The Economics of Civilization

I sometimes hear that new buildings no longer are made with beautiful decoration because decoration is expensive, as if in the past somehow builders were richer, and could afford such things. Of course, it’s not about price, but taste. Civilization is a good, and you generally have to pay for goods. If you’re not willing […]


I do not know which is more telling of American decline, the fact that China is willing to invest in bridges, while we are not, or that, rather than marvel and praise, we comfort ourselves with the notion that only a third are really being used, and all the building could lead to a financial […]

The Illiteracy of the Literate

The complex feelings of lawyers and humanist scholars with respect to quantitative subjects, and particularly the quantifization of the social sciences, ought to give them greater empathy for the illiterate and uneducated. The humanist scholar is to the scientist as the illiterate are to the literate. The illiterate view books with distrust, for books are […]

The Trappings of Wealth

Really rich people have more money than they can consume. Why is it valuable? Investment power. The ability to implement “private” policy. Suppose we think it’s good for the political system to have a group of private parties who can do that. Why do we choose them by the luck of the draw in business? […]


When other stars were reached, their civilizations were found to be in various stages of partial industrialization, at levels roughly comparable to those enjoyed on earth in the 18th century.  Further examination revealed that this had been brought about in all cases by government fiat. It was for this reason that the stars had failed […]