Re: Our Responsibility to Those in Need

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Fri Jul 27 2001 - 23:08:10 MDT

Lee Corbin wrote:
> Q: what should be done for those who for one reason or another, many through no
> real fault of their own, become economically unviable (the market literally has
> no need for their labor sufficient to pay them a livable wage)? -Samantha Atkins
> Q: Some persons, through no fault of their own, cannot afford medical treatment
> (what if you have a stroke at age 16?). Kids or no kids, they can't pay. Are
> you saying that they are useless, discardable, by definition not worthy of
> being helped? Would you let them starve amid plenty? -Rafal Smigrodzki
> (Rafal opposes a GI but candidly (thank you!) wrote "I am willing to help them,
> to some extent, and to support the use of governmental oppression to force other
> citizens to help, too", at least in regard to life and death situations.)
> My answer has to be broken down into three parts: (i) what should in general
> be done, and what I would have recommended that countries do which are just
> starting out, (ii) what Canada, Germany, the U.S., Australia, and the
> rest of the developed world should do in the immediate future, and (iii)
> (hardest of all) how the impending MNT and Singularity affect the second
> question.
> In this posting, I will address (i) only. My model of a new country is
> the United States, partly because I know more about it than I do about
> the origins of other nations, but partly because by the time that it
> officially begun, there existed extremely good traditions of liberty,
> self-reliance, prosperity, and productivity. It was no coincidence that
> these things arose together.

I don't believe it is simply to be taken for granted that you
can apply the start of the United States over two hundred years
ago in that much simpler environment to any country "starting
out" now. Almost all of the starting conditions are different.

> I don't know for sure at what moment in U.S. history any government
> began extracting money from its citizens solely to benefit other
> citizens, but it may have been 1913 with the enactment of the Federal
> Income Tax. (Still, I don't know when government charity really began.)
> But it was a terrible mistake, which, despite its good intentions, has
> harmed the lives of millions of people. For every person genuinely

I thought this was to be a more balanced analysis but it looks
like the same opinions being expressed again while again not
addressing the questions I and others have asked.

> benefitted---whose life was saved or whose health was restored---there
> were untold thousands who delayed or postponed permanently the making
> of life-changing difficult decisions. This is certainly not to

This is an assertion without proof as serveral of the above
statements also were.

> that Chicago or New York in 1880 was free of crime, drugs, and people
> in seemingly hopeless situations. (But then, there have never been large
> cities without these problems, whether it's Cairo today or Rome in 100AD.)
> But there was no institutionalized underclass, not even in Appalachia,
> a place where people couldn't leave unfair and frightful situations
> mainly because of their traditions and their fatalism.

You don't seem to know much about Appalachia. Several
generations of my family were from Appalachia. They didn't stay
out of traditions and fatalism. They stayed largely because
they were dirt poor, uneducated and massively exploited as cheap
labor in the mines and mining towns of those earlier times.

> The Los Angeles police force may be a good place start to describe some of
> the alternatives available to cities in the early years of this century.
> In one way, vigilantism is a patent disregard of lawful procedures, but
> in another way it exemplifies community spirit. Vigilantism arises when
> common citizens---who have to be relatively few in number compared to
> the anonymity that afflicts modern cities---act not out of self-interest
> but out of a sincere desire to make their community a better place, and
> that means, to them, taking the law into their own hands. We commonly
> approve, instead, of these same citizens (of communities where, as I say,
> people have identities) being deputized under the auspices of a legal
> establishment that promises a quick and speedy justice, but justice
> nonetheless.

Uh, I think you are massively adrift here. What was the subject
you started out to address? Are you advocating vigilantism as a
marker of better times and part of a solution to the questions
asked? I am very confused and troubled by this aside.

> The Los Angeles police force was moved, according to a television
> documentary I saw, by what was evidently this same spirit (which isn't
> too surprising knowing what else they're wont to do). In the 1930's
> and 40's they faced an imminent invasion by the Mafia, which had
> already firmly established itself in dozens of eastern cities. The
> L.A. police would get word that some mobster was going to fly in
> and meet him at the airport. Sometimes they'd just grab him and
> put him on the next plane back to New York, "thus violating his
> civil rights", I suppose. At other times, they'd simply trail a
> known mobster on the road, and literally pull him over every two
> blocks to demand identification and hassle him in other ways. As a
> result the Mafia didn't get established in L.A. until just recently.
> Do you know how the L.A. police used to handle homelessness? They'd
> take a bum, or other loiterer or vagrant, give him something to eat,
> and then drive him to the city limits (which is pretty far away in
> L.A.) and just dump him out. Until recently, L.A. didn't have much
> of a homeless problem; many of the same people, I imagine, went to
> San Francisco.

OK. Obviously you have zip understanding of the question asked
and no intention of stepping outside your pat habitual
thoughts. Later...

> As cruel as it sounds at first, as uncaring as it appears (and is,
> actually), this is the best solution. Sooner or later, except in
> a few cases, the drifter will drift into some small town, and get
> an extremely low paying job, merely because all his alternatives
> are worse. (Naturally, today such an option isn't available because
> of the minimum wage laws, and the fact that today's vagrants have
> been tolerated for so long, that the reform of any particular one
> of them is highly unlikely.)
> But all this is what should have been done. I'm afraid that unless
> truly Orwellian techniques are used, thousands and thousands of people
> today are rather hopelessly wedded to lives of zero economic utility,
> drug dependency, and crime. (Yes, many thousands aren't, and many may
> turn their lives around.) I'll say more about what I think our options
> today are in another post, and then start guessing (like everyone else
> is) about the future.

I hope you enjoy your "solution" when it is yourself who no
longer has a viable economic utility in a competitive market.

- samantha

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