Tag Archives: Society

On Cost Disease

SSC has written on cost disease. Essentially, a lot of important goods and services (health care, education, infrastructure, and housing) have increased by up to 10x their cost with no improvements in service for no discernible reason. He gave some though to it, and a number of others provided explanations.

The explanation that immediately sticks out of course is government over-regulation and over-involvement, as those industries listed are some of the more heavily regulated industries in the US. I’ve written of factors effecting housing costs a few times before.

I think those have a decent amount to do with it, but I think there are two fundamental problems that no one in those posts mentioned. They relate to two principles you’ve probably heard before: the Pareto principle and the iron law of bureaucracy.

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Pareto Principle

The PP, also known as the 80/20 rule, is a basic rule of thumb essentially stating that 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes. Ex: 80% of the work is done by 20% of the workers. Following from this rule, you can also mathematically determine other rules. 20% of the 20% is going to cause 80% of the 80%; in other words, 64% of the outcome will come from 4% of the cause. This can then be extended to 51% of the outcome will be caused by 1%, and so on down the line. The rule’s not perfect and shouldn’t be taken as gospel, but it’s a nice rule of thumb.

In this particular case of cost disease, we’ll apply the PP to costs. By the PP, 20% of the population causes 80% of the costs. Or stated elsewise, the 20% uses 4x as much resources as the 80%.

So what happens when you add a new 20%?

For example, health care. I, like most people reading this, cost the health care system very little. I’ve been to the emergency room twice in in my adult life, and I go to a walk-in doctor about once every 2 years when I have a particularly vicious or inexplicable pain or cough. The 80% of the people like us can be treated relatively low cost; we get an occasional check-up and the rare emergency.

On the other hand, there are those with chronic illness or other conditions who use more health care in a month or two than I’ve used in the last decade. 20% of the people cost 80% of the health care resources. That’s not an indictment on the 20% (if I got hit by a bus on the way home today, I’d probably be in that 20%), but it’s undeniable that if us 80% simply stopped caring about the 20% and just let them suffer and die, health care costs would be 20% of what they are now.

Over time we’ve been going increasingly towards being able to treat more health problems and keep the nearly dead alive longer. Take AIDS: in the 80’s someone with AIDS was dead in a months. Now, he can be kept alive for decades using expensive drug cocktails.

So, let’s put some very rough numbers to it.* Let’s say 20% of that 20% (4%) used to just die quickly, because we couldn’t treat them. So, we have the 80%, the 16%, and the 4%. The 80% still can be treated; we cost stay the same. The 16% still use 4x the amount of resources the 80% use; a broken pelvis doesn’t treat itself. But now the 4% of AIDS patients and the like can be kept alive through expensive new technologies. This 4% is now 64% of the budget, which the budget has grown to accommodate. Keeping 4% people alive has well over doubled the costs of health care.

Now wait an unspecified amount of time for expensive new technologies and drugs that can treat a new 20% of the 4%who couldn’t previously be treated. Costs double again. Then another unspecified time later they double again and so on.

But that’s not including the new costs you impose. We 80% used to go to the ER once a decade and the doctor once a year, then die in our sleep from a heart attack at 70. But now, instead of dying at home in bed, new technologies and new detection we are able to detect and prevent that heart attack, so now we are heroically rescued by new medical technology, so we can die a decade or two later from a different age related condition. Then when our alloted time is over, instead of just giving up the ghost, we keep ourselves alive at great cost for a few extra months. We are now the 20%, maybe even the 4%.

This is not just hyperbole: 30% of Medicare spending goes to just 5% of people who will die within the year. 10% of Medicare goes to those people’s last month of life. Those extra few months are costly.

For education, we get the same thing. Look at this chart:

In 1973, 30% of people dropped out in high school. It’s safe to assume these are mostly the hardest and most expensive to educate 30%, they’re probably mostly handicapped, persistent trouble-makers, class clowns, generally stupid, or future ex-cons. In 2018, only 10% dropped out. So, rounding the PP off widely for ease, 70% of the students using 20% of the resources, 20% of the students using 80%, with 10% still dropped out. So you’ve added 20 percentage points of troublesome and costly students which have increased the amount of resources used by 4x.

The 10% left are the real costly troublemakers, these are the ones that are dumb as bricks, violent offenders, hate school with a passion, have hourly seizures, or whatever. So, if we start to include these very troublesome students, the will be the new 4%, and increase costs even more. The more stupid and disruptive the people we try to force to stay in school, and the longer we force them to stay there, the more costs per pupil inflate. If the education for everyone doesn’t stop, eventually, we’ll be spending half the education budget keeping 100 psychotic mass-murdering teenagers and low-functioning autists who enjoy biting teachers in a Supermax high school from killing each other and trying to learn their times tables.

