Going up a level

From Stefan Balke (960506.1730 CET)

Bill Powers (960503.2145 MDT) --

If I interpret your words correctly, you are saying that when you asked
the question, there was in fact a desire to know the answer inside of
you.

Yes, that's true. I think, that has to do with the fact that Rick touched an
idea of Freud, and I think that there are severe contradictions between the
basic assumptions of Psychoanalysis and PCT. But maybe Freud wasn't so much
wrong in every case :slight_smile:

I assume that your reply above was not automatic, but arose from
being actually aware of a desire to know the answer, which you then
reported to me. Is this correct?

Yes, that's correct.

I assume, since I have not yet answered
your question, that you still feel that desire to know my answer. Is
that true as you read these words?

Yes, that's true.

So you're telling me that when you examine what is happening as you wait
for my answer, you find that you're thinking on the one hand that an
answer would lead to greater understanding, and on the other hand that
it may not be possible to "go up a level" and "look down" on what you
are doing. Is this a fair description of what you are experiencing?

Yes, I hope that your answer will lead to a greater understanding, because
you a the originator of the best theory I now, and I prooved many :-).
As far as I have incorporated and understood HPCT I believe that it is
possible to "go up a level" and "look down", but I'm not really sure,
because there is no gravity or an altimeter inside the brain which gives
direct feedback about my actual level. If I think about at with level I had
been, I already changed the level, isn't it? In short, I don't know whether
I already know everything about the process, or whether there are some
misunderstandings. The correct description of my experience is like this. I
experience that I often have no criterion to say, this explanation is just a
rationalization and the other explanation is based upon "going up a level"
and therefore the true one. This means, isn't it also possible to "go up a
level" to invent a rationalization (which includes a certain form of
self-cheating)?

Also, in your original question, you asked how we could be sure is
something really happened or if we just rationalized an interpretation.
Does this mean that you were feeling unsure about this?

Yes, that's true.

If so, can you describe this sense of unsureness in more detail (i.e., not

what >it is that you are unsure about, but how it feels to be unsure)?

This feeling arises only in times of severe crisis, if I ask myself
fundamental things and puzzle around to find a new way out of a dilemma. I
put myself, my values and ways in question. Luckily this only happens once
in a few years, because it is always a hard time. In the everyday life I'm
ready to believe myself, with or without backward questions.

Later on in your post, you expand on the concept of not being sure:

聽聽聽聽The main question seems to be, how I can detect self-cheating.

Is this something you are concerned about in yourself? If so, could you
say more about this concern? Does it occur in many situations? Is it a
very serious concern, or only a peripheral one?

In times of a crisis, this is a serious problem: Do I love her really?, Was
it right or wrong to behave like that?, etc. In other times, I don't care
much about.

I promise that I will try to answer your question, but before I do, I
think that the information I am asking for would help in making my
answer clearer.

Hope, that my answers are helpful and not confusing. Now I'm curious.

Best, Stefan

Bill Powers (970609.1451 MDT)

The concept of leakage from one country to
another didn't make much more sense to me than from one state or county
to another.

Why not? If you add up the incomes of all consumers in the unit you're
considering, and they are greater than the incomes of all producers in the
same unit, some of the money is not circulating. That is leakage. It could
be reversible (cash reserves) or not (lost to another economic unit or
destroyed as by bad debts). I don't see anything hard to understand about
that. It's only a matter of rather simple bookkeeping. What's the problem?

The problem, from my end, is why I'm having so much trouble making
myself understood. The point I was making in the sentence you quoted,
in the paragraph it was taken from, and in several previous posts, was
to seek clarification on what is privileged about the national level of
analysis. You have strongly deplored leakage from the U.S. economy
while being (apparently) indifferent to leakage from (say) the Colorado
economy (at least until I brought it up); you have strongly deplored
inequities in holdings within the U.S. while remaining silent about the
much vaster inequities between nations. Given especially, as I said in
my previous post, that leakage analysis is "cleanest" at the global
level, where we don't have to try to account for the (sizable) volume of
international trade, I would expect both the economic and moral emphasis
to be on the world economy. You deplored, for example, the widget
manufacturers moving overseas as leakage from the U.S. economy, when I
would have expected you to applaud the resultant more equitable
distribution of wealth worldwide. You (or someone) suggested that our
statistics on other countries were inadequate, but we don't need any
more statistics to know that the U.S. in primarily to blame for leakage
from the world economy. If wealth were evenly distributed around the
world, you and I would have an annual income of perhaps a few hundred
dollars at most, but the rest of the world would have enormously greater
purchasing power. That's not going to happen politically, but neither,
so far as I can tell, is equal distribution within this country. So I'm
still left with the question: what's special about the national level
of analysis, that with respect to leakage you would care only about it,
and not about either larger or smaller units?

Taxation is a very mild form of coercion, compared to other forms >> in

popular use around the world.

Any appearance of mildness is due simply to its operating mostly at >the
level of threat. The IRS actually operates on the same maxim as >Capone:
"You can get a lot farther with a kind word and a gun than >you can with
the kind word alone." If I don't "voluntarily" pay >taxes, my property
will be confiscated. If I don't "voluntarily" >hand it over, I will be
arrested. If I don't "voluntarily" >surrender myself for arrest, I will be
killed. It's only the >ultimate threat of death that makes the system work
at all. That >doesn't fit my concept of "very mild."

This is true of all legal mechanisms. If you don't "voluntarily" refrain
from murder, you will be forcibly prevented. If you manage to murder
anyway, you will be arrested. If you don't "voluntarily" surrender for
arrest, you will be violently taken or killed. All legal coercion rests on
the credible threat of force and death. We all know that: the only way you
can truly control another person who doesn't choose to be controlled is
through the application of superior physical force. The only question is
whether we are willing to be subject to such coercion in specific
circumstances in return for what we think will be a better life for
ourselves.

I read these two paragraphs not only as blurring, but as denying in
principle, the distinction between offensive and defensive use of
force--or, more exactly, denying the possibility in general of telling
which is which, of who started it. Certainly that is true for
historical conflicts of some duration--the Balkans, the Middle East,
many marriages. But to deny the distinction as sweepingly as you do
here then renders meaningless concepts like murder, which depend on the
concept of an offender and one offended against. Epistemological
relativism notwithstanding, I think consensual identifications of
instigation are often rather easily reached.

You persist (in various places I won't cite) in reading my opposition to
coercion as pacifism. I don't see any incoherence in refusing to start
fights but in being willing to fight back.

I don't recall that it [Chapter 17 of B:CP] said

anything about the defensive use of force, to which I have no >objection
in principle. But I do see the offensive use of force as >inconsistent
with PCT (in just that sense, that PCT says it's a poor >strategy in a
practical sense), and that's what we're talking about >with taxation and
redistribution: the IRS is not collecting taxes >from me in self-defense
against my aggression.

But that's only how it seems to you, because you hate paying taxes. I don't
mind paying taxes, because I like roads and bridges and water treatment
plants and national parks and (honest) police forces and foreign aid where
it does some good and a whole passel of public services that I would hate
to try to perform for myself. I don't want to do away with taxation. And
this means that, as long as I pay taxes, I can't see any reason why someone
else should get a free ride just because he wants to hang on to his own
money and take advantage of what my taxes are buying. If you don't pay your
share, stay off of my roads! You're the aggressor, trying to take away from
me the things I value. Keep doing it, and I'll throw your ass in jail.

Just as, if I refuse to participate in a neighborhood street sweeping
agreement, then, so as not unfairly to benefit from the efforts of
others, I am morally obligated to imagine dirt and litter as I walk down
the street.

But it does sound to me as though you were talking about entitlement
here, even though

"Entitlement" is not a PCT idea.

Our principal difference here is just that I'm not convinced that these
services couldn't be financed in noncoercive (and therefore more viable)
ways. But even as privatization of roads seems like a fine idea to me
in principle, it's about dead last in terms of my personal priorities
for social change (though the new technology of embedding sensors in the
road to read chips on the underside of your car is interesting, and
would ease congestion by allowing differential pricing at rush hour).
I'm not a tax activist; the little activist energy I have goes into
civil liberties issues instead (e.g., decriminalization of needles,
prostitution, nudism, gay marriage and adoption).

Hugh Gibbons' paper "Justifying Law" sounds very interesting, but I
didn't find a reference to it on your web page. Is it published, or do
I need to write to him for a copy?

You're right that the U.S. government doesn't
engage in physical torture (not counting questionable cases like >gassing

children in Waco or injecting people with radioactive >substances without
their knowledge), but that's not much of a >defense. As for "the benefits
of cooperation," I don't call it >cooperation if it's enforced.

To characterize an entire system by its most extreme failures is -- well, I
can't call it stupid because you're far from stupid, but it's certainly an
intellectual blunder. Worse, it's a form of argument that says "If you
don't reject the idea of government, then you must be in favor of gassing
children and injecting people with radioactive substances." This is a
simplistic argument for simple minds, but not for grownups.

There's no dilemma here. I wasn't characterizing the entire system by
its most extreme failures; I explicitly said I wasn't counting them. I
was agreeing with your generalization and adding a "questionable"
qualification--having recently been chastised for uncritically quoting
Lucas's sweeping generalizations :-).

And your example of Durango is a very good one, partly because I >don't

think it's at all atypical. My point, in fact, would be more >its
typicality. The economy at any level, at any location, is--or >ought to
be--continually in flux, even though that often means >hardship for some
people, like the mom-and-pop store whom the >loyalty of friends and
neighbors isn't enough to sustain when the >national chains arrive.

What do you mean "ought to be?" If we want it to be in flux, we will see to
it that it is. If we want to ignore people's hardships, we will ignore
them. It all depends on your personal principles and the kind of system you
want to live in.

Growth, which you have appeared to advocate, is flux. I meant no slight
of the hardships it causes anybody.

most of the objections I've seen [to leakage theory] are in
the form, "But if that's true, then it means blah-blah-blah, and since
blah-blah-blah can't possibly be the case (because I don't believe it), the
theory must be wrong." This sort of argument doesn't strike me as any more
relevant in economics than it is in psychology, where I've encountered all
of it I could possibly hope for.

