Tag Archives: policy

Preventing Bad Policy

The general consensus by economists and policy makers is that the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum (brexit) will have negative consequences:

IMF says Brexit ‘pretty bad to very, very bad’

The Brexit delusion

Brexit is a needless complication, an attempt to fix something, that while flawed (especially about immigration), isn’t yet sufficiency broken to justify such drastic measures, especially at a time when Europe’s economy is already weak. The effects of Brexit are manifested in decreased business confidence, falling real estate prices, flight to safety (government bond yields fall and private debt yields rise), and increased volatility both in equities and currencies. Because the economic consequences of Brexit are so unpredictable, banks have become very skittish, and lending activity has slowed and cash reserves have surged. The total indirect consequences beyond the initial shock to the stock market and economy may total a trillion dollars over many years, until the entire thing is sorted out.

Brexit is what I would call ‘bad policy’, designed to fan populist appeal but bad for the economy. A government needs systems in place, or at least some what to dissuade, potentially disastrous populist policies.

One solution is to put the super-rich in power, who have the most to lose socioeconomically if things go wrong and thus in self-preservation will try to enact’ good policy’ that is stabilizing, not populist policy that is potential destabilizing. Less wealthy politicians have less to lose as a consequence of their actions and hence are more inclined to appeal to the whims of the masses for easy votes. For example, a 90% tax on the rich may win the support of Britain’s bottom 50%, but it may hurt the economy significantly by encouraging divestment and slowing business activity. As in the case of Trump, populism can work well if the desires of the people happen to be aligned with the best interests of the economy and state, an example being the large near-unanimous public support for the war on terror following 911, but no assurances can be made that the public will know what is best, and as Bryan Caplan has shown voters tend to be irrational and ill-informed of issues. Eliminating commonwealths, constitutions, parliaments, and other forms of democracy, replacing it with some type of autocracy or oligarchy, is another solution, in order to immediately veto bad ideas like Brexit. The nice thing about a constitutional republic, vs a direct democracy, is it makes sweeping referendums much more difficult to pass. Only congress can make drastic changes to the law and decisions, such as constitutional amendments and impeachments, not average voters.

How about stock options tied to performance, not just for private companies but for high-ranking government officials, giving policy makers a financial incentive to enact ‘good policy’. Generally, the S&P 500 is a good proxy for the heath of the US economy, although it is vulnerable to large gyrations due to speculation. But the obvious problem with this is it may encourage ‘short-termism’ – creating inflation to boost the stock index past the performance threshold at the expense of the longer-term health of the economy. To bypass this the threshold may be adjusted for abnormally high inflation. For example, if the S&P 500 is at 2000 and the 4-year performance threshold is set at 2200, if the CPI is 5% per-annum (3% higher than the long-term average), the threshold becomes 2320. Having richer politicians may also reduce corruption, for much the same reason cheating is so rare among professional athletes, who are well-paid, compared to college athletes who are not.

Improving Society and Policy

From Jim: Fixing housing, health, and education.

The fundamental problem is the misallocation of public resources.

Replace costly, time-consuming diplomas with SATs, Wondericks, and other IQ-like proxies, to signal competence. Employers realize that GPAs are becoming diluted due to grade inflation. This also explains why there is a push by the left to make these standardized tests easier, making them less useful for identifying exceptional talent. But in some instances, IQ-like tests are allowed is the employer can disprove disparate impact by showing that the test is sufficiently applicable to the job, but this is often very costly for the employer. eliminating such litigation would help job-seekers and employers.

The fed govt. should refuse to provide student loans to those those are unlikely to graduate, using IQ tests as a form of means testing. Students with IQs below 110-115 are much more likely to drop-out, fail, or major in low-ROI subjects, wasting the money. The proliferation of student loans is a contributing factor to both credentialism and spiraling college costs.

Stop wasting so much money on special education, and focus more resources on the top 5%, who are, statistically speaking, more likely to contribute to the economy and technology than the bottom 5%, yet the bottom gets vastly more funding.

How about more funding to create the next Teslas, Ubers, and Facebooks, and less on low-ROI programs like disability and welfare. As the federal govt. fritters away money, billionaires are funding technology initiatives, which is a good argument for lower taxes to spur innovation and creativity.

