How Do We Get Simple Enough?

I play Hoyle Bridge to alleviate a bit of boredom and sometimes to get my mind up to speed if I have work with a lot of ‘numbers’ in it to do.  The record shows I win 99% of all rubbers played.  Not bad until I admit I ‘cheat’ by trashing the first 10 games or so when the cards run against my team – though I do this in order to play to make contracts rather than to defend – I prefer this and am not unduly concerned with the avatars I’m playing against.  At my local club, I just shade the 50% mark.  Why are so many ‘public statistics’ about as reliable as  the ones kept in Hoyle Bridge, without my explanation?

The ‘golden age’ in economics is usually thought of as from 1947 to 1973.  During this time, tax rates on high earnings reached 19/6 in the pound and were very high in the USA.  Note this was the golden age of economic expansion.  When there is data like this about, how is it we get people able to tell us that reducing tax rates on wealth is actually good for the economy?

In rat communities there are broadly three kinds of ‘personality’ (bees have them too).  Alpha rats are territorial and dominate beta rats – a familiar story – but there are also gamma rats that establish territory but don’t go about dominating the betas.  In the revolting Chinese ‘Great Leap Forward’, hundreds of thousands of dominant land-owners were publicly shamed and killed.  There have been similar instances of culls of the rich across societies.  One can teach quite pathetic mice to fight and kill their own ‘great leader’ – they just become the next ‘great leader’.  Some fish grow massively and even change sex to replace a leader.

I don’t like ‘year zero’ solutions and am non-violent unless there is no alternative.  Yet I see some data here on just how valuable the rich are.  China survived killing a lot of them, and its population has higher average IQ than ours.  With them it was largely agrarian and now is the world’s manufacturing hub.  I don’t favour any violence, but there is plenty of information around on human nature, from history like this through to noting how much rubbish people drop and how many dog owners won’t carry a poop bag.  The organisational capacity of the many is so bad they find a lot of routine hygiene  impossible without coercion.  A key story is that of the ‘tragedy of the Commons’ in which land can be over-grazed to destruction because individual selfishness does not work – something else is needed for common purpose and common good.  This tragedy is now writ-large on the planet.  My guess is this is both worse and better than we think – largely because thinking is not a strong human suit.

Our ‘answers’ in the political-economic field are not answers at all, but more to do with argument that we can’t do anything honest and sensible because that’s the road to serfdom.  We have seen the organising capacity of “socialist experiments”, though our general knowledge of what they were is more or less non-existent.  They weren’t good, and as they break up we find the ideologies were resisted and ones common to the modern human prevail – nationalisms, ethnic xenophobia, sexisms, religion and desires to be free.

What we are all discovering is we are not free.  The existential hero choking in the nausea of freedom was a blip in the history of literature.  There is no freedom without responsibility towards others.   Nothing really works if we forget this and we need a politics and economics built on mutual understanding.  Such understanding is unlikely to be rational because most human beings have little rational capability and all of us are social animals.  Academics have produced a lot that might help if we could understand it, but remember that even the leader of a highly sophisticated technological society was more interested in Janeway dropping her keks than the whole gamut of human literature and culture.  Personally, I’d rather see Warrington lose than end up in coitus with a genocidal moral freak or have to watch endless soap opera or Shakespearean ‘cun comedy’.  Of course, I was severely traumatised by English literature teachers, in the odd moments I had to feign attention (one passes such subjects because they are really ‘taught’ elsewhere).

The politics and economics we need should be based in what we try to regulate out of human nature in sport or something else we can understand.  There is no clever, objective position to take because cleverness has its own interests and objectivity is more easily feigned than my teenage ‘interest’ in Thomas Hardy.  I know bodies like the Olympic Committee and FIFA are bent.  The issues we need to model concern preventing cheating and designing  competition without dominance.  Someone can obey tackle rules without knowing what the single Gaussian copula is.





5 thoughts on “How Do We Get Simple Enough?

  1. “from 1947 to 1973. During this time, tax rates on high earnings reached 19/6 in the pound”

    19/6 in the pound? Typo somewhere? Just checking your blog for the first time since November. This posting is full of intelligent ideas, but being scattered about, it is hard to find a connecting theme between them. You have too much potential power of communication to let your writing drift aimlessly.

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