I don't see anything wrong with Argument from Denial of the Consequent.
I just haven't gotten anywhere with it because no matter how outrageous
the consequents I derive seem to me, you keep happily endorsing them.
That says something about how dismayingly far apart we are, but not, I
think, about the form of argument.

In the latest case, where IRS employees tried to ruin a businesswoman
because she insulted an auditor, the law said that the agency used an
excessive and unreasonable degree of force, and made the transgressor
agency, the IRS, pay the woman something like $350,000 including punitive
damages. The only thing wrong with this judgment is that the individuals
responsible were not required to pay it. "The IRS" is just a place.

This is an excellent point, too seldom voiced--though a recent press
release from the Libertarian Party similarly argued that an apology from
Clinton about the Tuskegee experiments wasn't enough, that those who
planned, authorized, and carried it out should be held personally
responsible.

It is commonly regarded as a major advance that Western European
societies around the turn of the 13th century came to regard crimes like
murder as offenses against the state rather than against individuals.
I'm not so sure. It would be all right with me if the survivors of the
Oklahoma City bombing did whatever they wanted to McVeigh. But making
bureaucratic and impersonal so intimately personal an act as
electrocuting someone seems to me a bit ghastly.

The Constitution, in fact, specifically prohibited an income tax, >and we

didn't have one for well over a century.

Oh, pooey. The Constitution is like the Bible; you can interpret it to mean
whatever your own pet peeve wants it to mean.

Sure, but the same is true of any laws as well. Definitions can never
be made explicit enough to eliminate judgment. The recent Disabilities
Act, for example, has been interpreted to include alcoholism, so that
employees who are treated badly for being drunks are entitled to
compensation.

I wasn't implying anything special about the Constitution; my reference,
if you check, was just in support of the nonnecessity of the income tax,
since the Constitution specifically prohibited any "direct" tax.

The problem is that whenever these idealists do get together and try to
make their own private worlds where everything is done right, they start
right in on the same process that got us where we are today. They have to
make rules, because sometimes people, even idealists, don't behave the way
they ought to. Sometimes people don't just voluntarily do the work that
needs doing, like taking a proper turn at cooking dinner or doing the
dishes or unstopping the toilet. Sometimes people make promises in return
for favors or advantages, and then don't keep them. Sometimes people get
angry and hurt or kill other people. Sometimes people mistreat their
children, hurting them or starving them or working them to exhaustion or
frightening them into serious mental trouble. People can be very nasty,
even those who seem to agree with us about important things. And they don't
want to be stopped from doing things the only way they know how, so they
won't voluntarily do their share of the common work, live up to contracts,
become peaceable, or become merciful. Those around them who are affected by
their behavior have no choice: they must have some means of coercing the
deviants, of forcing them to do what they should do, or stop them from
doing what the community says they must not do. Government and law come
from living together with other people. There is no way out of it that I
can see. We can't get rid of governments and laws. If we did, they would
come right back.

I think the only difference between us here is that I'm less sure of the
last four sentences than you are. I suspect I have as little interest
in or patience with utopian schemes as you.

>The last chapter of B:CP contains the most eloquent and brilliant

argument I've ever read for why coercion doesn't work as a way of
getting people to do what you want.

I don't see how you could have read that into that chapter.

This is truly a revelation. On rereading it for the first time in a
year or so, I found it more radical and beautiful than I had remembered.
You speak in that chapter not of coercion but of arbitrary control,
which you define as attempts to control (others, in this context)
without regard to their goals. "The only way in which one person can
arbitrarily control the behavior of another person, without regard to
the other person's goals, is through reward and punishment. That is,
only by having the power to create and then alleviate intrinsic error in
another person can one truly cause that other person to reorganize and
behave in any way desired" (p. 266). Physical coercion appears to me a
paradigm case of arbitrary control. But: "Attempts to control behavior
arbitrarily--one's own or that of other people--accomplishes nothing in
the long run but to produce conflict and consequent pathology" (p. 259).
That's what I take as a statement that coercion doesn't work. Further:
"Our whole society is a maze of contradictions that can be traced
directly to attempts to run it by means of arbitrary control; no matter
what else is good about our society, that one factor will destroy it"
(p. 271). "_Any_ system based on the control of behavior through the
use of rewards (or, of course) punishments contains the seeds of its own
destruction" (p. 269). You speak specifically to the rule of law: "In
our American society there is a widespread belief in the rule of law
(enforced by physical punishment) and in the use of incentives tied
directly to our ability to stay warm, well fed, and otherwise happy. . .
. If we are to trust the theory in this book, however, we must conclude
the exact opposite. The more faithfully we adhere to the system of
incentives and the rule of law, the closer must the country approach a
state of open revolt" (p. 270). If you think back over how many times
you have appealed to the rule of law--for instance, to assure a certain
distribution of goods--perhaps you can understand my astonishment. You
have said in a previous post (I think--I can't find the reference at the
moment) that the good of society demands redistribution, but that is
just what the author of Chapter 17 warned us against: "People who want
to control other people seldom admit that they _want_ to, that
controlling people gives them any personal satisfaction, or that they in
any way are to blame for their own behavior. Rather they prefer to
objectify the situation, saying that morality requires control, or logic
requires it, or self-preservation requires it, or scientific experiments
prove its necessity, or the good of society demands it (and who am I to
go against society?)" (pp. 260-261). Finally: "There is only one way I
can see for fallible, ignorant human beings to live in accord with their
own real natures and that is to discard forever the principle of
controlling each other's behavior, dropping even the _desire_ to control
other people, and seeing at every level the fallacy in the logic that
leads to such a desire. Whatever system concept we adopt in the effort
to reach the conflict-free society, it must contain one primary fact
about human beings: they cannot be arbitrarily controlled _by any
means_ without creating suffering, violence, and revolution" (pp.
269-270).

All in all, the most magnificent argument for anarchy I've ever read.

3. Coda: Going up a level

One of the reasons I dropped out of the economics discussion a couple of
months ago (I had actually written another reply--among other things, to
thank Rick for taking the trouble to check my lag conjecture
empirically--but decided against sending it) was a clear sense that it
wasn't going anywhere. I had never had such an extended experience of
people talking past each other, of misattributions, distortions, and
polarization. Most disturbingly, I have the clear sense of having been
taxing your capacity for civility, as though I were pressing continually
on an exposed nerve--which is certainly not what I was controlling for.
As we're going through this cycle a second time, it seems clear to me
that there's likely nothing ahead but more mutual frustration, and that
the only possible way out was by "going up a level," by stepping back to
look at why the discussion has gone so badly. At that point we are no
longer talking economics, but psychology, and the discussion necessarily
becomes more personal. I don't mean ugly in any way, just possibly more
private. It goes without saying that in taking this step I invite a
response in kind, if you're inclined. The analysis I have in mind is
similar to that in George Lakoff's _Moral Politics_, though the concepts
are my own. He writes as a liberal trying to understand conservatives
(amazing to me that the question would have occurred to him only a few
years ago); I write as neither trying to understand both.

I start from two clues. Looking over our exchanges again, I have had
the impression that the sore spot was the perception of me as not being
a team player. If so, I'm sure the reason I was slow to recognize it is
that I'm commonly perceived in quite opposite terms--as generous,
supportive, easy to get along with, carrying my weight and more--by
colleagues, friends, and family. I'll come back to this concept.

The second clue was noticing that the exchange on leakage theory has had
much the quality of debates on abortion--not only in terms of futility,
but in terms of generating a lot of heat that seemed disproportionate to
the ostensible subject matter. The lives of most prolife activists are
not touched very directly by abortion--as they are, for example, by the
choice of whether to eat meat. And the intensity of their concern for
fetuses is curiously unmatched by their concern for children--including
those whose parents didn't want them. On the other side, prochoice
advocates often end up denying or minimizing the fact that abortion is
always a difficult and painful decision, no matter how convinced you are
that it's the best choice in a given case.

I think many liberals have a good idea what is going on here with the
religious right, particularly if you look at the other things the same
people tend to be against. The real issue isn't abortion per se, but
sex. These people adhere to a very narrow view of what's proper in
relation to sex, and they have, most of them, paid a heavy price for
upholding such a view. Either they paid a price in terms of appealing
opportunities foregone; or, if they didn't adhere to the standard in
their own lives, they paid in terms of guilt. If this all felt freely
chosen, there probably still wouldn't be any problem. But it tends to
be experienced, not as a code freely chosen after careful consideration
of all possible alternatives, but rather as a simple matter of the way
things have to be. From that position, the idea of someone violating
those norms and _getting away with it_ is intolerable. To allow that as
a legitimate possibility is to admit that all of your own self-denying
or self-punishing was unnecessary.

An inevitable consequence of leaving such a conflict at an implicit
level is then that the forbidden becomes an obsession. Susie Bright
once said that the best jill-off book she had ever read was the evidence
collected by the Meese Commission on Pornography, the Commission having
gone out of its way to obtain the kinkiest, hardest-to-get stuff.

This is all familiar. What I think has been less clearly understood--it
sure to me a longer time to figure out--is the corresponding sticking
point for liberals. But I think the distinction can usefully be drawn
between public and private virtues. It's important to note that the
hold that that particular sexual doctrine has on the right derives its
power from defining what is _good_. I think people need to feel good
about themselves as persons; not to feel worthy, worthy of the
self-sustaining efforts of living, is pretty close to intrinsic error.
The emphasis of this tradition (what has become the religious right) has
been on private virtues and sins, of which sex is the preeminent
example. Don't touch yourself, don't think impure thoughts, save
yourself for marriage, and so on. Without going so far as an explicit
repudiation of the doctrine about the camel and the eye of the needle,
this tradition also notably included among private virtues things like
productivity, thrift, and self-reliance.

