TCS Daily

Too Big to Fail?

By Robert M. Bryce - February 20, 2009 12:00 AM

Consider the Arctic versus the Amazon. The idea of cold versus heat will come to mind, but also the idea of a rarified ecosystem versus biodiversity. The Amazon has uncountable species while the Arctic has a few. This sparse ecosystem makes the Arctic highly sensitive to environmental pressures; the loss of any one species would be disastrous.

Analogously reduction of diversity in an economy makes for a more fragile system, the loss of any one "actor" leads to a large shock that ripples -- no, tsunamis -- through the interconnected system. Even the lackluster performance of one large actor would have unusually large effects on the entire system. This is the reason that "too big to fail" is bandied about. When the big ones go down they go down hard. Unfortunately "too big to fail" is not an observation on stability, but instead a distillation of the fear of what the fallout of such a failure would bring.

There are many arguments on what sort of government we should have - should it be big? Small? Somewhere in between? The arguments range from the libertarian view that often questions the very legitimacy of government and promotes individual liberty within a common framework of impartial rules, to the socialist view that also claims moral authority and promotes collective efforts, inclusively, and equitable outcomes. Most of us are somewhere in the middle and consider ourselves pragmatists - with those too far removed from us on the spectrum being somewhat suspect and ideologically driven.

Richard W. Rahn has recently (29 January, 2009) penned a piece in the Washington Post, "The Optimum Government", discussing empirical work that finds that government spending is "optimal" when it is between roughly 20 to 30 % of GDP (an admittedly imperfect measure). If we have too little government, basic services and infrastructure is lacking; too much and growth in wealth appears to be damped.

Mr. Rahn then makes an interesting argument based on these findings - the fact that most countries have a larger government than the estimated optimal size window suggests a negative stimulus of reducing the size of the government would make more sense than stimulus spending. An intriguing counterpoint to the widely-held view that stimulus spending is now required.

Considering society and the economy as ecology can help us see why too big of a government can be a bad thing - the number of independent actors is reduced, with more and more of our eggs going into one big basket. We move from a rich and dynamic ecosystem in the Amazon to a rarefied Arctic. When things work well everything is fine. But what happens when a young Hitler usurps the levers of government? Or even a lackluster President or Prime Minister is elected? The observation that low diversity is unstable is one argument for liberty, and for carefully considering the size of government - the organ of government cannot arbitrarily amplify the maliciousness or incompetence of any one individual or small group to disastrous outcomes.

The question of just how much government is best remains: it is in "the middle", but where? In thinking about the upper limit it is best to remember that things can get awfully chilly in the Arctic, awfully fast.

Robert M Bryce is an immigrant from Saskatchewan, living in Alberta. He is currently working on his Ph.D. thesis investigating fluid flows.


May be I should get some dough for proof reading the articles !!! SPELLING MISTAKE again
Shouldn't it be "Consider the Arctic versus the Amazon" instead of "Consider the Artic versus the Amazon"?

In fact, throughout the article, Artic must be replaced with Arctic

Yet another. Replace "then" with "than", in "would make more sense then stimulus spending"

I don't recall the exact Grammatical Construct, but here is another mistake
The sentence :-

"Consider the Arctic versus the Amazon. The cold versus the heat will come to mind, but also biodiversity versus a rarified ecosystem",

implies, that Arctic is bio-diverse while the Amazon has a rarified ecosystem.

The second sentence above should have been :-

"The cold versus the heat will come to mind, but also a rarified ecosystem versus biodiversity"

Thank you for noting these errors; they have been corrected.

It was called a federal republic based upon an archaic document that started..
with the words "We the people of the United States..."

Maybe, someday, the experiment will be attempted again.

forget the grammar mistakes, what about the factual mistakes?
The author says that 'the loss of any one species in the artic would be disastrous'. Why would it be a disaster if there were no more say; humans, polar bears, or musk-oxen up there? Probably if he lived in the 19th century he would have said that the extinction of the passenger pidgeons would have been disastrous; but we know it wasn't. We also know that there originally were horses in north american but they went extinct too(probably killed off by the first red indians), but that wasn't a disaster either.
So this guy is full of it. He even says it would be like a tsunami, but even the recent big tsunamis in Thailand and Indonesia weren't really disasters either. If fact it was good for the government of indonesia because it meant there were less Aceh separatists to murder for them.
Another mistake of his is to say that socialims claims moral authority. How can that be when that system is based of violence to force people to do what they otherwise wouldn't? It's actually the libertarians who have the moral high ground because they don't want to force anybody to do anything.