Related:

Helping America’s Gifted Poor
Reviving the American Dream with ‘Purple Policies’
Purple Policies, Part 2

Healthcare? Ration by IQ for expensive procedures when payment is not an options; advocate euthanasia for costly incurable diseases when payment is not an option. For example, the organ donor list should be prioritized by IQ, all else being equal. 5% of patients are consuming 50-80% of healthcare resources, typically for rare diseases and end-of-life care, which is a big waste. If you’re a multi-millionaire and can afford costly end-of-life care and or experimental treatments that are unlikely to work, fine, pay for it out of your own pocket, but taxpayers should not.

Related: Affordable Housing, Healthcare, & Tuition: Putting Things in Perspective

Utilitarianism and Consequentialism

There is some renewed debate about whether ‘Friendly AI’ can blackmail, also known as the Roko’s Basilisk problem.

More information about it can be found here, here, here, and here.

I’m kinda amazed by how much attention this has gotten, with stories even on Business Insider about the thought experiment.

Roko’s Basilisk addresses an as-yet-nonexistent artificially intelligent system designed to make the world an amazing place, but because of the ambiguities entailed in carrying out such a task, it could also end up torturing and killing people while doing so.

According to this AI’s worldview, the most moral and appropriate thing we could be doing in our present time is that which facilitates the AI’s arrival and accelerates its development, enabling it to get to work sooner. When its goal of stopping at nothing to make the world an amazing place butts up with orthogonality, it stops at nothing to make the world an amazing place. If you didn’t do enough to help bring the AI into existence, you may find yourself in trouble at the hands of a seemingly evil AI who’s only acting in the world’s best interests. Because people respond to fear, and this god-like AI wants to exist as soon as possible, it would be hardwired to hurt people who didn’t help it in the past.

So, the moral of this story: You better help the robots make the world a better place, because if the robots find out you didn’t help make the world a better place, then they’re going to kill you for preventing them from making the world a better place. By preventing them from making the world a better place, you’re preventing the world from becoming a better place!

This is a critique of utilitarianism and consequentialism. At the extreme, Stalin’s purges could have been justified on the grounds of utilitarianism, to promote the ‘greatest good’ for his people, even if millions had to die in the process. The perceived utilitarian tendency to reduce the totality of humanity in to into quantifiable ‘units’ of economic value or economic ‘agents’ whose utility must be maximized at all costs, irrespective of ambiguous concepts like morality, could explain why utilitarianism may be off-putting to some (too much logos and not enough pathos).

But such suppositions and fears may be unwarranted, because utilitarianism and consequentialism underpin society and the economy on a day-to-day basis. Consequentialism, related to utilitarianism, is simply a way of quantifying the risk/reward analysis of decisions by choosing actions that maximize utility and minimize costs, such as a business ordering in-demand ‘units’ and discontinuing less ones that don’t sell. All else being equal, a business that does not maximize utility is at a competitive disadvantage against one that does. Another example is dividing a restaurant bill.

Although utilitarianism and consequentialism are often seen as philosophical domains of the left, some on the ‘right’ also embrace it, for example, in supporting justifiable homicides by police and foreign interventionism. In the former, a ‘greater good’ is attained by preventing greater harm to innocents than the loss of a single life. In the latter, the killings of enemy combatants is justified to promote a ‘greater good’ of ‘peace’ and ‘stability’. Liberals may argue that a bakery that morally objects to making a ‘gay’ cake must be forced to do so on the utilitarian grounds of promoting the ‘greater good’ of equality.

Related: Utilitarianism Is Not Welfare Liberalism

The 2008 bank bailouts are another example of consequentialism as applied to modern policy – the end (financial stability) justifying the means (bailouts) to promote a ‘greater good’ (economic stability, benefiting millions of Americans) at the risk of possible moral hazard.

Should an AI be allowed to punish those who hinder the attainment of a ‘greater good’ or commit an action that may hurt a few for the ‘good’ of man, does this violate the principles of ‘friendly AI’? In some existential circumstances maybe it doesn’t. Hard to know.