My sense is that the corresponding tradition behind modern liberalism
has emphasized in contrast the public virtues of good citizenship.
Share your toys, look after those less fortunate than you, don't be
selfish. (There are obvious religious alignments with the traditions
I'm describing, but there's no need to pursue that here. There is also
considerable overlap between them, but at the moment I'm into sweeping
generalizations :-).) These values happen to be easier for me
personally to relate to than sexual prudishness (not that I haven't been
there, too), but in either case they provide our reference for what is
good. (They don't do so until we adopt them as our own, of course; but
very few people really challenge these standards. I've seen people who
thought of themselves as sexually liberal discouraging their children
from masturbating.) Like sexual restrictiveness, however, these public
virtues constrain our behavior, or leave us feeling guilty when they
don't. They establish temptations on the other side. Again, this is
generally no problem so long as these constraints are experienced as
freely chosen, but they rarely are. And so the result, again, is
obsession with the forbidden. I was struck many years ago at how
singularly obsessed with material goods socialists are. An obsession
with money--with a particular distribution of it--is virtually their
defining characteristic. What is intolerable, from this position, is
the idea of anyone opting out of the system _and getting away with it_.

I think this is where I came in. Passages like the following suggested
to me the strains of adhering to the code of selflessness and
egalitarianism:

Why
not just cut through all the nonsense, do away with laws and governments
and coercion and the concentration of power in a few hands, and let people
run their own lives? Why can't I decide what to do with my own money, my
own land, my own children, my own slaves? Why should I have to share
anything with dirty, lazy, immoral freeloaders and foreigners?

(I incidentally favor unrestricted immigration, and of course the
abolition of the INS. The fence along the Mexican border is a horror,
as is the concept of illegal aliens--not least because it makes it sound
as though they came from Mars.)

I don't want to do away with taxation. And
this means that, as long as I pay taxes, I can't see any reason why someone
else should get a free ride just because he wants to hang on to his own
money and take advantage of what my taxes are buying. If you don't pay your
share, stay off of my roads! You're the aggressor, trying to take away from
me the things I value. Keep doing it, and I'll throw your ass in jail.

Somehow I'm missing here the spirit of charity I thought underlay the
egalitarian ethic. Sounds to me instead like a rather fierce
protectiveness of what you consider yours. (Why should freeloaders
matter? Aren't they whom the restributive system was designed to
benefit?) I'm not objecting to the attitude expressed here, merely
calling attention to the tension it embodies--tension which I suspect
may have kept your from grasping my point. I never advocated using or
taking anything without paying for it; but my raising the possibility of
noncoercive alternative to financing services now funded by taxes was
read as unilaterally opting out of the system, not wanting to pay my
share.

In point of fact, I suspect that my values with respect to sharing and
caring and cooperation are very close to yours. But, if I weren't
already convinced, B:CP would have persuaded me that trying to enforce
these values corrupts and sabotages them. Private charity and community
organizations haven't been entirely supplanted by government welfare,
but there have been substantial changes in the direction. We're less
likely to help neighbors in need when we figure there's some government
agency to take care of it. More than that, I would think that
mobilizing resistance to sharing by attempts to enforce it could lead
people to experience themselves as stingier than they really were.

Jacob Hornberger recently said, paraphrasing Mencken: "Republicans are
haunted by the fear that someone somewhere may be having fun. Democrats
are haunted by the fear that someone somewhere may be making money."
(He added: "Libertarians want you to make money and have fun.") Both
are doing everything in their power to enforce their self-imposed
constraints on the whole society, insisting that the good of society
requires it. As Powers observed in 1973, the attempts can only lead to
failure--the suicide rate among gay teens is awesome, but it is still
far from 100%; and laws aimed at redistribution are met with tax dodges,
black markets, and bribes--but failures are merely met with redoubled
efforts at control. Logically, there is no reason why the ranks of
libertarians should include more ex-conservatives who saw the
inconsistency between policing sexual and drug behavior and the economic
freedom they valued than ex-liberals who saw the inconsistency between
policing economic activity and the civil liberties they valued. I
suspect the explanation for the difference may be simply that it was
easier for ex-conservatives (in these times) to give up the idea that
sex is bad than for ex-liberals to give up the idea that selfishness is
bad. I think I see evidence of that when conservatives tell me they
oppose drug legalization because it would send a message that there's
nothing wrong with using drugs. But in fact there is no need for anyone
to change values or definitions of what is good; the point is just to
uncouple those values from the desire to enforce them on others. At
bottom, apart from the fact that it doesn't work, I think trying to
control by arbitrary/coercive means either sexual or capitalist acts
between consenting adults is not a nice way to treat people. Even if
you tried persuasion first. Even if you're sure we'll all be better off
doing it your way.

The author of Chapter 17 clearly had an inkling how radical his ideas
were: "The major premise of civilization has, I submit, been proved
wrong" (p. 270). But the ideas in this chapter have lain neglected for
24 years, the author himself appearing to me not only not to have
followed up their implications, but actually to be disavowing them. If
so, I think it wouldn't be the first time such a thing happened. Taking
unpopular positions, the opposite of what everybody else is saying,
provokes attack; but really radical innovation, like PCT, often simply
leaves one alone--without the community of understanding that the rest
of us count on to sustain us. For those few who are radical innovators
in multiple fields, the resulting loneliness can be extremely hard to
bear. The one or two people I can think of whose thought was radical on
such a scale were much less successful than you in maintaining ties to
humanity.

Surely arrogance and impertinence go no higher than to imply that I
understand better than you do what you have written. But know also that
my respect, admiration, appreciation, and affection are similarly
unbounded.

Best always,
Mike

[From Bill Powers (970617.0100 MDT)]

Mike Acree (960716) --

The problem, from my end, is why I'm having so much trouble making
myself understood. The point I was making in the sentence you >quoted, in

the paragraph it was taken from, and in several previous >posts, was to
seek clarification on what is privileged about the >national level of
analysis.

It's only your assumption that I assert that there is something
"privileged" about the national level of analysis (the 'leakage"
computations). There isn't anything special about this level. You could
calculate the leakage for a village, a nation, or the whole world -- if you
had the data. What you need to know is (a) total sales of goods and
services by all producers in the economic unit to be analysed, and (b)
total income (wage and capital income) of all consumers in the same unit.
Leakage is the difference between the two numbers.

You have strongly deplored leakage from the U.S. economy
while being (apparently) indifferent to leakage from (say) the >Colorado

economy (at least until I brought it up); you have strongly >deplored
inequities in holdings within the U.S. while remaining >silent about the
much vaster inequities between nations.

Calculating leakage and deducing its effects on growth rate and
unemployment is quite separate from "deploring" these effects. Some people
might like these effects. I don't. If you were interested in correcting
global inequities (and had any hope of doing so), you would still need to
know about leakage, particularly that part of it which is not simply a
transfer of buying power from one country to another. Leakage would affect
the global economy, too. And in a global economy, excess riches would be
even more of a problem, because money that could not be spent on goods and
services could not be invested in any "other" economy -- there would be no
other.

Doing away with leakage would not create equality between economic units.
It would simply increase the growth rate of all units that have zero
leakage, while reducing unemployment.

In this context, income redistribution comes up mainly because the problem
of leakage is in part attributable to people who make more money than they
can spend. Any measure that would induce them to spend more of their income
would reduce leakage, and thus bring the economy closer to its maximum
growth rate and employment rate. The nature and acceptability of such
measures is a different question, open to debate. If we decided that no
measure was acceptable, we would be deciding to live with the corresponding
leakage and its effects.

Given especially, as I said in
my previous post, that leakage analysis is "cleanest" at the global
level, where we don't have to try to account for the (sizable) >volume of

international trade, I would expect both the economic and >moral emphasis
to be on the world economy.

Why should the mere size of the volume of international trade keep us from
taking it into account? Balance of trade numbers are available for the U.S.
economy, and perhaps others.

You deplored, for example, the widget
manufacturers moving overseas as leakage from the U.S. economy, when >I

would have expected you to applaud the resultant more equitable

distribution of wealth worldwide.

As far as I know, the result would not be more equitable distribution of
wealth, but a suppression of production capabilities with little benefit to
overseas economies. When color television sets are assembled outside the
USA, the workers there may get better wages than they could otherwise get,
but the wages are still not high enough for those workers to buy imported
color television sets. The U.S. manufacturer is simply contributing to a
loss of buying power among customers who might otherwise buy the TV sets,
and gaining no new customers to offset the loss.

This is not a matter of "deploring" or "applauding." The first thing is to
do a correct analysis that predicts the relationships to be found in the
economic unit. Then, having seen the results, you can deplore or applaud
depending on your opinions about the desirability of what is predicted. I'm
still mostly concerned about whether the analysis is correct.

You (or someone) suggested that our
statistics on other countries were inadequate, but we don't need any
more statistics to know that the U.S. in primarily to blame for >leakage

from the world economy.

Yes, I agree, but this guess doesn't help us analyze the world economy.
Also, if the world economy could be analyzed, we would still find a
tremendous maldistribution of buying power, with the result that those with
extraordinarily large incomes would still have a problem in spending all
their income on goods and services. Leakage, overall, would probably
increase, because in the poorest countries of the world, most of the Gross
National Income goes to an even smaller proportion of the population. How
much of the Congo's meager wealth is now in Switzerland, the property of
one corrupt man?

If wealth were evenly distributed around the
world, you and I would have an annual income of perhaps a few >hundred

dollars at most, but the rest of the world would have >enormously greater
purchasing power.

This is a fallacy that arises from mixing the macro and micro scales of
economics. On what would this enormously greater purchasing power be spent?
At the same time you are redistributing income, you would have to
redistribute production, because income is what is paid to people by the
composite producer, which must sell its product in order to be able to pay
for producing it. If you take income away from one segment of the world and
give it to another, you must also send the corresponding production
facilities to the same place, to provide for continuing that income.

That's not going to happen politically, but neither,
so far as I can tell, is equal distribution within this country. So >I'm

still left with the question: what's special about the national >level of
analysis, that with respect to leakage you would care only >about it, and
not about either larger or smaller units?

To correct the problem of leakage, at least as far as adjusting income
distribution is concerned, you don't have to take money away from one
person and give it to another. All you have to do is make sure that those
with very high incomes spend them on goods and services. If pointing out
the nature of the problem to the top income earners suffices to persuade
them to start spending more of what they make, nothing else needs to be
done to take care of that source of leakage. The cost of production is,
identically, the buying power of the composite consumer (less leakage).

