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Can Systems Of The People, By The People, For the Titans, Long Endure?
If politics is mainly “the economy, stupid,” can cherished ideas from the former help the later?
Lincoln proclaimed good government is "of the people, by the people, for the people,” (from Wycliffe’s 14th-century Bible). That last clause provides a tyranny test. Tyranny being any power used “not for the good of those...under it,” but for the tyrants benefit.
Shouldn’t economies be run “for the people”? Not the private benefit of elites?
1. Economic tyranny? Seas of data say yes; 1975-2007 the bottom 90% of Americans got under 20% of total income gains vs around 70% in Europe; median US income has barely increased since 1988 while the UK’s is up 35%.
2. Market merit: Hard work is rewarded? US GDP per capita swelled 52% since 1988, but 50% of workers got none of that gain. Is “the meritocracy of capitalism...a big, fat lie"?
3. Common interests: Rising tides haven’t lifted all boats. Plato’s “ship of state” metaphor better captures that we’re on a single vessel atop which private success must build. Luxury cabin occupants ignoring galley wage-slaves below risk destabilizing the ship. However unequal the upside, we share the downside if the ship sinks.
4. Separatist success: Tyler Cowen lets the veil slip in saying societies owe “strong… support for their most successful citizens.” Aren’t all citizens due that? The weak even more than the strong? To determine if the “most successful” are good or bad see here.
5. Unwholesome titans: Thomas Piketty’s book documents how wealth tends to concentrate. That rich-get-richer dynamic is especially dangerous if they use their power to skew policy, see “US is an oligarchy.” No politics of parts or economics of echelons can work unless the health of the whole governs.
6. Replaceable titans: Is inequality a necessary evil? Must taxes on the wealthy be low? Well many innovators are driven by passion, not only money. They previously built stronger economies under higher taxes. If entrenched titans work less, other hungrier wannabe-titans can replace them.
7. Freeloader titans: Corporations and entrepreneurs seeking to evade or lower their taxes are free-riding or cheap-riding. Taxes aren’t paid only for direct benefits, they’re to keep the whole ship afloat. It’s in nobody’s rational interest to damage what they depend on.
8. Lax titans: Blanket resistance to regulations bespeaks self-serving laziness or weakness. Each must be considered in context. Some “inefficiencies” desirably put public interest above private profit (e.g. minimum wages reduce subsidies to businesses). Strong titans will figure it out. Laxer rules beget weaker titans.
Orwell reviewing Hayek’s Road To Serfdom said free markets were “a tyranny probably worse...than that of the state.” He knew tyrants are easier to stop than a “tyrantless tyranny” of bad ideas. A constitution-like balance of powers within economies must ensure they serve “the people.”
Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker Cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Researchers dramatically improve the accuracy of a number that connects fundamental forces.
- A team of physicists carried out experiments to determine the precise value of the fine-structure constant.
- This pure number describes the strength of the electromagnetic forces between elementary particles.
- The scientists improved the accuracy of this measurement by 2.5 times.
The process for measuring the fine-structure constant involved a beam of light from a laser that caused an atom to recoil. The red and blue colors indicate the light wave's peaks and troughs, respectively.
Scientists at Washington University are patenting a new electrolyzer designed for frigid Martian water.
- Mars explorers will need more oxygen and hydrogen than they can carry to the Red Planet.
- Martian water may be able to provide these elements, but it is extremely salty water.
- The new method can pull oxygen and hydrogen for breathing and fuel from Martian brine.