Gov't loves Gov't

John K Clark (
Tue, 20 Jan 1998 21:22:57 -0800 (PST)


>Social darwinism is an old fashioned and foolish philosophy that
>assumes morality can be obtained from nature.

>Charlie Stross <>:
>What do you prefer to use?

I prefer to use my personal opinion and tell nature to go to hell. I don't
believe in objective morality, but I do believe in subjective morality. Why
do I like some things and dislike others? Because that's the way my brain is

As I said, Darwin himself was not a social Darwinist, he was a very moral man
but he lost his religious faith because he thought a God that sanctioned
a hideously cruel process like natural selection did not deserve worship.
He writes that he was very disturbed at the reproductive behavior of a
species of wasp that he discovered as a young man. The wasp stings a spider
enough to paralyze it but not enough to kill it, it then laid it's eggs on
the poor beast. When the eggs hatch several days later the maggots slowly
consume the still living creature, carefully avoiding vital organs and
leaving the brain for last.

Darwin's best friend and vigorous defender Thomas Huxley in his essay
"Evolution and Ethics" wrote that morality was objective, but could be found
by looking in the exact opposite direction from the dog eat dog would of
nature. I wouldn't go as far as Huxley, but I don't think natural selection
has a morality, at least not a morality I want to follow, and if I ever meet
you in a dark alley I hope you don't either.

>> The same argument could be made of cancer. If something is evil
>>then I'd rather it not be functional, rugged and competitive.

>you reject an old fashioned philosophical attempt to derive
>morality from nature

True, that's exactly what I did.

>they you start pinning loaded terms like 'evil' on the administrative

Actually, I pinned the word "evil" onto cancer, and I did so for only one
reason, I don't like it. Cancer is just not my cup of tea, if you disagree
that's fine, there is no disputing matters of taste.

>>"government BAD, free market GOOD".

>Explain that to diabetics who can't get reasonably priced medical
>insurance cover

Reasonably priced? You mean explain why everybody can not always receive
medical benefits that are more expensive than the premiums they pay? I think
it's sufficient to say that you can't get something for nothing.

>It's in an insurance company's interest, and the interests of its
>other customers, not to take on board individuals who are at high

Exactly. If diabetics pay less than they should then non diabetics will have
to pay more. There is only one reason non diabetics would want to do that,
they might want to be charitable. It's true that if nobody is in a charitable
mood and if diabetics really can't afford their treatment then people are
going to die, but how will government improve things? If I hate the idea of
giving you money why would I vote for politicians to pass laws that make me?

>diabetic hypoglycaemia is a not-too-uncommon cause of auto accidents.
>One could prognosticate that it would be of indirect benefit to the
>users of a medical insurance company for it to offer cover for
>diabetics, because presumably diabetics with adequate medical
>supervision are less likely to let their condition get out of hand
>and kill people (including users of our hypothetical insurance
>company) while behind the wheel of a car.

It sounds like a pretty far fetched idea to me, but maybe. If you really
believe in it and can convince others of the wisdom of your idea then start
your own insurance company. If you're right then you'll become very rich,
I'm skeptical myself so I'll refrain from buying any of your stock, but I've
been wrong before and I wish you well on your endeavor.

>The market is good at looking after local problems. It's complete
>crap at predicting the future

And politicians good at predicting the future?

>and it provides no solution to the tragedy of the commons without
the imposition of an external regulator.

The tragedy of the commons is just that, a tragedy, and unfortunately no
system has a solution for it. There is no compelling reason why government
should engage in projects that help most people most of the time, it's much
more likely that they'd do things that help a very few people a lot but is
slightly harmful to most. When the number of projects becomes large the harm
is no longer slight.

Suppose I want to make $10,000, there are two ways to go about it. I can
work to repeal hundreds of special interest laws, each one costing me a few
dollars, or I can lobby for the passage of one more special interest law that
will give me and my friends $10,000 and cost everybody else a dollar or two.
The second method makes much more sense, it's far easier to pass one law than
to repeal hundreds .

This sort of lobbying won't work in the free market. If I want an executive
at Microsoft to be promoted to a position of greater power there is only one
thing I can do to help that come about, purchase the product that the
executive has been advocating. Bribery will help the executive's bank
account but it will not help his chances for advancement, it will hurt it
because his boss will note that his decisions have been poor and do not made
economic sense. The stockholders will note the same thing.

>the role of government since the age of enlightenment -- the role
>that made it useful enough to have persisted as an institution

And since that time "useful government" has created a sea of blood. It
mystifies me when people go on and on about how evil corporations are,
yes Microsoft can be arrogant and yes, it makes me mad when Windows crashes
too, but at least Bill Gates doesn't shove his customers into ovens.

>Do away with governments that think they're there to enforce laws,
>and you're left with the next level down: gangsterism.

Nobody on this list is advocating an absence of laws or enforcement only that
government not have a monopoly on it.

John K Clark

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