It would be possible to "care" about units of many sizes at the same time.
The city of Durango, for example, might concentrate on the balance of trade
problem, and try to keep the balance at zero (and I'm sure they do try).
It's theoretically (or at least hypothetically) possible for all units of
that size to have trade balances somewhere close to zero. This would
minimize at least that contribution to leakage, without penalizing any
other unit. Yet the nation as a whole could be experiencing leakage
relative to the world economy -- and of other kinds that balance of trade
does not affect.

路路路

----------------
On coercion:

This is true of all legal mechanisms. If you don't "voluntarily"
refrain from murder, you will be forcibly prevented. [etc]

I read these two paragraphs not only as blurring, but as denying in
principle, the distinction between offensive and defensive use of
force--or, more exactly, denying the possibility in general of >telling

which is which, of who started it. ... Epistemological

relativism notwithstanding, I think consensual identifications of
instigation are often rather easily reached.

I'll agree with that "often." But it's a long way from "always." In part
it's a matter of the scope of the consensus: if the "victims" are allowed
to define the "aggressor," it will always be the "aggressor's" fault. It's
also a matter of the scope of the subject-matter. A manufacturer faced with
a strike sees the union as the aggressor, since if there were no strike
business would simply proceed as usual. But the union, if not simply
bidding for higher wages for the hell of it, may see the manufacturer as
withholding fair wages and threatening to destroy jobs if any protest is
made ("You don't like your pay? Work somewhere else.") I'd say that the
question of who is the aggressor is seldom clear-cut (except, of course, to
the complainants).

You persist (in various places I won't cite) in reading my >opposition to

coercion as pacifism. I don't see any incoherence in >refusing to start
fights but in being willing to fight back.

This is a practical point of view with which I sympathize, yet it doesn't
solve the problem of conflict. It's simply a description of how control
systems work: push on them, and they push back. The implication is that if
you fight back, you fight to win. But this is a suboptimal solution to the
problem of conflict, isn't it? A dispassionate observer watching the
aggressor and the counteraggressor sees that both are wasting their
resources on a conflict; the more equal the match, the greater the waste.
Fighting back must always be a temporary expedient; it's not a steady-state
solution.

If you don't pay your share, stay off of my roads! You're the
aggressor, trying to take away from me the things I value. Keep >>doing

it, and I'll throw your ass in jail.

Just as, if I refuse to participate in a neighborhood street >sweeping

agreement, then, so as not unfairly to benefit from the >efforts of others,
I am morally obligated to imagine dirt and litter >as I walk down the street.

I doubt that your neighbors would be satisfied with that -- you can tell
them you're not enjoying the clean streets, but they wouldn't be likely to
believe you. It's much more likely that they would look for a way to impose
a penalty for not helping, the most direct being to deny you the use of the
streets which they are maintaining, or to charge you for their use.

But it does sound to me as though you were talking about entitlement
here, even though

"Entitlement" is not a PCT idea.

Our principal difference here is just that I'm not convinced that >these

services couldn't be financed in noncoercive (and therefore >more viable)
ways. But even as privatization of roads seems like a >fine idea to me in
principle ...

There is no non-coercive way to finance anything. If your neighbors form a
company to maintain the streets, who are they going to charge for their
labors? The answer is, everyone who wants to use the streets. And what if
you don't want to pay the charge, but want to use the streets anyway? The
simple answer is that you will not be allowed to do so. If you disagree and
try to use the streets anyhow, you will encounter force. If you can't be
reasoned, cajoled, appealed, or threatened into paying, the Local Street
Company will pass laws, haul you into court, and we're right back to law
enforcement. That's how we got our legal system in the first place.

I'm not a tax activist; the little activist energy I have goes into
civil liberties issues instead (e.g., decriminalization of needles,
prostitution, nudism, gay marriage and adoption[abortion?]).

My impression of "activists" is that they attempt to change the minds of
other people by aggressive means. What's your stand on the use of means
that violate the ends they're intended to achieve?

Hugh Gibbons' paper "Justifying Law" sounds very interesting, but I
didn't find a reference to it on your web page. Is it published, or >do I

need to write to him for a copy?

Gibbons, Hugh (1984); Justifying Law: an explanation of the deep structure
of American law. Law and Philosophy _3_, 165-279. Also available from the
author at the Franklin Pierce Law Center, Concord, NH 03301.

If we want to ignore people's hardships, we will ignore
them. It all depends on your personal principles and the kind of
system you want to live in.

Growth, which you have appeared to advocate, is flux. I meant no >slight

of the hardships it causes anybody.

The hardships are not necessary for growth.
-------------------------

most of the objections I've seen [to leakage theory] are in
the form, "But if that's true, then it means blah-blah-blah, and >>since

blah-blah-blah can't possibly be the case (because I don't >>believe it),
the theory must be wrong." This sort of argument >>doesn't strike me as any
more relevant in economics than it is in >>psychology, where I've
encountered all of it I could possibly hope >for.

I don't see anything wrong with Argument from Denial of the >Consequent.

Well, I do. If you have a _valid_ way of denying the consequent, that's one
thing, but if you simply dislike or refuse to believe the consequent, then
you have no grounds for claiming that the reasoning leading up to it is wrong.

I just haven't gotten anywhere with it because no matter how >outrageous

the consequents I derive seem to me, you keep happily >endorsing them.

I think you're reading "endorsement" into my words. Anyway, "outrageous" is
in the eye of the beholder. I'm more interested in "incorrect."

It is commonly regarded as a major advance that Western European
societies around the turn of the 13th century came to regard crimes >like

murder as offenses against the state rather than against >individuals. I'm
not so sure. It would be all right with me if the >survivors of the
Oklahoma City bombing did whatever they wanted to >McVeigh. But making
bureaucratic and impersonal so intimately >personal an act as electrocuting
someone seems to me a bit ghastly.

Since the survivors and next of kin don't agree 100% on killing McVeigh,
you would still have to have the majority decide what to do about him. Some
of the survivors say that the death penalty is too good for him; he should
be tortured. Would that be OK with you?

The Constitution is like the Bible; you can interpret it to mean
whatever your own pet peeve wants it to mean.

Sure, but the same is true of any laws as well. Definitions can >never be

made explicit enough to eliminate judgment. The recent >Disabilities Act,
for example, has been interpreted to include >alcoholism, so that employees
who are treated badly for being drunks >are entitled to compensation.

So what's your pet peeve about drunks? They made the choice to drink, so
they have to live with the consequences? Write them off? It's OK to treat
drunks badly, but not normal people?

I wasn't implying anything special about the Constitution; my >reference,

if you check, was just in support of the nonnecessity of >the income tax,
since the Constitution specifically prohibited any >"direct" tax.

Well, that's a relief. The income tax isn't a "direct" tax; it's indirect,
in that it depends on how much you earn. If you don't earn anything, you
don't pay any income tax, so it's up to you.

As I said, you can make the constitution say whatever you like, by defining
the terms as necessary.

---------->

I don't see how you could have read that into that chapter (in B:CP).

This is truly a revelation. On rereading it for the first time in a
year or so, I found it more radical and beautiful than I had >remembered.

You speak in that chapter not of coercion but of >arbitrary control, which
you define as attempts to control (others, >in this context) without regard
to their goals. "The only way in >which one person can arbitrarily control
the behavior of another >person, without regard to the other person's
goals, is through >reward and punishment. That is, only by having the
power to create >and then alleviate intrinsic error in another person can
one truly >cause that other person to reorganize and behave in any way
desired" >(p. 266).

I still stand by this statement. Since 1973, however, I have come to
realize that there are many people on this planet who see nothing wrong
with controlling other people's behavior in this way. I was assuming that
nothing more need be said: that all right-thinking people would realize
that this sort of control is undesirable. I was wrong about that -- just
ask the people who advocate or use this kind of control whether they are
"right thinking people."

Physical coercion appears to me a
paradigm case of arbitrary control. But: "Attempts to control >behavior

arbitrarily--one's own or that of other people-->accomplishes nothing in
the long run but to produce conflict and >consequent pathology" (p. 259).

Saying this was a mistake, because I took for granted that the result would
be universally recognized as "pathology." It isn't: for many people, this
is simply how life works, and the main consideration is how to be one of
the controllers instead of one of the controlled.

That's what I take as a statement that coercion doesn't work. >Further:

"Our whole society is a maze of contradictions that can be >traced directly
to attempts to run it by means of arbitrary control; >no matter what else
is good about our society, that one factor will >destroy it" (p. 271).
"_Any_ system based on the control of >behavior through the use of rewards
(or, of course) punishments >contains the seeds of its own destruction" (p.
269).

You speak specifically to the rule of law: "In
our American society there is a widespread belief in the rule of law
(enforced by physical punishment) and in the use of incentives tied
directly to our ability to stay warm, well fed, and otherwise happy. . .
. If we are to trust the theory in this book, however, we must >conclude

the exact opposite. The more faithfully we adhere to the >system of
incentives and the rule of law, the closer must the >country approach a
state of open revolt" (p. 270).

I have learned some things since 1973, and no longer take this extreme
position. Hugh Gibbons' writings have persuaded me that the rule of law is
an inevitable consequence of trying to live with other people. In Hugh's
paper on Justifying Law, he says, "We have accounted, in the abstract, for
willing interactions between people. We must now account for those that are
unwilling, for those that are backed by coercion but are nonetheless just."
And I think that he succeeded in doing do -- in showing how coercion tied
to law can be an instrument by which we afford the maximum freedom and
scope to the will of each person. Gibbons is acutely aware of the ways in
which institutionalized law can work against this aim, but he has concluded
that "the American legal system is basically a scheme for expanding the
ambit of individual will."

"American law," he says, "has, in effect, answered that question [about
each person experiencing himself as a subject, but all others as objects]
with an axiom: the will of each person is entitled to respect. This axiom,
I suggest, is the implicit core of American law. ... There is no basis upon
which one can experience the other as a cause, but neither is there any
basis for _preferring_ the will of one over another. One who would assert
himself over another must justify that, and he must justify it within the
terms of the axiom."

