sick realization: you have negative dollars

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Tyndmyr
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:15 am UTC

elasto wrote:
ucim wrote:...you end up with what I presume is your present view of what government's job is - to wit: "to give me shelter, food, [and] healthcare".

Is this your actual view of the job of government? Because I don't see it as government's job to give you anything.

I definitely view it as the government's duty to offer me those things if I lack them. It's my right to refuse them of course. Does your worldview genuinely clash with mine..?

Yes, I definitely expect the government to seek out homeless people and offer them shelter, food and access to a doctor. Here's an example of that happening in Europe right now (which the BBC has framed in slightly clickbaity fashion)


I don't agree that offering those things is always the government's duty. That said, I view "how many people are hungry, homeless, or sick" as fair metrics of a country and government. If everyone's well fed, there is less cause to quibble about how food is distributed. If starvation is rampant, well...of course there's a problem. Direct food aid, giving people cash instead, working on a good economy so less are hungry in the first place...all viable, in the right circumstances. The government isn't required to do any specific action, but the end result remains important.

Zohar wrote:Except usually the reason the outsiders want to come after us is because of the government, not the governed...


Also quite true. Now, we probably can't get away with anarchy entirely for practical reasons, but it's fair to observe that defense serves the government's ends, often more so than the governed.

Pfhorrest wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:All rentals and lending at interest pose a significant problem period.

FTFY.


Why on earth should I lend or rent something with no interest at all? I gain nothing, and I get risk. Perhaps the loan will go unrepaid, or the rented item be broken. In either case, I cannot use the rented item/money during that time. Plus, inflation is a thing. If there is no possibility of gain, why would I inconvenience myself?

Pfhorrest wrote:People who can't afford to buy necessary things like housing because prices are artificially inflated by richer people buying it up to lend it out (and because they're too busy paying to borrow it meanwhile to save to buy any themselves) are forced to participate.


The price for me to build a house is governed primarily by the prices of goods at home depot, and craftsman labor. If a rental property is constructed, it affects my prices very little. Now, for truly scarce things like land, sure, competition exists. Few goods are so finite. If no rental properties exist, it would be quite difficult indeed to get started. Even if home prices were cheaper to some small degree, even a fraction of a home price would be beyond many. What would they do, become homeless?

What of those who wish to live in an area for a short time? Perhaps, going to college. Should they be required to own property in order to receive education? Can you not see negative effects of this?

Pfhorrest wrote:Borrow money from a community-owned credit union that exists for exactly that purpose to give interest-free loans (using the money the community aren't presently using for anything else, that they have saved with the credit union)? That's just off the top of my head, I can probably do better.


I dunno how credit unions work where you're from, but they certainly charge interest here. They are sometimes more reasonable than banks, which is nice, but those buildings can't really be paid for from no interest loans.

Pfhorrest wrote:
ucim wrote:Why would somebody lend their money out to strangers interest free? Especially if there's a risk they wouldn't ever get it back? Would you?

"Borrowing" something and not giving it back is theft. If we had proper rule of law where stolen property could actually be recovered, then yeah, I'd be fine with letting property I'm not using be of use to someone else in the meantime. (Especially if it was as part of a larger community project, like a credit union, to whom I lend my saved money, which is pooled with other members' saved money to be lent to those with some use to put it to, so it's not just me bearing whatever risk remains, it's a social endeavor that many people have an interest in protecting). In general, society needs enforcement of elementary protections like this for markets to work properly. That's the "regulation" Adam Smith wrote about.


I loan someone my car, and it is wrecked in an accident. The borrower did not mean for this to happen, but nevertheless, cannot replace the vehicle. What happens now? Imprison the borrower for being poor?

Adam Smith didn't hate interest, yo.

ucim wrote:
Zohar wrote:You seem to think enemies and aggressors are just naturally occurring elements of society and not a result of government. What I'm getting at is governments are the cause of these enemies.
Yes, I think that enemies and aggressors are naturally occuring. That's how people are. They want something, some of them will just take it. No government needed. Governments sometimes help formalize and amplify and focus certain aggressions, but they are by no means its source.


Sure. One guy is a bully, and will bully the weak. And so a larger group will stop him. And a larger group will stop that group. And sooner or later you get a group big enough to be called a government.

The state of nature, in practice, is of tribal organization pretty much everywhere, but when two organizations conflict violently, the bigger one *tends* to win.

However, this doesn't make governments virtuous, any more than evolution makes surviving species virtuous. It's good to be skeptical of governments, because what makes them survive may in no way be correlated with your needs. Or even the needs of many. One might think of it as cells in a body, if only the cells were sentient.

