Re: Free-Markets: Extro-Nazi's or Extro-Saints?

Michael Butler (
Fri, 12 Sep 1997 11:38:18 -0700 (PDT)

There is another thing to keep in mind, too: as the total wealth
avaiilable as an aggregate (including health issues as indirect as fewer
plague-carrying rats) increases, the total number of bottom-out-of-sight
people the Earth can support goes *up*. It must, even if they're living on
nothing more than table scraps and living in cardboard boxes, as long as
there are more table scraps and cardboard boxes than there used to be.

Note that this "must" I'm using is predicated on the notion that people
have, in general, an interest scatter diagram like the one Bucky Fuller
used to talk about: heavily biased toward "me, right now".

And it's a simple observation that the bottom-out-of-sighters have little
incentive to move *their* point on the scatter diagram very far.

Now, "bottom-out-of-sight" is still different in different places.
Some people in the US live in malnutrition because they're too mentally
disturbed or too proud to do anything about it. When is the first
different from the second? Who decides? That said, the number of open
ulcerated sores you see on a street in Calcutta is probably going to be a
lot higher than the number you see among street people in Golden Gate

The very real experience of people starving to death in Somalia, to name
another example, includes as causes the fact that some Somalians with guns
are starving other Somalians without guns, and the fact that some
Somalians don't consider fish to be people food, and will starve
rather than eat the unfamiliar stuff. Both of these are cultural; to
change them would require "cultural imperialism", which we are told is a
bad thing. Do cultures have rights, or do people?


Michael M. Butler
Center for Compassion & Liberty
(that's _both_, not one at the expense of the other)

On Fri, 12 Sep 1997, Chris R. Tame wrote:

> In message <>,
> writes
> >In a message dated 97-09-10 22:02:49 EDT, you write:
> >
> >> So today's poor are richer than yesterday's poor. That's the point.
> >
> >That is still quite contradictory. The proper way to view this may be stated
> >as: the standard of living has been raised. No one can convince me that the
> >"poor" ( which in common semantics means a life without proper shelter,
> >medical care and adequate food) give a damn if we chose to think of them as
> >"richer" than the starving homeless who lived in medieval times. It will not
> >make their lives any richer. Not only that- to use that line of thinking to
> >ignore the truth of that reality, to NOT acknowledge their very real
> >experience of starving to death, is denial of the worst sort, and IMO
> >downright mean.
> >One could also say stupid people of today are much smarter than the stupid
> >people of yesterday. It is meaningless.
> >Of course, people are far less ignorant today, but the knowledge required to
> >live is much more complex, and specialized, so if people cannot raise their
> >level of ignorance and stay just below the amount required to deal with this
> >new and complex environment, they will still not be able to function very
> >well. They will suffer from it. The bottom is still the bottom. Starving is
> >still starving. Stupid is still stupid.
> >
> >....still full of love,
> >Queen Nadi
> > "The capacity to tolerate complexity and welcome contradiction, not the
> >need
> >for simplicity and certainty, is the attribute of an explorer" Heinz R.
> >Pagels, Perfect Symmetry
> >
> In fact the concept of "the poor" and of "poverty" as one of RELATIVE
> deprivation is actually the most common one in mainstream sociology in
> Britain (and I suspect in the USA too). Thus, the British sociological
> and socialist establishments constantly berate relatively market
> oriented societies for not having abolished poverty - simply by
> constantly raising the "poverty threshold". What they are really
> complaining about, of course, is the existence of inequality, but since
> those who earn less in market-oriented socities are actually rich in
> terms of all previously existing societies, and most existing ones
> elsewhere in the contemporary world, they wish to add the opprobium of
> "poverty" (with images of starvation etc) to their critique of
> inequality.
> Market and libertarian scholars in the UK havev responded by stating
> that this is nonsensical, and that "poverty" in its "derogatory" sense,
> so to speak, should be defined in an "absolute sense", ie, in terms of
> near starvation, absence of basic essentials etc. It is thus quite clear
> that it is market oriented societies which have succeeded in largely
> eradicating poverty. It is really downright mean, and totally foolish,
> to deny the evidence of history and all rational social science - that
> the road to prosperity and abundance is the road of market
> relationships. In so far as those relationships are hampered or
> destroyed by the state, or "private" coercion, livelihooDs and
> prosperity will be harmed.
> Market oriented societies (even a totally free market) can never, of
> course, eradicate inequality - but then neither can any other form of
> socio-political order. But inequality per se, contrary to socialist
> egalitarians, is not unjust.
> --
> Chris R. Tame, Director
> Libertarian Alliance | "The secret of Happiness is Freedom, |
> 25 Chapter Chambers | and the secret of Freedom is Courage" |
> Esterbrooke Street | Thucydides, Pericles' Funeral Oration |
> London SW1P 4NN
> England
> Tel: 0171 821 5502
> Fax: 0171 834 2031
> Email:
> LA Web Site:
> Free Life Web Site: