This essay is focused on the relationships between institutions that exert influence to varying degrees over individuals. But it is also about the atomic structures of these institutions-in other words, the persons that compose institutions. It is important to understand the composition of the macro-picture at the micro level: a great deal can be learned about the nature of an institution by analyzing its components.

It is the purpose of this essay to analyze economic institutions and then social and political ones. This ordering is intentional, because underlying the thesis of this paper is that economics is the fundamental science of humanity (and all other animals), and that social and political institutions are designed to optimize economic utility. But because economic institutions have their most important consequences in social and political institutions, this essay should not read like a highly theoretical and purely economic treatise. Rather, it is our purpose to look at economic theory as applied to real life.


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