23 May 2013

The struggle for freedom, security and happiness

Sometimes it just seems like the reactionary forces are really coming from all sides:
These examples are from today but they represent a timeless tradition of rulers and elites trying to hold onto power. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they are overthrown, but they always cause harm by limiting freedom among the 99%, wasting resources in the course of limiting that freedom, and creating massive damage when resistance turns to revolution (e.g., Syrian civil war, etc., ad nauseum).

Why is it that we see more of "absolute power corrupts absolutely" than enlightened leadership? Can we do more to shift from one equilibrium to the other?

Economists (and other social scientists) have worked on this problem for many years. In some ways (e.g., "homo economicus") we have given up. In others (e.g., property rights, coalition building, etc.) we have improved conditions.

This is a big topic, but I figure that all solutions begin with a balance between willingness to help neighbors and a sense of one's own security. These solutions are harder to implement when neighbors are more different/disbursed and personal wants/fears are greater. Thus, it would be useful to make it easier to connect with neighbors and reduce personal uncertainty.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

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