Monday, September 26, 2011

Stenosophism: Short term smart, long term stupid.

One of the findings in Dorner's book is that human beings seem to have a hard time recognising temporal relationships. Causal relationships which are closely linked in time are far more easily recognised that events that are separated by weeks and years. Most human beings are short term orientated, concentrating on the concrete, here and now and the ability to abstract and take the long term view seems rare.  I am unaware of any mainstream political or economic theory which takes this into account, which is strange because of obviousness to anyone who has to deal with the public. (which makes me think that many theoreticians have limited public contact, especially with the proletariat)

The extinction of the Passenger Pigeon is an interesting example that illustrates this phenomena. No one actually set out to exterminate the Passenger Pigeon, a bird of once amazing superabundance,  but each hunter with a gun and each farmer 'who destroyed its habitat on his own private land, ensured that i the species became extinct. It was a classic tragedy of the commons result.

It's a phenomenon that doesn't seem to get much intellectual attention from the Right, especially from the free market advocates, which is a shame.

Many of the intellectual Right harbor the same intellectual pathology of the Left, namely, that of the assumption of the rational man when modelling human choice. Political theory, much like economic theory does not spend much time discussing the reality of the stupid man, which is a shame, since many of the problems in these disciplines are better understood by assuming that the bulk of the actors in question are morons.

It needs to be remembered that Dr Dorner's experiments were done on college graduates, people from the right hand side of the bell curve and his findings make for depressing socio-political prognosis. If the smart half of the bell curve has a hard time understanding things, what hope in hell does the left hand side of the curve have? Dorner's findings show that even with the assistance of instruction, many people can't grasp even moderately complicated issues, especially if they're temporally separated.  The end conclusion of his work-and anyone who has spent any time try to explain complex subjects to the public-is that the the vast bulk of humanity is cognitively limited.

Now, we need to understand what is meant by cognitively limited. It does not mean low IQ, what it means is the inability to see inter-relationships amongst disparate variables. It's the inability to perform multiparamentric analysis that marks the cognitively limited. The "small picture" takes precedence over the big one, because the big one is unable to be grasped. (And here we're not even talking about ill will, just simple lack of ability). This has important financial implications.

The problem lays with the concept of rationality. The man with limited cognitive ability acts rationally with regard to the data that he has but he has an incomplete data set: He operates within a smaller, more local universe.  The problem then with rationality is that it needs to be qualified.  Rationality for most most people is "small picture" rational,  and very few people are "big picture" rational.  As far as I'm aware, no one seems to have given a name to this limited from and rationality, which I  propose be called Stenosophism: (gk steno=narrow, sophia=wisdom)

In a completely free market, the price discovery mechanism is the end result of the transaction between the seller and the buyer. In such a system, capital is dynamically allocated according to expected profit, and as such, the capital structure will reflect the cognitive abilities of the participants. Short term success is incidental to long term sustainability since the factors that influence long term sustainability have not even been grasped. Herein lays the origin of the business cycle.

Bubbles arise because the stenosophists literally don't see the bubble forming. Ponzi schemes appear perfectly rational to the cognitively limited, as today's small profits are more real than tomorrows abstract massive losses, and capital is allocated according to their limited understanding of events which is ultimately unsustainable. The small pool of people who do see the bubble are ignored and the very forces that unleash the bubble prevent it from being stopped. (The Austrian concept, that artificially low interest rates send the wrong "price information" to participants certainly fuels the fire, but smart investors can arrive at their own determination of the true interest rate. It's the unthinking that accept them at face value).

The tragedy-of-the-commons type of outcome comes about from the "stenosophistic" utlisation of the commons.  The long term sustainability of the common is not even entertained by the user, rather the here and now is all that matters. No one actually set out to wipe out the Passenger Pigeon, yet everyone did.

Now, because the vast majority of market participants are stenosophistic, it means that most market decisions are "small picture" decisions and long-term-big-picture type of market goods have a hard time surviving is a stenognostic market place. Alfred Kahn wrote about it with regard to the "tyranny of small decisions". Here lays a paradox of the free market, being completely free to chose might mean less choice. It's called market failure.