College is no different. I’ve looked at the tuition bubble before, but let’s briefly go over it again. Look at that chart again: in 1973 only 28% of people had a degree, there were statistically no college dropouts. in 2018, 45% will have a degree and 17% will dropout. The college keeps adding new 20%’s. The 28% getting degrees in 1973 were, likely, the top 30% of the population in terms of intelligence and/or work ethic. They didn’t require much resources to teach themselves. Now 60% of people are going to college. People with below average intelligence and work ethic are having to be accommodated. A new 20% has been at least 3 times since 1973. Using the PP we can estimate costs would have risen by over 50x. Now, this is not entirely accurate, there are likely costs savings due to scale and at the most expensive of those waves mostly drops out, but you get the point.

Let’s look at infrastructure. Here’s a story I randomly saw from Toronto. Sidewalk spaces are being expanded to 2.1m at the costs of restaurant patios to accommodate the disabled. On the TV report I saw, they said it was because 2.1 meters allowed two motorized wheelchairs to pass each other. Again, the PP. It costs a lot for infrastructure to service the small fraction of people who are handicapped. It costs even more to service the rare event of two handicapped trying to pass each other at the same time (I can’t ever remember seeing two motorized wheelchairs at the same time in the wild). And one councilor is demanding even wider sidewalks for more accommodation. That’s a lot of extra cost for both the city for such a rare event.

Apply this one minor story more broadly. Beyond, the disabled, there’s the environmentalists, special interest groups, NIMBY, safety. You have to accommodate more and more people and more and more exceptions.

Now, almost everybody is and always has been housed, so PP doesn’t really apply there. Cost increases are more likely related to the factors I linked to earlier. You’ll also notice that housing costs did not grow at as high a pace as other costs in Scott’s post.

Over time these major services have gotten more inclusive. These new people being included cost significantly more resources than the people who were already included. By the 80/20 rule, ever new 20% we add quadruples costs. Every new 4% we add, almost doubles costs.

For the large majority of people, services haven’t improved at all, even though costs have skyrocketed, because these costs are being eaten by the inclusion of ever smaller but ever-more resource-consuming minorities.

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Iron Law of Bureaucracy

One commenter linked to the following graph:

The ILB states that there are two types of people in every organization: the first is devoted to the organization’s goals, while the second is devoted to the organization itself. The second will always end up controlling the organization and it resources.

Look at the chart, it is clear the administrators control the organization and hiring and are hiring more of their own. It’s the ILB in action: the teachers directly contribute to the organizational goal of teaching, but the administrators are the one’s profiting themselves.

The ILB is what is a major part of cost disease. Over time any organization becomes more about expanding the organization than about completing its goals. The free market to some degree mitigates this, as organizations suffering too heavily under the iron law are forced to either reform or die out. But the organizations controlling education, health care, and infrastructure are not traditional free market organizations. They are either government organizations or heavily regulated, government-financed organizations.

Unless an organization dies or is forced to reform, it will inevitably become controlled by those devoted to enriching the organization and themselves, rather than to completing its goals.

Infrastructure provides a nice example. Look at the Big Inch pipeline built in 1944 and extending from Texas to New Jersey. At that time, government infrastructure programs were controlled by people dedicated to providing infrastructure. It took 3 years from planning to completion, because they wanted it up.

Comapre to the Keystone XL, controlled by our new iron-lawed infrastructure regulators dedicated to expanding their organization. It was proposed in 2008 and after 7 years in bureaucratic hell, was rejected by Obama. Then was allowed to start again under Trump a couple weeks ago. It has become more about increasing the power of hanger-on organizations than actually getting things done. Placating environmentalists, native activists, NIMBYists, labour organizations, etc. and making sure each gets their turn at looting is more important than actually creating infrastructure.

I don’t really think I have to explain this too deeply, anyone who’s ever worked in a large organization can easily see there is a small minority of people actually physically accomplishing the organization’s goals, then there are hoards of people having meetings, making mission statements, discussing work-life balance, running committees, making HR rules, doing busywork, playing corporate politics, doing pointless revisions to act like their contributing, and otherwise not actually accomplishing anything real, or sometimes even actively preventing the accomplishment of goals.

As people dedicated to expanding the organizations (and their own personal power bases) become more powerful, it becomes more costly to do the same amount of work. All those extra people don’t pay themselves.

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* I know there’s mathematical and logical flaws and over-simplifications throughout these examples, but they’re just quick calculations for illustrative purposes. I’m dealing with a rule of thumb, not a mathematically precise model. Don’t get lost in the numbers, get the general jist of the message.

Natalism and Status

Natalism has been going around lately. TRS has linked the problem to affluence, Yuray has made the fairly obvious observation that minor tax incentives are not enough to raise the baby-making rate, while Spandrell has linked the the fertility crisis to kids costing lots and recommends making it profitable with major tax incentives.

I’m actually rather surprised by Spandrell’s answer. He’s the one who’s been pushing Status Points theory the hardest around here and has noted that any kind of insanity can be accomplished when status is on the line. As we’ve seen, people will go to almost any length for status.

