Re: `capitalist' character values

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sun Jul 22 2001 - 18:12:23 MDT

Lee Corbin wrote:
> 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.

Sure. I have a hard problem with that too. But who is saying
that? Certainly not I or anyone else I have heard here. Whether
it takes 5 years or 5 centuries you have to create and sustain
health whole people to the maximum extent you can. That is the
only way to minimize the costs and risks of getting there
intelligently and morally.

We disagree on what some of the needed values are, not on
whether strong values are necessary.

> > 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.

Technically and economically we can feed everyone right now.
The main barriers are all political. Waiting until after MNT is

> 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?

If that was the only way to model it or was a fair and
reasonably full accounting then sure I would think it was
wrong. However, it is not so that everyone creates their own
wealth relatively by themselves out of self-denial, hard work,
talent and industry. Several more wide-spread societal factors
entire into the equation for many of us. Without being in a
society that recognized certain talents, provided for education
(to some but not adequate degree) and had certain types of
economic and political frameworks in place many of us would not
have the relative amount of wealth we do. Also, it needs to be
pointed out that the level of
expertise/intelligence/ability/training necessary to have a
truly livable wage from a traditional job is increasing. The
level of automation of jobs formerly done by people is
increasing. Over time there will simply not be jobs for more
and more people that they can actually do efficiently enough to
justify the paying them a living wage for the work. In that
case what would you advise? That these people simply starve if
they can't be trained quickly enough for the higher tech jobs?

Do we have to wait all the way to MNT to share some of the
proceeds of our ever-expanding plenty with those who no longer
are hirable at a living wage?

> > 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).

In the meantime what? Starvation?

- samantha

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:39:54 MDT