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View Diary: Why deficits don't matter - the reality of government finance (116 comments)

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  •  And he was wrong. Our Constitution was (1+ / 0-)
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    designed to deal with human behavior. James Madison said in Federalist 10 that the principal design goal of the Constitution was to control the effects of faction. He went to the trouble to define faction. He was precise. He did not want his readers to misunderstand. Madison said:

    By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.
    Factions, by Madison’s definition, are always bad things. Factions are made up of human beings, and they always work against the common good. Because any social organization reflects the nature of the humans who control it, the men who form factions are therefore naturally inclined to work against the common good. There is a more benign definition of faction that is in common use today. Many people seem to think of faction as simply a quarrelsome subset of a political party, sometimes irritating, other times worrisome, but rarely dangerous. That form of faction is like a wart on the back of one’s hand. But Madison’s form of faction is a cancerous tumor growing in one’s body that, if left unchecked, will kill its host.

    But not all human beings are inclined to form factions, not all humans are inclined to work against the common good. Other humans naturally work for the common good. Economists, when they talk of human nature, never take this fact into account. There are two varieties of humans: Varietas Tyrannica and Varietas Democratica. As their names imply they will take different paths in response to the same stimuli. Economics has no room in its theology for such differences in behavior. Because of this fact, economic theory is built on sand.

    Call your professor and ask him what has happened. Our economic situation is in a mess. Is it due to a lack of understanding of mathematics, or a lack of understanding of human nature? Something sure as hell happened.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 06:17:58 AM PST

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    •  Reminds me. . . (0+ / 0-)
      There are two varieties of humans
      . . . of an old adage among psychologists.  There are two types of people in this world: those who divide people up into two groups, and those who don't.  
      •  Sure, make a joke, but there are many others (1+ / 0-)
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        who agree with my idea. For example, Jimmy Carter defines Varietas Tyrannica in his book Our Endangered Values, John Quincy Adams described them in 1820 after a meeting with James Monroe and John C. Calhoun in which slavery was discussed at length, I. W. Charny, a psychologist, wrote a book about them. He describes them as people with a democratic mind and people with a fascist mind. Lord Acton famously talked about V. Tyrannica. John W. Dean wrote about tyranni in Conservatives Without Conscience, and Martha Stout a psychologist who teaches at Harvard wrote about them in her book, The Sociopath Next Door. The American Psychiatric Association describes them as having Antisocial Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Charles Darwin wrote that varieties of species are natural and necessary.

        If Charles Darwin were still alive, I think that he would say that Edward O. Wilson is one of those “naturalists having sound judgment and wide experience,” that we should listen to. Wilson has written many important books on various topics concerning evolution. His latest, The Social Conquest of Earth, may well be his most important. In it, he explains how human evolution has resulted in a fundamental conflict between behaviors that favor the success of the individual human and behaviors that favor the success of groups of humans. He says that these two conflicting behaviors have a genetic basis:

        Alleles (the various forms of each gene) that favor survival and reproduction of individual group members at the expense of others are always in conflict with alleles of the same and alleles of other genes favoring altruism and cohesion in determining the survival and reproduction of individuals. Selfishness, cowardice, and unethical competition further the interest of individually selected alleles, while diminishing the proportion of altruistic, group-selected alleles. These destructive propensities are opposed by alleles predisposing individuals toward heroic and altruistic behavior on behalf of members of the same group. Group-selected traits typically take the fiercest degree of resolve during conflicts between rival groups.
        Wilson’s conclusion is that this conflict, this struggle between two kinds of humans, has only one outcome:  
        An unavoidable and perpetual war exists between honor, virtue, and duty, the products of group selection, on one side, and selfishness, cowardice, and hypocrisy, the products of individual selection, on the other side.

        … In summary, the human condition is an endemic turmoil rooted in the evolution processes that created us. The worst in our nature coexists with the best, and so it will ever be. To scrub it out, if such were possible, would make us less than human.

        I can think of no better description of our present predicament. The Darwinian struggle has long been with us. The best we can do is to do our best. We must control the adverse effects of tyranni, we must control the adverse effects of factions—we must work for the common good.

        So, is our current economic mess a result of the failure of economists to understand mathematics or the failure of economists to understand human nature?

        Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

        by hestal on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 08:19:18 AM PST

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        •  See also (1+ / 0-)
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          Political Ponerology

          Like a color blind man incapable of distinguishing red from green, a small minority of the human population cannot experience or fully comprehend the normal range of human emotions. And like those color blind who may conceal their condition by using the correct words while not understanding their meaning (e.g., the top traffic light is “red”, the bottom is “green”) - so does this minority conceal their condition by playacting an emotion's exterior signs (facial expressions, exclamations, body language). However, they do not actually experience the emotion in question. Their deception is revealed in the laboratory, where they respond to words like DEATH, CANCER, DISEASE, as if they were DAY, CREAM, or PAPER. They lack the ability to comprehend the emotional “punch” that certain words contain. They use others’ emotional reactions as cues, and they adjust their behavior to portray the correct ‘emotional’ behavior. (Hare, 129-30)

          These individuals are known as psychopaths. Not only can they not feel the pain of others, they often seem to deliberately cause others pain. Lobaczewski refers to this disorder as an “essential psychopathy” to distinguish them from others with deficits in their genetic/instinctual endowment, essential psychopathy being the most severe and disturbing.

          Many so-called “antisocial individuals” acquire similar characteristics in their life-time, whether caused by brain damage to certain areas of the brain, or functionally, because of close contact with and influence by such individuals. Lobaczewski terms such individuals characteropaths. The vast majority of both these groups cannot change. The acts that we call evil (especially on a macrosocial level) can be traced back to this deviant minority of human beings and the effects of their actions on their family, friends, and society.

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