It’s obvious that women want to work rather than procreate, but this is not because (most*) women particularly like working or because they prefer work to marriage and family. It’s not because housework is drudgery, most women who work do something similar to housework in their jobs.

The reason women want to work is because working is high status.** The reason women don’t have children is because having children is low status, and the more children the lower the status.

Examples of this abound: When you read about the Duggars or another large family, you will almost assuredly find criticisms along the line of ‘use a condom’ or ‘brood mare’. Women who stay home to care for their family are ‘stepford wives’. Women who spend their lives on home and family are ‘wasting their lives‘. Relationships show a lack of ambition and too much traditionalism (which is negative). Young marriage is discouraged. Etcetera, etcetera. Feminists have been working very hard to destroy any status attached to motherhood.

You’ve no doubt heard the blatant lie that motherhood is the toughest job in the world? Nobody could honestly believe taking care of a child is tougher than working in a coal mine or as an infantryman in Afghanistan, but everybody spreads that lie because it bolsters the low and declining status of women with children.

Having children is low status, but even beyond that status games pervade all of motherhood. The mommy wars aren’t about whether children are better off being raised by their parents or by daycare workers, it’s about who gets good mother status points: stay-at homes or working mothers.

Before you thinks that good mother status contradicts my thesis, know that low status is still some status, while having no children is no status. Have you ever read an article by childfree women? I can almost guarantee you it was complaining about how others expect them to have kids, think them odd that they don’t, or using the status of having kids to one-up them.  In other words, their primary complaints are about the status hits they are taking for not having children. These status hits gnaw away at them despite having an ‘exciting, meaningful’ life of travel, work, and leisure. (Notice how they will always status signal other areas in their life to make up for this lack of status).

Having children is lower status than eduction, working, travel, or having status-giving interests. Being a stay-at-home mother is low status compared to being a working mother. Having many children is lower status than having one or two children. Having children young is lower status than having them once infertility hits.

This, more than anything, is why he have such low birth rates.

So, the answer to the fertility crisis is not tax changes, natalism benefits, or motherhood welfare. The way to get women to want to reproduce is to make children the ultimate status symbol.

Read the story of Leah and Rachel in Genesis 29 and 30. Having children was high status, so they did everything they could possibly to produce more children so they could win the status competition against each other.

We need to make it so that instead of the culture lauding whorish celebrities and woman CEO’s, mothers are celebrated. We need news reports to make glowing reports on women having their 6th child, rather than shows idolizing women who adopt foreign children or slutty daring dresses. When Mrs. Duggar has more status than Hillary Clinton, that’s when we will turn this ship around.

Sadly, we don’t control the levers of the culture-industry, so there’s not much we can do for society as a whole, but there are things you can do in your own little circles.

Make a point of praising women who have kids and their mothering skills. If a family is thinking of having another kid, make a positive comment. Praise young men and women you know who are thinking of young marriage, and otherwise encourage young people aroudn you to marry early. Let some disappointment slip out if people say ‘two’s enough for us’. Register some thinly concealed disapproval or contempt if someone says, ‘we don’t want children’. If you can smoothly do backhanded compliments or negs for the self-sterilizing, that would work too. And so on.

You’re working against the combined forces of the media, academy, bureaucracy, and culture, but you might be able to have some influence. Status is mainly an abstraction of a multitude of positive and negative social interactions. If you add to the interactions around you, elevating motherhood and deriding self-sterilization, you might indirectly change a few minds in your local communities. If enough people do it, maybe the trend could be reversed.

One warning, try to keep it subtle enough. Push too hard or too blatantly and you it might backfire if they get defensive or if you look like a jerk. You want to subtly influence their general perception of status, not come off as someone pushing a low status opinion.

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* Before some idiot brings it up: yes, not all women are alike, yes, there are some women that like their jobs, and yes, some women just don’t like children. A generalization is not an absolute, spare me.

** And yes, because they need cash, but the need for cash came after the desire for status. The drive of women into the workplace was due to status, but once women entered, it drove wages down and costs up, forcing more women into the workplace for monetary reasons.

Male Physical Intimacy

In their continuing efforts to destroy itself, Cracked has an article up on being in the closet while in other countries. It’s a low effort post consisting of 5 “facts” that are mostly blindingly obvious (Some geographic spaces have people more accepting of homosexuality than people from other geographic spaces! Surprising!) and a complete absence of humour. But there was one thing in it I wanted to comment on (aside from it being just another note on Cracked’s continued decline).

In Botswana, it’s customary for men to hold hands while chatting and walking. (No, the irony of such a homophobic country being filled with men skipping down the street holding hands was not lost on me.)

This is not irony. It is in fact the definitional opposite of irony, it is exactly what you’d expect.

These men are friends, engaging in male bonding. Touch is and always has been and important part of bonding and there is absolutely nothing implicitly homoerotic about men engaging in physical male bonding. In past, intimate physical contact between men was normal, and in other parts of the world that have not been homoeroticized it still is.

