Re: One humanity, all in the same boat

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Thu Jan 17 2002 - 02:42:52 MST

Chris Hibbert wrote:

> [This may get threaded wrong on Javien. I deleted Samantha's message that I'm
> responding to, so I'm responding to the closest place I can find, which is
> Lee's response to the msg I'm answering.]
> My comments are quoted by an even number of ">", while Samantha's have an odd
> number. Zero is an even number.
>>>>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 hirable?
>>>[I assume "companies" is a typo for "countries".]
>>Why would you assume that? It does not follow.
> Sorry. Glad I was explicit about what I thought you meant.
> I assumed it because, in my world view, it is not the responsibility
> of companies to ensure that "people below a certain intelligence and
> level of training" are employable.
> You seem to believe that it's a collective responsibility, so I groped for
> an interpretation of something that didn't make sense to me otherwise.

I believe it is a responsibility of people to make the world
such as they would wish to live in. Whatever groupings they do
that from within is less of a concern. I don't think the world
we want is one where advancing technology can simply make us and
our wealth accumulated to date irrelevant and where that means
that we cannot survive and take part in what we helped bring
about as we aren't economically viable contributors any longer.
  If this is the type of world we (or a lot of us) do want and
expect then let us be clear about that. Just waving our hands
and saying it will never come to that seems inadequate. I have
no reason to believe it cannnot come to that given current
economic/sociological models expressed partially on the list.
So I ask what people think of this possibility and what they
wish to be the shape of the world they inhabit in this respect.
How we shape the world to what we wish is a question for later on.

>>>One of the charities I give to (as I've mentioned before) is Trickle Up.
>>This is commendable. But the question remains of what happens
>>when these measures prove inadequate.
> People do something about it. You keep implying that you think the right
> answer is "People force other people to do something about it", but you
> disclaim any actual plan.

I actually said nothing at all of the kind. I simply asked the
questions that I believe must be answered if we are to envision
what kind of world we wish to acheive and our place within it.
Doing so is required if we are to have a reasonable chance of
creating such a world.

>>What of those others who have no aunts and uncles,
>>parents or other benefactors in such a position and with such
>>generosity? Are we to say it is ok to lose those minds, minds
>>that may have been of great benefit?
> I said (immediately following the sentence you reacted to) that I believe
> that everyone should be allowed to deduct contributions for education
> given to anyone. I won't get any tax advantage for contributing to my
> nieces and nephews, so I'm only willing to do it for relatives. If it was
> tax deductible, many people and companies would give a lot.

And I do agree that this is a good idea. It is one I have
advocated for some time.

>>>The best the government could do would be to allow any tax payer to take a
>>>deduction for any contribution to anyone's education. Doesn't matter whether
>>>the student is related or not. Same for corporations. More education is good
>>>for all of us, but making it an entitlement is bad for all of us.
>>I don't agree it is bad for all of us.
> Okay, we'll have to disagree about that. I believe making it something
> anyone can demand and the rest have to pay for (including poor people who
> pay taxes--remember that it's not just the rich that pay taxes) is wrong.

Well, that departs a bit from the question itself into the realm
of who pays taxes (or other means of contributing to such needs)
and how much different parties pay. But ok.

>>As these things go it is
>>one of the few entitlements that I believe makes sense.
> If I believed in entitlements, I might agree with you.

I don't believe in entitlements as commonly conceived but I do
believe that in a rich culture citizens should be able to take
for granted much more than that they can work for everything
they get in fundamental realms like education.

>>I would limit it in that those who take advantage of
>>it must keep certain academic standards.
> It will be far easier for me to impose standards on my neices and nephews
> than for the government to impose any standards. This is an aside about
> efficiency and effectiveness, not about morality.

You may have a point there when the "standards" become a
political football with accusations of the standard being biased
for and against certain groups, being "elitist" and all the rest
of the garbage.

>>No. I am unhappy because I personally know a great number of
>>bright minds that are wasted and I recognize they are the tip of
>>the iceberg. [...] So I am not awfully
>>impressed when I see fine graphs saying everything is getting
>>better. I do not personally believe it. I don't have the
>>statistics to back it up but my gut says something is damn fishy.
> Okay. If personal experience is more convincing than statistics, whatever
> the source, I'll stop here. Simon's statistics summarize the experience
> of far more people than you or I could ever talk to. They abstract out a
> lot of personal defeats and successes, but they're the best evidence we
> have about the real effects of real policies in the real world over time.

Simon's statistics can be countered with other statistics and we
can have a jolly time for quite a while arguing about the merits
and demerits of various sources and even wading into the wilds
of statistical theory. Many statistics are based on more people
than you or I talk to but they don't all agree with one another
by any means. At bottom, even in the elite sphere, my personal
take is things are not so rosy as Simon usually paints them.

- samantha

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