Re: true abundance?

Date: Sat Feb 10 2001 - 12:20:15 MST

In a message dated 1/30/01 5:20:31 AM Central Standard Time, writes:

> > The majority of human progress
> > comes from a relative handful of creative and energetic people, not from
> > the masses of humankind.
> Depends how you define 'progress'. And on the ability to selectively
> ignore the necessary prerequisites for those 'creative and energetic
> people' to do their things. Behind every aerospace engineer or chip
> designer there's a small army of people working supermarket checkouts and
> farms and food factories (so the engineers don't have to hunt their food
> every day with a flint spear), valeting maintaining and manufacturing
> their cars (so the engineers don't have to walk to work every day),
> building houses and mowing their lawns for them, and so on. These people
> are not clearly part of the creative process -- but without them, there
> couldn't be a creative process because the creative person would be too
> bloody busy staying alive to get creating.

All true, but . . .
> From this viewpoint, being creative and innovative is merely a
> specialisation, of no more importance to the running of things than
> being paid to clean toilets for a living.

This doesn't follow at all. Some kinds of specialization require far more
knowledge, training and skill than others. The more specialized knowledge
and skill a particular job requires, the less fungible are the people who
perform that work. From a strictly economic point of view, the jobs
requiring more specialized training and skill ARE "more important" - so long
as they provide value to others which people are willing to pay for. With
some notable exceptions, work that requires a lot of specialized knowledge
and skill tends to be valued - in economic terms - more highly than those
that do not have such requirements. This isn't a question of basic human
dignity, but of simple economics.
> I've noticed a tendency of people on this list -- and of libertarians
> in general -- to flatter themselves with the idea that they belong to
> some tiny elite, buried in the seething masses, who actually make
> things work and civlization progress. Well, it might be true -- and
> that might be a pig I see through my study window, on final approach
> into Turnhouse airport. Folks, we *are* those masses. Doesn't matter
> if most of them are dumb as a plank; we're still related.

You may be right about a tendency of libertarians to consider themselves in
the manner you describe. And as has been pointed out recently in another
thread, people tend to over-estimate their intelligence and competence in a
negative ratio to the reality of their character and circumstances. But the
truth is that knowledge, talent, energy and skill are not evenly distributed
among people. People with high levels of these characteristics tend to
produce value at a higher rate than people who do not. Again, this is not a
matter of human dignity, just the economic reality of life in society.

> I figure that if you want to set ethical goals for extropians, taking
> those dumb-as-a-plank people and helping them learn to *think* would
> be a good starting point for activism. Denying that they're *capable*
> of thought is actually a first step down another road -- one that leads
> to a hereditary aristocracy or a caste system.

I agree with all of this. The greatest resource we have is the potential
locked up in PEOPLE. Figuring out how to cultivate and express that resource
is the number one priority of any society I want to live in.

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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