Take a look at this picture (one of a hundred similar ones from Art of Manliness):

Are these guys gay? Probably not. Yet it probably looks gay to you. In a healthy culture, intimate physical contact between men is normal and healthy. There would be nothing untoward or sexual about this, it’s just some friends hanging out. In our homoeroticized culture, this  kind of intimate contact between males is gay. We can see this difference from the Cracked article:

I didn’t even have to hide my boyfriend, whom I met at the gay underground party. He came to visit me for a weekend in my tiny village, and no one seemed to notice or suspect anything unusual about two dudes quietly holing up in a house together and sweating a lot. They must be great friends who love to work out!

As was pointed out in the Way of Men, men want to be recognized as masculine, as men within their gang who have attained the masculine virtues. Gays are effeminate, not masculine, and exist outside the gang. Normal men don’t want to be seen as effeminate or gay as this represents a failure to attain manhood and puts one outside of the gang.

In a “homophobic” society were homosexuality is proscribed, men can be physically and emotionally intimate with each other without being gay, because this intimacy is simply a normal, close friendship. So King David can say of his best friend:

“Jonathan lies slain on your high places.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
very pleasant have you been to me;
your love to me was extraordinary,
surpassing the love of women.

And it’s not gay, because it isn’t gay. A man can have and signal intimacy with other men without it signalling gayness, because homosexuality doesn’t exist outside the occasional condemnation in a religious sermon. Male intimacy is normalized.

But, in a society where homosexuality is normalized as an accepted alternative lifestyle, and homosexuals publicly display their sexual proclivities through displays of intimacy, you can no longer safely display intimacy. If you do, there is a significant chance that other men around you will think you are signalling gayness, you will lose your masculinity. Through this, homoeroticism colonizes male intimacy. When homosexuality becomes normalized, male intimacy becomes denormalized.

In a gay society, you can not be homosocially intimate without being gay.

There are some modern attempts to bring non-sexual male intimacy back into normalcy. Both bromance and no homo try to explicitly counter-signal hetorosexuality and masculinity while engaging in male intimacy. But even then, our society is so gay that bromance is seen as “an increasing openness of society in the twenty-first century to reconsider gender, sexuality, and exclusivity constraints” rather than an attempt by young men to close the gaping spiritual and emotional wound that the lack of intimate male friendship has left in their hearts. These attempts have mostly failed.

In a non-gay society, you could slap your friend on the ass after the game, and walk to the showers with your arms around him. In our gay society, this sounds gay to you (and to me) because male intimacy has been colonized by homosexuality. This is one vague, virtually invisible, unquantifiable harm the homosexual movement has done to the majority.

Tending Your Garden

Not everyone can be above average, half of all people will be below average (more or less), and very few are special in any practically meaningful sense. These are truths that are self-evident, yet, inpractice, they are often forgotten.

Athelron has remarked (recently, when I began writing this post) on the save the world mentality he finds among his Silicon valley friends. The manosphere is full of people decrying “average” men and calling for men to become their own particular idea of a superman. Since Don’t Waste Your Life became a big hit, evangelicals have adopted the ‘don’t waste your life’ ethos. Throughout life, everybody seems to want to get involved in the big causes: poverty in Africa, violence in the Middle East, national politics, etcetera, etcetera.

Now none of this is necessarily bad in moderation: you should try to do good for the world around you, you should work to be a better version of yourself, and Christians should work to advance God’s kingdom, but it’s gotten to where the normal life is actively impugned. The family man is painted as a sucker wasting his life in a dreary cubicle, while the mother is painted for wasting her life on her children (rather than, ironically enough, spending it in the cubicle). Everybody has to be the best, to achieve more than their neighbour.

Yet this should not be. While yes, some people have to work on big things, on saving the world, on foreign missions, on becoming ubermensch, most people are not, and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact it is good that most people will not.

Throughout most of history, a man’s world would consist of his tribe or village, he would know about a Dunbar’s number’s worth of people throughout his life. A man could have a significant impact on this world. If you brought down a deer, everyone in your whole world would be fed for a day or two. If you were a blacksmith, you were probably the only one, the best one, in your village. It was easy to save the world when your world was a couple dozen people, it was easy to be (one of) the best at something when only a few other people in your entire world did what you did.


But, as the comic above illustrated, it’s not so easy. Saving a million, a billion, people is a lot harder than saving 50, it’s almost impossible. Being the best in a field is rare when there your field consists of tens or hundreds of thousands, rather than a handful. Yet we still try, we’ve even made an ideology of it, to our own ruin.

Look at the consequences of when everybody tries to do big things: Young people waste years and huge dollars in college to “pursue their passions”, men turn from family and productive work out of frustration of ‘not accomplishing anything’ or in hopes of pursuing ‘greater things’, men think of themselves as losers for doing honest work and raising a family, women turn against family formation to pursue “accomplishment” and become miserable and childless working to achieve that coveted high-impact job, people get parasitical jobs in the ‘non-profit’ sector, billions are wasted on ineffective foreign aid, wasteful status competitions ensue over who is the best or the most impactful, short-term missions waste valuable resources, ineffective Twitter campaigns provide an illusion of dogoodery, etc.