When large mobile animals become so successful that they develop into a single global "merged" population...whatever can kill one of them might thereby kill all of them. They have "centralized" their risk.

When those same animals existed as smaller, isolated groups then the demise of one such group, for whatever reason, left most of the species untouched and able to repopulate that part of their total range with normal expansion in future generations.

This is a mechanical reality that is further supported by the underlying diversity and a certain robustness for the species with such isolated gene pools and local subtle behavioral types.

We are ourselves now one such large-scale, mobile animal species and we are living inside a single global civilization that is similarly exposed so that one serious threat such as a collapse of financial capitalism could indeed...simply kill us all.

Ants and bees seem to survive
Analogies are useful to a point, but can be carried too far.

A better analogy are those species who can adapt. Efforts to save pandas are koalas are misplaced. Any animal that only feeds on one plant species does not deserve to survive.

Rats and coyotes have adapted quite well, as have humans and have earned their right to survive.

You presume our formal financial system is what we all 'feed' on, but, look a bit closer and you will find all sorts of adaptations (black and gray markets) which people have used for centuries to survive.

Those that won't survive our 'crisis' will be those who depend upon the fiat banking system propped up by the state.

"Arctic seas hold a multitude of unique life forms highly adapted..."
"The Arctic Ocean is unique. It is the most extreme ocean in regard to the seasonality of light and its year-round existing ice cover. Arctic seas hold a multitude of unique life forms highly adapted in their life history, ecology and physiology to the extreme and seasonal conditions of this environment. Knowledge of what lives in the Arctic Ocean is limited due to the logistical challenges imposed by its multiyear ice and inhospitable climate."

Life fills all sorts of nooks and crannies on the earth. Even in 'toxic' thermal vents at the bottom of the ocean.

The driver for such diversity is energy.

What drives a diverse economy is energy as well. When government sucks the energy out of the economy in taxes or regulation (like guaranteeing bad loans), the economy loses energy.

For long, I wanted to give the “Miranda” warning to the “Roy”s of this forum; I FORGOT you came back
First, the (“Miranda”) warning.

You have the right to remain silent and thus refrain from making a fool of yourself. Any inane platitudes posted by you can and will be used to counter the arguments YOU THINK you are making. Any evasion of simple, in-your-face knowledge - which any “normal” teen can “grasp” – can, and will be (repeatedly) highlighted.

Repeat after me;

(1) Man is NOT an automation.

(2) “Men” is only an abstract term coined by “us” to aid us in understanding a particular “category” of “things”. There is/are NO “Men” out there in “nature”, any more than there is a “society” out there, or “a single global "merged" population”. There are only individual men (and women).

(3) Just because “we”, NOW, at this juncture, have what you call “financial capitalism” – whatever the hell it is – DOES NOT mean that we can’t have other systems.

(4) There is NO one single global civilization.

Near No Ad...Baby...
Yeah. I misssed you too.

You said "There are only individual men..."

Wrong, Christian soldier. As a biological species we are strictly social animals. The idea that we have individual behavior independent of group behavior is a religious construct...more specific regarding Christians than for anyone else in the world...that is useful to keep us feeling guilty about Original Sin all the time and under the thumb of the All Knowing Whoever it Might be Who is Watching Us. If you are a child then they tell you it's Santa Claus followed by your Guardian Angel and ultimately by Jusus Himself...and, of course, by the nuns.

So you don't understand Behavioral Biology. Fine. Maybe you know about other stuff so that you are useful to the world.

You said " capitalism – whatever the hell it is..."

Great. You also don't understand Economics. Ah well...thanks for playing.

Ants and Bees...
Social insects actually do not live inside a single homogenous population whereby each individual might interact with any other conspecific. Colonies of ants and bees are quite remote from other colonies of ants and bees...and live seperated by alternative species of various kinds of ants and bees all competing in the same arena.

The comparative biological model...regarding humans...might be the American Bison. Those guys lived in immense populations, covered their entire range...basicly all living together...and what was able to kill one of them with rifles...almost literally killed all of them within only a few years.