Ferdinand Bardamu copped a lot of heat from Chuck Ross with regard to his defence of the public ownership of private utilities. I feel that Ferdinand's position is, to a degree, justified by the stenognostic nature of the market. Apart from monopoly concerns( A different and yet important issue) most shareholders are short term orientated. Today's CEO do not usually have lifetime commitments to their companies and are rewarded on short term performance, and most customers are seeking to switch to the provider who will provide initially the cheapest short term supply. The entire market place is geared toward short term profits at the expense of long term economic sustainability. Investment in maintenance and contingency capital are long term expenses which are frequently sacrificed for short term boosting of profit. The net result that that the service becomes unreliable and run down, and given the monopolistic nature of utility provision, expensive.

This also raises the subject of economic efficiency.  What do we mean by efficient? For the stenognostic it means short term efficiency, and such a man can always find "savings" in any traditionally run business by cutting away all the "fat"; except the that "fat" is frequently long-term essential, and all the stuff that was trimmed ends up eventually needing to be replaced (always at greater expense). Corporate restructuring, thy name be stenognosis. The saga of the Boeing Dreamliner is a classic example of this form of corporate stupidity.  (The link in the story is definitely worth a read.). Note, the CEO who made the decision to outsource has gone to Ford. Boeing is stuck with the costs of his decisions.

The problem is fundamentally that certain necessary utilities, because of their common-good-nature, need to be managed in such a way to ensure their long term provision in an environment that rewards and punishes in the short term: The market has to be protected form itself and therefore a degree of regulation of the market is necessary to stop it from doing stupid things, especially with regard to common-good community assets. In a free market, ownership of a community-vital asset is not contingent on having benevolence and wisdom.  It stops being of of purely personal interest when it becomes an essential community interest.

22 comments:

Country Lawyer said...

There is huge logic error in your writing. Lets see if I can tease it out:

A) Most people think in terms of short term gain, and have trouble with long term thinking and consequences.

B) Because of A, free market systems (and that is an important word which we will get to in a moment) are imperfect causing bubbles, and problems.

C) Because of B, we need to see up a regulatory system to protect people from themselves.

And C is your problem, because logically it follows:

D) However because of A, the regulatory system will itself be imperfect and subject to the whims of people with short term thinking.

Making it thus necessary to have some corrective for the regulatory system to protect it from short term thinking.

And thus the gigantic bureacracy and nanny state we have today.

Look, I don't care whether people are rational or not, it is completely unimportant and it is in fact a mistake to get caught into it.

I would almost think you're engaged in "crime think" because this perspective is a modern liberal one: People are imperfect so we must protect them from themselves.

It boils down to one fundamental thing and either you believe it and the idea of people having individual rights attached, or you don't and there are no rights whatsoever.

It is simply thus:

God made EACH and every man in His image and he imbuded each man with the gifts that serve His purposes.

Further, God gave men the power to choose.

Now, whether men choose poorly or not, it was important to God that we have this ability.

There is no one, not one single person that is better able to make the decisions of one's own life then the person himself.

We may think we could do things better, make better choices, but that is simple arrogance (or to put it in old style, its the sin of Pride to think thus).

Think carefully, would you want someone deciding the course of your life?

God did not care for monarchs in the Bible, he tried to keep his chosen people from them because of the way kings behave.

Yet, you would advocate men are better under a regulatory yoke then as free men.

Not so, not so at all.

You either are for freedom, and all its necessary messiness or you are for tyranny. Each step we have taken toward totalitarianism in the west has been "to protect people (or children) from themselves."

Simon Grey said...

In conjunction with Country Lawyer's comments, let me also point out that value is subjective as well. There is no objective way of determining whether a long-term view is better than a short-term view. it almost seems that your argument hinges on a Randian view of Objectivism.

But if objective value does not exist, than there is no point in trying to say that Company A should take a long-term view of things, and that there should be a regulatory agency to ensure that Company A does so. Ultimately, then, your argument boils down to "I want other people to do this and the government should force them to comply if they disagree with me."