This is the wife of the “leader of the free world” who controls the strongest empire in history and a million-man military. If the most she can do is a selfie, how will you save “our girls”?

The simple fact is, outside of a handful of exceptional individuals, most people will not be able to have any real impact on the world as a whole, but that is fine. You don’t need to.

The Parable of the Talents

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

(Matthew 25:14-30 ESV)

Not everyone has been given ten talents, most people probably haven’t even been given five. Most people have one or two. But you don’t need have ten, you simply have to use what you have to do what you can. The demand is not even for doubling, but just to collect interest. You don’t have to be the best, you don’t have to save the world, you just have to invest what you have to do what you can.

Looking back at the above, what if, instead of trying to save the world through the useless #BringBackOurGirls Twitter campaign, each tweeter had instead donated $10 to their local homeless shelter? what if, instead of wasting tens of thousands so a youth group can feel good about themselves, the money was given to an actual missionary or directly to local Christian missions? What if instead of pursuing their passions, their greatness, their high status job, their large house, etc. men and women were content to raise work a modest job, raise a family, and engage with their community? What if instead of protests for foreign aid, people spent that time volunteering in their local community?

Wouldn’t that be better? Wouldn’t that actually be far more useful? Wouldn’t people be happier?

The problem is, too many people try to think globally and act globally, too many people spend too much time on issues which they can’t effect, while they ignore the people and issues near them which they can effect. Remember who your neighbour is:

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:29-37 ESV)

While usually this is interpreted to mean: your neighbour is the person who needs help whoever it is, there’s also the other way to interpret it: the neighbour is the person who’s there needing help. The Good Samaritan did not travel to Sudan for missions, he did not start a charity to help robbed, he didn’t run a political campaign to make safer streets, he did not send $100 to Tibet to help the mugged, all he did was stumble across the guy at the side of the road and help him out. Even Jesus does not demand more from everybody. Some have special callings, most don’t, your calling is probably just to help the guy at the side of the road. All that is demanded of you is to help those around you.

Finally, great men are not solitary. Alexander the Great was only great because of the support of thousands of men. Genghis Khan conquered Asia with the help of a nameless horde. Jesus’ words spread because of 72 unnamed disciples. Every missionary requires monetary support, every general requires troops, every titan of industry requires workers. Great men are great because they’re leading and supported by many more average men. In our modern hyper-competitive society, a lot of people shit on those average men, but they’re the ones who get shit done. Being that average man supporting the great men is valuable in its own right.

You don’t have to be special, it’s impossible for everyone to be. You don’t have to save the world, you can’t. Some people are called to do great things, most aren’t. You can do average things and still have a meaningful, impactful life. You don’t have to save the world, be the best, or become a super alpha male, instead, focus on something meaningful you can do and do what you can where you are.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
(Matthew 25:34-40 ESV)

Cultural Evolution Response

Scott has a post where he fails to see the dangers of gay marriage to cultural evolution:

First, he distinguishes between two types of cultural evolution and concludes:

Consider: one Inuit tries the red berries and discovers they make her sick. Out of pure self-interest, she decides not to eat them again, and tells her friends the same. Also out of self-interest, they decide not to eat them; those who think they can get away with eating them anyway are quickly disabused of the notion. The taboo against eating red berries quickly spreads throughout the culture.

Marriage doesn’t seem to work that way. If one person decides not to marry in the usual way, it doesn’t necessarily hurt that person. They might have lots of affairs, and enjoy them. Or they might get gay married, and enjoy that.

Here he misses the obvious: STD’s.

About 1.2 million Americans have HIV; about 658,000 have died.

On gays specifically, one-fifth have it.”Although MSM represent about 4% of the male population in the United States, in 2010, MSM accounted for 78% of new HIV infections among males and 63% of all new infections. MSM accounted for 54% of all people living with HIV infection in 2011, the most recent year these data are available… Since the epidemic began, an estimated 311,087 MSM with an AIDS diagnosis have died, including an estimated 5,380 in 2012.”

About 1.8% of men identify as gay, which would mean that about 2,725,200 men in the US are gay. Over about thirty years, over a tenth of the homosexual population has died of AIDS. Most of that was front-loaded in the 80’s; currently there’s a yearly mortality rate of about 2 in 1000. The only reason this isn’t massively worse is because scientists developed drugs to combat the disease.

The yearly death rate in 1995 before the drugs was about 17 in a 1000. (Assuming gays still accounted for 54% of cases and were 1.8% of the population). By comparison, the death rate due to OD by cocaine addicts is about 4 in a 1000, while the death rate of smokers due to smoking-related disease is about 11 in a 1000. That’s not even including other STD’s, which are also not as deadly/disfiguring as they used to be thanks to modern medicine.

Homosexuality is a huge health risk kept mostly in check by modern medicine.