Not bison, coyotes
I don' believe humans are that much of a herd animal. A pack may be a better description.

The Biology of Belief
"Here's what's surprising: a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that faith may indeed bring us health. People who attend religious services do have a lower risk of dying in any one year than people who don't attend. People who believe in a loving God fare better after a diagnosis of illness than people who believe in a punitive God. ",8599,1879016,00.html

" The bottom line for the Christian faith is that to be saved and have eternal life all we have to do is believe that God loves us so much that He sent His son, Jesus, to die for our sins/wrongdoings. Jesus then was resurrected. If we believe this in our heart and confess it, we will go to heaven.

Our "deeds" do not determine our destination after death, it is our faith - whether we have accepted Jesus as our savior. I hope that you will make a correction of what you wrote in the Feb 23rd issue. What you printed is not true. It misrepresents the Christian faith and will mislead many people. Sincerely, Dale Fletcher - Founder, Faith and Health Connection"

Religious (Christian) soldier??? You have been away from TCS for far too long Forest
I will get back to the rest of your rant at leisure.

get a clue.
Have anything to say about the content? I have no respect for u.

This is why I don't like using analogies. There was very little comment on a diverse economy vs. a less diverse economy. Which is the actual point.

Criticizing the analogy does not progress a dissertation and pursuit of more knowledge.

Europeans agree to a divierse economy
It that not why Europeans tried to emulate the USA?

What made the USA unique at the time was a collection of states with few trade restrictions.

Hong Kong prospered because few restrictions enabled adaptability.

IBM as demonstrate their ability to adapt and prosper in changing environments.

Even Microsoft's business model is evolving as they know they must or die.

A better analogy to nature may be national forests that are not allowed to burn by government intervention. Governments that protect endangered businesses that won't adapt weaken the 'eco-sphere' creating a higher risk of disastrous failure.
Recent forest fires in 'protected' national forests were so hot the roots were burned out. When natural processes are followed, such fires seldom get that hot and the large trees survive.

Social context trumps individual morality...

You said "...we must accept responsibility for our actions and suffer the consequences for any harm that we may inflict upon another..."

Thou shalt not kill. Unless, of course you are a member of a social group in our society...the US Marines, for example..where the social tasks assigned to that group are kill other human beings.

The group behavior ethic trumps our individual behavior morality. Doesn't it? It can be effectively argued that ants Marjon...are never actually behaving as individuals...but only group actors switching from one such behavioral role and task group into another continually throughout their daily rounds.

Group of people preparing to go to work...with specific behavior expectations. Wake up at a certain time. Brush your teeth. Put on appropriate clothes.

Group of people driving automobiles. Group of people standing inside the McDonald's waiting to purchase breakfast. Then driving again. And on and on.

The ten commandments didn't really cover everything involved in our society or anyone's very well did it? Indeed, our "greed is good" form of capitalism seems to fly in the face of that rule about "coveting thy neighbor's goods" in a general way, doesn't it?

And don't get all froggy with me about Catholicism, Miss. I went to Catholic School with the nuns through High School, Holy Cross with the Jesuits for the BA and Villanova for the MS. I could have been a priest but I wound up here. I definitely know what I'm talking about regarding the Church...while you just seem to know the Catechism. Thanks for playing.

Lowers the blood pressure...stuff like that...
Reduced anxiety regarding uncontrollable variables...sure. That doesn't make one man's religion or beliefs any more valid that those of all the others.

Believing in the primacy or our own faith requires us to spcifically "not believe" in all the other religions. Faith is more a matter of sorting through what not to believe in until one is left with only one spiritual paradigm...mostly whatever your mother told you.

It is one more baby step along that same intellectual path to resist your urge to feel good about your mother and then you will get pretty agnostic about her religion too.

Don't knock yourself out...
I've got all day.

In spite of any such superficialities regrading our underlying social nature humans are indeed more and more homogenized as a species into a single, mobile, global population where whatever threatens any of us is now able to get at all of us.

Individually or one at a we used to say.

In spite of the fact that we might be quite territorial and tribal...we are really not enjoying very much defensible space, so to speak, any more.

I don't agree.
That's why I chose coyotes. They are even invading cities like Boston.

What ever makes you feel better about faith.
Just as long as you don't let any get in the way of your intellectual superiority.

