process by encouraging catabolism of cellular components and cells, that are healthy.
To understand why such perverted autophagy is dangerous, one must consider the first issue namely: What makes multicellular organisms possible? If every cell in the body decided to act in it’s best interest, multicellular life would not be possible. Animals, who supposedly lack emotions, such as salt water crocodiles are not as cannibalistic as ‘rational self interest’ would predict. Even bacteria in biofilms often act in synchrony, and cooperate to ensure their collective best interest.
However our whole way of life is increasingly based on adversarialism, an ideology that has reached its greatest expression in the west, and some asian countries. I am not implying that other cultures are saintly or noble, merely that they have figured out what some groups ignore..
A race to the bottom has no floor, and ends in an abyss.
The question then is: Does unrestricted competition without any rules have any redeeming features, or does it merely lead to the ultimate implosion of a society.
One of the popular themes in conventional history is a concept that people are mean, selfish and deceptive (rational actors). However it does not take a genius to figure out that any subsistence level society would not survive if even a small minority behaved like ‘rational actors’. Given that humans have lived in subsistence level societies for most of our history, it is unlikely that adversarial behavior was the norm in our species.
Sociopathy is only viable in a society with significant surpluses. However sociopaths are like stupid parasites that keep on destroying their hosts, till none are left. Normal parasites almost never stress their hosts to the point of destruction, as they cannot exist without their current or future hosts. In many respects, human sociopathy is like a malignancy. It grows where it should not, appropriates resources that will ultimately destabilize the system and replace healthy and useful tissues with ‘rational actors’. Our financial sector, most of our legal system, law enforcement systems and overpaid medical professionals have much in common with terminal malignancies, as far as our civilization is concerned. What ‘new wealth’ is created by such groups? Does it lead to any advances that can stand up to objective measurements?
The more important questions are: Does the presence and activities of these groups enrich society, a concept dependant on continued cooperation amongst the actors? Are their activities not destroying healthy tissue (other occupations/ skillsets) and reducing nutrients to other vital tissues (wage cuts), thereby reducing the ability of that system to survive. Is the effect of these groups on our system not analogous to the effects of metastasized cancer on the body?
Some may justify this as fundamental human behavior, but is that really the case? In any case most of us no longer burn witches, sell slaves, empty chamberpots out of our windows or undergo surgical procedures without anesthesia. Whenever we find better ways to do things, we change and abandon the old ways.
Every empire in history ultimately failed because it overreached and functionally killed its host, and thereby starved itself. Empires also turn on themselves (internal looting) in their final stages, a process not unlike larger metastates blocking the growth of smaller metastates in cancers. Empires are cancers, and hence will ultimately die (along with the hosts). Any stable civilization, that is not dysfunctional, requires everybody involved to benefit to some degree.
Many white historians see the building projects in ancient egypt as expressions of Pharonic ego. I see them as public work projects to redistribute wealth, and keep people fed, cared for and involved in the system. Djoser, Kufu, Rameses etc were the original Keynesians who understood the social stability issues inherent in concentrating wealth. Building pyramids and necropolises might not increase productivity, but they sure increased aggregate demand. Ever wonder why they survived as a civilization for over 3,000 years? How long have you been a literate civilization?
This post is likely to rankle some readers, because they see that concept as gospel. But then again, I am the Devil’s Advocate. The methodology and concept behind many such “studies” will be attacked in later posts, but let us start with the most obvious problem. Even if we assume that the concept is true, it runs into major problems:
1. Throughout most of human history we lived in groups with sizes between 100 and 2,000. So how can behavior ‘optimized’ for that group size scale upto much larger groups. You may still behave that way, but the consequences will be very different.
2. Most people through most of history had very few personal possessions. How do you factor in the effect of material possessions and opportunities opened by such possessions on human behavior. Feedback loops.
3. Do we really have an accurate understanding of the social milieu, opportunities and constraints that supposedly shaped our behavior. We analyse history and other cultures through our viewpoint, but is that reasonable?
4. Were older societies and tribes as adversarial as ours? While they were just as stupid, vain, cruel and murderous as us, why did they not kill each other more? Lack of technology is not a good explanation, because the numbers involved were also much smaller. Why are primitive cultures generally more hospitable than ours? Why was assimilation more common than outright genocide?