But beyond that, your argument is lacking in two areas. First, as Country Lawyer noted, if humans have a tendency to do stupid things, how can you possibly argue that giving them coercive power over others is going to diminish people's tendency to do stupid things on a systemic level? Second, how do you explain that, as a matter of general historical trends, businesses tend to do a better job of long-term thinking than governments, at least where practical policy is concerned?

Quite simply, there is a gap between your theory of how things ought to be and how they really are. The market, though imperfect, less than perfectly efficient, and composed of less than rational actors, is still superior to the government at almost everything because it has an incentive structure that better discourages irrationality, stupidity, and shortsightedness.

Leto said...

There is another problem here. Even assuming someone smart enough to think long term and see the signals, the current artificially set market conditions are sending the wrong signals (the solution proffered would do the same). So the hypothetical buyer not only has to think long term, they have to realize that the signals they are receiving are incorrect and adjust to that.

I think the current bubbles are more a result of artificially low interest rates. Normally (if it were naturally this low) the current rate would signal infrastructure investment, but the consumer is just trying to stay afloat. It would be better if short term investment in cheaper food and basics were occurring.

Anonymous said...

Your article on "stenosophism" is spot on as regards the mentality of the greater part of the population. It's always astounding to see such incredible short-sightedness & inability to reason things out to their logical conclusion. One example is the reaction one sees when surveillance cameras are put up in all public places. One hears the same moronic phrase used over & over again : "I'm not doing anything wrong, so I don't care" The idiots never realize that they will not be the ones that determine what is & what is not a crime. It is likely that they will be very surprised at the kinds of things that will be considered criminal in the future. I'm not an economist so most of the jargon used may as well be in Turkish, but as far as I understand it some seem to advocate a sort of anarchy, let them sort it out among themselves & so forth. One can sympathize with this to a degree, after all the current regulations make it nearly impossible for one to have one's own business. One hundred years ago there was no requirement that one have several permits & licences, all costing a great deal of money to even begin to set up in business, one simply had to have the necessary capital to open a laundry or set up as a green-grocer & so on. It seems only prudent however to have a few regulations. Things such as a large business short-selling to ruin smaller rivals who can't take the losses ought to be categorically forbidden & harshly punished. Perhaps 10 years at hard labour would be a good sentence for such a contemptible & cowardly act. Anyhow thank you for the interesting articles. Cheers.

The Social Pathologist said...

You either are for freedom, and all its necessary messiness or you are for tyranny. Each step we have taken toward totalitarianism in the west has been "to protect people (or children) from themselves."

It's not an either/or choice.

The problem you seem to have is in grasping the concept that limiting certain action actually maximises freedom. Take a silly example, the road rules.

Everyone is limited in how they can drive their car on the road. People are punished if they violate the road rules, yet everyone's use of the road is greatly expanded by restricting people from idiotic behaviours and by making them agree to certain conventions.

Secondly, Dorner shows us that there is such a thing as a cognitive elite who's decisions are objectively better because they have a better grasp of reality.
Note, Dorner did not say that these people are better educated, have masters degree's or whatever simply that some people are at grasping and understanding the complex relationships of the real world.

Thirdly, no one is advocating any form of tyranny. Rather what we are trying to preserve the common interest in the face of rampant self-interest. We are not the owners of the world but its custodian for future generations, this implies a certain obligation to it at the expense of our own personal rights. The question of course is where to draw the line?
Would you have a moron draw the line or an intelligent man? Think carefully.

There is no one, not one single person that is better able to make the decisions of one's own life then the person himself.

Spoken from the legal framework where everyman is a philosopher and able to reflect on the consequences of the decisions. (fallacy shared with the Left)

Step into the medical world for a while and see the empirical consequences of that philosophy. Dostoyevsky was right, all happy families are alike, its the miserable that are different. God didn't come into the world to say to people, live any way you like, rather he wanted them to live a certain way.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Simon

There is no objective way of determining whether a long-term view is better than a short-term view.

