# John Locke on Monarchs (Or Presidents) Who Destroy a Constitution

Link to the Wikipedia article on “Louis XIV of France.” Among other actions during his reign, Louis XIV presided over ethnic cleansing of the Huguenots (the Protestants in his realm) and centralized power in his own hands.

John Locke, in Chapter XIX of his 2d Treatise on Government: Of Civil Government, “Of the Dissolution of Government,” lists four ways in which a monarch can subvert the constitution of a nation in a way that effectively undoes the government and so eliminates any obligation to obey the unconstitutional pretense of a government that replaces the legitimate government:

• Ruling by decree instead of duly enacted legislation

• Preventing the legislature from meeting or constraining free speech and free deliberation within the legislature

• Stealing or fixing elections

• Giving people to a foreign power

By “monarch” I am referring to the “single hereditary person” in John Locke’s description of a should-be-constitutional monarchy:

§. 213. This being usually brought about by such in the commonwealth who misuse the power they have; it is hard to consider it aright, and know at whose door to lay it, without knowing the form of government in which it happens. Let us suppose then the legislative placed in the concurrence of three distinct-persons.

1. A single hereditary person, having the constant, supreme, executive power, and with it the power of convoking and dissolving the other two within certain periods of time.

2. An assembly of hereditary nobility.

3. An assembly of representatives chosen, pro tempore, by the people. Such a form of government supposed, it is evident,

However, the same principles apply to a president or any other top ruler in a nation.

Here are John Locke’s four no-nos for a monarch, president or other top ruler that are serious enough to dissolve any obligation of obedience to the remaining pretense of a government.

Ruling by decree instead of by duly enacted legislation.

§. 214. First, That when such a single person, or prince, sets up his own arbitrary will in place of the laws, which are the will of the society, declared by the legislative, then the legislative is changed: for that being in effect the legislative, whose rules and laws are put in execution, and required to be obeyed; when other laws are set up, and other rules pretended, and inforced, than what the legislative constituted by the society have enacted, it is plain that the legislative is changed. Whoever introduces new laws, not being thereunto authorized by the fundamental appointment of the society, or subverts the old, disowns and overturns the power by which they were made, and so sets up a new legislative.

Preventing the legislature from meeting or constraining free speech and free deliberation within the legislature.

§. 215. Secondly, When the prince hinders the legislative from assembling in its due time, or from acting freely, pursuant to those ends for which it was constituted, the legislative is altered: for it is not a certain number of men, no, nor their meeting, unless they have also freedom of debating, and leisure of perfecting, what is for the good of the society, wherein the legislative consists: when these are taken away or altered, so as to deprive the society of the due exercise of their power, the legislative is truly altered; for it is not names that constitute governments, but the use and exercise of those powers that were intended to accompany them; so that he, who takes away the freedom, or hinders the acting of the legislative in its due seasons, in effect takes away the legislative, and puts an end to the government.

Stealing or fixing elections.

§. 216. Thirdly, When, by the arbitrary power of the prince, the electors, or ways of election are altered, without the consent, and contrary to the common interest of the people, there also the legislative is altered: for, if others than those whom the society hath authorized thereunto, do chuse, or in another way than what the society hath prescribed, those chosen are not the legislative appointed by the people.

Giving people to a foreign power.

§. 217. Fourthly, The delivery also of the people into subjection of a foreign power, either by the prince, or by the legislative, is certainly a change of the legislative, and so a dissolution of the government: for the end why people entered into society being to be preserved one entire, free, independent society, to be governed by its own laws; this is lost, whenever they are given up into the power of another.

John Locke then explains why the monarch or top ruler is usually to blame when these things happen, although the monarch or top ruler usually has accomplices (sometimes within the legislature):

§. 218. Why, in such a constitution as this, the dissolution of the government in these cases is to be imputed to the prince, is evident; because he having the force, treasure and offices of the state to employ, and often persuading himself, or being flattered by others, that as supreme magistrate he is uncapable of controul; he alone is in a condition to make great advances toward such changes, under pretence of lawful authority, and has it in his hands to terrify or suppress opposers, as factious, seditious, and enemies to the government: whereas no other part of the legislative, or people, is capable by themselves to attempt any alteration of the legislative, without open and visible rebellion, apt enough to be taken notice of, which, when it prevails, produces effects very little different from foreign conquest. Besides, the prince in such a form of government, having the power of dissolving the other parts of the legislative, and thereby rendering them private persons, they can never in opposition to him, or without his concurrence, alter the legislative by a law, his consent being necessary to give any of their decrees that sanction. But yet, so far as the other parts of the legislative any way contribute to any attempt upon the government, and do either promote, or not, what lies in them, hinder such designs, they are guilty, and partake in this, which is certainly the greatest crime men can be guilty of one towards another.