5. Why is it so hard to find sexually deprived men or women in primitive cultures? Why are “losers” not shunned. They may not get the most attractive partners, but it actually takes effort to remain celibate in primitive cultures. Why?
6. Can you really be an arrogant guy in a tribe and not suffer an unfortunate “hunting accident”. Can you screw over others in small groups and not suffer consequences? So why were such men not selected out?
7. Do you actually believe that technologically lacking cultures are stupid or dumb? Could you survive and prosper if you were placed in a bountiful tropical paradise? Ever tried working it out, even mentally..
8. Do factors such as geographical mobility, communications, ability to have a non-subsistence level lifestyle alter the calculations. Is there any similarity between most of human history and the world we live in today?
Maybe the real issue is something else, namely:
People are just trying to use a made up “science” to justify their behavior. It is much easier to kill infidels if your respected priests can come up with a clever sounding justification.
Brutality, misery, poverty and deprivation have been common throughout human history. However truly dystopian societies have been rather rare, and indeed may have never existed till the last century. Dystopian societies are only possible once basic human needs are met.
I believe that we have been living in a dystopian society for some time. Let me explain..
We do not lack the basic necessities of life, which are now more inexpensive (and plentiful) than at any previous time in human history. But we now have other, largely self-made, problems that have rarely existed before.
1. No sense of belonging: We live in a system where people move their residences many times over their lives. Though some people can handle it better than others, the question remains: what does it achieve, other than constant dislocation? While it is fun to travel and live in different cities, and try them, should you not be able to live in a place you like and do something you like? Is that not what most humans really want?
We chide the third reich and communist countries for forcibly relocating people, when we do the same through transient jobs. I personally do not see the difference between relocating people through force or penury. Play Half Life 2, and you will get my drift.
2. Lack of stable relationships or personal friendships: One of the reasons that I spend so much time on the web, is the lack of strong personal relationships in my life. I bet that many of you are no different. The real question is, why? While the lack of a sense of belonging is one reason, there are many other reasons.
We live in an adversarial society, where people will screw you over for reasons that defy imagination. Let me enumerate: You could be screwed over by some acquaintance for inconsequential rewards. You could do everything right, but someone you love might decide that she wants to pursue a new career. People whom you trusted might betray you for very small rewards. The irony is: These rewards are so small compared to what they already have, that their actions defy rational explanation. It is much easier to understand a poor person trying to get ahead or stay alive, but what about people who already have a decent lifestyle. The result is that people cannot trust each other enough to truly connect.
The internet has been a mixed bag in this respect. It has hastened the process of devaluing personal relationships, but it has also opened new doors to communicate with others who you would otherwise never connect with.
3. Lack of Faith in Institutions: People born after 1970 are universally cynical, but why is it so? Maybe it is because they saw every institution that their parents believed in fail. From lifetime jobs, to average marriages, to religion, secular religions.. they have all failed us! There is nothing to believe in or trust based on authority. Even secular religions from environmentalism, financialism, credentialism to popular concepts such as meritocracy, positive thinking, optimism have failed us in ways we could not have even expected. This process is ongoing.. and will end in a world where we nobody believes anything that comes out the mouth of an “expert”.
4. Fragmentation: There are not many events, situations or situations that repeatedly bring us together in person. There are no strongly defined concepts or ideals that unite us. We get our news and views from diverse sources. There is no shared sense of community.
I see this as both bad and good, as it opens possibilities for ‘outliers’ like me to be what I want to be, rather than submit to a mainstream. Therefore my opinion about this one is mixed.
5. Lack of a Defined Life Cycle: We no longer get married in our 20s, pump out 3 kids by 30 and work ourself to death in boring jobs. A 41 year old is as likely to use the latest technology as a 31 year old or an 18 year old. I see this as marginally positive, because while it disrupts our conventional models of what people should do (life stages), it also opens opportunities that most of us never would otherwise have had.