I disagree Simon. History shows that certain decisions are dumb and others are good. Overfarming is shown to be bad from the historical record. (there are even biblical injunctions against it). Polluting the water you drink isn't so wise. Failing to attend school is dumb, as is prostitution. History, considered as sum of human experience and wisdom, definitely points to some choices being better than others.

From a Christian perspective there are choices which flout the moral law which are definitely bad. (surprisingly they also end up being bad economically in the long term)

First, as Country Lawyer noted, if humans have a tendency to do stupid things, how can you possibly argue that giving them coercive power over others is going to diminish people's tendency to do stupid things on a systemic level?

Country Lawyer has committed a logical error. If most people do stupid things, the some people by logical necessity do not. Getting these people to govern is a good bet. The thing is though that no one is omniscient, therefore the government has to be limited to such a degree that no one person can take the whole system down. Monopoly in government is just as bad as monopoly in economics.

Second, how do you explain that, as a matter of general historical trends, businesses tend to do a better job of long-term thinking than governments, at least where practical policy is concerned?

My memory might be incorrect but I believe out of the top 100 companies on the New York Stock exchange in 1900 only one is still around GE. The U.S Gov has been around since the late 18th Century. That's a failure rate of 99% over the long term.

Look Simon, I'm all in favour for as much private enterprise as possible, government management should be seen as a last resort. I'm quite happy for utilities to be privately owned, its just that the supply of essential services and preservation of assets for the future needs to be protected from some of the self destructive tendencies of the market. Market failure is real. The Ordoliberalists (the smarter offshoot of the Austrian school) recognise this.

A lot of the current mortgage crisis in the U.S was not due to manipulation by any party. Many homeowners were just plain dumb and believed house prices would keep on rising forever. Personally, I'm all in favour for these people taking their losses. Not because of Schadenfreude but because most people only learn by taking the full consequences of their actions. Though when you step back and look at the deeper implications of such a policy you begin see that stupid people are liable to do stupid things in a democracy: like continuing to vote for Obama and going all bolshevik. So maybe from the long term perspective, stopping people from being stupid, i.e limiting mortgages to a certain amount or demanding a 20% deposit or whatever, might be smarter then letting the market let Joe Sixpack hock himself to the eyeballs.

Btw, I'd think a bit more about government inefficiency. My understanding of the U.S Gov is that it was deliberately designed to be inefficient through its system of checks and balances. An efficient government captured by a tyranny is more effective that a tyranny run through an inefficient one. The founding fathers of the U.S were always concerned about things going bad. They were multiparametric thinkers.

The Social Pathologist said...

Leto

I think the current bubbles are more a result of artificially low interest rates.

Nope. The current bubbles are caused because of the habituated moral hazard caused by systemic Keynesism. Everyone expected the Gov to bail them out. Lehman acted recklessly because it thought it was too big to fail. Everytime anything went wrong since the 80's the financial spigots were turned on. No one was allowed to fail.

The Social Pathologist said...

Anon, thanks for your comments.

David said...

"My memory might be incorrect but I believe out of the top 100 companies on the New York Stock exchange in 1900 only one is still around GE"

Pretty sure that's correct--but ceasing to exist as a separate company is by no means always failure. If the company is merged into another company at a good price for the shareholders, that's a win for them.

Indeed, imagine an alternate reality in which GE had been split up and its components sold in the glory days of a $57 stock price...the jet engine business to United Technologies, the appliance business to Whirlpool, etc. It probably could have been done at a 30% premium for shareholders. Would not have been success in terms of organizational continuity, but certainly success in terms of shareholder value...and *maybe* success in terms of long-term economic value, though the latter point is debatable.

Country Lawyer said...

"The problem you seem to have is in grasping the concept that limiting certain action actually maximises freedom. Take a silly example, the road rules."

How I grasp it, I don't think you do though. IT NEVER ENDS. I know this is ironic coming from a lawyer but we could do just fine with one fifth of the laws we have on the books.


"Secondly, Dorner shows us that there is such a thing as a cognitive elite."

Stop right there. Combined that with this:

"Thirdly, no one is advocating any form of tyranny . . . The question of course is where to draw the line?
Would you have a moron draw the line or an intelligent man? Think carefully."

