Re: One humanity, all in the same boat

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Wed Jan 02 2002 - 21:46:03 MST

Chris Hibbert wrote:

> Since I was on vacation, I wasn't able to speak up, so I'll do so now. I
> believe in comparative advantage. I think that the "creative destruction"
> that the market practices is a good thing. There can be no progress if
> businesses cannot fail. The constant change produces an environment that
> requires every enterprise to constantly improve its productivity. That
> means finding the most cost effective ways to get the job done. When that
> means hiring overseas, it's the right thing to do. The people fired in
> the wake of change are idle hands ready to work on the next thing to come
> along. In a free society, someone will find work for them. (If you are
> idle, and no one has work for you, be the someone yourself!) It is only
> in societies that outlaw new enterprise that unemployment is a problem.

This would be nice to believe but to simply assert it seems a
bit, well, doctrinaire. As I have asked many times here and
haven't really been answered, what happens when there is no
market due to automation and continually more sophisticated
technology, for anyone with less than a certain amount of
general intelligence and a fair amount of training? It is not
at all clear to me that there will always be a market for
everyone to find a job in just because the society has free
markets. It is also not clear to me that having a "job" is the
best and only reasonable way that citizens may be productive or
that they have access to a reasonable level of compfort and
freedom to pursue their happiness. The "job" paradigm may be
increasingly obsolete as may be some old economic models based
in more scarcity and less high technology.

> I don't think national boundaries should matter for trade or for jobs.
> The current pragmatics are that our welfare laws make it tough to allow
> unlimited entry. The recent terrorist acts, and the continuing concern
> about further acts have provided an opening for those who believe in
> glorifying artificial boundaries. I think we should be very careful
> about
> allowing these concerns to push us too far from our long-standing policy
> of
> open borders.

> Some here have argued that we need to make sure that those who enter
> already hold beliefs consistent with our trusting society. I will only
> concede on the point of those who want to come here to perpetrate
> violence. Other than that, I'd welcome any who want to work, to raise
> children, or to get an education. Whatever they're looking for is
> available only as part of a bundle that will entice them or their children
> into buying the package.

Also agreed.
> They don't come here (other than the terrorists) in order to find a more
> comfortable version of home. If they come for a living wage, they'll
> find they have to live and work among a diversity of people. If they

Not so clear because of the above. Increasingly it may not be
economically feasible to hire and train people in many
companies, at least not people below a certain intelligence and
level of training. What then for these people who are no longer

> come
> for an education, they'll have to work to make it. When they start a
> family, they'll yearn for the same comforts for their children as the
> rest of us, and work as hard as it takes to make it.

Personally, I still think the US can do a lot worse than provide
some reasonable stipend in the form of a grant (say 12,000/yr)
to every capable adult who wishes to continue his/her
education. The need is great to get a more educated population
and workforce and we can't wait for "trickle-down" to have it.
> Me, too.
> > Only the most clueless of Singularity gradualists, in severe hard takeoff
> > denial, could even begin to imagine that the Singularity was an argument
> > for Social Darwinism [...] If the value of the whole
> > world is a quadrillion dollars, and a quintillion dollars of new wealth is
> > created by an egalitarian superintelligence, the previous distribution of
> > wealth becomes irrelevant. [...] We win together, or lose together. We
> > are all in the same boat.
> I kept trying to figure out what I disagreed with about this. I'm sure
> I'm a "Singularity gradualist, in severe hard takeoff denial." But I
> end
> up thinking that the argument is stronger from a gradualist perspective.
> The statistics (according to Julian Simon, of course) show that in most

? I am not altogether sure I can trust Julian Simon for such

> cases, as technology advances, the rich do keep getting richer, but the
> gap keeps getting proportionately smaller. Those who worry about the
> have-nots, when they have statistics always show the ones that show that
> some people are still behind, and don't check to see whether they are
> catching up. We can argue about gradualism again, but since we agree on
> the outcome, there's no need to do so here.

I do not find the above tenable. Especially not now when even a
lot of very highly trained and motivated friends of mine are out
of work and have been for months. Our system is not working all
that smoothly right now. And I would also question relative
purchase power figures when it takes two wage earners in more
and more households today to just break reasonably even, even
without a lot of consumerist over-spending, than it did in my
parent's generation. It also takes longer in many parts of the
country and is accessible to fewer levels of income, to own a
home of one's own.

Now all of this may be moot in the event of a hard take-off
soon. But there is a little problem in maximizing our human
lives and resources of brains and talents in order to get to
take-off whether it comes soon or later and is gradual or sharp.

> wrote:
> > [...] though I prefer cooperation, I realize that all may
> > never feel this way. I am opposed to giving away the store, without
> > anything in return, because I believe mutuality and reciprocation are
> > what guarnatees cooperation, not noble words.

Why not open up more stores by enabling a lot of other people to
do so that wouldn't otherwise? Is this not helpful to the
causes we care about?

> I believe we benefit by taking advantage of others attempt to attack us by
> subsidizing the goods they sell us. I believe we are harmed when we cut
> off trade to punish another country's acts. (In both sentences, there
> are different groups represented by the various uses of "we" and "us".
> We (society, government, pick your favorite agent) don't have the right
> to
> force some to pay the cost.) On the whole, we'll all be better off if
> we
> pursue a consistent unilateral policy of free trade.

Generally I agree with some serious caveats for various
"intellectual property" rights issues and issues about what is
best organized as a commons rather than as property in order to
produce the most benefit to us all.
- samantha

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