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  • I should tell you first

  • about the genesis of this

  • theory I suppose is the right way of putting it

  • when I was about your age

  • that was back in the

  • early 80's

  • or thereabouts

  • and this was particularly true around 1984 but it was true before that too

  • every generation has its worries

  • real or imagined

  • the primary worry

  • for people of my generation was nuclear war

  • and you know it was a genuine worry

  • at one point many years later

  • I went down to Arizona

  • to visit an ICBM, a decommissioned ICBM

  • nuclear missile silo

  • and ICBM, intercontinental ballistic missile were, very large rockets

  • right they

  • flew at, they could fly half way around the world

  • it was deep underground and behind very thick

  • steel doors, it was light green you know that pastel green

  • that everyone seemed to like in the 1950's

  • it was like pastel green Star Trek console

  • that's what it looked like

  • and ah,

  • so we went down

  • out in the yard, it was in the desert, out in the yard there was a very

  • I would say

  • magical object

  • for lack of a better word

  • and that was the nose cone

  • for the ICBM

  • and it was quite big

  • about that big, about that high, pointed like the point of a bullet

  • about ¾'s of an inch thick, plastic

  • you know kind of a resin

  • and it was designed to melt on re-entry

  • so that was just sitting there

  • so that was fairly

  • thought provoking, let's put it that way

  • and then we went into

  • the missile silo

  • interestingly enough

  • appended to the front of it, it had been decommissioned under Regan, by the way

  • in the front of it there was a museum

  • with

  • artifacts from the 1980's featuring Reagan

  • and Gorbachev meeting multiple times

  • and it was staffed by these

  • Southern

  • these Americans from the South who were grandparent age and they were

  • and they were just super friendly

  • and you know , they were happy to be in the museum, and it was like going to visit

  • your grandma's nuclear missile silo

  • and so it was jarring you know, because it was obviously a portentous

  • place, and yet it was conjoined with hospitality and welcoming

  • it was surreal in that manner

  • anyways we went into the

  • into the silo

  • and they ran us through a

  • simulated launch, so imagine

  • a panel like this made out of metal except twice as long with another one of these things at the other end 16 feet across or so

  • basically 1950's technology

  • but updated and then imagine what you had to do to launch it

  • was that there was a guy with a key and there was another guy with a key and if I remember correctly the keys were around their necks

  • although I don't think that they were stored around their necks permanently but

  • and so to launch the missile you had to put the key in the lock

  • both of you that was the safety

  • precaution, had to be two of you

  • put the key in the lock and hold it for 10 seconds and then

  • away the missile goes and it wasn't as big, the missile wasn't as big as the rockets that went to the moon

  • but

  • but it was plenty big you know the silo itself would have easily been

  • as wide as this room is

  • and perhaps larger and many, many, story's tall, you know because it was nested underground

  • so they ran us through a simulated launch which was

  • surreal, I would say and then they told us that

  • someone asked, that the keys were in once

  • now, they wouldn't tell us when but

  • you know that would have been during the Cuban missile crisis

  • because, we were that close

  • and we were close again at other times, although perhaps not that close

  • and there seemed to be another peak of

  • conflict, in 1984

  • when there was a movie showed at that time called

  • The Day After

  • which at that time

  • garnered more views than any movie ever had on TV, and it was

  • a story about

  • the aftermath of a nuclear war and the people that were left and it was

  • pretty realistic and

  • and pretty frightening, it, it turned out

  • as I found out later that

  • that movie was one of things that influenced Ronald Reagan to

  • put pressure on or negotiate with the Soviets depending on how

  • you look at it

  • and so

  • well then you know 5 years later

  • the Soviet union collapsed, no one saw that coming

  • and it really didn't collapse in 1989 in some sense, you know, like

  • a huge machine like that

  • doesn't fall apart all at once, it falls apart over time and then at some point it just

  • becomes unsustainable and topples

  • and you know, it's like they lost faith in their doctrine

  • and for good reason

  • you know that

  • the system in Russia

  • the Soviet Union, which was a collection of states,

  • an empire

  • and the system that Mao establish in China and

  • the system that still exists in Korea

  • as a remnant of the cold war

  • and systems in South East Asia and in Africa

  • were all predicated on

  • Marxist presuppositions

  • presuppositions that were Utopian in nature

  • and that

  • and that posited a Utopian future where

  • property was held in common and everyone had

  • enough

  • and everyone was called upon to do what they could

  • ight, from each according

  • to his ability, to each according to his need

  • which is a lovely sentiment and you can imagine

  • how it would be attractive

  • even intellectually, because of course

  • other systems, all other systems

  • produce vast disparities in income

  • it's like a natural law, that's actually

  • governed by, you can model it

  • with a distribution called the Pareto distribution, and the Pareto distribution looks like this

