Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Collapse of Complexity

Joseph Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Societies wasn't an easy read, so I didn't read it all, just most of it and enough to understand his conclusions and implications for today's situation. You can read it for free at the link provided above, or get a fairly detailed synopsis at unz.com.  Tainter's key insight is this. The marginal returns to ever increasing complexity are diminishing, hardly arguable. This inevitably leads to complexity that is unsustainable.  When an inevitable set of stressors hit the complex society when at a point of diminishing returns, it becomes more rationale for it decompose into simpler sub-components, because the society becomes incapable of maintaining its complexity.  Tainter reviews various theories of collapse and 11 examples in history. He summarizes:
  1. Human societies are problem-solving organizations;
  2. Sociopolitical systems require energy for their maintenance;
  3. Increased complexity carries with it increased costs per capita; and
  4. Investment in sociopolitical complexity as problem-solving response often reaches a point of declining marginal returns.
His summary of the collapse of the western Roman Empire is illustrative of his mode of analysis.
The fall of Rome was not due to barbarians, for the Empire was economically, organizationally, and militarily stronger than its besiegers. And it was not due to internal weaknesses, for the Empire remained essentially intact for a period of several hundred years. Rome's collapse was due to the excessive costs imposed on an agricultural population to maintain a far-flung empire in a hostile environment. 
In general, unless a complex society finds new sources of energy or more efficient forms of organizing themselves, they eventually arrive at the point where an inevitable stressor will cause societal collapse to a simpler more efficient means of delivering sustenance.

From the Unz.com review:


Inevitably there comes a time when “continued investment in complexity as a problem solving strategy yields a declining marginal return” (C1,B1 to C2,B2). Tensions, adversity and dissatisfaction build up, resulting in ideological strife (e.g. between growth and no-growth). The system “scans” for solutions or alternatives to collapse, be it new religions in Roman times or more R&D, green technologies or singularitarianism today. If this process is successful, the system receives an energy subsidy (like England got with coal), and the process continues; otherwise, it passes the peak and starts descending into outright “output failure” as benefits fall while costs soar.
Tainter distinguishes the manner of collapse among two primary alternatives, "peer polity" and "isolated, dominant states." In today's globalist system, there is no such thing as an isolated dominant state.  This was already clear to Tainter already in the mid-1980s.
Peer polities then tend to undergo long periods of upwardly-spiraling competitive costs, and downward marginal returns. This is terminated finally by domination of one and acquisition of a new energy subsidy (as in Republican Rome and Warring States China), or by mutual collapse (as among the Mycenaeans and the Maya). Collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. No longer can any individual nation collapse. World civilization will disintegrate as a whole. Competitors who evolve as peers collapse in like manner. 
Application

One might think that unilateral economic "undevelopment" might be the solution to this challenge of complexity. However, since power follows economics, any nation that unilaterally wrecks its economy, say with a green new deal or other nonsense, risks being dominated by other global powers. The "scanning" behavior behind the "Green New Deal" is as ancient as the Roman experimentation with all sorts of new religions towards the end of their empire.

I used to dislike protectionism and isolationism, thinking that they inhibited the world wide growth of wealth.  Even before COVID19, in applying Nassim Taleb's concept of anti-fragility, I began to think that Isolationism and protectionism were rationale responses to the risks from a global economy.  By underestimating fat tailed risks, such as pandemics, our economic system becomes too fragile and complex to withstand stressors.  America is uniquely situated to survive a global collapse because federalism gives a head start on the localism that would inevitably result. (Remembering from Tainter that collapse is a rationale decomposition into smaller polities.) As Nassim Taleb points out localism is anti-fragile; I believe Tainter's work dovetails nicely with Taleb's insight that catastrophes seem more frequent than theory suggests (or at least as theory is applied by mainstream economists today).

Additionally, the scanning behavior for alternative energy sources is a worthy goal. We just shouldn't destroy our wealth for it.  Additionally, taking a look at nuclear power seems worthwhile. For the time being, the industrial capacity available from fossil fuels overwhelms the benefit of the alternatives, as we continue to find more efficient ways to extract.  Clearly that won't last forever, but it keeps lasting longer than anyone seems able to predict.