And this passage is especially important:

A number of implications are immediately obvious from this principle
[relationships among people are to be, to the greatest possible extent,
cooperative]. First, it places the basis for justification in the hands of
each member of society. Each person is in control of that which happens to
him. There is no built-in esthetic pattern against which we are measured,
no independent external observer who determines what is good. That is for
the participants in a practice to decide. ...

Only those actions which further the interests of all who are party to them
may be undertaken. This forces each person to economize on the impact of
his actions upon others. Knowing that he must gain their acquiescence, he
must take into account the impact of his actions upon others. The less that
impact, generally, the less effort he will have to expend to get others to
go along with him. The person must weigh the importance of an action to
himself against its impact on others, trimming away any unnecessary impacts
and going ahead with the plan only if others agree.

Under this view of cooperation, simple extreme statements look pretty weak.
Gibbons' arguments and analyses are as complex as the problem he addresses,
yet they are informed by what we now call PCT (he had read my book when
this paper was written). I think his paper is the best statement we have to
date on the real problems of people living together, and how at least one
legal system attempts to enable them to do so with maximum feasible respect
for the will of others.

If you think back over how many times
you have appealed to the rule of law--for instance, to assure a >certain

distribution of goods--perhaps you can understand my >astonishment. You
have said in a previous post (I think--I can't >find the reference at the
moment) that the good of society demands >redistribution, but that is just
what the author of Chapter 17 >warned us against: "People who want to
control other people seldom >admit that they _want_ to, that controlling
people gives them any >personal satisfaction, or that they in any way are
to blame for >their own behavior. Rather they prefer to objectify the
situation, >saying that morality requires control, or logic requires it, or

self-preservation requires it, or scientific experiments
prove its necessity, or the good of society demands it (and who am I >to

go against society?)" (pp. 260-261). Finally: "There is only >one way I
can see for fallible, ignorant human beings to live in >accord with their
own real natures and that is to discard forever >the principle of
controlling each other's behavior, dropping even >the _desire_ to control
other people, and seeing at every level the >fallacy in the logic that
leads to such a desire. Whatever system >concept we adopt in the effort to
reach the conflict-free society, >it must contain one primary fact about
human beings: they cannot be >arbitrarily controlled _by any means_
without creating suffering, >violence, and revolution" (pp. 269-270).

All in all, the most magnificent argument for anarchy I've ever >read.

Yes, it is, isn't it? But I am no longer an anarchist; the main thing I
learned from Hugh Gibbons was that I was imagining an impossible world, a
world in which people's interests never clashed, in which sweet reason
governed and everybody understood PCT. Gibbons deals with a different
world: the world of people as they actually are. Gibbons went much farther
than I could imagine going when I wrote the above. He found a point of view
free of advocacy of any ideology, of any objective concept of good, in
which people could be seen as actually deciding on their own fates. The
basic axiom about respecting the will of others, he says, is not
justifiable in itself: it is a _CHOICE_. If we agree to this axiom, a whole
system of legal principles and practices, even down to the level of
deciding who owns the white cedar boards from which I hope to build my
boat, and what enforceable rights this ownership implies under the axiom.

It's getting pretty late; I'll reply to the "Going up a level" stuff after
a bit of a time-out to knit up the ravel'd sleave of care.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bill Powers (970617/0812 MDT)]

Mike Acree (960716)(continued) --

On going up a level --

I start from two clues. Looking over our exchanges again, I have >had the

impression that the sore spot was the perception of me as >not being a team
player. If so, I'm sure the reason I was slow to >recognize it is

that I'm commonly perceived in quite opposite terms--as generous,
supportive, easy to get along with, carrying my weight and more--by
colleagues, friends, and family. I'll come back to this concept.

I think this is where I came in. Passages like the following >suggested

to me the strains of adhering to the code of selflessness >and egalitarianism:

Why not just cut through all the nonsense, do away with laws and
governments and coercion and the concentration of power in a few >>hands,

and let people run their own lives? Why can't I decide what >>to do with my
own money, my own land, my own children, my own >>slaves? Why should I have
to share anything with dirty, lazy, immoral freeloaders and foreigners?

(I incidentally favor unrestricted immigration, and of course the
abolition of the INS. The fence along the Mexican border is a >horror, as

is the concept of illegal aliens--not least because it >makes it sound as
though they came from Mars.)

If you don't pay your share, stay off of my roads! You're the
aggressor, trying to take away from me the things I value. Keep >>doing

it, and I'll throw your ass in jail.

Somehow I'm missing here the spirit of charity I thought underlay >the

egalitarian ethic. Sounds to me instead like a rather fierce

protectiveness of what you consider yours. (Why should freeloaders
matter? Aren't they whom the restributive system was designed to
benefit?) I'm not objecting to the attitude expressed here, merely
calling attention to the tension it embodies--tension which I >suspect

may have kept your from grasping my point. I never >advocated using or
taking anything without paying for it; but my >raising the possibility of
noncoercive alternative to financing >services now funded by taxes was read
as unilaterally opting out of >the system, not wanting to pay my share.

Sometimes, to illustrate a point of view that we can expect from some
people, I state it as if it's my own. For one thing, it's interesting to
see how justified almost any point of view can seem, when you really get
into it. This sometimes backfires, as others can't read my mind to tell
when I am segueing from stating my own views to role-playing a logical (and
extreme) extension of them. Since I don't particularly mind paying taxes, I
was imagining how a pro-tax person might end up sounding just like an
anti-tax person, seeing the anti-tax person as being just as aggressive as
the anti-tax person sees the IRS as being. Actually, I thought I expressed
rather well what would happen if private enterprise took over maintenance
of the roads. The difference between taxes and tolls is not obvious to an
innocent bystander who just wants to drive somewhere, and refusal to pay
tolls is not likely to result in any due-process kind of attempt to collect
them (never mind that the IRS doesn't seem bound by due process very much).

In fact, I think that strongly anti-tax people generally show no particular
inclination to take over paying for services now funded by taxes. You
should read the Letters in the Durango Herald. Aside from the natural
resentment of being coerced into doing anything, these people simply resent
not being able to use all their money for their own purposes. If they don't
have children, they can't see why they should contribute toward schools,
day-care programs, programs to keep children off drugs, and so forth. If
they have plenty of water on their land, they don't have much interest in
working out equitable sharing of common resources. If they have BLM grazing
leases, they don't see why they should run smaller herds than they can sell
-- overgrazing is nobody's business but theirs, and if the erosion gullies
from their land extend onto a neighbor's land, that's the neighbor's
problem. And their attitude toward the idea of enjoying smaller profits and
perhaps paying a bit more than minimum wage is enough to send them into the
woods for combat practice. We even had a letter recently in which the
writer asserted that the rich were morally superior to the poor, since they
worked hard for everything they had. It's difficult for me to imagine what
he meant by "working hard," in comparison with a wetback field hand doing
stoop labor as long as there's light to see. Is there anybody in the world
who works harder than a Mexican laborer?

My own prediction is that if we did away with taxes altogether, most of the
programs for which tax money is used would disappear. While this would get
rid of many I would be glad to see gone, it would also get rid of most of
those I like, and since my likes are peculiar to me I rather doubt that
private enterprise would pick up the slack. You can't make any money out of
astronomy or space exploration or theoretical psychology.

In point of fact, I suspect that my values with respect to sharing >and

caring and cooperation are very close to yours. But, if I >weren't already
convinced, B:CP would have persuaded me that trying >to enforce these
values corrupts and sabotages them. Private >charity and community
organizations haven't been entirely supplanted >by government welfare, but
there have been substantial changes in >the direction. We're less likely
to help neighbors in need when we >figure there's some government agency to
take care of it. More than >that, I would think that mobilizing resistance
to sharing by >attempts to enforce it could lead people to experience
themselves as >stingier than they really were.

True (your last point), and a good point in theory. Unfortunately, as the
welfare programs wind down, we find charitable institutions everywhere
complaining that private contributions are coming far short of taking up
the slack, _particularly_ contributions from the very rich. I have no doubt
that your values about sharing, caring, and cooperation are in no way less
generous than mine -- but we are a minority, and what would work if the
world were made up of people like you and me will probably not work in the
real world as it is. The childhood of the human race is far from over. We
have a long way to go before most people will understand that what they do
for others is just as important to their well-being as what they do for
themselves.

Jacob Hornberger recently said, paraphrasing Mencken: "Republicans >are

haunted by the fear that someone somewhere may be having fun. >Democrats
are haunted by the fear that someone somewhere may be >making money." (He
added: "Libertarians want you to make money and >have fun.") Both are
doing everything in their power to enforce >their self-imposed constraints
on the whole society, insisting that >the good of society requires it.

The good of the society is not the point -- that very quickly becomes the
good of the State. Whether coming from the left or the right, this concept
has nothing to do with working for the good of all of us, which means each
of us, with conscious respect for the will of others. Respect for the will
of others doesn't mean respect for the _collective_ will. There is no such
thing. It means respect for the _individual_ will. Since individual will is
unpredictable in the absence of widespread social intelligence, it is
necessary that we have laws designed as Hugh Gibbons describes: laws
concerned with enforcing respect for the will of the individual. Even the
Libertarians, were they to prevail, would have to figure out what to do
about individuals who fail to respect the will of others -- the guy whose
idea of virtue is to outsmart, intimidate, and coerce others so he can get
ALL the money and have ALL the fun. I have no doubt that most Libertarians,
maybe even all of them, are really nice, compassionate, generous people.
But they are a tiny minority, and the system they propose must work for
_everyone_, not just the nice, compassionate, generous ones. Communism
failed because people do not ALL take just what they need, nor do they ALL
give to the limit of their abilities. Libertarianism would fail for the
same reasons: not ALL people would behave as they are supposed to.