Pfhorrest wrote:
cphite wrote:But if you notice, rent and interest are options precisely because - as an almost universal rule - people find them to be desirable options.

They are desirable options to the people in power, because they help them maintain and grow their power.

Slavery was a desirable option for slaveowners, too.


There is a large difference here, in that rent is desirable to ALL participants, whereas slavery is not. The same is true of theft or other such arrangements. A mutually satisfactory arrangement is simply not the same as one in which one party must be coerced, no matter how much the other enjoys it. Equating the two is a non starter. If you wish to dismiss the wishes of people, find a similar example.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:27 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:There is a large difference here, in that rent is desirable to ALL participants, whereas slavery is not. The same is true of theft or other such arrangements. A mutually satisfactory arrangement is simply not the same as one in which one party must be coerced, no matter how much the other enjoys it. Equating the two is a non starter. If you wish to dismiss the wishes of people, find a similar example.

Imagine a world where the only terms of employment available to most people are to sell yourself into slavery. It's take that deal to become a slave, or else die homeless and starving. Most people prefer slavery to death, though they would much rather have free employment, but if they can't have that, slavery is better than death. Selling yourself into slavery is a desirable option for all participants, then? Because if slavery weren't an option, all of those slaves would just starve to death, right? Never mind that if slavery weren't allowed, the slave-owners would have to come to terms with freer employment arrangements, which they could do now, but the availability of slavery makes that an unattractive option to the people with the power who set the terms that everyone else has to either accept or die.

Also: when I'm talking about housing, I'm talking about land. Owning a structure is trivial compared to owning a place to put it. And if your economic system only works in conditions where there isn't scarcity, where you can always just go get more of something as demand goes up, then it's worthless because the entire function of an economic system is to manage scarcity. Look at tight markets where there is high demand and limited supply -- like land. Those are the problem cases that need to be solved, that aren't being solved by what we have. There's never going to be a problem for land in the middle of nowhere that's virtually limitless but nobody wants to live there.
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby ucim » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:33 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Sure. One guy is a bully, and will bully the weak. And so a larger group will stop him. And a larger group will stop that group. And sooner or later you get a group big enough to be called a government. [...] However, this doesn't make governments virtuous...
I don't say governments are virtuous. I say that governments are not the root cause of aggressions. Government is not the cause of enemies. Enemies are the cause of government.

Pfhorrest wrote:Imagine a world where the only terms of employment available to most people are to sell yourself into slavery.
Why? What does this have to do with anything? Accepting this as a valid premise implies accepting "your money or your life" is offering somebody options, and robbers are really service providers who should be compensated.

Pfhorrest wrote:the entire function of an economic system is to manage scarcity.
That's a bit of a reach. But even so, "managing" scarcity does not mean giving it out to everyone who wants it. Rent is a good way to manage scarcity. It allows people to use a scarce resource that they don't own, in exchange for goods and services, or its proxy, money. The scarce resource gets allocated to those who have goods and services to provide.

Sux to be poor, but accepting your premise above, it is not the function of an economic system to manage poverty. Or maybe you want to re-think that.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Chen » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:44 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:*That's the specific problem eliminating usury solves: people stuck long-term renting something they would much rather buy, because they are unable to buy, costing them much more in the long term than buying ever would have. My parents have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on housing in their lives and own no housing for that money, despite staying put for long periods of time in the same area, because they've never been able to escape from renting. I've warped my entire life around avoiding their fate. That kind of thing is simply unconscionable.


What is unconscionable about that? There is nothing wrong with renting your whole life. Frankly depending on prices and other factors it may in fact be the most rational financial decision anyways. You're always going to be paying someone to live somewhere, be it another person or the government.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:12 pm UTC

Property taxes are absolutely trivial compared to rents.
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Chen » Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:46 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Property taxes are absolutely trivial compared to rents.


House maintenance is not. Nor are the opportunity costs for the downpayments or closing costs.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:33 pm UTC

go fuck yourselves you slavery apologists

everyone deserves an unconditional place to exist and if you deny that you’re condoning their enslavement to the literal lords of whatever land they end up existing on
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Chen » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:46 pm UTC

Depending on where you live the government provides subsidies for housing as well as other basic needs such as food. You can definitely make an argument that they should do more. To me it seems your argument would be they should simply provide everyone with untradeable parcels of land. If that's your argument make it, don't beat around the fucking bush with your righteous indignation.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby dg61 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:47 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Borrow money from a community-owned credit union that exists for exactly that purpose to give interest-free loans (using the money the community aren't presently using for anything else, that they have saved with the credit union)? That's just off the top of my head, I can probably do better.