You are in fact advocating a tyranny a tyranny of a cognitive elite that tells other men what to do for their "own good" whatever that is. The fact that you cannot see that, disturbs me.

Tell me, who picks these "elite?"
Who administers the tests? and how you are going to keep it from being corrupted. There is no way it is possible.


"Spoken from the legal framework where everyman is a philosopher and able to reflect on the consequences of the decisions. (fallacy shared with the Left)"

No, the problem is the framewoirk you live in has safety nets from consequences. Let the chips fall where they lie and the bad choices people make are examples to others because of the consequences. You don't trust people because we as a culture have infantilized them all and you are advocating for more of it.

If a little poison makes us sick, more of it will cure us seems to be your thinking.

"Step into the medical world for a while and see the empirical consequences of that philosophy. Dostoyevsky was right, all happy families are alike, its the miserable that are different. God didn't come into the world to say to people, live any way you like, rather he wanted them to live a certain way."

I will trade you a week in the medical profession for a week in the legal one and see which one of us understands human miserly better.

That is all lawyers deal with: human misery.

If you want to truly understand the nature of government, the tyranny of good intentions and the simple foolishness of himan beings, no better education is there than practicing law

God wanted us to live a certain way, but he wanted us to put our trust in Him, not human institutions.

It would do well to remember that the Devil offered Christ the whole world. All the world's governments, all the leaders are beholden to the Devil.

Oh, and just as an aside, I don't see the extinction of those pigeons as a tragedy.

All things come and go.

The Social Pathologist said...

You are in fact advocating a tyranny a tyranny of a cognitive elite that tells other men what to do for their "own good" whatever that is. The fact that you cannot see that, disturbs me.

You've missed the point.

Firstly, there is a distinction between private goods and public goods. For a variety of reasons, I am all for people doing what they want in the private sphere and let chips fall where they may. The problem is that the vital public good assets may be effectively managed by the free market.

Secondly, the average person's stenosophism means that the actions they freely choose will in many instances frustrate the goals they want to achieve. Personally, if people want to destroy themselves, well I'm quite prepared to live with it, but I'm not prepared to live with private decisions which destroy the common good. Not all decisions are reversible and some have permanent consequences, consequences which we may not have wanted when we have finally wisened up. It's all about ensuring system stability.

I will trade you a week in the medical profession for a week in the legal one and see which one of us understands human miserly better.

Doctors definitely. Dalrymple has written about this as well. The law is about your relationship with other people, health is personal.(But that is for a different post)

You don't trust people because we as a culture have infantilized them all and you are advocating for more of it.

I don't even trust myself. The potential to go bad is present in all of us, the question is how to mitigate these effects on the system to ensure that it survives. I'm quite happy for you to advocate the right to be stupid, but I want that right and consequences limited to the individual concerned. The community has a right to be protected from its idiotic members.

Oh, and just as an aside, I don't see the extinction of those pigeons as a tragedy.

That's the problem, because you can't see and yet can act.

Nietzsche said...

Tragedy of the commons in the modern economic arena is further catalyzed by rapid globalization and unregulated human corruption by entities like the PRC.

Many economic models cannot account for human corruption and incompetence. Even if were a well informed investor, your savings/investments can be wiped out after a corruption scandal like that of Enron or Bearsterns.

The critical key is to be extremely diversified and to be globally adaptable by being in the forefront of the information age by having loyal local agents that can identify small issues before it cascades into a public debacle. Also the compensation of CEOs should be tied to the long-term profitability of the firm to avoid short-term gains that hurt the competitiveness of the firm.

Leto said...

Nope. The current bubbles are caused because of the habituated moral hazard caused by systemic Keynesism. Everyone expected the Gov to bail them out. Lehman acted recklessly because it thought it was too big to fail. Everytime anything went wrong since the 80's the financial spigots were turned on. No one was allowed to fail.

Just another way of looking at it. The Keynesian money printing also lowers interest rates. It would have been more complete of me to mention the money printing, but low interest rates and fractional reserve banking are all part of the mix leading to the same problem.