With cheap medicines, even a 70 year old can bone an 18 year old (berlusconi). We age much better than previous generations, and though we are getting fatter- we are also less likely to get heart disease in the first place. I will tackle the effects of technology on aging in another series of posts. It certainly helps that most jobs are not physically demanding than before.
I am calling these changes as dystopic not because they are universally negative. Indeed, many of them are full of great promise and potential. The real issue is that we must adapt our culture and thinking patterns so that these opportunities make people happier, not more miserable and mean.
In the first part of this series I had referred to universality of the demographic changes (but how the west is much worser off than others). I had also talked about the loss of a established life cycle model causing additional complications. I was initially going to write a much more neutral and objective second part, but I have decided to fry some groups for my amusement. Therefore I will talk about how ape mind derived attitudes prevent idiots from adapting to the changing world. So let us start of by defining an idiot.
Most of you would consider an person of sub-average cleverness as an idiot. I would point out that it the clever and delusional moron who is truly an idiot. The dull person is aware of his/her limitations in a way that so called ‘high-IQ’ morons never are. IQ measures how well you can jump through hoops, not whether you can understand why they exist.
I like to think of such people as show dogs that could never last in the wild, and as you know the performance of show dogs can improve with good training. This is a subject of future posts, but it has a very important link to the main subject of this post, namely the effect of technology and demographic changes on human beings.
The real problems arise from feedback loops. Let me explain:
1. Birthrates of around 2 are perfectly acceptable as long as infant mortality is very low and people are feeling secure about their future.
2. However a flat demographic profile ensures that the +65 year olds will ultimately make a significant percentage of the population (say around 20%).
3. Increases in life expectancy have largely been due to inexpensive interventions and drugs. Expensive interventions add very little to life expectancy.
4. Any attempt to systematically reduce life expectancy will create dissent and widespread bad faith causing a collapse of the current system.
5. The current system is much more complex than we realize and depends on the good faith of most participants. Attempts to unravel it will cause problems beyond anyones wildest guess.
6. However our system is also based on high personal consumption which is paid by money paid through jobs (or credit).
7. The global spread and growth of technology has made many previously untouchable jobs redundant. More will follow.
8. So how does a system that relies on consumption to circulate money, work if participants have no jobs (and therefore no money).
9. All retirement plans are based on the assumption of sub 2% inflation and over 8% growth over decades. How does that work out?
10. Assuming you could goose up the stock market with scams, the major problem still remains. What happens when people (or pensions plans) start cashing out? Who is going to buy those shares? What about bonds? Who will buy long-term debt if the issuer cannot grow over more than a couple of years?
11. If the +65 consume much less than they used to (no money), they will set of another deflationary spiral that will take down more jobs.
12. Powerful and useless groups like banksters, managers, lawyers, the medical profession and entrenched public unions are trying their best to maintain status quo. They want to ignore the fact that our current situation and directions are untenable, over time periods of even 5-10 years.
13. The fundamental assumption for investing any money in the real world is that it will grow, but how can it grow over any prolonged period if the system itself is shrinking and deleveraging?
So what will it be?
I have been thinking about writing this article for some time, but always thought my views on the subject were too dark (even by my standards).
So let me start with the stream of thinking that pushed me in this direction. Even as a kid I was unusually intelligent and perceptive, and quickly realized a basic problem about human beings. We, as a species, tend to use our cleverness to fulfill desires that have no rational basis.
My definition of rationality is not based on the works of dead men or dogma, but in a more fundamental concept: Does the action still retain positive value if seen from a detached viewpoint?
I feel that this concept is best explained with a few examples:
1. Women age more badly than men, their self worth is dependent on external validation and it is they who want to have kids, expensive lifestyles and money.
Would it hurt them to be be pleasant, always sexually available and willing with a guy who has signed away a lot of his income to them? But as you all know, women tend to ration sex, cheat, nag, conspire and generally make the man’s life miserable. Ironically, if every woman enthusiastically cleaned the pipes of her guy twice a day, he would do almost everything for her without asking. Think about it, women would prefer to spend a few hours conjuring up new ways to harass their man, when enthusiastic sex for an hour (and not stabbing him in the back) would get her so much more.