Also: take on a silent partner who does have the money, who will then recoup his investment via his share of the business's profits?

Por que no los dos: take the community-owned credit union on as exactly such a silent partner. Bonus benefit for that: local businesses end up partially owned by the communities they serve.


Both of these are actually things. The silent partner thing is actually a fairly common historical method of providing capital to trading ventures; off the top of my head I can think of several historical types of contracts where the setup was that a silent partner would invest his or her money with a agent/actor in exchange for a fixed share of the profits(although one essentially uses that to allow for profits on loans; the other example I think doesn't). The community-owned credit union sounds like various types of "Free-loan societies". In the case of the silent partnerships, since someone brought up finding them and running off/squandering money, they tended to come out of societies where you had small and closely-knit groups where everyone knew each other so you'd have a good shot at knowing someone with capital and there were strong social/reputational pressures against default.

EDIT: Also OP doesn't understand money, money is a store of value/medium of exchange, yadda yadda.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:59 pm UTC

states forcibly redistributing property is only a band aid though that would still be better than the open wound we have now but i am proposing a cure to the disease to prevent the need for that entirely
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby ucim » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:26 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:everyone deserves an unconditional place to exist
My being born does not obligate you to move aside, nor does it entitle me to your land.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:30 pm UTC

so the world belongs to the old and any new people can get fucked?
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Yablo » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:36 pm UTC

The shift from renting to owning can be a very difficult thing to accomplish, and it's no joke. My wife and I bought a house a year ago, and we're paying a lot less on our mortgage than we were in rent at our previous place, but we needed a lot of help to get to the point where we could buy. Paying high rent meant we couldn't save as much to put toward a down payment, but waiting until we had the down payment would mean saving for literally decades; we needed a way to get the down payment first, and then it would be easy enough to pay that back with the money we'd save from the mortgage being so much lower than the rent.

We had to take out a loan on our car and get a supplemental loan from the city. Even then, we had to borrow a little from my brother and use everything in our savings. Once we had done all that, it only took a few months to close on our house, and now we're making progress on repaying all the little things that went into helping us cover the down payment.

It's only been a year, and so more of our mortgage payment still goes to interest than principle, but we're better off financially than we were when we were renting. It's just that without the bank, the city, my family, and our savings, plus the fact that we owned our car, we'd still be paying too much in rent while we dream about how someday we might have saved enough for a down payment.

Some people are happy with renting, but it really is difficult for those who aren't to transition to owning. Having enough money up front saves so much time and money later.
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby ucim » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:38 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:so the world belongs to the old and any new people can get fucked?
Well, actually new people come when old people get fucked, if they come. But that's another story.

Yeah, the world belongs to those who are here. New people negotiate with the old people by providing useful products and services to them until they die off, which they will. This is true whether you're new because you are born, or because you sailed to a foreign land. Arriving at (or from) a foreign land doesn't entitle you to their space either. But if you're useful to them, they will be willing to give you some space.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Yablo » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:49 pm UTC

The world has always belonged to the old for as long as the old have the power to keep it. Eventually, the young carve out their place, take over, become old themselves, and get pushed aside for the new young.

It may not be fair, and it may not even be good, but the need for the young to have their place often serves as motivation for them to innovate. Unfortunately, it's much easier to fight than to innovate.
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:52 pm UTC

going to a foreign land by choice is completely different from just being thrust into existence somewhere. i am not asking for anything new, just to stop owning for the circumstances i was involuntarily born into.

and i wish people would stop coming to my homeland and making it even more costly to just stay here and not be forced out by rich foreign invaders/ investors.
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby ucim » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:31 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:i am not asking for anything new, just to stop owning for the circumstances i was involuntarily born into.
That's your parents' job. They (ideally) feed you, shelter you, give you all the good stuff, until you are prepared to go out into the world as a productive citizen. At that point, you're (presumably) valuable enough to be able to offer goods and services yourself, for which people will be happy to give you food and shelter (or its proxy).