For links to other John Locke posts, see these John Locke aggregator posts:

# Dan Ariely: The Power of Morning, Time Together and Positive Feedback

Dan Ariely has a weekly advice column in the Wall Street Journal based on Behavioral Economics. I felt all three bits of advice he gave in his April 23, 2019 column were especially useful, so I wanted to share them here.

First, Dan suggests tackling especially tough tasks as one’s first big work item in the morning. He describes this as

… taking advantage of the clarity and energy that most people enjoy in the morning to tackle a problem that is important, complex and difficult …

I have been finding that things that seem daunting the evening before seem doable in the morning right after I have finished other basic parts of my morning routine.

Second, Dan retails a very interesting statistic about the formation of friendships:

Researcher Jeffrey Hall at the University of Kansas looked at the question of how long it takes to make friendships, and his findings show that after spending 80 to 100 hours together, the odds of two people moving from a casual friendship to a deeper one are about 50%.

Unaccountably, there is then an arithmetic error:

Prof. Hall goes on to estimate that creating a friend group of 25 to 35 people would require a total investment of 2,000 to 3,500 hours.

As you can see from multiplication, that is what the calculation would be if the odds of creating a friendship were 100% after 80 to 100 hours. The estimate of 50% odds implies it would take twice as long: 4000 to 7000 hours to generate a friend group of 25 to 35 people.

Third, and most striking to me, he points out a crucial flaw in negative feedback—above and beyond negative feedback making people feel bad:

The problem with negative feedback is that it tells us to stop doing something, but doesn’t give us a new course of action to replace it with.

He suggest that it is easy to put a direction into positive feedback:

Instead, try using positive feedback to redirect … efforts in a way that will be useful. For instance, you could ask for advice on another subject you genuinely want to learn more about …

Traditional economics often assumes that everyone is doing everything right, except the government. As a consequence, it only has advice for the government. Behavioral economics opens up the possibility of individuals, households and firms making mistakes, and so has a lot more potential advice to offer.

# Is 10,000 Steps a Day More Than is Necessary for Health?

Japanese has a one-syllable word for 10,000: man. An early wearable stepcounter had the trade name manpokei, or “10,000-step measuring device” in Japanese. The article above, “Association of Step Volume and Intensity With All-Cause Mortality in Older Women,” theorizes that this is the origin of the idea—and default setting for many step-counting devices—that 10,000 steps a day has some magic to it in fostering health. But in a large study of older women (who had an average age of 72), the decline in bad health events seemed to level out at about 7500 steps.

What is more, when relating steps per day to health, it is hard to tell whether steps are causing health or health causing steps—it is easier to take a long walk when one feels good. When one is interested in the ability of steps to make people healthier, the reverse causality effect of health in making steps easier tends to make deaths go down with more steps more than if it were possible to isolate the effect of steps on health. The authors of this study, “I-Min Lee, Eric J. Shiroma, Masamitsu Kamada, David R. Bassett, Charles E. Matthews and Julie E. Buring” control for obvious indicators of health at the time of the step measurement when looking at the association of steps per day and deaths, but there would be a lot of subtle health problems that wouldn’t be in the data set that could affect how pleasant it seemed to go out for a walk. What that means is that 7500 steps might be a modest overestimate of how many steps per day are needed to get most of the health benefits.

Graph from the article above

Fortunately, on the question of whether making an effort to walk rather remaining quite sedentary improves health, there are other studies that did interventions that I can write about in a later post. Exercise interventions still have the problem of a potential placebo effect; it is hard to hide from people the fact that they are walking extra. But if one is willing to include the placebo effect, interventions do genuinely show the benefits of exercise.

All the evidence we want isn’t in yet, but my advice would be to make sure to do some amount of walking and other physical activity rather than sitting around all day. It doesn’t have to take much extra time. Taking the stairs a couple of flight instead of the elevator doesn’t really take any longer, and taking the first parking space you see even though it is further away probably doesn’t end up taking much more time either. But those few steps might do some real good.

Overall, what evidence we do have suggests that exercise will make you healthier, happier and smarter. And maybe even a modest amount will have those effects. On “smarter,” I find personally that I can solve hard math problems at the limit of my ability much better while on a walk than I can while sitting at a desk. Once I have cracked the math problem, the details are easier to work out with pen and paper, but cracking the math problem is easier to do when my blood is pumping from the walk.

