The Physics Behind Freedom

Source: American Institute for Economic Research.

I have long advocated the view that economics is — or can become — a pure science. The Constructal Law which the article describes may represent a small step in that direction. Or, it may be just a rich source of analogies useful in illustrating basic economic principles.

Either way, the Constructal Law is interesting in itself. It would explain, for example, why nature appears to have the attribute of intelligent design.

27 thoughts on “The Physics Behind Freedom

    1. Jr. High fav, love me some Asimov. And a respected scientist in his day job.

      And unfortunately, yes. However, the test is how a society treats them.

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      1. I liked Assimov in Jr High too. But as I grew older(16) I became disillusioned with Assimov as a one worlder and socialist, and moved on to Niven, Pournelle and Heinlien

        But the point is that the Mule was an unpredictable factor in the Foundation’s grand plan. A Black Swan event, as it were.

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        1. Your criticism of Asimov is misplaced.

          A thoughtful Progressive (McGovern support aside) he was very clear-eyed about the abuses of the capitalist ruling class that was/has subjugated WAY too many of those unable to effectively fight back.

          But they will….

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          1. If you have the Rule of Law, capitalists cannot abuse you. Do not confuse cronyism with free market capitalism.

            No one can force you to do business with an abusive vendor unless he has the government helping him.

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          2. Perhaps with a constant and effective level of vigilance.

            At least history would suggest such…..and I’m seldom confused.

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  1. The efforts to make the dismal science laws as immutable as our current understanding of observable physics is both inevitable and, to a degree, isolating from human activity.

    Yes, the consumer segment of economic activity as expressed in the freer nations can be predictable insofar as a level of survival is included. Meaning that once certain levels of human survival such as food, medical treatments, housing, freedom from violence by both the lay and the leaders, we can concentrate on the most effective economic systems. And those are the ones that use a vigorous, trusted and universally accepted modes of exchange such as currency. That is, free market capitalism.

    The key, though, is to foster the incentives of wealth and influence as the mainstay for innovation and not as the only path to prevent individual starvation. In other words, a pool of well educated, healthy, and relatively secure citizens will in the long run provide a stronger and more stable society.

    That is not to dismiss the occasional starving inventor who startles the world with a great idea. I would submit, however, that such a person might also be seriously OCD or sociopathic which could very well provide a focusing ability like a mild version of an idiot savant. Building an Darwinian economic model on the rarity might have some good effects for some people. But at a cost that eventually usurps a nation and can lead to revolt ending in a some form of communist dictatorship as a “solution” to inequality.

    The point, however, is that any voluntary grouping of people must first address the minimal elements of survival. Stability in any society is dependent upon the people who feel that they have food for the day, yet feel secure enough to know that they will have food tomorrow, and thereafter. Then comes the necessary leisure time to innovate.

    Borrowing from the Chinese:

    “When there is food on the table, we have lots of problems”…and innovation I might add. When there is no food on the table, we are only able to concentrate on one thing.

    Certain basics for modern industrial societies are roads, water, shelter, healthcare, education, transportation and communication. Equal access to those basics will free up millions more to add to the pool of innovators.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pretty heavy for a Saturday; but since we’re going there; unaddressed the “solution” to inequality is always the same. Either we deal with effectively or we WILL perish as a society.

      Distilled down to that simple truth it represents an existential question that we’ll solve, or not…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Countries that revolt and overthrow their governments are hugely lopsided in economic inequality.

        It is not a matter of nicer cars, bigger homes. Rather it is a matter of survival and brutality that will drive revolutions. The larger the population of poor and disenfranchised, the greater the risk of revolt.

        Which is why this fiasco on January 6 will not be a watershed. It was not a revolt by the poor and hungry. Just the gullible, the violent and the ignorant.

        Judging by girth most were well fed, though. Good jobs and retirements. Or at least living with the folks, but not destitute.

        Liked by 2 people

          1. Yes, the equally applied Rule of Law and property rights are essential.

            But that is a hard beast to contain. The Rule of Law can quickly escalate into cronyism and restraint of trade by regulation.

            Nearly every abuse you can assign to capitalism is really cronyism.

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        1. Extreme poverty is rare in any country that has some forms of welfare. And that requires some form of input from the citizens.

          We have a lot of government assistance. Agriculture is a huge beneficiary, particularly for Big Agra. So does Big Pharma. And just about any business with a modicum of power and influence. This is all baked into our system. For that matter, probably half of our defense spending is corporate welfare.

          The argument is that it helps keep good jobs.

          So social welfare is just more of the same for those outside the loop. But it keeps food on the table and, in most cases, a roof over heads.

          Principle is the same. People who are kept above the poverty line with decent prospects for improvement don’t rebel. (With a recent notable exception.)

          I contend that free market capitalism’s best friend is a good social safety net.

          Liked by 3 people

    2. You might ponder this quotation from the physicist in the article:

      “Inequality is an alternative description of the non-uniform hierarchical distribution of movement on earth… Inequality has a negative connotation implying lack of justice, empathy, and access to wealth. This implication is in total contradiction with the origin of hierarchy, which is freedom of movement. The origin of hierarchy lies in the equal access that freedom provides to the whole, to morph its flow architecture, and to liberate as it flows.”

      His point is that inequality is the natural condition, not the unnatural one.

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      1. “…inequality is the natural condition, not the unnatural one.”

        Understood. So is disease, violence, famine and other natural conditions. The difference is that humans have managed to curtail some of those through the miracle of civilization.

        Of course, if you mess with Mama Nature too much, she will kick your ass.

        But virtually all the comforts you enjoy are because we are able to buffer the ravages of the natural world.

        COVID is a natural condition. Does that mean we just roll over and take it, or do we try to develop methods to deal with it at a lesser loss of life. Do we offer some treatment options or just let it takes its natural course?

        In other words, civilization is a human construct that makes life a bit less “nasty, brutish and short”, the natural state.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. RE: “The difference is that humans have managed to curtail some of those through the miracle of civilization.”

        Per the quotation, the physicist would argue that inequality leads to heirarchy, which is a form of social organization. Civilization, literally.

        Put another way, civilization reflects the constructal law. It is not control over nature, but an expression of nature.

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        1. Prairie Dogs have hierarchy. They also are eaten daily by predators, die of diseases and parasites or even just a broken bone. All of those are part of the natural order of things.

          Civilization breaks those rules a bit for our own longevity and comfort. If we set up a system that perpetuates a growing inequality, the ultimate end is a small oligarchy of very wealthy families and a huge population of laborers. That is the natural order we do not want. For the simple reason that stability of the nation is dependent upon a more empathetic role among its adherents.

          And that should lead to the understanding that even the least of us has a right to life. And life in a modern industrial society is more that just eating grass, tree bark and drinking drain water from the mansions.

          Even wolves have some form of equitable distribution of food. And to a degree, will protect the weaker and older so long as it does not contradict the survival of the pack. Humans have a vastly more complex organization, and as such, we owe it to all fellow humans certain qualities of life.

          And this need not require a redistribution post apocalypse, but rather an economic understanding of the a minimal needs for living that include more than bread and water.

          Physics at the observable level (molecular or stellar are a different set of equations) tells us we cannot jump from cliffs and survive unless we wear a parachute. The natural law would not allow the parachute.
          Humans have figured a way to survive the fall. So we should with economics.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Uh yep. A pure science. But you won’t like the wires ‘teched to your head when it is solved.
    It is, you know, nothing more than a game with ambiguous rules and that’s what provides the entertainment.

    Liked by 1 person

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