Some Fears

The elites will seize (ever more) power and enforce globalist policies, robbing us of the ability to position our country to survive a global crisis through localism.  Elites benefit from complexity; even Tainter acknowledges this. The push for mass immigration, essentially the abolishment of the nation-state is in their interest as it supplies ever more labor to produce surplus for them to keep power. (There, I used a Marxist argument against a Marxist policy.)

China is particularly vulnerable to collapse because their infrastructure was built poorly, they have a poor demographic outlook, and nasty pollution. My fear is that they will start a war to seize resources to stave off collapse and maintain the support of the population.  Tainter discusses the key point that all governments must maintain legitimacy through bread and circuses, suppression, or unity against external threats.  China has some current short term advantages that they may wish to exploit before their demographic curve works against them.  They are surrounded by wealthy neighbors, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, distant from their chief ally, the United States. Tainter points out the Roman conquest of Macedonia in 176 B.C. yielded a booty so rich as to allow the elimination of all taxes on Roman citizens, to provide an historical example.

I recommend Tainter's book for it's key conclusions.  The academic examples are excellent, but don't feel guilty just skipping to conclusions after reading an example or two.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day Love

As a Bible following Christian, I am often confronted with accusations of hate, along with accusing questions along the lines of what would you do if your child ______________? Father's Day is a great day to answer with the love God grants me through Jesus Christ.  I have two adult sons, and both my wife and made their upbringing our number one purpose.  Our love them is well-known and shown, so I have skin in the game to discuss this topic.  So on to the accusations.

What if your son came out as gay? I would still love him of course.  Further, I would have good advice for him, remain celibate.  This advice is given out of my love. The gay promiscuous lifestyle isn't known for its contribution to mental stability.  Gays are stereotyped for a reason.  If you are truly only attracted to other men, God calls you to good works in his kingdom through celibacy. The bible makes clear that it can be a special gift.  And I love you.

What if you had a daughter who was being slut-shamed? My answer would be to save sexual relations for your marriage.  I say this out of love; because the depth of love you have for your husband will be enhanced and special beyond your wildest imaginings if he is your only lover.  And if it is too late for that, you will still be much happier if you don't keep giving away your sexual favors to uncommitted partners.  The science is on my side.

What if one of your sons or daughters were overweight; isn't your fat-shaming hateful? Of course not.  The links between obesity and poor health is well established.  Further, if gluttony is the cause, it means you are neglectling God.  There is a reason it is traditionally considered a sin. His desire for relationship with all of us is the ultimate source of love.

What if your son said he was converting to Islam?  I would say that the Lord has said you will have no other gods but him.  Jesus said you can judge false prophets by their fruit. What is the fruit of Islam but violence, undemocratic societies, and cousin marriage?  Out of love, to prevent your perpetual unhappiness and frustration, abandon the false god Allah.

Proverbs 22:6 says to train up a child in the way he should go, and when is old, he will not depart from it.  To me, this means to understand your child, his or her unique talents and desires, as well as God's plans and to learn the way they should go.  Certainly, a big part of their way should be guided by relationship with the Lord.  Another big part is to inculcate in them a sense of their purpose in God's Kingdom. What else gives them adequate purpose to live their lives?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

While Leftists Shoot Republicans, California Sinks Into One Party Rule

Going Hugo Chavez one better, the Democrat controlled California legislator is taking action to ensure that one of their own who voted for the hated gas tax won't get recalled.  The legislator is rigging the system to make it harder and longer to recall State Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) whose support for the increase made him a recall target.  From the Sacramento Bee:
Democrats are pushing late-blooming bills to significantly improve state Sen. Josh Newman’s odds of surviving an effort by the state GOP and others to recall him from office.
The proposed changes, which became public Monday morning, would add months to the existing timeline of certifying a recall election for the ballot. The measure would virtually assure that any recall election would be held at the regularly scheduled June 5, 2018 legislative primary election.
Regular election turnout historically is much higher than turnout for special elections, which helps Democrats.
How long before a third party movement among disaffected Democrats arises to resist this tyranny?  Don't hold your breath.  Meanwhile, people are voting with their feet, leaving California.

Jerry Brown: Making Hugo Chavez Proud

Saturday, June 3, 2017

When Leftists Abuse Notions of Jesus

A favorite rhetorical trick of the left is to say to accuse (the word for Satan in Hebrew) Christians of not following Jesus' teachings regarding some policy issue.  The latest concerns immigration and accepting Muslim refugees.  Here is my tl;dr response if you don't want to read further: Piss off.

