By Keith Nobles


In his book Skin in the Game, Taleb defines systems of asymmetrical morality and argues at length that systems premised on asymmetrical morality cannot long exist. Taleb defines asymmetrical morality as a system whereby one person makes the decision but the consequences of the decision are inflicted on others, not the one who made the decision.

Current examples of asymmetrical morality would be our government, the corporations in bed with the government in order to escape the consequences of their decisions, insurance companies (particularly healthcare insurance), Wall Street banks, much of the media, much of the environmental movement, academia and so on and so forth.

All of these entities are noteworthy for making decisions, or paying people to make decisions, for which they will not suffer the consequences but others will.

Because, you know, it is for your own good (yes, sarcasm).

Socialism to a large degree extends asymmetrical morality to all of commerce and society.

Socialism is predicated on a relatively small number of people in a privileged position using force and violence to compel others to do as they wish.

It is a completely asymmetrical moral system in that the consequences of the decisions are inevitably never absorbed by those who make the decisions. That is the hallmark of socialism.

Taleb makes a strong argument that systems that are symmetrically moral last, that symmetrical morality is a basic universal human value. Symmetrical morality can be summed as the one who makes the decision suffers the consequences of the decision, be that good or bad. Most people in the United States premise their own lives on symmetrical morality while, interestingly enough, they consistently vote in favor of asymmetrical morality.

I would bet that voting pattern will not last much longer.