2. Companies and businesses try to cut cost, boost paper profits and goose share prices by firing employees, often with specialized training. It converts consumers into non-consumers, and causes further job less that then causes a deflationary spiral. It kills the goose that used to lay the proverbial golden egg.
In a world of high productivity, it makes sense to create a minimum living standard with enough discretionary income to support jobs that have still not been lost. But do we do that? Why not? Quoting books by dead or dying white men who have been anointed by universities does not cut it. What is so wrong with giving people money to spend, as long they buy stuff/services to keep others employed. It cuts motivation for most normal crime.
3. We have criminalized most drug use. We cheer on “law enforcement” as they incarcerate people who had no other way to put food on their table or lead a half-decent human existence. What purpose does it serve? Who benefits? Who pays?
Does it really matter if your next door neighbor gets high on opioids? Have you ever seen a person do anything other than stare at the ceiling when they are high on opioids? I have seen drunk people punch each other. What about cocaine? Who is going to pay for incarcerating these people? Who is going to pay for the law enforcement system and pensions? What about the lives destroyed by bad laws? So why do you support it?
4. Everyone likes to defend bankers, lawyers, MBAs, doctors, managers etc. They have high ‘IQ’.. you know (sarcasm)
What do they really contribute? or are they net parasites whose useful roles could be done for less without the ‘overhead’. These people screw, abuse, loot and mock you.. and you defend them as the product of a meritocracy and invent rationales for their utility (for free).
5. Parents teach the value of ‘independence’ to their kids, and expect them to earn a living as quickly as they can. Find a job, loser! Don’t mooch off me..
How can those parents also expect their kids to treat them with any dignity or humanity in their old age. I cannot see the logic of getting something that you never gave. Can you? Why should the kids or their generation pay for their parents? Let them rot..
6. Most people spend their lives trying to piss on the person below them, rather than moving up themselves. How does that work? Does it work?
You can spend twenty years of your life lording over your subordinates, but it won’t save your job from a large layoff. You see, the people you work for are the ones who will screw you over. Forget your pension, investments and other BS, save a miracle most of you will die broke. Investing for your retirement, suckers! It does not help that those whom you abused will also piss on you when you are down for good.
7. Do you like treating immigrants and people in non-white countries as subhuman. Good for you.. keep it up.
So who is going to keep on consuming after your demographic peak? How are the increased sales to goose up your stock investments going to occur? Who is going to buy your stocks, bonds, houses etc? What good is an investment if you cannot cash it in? Have you forgotten the role personal consumption plays in the economy? Have you ever looked at the basic assumption behind any investment?
Do you think poorly treated immigrants and their kids are going to play nice with you (in your old age). Think they will play nice and cooperate with your kids? Why would they do that? You have demonstrated bad faith over decades. Think they have short memories? Think again..
Remember this quote..
Agent Smith: Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from.Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilization.
In this post I am asking a simple question:
Is it worth playing nice with a woman, ever?
Note that ‘nice’ is used in the context of any significant altruistic behavior, as opposed to being a doormat. Essentially, is it ever worth treating women in a non-adversarial manner?
Let us start by analyzing the usual arguments for playing nice with woman. The most common arguments range involve excessive anger hurting oneself. Anger can hurt you only if you keep it bottled inside you, or turn it against yourself. Chanelling anger away from you in an objective manner has no ill effects, for you. Others may not enjoy it, but guess what- who cares?
Another argument involves the idea that women interpret anger as being a ‘loser’. My answer to that is- who cares? Women always behave in an adversarial manner, when their interests are concerned. It certainly helps that such adversarialism is not linked to objectivity. Even if you were the most objective and altruistic human being, some woman could find a reason to call you a loser. My counterquestion is: does it matter what a woman thinks about you?
There seems to be a general zeitgeist that women have an important role in weeding out bad seed for reproduction. My answer is- who cares? Prior to the post-industrial age raising kids well was a viable retirement plan. However the current social mores and possibilities ensure that kids can and will dump your ass, unless you are lucky. Any major plan that depends on luck is not worth it. Think about it, if kids are an investment what is the return in the current scenario?
The only major reason for putting up with a woman, namely kids, is no longer a reliable retirement option.
