Tag Archives: social evolution

53. Global Dysfunction

3 Apr

To understand the major world problems, we must first separate two important levels of analysis:
Level-1: Morality and ethics (in a practical sense, MOST important).
Level-2: Understanding the way things work, apart from value judgments (also necessary).

In our everyday world and when we vote, we must observe Level-1, Morality. When we try to understand “basic causes”, we need to use bodies of objective knowledge like history, anthropology, and science. And the method must be unbiased reasoning.

The major “basic cause” for global dysfunction (wars, corruption, poverty, etc.) is a natural process of evolution. There are other causes, but I consider the following to be most important. Evolution is a Level-2 consideration and is independent of values and morals. It would be nice if nature included morality in evolution, but it does not. Governments, political parties, corporations and various social groups have a tendency to become more powerful and rich, as a natural process — OR — they simply fade away (like unsuccessful extinct species). Success often involves subtle or hidden corruption, because evolution is morally neutral.

Let’s start with an important example. I believe that the wars in the Middle East are a result of corrupt government evolution. Government leaders, if left alone, will tend to become more powerful and rich. As governments become richer, obviously, the people will lose out and poverty will grow. Any country with a large population of poor people is unstable and is subject to violent correction: revolution. Why is this happening now? Because technology has promoted communication and people are better able to see the corruption and unfairness of their governments. They also see other countries where the people are living better than they are. Rising corruption and improved communication reach a bursting point and violence ensues.

UNREGULATED INSTITUTIONS TEND TOWARDS CORRUPTION

Here are some other examples of natural, but corrupt evolution, more close to home. Banks tend to become larger and richer through mergers and questionable competition. As they develop greater size, they can better influence government bank-regulations to promote their profits.

Insurance companies evolve so that if unregulated, premiums rise and benefits diminish. Some politicians assert that we should not let government come between our doctors and us — but are perfectly happy to let profit-hungry insurance companies do just that. The assertion that competition among insurance companies will correct their corruption is not supported by history.

Educational institutions like universities, also evolve to create impossible high costs for education. The solution for this problem is complex and perhaps we need a total revision of the system. One of my thoughts on this matter is have three or four year public (tuition free) colleges where the learning functions are the total focus, and research, sport, and social functions are mostly eliminated. This will be detailed in my next blog.

Manufacturing corporations become gigantic and control Congress through campaign contributions. Enron Corp. a great example of the corruption of corporations that are not properly regulated. Many people in corporations are good and responsible, but it’s often the case that the most clever and greedy people rise to the top and cause horrible problems.

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION ?
Generally, more education is helpful. More people speaking out about injustice, lies, and corruption is helpful. Changes to campaign financing are essential because political contributions have a choke hold on our officials. But this is difficult because our current congressmen are a product of this system. It will take a major (non-violent) revolution to break this harmful cycle so that the greatness of America can be restored (yes, a poke at a common political sound-bite). The press could play a bigger role in identifying lies and corruption, but reporters and publishers seem somewhat controlled by fear.

The founding fathers, President Dwight Eisenhower and other great leaders have recognized these problems, but the leaders that profit from corruption are already so rich and influential that change is difficult. Some presidential candidates are obsessed with following the original constitution but disregard the fact that checks-and-balances were included to fight this very evolutionary pitfall, which is a problem as old as the rise of civilization. Final thought: It’s really more complicated than I have presented above, but I think these ideas emphasize an analysis commonly overlooked, and contribute to the ultimate solutions.

36. Capitalism Corrupted

25 Jan

The current Republican candidates represent an advanced stage of a transformation taking place in the USA; and many other countries. This transformation is an erosion of intelligent thinking and action; replaced by crude manipulations of the citizens designed to benefit the extremely wealthy “royalty class”. The Republican candidates try to manipulate voters by making them more fearful, by providing dangerous simple solutions to important problems, by lying about historical events, and by blaming scapegoats for our problems. They all do most of this, but admittedly, one of them is so crude and offensive that he stands out from the others. He shows what this harmful changing system can ultimately lead to.

How did this erosion take place?  It is, in fact, a kind of evolution. For the past hundred years or so, there have been dramatic changes in the Earth’s population of humans.  The factors that have developed and changed include: technology in general, the Internet, powerful weapons, increased communication among all of Earth’s citizens, consumer goods, etc.  In this recent period of human history, an evolutionary process took place. Clever persons learned how to make fortunes and became better and better at doing this. After a certain level of extreme wealth was achieved, wealth was further enhanced by, in effect, “bribing” government officials (like Congressmen) to make favorable laws. The process is similar to biological evolution where the fittest (often the most intelligent) survive and grow stronger. Favorable laws for rich people include: lower tax rates, unfair subsidies, and tax loopholes, which allow income to be hidden or taxed at a low rate.  Tax simplification is an agenda of the GOP, but it only helps rich people by allowing more tax loopholes.  Lower taxes for one group will always result in higher taxes for others, or fewer services.