Also, utilitarianism is compatible with < href="http://greyenlightenment.com/what-is-better-than-a-republic/">anti-democracy. As Caplan and others have noted, most voters are irrational (the term ‘irrational’ strictly being used in the economics sense [1), and this irrationality results in voter preferences that deviate from the optimal, and I think there is some truth to this, and utilitarians understand that irrationality should not guide policy, only quantifiable evidence that generates the best policy. Utilitarians may be content with some voices (irrational ones) perhaps being marginalized or excluded if it leads to an optimal outcome, and I think that’s an acceptable trade-off.

What defines ‘good policy’ is harder to quantify, but one criteria is that it ‘advances’ civilization, although what quantifies as ‘advancement’ is obviously not politically agnostic. For the ‘left’ such policy may be to advance social justice causes, as a way of maximizing happiness. For the ‘right’ it may be to maximize economic growth and technological innovation, in the hope prosperity and innovation will trickle down and benefit all. Creating optimal policy benefits everyone, not just a majority. In the case of taxes, if taxes are too high it may disincentivize risk taking and investment, and then markets fail and the economy will also fail or undergo severe recession or stagnation, ultimately hurting everyone. China saw an explosion in living standards after, in the 70’s, abandoning market-communism and embracing globalization, as an example of good policy.

Right-wing versions of pragmatism and utilitarianism can also include programs like eugenics, more funding for gifted education, more funding for high-tech industries, lower taxes, and a high-IQ basic income. Euthanasia and rationed healthcare (by IQ, for example) are ways to maximize resources and reduce entitlement spending, in the spirit of utilitarianism but with a right-wing bias. These are programs or ideas that may yield the most utility even if they are unpopular with many people.

Individualism Vs. Thede

There is a schism on ‘alt right’ (as well as the ‘mainstream right’) about individualism vs. ‘thede’ or state, and how to strike a balance between the two.

First, an article about the radioactivity of individualism

…which is contrasted by an article about the ‘borg’, denouncing the ills of too much collectivism.

There is the same penchant for heavy-handed “for your own good” tyranny (which the left inevitably puts on display as soon as they feel secure in their power); the same forced collectivism and sense of an entitlement to impose their ways on others by any means necessary

This is similar to the divide on the ‘right’ over libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, and neocons, who tend to favor free markets, defense spending, individualism, and autonomy, versus the religious/traditional right, who are more skeptical of free markets and too much individualism, supporting close-knit communities united by tradition, fraternity, and ethnicity. Paleocons and traditionalists argue that unbridled capitalism – especially free markets – subverts tradition and borders, promotes amorality, and hurts native workers.

Ross Douthat expounds on this divide, in which the paleocons/traditionalists represent the ‘base’ and the neocons the ‘establishment’. Up until 2008 or so with the ignominious end of the Bush administration, the GOP was united, but it has since splintered into these two dissenting factions, and this is especially evident in the 2016 campaign, with Trump representing the ‘base’ and Rubio, Cruz, and Jeb the ‘establishment’. Ross Argues that the divide dates back earlier than 2008, although Reagan also enjoyed a near-plurality of support by the right during much of his presidency, and Bush, while in ‘exile’ now, had very high approval ratings after 911 and much of two terms office.

We need to make up our minds. The mixed economy we have presently seem to blend individuality (free markets, individual autonomy, etc) with some sort of government to hold it together. This is similar to the ‘partial libertarian’ or ‘watchman state’ approach advocated by Rothbard and Nozick – some ‘state’ to hold everything together and enforce laws, defense, and the border, but otherwise low regulation, low taxes, free markets and personal autonomy.

I prefer individualism over collectivism, even if the former tends to be a bit radioactive. Perhaps an ideal ‘state’ would be akin to United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which have capitalism and some degree of personal autonomy but also religious and cultural homogeneity. But even those countries, as culturally conservative as they are, have a lot of foreign laborers, which racialists on the ‘alt right’ would not condone. But it’s probably too late for the United States to reverse its course, being that it’s already too diverse, too entrenched in the ‘status quo’, and too populous. However, it’s still better than many of the alternatives. Brazil, for example, which is in recession and has high inflation. Or Russia , which is also sluggish and has a lot of problems. Europe, particularly Northern Europe, is even more politically correct than America, is flooded by refugees, and has a worse economy.