The other argument about having kids involves the concept of “leaving a legacy”. My counterpoint is: how is that useful for you? Can your legacy do anything worthwhile for you? In any case, humans will become extinct if we remain a one planet, purely biological species. Every species that ever lived on this planet is doomed for extinction, trilobites were around for over 300 million years, dinosaurs and large marine reptiles dominated the world for over 100 million years. Where are they now? What about Homo erectus (almost a million years), Homo neanderthalensis (at least 500,000 years)? They are all DEAD!
We can find fossilized turds (coprolites) of such animals far more easily than their skeletal remains. You see, their biggest legacy is fossilized turds.
Another reason for being altruistic to women is that they eventually learn the error of their ways. Two words- who cares? Even if they really saw the error of their ways,do you want a 35 year old cum rag who would not have given you a chance when she had something to offer? What are the chances that seeing the error of her ways is linked to her biological clock and rapidly aging body? If she made a decision , she should take the consequences (good and bad).
Linked to this notion is the concept of women taking care of you. While this is partially true in non-western cultures, it is no longer valid in western cultures. You will be disappointed if you think that the current generation of young women will grow into caring old women. Infact,that concept was never really true for western women for over the last hundred years. Cultures with caring old women have something that the west lacks, namely mechanisms to handle adversarialism. The west celebrates adversarialism, but does not want its long term fruits.
If you think about it, “game” is essentially male adversarialism in response to female adversarialism.
Any bets on where this will end? Never mind.. Societies that cannot handle adversaliasm may have bursts of great creativity and progress, but they won’t be around to enjoy its fruits.
Adversaliasm cannot be eliminated, merely controlled and chanelled towards less destructive ends.
It is something humans as a species will have to ultimately grow out of, if we are to survive over any significant period of time. But to tell you the truth, I don’t care. Unless, I have a positive incentive to care, you will reap what you sow.
A word of advice: If you justify your behavior based on that of wolves, hyenas, lions, apes, primitive tribes and long dead empires or eras don’t expect to live any better.
Zero sum based behavior has its consequences. Increasing complexity requires increased altruism, but you will learn that the hard way. BTW if you think we can “go back”, you will be unpleasantly surprised.
I am going to explore another heretical idea in my next post, namely that sociopathic behavior is the default setting for human beings. The next post in this series is now up: Altruism, Adversarialism and Women: 02
I have to agree with the Architect on this one.
This post examines the effect of technological changes and new possibilities on the behavior of women.
In the prequel to this post, I had argued that most human behavior was just a bastardized version of ape behavior, albeit with more cleverness. The vast majority of humans are NOT intelligent and often mistake cleverness for intelligence, a theme I will explore in another post.
So why does technology change things so much? The answer is that it alters possibilities, closing a few doors but opening many more. A change in the possibility palate will also destroy old equilibria, and create new feedback loops where none existed.
One of the biggest problem with women seem to be their thirst for status and social climbing. So why do they want to do it? and is a behavior that had some merit in groups of a few hundred hunter-gatherers retain any redeeming value in a world where billions are connected in a manner no one ever anticipated.
Wanting more status to appropriate more resources makes sense in a world where people had very little and everybody lived on the edge. However in a world of material plenty and high productivity, social climbing of the sort practiced by women is worthless. It has no survival value and is perversely counterproductive as the effects of such scheming reduce cooperative behavior destabilizing the systems that create such prosperity and productivity.
So why don’t women understand the perverse effects of their behavior? Are they stupid?
I would say that women are delusional, not stupid. While they can see the problem, their brain tells them to do it anyway because they will get away with it. Belief in the concept “I can get away with this forever” is the hallmark of a lesser mind. Remember ‘mind’ not ‘brain’.
But women cannot be that delusional.. right?
No, they can be. Think about it, would a man would wear high heels when there is ice on the sidewalks, get larger than necessary breast implants and lip injections, overdo plastic surgery, spent a fortune on anti-aging creams? Still not convinced.. women spend a lot of their time scheming to manipulate men into doing things that could be done without asking if they were not bitches. Building a clever trap filled with carefully made vinegar to catch flies when you do the same with abundant honey says a lot about how women think.
