At The Seasteading Institute Conference...

...Peter Thiel asks a question--

In the year 1945, there were about 50 countries and marginal tax rates in the US were 90%.
In the year 2009, there are about 200 countries and marginal tax rates in the US are 40%.

In the year 2050, how many countries will there be? Will the number be closer to 5, 200, or 1000?

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His count is way, way off. There are only 3 independent countries currently, namely the US, Russia, and China.

Every other country is a dependent vassal of one or more of these, either financially or militarily.

No, there really are 200 countries

I know Mencius writes well but statements like that are just ludicrous. If Singapore would have me I could move there and my tax rates would drop by half. Is Simgapore not a country?

P said "independent

P said "independent countries", not "countries". Modifiers matter. If I said that there were far fewer than 200 communist countries, that modifier ("communist") would matter and it would be mistaken to correct me by saying that "no, there really are 200".

I don't know whether the countries are independent. Mencius points out Honduras as a test case. Right now it looks like Honduras is backed into a corner and imploding (doing uncharacteristic questionable things) because it is defying Obama's demand that it re-install its would-be dictator. If Honduras manages to resist the will of Obama, then that will be evidence of independence (not proof of total independence - just evidence of some degree of independence; after all, Alaska is clearly not independent of the US and yet Obama's win didn't eventuate in the resignation of Obama's opponent from Alaska's governorship...oh, wait, bad example). If Honduras fails to resist Obama's will, then that will be evidence of dependence (but not proof of total dependence).

However I do believe Singapore is highly independent, more so than than many others. I don't know what Mencius thinks of that, but I don't see Obama butting into internal Singaporean politics with quite the same arrogance, or effectiveness, as his interference with Honduras.

But there aren't many Singapores.


Singapore would have you, they're actually trying to attract qualified immigrants (written from Singapore actually)

Yeah, at the Seasteading Institute conference...

...there was a dude from Singapore and he said it's not too hard to immigrate there.

How is it there? What are your impressions? (How about a blog post on this topic, if you have the time?)

Hot and humid

Will do. I'll make a big post with pics and all.

I've been travelling for two weeks now, mostly Hong-Kong and Singapore, but I frayed in Thailand and Cambodia.

The skinny: Hong Kong and Singapore are awesome, Hong Kong is awesomer but Singapore is catching fast. As far as city life goes, I think living in Singapore is only a step down if you've lived in New York or Hong-Kong.

Counting countries

When you count independent countries, how do you count the EU? Is is one country, or is it however many countries separately?

I also think it is cherrypicking data to include 1945, it was at the end of a long war. It would be more useful to have more data points, since I think that one is just an outlier. Did you never learn how to use statistics to convey useful information - or have you decided to take the tactic of only using data that supports your conclusion?

Two replies: (1) It's a

Two replies:

(1) It's a question from Peter Thiel, not Jonathan, so any cherry-picking would be on Thiel's part.

(2) I think looking at earlier times actually strengthens Thiel's argument. I imagine the number of independent countries was larger in 1815 than 1945 (Germany and Italy being broken up). Marginal income tax rates in the US were 0%. Doesn't that support Thiel's point?

Tortured data

I think the data was suspect to begin with, any two points can give a linear trend. I think the connection of those two numbers is a huge leap.

I suspect that no one actually paid the 90% marginal tax rate

Further, In the US, stinking rich people don't have much taxable income - they have capital gains which is presently taxed at a max of 15%.

OUR owners keep class war going between the minimum wage working class and the well paid working class. $250K/year is not "rich," not when our owners might have a $250 million increase in unpaid capital.

Most stupid Americans can't grasp the economic gap between the the worker who spends 90% of his annual income and the owner who doesn't know how to spend 10% of his annual increase.