If anyone had the patent on a pill that had the benefits of exercise, they would be filthy rich. Fortunately for you and me, exercise itself is low cost. It does take time, but most people manage to figure out good ways to multitask while exercising—listening to a podcast, watching TV, listening to music, listening to an audiobook, doing math problems, or just enjoying the view.

Don’t miss my other posts on diet and health:

I. The Basics

II. Sugar as a Slow Poison

III. Anti-Cancer Eating

IV. Eating Tips

V. Calories In/Calories Out

VI. Other Health Issues

VII. Wonkish

IX. Gary Taubes

XI. On My Interest in Diet and Health

See the last section of "Five Books That Have Changed My Life" and the podcast "Miles Kimball Explains to Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal Why Losing Weight Is Like Defeating Inflation." If you want to know how I got interested in diet and health and fighting obesity and a little more about my own experience with weight gain and weight loss, see “Diana Kimball: Listening Creates Possibilities and my post "A Barycentric Autobiography. I defend the ability of economists like me to make a contribution to understanding diet and health in “On the Epistemology of Diet and Health: Miles Refuses to Stay in His Lane’” and “Crafting Simple, Accurate Messages about Complex Problems.”

# Charlotte Graham-McLay—New Zealand’s Next Milestone: A Budget Guided by Well-Being

I am proud that the Well-Being Measurement Initiative, headed by Dan Benjamin, Ori Heffetz, Kristen Cooper and me, is involved in this New Zealand effort. In the summer of 2015, I spent three weeks at the New Zealand Treasury working on this effort. Data collection is slated to take place this summer.

I do not see guiding policy by well-being as inherently left-wing. It only becomes left-wing when important aspects of well-being that are especially important to those on the right are omitted from data collection. In our approach, we strive to include a wide range of aspects of well-being.

# Susan Athey and Michael Luca: Economists (and Economics) in Tech Companies →

This is a pdf link to Susan and Michael’s Journal of Economic Perspectives article.

# Larry Summers Says the Fed Should Move Fast to Cut Rates

The European Central Bank and the Reserve Bank of Australia have announced more monetary stimulus. Larry Summers says the Fed should follow suit, in his latest Washington Post op-ed:

The best way to take out recession or slowdown insurance would be for the Fed to cut interest rates by 50 basis points over the summer and by more, if necessary, in the fall. A serious recession anytime in the next few years would encourage populism and polarization at home, and reduce American influence and strength in the world as well as damaging the global economy. It is clear in retrospect that the Fed was too slow in responding to gathering storms during 2008 as the Great Recession took hold and in 2000 when the Internet bubble collapsed.

I make the point in “Next Generation Monetary Policy” that most central banks act too slowly in general: they should move interest rates faster and further, being quickly ready to reverse course so they don’t have to be afraid of overshooting.

Larry Summers is doing more than saying the Fed should move fast in general. He is arguing for a rate cut as insurance. Larry gives three key arguments. One is that the economy we are seeing now is what we get when the markets indicate that they are expecting rate cuts. The economy conditional on no rate cuts is worse than what we see. Another argument is that inflation expectations are not convinced that the Fed is serious about its 2% inflation target. In the last few months, Fed officials are being crystal clear in their words that 2% is intended to be a symmetric target. For example, from the Wall Street Journal article “Low-Inflation Trap That Ensnared Japan and Europe Worries Fed” by Nick Timiraos

“We’re trying to think of ways of making that inflation 2% target highly credible, so that inflation averages around 2%, rather than only averaging 2% in good times and then averaging way less than that in bad times,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said in February.

But the markets are brushing that off in their long-run inflation predictions. Larry points out:

… market expectations as reflected in Treasury index bonds are for inflation on the Fed’s preferred measure to remain in the 1.5 range even over a 30-year horizon and to be even lower over shorter horizons.

One can argue over the inflation target the Fed should set, but whatever they say the target is, if markets don’t believe them, that is a problem.

Larry’s other argument is that we have to nip any potential recession in the bud because the Fed may be slow to use deep negative interest rates:

… the Fed normally cuts rates by a cumulative 5 percentage points in response to recession, and with rates now below 2.5 percent there is nothing approaching that amount available. Allowing a recession with inadequate firepower to confront it risks “Japanification” — a situation where interest rates are permanently pinned at zero and deflationary pressures take hold. The Fed will be able to do too little in combating the next recession, so it is especially important that it’s not too late.

