Anti-Democracy, Part 4

You know it’s a slow news day when the big story is Clinton’s drinking habits. The only people who are getting worked up about Hillary’s overblown email problem and Russia are the people whose paychecks depend on manufacturing hype and outrage for clicks and page-views. The doom and gloom media was hoping Putin was dead, but guess what? He’s alive, and stocks surged again.

A commenter, Wrong Species, on Scott’s blog writes:

If China was able to “create” Yao Ming, then maybe we should try to bring back eugenics. Doesn’t have to be anything too extreme, maybe the government could pay high IQ men to give sperm and high IQ women their eggs. Or more controversially, pay low IQ people to get sterilized. Assuming that we are picking the right people, is there a downside other than people feeling it’s icky?

Eugenics can be justified from a pragmatist perspective to possibly reduce crime and entitlement spending, and if framed in such manner I don’t see why Conservatives couldn’t eventually endorse it, but the invocation of the slippery slope fallacy and comparisons to Nazism (Reductio ad Hitlerum) precludes the possibility productive debate on this issue. The idea is we have a finite amount of resources (public goods); we should allocate them, all else being equal, to those who have the potential to contribute more to society. A negative eugenics problem would be more effective for reducing crime and entitlement spending, given that positive eugenics seems to already be occurring through assortative mating.

Perhaps the best form of government is one run by elites that benefits elites, or what can be called un-egalitarian rule or a technocracy. This is based on the premise that average people , by in large, don’t know what is best for them and given the ignorance of individuals on most issues, an argument can be made for excluding them from influencing policy in any way. Sometimes the people do get it right (support of Afghanistan strikes in response to 911), but most of the time they get it wrong (voting to enlarge entitlement spending for unproductive individuals, for example, or opposition to QE and TARP). Elites also have a large socioeconomic interest in having the system not fail and thus in an act of self-preservation will enact proactive policy during crisis, because the last thing the elites want to have happen is for the system to collapse and all their wealth and power to evaporate.

Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.

Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It’s inevitable, if you’re honorable. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity: you’ll avoid the tough decisions, you’ll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted, and you’ll avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset.

One can argue our tripartite form of Government is set up to create and foster ‘awful, ineffectual’ politicians, and this apathy is a feature rather than a flaw. It’s better to have pols do as little as necessary to keep the system running, only to intercede during crisis – but no more, pissing off both sides than being overzealous. Looking back at history, governments and politicians that were too effective tended to be really awful.


Anti-Democracy, Part 2