Even before the rise of feminism, marriage was a barely acceptable situation where couples stayed together for society, kids etc. Have you ever wondered why marriages of a previous era were often just as basically dysfunctional as those today? Why did women often ‘lose interest’ in sex after having a few kids? Did it never occur to them that regular sex is the only reason a reasonable man would ever put up with the BS called marriage? Why would a woman spend so much time and effort pissing off a guy who is providing for her and kids? Because, she could get away it it.
So why did they get away with it?
In the past, they actually never got away with it to the extent we see today. The lack of public money for kids, child support laws, restricted geographical mobility, lack of effective contraception and labor saving gadgets insured that they did not run over men. But the potential for them doing that was always there..
How did technology change that?
Technology opens many doors and closes a few old ones. The biggest effect of technology as far as feminine BS is concerned is not contraception, jobs or the legal system. They are but sideshows to the real reason for the ascendancy of feminism.
Women are more voracious consumers than men. The post ww2 world depends on consumerism for its existence.
It is just easier for everyone to accept feminine BS to keep the hamster wheel running, the consumer is always right.
But why do men let women get away with it?
Because most of them believe than “their woman is different” and “it won’t happen to me“. Suckers!
It also helps that previous cultural norms created a zeitgeist where women’s lives are more important than men. Did I mention that men accepted that arrangement because they never dreamed of a world where all their advantages would be neutralized by technology. Things are however changing very quickly and most men born after 1970 have a far more cynical view of women, but the older generations are still running things.
Is there a way out?
The short answer is: Yes, but it won’t occur in the manner most of you hope.
The long answer will be in the next part of this series. There are many other related issues that I want to cover in the next few posts in this series.
Before I post the third part of my series on bad faith, a few important concepts and definitions are necessary. This post will try to briefly explain them:
Nature of Human Perception and Motivation: Human perception of reality is affected by two basic factors that underlie how we “see” the world.
The first factor is built in cognitive bias, which is largely unavoidable because of the very nature of perception. The universe cannot be perceived until it is processed, and any attempt to process large bodies of information (universe) by a less complex system (human brain) will involve algorithms to simplify the input into perceivable units. While it is not possible to eliminate all bias in processing information, the brain can learn to work around ‘blind spots’ if it is aware of their existence. It can use new information to reprocess previously categorized perceptions and get a more complete picture of reality.
The second factor is motivation. Human beings will often not reprocess perceptions, unless the mind feels a need to (or is compelled to do so). While it is desirable for people to question their cherished beliefs, most will not do so until external circumstances force them to do it.
The ‘Ape’ Mind: The ‘Ape’ Mind is a remnant of our evolutionary history. Ape and human behavior is best understood as a continuum. I prefer to see the ape mind as a set of behaviors and perception patterns with considerable survival value in apes, but decreasing survival value as we go up the technological change.
Primates are almost unique amongst land mammals in their ability to recognize themselves, and their social structure reflects that innovation. Other pack animals like wolves, dogs, hyenas and lions lack that concept, and hence behave in a manner driven by instinct (complex but hardwired behavior). Other animals that posses the concept of self, such as dolphins and elephants, also form social groups that are similar to primates, but unlike traditional pack animals. The distinguishing feature of self-aware animals is the ability to readily form civil and mutually beneficial relationships with animals not related to them. Such relationships lack the hard wired dominance/ submission features of other animal packs. Human civilization is merely the most extreme example of this ability.
However such civil relationships do not preclude the existence of some domination and survival considerations. Indeed they are an integral part of the dynamics of such groups. The issue then relates to how such considerations scale. Behaviors that work in groups of 100-200 individuals might not scale into larger and more complex groups, and are frequently counterproductive. Throughout most of human history, we lived in groups with memberships ranging from 100-1,000. Large town and cities are a very recent innovation, even for a species as young as humans.
To better understand the problems posed by the ape mind, it is worthwhile to define it’s features.
Features of the ‘Ape’ Mind: I will concentrate on the problems with scaling the ape mind into a post industrial human civilization.
