pensions and natality

Francois-Rene Rideau
Thu, 22 Apr 1999 03:33:52 +0200

Dear David,
> In fact in economics there is a theorem 
> that a benevolent, all-knowing dictator is the best possible regime for
> producing optimal economic allocation.
There are also two finer theorems that state that for any system
made of autonomous agents, such "best possible dictator"
is not possible within the system, but only as a godly external agent
who has access to exponentially more information than can be processed
within the system, and that any attempt to approximate such dictator
as an interal agent only leads to an absurd limitation in the system's
capacity to process information as compared to decentralized
distributed management.

> It is an interesting question, whether _some_ amount of centralized
> control is optimal for humans.
Well, it so happens that YES, in a distributed information
and resource processing system, there is indeed a need for such thing
as authorities so as to achieve common knowledge and
conflict resolution about resources (with the dictator theorem:
ultimately someone must take the decision).
However, these authorities have a cost of their own
that grows quickly with the number of agents having to synchronize
on the decision, and an "optimal" algorithm ought to decentralize
decisions as much as possible by finding authorities as small as possible
to manage each resource.

So _some_ amount of centralized control is necessary,
and the interesting question is just _which_,
a preliminary answer being "as little as possible, but no less"nnn
(or from the opposite point of view "as much as possible, but no more").

> [...] The latter system is frequently called "democracy" but by hook or by
> crook, the common man and woman don't run it.  We can all see that.
> The American military's invasion of Serbia, against all law and
> reason as well as American public opinion, is convincing proof. [...]
There would be a lot to say about either "democracy" or war in Yugoslavia,
but I feel that would each deserve a discussion thread of their own,
possibly on the same mailing list.

> I think I am taking a "micro" approach and assuming that if things are
> right at the level of the individual, they may be right on the grand
> scale.  Perhaps what bothered me about Fare's earlier post is that
> it seemed to look from a "macro" level without adequate concern for
> what goes on at the micro level.  I think that if one can look at only
> one level, it is far more important to get things right at the micro
> level.
I specifically chose an abstract "macro" view in my post,
so as to debunk a myth about a certain set of measures
having a certain macro-effect.
My conclusion was that they couldn't,
and that a better choice of macro-variables
led to much more effective reasoning.
And that conclusion, based solely on a cinematic study,
was independent from positive or negative dynamic effects
induced by microscopic dynamics.
I reject the notion that one "could look at only one level".
We do have access to multiple levels of reasoning, which is a fact of life,
from which we should learn to benefit
(many interesting results in physics and many theorems in mathematics
consist in relating microscopic and macroscopic behavior of systems).
Blatantly ignoring obvious or otherwise known aspects of things
can only lead to improper behavior.
Hence, to your last sentence, I'd reply that
knowledge of what things are "right" or not,
which is a prerequisite to "getting things right at the micro level",
depends on an understanding of macroscopic effects.

> Where do you send taxes every year in France?  Is it the French government,
> or some other taxing authority like the "Internal Revenue Service" 
> that sends out Form 1040 to US taxpayers?
For good or for ill, the french government has branch doing the equivalent task.
I'm not sure what we lose or win at the difference, although typical clichés
in both ways about civil servants vs private workers will apply.

>>Fourthly, that it is still completely illusory to pretend achieving
>>the causes (welfare) by encouraging the effects (natality). It's really
>>like pretending to fight an illness by removing the symptoms, and results
>>at best in a waste of resource (accompanied by the consequential
>>additional disbalance to the catallactic equilibria), as well as
>>the growth of the ignored illness.
> Is this argument actually made in France?
Well, the mass media never make any arguments, they only broadcast opinions,
that in this case are opposite to the conclusions of this argument.
As for private and public conversations, well, I fear that there is
a general tendancy to avoid political discussions when people disagree,
so that non-trivial arguments are seldom considered.

> Perhaps we disagree on the true nature of "liberal democracy".  At
> any rate, the current condition of the United States is corporate
> ownership of the citizens and all their possessions.  This is literally,
> legally true.  I would be surprised if France is much different.
Well, let's say that even though its attempted implementation has
derived into something like you describe, western governments are
at least modeled according to the classical concept of liberal democracy,
and that such is an essential root of what is good in them:
(limited) control of Power by the people, and most importantly,
acknowledgement (if not enforcement) of many among
the universal rights of individuals.

> If the government encourages
> more children, it's to turn them into supporters of the government not
> supporters of their parents.
If you don't mean personal intent, and only mean it cybernetically,
I think your statement is sadly true.

>>Fifthly, that the essential illness of the french system is IMNSHO its
>>overly central state management (also reproduced at a smaller scale
>>within french companies), and the complete citizen deresponsibilization
>>that follows.
> Not just French system but that of any sovereign.  Power corrupts.
Indeed. It looks like that although the decease has in France forms
that I learnt to know too well, it is a very general decease, whose
importance only grew with the total size and power of modern society.
It's an organisational and cultural problem, a problem of society.
The conceptual tools to deal with such problems exist already,
as have been developed by an intellectual tradition of classical liberal
economists, biologists, physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists,
and other people studying the behavior of large systems, with
the deep link between these the various studied systems having been
understood and openly explained by cyberneticians.

However, not only are these tools mostly unknown by the public at large,
but any attempt to teach them (even their most basic 18th century version)
or even utter or discuss them is considered being of bad taste, and tagged
with being "political opinions" deemed not to be professed,
least opposite "political opinions" be given equal consideration.
Yet, they are the foundation of any science of catallactics,
and used daily within private corporation, although in versions
specifically oriented towards profiting from the public, rather
than having the public at large benefit.
Enemies of the public are granted the tools to fight,
but the public itself is deprived from them,
and endowed by its "friends" with so-called "progressist" thinking instead.
No wonder these enemies prosper into large and opaque corporations
and financial institutions, while the public wanders erratically
in realms of ignorance and apathy.

[ "Faré" | VN: Уng-Vû Bân | Join the TUNES project!  ]
[ FR: François-René Rideau | TUNES is a Useful, Nevertheless Expedient System ]
[ Reflection&Cybernethics  | Project for  a Free Reflective  Computing System ]
Reporter: Mr Gandhi, what do you think of Western Civilization?
Gandhi: I think it would be a good idea.