The commandment is do not murder. There is a difference.
"The group behavior ethic trumps our individual behavior morality. Doesn't it? It can be effectively argued that ants Marjon...are never actually behaving as individuals...but only group actors switching from one such behavioral role and task group into another continually throughout their daily rounds.

You can feel free to follow the mob or the herd. I will stay out of your way and let you all run off the cliff.

please explain why some people become doctors...
Society has a task group called "physicians" and society rewards the behavior of the individuals who work as members of that group. Society has certain reasonable expectations regarding that group behavior and a culture of such behavioral discipline has developed over the generations that "physicians" have been part of the larger society.

Similarly, artists are expected by each other and by each society to behave in certain ways that fulfill their roles inside the community of artists themselves and for society too.

Individuals are recruited into all such groups and are socialized into the hierarchy, ethics and tasks involved. An ethic regarding group behavior is part of its culture and is immersed in the culture of the larger society. Individuals may thrive inside the culture of a particular group...or not. In any case, each individual finds a series of compatible groups to move into and out of seamlessly throughout his daily round and throughout his lifetime. It is arguable that we are so strictly social that no human is ever operating outside one group or another and behaving in a socially acceptable manner in that context or in a socially unacceptable manner.

In a real sense social misfits create their own groups with fresh "cults" of behavior that might not prove useful enough to society for those groups to exist past the immediate needs of its initial members. Of course, when a group has no members then the group does not exist and its otherwise legitimate behavior paradigm in no longer part of the cultural fabric of society...because society no longer has a use for it.

Gays also recognize themselves as being members of such a group in virtually every society and within the context of those cultures. The ethic of the group itself legitimatizes the behavior of its members...although those outside such a group might not accept such behavior as moral. However, insofar as the group actually exists and as long as it persists there is definitely a role for it to play in the larger society. If a group exists then the society needs it, allows for it and rewards its members in some manner that they find valuable. Even the lunatic fringe has a certain renegade status with its anarchy. Songs are written about such people and those songs are played on the radio.

This sort of discussion...based on current Behavioral Biology research and implying that strictly social animals such as humans, mice and ants might not actually have any individual behavior at all...outside the context of the ethics of one group morality or the other...should be quite disturbing for Christians who believe in Original Sin, an absolute moral code and individual free choice. Because if there is no individual behavior then there is no sin. There is only a judgement made in the context of the group as to appropriate behavior according to its own culture regarding task performance, conformance (versus disruption) and hierarchical subordination. Otherwise, the individual is essentially tossed out of the group...or retained as its lowest ranked member...the Omega...a very real role too.

Only when a sovereign government is trying to break its citizens down into complient individual worker units to be formed into labor teams without an enduring culture that might resist being told what to do by some goddamn moron supervisor imposed on them by someone higher up with the power of life and death...would the threat of eternal hell fire be pushed on the children from their earliest years so they will be broken and more afraid of powers that cannot be seen...than the dumb ******* telling them exactly what to do for the rest of their pathetic lives. Religion is a vehicle of social control for civilizations.

As for the rest of your foolishness young woman...the best thing about you Joanie? Someone else has to sleep with you.

Boy are you angry about something that has nothing at all to do with me.

It's only Behavioral Biology...

When is it during your daily round that you are not the member of some group...literal or virtual...performing tasks just as you are be judged by someone as to whether or not your execution was appropriate and acceptable?

You only think that you are an individual player. But you are actually a social actor...all of the time. Because humans are strictly social animals to the point that we cannot even think without using spoken-language based symbols...and each spoken language flows out of a particular culture.

Societies are composed of myriad such groups and their behaviors are our behaviors...woven into the fabric of those larger cultures...which otherwise would not exist at all. And neither would we.

Biololgy made me do it?
Just another excuse for being irresponsible.

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members. "
There are a few of us around.

Lessons from Nature
A little more knowledge would have been useful in framing this response.

1) There are many thousands of ant species, occupying many different niches. For that reason ants have been one of earth's dominant life forms since the Cretaceous Era. Diversification has helped them prosper on every continent except Antarctica.

2) Bees are in big trouble right now. If you haven't heard of Colony Collapse Disorder you might want to look it up. Commerical bee populations are largely of one species, and that species is greatly under threat. First it was the varroa mite and now a behavioral crisis that we're only beginning to understand.

