The Rules for Rulers

By: CGP Grey

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Uploaded on 10/24/2016

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Comments (12):

By dfabulich    2017-09-20

Not as long as bad policy is good politics.

Original Thread

By sillysaurus3    2017-09-20

Any leader stays in power so long as he knows where the money is (controls money flows), pays his key supporters and the army/police.


Original Thread

By minot    2017-09-20

> I don't believe the tax burden on the lower classes in the US has ever been lessened by increased rates at the top levels.

I'll be frank. I have no reason to believe anyone is honest (not even myself). While we like to say that we are not savage animals, we are. CGP Grey made a video based on The Dictator's Handbook

I read an article on some online magazine which argued that the 0.01% is not the problem but rather the upper middle class as they like to call themselves. I imagine it is the same way all over the world.

> “Take the mortgage deduction,” he continued. “This is to stimulate homeownership amongst people who are already going to own homes. That is worth, to a middle-income family, a hundred bucks a year. I was a little surprised by that. You can have your own reaction; I was a little surprised by that.”

from (NY times link, used to be the title link of this discussion)

I'm sure you know this but I didn't think about this for the longest time. Pretty much everybody is a hypocrite. Sorry but if someone advocates for less taxes on the wealthy, the first thing I will look for is whether I think the change will be good for me. Sorry for being selfish but then if I conclude the change is not in my favor, the first thing I will do is not the merits of their ideas but rather follow the money and see what they gain from this change.

Life is short. In the bigger scheme of things, we are just trying to find a locally optimal choice. When people say they want to lower taxes, they usually mean they want lower taxes for themselves. When people say they want fewer government services, the idea is usually they want fewer government services that they do not use.

> Let's take an example of Apple's $200 B sitting offshore.

Just to put things in simple terms, this $200B does not include money Apple made by selling iPhones in the US, right? It only includes money Apple made by selling iPhones in other countries? I don't get why we obsess so much over it. US economy is large enough. If they want to bring this money back to the US or they want to give money to their owners/stock holders, they can pay the tax at that time? I don't have a horse in this race. I am just trying to understand the premise as an outsider.

Original Thread

By dfabulich    2017-10-12

That's true in a democracy, but the question is why would the democracy remain a democracy if the productive, governing elite doesn't need the citizens for their economic activity?

From time to time, governing elites have asked themselves a question: is now the time to overthrow democracy?

When the wealth of a nation comes from the productivity of its citizens, you can't overthrow a stable democracy without destroying the wealth you intended to capture. But when the wealth of a nation comes from its natural resources, say gold or oil, the calculus changes. You can run a gold mine with dying slaves and still extract great wealth.

We see this worldwide as the resource curse:

"The resource curse, also known as the paradox of plenty, refers to the paradox that countries with an abundance of natural resources (like fossil fuels and certain minerals), tend to have less economic growth, less democracy, and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources."

Some economists refer to human labor as "the ultimate resource," a resource of value beyond gold, beyond oil. As automation becomes more and more useful, as the value of capital relative to human labor increases, the more we're cursing ourselves with the ultimate resource curse.

I recommend this video to every one (watch it at double speed; he talks slowly).

Original Thread

By abandonliberty    2017-10-26

What you have is natural selection. Systemic corruption is itself a deterministic outcome/symptom when corruption is an adaptive trait. Unfortunately many undesirable behaviors are adaptive: the risk-adjusted rate of return is positive. 'Bad actors' have much more to gain from engaging in them than watchdogs have in stopping it.

You will always lose the fight against corruption in the long run because as the war goes on you get weaker and they get stronger.

This is a fundamental issue with organizational design (and democracy).

Highly recommended further reading/viewing:

Rules for rulers is very helpful at understanding this:

Iron law of Oligarchy (the deterministic outcome of democracy)

Original Thread

By gooseus    2017-11-09

My assumption is that he upset some other powerful people who then allowed this to happen. Reminds me of a line from Rules for Rulers by CGP Grey:

It's not the people's revolt that overthrows the king, it's the court who are overthrowing the king by allowing the people's revolt to progress... because the king has stopped providing them with enough treasure to keep him propped up.

My guess is that something changed the political calculus for his key supporters and they either precipitated this or allowed it to happen.

For sure there are other abusers who are probably showering their allies in treasure to keep them loyal so they don't get caught up in this.

Original Thread

By klipt    2017-11-11

Most tax deductions can be explained as rewards to various voting blocs for support. In his "Rules for Rulers" video ( CGP Grey draws an analogy from dictators needing to pay their generals to ensure continued support, to democratic politicians giving out tax deductions to businesses to ensure their support.

Original Thread

By pdkl95    2017-11-19

It isn't stupidity or propaganda creating a misinformed understanding; Pai actions clearly demonstrate he has a good understanding of the politics of power. He is paying off the key interests that he hopes will help him maintain his position and its associated power.

This is true in some way about all positions of power. An unfortunate consequence is that resources spent on helping people are resources that could have been spent buying loyalty. The way the people can benefit is if they are a key supporter that needs to be paid for their support (e.g. by having a strong electoral system). CGP Grey made a very good summary of how this works, "The Rules for Rulers"[1].


Original Thread

By wallace_f    2018-02-19

There might be an interesring underlying problem here which you are trying to solve, but not addressing explicitly. Perhaps humanity is, for the first time, entering a period where it is possible for corruption to go un-checked. If you look at history, go back a bit and it could be described as just groups of people teaming up to kill each other. Over history, the trend was generally towards larger groups. Now the group is nearly as large as possible (global), and there's no threat to the group. So the interesting problem is that those with power over the group now have no incentive to keep the group's evolutionary fitness level high--maybe their incentive is even to decrease the group's fitness? Looking at examples in the article and in the comments, it's hard to believe this is never the case. We know the War on Poverty, Drug War, War on Terror, and other efforts have intentionally been designed to not solve the problems they were tasked with solving (poverty, drug use, and terror have not measurably dropped due to those efforts, despite trillions spent).

So when you say it "should be" you are advocating perhaps a difficult path for humanity. I personally would like to see humanity try to go down that path of improving our evolutionary fitness over our environment, but maybe to do that we need to recognize this inconvenient truth. I don't see how these things you mention change, otherwise.

Youtuber CGP Grey has a related video about this reality of leadership:

Original Thread

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