Country Lawyer said...

"You've missed the point."

No, you have. There is no system that isn't corruptable, the results of the "forward thinkers" has been a disaster.

No one can see clearly enough.

"Firstly, there is a distinction between private goods and public goods."

Is there? Define what is public and what is private and why? The pigeons foir example. Once all game belonged to the sovereign, later a man had the right to do as he pleased with game on his property.

Communists say ALL goods are common.

Where do you draw the line?

If I was among your cognitive elite I would make sure I knew when all woman were ovulating so I could make sure they were carrying a child that was a "forward thinker" because it is better for society.

Kings exercised this kind of perogative before.

"The problem is that the vital public good assets may be effectively managed by the free market."

Ok, stop right there, President Carter set up a Department of Energy in the 70s because oil was a vital public good and to end our dependance on foreign oil. The U.S. is now more dependant on foreign oil than before and we have a bureaucracy that employees a 100,000+ people . . . to what end?

"I'm not prepared to live with private decisions which destroy the common good."

Define "Common Good." That term can mean anything.

Would the common good be the preservation of families, the ending of child abuse, stopping fights and disorderly conduct, and assorted other ills?

yes?

All those reasons were used by "forward thinking people" to enact prohibition in the U.S. and what was the consequence of this?

The creation of organized crime in America with such power that they gained control of the unions, buy off politicians and some think even had a president killed.

This is the problem, You think somehow a system can be perfected here that will create stability. Social security system was set up "for stability" reasons and look where it is now, a gigantic program that is sucking the Country down.

Welfare was for the good of the children. To prevent long term effects of poverty. Again forward thinking.

Result: We have gone from 8% single moms raising kids in 1980 to 38% and rising now. The family has unraveled. The social fabric has fallen apart.

"Doctors definitely. The law is about your relationship with other people, health is personal."

Wow.

Health is personal, but personal relationships are not.

Really?

Deal with child protective services, watch parents have their children stripped away and ask those people whether they would rather have good health or their children and see which one they pick.

That statement alone says more about the weakness of your vision rather than mine.

"I don't even trust myself. The potential to go bad is present in all of us, the question is how to mitigate these effects on the system to ensure that it survives."

It is the wrong question and it belies an underlying fear on your part. People don't like change in their lives, they want to be safe and secure and anything that threatens that makes us want to find ways to insure that security and safety.

You can't do that. You can't control enough variables and you can not control people in such a way as to make it safe and secure.

"That's the problem, because you can't see and yet can act."

Tell me why I should care if those pigeons are extinct or not? How it impacts my life from beginning to end.

I see long term that the fruits of what your are advocating are posionous, yet you cannot.

Advocating that we must do something "for the common good" has gotten us to where the entire system is going to collapse.

Simon pointed out earlier, you are assuming long term thinking is better.

it is not.

Anonymous said...

The Social Pathologist is right. A society wherein all men are philosophers will never exist. The mass of men have been manipulated throughout history. The various revolutions that have occurred down through the ages were generally the result of one elite using the masses as a weapon against a rival elite. When the revolution was over the winners became the new rulers & were usually far worse than those they displaced. Those who doubt this ought to read about the Committee of Public Safety that was set up after the much vaunted French Revolution. The people have never ruled at any time or any place. The reason for the Church's traditional teaching that monarchy is the best form of government is the stenosophism of the masses. In a monarchy the heir is trained in the arts of government, & to think of the long-term ramifications of government policy from the time he is old enough to understand such things. Of course the advocates of republicanism will howl in outrage at the despotism of kings, but before they begin in earnest they ought to take a look round about themselves & examine just how free they are in their wonderful republican countries. The man who came into this world as a subject of the Emperor Franz Joseph in 1850 enjoyed a great deal more freedom than someone born today in the United States, the original modern republican country, ever will. Many will say that this is because the country in question, Britain, The United States &c. has been subverted by socialists. If this is so why were the socialists able to do this? Because of freedom of speech & all that rot. If the socialists had been rounded up & put in labour camps they never would have taken over. This is why there was never a socialist coup in Germany during the rule of the Kaiser, or in Austria-Hungary under Franz-Joseph. They didn't believe that evil has rights & that all should be free to do & say whatever they like as long as it pleases them. For those who would talk of how unfree the people must have been, I highly doubt that even one man among their subjects had to worry that his children would be taught to be degenerate perverts in "school" as in modern Britain & many parts of the U.S. There is nothing intrinsically evil about non-democratic & non-republican forms of government. If force isn't used to keep evil under control it will spread until it kills the body it has infected, in the same way as gangrene. That is exactly what has happened in the modern west, so much so that now the government is composed of criminals. As Dr. Johnson wrote "Slavery is now nowhere more patiently endured, than in countries once inhabited by the zealots of liberty."

