Friday, September 11, 2009

Being Conservative

Nassim Nicholas Taleb espouses in a discussion with conservative British MP, David Cameron, the conservation of natural complex systems which would be ecological and what he describes as Brooklyn derivative trading as opposed to a MIT-based one. In this vein, I am very much a conservative.

Taleb is against debt and for robust systems. Politically speaking, we have not had such conservatism in a very long time in politics. What we have had for many years is a masquerade, a hypocritical scheme. The iconoclastic Republican president, Ronald Reagan, increased the deficit more than any other president besides our last president, George W. Bush. Both were conservatives.

President Obama and his financial team seem to be following in the same vein. Taleb sees this as a faulty system of forecasting that the president's financial team engages in. President Obama says that health care reform will not add one penny to the deficit. We are waiting to see how this will be achieved. It would seem that Geithner, Summers, and Bernanke were all a part of the problem. I wonder if they can also be a part of the solution. Taleb makes a great analogy:

"The patient has cancer. OK. They're giving him painkillers. If you're giving the cancer patient painkillers, what's going to happen to him? Physically, the cancer is going to get worse but he's going to not feel it. So, the problem we have in America is that nobody has addressed the fundamental error, the over reliance on forecasts. Larry Summers blew up Harvard's endowment forecasting what's going to happen with its endowment. They're going to do the same with the US administration and build the government deficit based on that. What should we do? Transform debt into equity."

By the way, a year ago my partner and I went to our state senator and proposed a great plan that would "transform debt into equity" with regards to the abundant of foreclosure in Michigan. The senator's chief of staff with whom we met thought it was a great idea. We were given platitudes and nothing happened. I sent various emails and made several calls.

My partner in a real estate venture is a senior executive at a Fortune 100. He didn't appreciate the meeting at all. I noticed this immediately. I could tell by the corners of his mouth and the dart in his eyes, though they seemed to escape the chief of staff. But since I had been a consultant with governments large and small, I thought I recognized the hoops necessary. But he was right. The senator's office was not really interested in solutions, but in seemingly maintaining the status quo. They did not seem interested in making the Michigan economy robust.

Our plan remains the better one than any others that we have heard coming out of the past or current administrations. It doesn't rely on debt and increases a robust economy. In creating such solutions, I am very much a conservative.


zorro said...

The whole biological model idea has one major flaw - the most destablizing force on the planet is the human race - and we are a product of biological evolution and nature. Most of what we do wrong has to do with the fact that we evolved from a kill or be killed world. In other words, we evolved under the rules of nature.

Judith Ellis said...

Human biology has been imbued with consciousness. What seems to separate us from other animals is not our instincts, our kill or be killed nature, but our conscious choice set a part from biology and our ability to counter complex systems in opposition to nature based on our mental processes and actions. The complex order of things referred to in the video can be seen as the natural order of things from a mere biological and cosmic sense. These things are; how we view the world comes through our conscious state.

Consciousness does not figure into our biological state. Terry Shiavo, for example, was unconscious but alive for many years. She could not herself respond to others or in contrary ways to nature. Her body was alive, not decaying, as she laid there year after year with the aide of oxygen. She passed. But others have awakened from this unconscious state and have no memory of it at all. No time had lapsed for them.

Why is the above example important? It separates biology from consciousness. It points to the necessity of consciousness beyond biology. It focuses on the choice of our actions and the necessity of our forever evolving conscious state. Biologically and atmospherically, we evolved under the rules of nature, but there is more to us than biology.

Dave Wheeler said...


Your experience with your Senator's staff is the very reason that billions of dollars get wasted on ineffective and inefficient programs that yield the same results. If you look at the bottom of the post there is a clip from the RT HON Liam Byrne MP "The 2020 Challenge for Public Services". He says that government needs to embrace and pursue the types of innovative solutions that those outside of government have developed, like you and your partner, to increase the capacity to solve problems without growing more government bureaucracies to impede progress or waste needed resources. How terrific would that be? Real folks solving real folks problems!

Judith Ellis said...

Dave - Thanks for your comment and your suggestion to look at the other clips. It is most certainly not the first time it has been said that "government needs to embrace and pursue the types of innovative solutions that those outside of government have developed." The problem is that often times congressional members and presidents have vested interests for policy to remain the same and often times it is for reason of self-interest such as campaign finance. It's all seems like a big corporate scam and the fact that the "conservative" supreme court is listening to arguments that go beyond the scope of the Clinton campaign argument that brought consideration in the first place is reason for concern. The question ALREADY is "do we really have a respresentative democracy with some $280 MILLION DOLLARS being spent on lobbying, mostly against the interest of the people.