Hierarchy and Associated Issues: Both communal apes and humans have hierarchies, that are fairly fluid. However a lot of such behavior was shaped by the dynamics of smaller groups than those we live in. It simply does not scale up well with group size, and attempts to monopolize power and resources cause much discontent and instability when there is more stuff. Chimps and hunter gatherers do not have a lot of things and stuff to hoard, nor are they dependent on the tacit cooperation of unseen others to keep their system functional. Humans have, post-agriculture and civilization, stuff to hoard which then creates situations that were not part of the environment in which our behavior/ cultures were formed.
Resource Allocation and Associated Issues: These arise from the first problem, and present even bigger challenges. Do professions that make more money contribute that much more to group welfare, than those who makes less? Can you honestly say that a harvard educated lawyer or a wharton MBA add more value to society than the guy who repairs and maintains the equipment in a power station? Do shysters benefit society, or are they parasites? How much parasitism can a society bear before it comes apart? Will people participate in a society where only parasitic behavior is rewarded? Is a welfare mother a bigger drain on you than an MBA, corporate lawyer, cop etc? and why do you believe that such shysters benefit you in the first place.
Residual Behavior Associated Issues: Most people celebrate athletes, actors.. swoon over certain physical features without wondering about their relevance in a post-industrial society. Bears and Hippos can outrun humans, chimps can overpower humans, plastic surgery can create bigger boobs, fuller lips and tighter cunts, lasik can correct eyesight.. I can go on. What is the relevance of athletic ability in a world where competitive athletes often die before (and have much more damaged bodies than ) the average person?
The unpleasant truth is a lot of ape mind mediated behaviors and attitudes are worse than useless in a post-industrial civilization.
In my next post, I will examine how this problem plays out in the context of women, society and sex.
This post is devoted to discussing my ideas on the fall of the west. I see it as almost inevitable (bar a miracle, such as divine assistance *S*). While this topic has been discussed on many other blogs and newsgroups, my take on this subject illuminates many previously ignored or poorly covered, but important, angles.
First a few definitions:
the west = A socio-cultural concept zeitgeist that is based on race.
western civilization = Another concept whose current incarnation arose in the west, but which can survive (in a functional form) in the absence of the west.
So let us start with the most obvious and discussed problem..
1] Adverse Demographic Profile: It is very obvious that the west has an adverse demographic profile and its current socio-economic structure cannot survive into the next ten years without some major changes to the status quo. The west never had such an extensive demographic decline since the 13th century, and unlike that situation is coupled with factors such as technology, literacy, historical memories and their effects of feedback loops.
While other nations are approaching an adverse demographic profile, the west is at least a generation or two ahead of them (giving a peculiar demographic advantage in numbers and ratios to the “others”).
2] Dependence on Growth: Post enlightenment business practices have been based on an assumption of growth and increase in the market size. Many concepts such as investments, pensions, business expansion strategies only make sense in a world with real growth. For almost 6 centuries (especially ~ 1800 to the mid 1980s) this assumption could be met by the internal growth of the west. To make this assumption work in the future, at least one of two things will have to happen (the other options lead to chaos)
a] The living standard of everyone in the world will have to rise to a first world level (the “star trek” scenario).
b] Money will have to created by means other than debt.
Realistically only a combination of a] and b] can get us out of this hole, or even buy time for any future changes.
3] The “Ape Mind” Problem: But the type of changes necessary to prevent a tragic collapse of the west conflict with the ape-mind zeitgeist of the west. The concept of west is also based on unspoken assumptions such as:
a] Perpetual servitude of the “others”.
b] Trying to deny the “others” a decent human existence.
c] A society where your last name and skin color give advantages and multiple chances.
d] Belief that “we” deserve more than “them”.
e] Attempts to justify chance as manifest destiny.
This conflicts with the need to ensure enough growth to ensure a soft crash landing for the west (best scenario). How can you get adequate revenues (income stream) from people who make much less than you? Those ratios work for a feudal society lording over another feudal society, which brings us to the fourth problem.
4] Systemic Issues: The long term effects of the industrial revolution has created a world where productivity is very high, and there are very few systemic shortages. However almost all of our beliefs, religions and ideologies were formed in a ‘zero-sum’ world, where scarcity ruled. Scarcity does not create character or intelligence, it merely creates mean, uncooperative and treacherous humans (which pretty much sums up human history).