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Country Lawyer

This is the problem, You think somehow a system can be perfected here that will create stability. Social security system was set up "for stability" reasons and look where it is now, a gigantic program that is sucking the Country down.

Humanely perfect systems are impossible, but it is possible to produce less stupid systems.

Ok, stop right there, President Carter set up a Department of Energy in the 70s...

Prohibition wasn't something pushed onto the populace from out of the blue, it wasn't fostered onto the populace by some sort of cognitive elite; most of the smart people opposed it. Before it could become a constitutional amendment it had to be ratified by the states. In other words, it went to the people and they approved it.

America is a free society. The dept of Energy can be abolished just as easily as it was set up. The only reason why it still exists because of popular will. Vox Populi, Vox Dei.

No European tyrant ever approved of Gay marriage and yet various states in the U.S. are now choosing to recognise it. The mess you have about you is the result of the popular will of the American People. Sorry, but you can spin all the tirades you want about the cognitive elite, but in the end it all gets put to the popular vote. Democracy 101. I repeat again, if the people don't want it, it doesn't get made into law. When the public became sick of prohibition it was repealed.

The founding fathers of the U.S. did not think the universal franchise a smart idea. They explicitly limited who could vote on the grounds that only prudent men should be given the right. Was a original "limited" democracy more free than the current universal one?
I rest my case.

The malign elite of our societies would never have achieved the power that they have without the cooperation of the proles. That's why there is a decline in Western Society that correlates with the expansion of the franchise. In the end it becomes an alliance of the wicked and the stupid against the good and the smart.

Tell me why I should care if those pigeons are extinct or not? How it impacts my life from beginning to end.

It may not affect your life but it affects mine and plenty of other people. I mourn the loss of some of God's beauty. The bird may have harbored some bacteria which fueled part of the bio-system, it may have played some role in the growth of tree's: I don't know. But what I do no is that we were put on God's earth to tend the garden, not trash it, and therefore have an obligation to it. Apparently some people don't see this.

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Country Lawyer

In addition:

Tell me why I should care if those pigeons are extinct or not? How it impacts my life from beginning to end.

That's the whole problem, it's not only about you and your rights, it's also about your obligations.

Btw,

But what I do no is that we were put on God's earth to tend the garden, not trash it, .......

Should be,

But what I do know is that we were put on God's earth to tend the garden,..

I'm not retarded just a bit dyslexic, though you may disagree.

Country Lawyer said...

I don't think you're retarded, just misguided and you haven't told me where you would draw the line.

Where does the "common good" end?

"But what I do know is that we were put on God's earth to tend the garden,.."

Where does it ever say this in the Bible?

If you can make an argument for the pigeons, you can make an argument for anything.

"That's the whole problem, it's not only about you and your rights, it's also about your obligations."

Obligations as defined by who? God? Then let the church by our shepards, not the temporal powers.

Further, the idea that people can enact change through voting or that what we have is a consequnce of what is popular is not true.

A simple example is the bank bailouts that started in 08. The senate and congress got millions of people contacting them telling them "NO!" and they did it anyway.

The elect tea party candidate to shrink the government supposedly and they immediately engage in the same assinine behavior as the people they replaced.

So while in theory it may seem that people have a voice in a democracy, in practice they do not (short of threats of revolution).