I agree. Until I can trust that central banks will, in fact, use the kind of vigorous negative interest rate policies that Ruchir Agarwal and I lay out in our IMF Working Paper “Enabling Deep Negative Rates to Fight Recessions: A Guide,” I want them to avoid getting into a situation where they would need to do so to get a good outcome. Every year that passes is likely to make it seem easier for central banks to implement vigorous negative interest rate policies. If we can just avoid a serious recession in the meantime … (I am very eager for central banks to implement alternative paper currency policies at a very small dosage—say minus 5 basis points for the effective nominal rate of return on paper currency for a year or so) to demonstrate that they can, and to work out technical details. But I would be glad if the need to use negative interest rate policies in a big way—for example, minus 5 percentage points—can be put off for a while longer.)

Larry Summers was one of my professors at Harvard. I have known him a long time. I have talked to him on more than one occasion about negative interest rate policy. He understands the ideas well, and has them in his own view of contingency plans. (See “Peter Sands and Larry Summers Say Deep Negative Interest Rates Are Feasible from a Technical Point of View.”)

# Competition from Generic Insulin Would Do a Lot to Reduce Medical Costs; But Reducing the Incidence of Type II Diabetes by Changes in the American Diet Would Do Much More

The social welfare benefits from improving the American diet (and the diet for most other countries) are large. One of the most important diseases fostered by a bad diet is Type II diabetes. In the article shown above, “Biohackers With Diabetes Are Making Their Own Insulin” Dana G. Smith gives this figure:

Diabetes has become the most expensive disease in the United States, reaching $327 billion a year in health care costs,$15 billion of which comes from insulin.

Dana explains the two forms of diabetes this way:

Insulin enables cells in the body to use glucose circulating in the blood as fuel. People with Type 1 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin, while people with Type 2 diabetes have become resistant to it. Without sufficient insulin, people experience high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, which, over the long term, can cause heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and nerve damage. In severe cases of insulin insufficiency, ketoacidosis sets in, where the liver releases too many ketones into the blood, turning the blood acidic and potentially ending in death.

Although Type I diabetes may be fostered by feeding the wrong type of cow’s milk to infants (see “Exorcising the Devil in the Milk,”and How Important is A1 Milk Protein as a Public Health Issue) I want to focus on Type II diabetes.

Since insulin’s job is to tell cells to take up sugar from the bloodstream, the more sugar enters the bloodstream, the harder insulin’s job is. The harder insulin’s job is, the more insulin has to be produced. And when a lot of insulin is produced, the cells that are being asked to take up sugar start to turn a partially deaf ear to the insulin—the phenomenon of insulin resistance. Since letting too much sugar remain in the bloodstream is very bad news, if cells become partially deaf to insulin, more insulin is produced in order to more loudly tell cells to take up insulin from the bloodstream, continuing the vicious cycle, unless something changes in the diet. At some point, if the vicious cycle continues to get worse, the resistance of cells to insulin outstrips the ability of the body to make insulin. That is what Type II diabetes is: insulin resistance so strong that bodily insulin production loses the race. Then the usual treatment is to inject insulin as a drug in order to shout even louder to cells to take up blood sugar.

But there is another way to treat diabetes once any acute emergency is taken care of: to change one’s diet to put less sugar in the bloodstream in the first place. Then, even with insulin resistance, the need for insulin is lessened. If blood sugar never gets that high to begin with, then modest levels of insulin will be enough to keep blood sugar at a reasonable level. What is even better, there is hope that the vicious cycle can be reversed into a virtuous circle, in which less insulin makes it so cells listen harder to the insulin that is produced. That is, there is hope the insulin resistance can be partly reversed if food-driven insulin production is reduced.

In addition, to the extent one eats in a way that drives up blood sugar less, less insulin is needed—whether produced by the body or injected—to keep blood sugar under control. This approach of using dietary changes to keep the need for insulin low is the approach of diabetes specialist Jason Fung, whose book The Obesity Code is featured in “Obesity Is Always and Everywhere an Insulin Phenomenon” and "Five Books That Have Changed My Life."

Which foods drive high insulin production and thereby incur the risk of insulin resistance? I address that question in “Forget Calorie Counting; It's the Insulin Index, Stupid.” The insulin index directly measures food-drive insulin production. It is highly correlated with the glycemic index, which measures what foods drive up blood sugar, that I discuss in “Using the Glycemic Index as a Supplement to the Insulin Index.” But there are some differences between the insulin index and the glycemic index, as I discuss in “Why a Low-Insulin-Index Diet Isn't Exactly a 'Lowcarb' Diet.” Notably, some kinds of meat lead the body to produce substantial amounts of insulin.