Related: Alt Right Part 2, and the NRx Endgame

He’s Right

From Yahoo finance Martin Shkreli is actually a great guy

He’s right:

A ‘kakistocracy’ is defined as a government run by the incompetent, the opposite of a meritocracy or technocracy, which is the situation we have not only in the US government but also all around the world, especially in Northern Europe. On one hand, awhile back I argued that a government that does too little instead of too much may be optimal, but doesn’t mean we cannot do better.

If I had to summarize NRx as succinctly as possible, it would be: Replace and Rule. Replace the existing dysfunctional regime and then rule. The Silicon Valley techno-libertarian ‘culture’ is an example of a system that seems to be working as evidenced by how prosperous and economically impervious that region is compared to, say, Michigan. There are other options.

Free Speech, Democracy, and Crime

From iSteve: Kinsley on the Advantage of a Written First Amendment

European countries, obviously, do not have a statute protecting ‘free speech’. The result is people are occasionally apprehended (severty of punishments vary, from being detained for a few hours or days or, in exceptional cases, imprisoned for years) for communication deemed ‘incendiary’ or a ‘threat to order’ (hate speech laws).

The trade-off is, although Europe has no first amendment, it’s otherwise soft on crime, with comfy EU-approved dorm room jail conditions vs. America, which is very hard on crime (with mandatory sentences), with the worst prisons and longest sentences second to Iran or North Korea. In Great Britain, for example, a woman with an extensive history of shoplifting, when finally caught, the punishment was 12 hours of detention upon which she was released with no charges. Or Glen Stacy, Britain’s most prolific shoplifter, who has been arrested 400 times. In America, given the mandatory minimums, he would have to live forever to shoplift that many times.

Britain, as well as much of Europe’s, justice system is dysfunctional, imprisoning ‘thought dissents’ yet giving actual criminals slaps on the wrists, while America’s system may be too functional to the point of putting too many people away for too long.

The thing, is people get mad (especially those on the right it seems) when political dissidents are thrown in jail, but under a reactionary form of government that’s what would happen. And people get mad (both on right and left) when you question the sanctity of free speech. Democracy? No so much. It seems like everyone is on board the anti-democracy train. * But free speech is sacred. But you can’t have it both ways – reactionary government and free speech. And free speech and democracy are, in many ways, intertwined. Although speech laws may seem egregious, one also dig up plenty of egregious examples in America, too, like people serving many years for possession of firearms or drugs. Pick your poison, I guess

On a related note, this raises the question of what is the best way of handling crime: the libertarian/anarchist approach (retributive) or America’s punitive approach. Let’s consider the case of shoplifting, which is a very common crime, yet not so severe of nature that the appropriate punishment is not without a large degree of ambiguity. Libertarians may argue that businesses, not tax payers, should deal with criminals. Under such a system, the business or individual would administer punishment such as a fine and or banishment from the store. But that is not very effective since the thief can go somewhere else, in perpetuity. Or, maybe the store could exact a more severe punishment as a deterrent – beating the thief into a pulp, for example. But that may violate the ‘non aggression’ principle of meeting force with equal force. And some employees may, understandably so, have qualms about carrying out such a heavy-handed punishment. Civil demands are another retributive option, but since it’s civil, not criminal, the thief is under no obligation to pay. A thief with no assets can’t pay, either. That’s why the punitive approach is the most effective, by putting criminals away so they cannot continue to inflict harm on society, possibly with rehabilitation, but also lifting the burden off the private sector in having to choose a suitable punishment for miscreants; the ‘justice system’ deals with that. But as we can see with Europe and their petty crime epidemic, even that isn’t good enough in many instances, since these thieves, once released, continue to steal. On the other hand, putting too many people away for too long can strain resources that can be better spent elsewhere.

*In recent years, online, it’s actually hard to find people, both on the left or the right, who don’t have reservations about democracy. Some of the major criticisms of democracy are that it does a bad job (inefficient) at allocating ‘public goods’ and gives to much power to the ‘ignorant masses’, which are both valid criticisms.