What are the dangers of a powerful royalty class? Simply put, as more money is shifted upward, the number of desperate poor people increases. Desperate people commit more crimes and eventually resort to violent revolution. The “Arab Spring” illustrates what can happen when an extremely rich and clever group run a country. But even if a revolution never occurs, it is simply reasonable and fair, that more average citizens should enjoy prosperity, not just the wealthy. After all, wealthy people use all the rest of us for the enjoyment of their money. We provide the military, police, firemen, construction workers for their houses, repairmen, garbage men, maids, cooks, doctors, therapists, accountants, and so forth — all necessary for the enjoyment of wealth.

Personally, I do believe in capitalism, but a version that is appropriately limited to benefit all of the citizens. I have owned two small businesses. My concern is with extreme wealth, not with prosperity resulting from hard work and innovation. Capitalism in the USA can be reformed by careful voting (please see my next blog).

14. “WEALTHYVOLUTION:” A New word

18 Sep

Throughout the world, in democracies and dictatorships, in old countries and developing countries, we see a destructive process, which I have named “wealthyvolution.” It is the social human evolution of a group characterized by extreme wealth. Through a process similar to “biological” (Darwinian) evolution, almost every country has developed a “Royalty” class that has the accumulation of massive limitless fortunes as its major goal.

Before I continue with this concept, I need to make clear that I believe in capitalism (with limitations), have run several successful private businesses for profit, and there are many very rich people who are decent and good citizens. Everyone should be able, and even encouraged, to acquire some wealth. I enjoyed the challenge of creating companies and making them at least moderately profitable.

This discussion is concerned with the development of a class of individuals that ruthlessly acquire massive wealth, often through governmental corruption, and at the expense of the non-rich. Much of the corruption is through lobbying congressmen and through other types of unethical influence. Many of the loopholes in our (USA) tax code, which benefit the rich, have resulted from this influence. It is well known that over the last 20 or 30 years, income for the wealthy class has risen steadily — and has been level or even lowered for the rest of us. What is the “basic cause” for this process.

The familiar “biological” evolution has as its basis, these major elements: 1. Survival of the fitest, 2. Natural selection, 3. Relatively permanent variations in offspring, and 4. Death.

Social groups (and many other entities) can go through a similar evolutionary process. The entity in biological evolution is individual species. The entity in “wealthyvolution” is a group of very rich humans. Examples of such groups could be industrialists, politicians or military officers. Let us look at the four elements of biological evolution mentioned above, as applied to groups.

Element 1 says that a group of persons that are effecient and effective and more likely to survive and prosper that those that are less effective. For Element 2, there is a selection process, but it is somewhat different from “natural” processes. The processes are familar to most of us and fall under the categories of social, political, and business. Simply put, a group will survive and grow if its members are prosperous and cooperative. Element 3 suggests that effective methods developed by the “Royal” group can be retained and utilized for long periods of time. Continuing our analogy, element 4 for a group would be turnover: people leaving and joining the group (by death, birth, etc).

What can be learned from this comparison of biological and social evolution. Biological evolution says that if you are superior you are more likely to survive and reproduce. “Wealthyvolution” says something similar: if your group makes more money and has more power (influence, etc.) then it will survive, grow, and cause the extinction or suppression of competing groups. The competing groups are you and me, the non-rich, the middle-class, the poor, and even some of the moderately rich.

There are important psychological factors that promote the acquisition of wealth far beyond what is needed for good easy living. Many rich people were poor at one time and were afraid of unexpected losses. Their early fears can continue far beyond what is appropriate. Many were trained by their parents or teachers to be competitive. Many have never associated with poor people and do not understand their real problems. I suspect that for many, acquiring great wealth is a “game” (like gambling, for example) and the obsession with the game causes them to ignore the destructive consequences. Their efforts are often cheered on by friends and associated executives. A top executive is supported by employees of lower rank who know the way to advancement.