So far in this post I have emphasized the role of excessive food-driven insulin production as something that can lead to Type II diabetes. But there is more. When sugar is taken up out of the blood, where does it go? Some goes to muscles. But some of the blood sugar typically goes to fat cells to be turned into body fat. So the very moderation of food-driven insulin production that can help ward off Type II diabetes can also help ward off obesity.

As long as people continue to get either Type I or Type II diabetes, it is shameful that the drug companies are keeping insulin prices so high by various strategies. It is possible what they are doing is illegal. Dana writes:

There are currently several lawsuits accusing the three drug companies of price fixing. One class action complaint claims Eli Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk raised the list price of insulin in lockstep over the last 20 years, stating that the companies have been “unlawfully inflating the benchmark prices of rapid- and long-acting analog insulin drugs,” and placing them in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

But the production of generic insulin would only affect the $15 billion spend on insulin annually in the US, not the other$312 billion spent annually on other US diabetes-related health-care costs. And the production of generic insulin won’t do much to reduce the enormous nonfinancial suffering caused by diabetes. By contrast, changing the American diet could do a lot to reduce that \$312 billion per year on other diabetes-related health care costs and the nonfinancial suffering attendant upon diabetes.

Unlike some nutrition experts, I don’t think the bad American diet is all about companies and culture pulling people away from clearly articulated principles of healthy eating. I don’t think the principles of healthy eating are articulated that well at all to the general public. In “Crafting Simple, Accurate Messages about Complex Problems” I write the following (and in square brackets I extend my statement to diabetes):

I believe that fighting obesity [and preventing Type II diabetes] requires more focused advice. Not “Do everything right, and here is the long list.” Instead, start with one action: go off sugar. I give some advice for that in “Letting Go of Sugar.” Don’t worry about anything else in the area of diet and health until you have accomplished that. After that, you can see where to go next in “4 Propositions on Weight Loss.” And if that all becomes old hat, then I recommend a reading program. I hope my blog posts are of some help, but those blog posts also point to some useful books to read. (To summarize, see “3 Achievable Resolutions for Weight Loss.”)

I list other blog posts about diet and health below. If you are interested in diabetes and insulin, use control-f (or option-f) to search for the word “insulin” or “diabetes” on this page. To go beyond that, put “insulin” or “diabetes” in the blog search box at the top of the webpage. But if you do that, you’ll get a large fraction of all the posts below: insulin is central to my view of diet and health.

Don’t miss my other posts on diet and health:

I. The Basics

II. Sugar as a Slow Poison

III. Anti-Cancer Eating

IV. Eating Tips

V. Calories In/Calories Out

VI. Other Health Issues

VII. Wonkish

IX. Gary Taubes

XI. On My Interest in Diet and Health

See the last section of "Five Books That Have Changed My Life" and the podcast "Miles Kimball Explains to Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal Why Losing Weight Is Like Defeating Inflation." If you want to know how I got interested in diet and health and fighting obesity and a little more about my own experience with weight gain and weight loss, see “Diana Kimball: Listening Creates Possibilities and my post "A Barycentric Autobiography. I defend the ability of economists like me to make a contribution to understanding diet and health in “On the Epistemology of Diet and Health: Miles Refuses to Stay in His Lane’” and “Crafting Simple, Accurate Messages about Complex Problems.”

# John Locke: The Obligation to Obey the Law Does Not Apply to Laws Promulgated by Invaders and Usurpers Who Do Not Have the Consent of the Governed

If one regards the Witenagemot as the legitimate 11th century body to decide who the King of England should be in cases of contested succession, then William the Conqueror was a usurper. But I’ll bet John Locke regarded many of the successors to William the Conqueror as legitimate rulers. How can that be? The key is that anyone who ascended to the throne from a power politics point of view as the successor to a usurper has the opportunity to make their case to the people to become a ruler by the consent of the governed. Back then, this was not always done by submitting to an election, but still involved trying to appeal to the people. For example, Queen Elizabeth I made many efforts to appeal to the people for support and willingness to be governed by her.