Why is this important? Perhaps you know about "the birds and the bees". Bees pollinate a majority of fruit and vegetable crops. If they become extinct. we have very few food crops left other than meat and cereals.

In Szechuan, for instance, the local bes were wiped out by pesticide use. And the peach and plum crops upon which this province relied for income must now be pollinated by hand. People are hired in large numbers to climb each peach tree with a tube of hand-gathered pollen and a feather. They have to dip the feather to pollinate each peach blossom.

It's a lot of trouble.. and a job the bees used to do for free.

Rats and coyotes are like people, in an ecological sense. They are opportunists, and readily learn new behaviors so they can occupy new niches. To that degree they are what ethologists consider to be weed species.

So, armed with that actual, as opposed to theoretical knowledge, let's return to your analogy:

"Those that won't survive our 'crisis' will be those who depend upon the fiat banking system propped up by the state."

Right. We can forget inquiring into what it is that endangers our bees, and just let them slip out of existence. Then we humans can learn to live in a world without fruits and vegetables. We're such good pharmacists we can just create our own nutrients, and eat gruel laced with man-made vitamins.

And the same goes for banks. If all the banks have become non-viable we should just let them slip out of existence.. with our money. That will just leave those like you, who have providently bought lumps of gold with which to barter for food.

Maybe we could start here
Hi again,

You say "Your belief that humans are nothing more than a pack of lemmings running into the see is indicative of collectivist thinking. You should try hanging with a group of libertarians for an evening, providing you can get them all into one room."

I don't think that's exactly what Forest was saying.

It looks a lot like the choice in your mind is an easy one. Either Viewpoint A is right.. "There is/are NO “Men” out there in “nature”, any more than there is a “society” out there, or “a single global "merged" population”. There are only individual men (and women)", or Viewpoint B is right.. "As a biological species we are strictly social animals."

If one proposition is the correct one, then ipso facto the other must be false. This is a problem (the "false dichotomy") that stems, IMO, from a public schooling that includes too many True & False tests, and discourages essay thinking.

If you compare the social animals with the solitary ones, you find that we are at the social extreme. Plus, historically we find that mankind is totally dependent on his culture and civilization for his currently prosperous state.

On the other hand, we do find that individuation is the rule.. each individual has an independent existence and a distinctive personality profile. In fact this is also found in the animal world.

"In the past decade or so, researchers have reported behavioral differences between individuals in more than sixty species of wildlife, ranging from funnel-web spiders and codfish to western bluebirds and spotted hyenas. In each case the scientists uncovered examples of unique and consistent behavior among the individuals. 'In other words, a personality' writes Pennsylvania journalist Cynthia Berger." (in the current issue of National Wildlife)

So let's propose a complex world, where at the same time each individual is somewhat unique in her thoughts, feelings and aspirations while at the same time being highly dependent on a web of mutual, cooperative behaviors on the part of her nearly seven billion fellow human beings.

We are much, much more than a pack of lemmings. Yet every day large groups in society display lemming-like behaviors. Perhaps a better way to say it is that many ditto heads live among us.. and there are times when even the most independent among us go with what the crowd is doing, as a matter of convenience or conviction.

Which brand is "the" Christian faith ?
Marjon, you bring up a couple of interesting dichotomies. First,"People who believe in a loving God fare better after a diagnosis of illness than people who believe in a punitive God."

Going around under the burden of Jehovah's thundering wrath would probably put a burden on one's heart rate and blood pressure. Whereas the lovey, touchie-feeley kinds of people, whether they're into Jesus or the spiritual powers of crystals, probably stay younger a lot longer. So I'll have to agree with your source.

The other is this: "Our "deeds" do not determine our destination after death, it is our faith - whether we have accepted Jesus as our savior."

Indeed we have two kinds of Baptists. The Free Will Baptists think man is judged by what he makes of himself during life. The Old School, or Primitive Baptists think it was all written in the big ledger, before we were even born. And there's nothing we can do in this life except fear the Lord and His Divine Fury.

Those among us who go more with the notion that men and women are each individuals probably incline toward the Free Will point of view. And I'll bet they have better health profiles than the ones who feel the sword of a wrathful God over their heads every day they spend on earth. I'd love to see the results of THAT study.

