People are the same in many ways and yet different people in different cultures can act very differently.  This class has made me begin to question whether or not it is academically honest to attempt to apply results from an economic study in the United States to people in very traditional eastern cultures for example.  While Americans are broadly known for our bravado, independence and individuality not all cultures are like that.  I question whether the same incentives that we have are truly applicable to those with different mind-sets and goals.  Perhaps this is a short run analysis rather than a long run analysis because it is possible that we are all the same in the long run and only act differently in the short run due to the barriers involved in changing your cultural requirements and duties.  I wonder perhaps if in a very duty driven society where duty to family and state come before self if it is possible for a socialistic economy to function or at least be more plausible than in a very independent land like the United States where the individual tends to have almost no cultural barrier to doing what is best for the individual. 

                I tend to believe that God created us with certain base drives which do not fluctuate based on nation or society but instead are simply suppressed by the pressures which some cultures or societies place upon us.  I think that basically all men long to be free to control their own destinies.  Some of the Greek philosophers where of the opinion that convention and nature where at odds with one another; I tend to concur in part. They would argue that convention allowed civilized society and therefore was not bad, from a normative standpoint, but was unnatural because mans base drives where suppressed by those conventions.  In the end convention would more likely be good, from a normative position, because man is better off in civilized society than in his natural state.

                I lean towards the conclusion that as economists we must differentiate between results which are based on the base drives of man independent of society and those results which occur due to the conventions that civilized society creates. There is the fallen nature of man, the conscience which reminds us of our normative self or how man should be and then there is the societal man who acts based not on how he wishes to act or should act but instead acts as he is expected to act.  We must always remember which of these often conflicting forces are at work in any given circumstance and be careful to understand that one of the forces is in flux while the other two are fixed.  Hobbs clearly lays out the “natural man” as the Greeks would have defined it.

                Perhaps human behavior is cyclical due to this.  Man creates convention because even the strongest know that there is no solidification of power for numbers can always be brought to prevail over the most powerful.  Man thus sacrifices his, as the Greeks would call it, “Natural” rights to take what he wishes by force because, while he would prefer to take from the weaker, he is more fearful of the stronger and thus sacrifices the lesser interest for the greater.  Convention is thus created which lasts and spreads until the cost of the ever broadening convention is so high and the memory of the risk of loss so vague that convention is thrown off.  The first generation creates the laws from firsthand knowledge; the second obeys the law without question due to secondhand knowledge they gain from their parents as to the need for the laws and the third questions and throws off the law. This is why I say that cultural impacts are perhaps in the short run rather than the long.  I suspect that the natural man is the floor and the normative man is the ceiling with convention fluctuating from generation to generation in a non-linear fashion much like a wave between the two limits.  Therefore in the long run the cultural impacts cancel each other out leaving us somewhere in between the two natural limits.   

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Liberty, power, philosophy, Freedom, Taxes, Government , Immigration, Corruption