The way John Locke frames things in Chapter XIX of his 2d Treatise on Government: Of Civil Government, “Of the Dissolution of Government” is that both invasion and usurpation return people to a state of nature in their obligations. Then they have the right to decide on whether they agree with a particular proposal for a new government with a new ruler:

§. 211. HE that will with any clearness speak of the dissolution of government, ought in the first place to distinguish between the dissolution of the society and the dissolution of the government. That which makes the community, and brings men out of the loose state of nature, into one politic society, is the agreement which every one has with the rest to incorporate, and act as one body, and so be one distinct commonwealth. The usual, and almost only way whereby this union is dissolved, is the inroad of foreign force making a conquest upon them: for in that case, (not being able to maintain and support themselves, as one entire and independent body) the union belonging to that body which consisted therein, must necessarily cease, and so every one return to the state he was in before, with a liberty to shift for himself, and provide for his own safety, as he thinks fit, in some other society. Whenever the society is dissolved, it is certain the government of that society cannot remain. Thus conquerors swords often cut up governments by the roots, and mangle societies to pieces, separating the subdued or scattered multitude from the protection of, and dependence on, that society, which ought to have preserved them from violence. The world is too well instructed in, and too forward to allow of, this way of dissolving of governments, to need any more to be said of it; and there wants not much argument to prove, that where the society is dissolved, the government cannot remain; that being as impossible, as for the frame of an house to subsist when the materials of it are scattered and dissipated by a whirlwind, or jumbled into a confused heap by an earthquake.

§. 212. Besides this overturning from without, governments are dissolved from within, First, When the legislative is altered. Civil society being a state of peace, amongst those who are of it, from whom the state of war is excluded by the umpirage which they have provided in their legislative, for the ending all differences that may arise amongst any of them, it is in their legislative, that the members of a commonwealth are united, and combined together into one coherent living body. This is the soul that gives form, life, and unity, to the commonwealth: from hence the several members have their mutual influence, sympathy and connexion: and therefore, when the legislative is broken, or dissolved, dissolution and death follows: for the essence and unity of the society consisting in having one will, the legislative, when once established by the majority, has the declaring, and as it were keeping of that will. The constitution of the legislative is the first and fundamental act of society, whereby provision is made for the continuation of their union, under the direction of persons, and bonds of laws, made by persons authorized thereunto, by the consent and appointment of the people, without which no one man, or number of men, amongst them, can have authority of making laws that shall be binding to the rest. When any one or more, shall take upon them to make laws, whom the people have not appointed so to do, they make laws without authority, which the people are not therefore bound to obey; by which means they come again to be out of subjection, and may constitute to themselves a new legislative, as they think best, being in full liberty to resist the force of those, who without authority would impose any thing upon them. Every one is at the disposure of his own will, when those who had, by the delegation of the society, the declaring of the public will, are excluded from it, and others usurp the place, who have no such authority or delegation.

The lack of obligation to obey laws promulgated by rulers who do not have the consent of the people is highly relevant in the situation in Venezuela, as of June 1, 2019: Nicolas Maduro, who has most of the army behind him, does not currently have the consent of the people in the sense of being able to win a free and fair election, which in addition to being an attractive principle in its own right, was the constitutionally established way of choosing a ruler. Many Venezuelans have therefore transferred their loyalty to Juan Guaidó, who has the consent of a large number of Venezuelans to be their ruler, as well as the diplomatic recognition from many other countries as a ruler chosen by a constitutional process, as least for an interim leading up to an election.

Having a dominant army at one’s command does not make one a legitimate ruler. The people must consent to one heading the government, or there is no legitimacy and no obligation to obey new laws.

To avoid anarchy, a good rule is that old laws, duly enacted by duly chosen rulers should still be obeyed while the struggle with invaders and usurpers is carried on. No one should feel they can commit murder unrelated to the struggle for freedom simply because a usurper is on the throne. And many crimes, such as rape, have no legitimate role in any struggle for freedom. It might be inconvenient that old, duly enacted laws may become somewhat outdated if the struggle for freedom continues on a long time before resolution. But even in those cases, leaning hard toward obeying old, duly-enacted laws is an important shield against anarchy.

For links to other John Locke posts, see these John Locke aggregator posts:

# Mark Fontana, Stephen Lyman, Gourab Sarker, Douglas Padgett and Catherine MacLean: Using Machine Learning to Predict Outcomes for Joint Surgery →

Mark Fontana is a coauthor of mine (“Reconsidering Risk Aversion,” with Dan Benjamin as well). I was the chair of his dissertation committee at the University of Michigan. He finished his Economics PhD in just 3 and a half years. This paper, on which he is the lead author (note the non-alphabetical ordering), gives a nice example of the use of machine learning.