Pfhorrest wrote:and i wish people would stop coming to my homeland and making it even more costly to just stay here and not be forced out by rich foreign invaders/ investors.
If they're so rich, they will be giving you money for goods and services, and you can use that money to get land and other stuff. I do agree that investors who come to a foreign land, say, to build a hotel, but use their own labor and goods instead of the local stuff, are doing a Bad Thing. But that's getting a bit off the track.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:27 pm UTC

ucim wrote:you're (presumably) valuable enough

Valuable to whom!? This is the root of the matter at issue here. It's not enough for someone to be valuable to themselves and provide for all of their own consumption -- not that that's an easy thing or that most people do it, but even if they did, the point is that it's not enough. They also have to prove their value to someone else in order to "earn" permission from those someone-elses to exist in "their" world.

I've brought up the Star Trek replicator scenario elsewhere before to illustrate this, but full automation (somehow distributed to the people) is a more realistic version of the same thing. Imagine nobody needs anybody else's labor because replicators/automation/whatever. Some people still need to "prove their worth" to other people, while others are the ones to whom worth needs to be proven. That's the iniquity that's the problem here. There's no excuse for that. It's just feudalism, which is really just slavery, one class of people beholden to another just by accident of their birth.
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Yablo » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:52 pm UTC

If I have something you want or need, I should just give it to you then regardless of whether you've proven your value to me? What if 100 others also want or need what I have? I should give it to them, too? And if I only have 50, but neither you nor the other 100 have proven you hold any value to me, how do I decide which of you gets my 50 things I should apparently be giving away? Is it just the first 50 of you to tell me "I want one of your things," or do I hold a lottery?

No. If I have 50 things, and you and 100 others want those things, I am still under no obligation to give away a single one of them. Holding those 50 things when I can't use them all, and there are 101 others who can may be a dick move, but they're my things. I presumably earned them, made them, or found them under circumstances which would give me a legitimate claim to them. They're mine.

If you don't want to prove to me you are more valuable to my interests than the other 100, so be it, but when 50 of those 100 do prove it, they each deserve one of my things. They each get one of my things, you and the other 50 find things to substitute or do without, and I have 50 people who have proven of value to me.

That's a harsh way of putting it, and it's not to say you and the other 50 people don't have value. It just means I had a limited number of things, and there was enough demand for them to create a competition you refused to be a part of.

Given your argument concerning replication and automation, it's still reasonable to substitute something else; hugs, units of appreciation, etc ... Whatever might be in demand. Again, it may be a dick move to artificially limit something like units of appreciation simply to generate demand, and in that instance, I would be against it.
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:34 pm UTC

You're missing the point. Why do (read: how do you morally justify that) some people start off already having stuff, and others start with nothing and have to prove their value to the former if they want anything, while the former get to sit back and be the judges of value? Why are some people lords and others their serfs? (The causal answer is that the ancestors of the lords killed anyone who wouldn't be their serfs, but surely "that happened" doesn't suffice as a moral justification).

If everything everyone had was something they made themselves, you'd have a point, but that's not the case, especially with just divvying up the natural world into parcels of land.
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby ucim » Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:24 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Valuable to whom!?
Valuable to the people who have the things you want (or to ||: people who are valuable to the :|| people who have the things you want). Valuable in the sense that you can (and do) offer them goods or services that they want, often (but not always) in exchange for the goods or services that you want.

When you do that, you become one of the ones who owns a piece of the world that other people want. At that point, when they ask you to give it to them (because they were born after you), what do you tell them?

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:29 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:There is a large difference here, in that rent is desirable to ALL participants, whereas slavery is not. The same is true of theft or other such arrangements. A mutually satisfactory arrangement is simply not the same as one in which one party must be coerced, no matter how much the other enjoys it. Equating the two is a non starter. If you wish to dismiss the wishes of people, find a similar example.

Imagine a world where the only terms of employment available to most people are to sell yourself into slavery. It's take that deal to become a slave, or else die homeless and starving. Most people prefer slavery to death, though they would much rather have free employment, but if they can't have that, slavery is better than death. Selling yourself into slavery is a desirable option for all participants, then? Because if slavery weren't an option, all of those slaves would just starve to death, right? Never mind that if slavery weren't allowed, the slave-owners would have to come to terms with freer employment arrangements, which they could do now, but the availability of slavery makes that an unattractive option to the people with the power who set the terms that everyone else has to either accept or die.


Such a world is, however, hypothetical. In practice, we live in a world in which slavery is pretty much gone(assuming you and I live in first world countries, at least!), and we generally accept that even if you exercised free choice in deciding to be a slave, the nature of being a slave is not very free. So, pretty poor as an idea overall.

Renting is not the only choice, and it is not equivalent to being a slave. If I wish to cease renting a given house, I can. The same option is not given to a slave, and so the two are really nothing alike. Renting is more akin to working a job. Yeah, yeah, most of us have to pay for somewhere to live, and also have to find a job. But we get to choose which one, and that makes a great deal of difference.