Bob Heinlein wrote a lot of science-fiction stories about a world much like
what the Libertarians imagine. Everybody was very polite and respectful to
others, because everybody went around armed, and could retaliate for any
insult by warning the offender and then hunting him or her down. What he
overlooked was the fact that someone who wasn't a very good shot wouldn't
play by the rules: if you're not a very good shot, you have to sneak up on
people who threaten you and shoot them in the back, preferably anonymously.
That's how most "shootouts" in the old Wild West happened -- not the noble
High Noon stuff ("Draw, you varmint!"), but a rifle shot from behind a
bush, or a volley of pistol shots through the back of a privy. They even
had a word for it: bushwhacking. Much smarter than depending on a fast draw
that you don't have.

Since writing B:CP I have gradually come to see that nobody gets to design
a social system. Nobody is smart enough to do it, not even -- gasp -- me.
The only REAL problem regarding societies is how to get to the next step
from where we are. We first have to understand how people work, and how
human nature generates interactions and social systems. And then we have to
_propose_ a system, and try to get others to understand it as being in
their own interests -- and listen to their counterproposals, because they
are just as smart as we are, most likely. People will not give up their
desire to control others just because someone tells them it's the nice
thing to do. They will never give it up unconditionally and under all
circumstances. The end of coercion will come only asymptotically, and only
as people see the advantages of avoiding it demonstrated to them. We can
imagine what the end-point of such a process might be, but it is a long way
off in an unpredictable future. The most we can do now is try to get the
vector of change pointed in the right direction.

Best,

Bill P.

As Powers observed in 1973, the attempts can only lead to

路路路

failure--the suicide rate among gay teens is awesome, but it is still
far from 100%; and laws aimed at redistribution are met with tax dodges,
black markets, and bribes--but failures are merely met with redoubled
efforts at control. Logically, there is no reason why the ranks of
libertarians should include more ex-conservatives who saw the
inconsistency between policing sexual and drug behavior and the economic
freedom they valued than ex-liberals who saw the inconsistency between
policing economic activity and the civil liberties they valued. I
suspect the explanation for the difference may be simply that it was
easier for ex-conservatives (in these times) to give up the idea that
sex is bad than for ex-liberals to give up the idea that selfishness is
bad. I think I see evidence of that when conservatives tell me they
oppose drug legalization because it would send a message that there's
nothing wrong with using drugs. But in fact there is no need for anyone
to change values or definitions of what is good; the point is just to
uncouple those values from the desire to enforce them on others. At
bottom, apart from the fact that it doesn't work, I think trying to
control by arbitrary/coercive means either sexual or capitalist acts
between consenting adults is not a nice way to treat people. Even if
you tried persuasion first. Even if you're sure we'll all be better off
doing it your way.

The author of Chapter 17 clearly had an inkling how radical his ideas
were: "The major premise of civilization has, I submit, been proved
wrong" (p. 270). But the ideas in this chapter have lain neglected for
24 years, the author himself appearing to me not only not to have
followed up their implications, but actually to be disavowing them. If
so, I think it wouldn't be the first time such a thing happened. Taking
unpopular positions, the opposite of what everybody else is saying,
provokes attack; but really radical innovation, like PCT, often simply
leaves one alone--without the community of understanding that the rest
of us count on to sustain us. For those few who are radical innovators
in multiple fields, the resulting loneliness can be extremely hard to
bear. The one or two people I can think of whose thought was radical on
such a scale were much less successful than you in maintaining ties to
humanity.

Surely arrogance and impertinence go no higher than to imply that I
understand better than you do what you have written. But know also that
my respect, admiration, appreciation, and affection are similarly
unbounded.

Best always,
Mike

[From Bruce Gregory (970617.1425)]

Bill Powers (970617/0812 MDT)

Since writing B:CP I have gradually come to see that nobody gets to design
a social system. Nobody is smart enough to do it, not even -- gasp -- me.
The only REAL problem regarding societies is how to get to the next step
from where we are. We first have to understand how people work, and how
human nature generates interactions and social systems. And then we have to
_propose_ a system, and try to get others to understand it as being in
their own interests -- and listen to their counterproposals, because they
are just as smart as we are, most likely. People will not give up their
desire to control others just because someone tells them it's the nice
thing to do. They will never give it up unconditionally and under all
circumstances. The end of coercion will come only asymptotically, and only
as people see the advantages of avoiding it demonstrated to them. We can
imagine what the end-point of such a process might be, but it is a long way
off in an unpredictable future. The most we can do now is try to get the
vector of change pointed in the right direction.

The only point I differ with is the notion that people are as
smart as we. Some are, some aren't. The next point you make is
the operative one. People are just as intent on realizing their
goals as we are in realizing ours. :wink:

Bruce

p.s. I too am an old Bob Heinlein fan.

[From Mike Acree (970618.0905 PDT)]

Bill Powers (970617.0100 MDT, 970617.0812)

Your last two posts were extremely helpful. As you can see, I've been
struggling for months to reconcile comments you've made on the Net with
what I understood from Chapter 17. Evidently, as a relative newcomer to
the CSG, I was the only one unaware of your change of mind about that
chapter. I would assume such a significant shift was accompanied by a
lot of discussion, on the Net or elsewhere; is any of that available?
Gibbons' paper sounds like just what I've been looking for for a long
time; I rushed over to the Berkeley library yesterday only to find that
that volume is missing (you don't suppose anyone wanted to prevent
dissemination of his ideas :-)?), so I'm requesting it from him. I have
been speaking all along as someone very much interested in, but
undecided about, the question of whether government is necessary, or the
best way of handling certain problems. Obviously lots of functions,
like mail delivery and education, don't require government; the hard
questions have to do with arbitration, security, and defense. I have
tended to favor anarchy tentatively, just because it isn't obvious to me
how, once an institution is set up with a legal monopoly on the use of
physical force, its power can be constrained. The careful system of
checks and balances in the Constitution obviously wasn't worth much. I
look forward to hearing what Gibbons has to say. Meanwhile, just a few
specific responses.

Sometimes, to illustrate a point of view that we can expect from some
people, I state it as if it's my own. For one thing, it's interesting to
see how justified almost any point of view can seem, when you really get
into it. This sometimes backfires, as others can't read my mind to tell
when I am segueing from stating my own views to role-playing a logical (and
extreme) extension of them.

I'm sorry I misunderstood. I commonly do the same thing (I did in many
of my recent leakage arguments), with similar results. I would have
thought it a good teaching device, but I was evidently too good at it:
I was often astonished to find I had a reputation as a behaviorist or
various other strange things.

Just as, if I refuse to participate in a neighborhood street >sweeping

agreement, then, so as not unfairly to benefit from the >efforts of others,
I am morally obligated to imagine dirt and litter >as I walk down the
street.

I doubt that your neighbors would be satisfied with that -- you can tell
them you're not enjoying the clean streets, but they wouldn't be likely to
believe you. It's much more likely that they would look for a way to impose
a penalty for not helping, the most direct being to deny you the use of the
streets which they are maintaining, or to charge you for their use.

Agreed! I often have difficulty resisting saying anything that makes me
smile, but I obviously take a chance when I leave my smileys implicit;
communication is not necessarily well served.

There is no non-coercive way to finance anything. If your neighbors form a
company to maintain the streets, who are they going to charge for their
labors? The answer is, everyone who wants to use the streets. And what if
you don't want to pay the charge, but want to use the streets anyway? The
simple answer is that you will not be allowed to do so. If you disagree and
try to use the streets anyhow, you will encounter force. If you can't be
reasoned, cajoled, appealed, or threatened into paying, the Local Street
Company will pass laws, haul you into court, and we're right back to law
enforcement. That's how we got our legal system in the first place.

I don't experience anything coercive about paying for groceries at the
supermarket, even granting that the market would forcibly try to stop me
if I were walking off with the groceries without paying. I do
experience something coercive about paying for, say, the war in Vietnam.
I would also experience it as coercive, on my part, if I tried to take
the groceries without paying. I believe you are saying these
distinctions are irrelevant or meaningless in practice; it's just a
conflict and that's all we can say. Perhaps I will eventually come
around to that view, but I will have to live with it for awhile first.

My impression of "activists" is that they attempt to change the minds of
other people by aggressive means. What's your stand on the use of means
that violate the ends they're intended to achieve?

There may be a place, under some circumstances, for sit-ins,
demonstrations, or other disruptive tactics used by groups like Act-Up,
but I'm usually uncomfortable with them. My "activism" has been limited
to circulating and signing petitions, speaking at rallies, sending money
to organizations opposing restrictive legislation--pretty tame.

The recent >Disabilities Act,
for example, has been interpreted to include >alcoholism, so that employees
who are treated badly for being drunks >are entitled to compensation.

So what's your pet peeve about drunks? They made the choice to drink, so
they have to live with the consequences? Write them off? It's OK to treat
drunks badly, but not normal people?

Point taken.

The childhood of the human race is far from over. We
have a long way to go before most people will understand that what they do
for others is just as important to their well-being as what they do for
themselves.

Very nice.

The good of the society is not the point -- that very quickly becomes the
good of the State. Whether coming from the left or the right, this concept
has nothing to do with working for the good of all of us, which means each
of us, with conscious respect for the will of others. Respect for the will
of others doesn't mean respect for the _collective_ will. There is no such
thing. It means respect for the _individual_ will.

Also very nice.

I have no doubt that most Libertarians,
maybe even all of them, are really nice, compassionate, generous people.

Either you're being far too generous or you haven't known many
Libertarians! There are nice, compassionate, generous people among
them, but, on the whole, Libertarians are the least so of any group I
know. I think I know some of the reasons, but that doesn't make
identification with them less embarrassing.

Bob Heinlein wrote a lot of science-fiction stories about a world much like
what the Libertarians imagine. Everybody was very polite and respectful to
others, because everybody went around armed, and could retaliate for any
insult by warning the offender and then hunting him or her down. What he
overlooked was the fact that someone who wasn't a very good shot wouldn't
play by the rules: if you're not a very good shot, you have to sneak up on
people who threaten you and shoot them in the back, preferably anonymously.

Good point.

The end of coercion will come only asymptotically, and only
as people see the advantages of avoiding it demonstrated to them. We can
imagine what the end-point of such a process might be, but it is a long way
off in an unpredictable future. The most we can do now is try to get the
vector of change pointed in the right direction.

Yes, agreed.