Where can we see this evolutionary process at work? Here are some examples. A recent US Supreme court decision made it easier for rich people to provide massive campaign contributions, allowing them even more influence over legislation beneficial to rich people. “Trickle-down economics” says that if you give rich people more money, it will trickle down to the rest of us (this has never happened). A century ago in the USA very rich people consolidated their resources and made themselves more profitable at the expense of others. Fortunately, this resulted in “anti-trust” legislation which helped to solve this problem. The government allows very rich people to use “off-shore” accounts to escape paying their full share of taxes. During the last 100 years, tax rates for rich people were gradually diminished, by influencing congressional decisions. A paradox of government is that many officials are very rich and there is a clear conflict of interest: rich people voting on legislation affecting their own income.

Certain congressmen propose budgets that provide lower taxes and subsidies for people already extremely wealthy. Oil companies and farmers that are very successful continue to get government subsidies. Many ordinary citizens do not have the ability to see through the untruthful statements used to support this anti-social agenda, and vote against their own interests. We need better education.

Very rich people often deny that poverty is serious, or say that poor people are lazy and do not deserve any help. They do not recognize that poverty can be caused by gigantic medical bills, accidents, theft, investment problems, lay-offs due to economic conditions, bad advice, and many other factors that have nothing to do with laziness.

How do the non-rich feel these effects. First of all, they pay higher than necessary taxes and have lowered salaries. They get decreased services, such as fewer teachers, police and fireman. Programs that traditionally helped poor people, such as food stamps and unemployment compensation are diminished or abolished. We see massive increases in educational and medical expenses. Unions that have helped middle-class workers have been attacked. Certain politicians make demands for lowered government spending (usually on programs that help the poor) so that more money can go to the rich people.

It is a “natural” and expected process that some very rich people will strive to acquire wealth far beyond what is required for good living. Genuinely moral people see this as greedy and immoral. It is also “natural” for the non-rich to struggle against this process. When leaders go too far, there are massive protests and even revolutions. A study of history shows that in most cases, violent revolutions have been caused by rich leaders taking too much from the rest of the population.

5. “Social Darwinism”

5 Apr

Today, President Obama said that the Republican empowerment of the top Rich is  “Social Darwinism.”  I have a scientific background and a long term interest in evolution  (Darwinism), so I was fascinated by this term. In my younger days, I think I was aware of it, but currently did not remember much about it. When I thought about it, I could easily guess the meaning, but did some research on its usage.

First, let me state the basic principles of evolution: survival of the fittest, variation in offspring with new traits that can last at least several generations, and death.  Stated in another way, animals that are best adapted to an environment tend to live longer and reproduce. The “fittest” are most likely to mate and pass their superior genes on to the next generation. If animals did not die, reproduction would diminish and there would be no variation. It is important to also understand that evolution is dispassionate, not good or bad, does not have any goals, and is just a fact of nature. It explains many things about our structure and where we came from, and is one of the most solidly supported facts of science.

Social evolution is something I have thought about for many years, so I was immediately interested in the term “Social Darwinism.” Historically, the term has acquired a very negative meaning. It refers to people who are rich and powerful and believe that they have a right to dominate other classes because they are the fittest. How do they know they are so fit, because they actually are successful, at least in making money.

My writings on social evolution have been purely explanatory, and without any value judgments.  If you look at the principles of evolution just described above, then you can see the application. The fittest groups tend to survive, there is variation in their traits, and members die or retire from the group. The point for me is that it is the “nature” of the world or groups and animals to evolve. Groups that are not “fit” tend to die out.

Obama’s point is that certain rich people look at their success, decide they are the fittest, and justify their greed and misdeeds because it is in line with biological evolution. Of course, not all rich folks are greedy, and many are quite willing to give back through charity and/or increased taxes. And I should clarify that I think there is nothing wrong with being rich, it is the extremes that are disturbing — like the recent major shift of money from the middle class to the wealthy. But the greedy rich should be more cautious because history is replete with accounts of revolutions (violent and otherwise) designed to stop the abuse. The non-rich may not be as “fit” but they have numbers on their side, and good-hearted rich people to help them.

In future writings, I intend to further discuss evolutionary concepts, and their broad range of applications, ranging from micro-organisms, to groups, to giant stars.

I have to add a final thought. Just because a presidential candidate has been successful in business, does not mean that he will make a good president. Business leaders learn to make themselves and their investors lots of money, and basically to ignore as much as possible, employees or citizens that they might harm. And often they ignore the success of the business itself, as long as they can draw money out of it. Presidents have a different and much more complex imperative. They must consider the overall success of the country, all its citizens,  its relationships with other nations, and a Congress that may not cooperate.