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  Feb 1, 2012                   

Crisis: On the supermen who are our leaders


   " If mankind had wished for what is right, they might have had it long ago. The theory is plain enough; but they are prone to mischief, 'to every good work reprobate.' "
-- William Hazlitt
   "The Politician Puzzle
A certain convention numbered 100 politicians. Each politician was either crooked or honest. We are given the following facts:
- at least one of the politicians was honest
- given any two of the politicians, at least one of them was crooked.
Can it be determined from these two facts how many of the politicians were honest and how many were crooked?" (*)

Previous crisis

This is just a small addition to the crisis series.

1. The bankruptcy bonuses of CEOs
2. Are Our Leaders all psychopaths?

1. The bankruptcy bonuses of CEOs

This following item from The Young Turks

may be regarded as a supplement to some earlier items in the crisis-series such as these:

None of these items will make you happier or more confident in the future.

And you may be moved to ask, having looked at the links:

2. Are Our Leaders all psychopaths?

I raise the question because it is quite apt in view of the above, that incidentally is not only true of the US but also of Holland:

Corporate, bureaucratic and political leaders, who are clearly criminally incompetent, whether or not they are psychopaths, have been and are being promoted and paid like mad - tens of millions a year for mere management while real geniuses at mathematics work for ten thousands in universities, and geniuses at music are unemployed "because of the crisis" - while the caste of the mega-rich leading thieves are being protected by their own kind, and by the very elected politicians who should (have) regulate(d) them, while all, including many of the elected politicians, grow mega-rich in a few years, at the cost of the vast majority of people who have to work and pay taxes for a living. (**)

I think the answer to the question is a qualified "no".

The qualification is that while there will be a considerably larger proportion of psychopaths among "our leaders" than there is among the total population, even so the majority of "our leaders" probably are not psychopaths, and are simply human-all-too-human, quite likely only gifted with less conscience, more egoism, and sharper elbows than most others:

They are egoistic, they are dishonest, they are easily corruptible, but most of "our leaders" - including "top bureaucrats" (and Dutch readers should check out: Hoe word ik een Nederlands Topambtenaar?) - are weak and egoistic and corrupt rather than positively evil: "If everybody does it" (receive millions for being grossly and criminally incompetent) "I would be mad if I wouldn't do it, wouldn't I?" asked Yossarian. (**)

And they live in a time where anything goes, after decades in which truth and morality were widely declared and believed to be totally relative if not "pre-post-modern" delusions, and find themselves in jobs were the sky is the limit for personal enrichment.

So for me it is mostly a consequence of the process of deregulation that was started under Reagan and has been continued ever since, in the whole Western world of industrial welfare states, as they were, which took away almost all checks and balances that could have curtailed the greed, incompetence and egoism of those in leading positions.

And one of the things that will make it very difficult to undo is that all of those in leaderships conditions - in Holland this includes bureaucrats, CEOs, politicians, and nominal professors in universities, often former politicians being kept in jobs with money and status until they are offered a mayorship or a post as minister, after which they will return again to being professors of some pseudoscientific usually political topic specially designed for them as if it were real science - have been deregulated and corrupted:

Each of Our Leaders of corporations, of towns, of countries, of bureaucracies, of NGOs has seen the last 10 or 15 years that they will not be punished for incompetence, greed, or dishonesty, for the rules have been deregulated away while the only persons to check them are folks of their very own kind, so they would themselves need to be close to saintly men not to play along and not get mega-rich in a few years, et après vous le deluge. (**) (In fact, it is likely that the flood or revolution that may follow will spare most of the mega-rich: After all, they have money or gold and have friends in power. Or at least can flee to other countries, with their riches.)

There are more relevant questions to be asked about the marks of "our" corporate, political, and religious "leaders", but most of what is not due to deregulation is due, as Hazlitt saw and phrased so well, to man's flawed nature: Most men (including women) would do as their present leaders do, and enrich themselves scandalously, while they could, while hoping for the best, and facing away from the consequences to those they lead.

Previous crisis


(*) This is a puzzle by the mathematician and logician Raymond Smullyan, that I quote from : Mathematical People - Profiles and interviews, D.J. Albers and G.L. Alexanderson, Eds. Published by Birkhäuser, 1985. ISBN 0-8176-3191-7. p. 302. This is an interesting book if you are interested in mathematics or mathematicians. The book contains interviews with - among others - Garrett Birkhoff, Conway, Coxeter, Diaconis, Erdös, Gardner, Halmos, Hilton, Kemeny, Knuth, Pólya, Robbins and Smullyan, where I only noted those I have read at least one book or paper from.

Anyway, if you can't solve the puzzle, I hope I will remember to put a solution in the next Nederlog (in the P.S.)

(**) "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization", it was observed by judge Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Well... in the US taxes no longer are paid by the folks who profit most from the so called civilization they live in: The mega-rich nearly all are tax-exempt or pay a far smaller percentage of their income in taxes than far poorer men than they have to. Again, it was all deregulated, for the rich, and indeed by the rich, who also had the money to buy the politicians to deregulate it.

Incidentally, this is also why I am no believer in what the Americans call libertarianism: I honestly do not believe most men will not abuse such freedoms as they can acquire, to rob or enslave others for profit, for that is what mankind has been doing for many centuries if they got a chance to do so. Men being as they are, there need to be carefully crafted and maintained rules and regulations to keep most of them from abusing others for their own benefit. (See the above linked A realistic numerical look at human morality + 12 references).

Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.
-- Feb 2, 2012: Made some corrections and clarifications and inserted a few links.


As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):
1.  Anthony Komaroff Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)
3.  Hillary Johnson The Why
4.  Consensus of M.D.s Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5.  Eleanor Stein Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)
6.  William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7.  Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8.  Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
 Maarten Maartensz
ME in Amsterdam - surviving in Amsterdam with ME (Dutch)
 Maarten Maartensz Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Short descriptions of the above:                

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:

7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
9. I tell my story of surviving (so far) in Amsterdam/ with ME.
10. The directory on my site about ME.

See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.

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