What a refreshing POV

When I was a kid I was fortunate enough to have spent a short while in a Catholic neighborhood, in Brooklyn or Queens. And one of the kids there told me "You're lucky. You can be anything you want to be. Us, we either have to be Catholic or anti-Catholic." Pretty much the same observation was made in the novels of J-K Huysmans.

It's refreshing to see that a Third Way is possible.

nature lesson doesn't apply
From you lesson it doesn't follow that there will be no bees, not fruits or vegitables. Some possibilities could be that; they get rid of the mite affecting them, the mites might die off on their own, they might figure out how to make them immune, they might find a different kind of bee, they might grow those things is places not affected, etc. It could go on an on like that; it's not a crises.
Even then, just because they used to grow a certain thing in a certain place, doesn't mean it's mandated that it has to been done forever. For example, I guess the area in Calif. where all the computer businesses are were mostly orchards before. They're not now, yet there is no shortage of fruits. Switzerland doesn't have much in the way of fruits or vegetables, certainly not enough to even support the local population, but there is no shortage of them there at all. In Singapore they used to grow all their own fruits and veggies, but now they hardly grow anthing, yet you can buy as many kiwi fruits, bananas or almost anything in the world. They made a decisions that it was better to get rich and buy food from others, rather than devote their own land to rice paddies.

Read Luther's Christian Liberty to understand salvation by grace.
Luther's understanding of the New Testament suggests that no one is worthy and that nothing we do, no act, can save us. Only faith and God's grace will save people.
Which brings to the table humility, perseverance and hope.

Well then...
Let's try a little of that mutual respect if you like. But if you want to play rough then I'll give as good as I get...and maybe better. I am not a particularly nice man.

As for people are simply ignorant. Roy is sincerely trying to understand the issues we discuss and I find him thoughtful...although too willing to be abused without returing the favor. He treats everyone with more respect than most of them probably deserve. Thanks, Joanie.

What culture?
"...we find that mankind is totally dependent on his culture and civilization for his currently prosperous state."

The current culture of prosperity was the result of a society and culture (state) the respected and encouraged individual liberty and the unalienable rights of individual human beings.

In spite of your sense of rugged are part of human society anyway. This means that you operate inside task groups...just like this a member and you are judged according to its unique rules of behavior. Its group culture. Actually, you are one of the dominant actors in this particular hierarchy. It's true. Thanks, Marjon.

Colony Collapse Disorder
Try thinking this through again.

First, you might do as I suggested and read a little about CCD, Colony Collapse Disorder. This is quite a different thing than varroa mites. And it is something that has honey bee experts thinking the pollination industry as we know it might very well end. It's that bad.

There is, of course, some possibility that if we do nothing it will somehow miraculously reverse itself. Is this the position you think we should take? Just trust to God to put things right? Suppose God has other ideas, and one day soon honey bees no longer exist in quantities sufficient to pollinate either crops or natural vegetation?

It has already happened in China. You see no problem because it hasn't happened yet in Switzerland. Can you really not see a huge flaw in this kind of thinking?

Should CCD spread the rest of the way around the world, how effective do you think the tactic will be to just "get rich and buy food from others"? 36% of U.S. commercial honey bee colonies have already collapsed, and the disorder is well entrenched in Europe, India, Brazil and elsewhere. That's not a problem?

Luther knows what God's thinking?
I don't think so. We only have Mr Luther's word on that.

His opinion is just that.. an opinion. Everyone else is entitled to his own. The Dalai Lama, for example, no doubt has a very different opinion.

IMO, to say that "no one is worthy and that nothing we do, no act, can save us" means that one ascribes to a crappy, depressing, unproductive religion. Certainly we can do better than that, if we want to live with something worth believing in.

Don't read it then.
He went as close to the source documents as anyone can.

Nothing wrong with collaboration.
What made the USA the most free and prosperous society in history were its rugged individuals.
First those intrepid individuals that pioneered and settled North America and then created a government that would attempt to preserve such a culture of individual liberty and, therefore, prosperity.

Their only rule of behavior is the Golden Rule.

Our culture
I use the word culture in its anthropological sense.. the sum total of all our learned behaviors.

That encompasses a lot more than what is contained in this micro-definition: "The current culture of prosperity was the result of a society and culture (state) the respected and encouraged individual liberty and the unalienable rights of individual human beings."

If you don't like the word, try "history". Throughout human history we've learned survival skills that involve cooperation with everyone in the group. Those who don't go along get cast out. And castaways have rarely survived.

