On GOVERNMENT, ECONOMICS and HUMAN BEHAVIOR

We humans can uniquely manipulate our environment to thrive because we are physically, mentally and emotionally equipped to do that. It results from the combination of our physical versatility, complex brains and the emotions that help us combine group organization with strong individual motivation. Short version: We, like all life, are genetically programmed for success in our appointed role. However, we must deal with a universe wherein nothing is free; once we have received the gift of life, the only subsequent guarantee is death.

There is a price for combining strong individuality with strongly social imperatives; the individuals must be flexible enough to manage the competing and conflicting results. In humans, that is provided by the variability of physical, mental and especially of emotional individual genetic inheritance. That solution too has its price: The production of some individuals who cannot thrive in human groups and of those such as sociopaths, psychopaths, criminals and others who threaten the viability of the groups. For these too there is a solution: government. These disruptive participants legitimize the police power of the state and yet again, the solution isn’t free: Human governments notoriously exceed their bounds at the cost of the governed. That too is inherent: Who will govern the governors? Only God, and He has awarded us the choice, completing the circle. The same human qualities that call forth human government guarantee the ultimate failure of such governments: Human history confirms it.        

It is not only government that arises directly from human genetics; so does commerce: Intelligent social grouping inherently provides specialization; that brings trade. With the evolution of government, that expands into commerce. Commerce thrives upon the security provided by government and government thrives upon the wealth provided by commerce. However, too much government stultifies commerce in red tape, corruption and taxes while too little restricts it by expanding risk. It seems evident that human civilization and productivity optimize when there is just enough government, but not too much. And it is a primary determinant of the human condition that prevents general agreement on the definition of that point, which seems unsurprising in an inherently conflicted species.  

A conflicted species in a challenging universe tends toward unstable lives; personal, economic and political relationships are transient. That underlines the primacy of human individual over social behavior. That in turn guarantees the transience of human groupings, very much including governments that have come and gone throughout history. It is necessary because governments, answering the individual imperatives of the governors and the primary social policing imperative of government itself, inherently fear significant social change. Governments are natural preservers of the status quo. The destabilizing effects of the industrial revolution produced a civil war in the United States and a sleeping, pre-industrial China where technological progress had been suppressed by a fearful government. Adding China’s tumultuous history after the arrival of more advanced Europeans awakened it, humanity and stability are conflicting terms in the earthly environment. And that says that any who seek to alter innate human behavior using the imposition of government are trying to change the wolf’s behavior by remodeling his cage.  

What is the genetically based human behavior that brings all of this? It is simple enough and perennially on display among very young children. After puberty, that behavior seldom leaves; it is only modified by acquired knowledge and experience, a necessity for human adaptability. The comparatively wide range of differences in physical mental and emotional genetic makeup produce a wide range of individual behaviors; Darwinian principles plus the innate social tendency to imitate favor reproduction of individuals with successful and diminution of those with unsuccessful behaviors. However, even unsuccessful behaviors are somewhat protected by genetic novelties, population expansion and human naivete. The Bible (and economics) assures us that the poor will always be with us while the stochastic element in genetics will continue to provide a supply of various misfits. That is the design that has given us dominion of the miniscule speck that is the earth in the enormous universe. It might be worth noting that once, the same could have been said of the dinosaurs….

About Jack Curtis

Suspicious of government, doubtful of economics, fond of figure skating (but the off-ice part, not so much) Couple of degrees in government, a few medals in figure skating; just reading and suspicion for economics ...
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