Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

85% of the world’s governments are corrupt

According to one think tank that studies corruption in government, 85% of the world lives under governments that are essentially corrupt.

“Corruption” is defined by Transparency International (TI) as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Each year since 1995, TI has published a Corruption Perceptions Index that scores the world’s nations out of 100 for their public sector honesty and the just-released 2016 report paints the same bleak picture we’ve been seeing now for two decades … except it’s getting worse.

According to the data, despite the illusion of elected government in half the world’s countries, democracy is losing. Only two countries scored 90 out of 100 this year, and just 54 of the 176 countries (30%) assessed in the report scored better than 50. Fifty percent might have constituted a pass in a High School arithmetic test, but for an elected government to be so inept at carrying out the will of the electorate, it is a clear betrayal of the people. The average country score this year is a paltry 43, indicating endemic corruption in a country’s public sector is the norm.

Even more damning is that more countries declined than improved in this year’s results.

Not surprisingly, the countries at the bottom of the list are almost all Middle Eastern Islamic nations, all of whom are the source of most of the world’s terrorism and Islamic madness. The few others are those trying to become communist paradises, Venezuela and North Korea.


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  • Cotour

    I would refine how they define “corrupt” as it relates to governance a bit.

    Their definition : “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.”

    I would dial that down to simply state : The abuse of entrusted power. Whether the corruption is for “private gain” or political gain or for what ever motivation, corruption is based in self interest over stated or implied fiduciary responsibility, so private gain is understood. To define the term using the extender “private gain” almost gives some kind of wiggle room, it almost implies that there is some “perfect” form of governance, when there is not. There are more “perfect” forms of governance depending on from where you come at the problem but ALL government / governance in what ever form you find it at its foundation is corrupt, bar none.

    The tendency to be corrupt in governance in what ever form it might take is the first ingredient in any construct that attempts to govern.

    This is the fundamental concept about governance that the Founders of America and the architects of our Constitution understood intimately. This rating system almost looks at the issue backwards, from the top down, Its all bad through and through. We (Americans) strive to be the least bad based on the precepts that we state are most important to us.

  • Tom Billings

    This should be looked at through the economic concept of “agency cost”. In any organization, its putative purpose theoretically defines what every member of the organization focuses their efforts on achieving. In fact, every agent of an organization diverts some small or large percentage of their effort to something else that they place at a higher priority. This is the agency cost of that agent of the organization. In the theory of hierarchy, agency cost is not accepted, it is assumed to not exist, is unaccounted for, punished when found, and evidence of its presence is suppressed at every opportunity. Those at the top of the hierarchy have the most freedom of action to suppress such evidence and the most freedom of action to express agency cost.

    This results in agency cost inside hierarchies growing in the shadows with baroque profusion. Since governments *are* hierarchies in design, we should not be surprised to see agency costs proliferate. In the other major way that humans organize themselves, networks, we see different attitudes towards agency costs, and different results.

    In the intercommunicating networks of civil society agency cost is also present, but it is expected, recognized, and to a great extent, accepted. In market networks we have a name for it. We call it profit. When an individual’s profit becomes too high in the network, others can shift their interactions to third parties who do not exhibit such high agency cost. This distinctly limits the agency cost as a percentage of their output of any one person over time, and allows the organization as a whole to function with far lower total agency cost.

    Thus, when we thrust more and more of the resources of society under any government hierarchy’s control, we should expect to see greater and greater expressions of agency cost that we consider corruption. These are often disputed, because different portions of the polity have differing intended uses for government funding

    Note that definitions of corruption have changed over time. In Elizabethan England and before, it was common for the Queen’s Lord High Admiral to mix his own accounts with those of the Queen’s Navy, in order to get Admiralty bills paid on time, through his own accounts. He was often years in arrears in what he got from the Crown in order to get paid for these accounts, and would often discount on that basis in presenting his accounts to the Crown’s Chancellor of the Exchequer. This was looked at as normal.

    Only when the Queen’s ships were not available for service, and the crewmen unpaid, and the Navy not engaged in stopping piracy, invasion, etc. would the political opposition call out the term *corruption*, because whatever mixing of the accounts the Lord Admiral had done, had not worked to get done the job they wanted. By the time of the Stuart Kings, the differences between Parliament and the Crown over just what the Royal Navy should be doing caused corruption to be called out as a major reason for opposition to the King in Parliament. Ultimately, the accounts were not separated until the invention of Naval Bills of Debt paying interest, which could be traded on the markets, and allow Navy suppliers to be paid on time, without putting any single person at risk for the money.

