Fw: `capitalist' character values

From: Olga Bourlin (fauxever@sprynet.com)
Date: Fri Jul 27 2001 - 12:30:50 MDT

> > Lee wrote
> >> Also, I know that the temptation to sarcasm is
> >> strong---especially when one feels outnumbered.

> I was just projecting. This list has a history of being dominated
> by libertarians, and sometimes I've noticed people resorting to
> sarcasm not out of a justifiable cleverness, nor to be funny, but
> to consisely answer a lot of challenges. Their emotions also show
> through.

I cannot predict how my occasional use of sarcasm will play (clever? funny?
chickenshit?), and I cannot promise my emotions won't show through (although
I'm not overly sentimental). I can't even say I won't be stumped for
answers, sometimes, but part of the reason I joined this list is to learn
things. For a freedom-loving libertarian (I'm assuming you are one), you
surely have a lot of rules and expectations ... sheesh!

> >> In a society of millions, or hundreds of millions, some
> >> people's economic worth to others will be vastly more
> >> than other's economic worth. Should school teachers be
> >> paid more than movie stars? Who is to say? The answer
> >> is not [to let] some committee force their decision on
> >> others, but [to let] people freely choose with their
> >> dollar-votes.
> >
> > But which committee decides the worth of those dollar-votes?

> Ahem, I'm not getting the idea across. Choosing with
> 'dollar-votes' is libertarian-speak for free choice
> made through purchasing power.

But before people go shopping with their wads of money grasped firmly in
their fists, somebody, somewhere decides CEOs' salaries. Somebody,
somewhere decides that sanitation workers (who perform an important function
for our society) receive a lot less money than physicians (who also perform
an important function for our society). It's more like, somebody-somewhere
decides, and then the people march to their tune (through purchasing power).
Whether "somebody-somewhere" is a committee, a board of directors, or a
corporation ... what's to prevent "self-service above all" from occurring?
(I sent along another post regarding this, about the tech layoffs in the
Seattle area, which play into this subject.)

> >> Yes, sometimes the differences are obscene.
> >
> > So are you saying, "so what?"
> Yes, I'm saying that just because Spielberg
> makes fifty million dollars a year, and some
> teacher makes twenty thousand, there is no
> need for some committee to decide how much
> Mr. Spielberg "is really entitled to" and
> to transfer (by force, not persuasion) some
> portion of his income to teachers.

But don't the teachers transfer some of their income to Spielberg, as well?
(I'm talking about taxes, not movie tickets.) Doesn't Spielberg get more
than enough to live on, in any case (whether he pays taxes or not)?
Spielberg - being rich, though - isn't just making whatever salary he gets
for moviemaking. He's probably living for free, as he probably has owned
houses through the years, which have appreciated.

I'm not exactly rich, but I can tell you I've been living for free since
1981, since the first time I owned a house. What a surprise it was the
first time I sold that house - not only did I get all the money back from
interest, principal, and all the money I ever put into construction costs,
realtor's fees and the rest - but I actually made more money. And I've been
living from free since then. My job pays for food, clothes and such, as
well as my present mortgage - but when I move, I'll probably get all that
mortgage money back, and then some, again (this has been a 100% sure thing
for 20 years, but I'm only extrapolating, not really knowing what the future
will bring). Granted, since 1981 I've lived in California and now
Washington, where property values have kept going up more than in some other
states, but it seems the "haves" (and I consider myself one, now that I've
been able to live for free for 2 decades) have nothing to complain about. I
know, I know, not everyone believes as I do, but that's my take on this
issue. And I appreciate the many people - even poor people - who have paid
their taxes so that I've been able to live for free for so long (what with
tax write-offs and property values soaring). I figure, the least I can do
is not begrudge those poorer ("have-nots") people who have not jumped on the
gravy train of home ownership.

> > I'm only glad the libertarians weren't in
> > "charge" during the Civil Rights Movement.
> > The differences, obscene as they are now,
> > would have been even more so. Where would
> > we be now - still living in a segregated
> > society?
> My guess is that offensive racist behavior would have
> mostly faded by now---it was already on its way out
> when government decided to use force.

I don't know what part of the country you are living, but racist behavior
has not faded in Seattle, Washington. And we are considered to be
"tolerant," as cities go ...

  Soon, starting
> with the most educated people, pre-judging someone
> based only on their race would seem stupid in the south,
> just as it had already started to seem stupid in the
> north. My opinion is that most whites would in that
> case still view blacks as underdogs, and thus be willing
> to be pretty sympathetic, just as underdogs always a
> favorite. But for this change to happen naturally would
> take several generations, and revolutionaries are never
> content with that.

I see no reason to eat my ACLU membership card just yet, then (this refers
to another post where I challenged any libertarian to come up with a good
solution to the problem we've had with "race" in our country, especially the
South and segregation). I appreciate that you took the time to answer from
your perspective, Lee (and I always appreciate people taking time from their
busy and not-yet-infinite precious lives), but I think you're being overly
optimistic as far as people becoming more tolerant on their own. Even as de
jure segregation went down in flames (literally, at times), I see de facto
segregation everywhere (schools, work, social functions, you name it). I've
been seeing it, I've talked to people who have been affected by it
(recently), and it comes in all forms, from subtle to out-there outright.
It's cruel and it's unfair.

> But we'd be without the arrogance of whites "granting"
> them rights, favoring them because they had to (by law),
> making it impossible for a black to tell whether he got
> an important job on his own merits, or whether it was
> merely the result of affirmative action, and so on.

WARNING - sarcasm straight ahead: Do you mean to imply George W. Bush is
not an Affirmative Action Baby?

> Thomas Sowell documents in excruciating detail the horrible
> results of affirmative action: black students that would
> have been very competant at a typical UC school (where I
> went) got drafted into the very best classes at MIT and
> Cal Tech, and got creamed. Then the second tier of
> black students was placed, over their heads, in schools
> such as mine, and got humiliated again (even though they
> studied very hard). And finally, this evil process
> denuded the lower colleges of the worthy black students
> who should have been attending (but were shuffled into
> higher ones), in order to guarantee failure at all levels.
> Such things happen when we follow government edicts instead
> of evolutionary processes.

You got Thomas Sowell. I got Randall Robinson. I don't mean to be flip,
but, I have read Sowell and I have read Robinson, and Robinson's my man.
And Robinson's is more than that - he's a heroic man, who has acted
honorably to help bring about the end of apartheid in South Africa.

> > Switching to the utterly mundane, thanks for correcting my
> > "obcene" typo, Lee ... I hate it when I do that.

> You're very welcome. If I want my posts to be read, then
> I want them readable.

For a non-native speaker, I get by!

> If the government didn't end up taking half (!) my
> money, I would indeed be vastly more charitable. Now,
> we think of it as "the government's" responsibility,
> and it was a big mistake for it to have ever come to
> this.

Yes, Lee, but do you own your house? Then maybe you live free, as I do, and
looking at it this way, that "half" of your salary isn't really all gone ...
just in a holding pattern. Don't think "half" - think "have."


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