The majority of people were not for prohibition, yet it got passed.

The majority of people are not for Gay marriage, but the courts have been shoving it down their throats.

Th idea that the United States is a free society is laughable.

Its a sick joke.

The irony is that going to a third world dictatorship often feels freer than a western country because not every piece of your life isn't regulated, fined, taxed (fees) and monitored they way it is here.

Finally, I would suggest that you abdicating your responsibility. Just as the Israelites did in 1 Samuel 1-22.

You are looking at the "problems" of the world of which you feel powerless over and instead of fighting the battle on the personal level, you want a "cognitive elite" to do it for you, to tell those people that are doing things you don't like, to stop it.

This need to tell people to stop, will never end, it is a snake that is always hungry, consuming everything. It is what we have now, the ever present, Nanny State.

You just don't agree with the things they say are "wrong" right now. And that's the whole point of my argument.

You have a government running around trying to stop social ills for the common good and it is doing far more damage then it is fixing.

What you are advocating for can only end badly, just as God warned the Israelites that if they had a king, they would all become slaves.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Country Lawyer.

Where to draw the line?

It's a prudential measure dependent upon the circumstances in question. I'm not trying to weasel out of the question it's just that there are a variety of legitimate options when it comes to placing limits on governments and voters.

However it is possible to draw some limits easily through the study of history. No society has been able to survive long which advocates the destruction of the family, disrespect for legitimate authority, and violation of what C.S. Lewis called the "Tao of Life": Basically natural law. People who, through their actions, have shown a disregard or incapability to grasp this concept are a threat to themselves. Remember, stenosophism is a type of disability that frustrates its possessor in achieving their goals.

A simple example is the bank bailouts that started in 08. The senate and congress got millions of people contacting them telling them "NO!" and they did it anyway.

I'm sorry CL but your version of events are wrong. Initially, everyone was opposed to the bailouts and it got voted down first time. However after the vote, when Bernanke scared the hell out of the senate (Justifiably, I might add. The market would have crashed, the depression would have happened and I feel it would have been better in the long run) got even more calls in favour of them. The senators responded to public pressure. Everyone wants the banks to go down as long as their 401k and savings are OK. However once people realised that they too would be vapourised their enthusiasm for the free market waned rapidly.

Suppose gay marriage became legislatively approved. Could it not be overturned? Is there anything which prohibits its removal from the legislation? Sorry, but the public gets what it wants, that's why its called a democracy.

The reason why it "doesn't work" in practice is because the the assumptions underlying democracy doesn't work in practice. Pure democracy fails because the stupid align with the wicked. You know I'm right on this one.

When you speak of my 'cognitive elite" I think you are mistaken by what I mean. I can't go into it now, but my cognitive elite is akin to that of the American Founding Fathers, it's not the credentialed but the prudent whom I whom I would give political power.

Anonymous said...

This whole concept of "big picture thinking" vs "small detail thinking" HAS been thought of before. It is called the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator). It is a type of personality test and one of the aspects is N (Intuitive) vs S (Sensing). N types like myself are "big picture thinkers" - often at the expense of details. S types, who make up the VAST majority of people, are detail oriented - often at the expense of the big picture.

Likewise, as others have pointed out, your premise is severely flawed. You say that we need regulation because people are flawed, yet where do you intend to find these perfect, brilliant, all-knowing angels to run the regulation schemes? That would be left to government bureaucrats - a bunch of morons with worthless degrees who pay no price whatsoever for being wrong. They have the same flaws as everybody else, but no incentive to try and do the smart thing.

Anonymous said...

Also I wanted to add, Having read through your comments and replies I think that you need to brush up on your economics. Regulations do not help the people, on the contrary, they HURT the people. The only people helped by regulations are the people being regulated, for the very obvious reason that they are no longer responsible for their actions.

Also you should read some of economist Thomas Sowell's work. You're clearly falling into the seductive trap that he talks about quite frequently with regards to "smart people" making the decisions for "dumb people" and how it sounds like a great idea, but has been a complete disaster every single time it has been tried.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERj3QeGw9Ok

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