Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Lefties are usually keen on paternalism. This is because people do not know what is good for them. They'll eat unhealthy food, fail to save for retirement and get conned at every street corner.

At the same time however lefties are very sensitive to inequalities of wealth (not many other things, like inequality of tennis skill or sexual partners). Wealth = status and it sucks to be low status. Libertarians like Will Wilkinson reply that there are zillions of status hierarchies and a "poor" people can be at the top of many of them. Leftists will then reply that World of Warcraft is a low status activity so it doesn't matter if you're at the top of it. In other words each activity is part of one big status hierarchy and its back to square one.

But if people are so stupid why are they suddenly able to calculate their global status so precisely? Jane Galt sums up nicely that not only do people not realise their "true" status level, they often scorn traditional status structures.

If you've ever spent time around competitive rock climbers, for example, you'll know that they really do believe that being the world's best alpinist is superior to being, say, Secretary of State, even though most people would rather meet Condi Rice than Reinhold Messner. Indeed, in many cases, their status hierarchy is inverted; being a total loser is better than being a certain sort of corporate cretin.

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