Bear Mauling

I don't have the words today to say what it is I want to say. Luckily, my good friend Bear bailed me out by sending me a guest post. I haven't read it yet, but he promises to offend nearly everyone, and says if you'll leave comments he'll try to offend you even more in response.

Big Brother, I Don't Give a Damn Where Thou Art!

By Bear

"Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one."

-Thomas Paine

Here's an interesting question: What percentage of human knowledge do you think the smartest 1000 people in world have? A first reasonable guess might be that the smartest 1000 people have 10% of the knowledge of the entire world. Let's take some time and think about this in more detail.

There are quite a lot of things to know out there. There are the natural sciences—chemistry, biology, ecology, zoology, and physics, just to name a few; mathematics—algebra, trigonometry, and calculus, among others; humanities—literature, poetry, the arts; social sciences—history, anthropology, geography, linguistics, politics, law, economics, and psychology would all fall into this category. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as we have yet to mention religion, relationships, film, computers, education, cooking, business management, sports, raising a family, agriculture, conversation, or any of a seemingly endless host of topics. Expert knowledge of any single one of these fields is quite a daunting task in and of itself.

On a more narrow scale, how much knowledge about your life do you think the smartest 1000 people have? Do they know what your name is; where you live; what your religion is; how many kids you have; what the last book you read was; what you hope to leave on this plane of existence before you pass on; if you have a girlfriend or boyfriend; what your favorite movie is; how important calculus is to you; if there is anything you would ever join a protest against; how hot the weather must be before you will consider wearing shorts; what your favorite Trivial Pursuit category is; how killer your crossover is on the basketball court; if you prefer writing with pencil or pen; how much you would be willing to spend on that cup of coffee from Starbucks; how to make your grandma's famous chocolate-chip cookies; how much you like your job and what it would take for you to switch jobs; everything you studied in college; or what makes you tick and what makes you happy? I have a twin brother with whom I lived for the first 18 or so years of my life and with whom I talk on a very regular basis. He knows me about as much as anyone can know anyone else. I would wager that he knows maybe 10% of my knowledge—and that's being extraordinarily charitable.

Let's say you are lucky enough to know 100 people as well as my brother knows me. Now consider how insignificant that knowledge is when compared to the sum of the knowledge of the 6 billion other people in the world? It's a humbling thought. That initial estimate that the smartest 1000 people have 10% of the world's knowledge is grossly inaccurate and unfathomably generous. At best that group has a tiny fraction of a percent of all the knowledge of humankind. The flip side is that
the rest of the world knows at least 99% of all human knowledge.

You might be thinking, "What does this have to do with anything?" Well, when it comes right down to it, you know what's best for you better than anyone else. You know what you prefer to spend your time and energy doing, and you know what you do most effectively and efficiently. You know it better than your closest friend, and certainly better than any of the 1000 smartest people could ever hope to know. Would you ever let the group of the smartest 1000 people make the detailed decisions of your life? Of course not! That would make you worse off!

Now consider that 1000 is a reasonable estimate for the amount of decision-makers in the United States government (there are 535 members of Congress). I think we would all agree that these are not the smartest 1000 people in the world, let alone the country. If only these 1000 people are allowed to make detailed decisions for the rest of the 300 million people in the country, then those billions and billions of decisions are made inefficiently, resulting in an exorbitant amount of waste. This means that the best government policies are those that allow each individual to make decisions for him or her self, because when people are allowed to do that, then 99% percent of the world's knowledge gets used in decision-making. You rarely hear this explained, but this is the core reason why socialism does not work.

As election season starts to heat up, I ask that you consider the above thought process when thinking about the issues. When a politician tells you his or her policy on a certain issue, ignore all the flowery talk and elegant rhetoric and ask yourself whether that policy enables you to make the decision for yourself, putting responsibility on you, or whether it enables unknown government officials to make the decision for you, putting the responsibility on them. If it's the latter, even if you think it might make you better off, chances are that 99% of the time it will make the country as a whole worse.

1 comment:

lost goddess said...


here I thought hyperion is the one with the all-inclusive thought process.

Now I know that applies to every one that rolls with him