Jesus and the New Testament has lots of stuff that the left doesn't accept; so until they do, I don't accept their interpretation of anything Jesus said. Here is a short list of examples.

Divorce (Matthew 19):

3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
The left accepts divorce as acceptable for many reasons, I don't.

Adultery (John 4): Jesus also is clearly condemning adultery in that passage, which the left always excuses.

Homosexual relations (Romans 1:18-27):
18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Note that homosexual attraction per se is not condemned, but rather homosexual acts are equated with idolatry.  The greatest sin against God.

Open borders.  (Acts 17:25-27) which is explaining some of the meaning of the Tower of Babel:

26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
and Deuteronomy 32:
7Remember the days of old;
consider the years of many generations;
ask your father, and he will show you,
your elders, and they will tell you.
8When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God.
9But the LORD’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage.

If you are a Christian being chastised by some lunatic leftist, challenge them on THEIR belief in all the Bible says before you answer.  Don't grant them the moral premise of a response.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Inherent Racism of the Chelsea Clinton PR Campaign


If you think that Chelsea Clinton is everywhere on mainstream media, you're not alone. The New York Post has a nice piece, but a casual search of the internet will reveal Chelsea's fabulousness in a Variety of ways.  She has joined the "conversation" about breast feeding, how brave.  She has also weighed in on sexism, Trump's kids, and how she is fighting President Trump. All this is reported with either breathless admiration for a young one (she's 37) so brave, or all of the intellectual depth of the high school cheerleading squad.

The problem is that it's racist. Why? Because she is crowding out the young progressive voices of LGBTQP POCs who are not being heard.  Who are these people you ask? Well, how should I know? Their voices are being squelched by the unending trumpeting of the next coming of Queen Hillary.  How do we know that more deserving voices aren't being heard? Well, they're persons of color, aren't they? Who could possibly more deserving?

If you are a progressive or Democrat, you should demand that media stop its fawning adulation of Chelsea's white privilege to make space for proud persons of color.  So typical of whites to take up all the space available; its like the slaughter of Native Americans all over again.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Violence in The Current Year

The violence and rioting at Berkeley are intended to be a win-win for the left.  I don't think that the timing is coincidental to Trump's inauguration.  Trump has been wrong-footing the left and "flooding the zone" by moving to keep campaign promises with record speed.  The left has been exhausted trying to maintain their outrage.  Enter Milo.  The location and the advance notice gave the leftist globalist scum time to plan their rioting for maximum effect.  It allows them to seize the initiative from Trump and make headlines about Nazis and white supremacists, as to build sympathy to their cause.  Right on cue, CNN tweeted this:



This looks is a win-win for the left, because I think they are anticipating Trump sending in federal troops like he threatened to do in Chicago.  Federalizing law enforcement helps the left in both the long and the short term.  In the long run, when their is a Democrat President again, they can point to a Trump precedent to start overthrowing local police in places they don't like.  In the short term, any violence by federal troops against protesters will inflame passions even more and add sympathy to their cause.

But Trump is smarter, and out Alinsky's the left with this tweet:


Further, as Buzzfeed, of all places, points out, this is no empty threat.  If Trump goes after the city and the college for civil rights violations, there will be personal hell to pay by the mayor and University President who allowed brutal attacks:

Federal higher education laws and regulations are layered with anti-discrimination provisions that made possible the withdrawal of funding for discrimination based on race, religion, and sex. Should Trump follow through with his threat, the Department of Education, through its Office of Civil Rights, would conduct a formal investigation, after which a university could lose funding based on the findings, Loss said.

Using the left's favorite federal tactics against them would be a joy to watch, as well actually advancing the cause of justice.  I think Trump will outmaneuver these communists after all.

The Alinsky tactic to be used is:
Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

In this case the leaders like the mayor, police chief and university president can be isolated and made to pay. Un example pour les autres.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Yawn - Chargers to Leave San Diego

The impending move of the Chargers to Los Angeles has left with me with a so what feeling.  I lost emotional connection with them a few years back.  I had no intention of supporting another hold-up of the city finances.

The only silver lining is that maybe we will have incentive to figure out how to make stadiums profitable without football teams. If that problem could be solved, we could build stadiums and not get soaked on the deal.  

So long.  And good luck playing second fiddle to the Rams in LA.