Not to mention that Scott ignores reproduction entirely.

But beyond that, we can go to the second type, the group selection form of cultural evolution.

So I interpret it as a different claim: a culture that allows gay marriage will, for various reasons, become weak and unsuccessful. Then it will be crushed by other cultures, either militarily, economically, or in a sort of marketplace of ideas where people convert to or assimilate into the other culture because it’s more attractive and successful.

Note that THIS IS REALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE FIRST TYPE OF CULTURAL EVOLUTION. In fact, it might be diametrically opposite. For example, gay sex may be lots of fun – and as people figure this out and tell their friends, it will be positively selected through the first type of cultural evolution. But it might weaken a culture’s Moral Fabric – in which case it will be negatively selected through the second type of cultural evolution.

There is no distinction between the two, which is obvious when he talks here:

How long is a “generation” in cultural evolution? Rome lasted a thousand years, Byzantium another thousand. It took about three hundred years for Christianity to replace paganism in Rome; Enlightenment values have been replacing Christianity for three hundred years already and aren’t nearly done. Any sort of evolutionary process that involves waiting for Rome to fall is a process that will take way longer than human history to come to any sort of conclusion… Communism, which basically took all of the worst ideas in history, combined them together into a package deal, and said “Let’s do all of these at once”, took almost a century to collapse, and still hasn’t collapsed in a couple of places.

These were not static societies; they went through numerous dynasties, governments, wars, coups, splits, expansions, and so on. Cultural evolution never stopped: his ‘generation’ had uncounted evolutions. These civilizations adapt to outside pressures. failure to adapt leads to doom, but having a failing policy then fixing it internally can stop doom before it occurs.

For an example, take Rome in the Punic Wars. They were at a disadvantage because they had no fleet when they started. They adapted by creating a fleet, then eventually won. Had they not created a fleet, it may have been Carthage destroying Rome.

Cultural adaptation is different than genetic adaptation and can not be calculated the same way. Genetic adaptation necessarily happens one generation at a time because genetics can only be transmitted by procreation. Cultural adaptation does not as it is not bound by procreation; there are no generations.

(Not to mention that ‘coming to a conclusion’ would put Scott’s generation as the equivalent of an extinction. How long did it take for the Dodo’s to ‘come to a conclusion?’ As well there is survival bias. Scott is only looking at the major, successful, civilizations.  What of all those city-states Rome conquered or destroyed? Rome was the one that survived; the life of the conquered was probably shorter. But these are tangential to the real error).

Finally, he acknowledges a third type:

Actually, this leaves out a possible third kind of cultural evolution, where cultures try good ideas, learn to like them, and stick with them; or try bad ideas, learn to hate them, and stop… Likewise, there’s a cultural evolution argument that we tried traditional sexuality, that made a lot of people unhappy, and now we’re trying something else. It’s unclear how this is different from the Maoism example in a way that makes jettisoning Maoism good, but jettisoning traditional sexuality bad.

The difference is traditional sexuality is not an idea being tried. Traditional sexuality is (in some form) how every civilization that has been successful has made itself and how our civilization has been for millennia. Traditional society is a healthy dog; Maoism is the bright idea to chop off 2 of its legs and see what happens; gay marriage is removing of one of its testicles and seeing how that works out. The latter might no be as immediately debilitating, but if his other testicle is already gone, he won’t be reproducing.

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For a taste of gay marriage cultural changes, just look at all the effects of other similar evolutions (divorce, acceptable fornication, etc). High bastardry rates, plummeting marriage rates, and a plummeting birth rate. We’ve gotten to the point where simply to keep things running because we’re not having enough children, we import foreigners with different cultures to work for us; foreigners who are gradually replacing us.

That’s cultural evolution in action. White Americans have adopted policies that have made them evolutionary dead ends and will soon be replaced in their own country, after adopting the other peoples’ cultures through multiculturalism.

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Scott put another post up with some responses after I had written this one. It doesn’t address the issues I raise. Also, I know I still have to respond to Scott from about a year back. I have the post half-written, I just never quite finish it.

Broken Identity

At this point you’re probably aware of the alphabet soup that sexual identity has become. LGBT has been replaced by LGBTQIA, while others are rolling in even deeper distinction, such as the unintentionally hilarious acronym, LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM being used by Wesleyan University. Facebook has 56 different gender identity options, but even FB’s heroic attempts at inclusivity doesn’t include an array of other identities covering every possible combination of sexuality possible and ignores that special magic known as otherkin. Then of course there’s an slew of other identities that aren’t even sexual, (I think), such transable, transfat, and the hilarious transnigger.

And you thought I was joking.

 

Certain segments of young people tend to take these identities and run with them for all they are worth. Most of us have come across an insane Tumblr profile of someone listing off a half-dozen different identities to which they hold and demanding people address them by the ‘proper’ pronouns. Here’s a sample list of some of them, and, if the rabbit-hole really interests you, here’s a guide to creating your own personalized pronoun.