    In short, government moved the paying of its bills outside the hierarchy of government to make it more productive, allowing some small profit to traders in the Naval Bills, and ensuring that government ministers were not made personally liable for the debts. It also provided market checks on the expenditure of Naval funds without taxes to pay Naval Bill holders cashing in these Bills, because the value of the Bills would drop, and the Parliament would know it was losing money through having to issue Bills at higher rates of interest.

    In doing this the government pulled the allocation of resources out of government hierarchy just enough that it became visible to Civil Society through markets, making corruption something less a political definition, and more a legal definition. This type of change is what the progressive movement has fought against, all the while proclaiming it is against corruption. In fact, pulling more of the total resources of society under government hierarchy through progressive policies is what has increased agency costs, by hiding them from scrutiny in markets and other social networks.

  • Edward

    If the United States, the leader of the free world, cannot get at least 90% (an “A” in most schools), then we are doing something wrong. Which we here at BtB already knew.

    Tom Billings,
    You wrote: “When an individual’s profit becomes too high in the network, others can shift their interactions to third parties who do not exhibit such high agency cost.

    If I interpret this correctly, you equate profit with unjust cost. Profit is not a cost, it is a reward for efficiency. The person who makes the most profit has found the most efficient way to provide a benefit that people are willing to buy. He may be the low price leader, the high quality leader, the best service leader, the fastest provider, or whatever his benefit is. Profit is a good thing, as it gives incentive to others to improve the efficiency of their own production, reducing the use of scarce resources and making more of those resources available for production of new innovations.

    The individual with a “too high” profit is to be cheered and emulated, not avoided.

    When government becomes too costly, it diverts scarce resources from the productive portion of the economy.

    Right now, the US has a terrible form of corruption that we generally call the welfare state. Able-bodied people are paid to be unproductive. Scarce resources are diverted to maintain unnecessarily idle workers; they take resources without providing a benefit to the rest of us.

    This form of corruption is intended to not only keep those people from prospering, but is intended for the retention or gain of political power — political greed — as those people favor the politicians who dole out such an easy lifestyle. This is not a bribe from the people to those who govern but a bribe in the other direction, yet it maintains the poverty of those who receive the bribe, as they must remain in poverty in order to continue receiving it.

    Does this count as the “private gain” used in the ranking system? Is this not one of the ” public sectors that would appear to serve themselves rather than the people they supposedly represent?”

  • ken anthony

    …and the other 15% are lying.

  • Tom Billings

    Edward said to me:

    “If I interpret this correctly, you equate profit with unjust cost.”


    I simply say that agency cost is accepted in market networks, and it is visible with a little effort, and because people are free to go elsewhere within the network to get what they want, it is also well-regulated far better than in most hierarchies. That’s all. I place no value judgements on it, any more than I do on entropy in a Carnot engine. It exists, and will always exist. The only question is how well it is minimized for the organization as a whole. In this case, it is minimized better in market networks than in governmental hierarchies over any substantial period of time.

  • pzatchok

    I know all governments are corrupt.
    It just happens with large organizations even large companies. Cousin Bob gets the painting contract and cousin Fred gets the recycling contract.
    In government we expect the well connected people and companies to get the contracts, get laws passed and generally have more influence then us common folks.
    It up to us in a free and open society to guard against things getting to far out of hand.
    It gets out of hand when the graft and corruption becomes expected in common everyday life even when dealing with your local representatives of the government.
    It gets oppressive when even the common man in a corrupt society finds he can gain no influence to change things for the better.

    It helps society when the common man feels he has the power to work up enough support to influence his government. He then does not feel oppressed and powerless. This is the real base of the American experiment. The common man MUST feel he has power of some sort.

    I have been to Mexico and I can tell you. Corruption is EVERYPLACE. I got picked up on a drug charge while sitting in a bar just so the local police could shake me down for a cash payout.
    Working down there I quickly realized EVERY government worker and official was expecting a payout just to get the everyday normal things done in a timely manor.
    Simple construction paper work would sit for weeks unless cash was added to speed the process forward.

    Coincidentally this is exactly why so many Mexicans come over the boarder illegally. Its cheaper to hand the coyote a few hundred bucks than spend the thousand or more to get a complete birth certificate and background check through the government of Mexico.
    Mexico has said in the past that if America wants and requires those things then America should start paying for them.
    The left doesn’t want to tell you that one though for fear that more people will start to tell the illegals to go back and fix their own government. They would rather just blame the right and call it racism.
    And when the left asks who will pick all those vegetables remember that they all have jobs and thus sponsors to get them green cards to work in the US legally. there are headhunter groups who go over the boarder to look for people who will qualify for green cards and are willing to work in the US picking food.

