Government and Economics

I like biology and the theoretical because they make sense to me - science and reason. Government seems like such a mess. That is because of its natural complexity, competing interests and that it is made of compromises. It does need to be addressed though. Government and Economics seem to naturally go together, because

This essay is partly a placeholder (a long placeholder), but it also has at least one novel point to it that may be very useful. Hopefully, I can expand this some. Everyone seems to be looking for a better economic and governmental system. Hopefully, this can lay out some initial definitions that will be useful for creating an understanding. Some of this you might know, some might be new.

Basically, it asks the question of how does wealth look in terms of its source being civilization, out ecology.

During the time of the tribes, leadership would have been family oriented. That leadership could be religious, economic or military based, but would always end up being hereditary. It's easy to understand why. The only real innovation was when democracy was used.

There have always been balances to government, whether the leadership of a tribe, an elected official or a prince of wealth. There is a balance between leadership and rule. There is a balance between benefit to the leaders and benefit to the lead. In terms of biology, the leadership is usually of high status, which is about reproductive success.

The economics of the tribes was dominated by what resources the land could provide. This would have led to territoriality (and lots of warfare). Before there was agriculture there would have been widespread forest farming. There is lots of discussion about how agriculture developed in the river valleys that supported the earliest civilizations.

The whole point of this discussion is the question of how can a civilization organize itself in terms of governance and economics. I don't see a huge change in government or economics until recently, but we still do not have a clear idea of what will work in the future to organize a civilization. To review...

We have various forms of autocracies. Their biggest weakness seems to be the transfer of power upon the death of a leader. they are also inefficient, because not only do they lend themselves to corruption, but also wasteful infighting.

Democracy avoids some problems of autocracies but has its own set of problems, including its inherent messiness and inefficiency that comes from the compromises needed to satisfy the different interests of the governed and the different ways those interests can manipulate the system. Speaking of systems, there is then Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism.

About here is when you think about how nice and simple science is. At least science is fairly able to restrict what a word means even if they have to resort to Latin to do it. I am heading somewhere with this though.

There are a couple points I can clear up to start with. I think "Capitalism" needs to go back to its original meaning of using capital as a tool of productivity, that is investment. All systems require this, whether a family, a nation, a company, democracy or communism. Sorry, pick another term for the ownership system that has commonly been called capitalism. (I wonder how far I get with that one.) Let's walk that back and leave "Capitalism" meaning private ownership and assume everyone agrees investment is how to build things.

The most usefully I can figure it out, "Socialism" is about group ownership rather than private ownership. The group may be many things, including a religion or nation. (So why not corporations?) If I am correct, "Communism" is socialism, but socialism created by "revolution". I assume that meant violent revolution. I'm not sure if I would rather face a platoon of soldiers or lawyers.

I read a quote comparing Capitalism and Communism which basically said that any system would work if the people using it got behind it and supported it. Maybe. Robert Heinlein said that there are two kinds of people. Those that think people need to be controlled and those that don't think so.

Now it appears that the problem with all these systems is the people in them, especially a greed for wealth and power. It corrupts a system that works, sometimes by dodging the rules of the system or just changing them. There was one rule in particular that caught my attention and it might offer a solution to a lot of the current economic and social problems we have now, but it also showed something I think is a new idea. That issue is inheritance.

Keep in mind, this is about making a world where we can survive and be comfortable. We are trying to get past that "most men lead lives of quiet desperation" stuff.

I know all the arguments about ownership. Don't consider mentioning John Locke and Natural Law to me or I will point out that pretty much everything that has ever been called Natural Law, is no longer called Natural Law no matter how universal or divine it appeared at one time. Ownership is basically a human invention to create enough order for the society to function. It also seems fair to our moral instincts, something that is very important. Laws are simply not perfect, but the laws of a society must seem fair or they will be rejected. At the same time, I know a lot about wealth creation as well as wealth accumulation. There are a lot of people that accumulate wealth but create little. If you study the history of science and invention, you also see that a lot of people that created wealth never benefited from it much. Thomas Edison is a good example of where someone that wanted to ride his inventions to wealth but instead got consumed by the financier J. P. Morgan.

Trying to direct the creativity or wealth that a society can produce is mostly a non-starter past a point, but a society must have laws to maintain order and protect itself. Clearly, our society has a problem with greed. (Libertarianism, a political name for greed, represents something more primitive even than a tribe, a tribe of one. In terms of survival, it's absurd.) Now greed makes sense at times, particularly in the past, but things are different now. We are far less supply limited now than market limited and this is becoming more and more true as technology develops. Sometimes when we hear of great fortunes made at what is clearly the expense of the larger society, one asks "how much is enough". For many, it doesn't seem like there can be enough. The problem is that sometimes the society has trouble supporting the wealth of the small minority commonly called the 1%. Wealth is a power that was feared by the creators of the democracy known as America. ... This discussion could go on forever, but the question is what to do about it. I think the solution is many things, including a moral perspective I will discuss later, but there is one thing I have thought about that could really help with the danger that greed can present to the society. More importantly though, it leads to a different perspective. This relates to inheritance.

It does seem reasonable that when a person passes on, they can pass their wealth on to their heirs or elsewhere if they want. They are very likely to be enhancing the probability of their survival in evolutionary terms - to a point. At the same time, interference of wealth can be dangerous to the individual and the society.

Wealth is a great power. People that have worked to create wealth usually understand it and value it. They usually have the skill to husband it as well. It is not an easy skill to learn and the story of the athlete or video start that gains a fortune, but loses it tragically, is all to common. When in my 20's, if I met someone from Marin COuntry, a place of wealth just north of San Francisco, I would say "oh, so you're an alcoholic". Darn, but they usually understood exactly what I meant. It's a beautiful place, but there is not much to do for young people, so they drink. It's just there, a trapping of their parent's status. Elsewhere, this may be other drugs. The modern world has many dangers that don't require much money. Then if you inherit money, and do have the wisdom and discipline to use it wisely, that is great. The data shows though that family fortunes can almost never be maintained past three generations. It's not just the dangers and the difficulty of maintaining wealth, it's the predators.

This would be interesting in any case, but there is another problem to an inheritance of large fortunes that effects society. This is fairly well known and is usually referred to as income disparity. A society with too much income disparity just doesn't work. Wealth is a powerful tool, especially for creating more wealth. It's just a flaw in the system that needs adjustment. That is more easily said than done and over time, wealth used as political power has gotten laws reducing inheritance taxes. Usually, the rationale has been that the money has already been taxed once, why should it be taxed again. The question is always "by what right does the society have a claim". The simple answer is because it will make the society work. What though if it was looked at as a biological thing. Wealth, like we know of in human society, does not exist. Everything.... everything gets recycled. Well, would the wealth get recycled into the society? That just doesn't sound right in ways. What about would the wealth get recycled into the civilization? The civilization is an ecology, even if it is into the commonest way we look at it, but it makes sense. You can agree or disagree with the society, it is made of people but the civilization is not just the individual's life support system, it is also a source of the wealth. If "survival" does represent a natural law, civilization is where it resides. Just as civilization can support far more people than any other ecology, it also is the basic source of great wealth.