It is easy to laugh at all this craziness, but this trend of extreme self-identification points to something much deeper than a few troubled individuals. This letter to Ask Amy illustrates nicely:

However, I was never very open about my sexual orientation. I felt like I always knew, but at the same time I didn’t know how to figure it out.

When I was 17 I went to a party; there was a girl there I liked, but she came with a guy. At some point, she came over and just started kissing me and it was like magic. Then the guy came over. It turns out she wasn’t interested in me, but was doing something he had talked her into.

That was my only experience with another woman — but I know I’m bisexual. I came out at school to some friends, but no one took it seriously. I even came out to my family — but my mom is the only one that took it seriously.

I have been in a relationship now with a man for a year and a half. I love him, but I feel like a part of me is missing. Turning 20 is a wake-up for me. I’m figuring out what I want to do in my life (and friends are getting married). The guy I’m with takes my confession of being bi as, “You’re just bi-curious.”

I’m thinking about asking if we could take a break so that I can try and find myself, but I’m terrified that if I do the door will close entirely. Should I “come out” again and hope I’ll be taken seriously and that he’ll support me?

Here’s a girl whose sole lesbian experience is a single meaningless kiss at a party and who’s in a serious relationship with a man, but still feels compelled to identify as bisexual, even to the point of destroying her relationship to experiment. The key to the whole issue is that she feels a part of her is missing and she wants her identity taken seriously.

A key need of man is identity. His identity informs him as to who he is, but man is a social animal, so who he is almost entirely a function of his social relations. He cannot create his identity in isolation. Once developed, his identity exists as a spiritual sense of place telling him where he belongs in the world and how he relates with the people around them.

A key part of growing up is developing this identity, finding out who you are. A mature adult has discovered and established his identity; he might further develop, refine, or even alter his identity, but he has a secure sense of his place in the world.  (There is a reason listening to 40-year-olds talk about finding themselves is disgusting, it is an aberrant and unhealthy infantalization of themselves).

The proper time for developing this identity is early adulthood, what we now call adolescence. A child’s identity, his spiritual sense of place, is not something that really exists as independent of his parents, he is basically a cypher of his parents. It is early adulthood where his he really begins to form his own independent identity.

In a healthy society, identity formation is a relatively straightforward process. You belong to you family, you adopt the faith, ideology, and history of your thede, to a greater or lesser extent, you become economically productive and contribute to society, you find a spouse get married and have children, you make a few friends, involve yourself in the community, and adopt a leisure activity or two along the way. Your particular quirks, skills, and deficiencies naturally grow out of this process.

It is fairly easy to have a sense of place when you can tell yourself “I am John Yeoman, son of Jack Yeoman, an Englishman of the County of Smallshire. We Yeoman’s have been Anglicans attending Smallshire Church for 5 generations. I am a farmer who works the land my fathers have for more generations than can be counted. I am husband of Jane Yeoman and father of 4 children. At the pub on Fridays, where I am known for losing at cards, I play the fiddle and retell stories about our childhood pranks on Mr. Cooper with my childhood friends.

That sort of identity writes itself and grows naturally. When you are part of a culture, do things for others, and are socially connected to the community around you, your identity forms on its own and you learn who you are organically. A spiritual sense of place just happens.

In our modern society though, this process doesn’t happen. Think of your average “adolescent”. At the time when a person should be developing his identity, he is stuck in a public school doing nothing productive to anyone else, while learning multiculturalism, how evil his country and people have been to oppressed minorities. He lives with his family in a neighbourhood he moved to just a few years ago when his parents upgraded their house. His family, if he is lucky, consists of an intact nuclear family, maybe a cousin or two, and the occasional visit from his grandparents, if he is not, he lives in a broken home with a single mother, maybe a step-father. He probably has some friends, most of which he will never see again after high school. He probably doesn’t go to church or participate in any social activities with anybody who is not also an adolescent. He is definitely not married and any relations with the opposite sex he has had has assuredly been temporary and known to be so beforehand. Maybe he has a hobby or a sport or two, maybe he doesn’t.

So what is he supposed to base his identity upon? His disconnected family? His Christmas-evening only religion? His oppressive country? His lack of culture (called multiculturalism)? His grades? His sport? It’s all kind of lacking isn’t it?

Look a the letter writer above? She’s 20, she’s been a biological adult for 6-8 years now and she’s just now thinking of “finding herself” possibly by destroying the one thing she has that will let her actually find an identity. What has she accomplished that she can base her identity? What place has she found in her community? Has she been economically productive? Maybe a few part-time jobs. Does she have a family of her own? Just a boyfriend she’s considering leaving. She needs an identity, something that defines her in relation to the world around her, and will make the world take her seriously (ie. will give her a spiritual sense of place). Yet she doesn’t have anything, and it’s not really through any fault of her own.

This is the allure of these weird identities young people have taken too adopting. They do not have the experiences, productivity, community, or social relations to create true identities, so they have to start making up their own. Creating identities usually requires hard work though; you can not become a violinist without practicing or a volunteer without volunteering.

