Re: BASICS: Re: Socialism <> Extropianism

Dan Fabulich (
Fri, 11 Dec 1998 10:02:45 -0500

Samael wrote:
>>Here's a few ethical questions for you:
>>1) Does equality matter? If so, how much?
>>Ex: Suppose I had a magic button in my pocket. If I press the button, one
>>group of people magically gains x (where x is something "good," created out
>>of thin air) and another group gains Y, where Y is much greater than x.
>>Morally speaking, should I press that button?
>Yes. I don't demand equality. However, capitalism doesn't work for
>_everybody_, which is the point I was trying to make. Socialism is useful
>for tweaking the edges of it (and yes, you should have strict controls over
>the socialist part to make sure it only tweaks the edges.) Here in the UK
>we have several backlashes against companies giving their Directors 30%
>raises while giving the workers 2% raises. Not my problem. Not my concern.
>My concern is with people not having the choice of saying 'I refuse to work
>for a company that does this.' because they will starve to death. I find
>welfare very useful for giving people the ability to temporarily stop work
>and still survive to find other work (albeit at a greatly reduced level of
>comfort) to be an equaliser. The fact that providing all of this would take
>a (comparatively) minor amount of money while providing workers with a
>greatly improved leverage is something I consider worth doing.

The degree to which it "works" or "doesn't work" is a degree of difference. I argue this way: when the poor have less money, they die. When I take money away from the poor, consequentially a few more poor people die.

I've argued in the past (and will again) that under capitalism, the general economy grows faster with without welfare regulations than it does with such regulations. Similarly, it has been shown that as the economy grows, the spending power of the poor rises.

And now, to reuse an old post of mine:

As a result of this decreased long term growth, the welfare of the poor
might look something like this:

(Only the shape of this graph is relevant; I cede that these numbers can't
be proven as it is impossible for a given state to try two policies
simultaneously and compare.)

		|          /   /
		|         |  /
		|        / /<----- welfare
		|       |/ 
		|      *
Average Income	|    /|
of the lowest	|  / / 
statistical	|/  |
quartile	$  /  <-----  non welfare
(adjusted for	| | 
inflation)	|/


Note that while under the welfare system, the poorest citizens are at first
richer than they were under the non-welfare system (denoted by $ on the
graph), after a given period of time, these two lines intersect.  (The
point marked w/ a * on the graph.)  From this point forward, welfare isn't
even better for the poor.  Meanwhile, of course, everyone else has been
suffering from decreased growth and decreased disposable income. 

Also note that if welfare were to be abandoned, the poor would immediately
lose the quantity $ from their inflation-adjusted income; while this would
eventually be more than offset by increased growth, when the poor take a
hit it's rare they will simply be able to dissave a bit or decrease
consumption of luxuries.  This money will likely come out of the
food/health budget; it would also lead to a rise in homelessness as the
poor find themselves unable to pay rent/mortgages, and a possible short run
decrease in growth as some poor will find themselves (suddenly) unable to
work at all.  Again, while this loss would EVENTUALLY be offset, the short
term losses could be tremendous.

Welfare is good for the poor in the short run, it is bad for everyone in
the long run.  Abandoning welfare is quite bad for the poor in the short
run, but good for everyone in the long run.

>>2) Suppose Alice and Bob are in a two-person communist society. Let us
>>also suppose that Bob is greedy. Bob notices that Alice is making various
>>goods. Can Bob use all of the goods Alice is making? Or should his access
>>to the goods be restricted in some way?
>Hmm. I do seem to remember stating that communist societies didn't work.
>And very few societies work with 2 people (except, possibly, marriages).
The above question was pointed towards Mr. Dubrovsky, as well as anyone else who thinks communism works without property rights. -Dan -GIVE ME IMMORTALITY OR GIVE ME DEATH-