RE: `capitalist' character values

From: Barbara Lamar (
Date: Sun Jul 22 2001 - 14:29:34 MDT

Lee Corbin wrote:

>I just have a problem suggesting to people---say in their early
>that saving money is probably pointless, working hard (and getting a
>good job), educating yourself (even if you don't feel like it)...
>I just have a hard problem suggesting to them that they needn't do
>these things.

One does not have to tell people it's pointless to work hard, get a good job
(or, more broadly speaking, well-paying work), get a good education. But for
those of us in the position to give advice, it would seem irresponsible to
tell people to do those things to the exclusion of maintaining flexibility,
CONTINUING one's education beyond the usual 4 to 8 years of university
study, not tying oneself too tightly to any one kind of work. In the 1950's
and even in the 60's it might have been accurate to tell someone that if
they studied hard, worked hard, got a good job, they'd be set for life. This
isn't true any more and hasn't been for at least a quarter of a century.

>My question for you is this: don't you think it somewhat inappropriate
>to extort money from one set of persons (those who have innocently
>accumulated wealth by self-denial, hard work, talent, industry, thrift,
>or service to others)

You didn't ask me, Lee, but I'll take the liberty of answering: Yes, I do
think it's inappropriate, which is why I say that GMI would work best with
small, self-governing populations. In the absence of a free lunch such as
might be provided by MNT (see below), there would have to be restrictions in
order for a guaranteed minimum income to work. This would include
restrictions on reproduction and, necessarily, on immigration into the
population covered by the GMI. I see no problem with such restrictions as
long as members of the population have agreed to it, or at least have agreed
to be bound by voting rules through which such a scheme is established.

With respect to the existing situation in the U.S.A. I believe that a GMI
would probably be possible for no more than is currently spent on health,
education, and welfare benefits. As Damien said, it wouldn't be enough of an
income to provide a cushy lifestyle, but it would be enough to survive on,
particularly if laws were changed to allow people to build their own houses
and grow some of their own food. (Austin, Texas building codes allow a
person to do much of the work on her own home, as long as the work is done
under the supervision of a licensed person, and city ordinances now allow
permaculture gardens in front yards)

> Maybe it would be best to wait until ... a number of compassionate rich
>people will simply fund a minimal standard of living for everyone.
>This should occur as we approach the Singularity, and we don't
>the onerous stealing from the rich to give to the poor (by force).

I'd think these rich people would want to impose at least SOME restrictions,
such as requiring recipients to undergo sterilization after the birth of one
or two children.

A note on taxation as theft--people who'd never think of knocking down
another person and stealing his money are often happy enough to do this
through an agent, even in countries such as the U.S. where principals are
legally responsible for the acts of their agents. I think this is, at least
in part, a symptom of the corporate fiction which sees a corporation or a
state as a separate entity rather than a number of individuals acting under
a common banner.


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