RE: Today's Headlines from Wednesday, July 4, 2001

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Fri Jul 13 2001 - 02:45:40 MDT

Miriam writes

> The USA doesn't have the highest standard of living in the western
> world because of the way the rich feed off the poor there.

I'd rather hear a couple of concise paragraphs that had an
argument in them, rather that just a throw-away line like
that looks like it's designed to incite some flames. (If I
got on to a list dominated by socialists, and I wanted to
challenge their beliefs, I'd try to get them to examine some
deep seated value that they held differently from me.)

The difference between the richest and poorest Austrialians is
a factor in wealth of perhaps a hundred thousand to one. You
could start by explaining why the rich aren't feeding off the
poor in the countries that you approve of. Another short paragraph
could describe a potential solution, how some vanguard of the
people could cause wealth to be equally distributed, perhaps
along the lines of "from each according to his ability, and to
each according to his need".

It would, of course, be asking a lot to wonder if you'd be
interested in perusing Hayek and trying to spot the flaws.

> Reagan, with his heavily pro-market-economy stance gave USA
> the distinction of the highest infant mortality rate in the
> developed world. [Maybe this is a good time to don my
> asbestos suit.]

Another declaration completely bereft of evidence, explanation,
or argument. Is this the sort of flame that you were hoping for?

> Nature, red in tooth and claw is a 19th century concept. It
> is only half of the picture. Altruism is the other half.

That is exactly correct. In the last two decades, anthropologists
and ethologists have pretty well established that human altruism
is genetic. The mechanisms are described at length in Matt Ridley's
"The Origins of Virtue", and Sarah Hrdy's "Mother Nature", among
several other books that I could name.

> The really cool thing about humans is this incredible brain we possess. We
> don't know where the next brilliant mind will come from. The little kid
> whose mother is barely scraping by on welfare may be the one who solves the
> problem of non-destructively scanning the human brain for uploading.

Anything is possible. That same little kid could turn out to be
a drug kingpin. What do you think the respective chances are?
Then consider the oldest child of the youngest man and wife
research team at the Mayo Clinic. Their kid too could turn out
to be either the problem solver you alluded to or the drug kingpin
that I mentioned. The chances, as you know, are not the same,
doubtless because the evil capitalists are grinding people down :-)


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