Thank you very much again,
Mike

[From Bill Powers (970618.1328 MDT)]

Mike Acree (970618.0905 PDT)--

Evidently, as a relative newcomer to the CSG, I was the only one >unaware

of your change of mind about that chapter. I would assume >such a
significant shift was accompanied by a lot of discussion, on >the Net or
elsewhere; is any of that available?

There have been scattered discussions about various aspects of these ideas,
but none of them was labeled "Bill changing his mind about Chapter 17".
It's more like this: every time the discussion of "interpersonal control"
(which see) comes up, I find that my views come out a little clearer, on
paper and in my mind. And a little different. The basic ideas of Chapter 17
are still the same, of course, but as people ask practical questions and
raise problems with what I say, I have to think more about the subject, and
the focus of my understanding changes. There was no big moment when I
suddenly saw things differently. But if you read what I say now and what I
said then, I'm sure you will see significant differences. That doesn't
concern me: I'd hate to think that I had my last productive thought on any
subject 24 years ago.

I have
been speaking all along as someone very much interested in, but
undecided about, the question of whether government is necessary, or >the

best way of handling certain problems. Obviously lots of >functions, like
mail delivery and education, don't require >government; the hard questions
have to do with arbitration, >security, and defense. I have tended to
favor anarchy tentatively, >just because it isn't obvious to me how, once
an institution is set >up with a legal monopoly on the use of physical
force, its power can >be constrained. The careful system of checks and
balances in the >Constitution obviously wasn't worth much.

I think it was worth a lot in its time. You have to look at the England we
came from, and the reasons for the revolution. What the framers did, I
think, was to look at all the error signals that led to the revolution, and
try to make it harder for anyone in our own government to create the same
disturbances. I've heard comments to the effect that they were very wise in
NOT expecting human nature to change because of the revolution (a mistaken
expectation that other revolutionaries have had). They knew that people
would still seek power, and that there would always be a despot waiting in
the wings to take advantage of any opportunity. So they tried to arrange
the structure of the government to limit the opportunity of any person in
any one branch to gain absolute power.

We have had some 220 years of practice now at getting around these
limitations and deliberately-created internal conflicts. The people who
want power still rise to the top simply because they want the power, and
the constant pressure to remove the restrictions on power gradually
reshapes government practices to circumvent the limits on power. I think
the party system has a great deal to do with this; the choices become fewer
and narrower with every election.

We could probably use a new Constitution, but I'm not sure anyone is ready
to write it yet. As our present discussion shows, there are still knotty
problems to be resolved in the apparent clash of public and private
interests, in maintaining respect for the will of the individual without
favoring one person's will over another's. I would hope that PCT has
something to contribute to this pre-convention discussion! I know that Hugh
Gibbons certainly has something to contribute.

路路路

--------------

I don't experience anything coercive about paying for groceries at >the

supermarket, even granting that the market would forcibly try to >stop me
if I were walking off with the groceries without paying.

That's because you understand the economic system that requires payment for
goods -- you know that groceries would be all but unobtainable if people
refused to pay for them. And you agree that it's proper and fair to pay for
what you get.

I do experience something coercive about paying for, say, the war in
Vietnam.

Again, that's only because you disagreed with those who said we should
fight that war (as I, too, disagreed).

The problem here is the old one of "whose ox was gored." Back in the hippie
days, lots of kids thought there should be Free Stores, where anyone who
was hungry or cold could go to get food and clothing (and pot). This was
such a lovely nice warm caring idea that they never considered how the
goods would get into the Free Store -- their viewpoint was that of a child,
to whom a Store was simply a magical place where you could go to get good
things, and which never ran out of them. Only those mean adults behind the
counter kept you from taking anything you wanted, by demanding that you
give them money. So those kids would have disagreed with you about laws
that say you have to pay for things you get from a grocery store. They
would have felt coerced by the laws saying you have to pay.

And as you know, there were plenty of adults who felt that the war in
Vietnam was totally justified and necessary. Soldiers who were drafted to
fight in that war, and who believed in it, did not feel coerced by the
draft laws; they couldn't wait for their numbers to come up (and many
didn't; they volunteered).

You only feel coerced by goverments and laws when you want to do something
that is forbidden, or not do something is is demanded.

I think that Hugh Gibbons has found an "axiom" (I would call it a system
concept) that can go a long way to resolve this problem of laws being made
by the will of the majority, but not by everybody's will. Most people think
of laws as program-level entities: if you do this, the penalty is that. If
you park too long in a certain place, you will get a ticket saying that you
must pay a $15 fine, or make an appointment for a court date. It's all
clear-cut and straightforward, a simple computer program that ties offenses
to punishments.

What Hugh did was to look at the law at higher levels, in terms of
principles that support the system concept called, when you put it into
words, "respect for the will of the individual." We talk about this system
concept in PCT under the label of "autonomy." We are talking about the same
system concept when we say that people are control systems.

The principles that Hugh came up with are subject to the constraint that
they must increase and maintain the effectiveness of the will of each
individual. In PCT we would say that any principle worthy of acceptance
must enhance the ability of each individual to control his or her own
experiences. That, according to Hugh, is the ONLY justification for the use
of sanctioned coercion. A specific law, then, is only a means of putting
the principles into action. This distinction is vaguely understood: the
difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. It is
understood by lawyers and judges who deal at the appellate level and
higher; such people know full well that the whole meaning of a law is in
its interpretation. But we can now be more specific about what
"interpretation" means -- it means principles that are governed by the
system concept of respect for the will of the individual.

I suppose there will always be program-level laws: if you let the parking
meter run out, you'll have to pay a fine. But if the principle level is
explicitly understood as the immediate governing level for specific laws,
it will also be understood that legal proceedings can override specific
laws, no matter how explicit they are. The parking meter may run out, yet
you may not be expected to pay the fine. The law does, in fact, consider
"mitigating circumstances." There are principles involved, not just
computer programs, and the principles are more important than the programs.

What Hugh Gibbons has contributed is a system concept that is more
important than the principles, so we can eliminate principles that fail to
support the system concept, and invent some that do support it. I think we
could write a better Constitution now that we can see the levels involved
in the law.

Best,

Bill P.

from Mike Acree (990627.0905 PDT)

Marc Abrams (990627.2020)--

For all
intents and purposes it is an exercise that helps you "go up" a level.
Argyris and Schon were not ( Schon recently passed away, Argyris is

still at

work at Harvard ) control theorists and as far as I know, knew nothing

of

PCT or control theory. They never understood this exercise as "going

up" a

level.

Some people would say that Schon had learned something about going up a
level. . . .

(Sorry.)
Mike

from [ Marc Abrams (990628.1547) ]

From Mike Acree (990627.0905 PDT)

Cute, but in very poor taste. :slight_smile:

Marc

路路路

Marc Abrams (990627.2020)--

> For all
> intents and purposes it is an exercise that helps you "go up" a level.
> Argyris and Schon were not ( Schon recently passed away, Argyris is
still at
> work at Harvard ) control theorists and as far as I know, knew nothing
of
> PCT or control theory. They never understood this exercise as "going
up" a
> level.

Some people would say that Schon had learned something about going up a
level. . . .

(Sorry.)
Mike

[From Rick Marken (2008.08.10.1420)]

OK, I've been busy with some other stuff but now I'm back.

Seeing that my two little threads ended up getting nowhere I decided
to go up a level and see if things were any better up there. Well,
damned if while I was up there I didn't meet God himself (I must have
hit the 12th level and, yes, God is a man; sorry ladies) and he had
some surprising things to say.

First of all, he said that those 10 commandments people were getting
all excited about were not the ones he originally sent. For example,
there was nothing there about having no other god's before him; God
said he couldn't care less about that; in fact he gets kind of
uncomfortable about people worshiping him and pleading for things. God
said that his first commandment was for people not to make war with
each other. People can make all the graven images , worship all the
false gods and eat all the shrimp and pork they want; but warring on
each other is out. He did say that the "no killing" and "no stealing"
ones were in; but he did say that the "no lying" one was meant to be
more like a guideline than a rule.

The other thing God told me was to stop listening to Bill Powers
advice about papers I had submitted for publication. I guess he
brought that up because I told him that _American Psychologist_
wouldn't accept my substantially revised version of a previously
submitted (and rejected) paper as a new submission (it's a long story;
God is very patient).

Finally, God did tell me that I should lay off Republicans since that
really violates his first commandment (against warring). He suggested
that I just try to imitate Obama (who even McCain recognizes as the
son of God) and just try to fight _for_ the good policies, not against
the bad people (who are not really bad; they had just adopted
references that I judge to be bad -- that's the way God himself said
it so I presume he's a PCTer too; it's nice to have him on our team).

For those who are interested, it turns out that he (God) is a very
nice guy; not jealous at all, but then, would you be if you were
God?). We agreed to meet regularly in the future.

Oh, and last but not least, he (God) loved the opening ceremonies at
the Olympics. So did I.

Best regards

Rick

路路路

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Bill Powers (@level13)[2008.08.10.2306 MDT)]

Rick Marken (2008.08.10.1420) --

It just happens that while changing channels I stumbled across a movie masterpiece called The School of Rock and got sucked into it, which left me in the ideal mood to appreciate your post. I can see why Roger Ebert loved it (not your post, the movie).

Seeing that my two little threads ended up getting nowhere I decided
to go up a level and see if things were any better up there. Well,
damned if while I was up there I didn't meet God himself (I must have
hit the 12th level and, yes, God is a man; sorry ladies) and he had
some surprising things to say.

I'm very glad that G.A. has got over his feelings of inferiority. I wanted to get him to see that his constant demands for worship, praise, admiration, obedience, and unquestioning belief, as well as his violent jealousy of other gods, were signs of large uncorrected error signals and possibly conflict. But he never complained about those things as being a problem (that would be inconsistent with omnipotence), so of course I didn't try to sneak any MOL stuff into the conversation, back while we were still talking. Nice to see that he's picked up on PCT. He probably claims he invented it, along with the internet and everything else. That's all right -- he claims he invented me, too, so the idea is sort of logical (9th order).