Unlike any other previous epoch in human history, the current system is possible because of high levels of consumption by ordinary people. Though most of human history, most people led very basic lives and made/ extracted/ cultivated most of what they used. Most trade was restricted to important essentials and luxury goods. Local family structures and poor mobility kept most people alive in the absence of jobs and businesses like those we are accustomed to. Such social mechanisms are gone, in no part due to increased mobility, opportunities and technological possibilities.
5] Instability of Jobs: Here I am not talking about instability of your Job in one company, rather about instability of the Job itself. Technological changes and the incessant drive to optimize productivity have, and will make, previously stable jobs redundant (even if you could stop outsourcing). However unlike previous ages, our current jobs require far more training and personal investment than before.
We could of course create new jobs, but the question is- in what? The last two bubbles were driven by hype (not reality). Moreover we have a much older population than in the early 1990s. Even if you could retrain people, what would they learn that could not be made redundant soon?
6] Loss of an Established Life Cycle: Feminism, technology etc has disrupted the default life cycle for most people in the west. No sane person will get married, trust women, expect decent treatment from employers, care about having or caring for kids.
Therefore a rapidly increasing number of people are no longer getting married in their 20s, having a few kids, settling down buying houses, savings for kids etc. However industries that serve those needs also employ a lot of people, who will now face a decreasing number of customers. People are also not innovating or working harder because they know that their sincerity will be rewarded by deceit and treachery.
7] Mitigation Strategies: It is not that the west has not tried to address this problem. But its main efforts are doomed because of reasons that will be explained below. The two main mitigation strategies of the west have been- Immigration and Financial Engineering. On the face of it, immigration is probably the best strategy to soften the impact. However with the partial exception of the USA, most countries have not been able to assimilate non-white immigrants. Their income, social mobility have been subpar even though they (and their kids) are more educated than the native white populations.
Do not count on these people or their kids to help you, or in general give a shit about you. They have no positive incentive to care about you, your kids and grandkids. Given white attitudes towards equally educated non whites (ape mind behavior) neither side will submit, but it is whites who are demographically screwed and need the altruism of “others” than vice versa. Getting more or a fresher batch of immigrants won’t cure the problem, which lies in the secondary/ tertiary reactions of “others” to white attitudes. And even if you miraculously “saw the light and changed”, they would have to have well paying jobs to pay taxes and buy stuff/services to prop up your asses.
Which brings me to next failed mitigation strategy.. Financial Engineering. There is a lot I can say about this, and will in future posts. But the relevant soundbite here is: It works till we run out of greater fools with money.
8] Innovation Deficits: Almost all of the west’s lead was based on innovation and it’s application to create new products and services. However two things have happened in the last 70 (especially last 30 years).
1] The rest have caught up (consider where the stuff you use is made).
2] The west has stopped innovating to any significant extent. A combination of feminism, risk averseness, poor compensation for innovators combined with mechanisms that block innovation (intentional and unintentional) have ensured that innovation is not a western concept anymore. If anything the hard sciences are increasingly dominated by westernized non-whites (many of whom have less than favorable opinions about whites).
This phenomenon also makes any western attempt to reassert themselves by force or cunning potentially suicidal. You are dealing with equals, though you might not like the thought. They can hit you much harder than you can hit them (more complex systems have more points of failure).. and can still rebuild (demography), you cannot.
9] Nostalgia Based Solutions: Most posts that lament the demise of the west almost always try to reminisce or plot about bringing back the ‘good old days’.
Newsflash: The evolution of complex systems is not reversible, because opening one door effectively closes another, while potentially opening a host of others. It is not coming back.. Evolve further or die, it is your choice.
10] Secular Religions: The rise of secular religions and priesthoods from environmentalism, financialism, legalism etc and its new priests such as established scientists, banksters, MBAs, lawyers and a host of other established experts who are busy making a quick buck, distracting people (or preventing useful change) cannot help the situation, especially with the various timelines that threaten to intersect with catastrophic results.
The opportunity for a soft crash landing has already been missed, and it will either be a hard landing or disintegration.