It was written
First, let me amend my comment by one word. I don't mean to denigrate anyone's religion.. so instead of the word "crappy" please substitute "dour".

The religion you describe is a dour and dreary one. Therefore, as a matter of personal taste, it wouldn't be a message I'd ever be interested in. Feel free, if it's your kind of thing.

But I'm struck by your argument: "He [Luther] went as close to the source documents as anyone can."

What is it that makes a source document any more relevant than anything else? It's just a piece of paper on which someone has written words. And if the source in question is the Bible, Luther's take on what the original Syriac, translated into Greek, translated into Latin and then into English, might mean is no better than anyone else's.

For that matter if we go back to the original authors who wrote the Bible, all we have is that some ancient writers wrote what they wrote. We have no independent verification that the material is accurate.. or that it came from God. Muhammad's words, after all, also come from God. Right?

Or do we have empirical proof? Let me know what anyone has besides the faith that one's own set of beliefs is superior to any other.

What we created...

Good work. However, we did not create flowering plants, bees or pollination. We can do our part insofar as our own negative influence on the bio-diversity of bees...we have replaced most of the wild bee populations with our domesticated varieties...and in that sense we have disrupted the normal order regarding insect vigor. This bee die-off should not have happened because bees as a species across their entire range are not normally exposed to a single threat that might kill them all. We did that to them.

But we did create banking as an extension of financial capitalism...which in turn is an extension of human social behavior. We have every right to summarily take control of banking when something fundamental with our industrial paradigm has gone so terribly this has.

There is no "Invisible Hand" of economic nature to be respected here and to be left to have its way with global civilization. There is only us. And we are morally obliged to step directly into this thing. And to summarily fix it. Immediately.

You don't deserve God's love.
"But Christian righteousness is different; it is passive. We do no nothing to obtain it. We receive it from God by just allowing Him to do the work. "

"Think of the old man as an unruly donkey. Upon this donkey must be laid a burden of law that will press him down to keep him under control. This donkey, the flesh, must never enjoy the freedom of the Spirit or grace except as the new man, the spiritual man, rides upon him and keeps him under control. "

"The righteousness of the law is earthly and by it we do good works. But no matter how well we keep it, it has no eternal value unless we first possess Christian righteousness, which is heavenly and passive. Again, we do not earn Christian righteousness; we simply receive it by faith from heaven. "

None of us deserve God's love and we can do noting to earn it.
We have all read stories, factual and fictional, of individuals who commit atrocious acts because they don't feel they deserve the love of their parents. They hope they can get their parents to hate them. Why is it so difficult to accept such unconditional love?

The whole point of the Bible is faith. If you prove it, then no faith is required.

The age of the Bible can be verified. What helps my faith is why was it written and that what is written regarding human behavior is consistent with observations today.

I see no evidence those who wrote the Bible obtained personal gain in wealth or power.

The stories in the Bible all have morals which can be applied today.

As for faith being the fundamental theme of the Bible, that was Abraham's first test.

Culture of prosperity.
Human population was rather stagnant until the concept of individual liberty were incorporated into the government and people had the opportunity to break free of the tyranny of the king.

"There is no "Invisible Hand" of economic nature to be respected here"
Then turn control over the state. They did such a wonderful job in the USSR and Cuba.

Before anything can be fixed, one must understand how it functions and why it broke. The reason the banks are broken is the government created a system that does not respect natural market forces. Therefore any repairs are doomed to fail unless such forces are respected.

Human social behavior is fundamental to our biology and absolutely essential to our success as a species. We are creative and entrepreneurial by nature. Our leaders are inclined to launch new task groups...dominated by their own visions regarding what might be done...and developing a culture of group behavior to accomplish precisely that. All of this is immersed into the context of a pre-existing society composed of myriad such groups, each with its own set of reasonable behaviors..that are woven into the fabric of that larger culture. Everything that the society does, everything that its members seek to do is expressed as a group behavior that society tolerates or embraces...resists or rewards. But if the group exists then its behavior is validated. Society has a use for each such group because some number of society's members have a real need to operate that way.

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20

Not where one man stands alone. But where a group is assembled to accomplish something by working together. We are not solitary players as human beings. We are strictly social animals. And that is the Biology of it. All else is vanity.

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