But if you take and magnify a personal quirk, you can easily create a new identity. Like to emotionally bond to people before having sex? You’re a demisexual. Have a low libido? You’re asexual. Like White Fang and think wolves are cool? You’re a wolfkin.

This extend beyond just the weird sexual deviancies though. How many young moderns base their sense of identity on other hedonic pleasures? How many young people have their music consumption as their main identity? How many young people have gamer as one of their main identities? How many young people are identified through their drug use? Their fashion sense? Their sexual conquests? Their television tastes?

Doing these activities may or may not be particularly wrong, but using such as a primary identity indicates something is broken somewhere. Something is missing in their development when a young adult’s primary identity come through shallow pleasures rather than through something true and real.

But this goes beyond just young adults, even our adults are constantly “finding themselves.” Stable social relations, productive economic work, community involvement, friendships, family, all are declining. People are becoming more isolated from each other and more alienated from their work. They need to find something to fill this gap.

This is why a homosexual can’t just be a guy who privately sodomizes other men, he must be out of the closet displaying his pride. He has no other identities to hold onto, for he has no deep social relationships and no spiritual sense of place, so he has to make an identity out of where he enjoys sticking his penis. This is the true horror of the homosexual movement, the abolition of the self until only your identity is your penis.

This is the modern world, a place where people are so empty, their identities so broken, that it has become mainstream for people to base their identities on, to relate to the world through, their hedonic tastes. A healthy society is one where identity creation is a natural process that flows organically from the process of growing up. A person should be able to naturally find and fill productive and healthy social roles, so he can find a spiritual sense of place, so he can belong.

The All-Pervading Ugliness of Modernity

Last post, as part of NRx’s aesthetics week, I looked at from where beauty came. I ended by comparing churches, where I noted the ugliness of modern churches. This ugliness is not just confined to modern churches, ugliness pervades modern life, from architecture to the arts to women, ugliness is inescapable. The astounding thing is that this ugliness is all self-inflicted; we are more shielded from the ugly aspects of the natural world than we have ever been, yet we choose to fill our lives with ugliness.

Why do we inflict this on ourselves?

As I said, beauty comes from where form and function meet and point to a higher truth. Yet we as a society reject truth, so mere attractiveness, form and function without transcendent value, is the most we can hope to aspire to. If the reality of the age is truth is subjective, there can be no truth and no beauty.

Yet we can we can not even chase attractiveness, for we reject that there is an objective reality against which objects can be measured. If there is no objective essence to the objects we arrange our society around, there can be no objective form nor function by which to judge the attractiveness of an object.

Beyond this, our collective desire for equality destroys beauty. Beauty is better than ugliness, I’ve heard none who dispute this, but this means the beautiful is better than the ugly, which would be inequality. So, to create equality our society glorifies the ugly and denigrates the beautiful. By calling the ugly beautiful (or vice versa) we can have equality while not being able to deny the undeniable.

By refusing to judge, or even being able to judge, the ugly for being ugly and being unable to praise the beautiful for being beautiful, we allow the ugly to conquer the public sphere.

I should note that, as I’ve mentioned before, the rejection of truth and objectiveness is not something most people actually believe on a gut level, most people love the truth, love beauty, and believe in an objective reality in their day-to-day lives and when a discussion is not specifically concerning these topics. These are not even things they will explicitly reject. They just unthinkingly issue forth the approved social truths when they should. The problem comes with the fact that these social truths make it impossible for them to fight the everyday ugliness and deceit in our society.

These modern concepts of equality and relativism made themselves felt in design. In modernist design, form follows function became the maxim. Rather than this being descriptive, where form naturally flows from function, it became prescriptive, where form was reduced to functionality alone. Natural and traditional processes for having form and function meet were destroyed in the name of efficiency.

The human became inhuman.

These inhumanly functional forms, culminating in the aptly named brutalism, are unnatural and oppressive. These enforced sameness, but not by elevation, for how could piles of concrete that would look better as rubble elevate anyone? Rather they enforce sameness by bringing the public square down to the lowest level possible. Is it any wonder the inhuman totalitarian communists, government agencies, and utopian socialists glommed to these modernist styles?

As I’ve said before, it is all related. The ugly inhuman aesthetics of the public square are part an parcel of the leftist march through culture. The modern ugliness of our cities is due to egalitarian ideology. The purpose for which an object is created or used, flows from the ideological principles of the one creating or using the object.

Form flows from function, but function flows from ideology.

When inhuman egalitarian, liberal, and socialist ideology reign, so to does ugliness. Ugliness flows from the soul, and the soul of our society is a black pit of poison. The reason for the all-pervading ugliness of society is you. Your desire to be equal, your rage against the truth, and your denial of God and objective reality. If you ever look around your city and wonder why its so inhumanly ugly, its because this is what you chose. If you’ve ever went to a modern art gallery and wondered how anybody could praise a toilet, its because this is what you chose.