Consider Contraception

From iSteve: The Economist: Free Contraception for Africa Would be a Great Investment

This an example how HBD-based policy can help curb social problems, be it entitlement spending, overpopulation of at-risk groups, or crime. Republicans need to get over this belief that every unborn life is sacred or is worth saving and instead consider HBD-based solutions, as everything else has been tried with little or no success. Too many Republicans believe family values and good intentions will solve everything; obviously it hasn’t as evidenced by the prison population overflowing, at great cost to taxpayers. Same for the expansion of the police and FBI. If Republicans care about stopping crime and entitlement spending, as well as protecting tax payers, as do I, they should be more receptive to policy that over the long-run would do just that – instead of what we already have, which isn’t really working that well.

Related: Eugenics Summary, and HBD-Based Policy

The Hivemind, Immigration, and IQ

From ricochet.com, A Review of Hive Mind: How Your Nation’s IQ Matters So Much More Than Your Own

From the reviews on Amazon:

The book’s primary and most important contribution is to document the following empirical regularity: Suppose you could a) improve your own IQ by 10 points, or b) improve the IQs of your fellow countrymen (but not your own) by 10 points. Which would do more to increase your income? The answer is (b), and it’s not even close. The latter choice improves your income by about 6 times the former choice.

One implication of the regularity should please some conservatives—perhaps especially Ann Coulter and Donald Trump. It says that, if the U.S. continues its current policy of admitting many third-world immigrants, then this will likely decrease the incomes of current citizens. Alternatively, it also implies that a better policy would be to admit only “the best” people, in the words of Donald Trump.

Regarding the second point, the problem is the immigration debate has been dominated by politics, overshadowing economics. The solution may be to stop or restrict immigration from countries or demographics where there is likely to be a net economic drain.

Hispanics tend to use welfare at a much higher rate than Asians or Europeans (observed for both natives and immigrants):

This lends support to high-IQ immigration. Having a larger pool of labor helps if we consider a situation where a foreigner is qualified and there are no qualified Americans applying, or the foreigner is more qualified, or the foreigner is qualified and can do the work for less.But tech companies in America are still paying top dollar for top US talent. Also, smarter immigrants tend to create jobs.

However, a counterargument is that foreign workers depress wages and take job opportunities that would otherwise go to native tech workers. As I show here, what’s more likely happening is that tech companies are not substituting US workers with foreign workers to save money, as is commonly believed. The report finds that STEM jobs are also hard to fill.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a consensus on the matter, with arguments showing that immigrants may or may not depress wages. A Google search indicates the debate is far from settled.

As for the first point regarding national IQ and income, I’m not so sure about this. Because I have not read the book (and am going by the review), I don’t know if the author makes the distinction between nominal incomes (which are rising) and real (which have been flat for awhile).

Linear regression models show a positive correlation between national IQ and per-capita income, originally observed by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen in their book, IQ and the Wealth of Nations:

Per-capita income has also soared:

However, real median income has been stagnant despite rising GDP growth:

I think what’s happening here is that per-capita income is skewed in favor the financial ‘elite’, who have seen real wages surge, while the median lags.

Per-capita income is a mean value and does not reflect income distribution. If a country’s income distribution is skewed, a small wealthy class can increase per capita income substantially while the majority of the population has no change in income. In this respect, median income is more useful when measuring of prosperity than per capita income, as it is less influenced by outliers.

Booting the nation’s IQ will likely boost exports, GPD, profits, and technological innovation – but not necessarily real median wages. But that may be OK, though, because new technologies lead to more utility, as in the example I give of TV sets or movie tickets. Technology may improve living standards, so much so that wealth inequality and stagnant wages may not matter. The result, however, may be an ‘un-participatory’ economy where a lot of people are not contributing much to economic growth, nor are participating in the gains such as measured by real wages, in accordance with the Pareto Principle.

