But broadly speaking, I think it ought to consist of the following:. They have costs. There will inevitably be inefficiency and graft involved with their administration. People will free-ride on them. To me, these costs and inefficiencies are the price of some metastability insurance.
The Dreams, Truths and Torments within Her
I think any clear-eyed view of them has to acknowledge social welfare programs tend to expand over time, and the power of the state along with them. The historical example of Prussia is instructive here. In the 19th century, the Prussian state was confronted with increasing social and political tensions between its rural and urban classes. Recall that Marx believed socialist revolution would happen first in Germany, not Russia. The tension intensified following German unification in Germany had a metastability problem. The Prussian solution was, in large part, the creation of a social welfare state.
The medical insurance law of 15 June created a network of local insurance providers who dispensed funds from income generated by a combination of worker and employer contributions. The accident insurance law of made arrangements for the administration of insurance in cases of illness and work-related injury. The last of the three foundational pillars of German social legislation came in , with the age and invalidity insurance law.
These provisions were quantitatively small by present-day standards, the payments involved extremely modest, and the scope of the new provisions far from comprehensive—the law of , for example, did not apply to rural workers. At no point did the social legislation of the Empire come close to reversing the trend towards increased economic inequality in Prussian or German society. Between the s and , it expanded to encompass over 1 million employees.
The Prussian railways administration alone employed , workers and the state-controlled mining sector a further , Prussia is a cautionary tale. So, where do we draw the line? Is there a way to balance a pragmatic view of social metastability with checks on the expansionist tendencies of the state? Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, again.
Exercises for Healing Emotional Blockages and Harnessing the Power of the Subconscious Mind
When considering a particular policy, ask:. Which brings me back to policy wonks. Not so. We need folks out there conducting social science research. When that research is conducted with a proper scientific mindset see The Road To Tannu Tuva , it provides valuable perspective on the tradeoffs associated with various policy initiatives.
What I am suspicious of are policy wonks as optimizers—policy wonks promising The Answers. Because there are always tradeoffs. There are always consequences. Some are intended. Some are unintended. The rough idea for this note has been kicking around in my head for a while now. You and your contributors seem to be continuously complaining, whining and expressing a kind of morose discontentment.
Why are you all so unhappy and dissatisfied? Maybe take a few of your intellectually earned dollars and buy yourself and each of your contributors a surfboard, mountain bike, snowboard, and climbing gear, with the proviso, all must be put to use.
To me, promoting autonomy of mind is a profoundly hopeful endeavor. So maybe my perspective is a bit skewed. In The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan relates the parable to his brother Alyoshaas a meditation on the tension between the existence of free will and the existence of a benevolent God.
The premise is simple. During the Inquisition, Christ returns to Earth and begins performing miracles. Rather than welcoming him with open arms, the Grand Inquisitor immediately has Christ imprisoned, fully intending to have him burned alive as a heretic. The Inquisitor spends most of the parable explaining himself. Freedom makes human beings miserable. Rather than embrace our freedom we spend our lives seeking new and inventive ways of throwing it away. As the Inquisitor puts it:. There exists no greater or more painful anxiety for a man who has freed himself from all religious bias, than how he shall soonest find a new object or idea to worship.
But man seeks to bow before that only which is recognized by the greater majority, if not by all his fellow-men, as having a right to be worshipped; whose rights are so unquestionable that men agree unanimously to bow down to it.
For the chief concern of these miserable creatures is not to find and worship the idol of their own choice, but to discover that which all others will believe in, and consent to bow down to in a mass. It is that instinctive need of having a worship in common that is the chief suffering of every man, the chief concern of mankind from the beginning of times. It is for that universality of religious worship that people destroyed each other by sword. What the Inquisitor is describing here is a common knowledge game. The conflict between Christ and the Inquisitor is therefore a conflict between missionaries.
The Inquisitor reads as a missionary for what we refer to around here as the Nudging State. There are certainly some strains of truth there. The Nudging State believes with every fiber of its being that freedom of choice is an unbearable burden to us. We will give them that quiet, humble happiness, which alone benefits such weak, foolish creatures as they are, and having once had proved to them their weakness, they will become timid and obedient, and gather around us as chickens around their hen. They will wonder at and feel a superstitious admiration for us, and feel proud to be led by men so powerful and wise that a handful of them can subject a flock a thousand millions strong.
Gradually men will begin to fear us. They will nervously dread our slightest anger, their intellects will weaken, their eyes become as easily accessible to tears as those of children and women; but we will teach them an easy transition from grief and tears to laughter, childish joy and mirthful song. Yes; we will make them work like slaves, but during their recreation hours they shall have an innocent child-like life, full of play and merry laughter. We will even permit them sin, for, weak and helpless, they will feel the more love for us for permitting them to indulge in it.
We will tell them that every kind of sin will be remitted to them, so long as it is done with our permission; that we take all these sins upon ourselves, for we so love the world, that we are even willing to sacrifice our souls for its satisfaction. Freedom is not a pleasure palace. Exercising autonomy of mind is not a journey paved with endless delights and accented with rainbows and sunshine dust.
It certainly CAN be those things. But it is also a struggle. It is also a burden. It brings fear, anxiety and existential angst.
So glad to see ET contributor Demonetized rediscovering Soros with this note! It was one of my very first articles, and is also the origin story of my avatar, Claudius Ptolemy. In doing so, I realized my initial reading, years ago, had been extremely superficial. Back then, I focused on feedback loops as amplifying the usual cognitive and emotional biases we point to in investment writing.
Things like confirmation bias and loss aversion and overconfidence.
But it was narrow and incomplete. In this piece published in the FT , for example, Soros wrote:. Feedback loops can be either negative or positive.
The Alchemy of Fear, How to Break the Corporate Trance and Create Your Company's Successful Future
In other words, a negative feedback process is self-correcting. That is what is supposed to happen in financial markets. So equilibrium, which is the central case in economics, turns out to be an extreme case of negative feedback, a limiting case in my conceptual framework. At best your cartoon will be a reasonable estimate of the probability-weighted present value of the future expected cash flows associated with your investment.
Because most of the modeling we do is based on statements or assumptions with embedded reflexivity. What Soros is describing here is Narrative—and in particular Common Knowledge. But it all clicked into place for me during my rereading. Because making reflexive statements with high truth values is something only Missionaries can do.
Only Missionaries have the power to create and shape Common Knowledge. The statement has no truth value whatsoever if I write it on this blog. Not for any reason related to the intrinsic qualities of the fundamentals and their relative soundness or unsoundness, but because my writing on this blog will not have any impact on market prices. Form an Information Theory perspective, this blog contains very little information if any. Jay Powell can move the market. Jay Powell can even alter the strategic calculus for his Missionary brethren.
Most public statements Jay Powell makes are therefore chock full of information. On the other hand, the market might take the statement as meaning the Fed will raise interest rates to prevent the economy from overheating, and therefore fall in anticipation of tighter financial conditions. Sound familiar?