"People come to believe whatever they need to believe when they need to believe it. Recent studies of voting patterns confirm the obvious. Zombies vote for higher taxes. Cronies vote for lower taxes. All believe they are voting for matters of principle.
...In public life, people generally believe the dominant myth of the system in which they live. We are all democrats in the U.S. We believe in electing our leaders. But there is no particular reason why this method should be superior to choosing our leaders by lottery or hand-to-hand combat.
Throughout most of history, people believed in other systems. If we lived in a kingdom, we would probably believe strongly in monarchy. If we had a dictator, we’d probably have his name on our bumpers. And if we lived in a theocracy, we would kneel for prayer at the appointed hour.
...The U.S. became an empire without anyone noticing. But now, Americans believe in empire… So much so that they are willing to spend trillions of dollars to maintain it.
...Everything regresses to the mean – including the wealth of an individual or a group. Even our own lives regress. No one was ever born who was not destined to die. The mean is the grave – for which we are all bound.
When a man gets a certain amount of money, he takes up the beliefs of a man who needs to spend it. He believes he needs a bigger house. He believes that more expensive wine is better than the cheap stuff. He may even take a course on wine… and bore his friends and neighbors with his sophisticated palette."