  • it doesn't look like a normal distribution, a lot of you guys have been told about, not, normal distributions and how

  • many things

  • many things follow on normal distribution, most things, but that's really

  • a limited case

  • you can understand a Pareto distribution if you

  • you've all played Monopoly I presume

  • at the beginning

  • everyone has the same amount of money

  • we will include property, the same amount of wealth

  • and then what happens as the game progresses, and really as a function of chance

  • I mean, I know that you have to use a head a little bit in Monopoly but

  • the basic rule is just buy everything you can get your hands on

  • and then trade meanly, something like that

  • so at the beginning everybody has the same amount

  • and then as you begin to play

  • if you had enough players you would develop a normal distribution

  • because some people would win

  • relatively consistently and some players lose relatively consistently

  • and so the money starts to be distributed

  • in a normal distribution, but

  • the thing about money, and the thing about lots of things

  • is that zero is involved

  • and zero is a weird place

  • because if you are playing a trading game and you hit zero

  • then you're done

  • and so, and it is very hard to recover from zero, and you know

  • it's really hard to recover, you know when you are doomed in Monopoly

  • you know, you, you can tell, you've got some resources but

  • there is going to be some crisis when you land on some hotel

  • and you are going to get wiped out, you know it, so

  • there is a point at which you're headed for zero even if you have

  • something

  • you know and you might be rescued by,

  • luck,

  • but you know when you are doomed

  • So what happens as you continue to play Monopoly,

  • more and more people stack up at zero

  • and fewer and fewer people

  • have more and more money

  • and when the game is over

  • every person has no money and one person has all of it,

  • now the funny thing about that is

  • in some sense that is how trading games work,

  • you know, you got, you might wonder why there is inequality in a society

  • and it is easy to consider that it's because the society is corrupt

  • and perhaps,

  • you know, society is somewhat or horribly corrupt,

  • that is the variation, there is no

  • society that is not without its criminal

  • element, its fixed element

  • anyways

  • trading games tend to produce a Pareto distribution so that very many have very little

  • and a tiny minority have a tremendous amount

  • that's the 1% that you hear about, right,

  • and the thing about the 1% is that

  • it has happened in every society that has ever been studied,

  • it doesn't really matter what the governmental system is, it certainly

  • happened under the Soviets, that's for sure

  • and there was enough people that had enough zero that they just died,

  • so,

  • you know, the,

  • the Utopian dream

  • was completely un-implementable

  • for a variety of very complex reasons, one

  • is that it is very hard to fight against that distribution pattern

  • when people are trading because

  • mere statistics will do that, and then there are other things, and

  • I should tell you as well that the Pareto distribution governs a lot of things, so,

  • if you look at books, if I remember properly

  • last year there was something like a million English language books published

  • and I think that 500 of them sold more than 100,000 copies

  • which is none, right, that is none, and of that 500 you can be sure

  • that one of them was by Stephen King

  • and he took half the money

  • because like there is 5 authors in the English language who are

  • on every airport

  • paperback stand occupying the top

  • rung and that's massive real estate, right, because it is replicated everywhere,

  • and because they are so

  • prominent and because they are no names

  • when people are in a hurry and want something to read,

  • they just grab that, and more money goes to those people, so you know,

  • success breeds success

  • and failure breeds failure, and it not necessarily linear

  • and that is a really difficult thing to deal with,

  • and it is hard on societies, because,

  • one of the things we do know is that,

  • you know, as you stretch out the inequality,

  • you make men, particularly, on the lower end of the distribution,

  • more and more likely to be aggressive,

  • it's sort of like, you imagine every man has a threshold for violence,

  • um, and status is important to men,

  • not that it isn't important to women but,

  • it's different,

  • it's a different kind of status, it's status that is important to

  • men because it's one of the things that makes them

  • marketable as partners to women so it actually turns out to be quite important to men

  • men tend to compete

  • with one another for status, hierarchy position, and

  • in a really unequal society,

  • if you are like a low

  • rung guy,

  • then, and you don't have any opportunity to rise because

  • the society isn't structured

  • so that there's mobility, then

  • the more aggressive guys,

  • tend to turn to criminality, and you know and so you could say

  • there is a threshold for

  • criminality,

  • and the more inequality pressure you put on

  • a particular area, geographic or political area,

  • the more inequality pressure you put on it,

  • the more men slip past that threshold and