Darwin on Wall Street

THIS APPEARED ON CRAIG’S LIST I’m a beautiful (spectacularly beautiful) 25 year old girl. I’m articulate and classy… I’m looking to get married to a guy who makes at least half a million a year. I know how that sounds, but keep in mind that a million a year is middle class in New York City… Are there any guys who make 500K or more on this board?… I dated a business man who makes average around 200–250. But that’s where I seem to hit a roadblock. 250,000 won’t get me to central park west. I know a woman in my yoga class who was married to an investment banker and lives in Tribeca, and she’s not as pretty as I am, nor is she a great genius. So what is she doing right?… Here are my questions specifically:… What are you looking for in a mate? Be honest guys, you won’t hurt my feelings… Why are some of the women living lavish lifestyles on the upper east side so plain? I’ve seen really ‘plain jane’ boring types who have nothing to offer married to incredibly wealthy guys. I’ve seen drop dead gorgeous girls in singles bars in the east village… How you decide marriage vs. just a girlfriend? I am looking for MARRIAGE ONLY. Please hold your insults – I’m putting myself out there in an honest way. Most beautiful women are superficial; at least I’m being up front about it. I wouldn’t be searching for these kind of guys if I wasn’t able to match them – in looks, culture, sophistication, and keeping a nice home and hearth.

Well, she got an answer:

I read your posting with great interest and have thought meaningfully about your dilemma. I offer the following analysis of your predicament.

Firstly, I’m not wasting your time, I qualify as a guy who fits your bill; that is I make more than $500K per year. That said here’s how I see it.

Your offer, from the prospective of a guy like me, is plain and simple a crappy business deal. Here’s why. Cutting through all the B.S., what you suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party and I bring my money. Fine, simple. But here’s the rub, your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into perpetuity…in fact, it is very likely that my income increases but it is an absolute certainty that you won’t be getting any more beautiful!

So, in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset. Not only are you a depreciating asset, your depreciation accelerates! Let me explain, you’re 25 now and will likely stay pretty hot for the next 5 years, but less so each year. Then the fade begins in earnest. By 35 stick a fork in you!

So in Wall Street terms, we would call you a trading position, not a buy and hold…hence the rub…marriage. It doesn’t make good business sense to “buy you” (which is what you’re asking) so I’d rather lease. In case you think I’m being cruel, I would say the following. If my money were to go away, so would you, so when your beauty fades I need an out. It’s as simple as that. So a deal that makes sense is dating, not marriage… I hope this is helpful, and if you want to enter into some sort of lease, let me know.

Unstated but assumed in all of this is what philosopher D. C. Stove, in his book of the same name, would call a Darwinian Fairy Tale, the fairy tale here being that because there is a theoretical evolutionary basis for rich men to pursue beautiful women, they must in fact follow this course. Stove, an Australian who died in 1993, had an eclectic collection of traits: he was an atheist with respect for if not belief in religious writing, a believer in evolution but not the Darwinian explanation of it, a rationalist who was opposed to ages of what he called Enlightenment, and apparently took aim at a number of other topics, including post-structuralist criticism and other ills of the modern age. One imagines him a loud-mouthed, know-it-all, in-your-face, take-on-the-whole-world-in-a-second kind of fellow; in other words, an honorary New Yorker.

Stove traces the intellectual history of Darwin’s Origin of Species, showing how critically it relies upon that Anglican parson’s argument in the Essay on the Principle of Population. Stove shows thatDarwin, having not learned not to use broad statements, claimed that Malthus’ principle applied to all species that had undergone evolution, including Homo sapiens sapiensis, and that under the pressure to compete and reproduce, each member of a species will always have the maximum number of offspring that available food supplies would bear.

Using an almost praxeological approach (anathema to strict believers in quantifiable Science), Stove reasons from first principles that this simply is not so. (Not surprisingly, he is not a fan of Karl Popper.) Even royalty, with practically unlimited resources, would still limit the size of their families, often leading to the extinction of their lines. Stove recounts that this was part of the reason that what he calls Darwinists were so opposed to religions: their moral codes interfered with what would happen in a state of nature, which led mankind to not follow the precepts of evolution, meaning that there was one species that did not follow the theory. (Stove has a little fun with Richard Dawkins [although not as much as these guys], following Mary Midgely’s criticism of Evolution as a Religion, by claiming that Sociobiology is merely a religion following in the footsteps of its founding father, British theologian William Paley.)

Stove also traces not just a hostility to religion amongst Darwinists, but also an active support for Darwinism among socialists, communists and national socialists. He implies but does not state that Darwinism might be incompatible with free-market capitalism, though the iconoclastic Stove gives little indication of whether he favors the latter.

This tale from New York would seem to back Stove up on that point. Here, the institution of property rights interferes with what should be the Darwinian tale. Indeed, if the banker expected that his wealth would be quickly seized, he might be more prone to using his position to secure favors, aspoliticiansareknowntodo; this echoes Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s argument in Democracy, The God That Failed. The same behavior would obtain in a society where monogamy was not the norm, as seen amongst chimpanzees, lions and kangaroos, to choose three examples at random; males compete to gather the largest group of females, and there is no way to preserve wealth beyond the stage of physical primacy. In this way, property rights work against the natural aggression seen in societies where “alpha males” dominate. That New York is not yet such a place is only one pleasing conclusion to draw from this amusing exchange.


~ by searching4alpha on October 27, 2007.

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