RE: `capitalist' character values

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sun Jul 22 2001 - 11:52:03 MDT

Damien writes

> But the socially redemptive virtues you invoke only deserve to be installed
> and maintained if the world keeps kicking over in the same old way. And we
> here on this list have agreed, pretty much (haven't we?), that this sure
> isn't too likely.

Yes, but (as you said in some text I deleted) it could take a while
to ramp up to the Singularity. More important, perhaps, is that I
just have a problem suggesting to people---say in their early twenties---
that saving money is probably pointless, working hard (and getting a
good job), educating yourself (even if you don't feel like it)...
I just have a hard problem suggesting to them that they needn't do
these things. I'm pretty sure you feel the same way. I think that
people are simply better off if they follow the "old" maxims.

> Aside: In THE SPIKE I advocate measures such as guaranteed income, funded
> from taxes, as a stop-gap to alleviate the worst effects of patchy poverty
> caused, in many cases, by a specific family history of prejudice, neglect
> or cultural deracination, and also to help salvage those flung out of work
> due to the acceleration of technological innovations.

I'm not bitterly wedded to any precise view on all this; that is,
as I've said "when we are rich enough then okay" (a view which
could be ridiculed, and perhaps rightly so by many here), then
at that "faraway" time, sure, let's feed everyone.

My question for you is this: don't you think it somewhat inappropriate
to extort money from one set of persons (those who have innocently
accumulated wealth by self-denial, hard work, talent, industry, thrift,
or service to others), and bestow it on some other people? You're
familiar with the libertarian view that abhors initial use of force.
(I'm just not familiar with what your answer would be, sorry.) Do you
see this as a case of the end justifying the means?

> The idea, after all, isn't to make every poor person a millionaire,
> just to make certain that they're modestly housed, clothed and fed.
> And if they spend their small pittance on booze and drugs and big
> screen TV sets? I dunno, line 'em up against the wall and shoot 'em?
> (For future readers of the archives: that was just a tasteless joke,
> not a policy recommendation.)

:-) tasteless, perhaps. I seriously doubt that you or I, Damien,
are to liable to feel attacked by innuendo and sarcasm, but many
people will. Frankly, I am afraid to indulge in excess sarcasm
about the beliefs of people on this list with whom I disagree---I've
already seen some completely inexplicable flying-off-the-handle even
when I was as discreet as I could possibly be. I don't want there
to be a double-standard of who gets to make jokes about nazis, or
shooting people and who doesn't. I'm sure that you don't either :-)

> That diversion aside, I repeat: Making provision in the old-fashioned way,
> and inculcating the personal values appropriate to the frontier or the
> 1930s or 1950s, looks totally pointless in a world we expect to see
> transformed exponentially during the immediate decades ahead.

People like Bill Gates now have wealth that is on the order
of 10^7 times as much as some poor person needs to sustain
life. Maybe it would be best to wait until that figure gets
to 10^12 or 10^13, because then a number of compassionate rich
people will simply fund a minimal standard of living for everyone.
This should occur as we approach the Singularity, and we don't
the onerous stealing from the rich to give to the poor (by force).


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