Classical Liberalism, Democracy, Libtertarianism, Nihilism, and NRx

From Peter A. Taylor The Resurrection of Classical Liberalism

Here’s what I think happened. The US began as an expression of classical liberalism. The founders were steeped in John Locke’s ideas about natural rights, as modified and popularized by writers like James Otis, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson. What actually made it into the American political canon was a mixture of beliefs about natural rights and democracy. For example, the Declaration of Independence talks of unalienable rights and states “…That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….” I see two problems here. First, the clause about securing rights sounds good to libertarians and Objectivists, but what does “consent” mean? And second, the basis for the government’s legitimacy is overspecified. Do “just powers” stem from the necessity to secure rights or from consent?

To some extent (with the exception of SJW radicalism and other elements of post-ww2 liberalism) America still is that way.

Thus Progressives and Libertarians both engage in “cocktail party sophistry”, but their styles are different. Progressives feel good about cogency and political cohesion where Libertarians feel good about elegance and internal consistency. Progressives are having fun running in a potato sack race. Libertarians are having fun daydreaming about the perfect destination for a potato sack race. “Perfect” here more or less means “most elegant”. “Elegance” here more or less means “providing false moral clarity”. Elegance is the curse of the libertarian movement. The tendency to value elegance, combined with a tendency to grade your own work, are what give the libertarian movement the feel of being a “head game”. I believe this emphasis on elegance is closely related to the false diagnosis that a slippery slope problem (i.e. lack of moral clarity) was what did in the classical liberal tradition. Which came first, the craving for moral clarity, or the diagnosis that lack of moral clarity killed classical liberalism? I suspect the craving came first, but I’m not sure.

America is a partial libertarian country – free market capitalism, private property, but also a state, which is similar to a mixed economy. Through trial and error, feast and famine, this seems to be the most successful or stable configuration, with notable examples being China and Russia, as well as other modernized countries that have evolved to this state. That’s why it’s kinda pointless when you have libertarians and conservatives arguing about which is better – America has both (conservatives get military, police, and free markets; libertarians get free markets, and personal autonomy due to the 1st amendment, but with some regulation. Less business regulation and lower taxes would be better.)

There was little ‘democratic’ about early American government, and I’m not sure why so many people, even those as smart as Peter A. Taylor, get this wrong. Nor is classical liberalism the same as a ‘liberal democracy’. A ‘natural right’ does not necessarily include the ‘right to vote’.

Here is John Adams on democracy:

“I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. … Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never.”

Thomas Jefferson:

This is relevant to the tyranny of the proletariat, in which the underclass using ‘democracy’ tries to overthrow the smaller productive class.

From Wikipedia:

Classical liberalism is a political ideology that values the freedom of individuals — including the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and markets — as well as limited government. It developed in 18th-century Europe and drew on the economic writings of Adam Smith and the growing notion of social progress.

18th century America and Europe would be considered tyrannical -hardly democratic – by today’s left.

Democracy may be a means of constraining a government to tend to its legitimate business, but it cannot be the source of the government’s moral legitimacy. The distinction between a republic and a democracy sounds promising, but this distinction is only meaningful so long as the voters choose to honor it. Scratch the surface of a republic, and underneath you find a democracy.

The solution is to roll back voting rights to how they were hundreds of years ago, in accordance with the founding fathers, who saw voting as a privilege rather than a right.

The system we have, although certain aspects of it suck, is the best of the alternatives, and it’s what we’re stuck with.

But we can reform it, which is what this blog is about. We don’t need a monarchy. Just turning the dial back 100 years would be immense progress.

One of the questions libertarians sometimes argue about is whether there are moral-practical dichotomies. That is, are there ever situations where doing “the right thing” from a moral standpoint conflicts with doing “the right thing” from a practical standpoint? To someone like me, in the “moral sympathy” school of thought, it’s a silly question. The relationships under consideration are “loose, vague, and indeterminate”. It’s complicated. We probably don’t even have the same people’s interests in mind when we ask the question. Who exactly are my tribe? Is “morality” something I personally choose to benefit myself, or is it a set of social norms my peers impose on me as the (possibly exorbitant and possibly evadable) price of associating with them? Jonathan Haidt’s definition (from The Righteous Mind) mostly supports the latter view:

America is also consequentialist, as are many nations. Examples of consequentialist policy being the 2008 bank bailouts, fed policy, war on terrorism, and others – policies that may not be popular with large segments of the population, but are deemed necessary to stave off a worse problem.

