Economy, Ego & Extropians

Rick Knight (
Wed, 21 May 97 10:35:55 CST


Thanks for your feedback. From an extropian p.o.v, I agree that
robotics has beneficial ramifications to a broad spectrum of our
society, provided our current work ethic evolves along with the
technology. Ask any blue collar worker whose livelihood has been
usurped by technology, they'd likely have a different (albeit
knee-jerk) view.

I'd need more convincing about your statement "The best way to help
people is to help yourself." Sounds kinda like the Republicans in the
80s with their trickle-down economics. It's also like the glass is
half-empty, half-full concept. It may be a very complex path from the
results of your efforts to the benefit they perceive (and they may not
be well-informed enough to even perceive it). Therefore, the concept
seems to require an installation of "faith" to power it. OTOH, you
can't help/love others until you help/love yourself. I agree with
that conceptually. It's just in our culture, the "pure concept"
becomes an entangled mess of complex exceptions and exclusions when
filtered through the bureaucracy, the propriety and materialistic

Bottom line: you can't help another person who is drowning if you are
in a vulnerable position of going under yourself. So I do agree that
those of us who are capable should get our ducks squarely lined up
(financially and otherwise). However, I don't think we need to spend
extra time wringing out our wet clothes while the needy continue to
thrash in water over their heads. They don't KNOW how to swim.
Whether it's their fault or they deserve what they get is secondary
when they are about to perish.

Also, let me just reiterate that financial investment is not an issue
I disdain. I'd like to become more adept at understanding the current
mechanism and I'm appreciating the contributions made along this
thread. I am concerned at how quickly we forget where we came from in
our own financial climb. Our "standard of living" gets higher, we
want more "stuff" and there seems to be less connection to the
community needs and our ability to assist.

Looking to the future with a more extropian outlook, I'd like to see a
move beyond the current concept of market economy. Nanotechnology, if
its promise of providing everything from manufactured electronics to
assembled filet mignon, could facilitate a smooth transition from a
hoarding, survivalist self-oriented mentality to a connected,
supportive and benevolent one. I think utopia is possible and I refuse
to believe that humanity isn't capable of transcending instinctual,
animalstic tendencies to survive at all costs.

If extropian thinking means pushing the envelope, I'd like to include
the eventual elimination of the apathy we use as a protection against
feeling for those who "have not" (those on the economic edge who
unluckily fall off) or "can not" (mentally ill/emotionally abused).
The other group, the "will nots"--that group of non-contributors who
prefer non-participation--are a tougher group for which to drum up
genuine compassion. I don't know how to regard people who expect to
live in a structured community but not contribute to it.

As I become more aware of the tenets of libertarianism, I'm still not
sure at how compassion for the disenfranchised sector fits into the
schema. From what I can perceive, impassive and continuous giving is
considered a dysfunctional form of "enabling", only serving to
perpetuate their lack of usefulness. I don't want to have tax dollars
going toward a feeble welfare system, one so over-burdened with
bureaucracy that people blatantly take full advantage of it and suck
it dry. But how can I stand in judgment of that type of person when
in some capacity, we all take advantage of a system, whether it's
driving past the agreed upon speed limit, eluding building permit
rules, excluding items on our tax returns, or using company e-mail to
spout our personal agendas <G>. The welfare hackers just seem more
obvious and, perhaps despicable, because they are lower in the class
system and provide no ongoing contribution to justify the peccadilloes
of their higher class fellow citizens.

Perhaps a question to end with is how does extropian
living/thinking/feeling empower beyond the self? Is self-empowerment
the tried-and-true solution to community/national/planetary
enhancement or is it merely a notion of the noble-minded


Rick Knight