....have become, roughly, "Different systems at different times for different people with different cultures pursuing different goals."
I believe in being principles-driven on a personal level, but on a large-group level it needs to be recognized that every generation faces different challenges.
I suppose if you paint with broad strokes you could say a few policies are almost always good, but even then that disintegrates if you try to nail down the particulars.
Let's say you're building a parliament from scratch in a new nation. How easy should it be for the members to deadlock?
This is not at all an easy or trivial question, and it has huge implications. Nations have at times lost everything by having a deadlocked government in time of crisis. The flipside is that unchecked authority in the hands of the current ruling party can quickly lead to either partisan strife where the two dominant parties keep reversing each other's policies as fast as they can get implemented, or despotism if rule is consolidated consistently in one side's hands.
So, how deadlockable should your parliament be?
It's hard to say.
Not to mention that you don't have full and complete control of your own policy... oftentimes it's dictated by circumstance. It's basically inconceivable that no first-world government on earth would like to run higher interest rates through their central bank if they were in a vacuum, but there would be a massive influx of carry trades if you were running a stable government with high interest rates and no currency controls. Thus, you'd instantly have a lot of speculative money -- probably more than you knew what to do with -- and you'd have significant debt payments to service. Your currency would grow stronger in international trade markets, which would make your citizens import more and export less.
...so everyone's got these really low interest rates. For most nations, it has less to do with independently coming up with financial policy, and far more to do with the decisions made in D.C., London, and Brussels.
At one point, I thought there were right answers in politics. There still might be a few. But I think you've got to at a people's current state, culture, and what their goals are (or could be) -- and build around that.
I don't think it is reasonable to blame politics for the failure of every society ever. I put that one down to humanity.
You might say government must be created by the political units below, not create the political units below. The individual creates the family which creates the household which creates the neighborhood, city, district and so on. This is the only way to solve the problem of what top-level government is necessary and useful.
Politics is to social cooperation as alchemy is to chemistry or astrology to astronomy. Politics is obsolete. It is a primitive method of organizing human society that has always failed, if what you seek in a society is an orderly society that optimizes freedom, innovation, the growth of scientific knowledge and peace. E.g., politicians have taken the greatest tool humankind has ever created, the knowledge of physical science, and turned it into weapons of mass destruction. No political system, particularly majority rule democracy of any kind, can deal with a dynamic world of continual scientific and technological innovation. Its incentive structure is innately that of a kind of bitchy bureaucratic conservatism, no matter what label the ruling party goes by. All political systems, philosophies, rulers and agents are anti-liberal by definition.
If you want to think for yourself and develop your own approach to deeper issues of how to structure society to optimize prosperity, freedom and peace consider the following question: What exactly defines politics, i.e., what fundamental characteristic separates politics from every other category of human social activity? If you can think your way through to a clear, simple answer to that question, you may get a glimpse of what might be an alternative to political government.
See if you can come up with a simple model of universal human nature, i.e., a general characteristic that integrates all that is essential, inherent and inescapable about a volitional being in one short sentence. Rigorous thinkers demand precision and concision. A "volitional being" is a being capable of making choices. Another way of saying that is: a being capable of purposeful action.
If you have read this far and find my questions and suggestions stimulating, well, as Alexander Pope (1688-1744) wrote: "Know then thyself, presume not God to scan, The proper study of mankind is Man."
Go for it and Godspeed.
(I meant relatively, not overwhelmingly. The Swiss don't have loads of murders iirc, but more than would be expected considering their low crime rate in other areas).
Totally agree. I made the same point in a discussion about guns a while back (between an American and British friend).
In a country like America, it would be madness to ban guns, because they're so widespread already. Even more so if I was put in charge of a lawless place like Somalia or the Phillipines - I wouldn't think twice about letting citizens carry guns.
But in the UK? No way. We don't have high gun crime at the moment, but making guns legal will quickly turn all those knife attacks into gunshot murders. If I was in charge of Switzerland, I'd stop them giving assault rifles to every able-bodied male. They don't need a militia, but they do have an overwhelmingly high level of gun-related murders.
Considering the context of any action is pretty much the definition of strategy in my opinion.
I find myself coming to a similar conclusion about economics. Every time I dive into a subject I always find myself initially searching for the "right" answer. In reality of course, right is highly subjective to time, place, people, cultural, and a host of other factors. What may be "right" in one situation isn't necessarily so in another.
My dilemma though is how do you make it just on a large scale, like a country. Though 60% may agree what the "right" thing to do is, isn't that just a tyranny of the majority? Aren't the other 40% being coerced?
I believe minimalist stuff is that at its core. The acknowledgement and respect of differences. Instead of offering multiple choices of form, it tries to offer the form that is the function, the absolute choice, modifiable at your desire. (I think that to consider one's desire as absolute needs is healthy, good once they're mindfully acknowledged)
Perhaps Dieter Rams should have been politician.
Got this email titled "Investing and Living in Mongolia" from a reader. Good questions here -
I enjoy your blog. I saw that you recently moved to Mongolia. I am curious what made you move to Mongolia (i.e. curiosity to explore vs. a new job)? What is it like there for foreigners? Is it a suitable environment for investing capital? Do you feel safe?
Mongolia is an extremely promising country from the outside, yet nothing beats the perspective of someone who is there on the inside (even though you have not been there a very long time).
All the best,
US markets delivered truly outstanding, amazing results last year. On average there was no better place to be invested, optimism reached new highs and everyone is convinced a recovery is in play, even though for some reason or another people still talk about how times are tough.
Those who own stocks have seen their assets go up incredibly from the insane market bottom that was 2009. 2011 saw another pullback and now 2013 has been crazy. But the question is, can the US continue to deliver such outstanding returns on investments? or even a better question is, was the insane returns justifiable? The US economy isn't substantially better, and defintely not 30% better, and the outlook is still somewhat hazy. Although most people would agree a modicum of a recovery is happening, real wages, unemployment and the like continue to improve rather slowly.
From a technical standpoint, US markets haven't touched their 200 DMA average in around 400 days, and haven't been below it for any significant amount of time since 2011. The markets experienced a pullback last few weeks, but have quickly readjusted. the question is will this adjustment go through? how far will we go? Noone knows the answers to this question, but in my opinion, a macro rotation is at play.
What do I mean by macro-rotation? I mean I a long term money flow cycle is slowly changing, and it will effect just about every kind of money flow imaginable. Bonds, equities, commodities, emerging markets etc.
It all starts with the falling of U.S. Hegemony. Last year We saw the number one indicator of the U.S. hegemony take on a massive reversal, that is the 10 year treasury yield began to break out of long-term decline. it is uncertain if the breakout will continue, but one thing is for sure, demand for U.S. treasuries is beginning to wane. At the same time, The US dollar index has also began to wane, even though there has been an insane amount of money tied up in he U.S. dollar the past couple of years as the dust settles around the world and investors consolidate.