Of course, there are gradations: some countries and government are more socially liberal (European Union); others less so (China, Russia). America seems to have struck a balance that for for the past 240 or so years has worked, although the wave of post-ww2 liberalism may threaten this harmony.

America is an amalgamation or patchwork of many ideologies, and maybe this dynamism is why it has succeed for so long when other nations have failed.

From Bruce Charlton, The salvation of Mencius Moldbug:

But (and you were waiting for that ‘but’, weren’t you?) his system is based upon arbitrary axioms and is pragmatic and ‘utilitarian’ – in the sense that MM argues that his plans for government and society would in practice lead to the greatest happiness and/or the minimum misery for the greatest number of people.

But, to some degree, utilitarianism and policy are inseparable. In order to optimize the ROI of ‘Public Goods’, optimization in the mathematical and socioeconomic sense is desirable. Right now, due to liberalism and other scourges, we have a problem of poor optimization – for example, excessive welfare for those who contribute little, if any, to society.


In other words, Mencius Moldbug is an advocate of pure nihilism: a total denial of reality (since bottom line ‘reality’ – i.e. human emotions and what triggers them – is by this analysis wholly reversible, hence wholly relativistic).

So according to Charlton, Moldbug is not a moral realist.

Charlton’s definition of ‘nihilism’ is frustratingly reductive and doesn’t apply to Moldbug. Anyone who believes in the rule of law, which is what Formalism is about, cannot be a nihilist, by definition.

The essay Why Nihilism is Not Anarchy is relevant to NRx thought, and why Christianity may be incompatible with NRx, bold added for emphasis:

Nietzsche saw the above as parallel to Christianity, an assertion of inherent order based on shared humanity. Science and Nietzsche agree that humans vary so widely that to construct a universal “human nature” or “human morality” is a pointless endeavor toward false inherency. No such thing exists; some humans rise above others.

Anarchy, liberalism and other false social notions of equality and the inherent importance of man are entirely anti-nihilistic. In fact, they’re descendants of Christianity: they are falsely inherent orders based on human desires for the universe to be centered around humans. It is not. We are thinking monkeys, and it’s great we have come so far, but it’s not really that far. We’re not that great. And most of us are morons, perverts, lazybones, selfish people, criminals, or people who smoke in bed.

Maybe also fatalistic, in understanding that economic and biological reality means we’re subject to autonomous forces outside of our control, with the result being humans who are more endowed for success will tend to rise above others. The rule of law is still applicable, even if such views may seem fatalistic, amoral, and nihilistic.

Public Policy and Obesity

seem oblivious to basic awareness of GMO, HFCS, refined sugars, fluoride, aspartame,…

In the past, it was liberals who made a big deal about food additives, but interestingly, with the post-2013 rise of Red Pill, neo masculinity, and ‘gym culture’, and with the backlash against fat acceptance, conservatives are becoming the new ‘health nuts’, which originally was the domain of the left (Michelle Obama’s push for healthier school lunches, for example, and Bill de Blasio’s push for banning soft drinks in schools).

Many on the right, particularity in the manosphere, now see obesity and the bad food and parenting that gives rise to it as an issue of public concern that affects everyone through the higher healthcare costs, which is a waste of taxpayer money that could be better spent than keeping fat people, who tend to have bad impulse control, alive longer.

And I agree with this position. Bad lifestyles, once they develop public externalities, can no longer be hand-waved under the pretense of personal freedom. The same goes for my stance on mandatory birth control for welfare recipients, with possible sterilization for repeat offenders who get pregnant, because welfare, like healthcare, is a public resource. The “Bechtloff” also agrees:

If you want to be obese, fine, but if uninsured you waive your right to public healthcare, including emergency room access and medicare. As you can see below, obesity is very expensive for both businesses and tax payers:

In the instances where obesity is not environmental, my position is still the same because denying public healthcare to treat obesity-related ailments prevents the genes for obesity from being propagated, which saves businesses and taxpayers money over the long-run.