The other thing God told me was to stop listening to Bill Powers
advice about papers I had submitted for publication. I guess he
brought that up because I told him that _American Psychologist_
wouldn't accept my substantially revised version of a previously
submitted (and rejected) paper as a new submission (it's a long story;
God is very patient).

Well, he's probably jealous because I've had more books published than he has had -- though he did call his chapters Books, which runs the count up a lot and is quite unfair.

Finally, God did tell me that I should lay off Republicans since that
really violates his first commandment (against warring).

You know, I tried to find the list of ten commandments in my Bible but there doesn't seem to be a complete list anywhere, at least not in one place. And there are a lot more than ten - uh - suggestions for how we should live our lives, some of which (like stoning people to death) are pretty disgusting. Perhaps some of those recommendations were slipped into the Bible without authorization. It would be nice to know which ones. From what you say it could be any of them.

Apropos of nothing, my granddaughter Sarah said that the word "gullible" is not in the dictionary.

聽聽He suggested
that I just try to imitate Obama (who even McCain recognizes as the
son of God) and just try to fight _for_ the good policies, not against
the bad people (who are not really bad; they had just adopted
references that I judge to be bad -- that's the way God himself said
it so I presume he's a PCTer too; it's nice to have him on our team).

Yeah, it is, if he really gets it. I suppose he does, since he's also omniscient. That makes it easy to learn quickly.

For those who are interested, it turns out that he (God) is a very
nice guy; not jealous at all, but then, would you be if you were
God?). We agreed to meet regularly in the future.

Well that is good news. He seems to have mellowed out a lot. Did he ask you to prostrate or abase yourself and act afraid? If not, we could be quite hopeful about the prognosis, if we did that sort of thing. I'm afraid I was a bit sharp when he asked me to do those things and I finally realized he wasn't kidding. In fact, my wrath was enough to cause shock and awe, if I do say so myself.

Oh, and last but not least, he (God) loved the opening ceremonies at
the Olympics. So did I.

About that, I agree about the spectacle, which was astonishing, but I wonder if the glorious leader Name Here wasn't a bit cynical about the sentiments, with which I agreed even more. They seemed to be talking about peace on earth and good will among humans. Can you say that in China?

Or Washington?

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bjorn Simonsen (2000.08.11, 11:10 EUST)]
from Rick Marken (2008.08.10.1420)

Seeing that my two little threads ended up getting nowhere I decided
to go up a level and see if things were any better up there. Well,
damned if while I was up there I didn't meet God himself (I must have
hit the 12th level and, yes, God is a man; sorry ladies) and he had
some surprising things to say.

At mine 12th level, I am not able to see if God is a he or a she. My 12th level is a "why" level relative to the 11th level. My 12th level is a "respecting how to control" the 11th and lower levels. The 12th. level represwents different degrees of respectinng how the lower levels controltheir perceptions.

Of course I respect your experiment with Going up a level, but I think you really
controlled a System Concept on the 11th. level.

First of all, he said that those 10 commandments people were getting
all excited about were not the ones he originally sent. For example,
there was nothing there about having no other god's before him; God
said he couldn't care less about that; in fact he gets kind of
uncomfortable about people worshiping him and pleading for things. God
said that his first commandment was for people not to make war with
each other. People can make all the graven images , worship all the
false gods and eat all the shrimp and pork they want; but warring on
each other is out. He did say that the "no killing" and "no stealing"
ones were in; but he did say that the "no lying" one was meant to be
more like a guideline than a rule.

OK. I think we shall ask Mr. Putin to listen to your God.

Finally, God did tell me that I should lay off Republicans since that
really violates his first commandment (against warring).

I liked that. I think you have had a movement from the Principle level to the 11th. level in this example.

For those who are interested, it turns out that he (God) is a very
nice guy; not jealous at all, but then, would you be if you were
God?). We agreed to meet regularly in the future.

I look forward to here how you will manage the lower than the 11th. levels in the future.

Oh, and last but not least, he (God) loved the opening ceremonies at
the Olympics. So did I.

I too. But I think the misile man at the LA.Olympics was more overwhelming than the one who ligtened the olympical fire in China.

bjorn

路路路

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
----- Original Message ----- From: "Richard Marken" <rsmarken@GMAIL.COM>
To: <CSGNET@LISTSERV.ILLINOIS.EDU>
Sent: Sunday, August 10, 2008 11:24 PM
Subject: Going up a level

[From Rick Marken (2008.08.10.1420)]

OK, I've been busy with some other stuff but now I'm back.

Seeing that my two little threads ended up getting nowhere I decided
to go up a level and see if things were any better up there. Well,
damned if while I was up there I didn't meet God himself (I must have
hit the 12th level and, yes, God is a man; sorry ladies) and he had
some surprising things to say.

First of all, he said that those 10 commandments people were getting
all excited about were not the ones he originally sent. For example,
there was nothing there about having no other god's before him; God
said he couldn't care less about that; in fact he gets kind of
uncomfortable about people worshiping him and pleading for things. God
said that his first commandment was for people not to make war with
each other. People can make all the graven images , worship all the
false gods and eat all the shrimp and pork they want; but warring on
each other is out. He did say that the "no killing" and "no stealing"
ones were in; but he did say that the "no lying" one was meant to be
more like a guideline than a rule.

The other thing God told me was to stop listening to Bill Powers
advice about papers I had submitted for publication. I guess he
brought that up because I told him that _American Psychologist_
wouldn't accept my substantially revised version of a previously
submitted (and rejected) paper as a new submission (it's a long story;
God is very patient).

Finally, God did tell me that I should lay off Republicans since that
really violates his first commandment (against warring). He suggested
that I just try to imitate Obama (who even McCain recognizes as the
son of God) and just try to fight _for_ the good policies, not against
the bad people (who are not really bad; they had just adopted
references that I judge to be bad -- that's the way God himself said
it so I presume he's a PCTer too; it's nice to have him on our team).

For those who are interested, it turns out that he (God) is a very
nice guy; not jealous at all, but then, would you be if you were
God?). We agreed to meet regularly in the future.

Oh, and last but not least, he (God) loved the opening ceremonies at
the Olympics. So did I.

Best regards

Rick

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Rick Marken (2008.08.12.0855)]

Bill Powers (@level13)[2008.08.10.2306 MDT)--

I'm very glad that G.A. has got over his feelings of inferiority. I wanted
to get him to see that his constant demands for worship, praise, admiration,
obedience, and unquestioning belief, as well as his violent jealousy of
other gods, were signs of large uncorrected error signals and possibly
conflict. But he never complained about those things as being a problem
(that would be inconsistent with omnipotence), so of course I didn't try to
sneak any MOL stuff into the conversation, back while we were still talking.
Nice to see that he's picked up on PCT. He probably claims he invented it,
along with the internet and everything else. That's all right -- he claims
he invented me, too, so the idea is sort of logical (9th order).

If it's the same guy, he's MUCH better now.

The other thing God told me was to stop listening to Bill Powers
advice about papers I had submitted for publication.

Well, he's probably jealous because I've had more books published than he
has had -- though he did call his chapters Books, which runs the count up a
lot and is quite unfair.

The guy I spoke to doesn't even write books. I think he's been smeared
for years (in the West anyway) with all these damned posers saying
they wrote books dictated by God. And remember, my guy isn't
jealous;-)

You know, I tried to find the list of ten commandments in my Bible but there
doesn't seem to be a complete list anywhere, at least not in one place. And
there are a lot more than ten - uh - suggestions for how we should live our
lives, some of which (like stoning people to death) are pretty disgusting.
Perhaps some of those recommendations were slipped into the Bible without
authorization. It would be nice to know which ones. From what you say it
could be any of them.

Actually, it's all of them. The guy I spoke with was pretty pissed
about the crap written in his name. I guess God's can get pissed even
if they're not jealous.

Apropos of nothing, my granddaughter Sarah said that the word "gullible" is
not in the dictionary.

Delightful!

Well that is good news. He seems to have mellowed out a lot.

I'm telling you, it was a different guy. He said most of that crap you
read about him is, well, crap. The guy I spoke with does not play
favorites nor does he punish people who do. He's pretty much above it
all;-)

Did he ask you
to prostrate or abase yourself and act afraid? If not, we could be quite
hopeful about the prognosis, if we did that sort of thing. I'm afraid I was
a bit sharp when he asked me to do those things and I finally realized he
wasn't kidding. In fact, my wrath was enough to cause shock and awe, if I do
say so myself.

Actually, the last time I spoke with him was when I was about 7 and I
was having trouble building a large ship model that I had gotten for
my birthday. I asked him to help me get the deck attached properly and
promised that I wouldn't ask for anything again if he helped. Well, I
managed to get the deck attached and have not asked for anything
since. But after having spoken to him recently I realized that it was
me -- not him -- who made things work back then. While I'm glad that
we have renewed our relationship, I don't expect anything from him and
he doesn't seem to expect anything from me either.

About that, I agree about the spectacle, which was astonishing, but I wonder
if the glorious leader Name Here wasn't a bit cynical about the sentiments,
with which I agreed even more. They seemed to be talking about peace on
earth and good will among humans. Can you say that in China?

Or Washington?

If the glorious leader you're speaking of is God (the guy I was
talking to) then he's pretty used to seeing hypocrisy. He just watches
and wants; he doesn't try to make things happen. That the job of his
creation. And what he wants is peace and love. What he gets is what he
gets -- from Shakespeare to shyster.

Best

Rick

路路路

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Rick Marken (2008.08.12.1130)]

Bjorn Simonsen (2000.08.11, 11:10 EUST)--

From Rick Marken (2008.08.10.1420)

God said that his first commandment was for people not to make war with
each other.

OK. I think we shall ask Mr. Putin to listen to your God.

I think there are _many_ people who you should ask to listen to my
God. Putin is certainly one. The Georgian president (not Jimmy Carter
-- he listens to my God, who also speaks very highly of him, by the
way-- the other one, Saakashvili) is another. And of course, the
current king clown of war, GW Bush, should give a listen as well,
though it's a bit late for the thousands of innocent civilians who
have died for his sins.

Best

Rick

路路路

---
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com