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Comment by devin_finbarr on Competent Elites · 2008-09-27T14:57:12.000Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Devin, as awful as democracy is, I don't see any reason to doubt the verdict of history that monarchy is worse. Important question: Are Congressional staff brighter than the actual Congresspeople?

Are you aware that the victors write the history? Pick up a Chinese history book and you'll read about what a swell guy Mao was. Sure some things he did were a bit suboptimal, but in general, he was a great man that was a blessing for China. The United States has a $1 trillion state education system. What kind of myths has it have filled your head with?

If you actually read the book of someone who lived through the transition of monarchy to democracy, you'll find a quite different story. Read The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig. He laments the destructive force of universal suffrage, and how it led to polarization, racism, and war. Or consider Metternich, the foremost statesman of the early 1800's. Metternich intentionally kept the lid on democracy because he believed that it would lead to rabid German nationalism. Was he right or was he right? And if you study the effects of German universal suffrage in 1871, you can trace out the Blue-Green polarization that led to increasing anti-semitism.

Are Congressional staff brighter than the actual Congresspeople?

Yes, they usually are. And in general, the more isolated from the voters a position is, the more competent and trustworthy it is. For instance, I would trust the Joint Chiefs of Staff decision to go to war far more than I'd trust an elected president. I trust Bernanke more than Paulson more than Congress. If you look at the worst wars in history, you find the masses are usually more jingoistic than the leaders. For example, at the onset of World War I, the monarchs were the least willing to go to war. The politicians were much more willing, the newspapers were all like FoxNews on steroids, and the people were marching in the streets in chanting for war.

Comment by devin_finbarr on Competent Elites · 2008-09-27T00:57:57.000Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

BTW, how does this insight change your view about Aristocracy/Monarchy versus Democracy as a form of government?

Comment by devin_finbarr on Competent Elites · 2008-09-27T00:54:42.000Z · score: 9 (21 votes) · LW · GW

This is very true. When I first interned Congress, I was amazed that everyone who worked there was several cuts above the median in intelligence. Plus, most people were genuinely dedicated and well intentioned. Even many of the lobbyists honestly believed that they were just trying to ensure that the business they worked for got its fair share.

The reason things go wrong, I believe, is the process of Adaptive Fiction. ( see http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2007/07/democracy-as-adaptive-fiction.html ). Let's say you have 100 very smart people. 99 out of a hundred of these people do not believe that giving more money and power to Washington will make the world a better place. One person honestly does believe it. Because of this, he ends up running for office, while the others end up in science or business. Since this person is smart and sincere, he wins, and now is in Congress. Now as Congressman, he votes the government more power. As part of this funding government, there is more money for schools. These schools in turn teach people that government is good and great. Repeat this cycle enough times, and you have systematic delusion across the country and all throughout government.