  • Wayne

    good stuff.
    >Glad you were able to bribe yourself out of a Mexican police-station!

    (personally, I have my own Policy about leaving the borders of the continental US, except for Canada.)

  • Wayne

    Tom Billings–good stuff.

    Forgot to note & tangential to this thread:
    “40% of ALL illegal-aliens, are Visa over-stays.”
    -They have no right to be in (or stay in) the USA and are subjected to being “rounded-up and deported” without any judicial intervention whatsoever.

    This is 100% settled Law–(but that never stops the left from whining)

    Fong Yue Ting v. United States
    149 U.S. 698 (1893)

  • Garry

    Wayne wrote, “(personally, I have my own Policy about leaving the borders of the continental US, except for Canada.)”

    I’m afraid you’re missing out on a lot, my friend. If it’s corruption you’re worried about, I’ve been plenty of interesting places to go that don’t pose a threat to American tourists. Off the top of my head I can think of Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Not to mention Alaska and Hawaii (as you mentioned continental US).

    I often describe the U.S. as “the tallest midget” (we’ve degraded a bit, but the US is still the best place to live in the world). But I still love traveling, as it gives me great experiences and a better perspective, often reinforcing my view that our country is the best place to live.

    I’ve never taken a tour; my style is to meet local people and learn what life is like there. I’m been amazed at how welcoming local people can be, inviting me into their homes, taking me on days trips, etc. I also love experiencing authentic cuisine. I’ve had a few bad experiences traveling, but they are far outweighed by the positive experiences.

    Travel is perhaps the aspect of my life that took the biggest hit from fatherhood (not a complaint, fatherhood is still the best deal I’ve ever made). Now that the kids are growing up, giving me more time and money, I hope to get back to resuming my exploration.

  • Wayne

    I do hear you.
    -Not worried about corruption per se, more worried about being killed or imprisoned ‘cuz I have an American passport.

    Chuck Berry
    “Back in the USA”
    (Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show, July 18,1959.)

    “…anything you want, we got it right here in the U-S-A…”

  • pzatchok

    I knew beforehand about the bribery in Mexico. My uncle had previously taken a motorcycle tour through the country and informed me to be prepared to pay small fines to every local cop. the federals never bothered me but I heard they just take larger bribes for federal problems.

    My brother went to Russia years ago and and said ‘tips’ made everything run much smoother. They kept everything running from the water in your hotel to the dig permits they needed for some research work.

    Its perfectly fine to travel in these second world countries (as I call them) if you understand that ‘tips’ and ‘fees’ are just the normal way of their society and are expected to keep services running.

    I am not going back to Mexico anytime soon and recommend no one else go either. Just way to much drug cartel and general crime now. Its no longer even safe in the tourist areas,

  • Garry

    Wayne, there are plenty of countries where you don’t have to worry at all about being killed or imprisoned, at least no more than you have to worry about these things here.

    For example, Japan has some inconveniences for foreigners, and many prejudices (as a society they have a long tradition of true xenophobia, to the point of killing anyone who came there). Other than the occasional unrepentant World War 2 vet, the Japanese pretty much go out of their way to treat Americans well, and the government specifically wants to avoid anything that could trouble their relations with the US.

    There have been cases where the police have drummed up cases against patsies who were at the wrong place at the wrong time; they would rather have a scapegoat to arrest than have the public live in fear. For example, when I was there they arrested a chemist who lived in a building where a cult tried to use poison gas on a judge and beat a confession out of him. But these seem to be limited to one-off, very disturbing cases, and I’ve never heard of them doing anything like that to an American.

    I got away with many things (nothing criminal) in Japan that they would never tolerate from a native.

    There are many other countries where Americans are treated well, partially out of fear of incidents that provoke the US government. Without any fear of being in error, I assert that this is especially true since November. I’ve found that even in safe countries where the people hate US policy, they are eager to befriend Americans who travel well.

    Maybe everything I could want is here in the USA, but not everybody I want to spend time with is here, and neither is every experience that I want to have. I am much richer for having traveled and lived overseas, and when I come across foreigners visiting here I get a lot of enjoyment out of trying to repay the kindness I have received from foreigners in their native lands. It’s great to hear opinions and perspectives (even when I don’t agree with them) that don’t fit into the viewpoints put forward here, which tend to be more and more polarized. I’m not talking just politics, but attitudes towards life, food, leisure, and everything else under the sun.

  • wayne

    Good stuff. (enjoy your remarks on people & places.)
    At this stage, I’m content to hang out, inside the United States.

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