Also: when I'm talking about housing, I'm talking about land. Owning a structure is trivial compared to owning a place to put it. And if your economic system only works in conditions where there isn't scarcity, where you can always just go get more of something as demand goes up, then it's worthless because the entire function of an economic system is to manage scarcity. Look at tight markets where there is high demand and limited supply -- like land. Those are the problem cases that need to be solved, that aren't being solved by what we have. There's never going to be a problem for land in the middle of nowhere that's virtually limitless but nobody wants to live there.


That really depends where you're buying land. Some land is quite expensive, and some is just not. Often, it's pretty connected to commute. Are you willing to drive an hour or more to a populous area with many jobs? If so, you have much cheaper options than those who prefer not do so. Neither option is wrong, really. Not driving an hour every day is definitely desirable.

So, yeah, prices DO reflect desirability. Scarcity is being managed by the economic market. Higher prices for more desirable land is absolutely reasonable, and is the expected economic outcome. You seem to be defining "works" oddly.

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Sure. One guy is a bully, and will bully the weak. And so a larger group will stop him. And a larger group will stop that group. And sooner or later you get a group big enough to be called a government. [...] However, this doesn't make governments virtuous...
I don't say governments are virtuous. I say that governments are not the root cause of aggressions. Government is not the cause of enemies. Enemies are the cause of government.


That's fair enough. People can fight even if they have no government at all.

But in the modern age, government so pervasively manages conflict that it does bear a great deal of responsibility for it. Soldiers mostly don't pick who to go to war with. Hell, even criminal matters might not be decided by those in conflict as a result. Drug war, for instance. Plenty of folks victimized by the resulting conflict probably don't want any part of it, yet have very little pull to end it. Those paying the price are probably not those making the decisions.

Pfhorrest wrote:Property taxes are absolutely trivial compared to rents.


Depends where you live. In theory, they ought not climb above a couple percent of value. However, the valuation is done by the government, and this can be extremely problematic.

Additionally, some people are simply not good homeowners. Maint is an issue that can be costly if not kept up with, and can also be costly if you outsource all of it, and are unfamiliar with doing any of it yourself. It can also be quite spiky in costs. An HVAC unit dying can be a burdensome expense to many. Renting has predictable costs, and others do much of the management.

Pfhorrest wrote:You're missing the point. Why do (read: how do you morally justify that) some people start off already having stuff, and others start with nothing and have to prove their value to the former if they want anything, while the former get to sit back and be the judges of value? Why are some people lords and others their serfs? (The causal answer is that the ancestors of the lords killed anyone who wouldn't be their serfs, but surely "that happened" doesn't suffice as a moral justification).


So, is your problem with inheritance?

Regardless of inheritance, when you are born, there will always be other people with more stuff because they've been older. We don't all start off at the same point in time, and even without inheritance, we'd not really be equal. Someone who had rich parents, got a great education, got good social connections, etc might just have some advantages even if daddy doesn't directly hand him money. Yeah, people start off unequally. Pretty much have to take that as a given for literally any system. The better systems cope with that, but nobody's figured out how to make a working system where that isn't a thing, and it's unlikely you'll be able to make history fair.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby ucim » Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:43 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:But in the modern age, government so pervasively manages conflict that it does bear a great deal of responsibility for it.
That is one of the proper functions of government. Depending on the kind (dictatorship, democracy, theocracy...), its subjects will have some say in the matter. But government in itself is not the root of all evil.

Tyndmyr wrote:Those paying the price are probably not those making the decisions.
This is the nature of power. The best defense against this is some form of democracy, and that is the worst form of government there is (except for all the others).

Point is, government isn't inherently evil, despite the fact that evil governments exist, and that governments can amplify evil (and are more likely to amplify evil than to amplify good).

There is a {correlary?} to this, in that a lie can spread across the globe before the truth has its pants on. People are so easily swayed by base instincts than by higher level thought. This is a flaw in people. We've evolved for (small scale) tribes, and the things that work there do not work for (large scale) empires.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:23 am UTC

My problem is not with inheritance per se, but more with how inheritance (as just one example) matters. If people born into money and people born poor tended, over time, while living similar lives, to equalize in their wealth, then I wouldn't have much of a problem with it. Instead, you can have people born poor work their asses off while those born rich coast, and the lazy rich still get richer faster than the hardworking poor. It's about economic mobility. People behaving similarly should become economically similar over time regardless of their starting economic positions; if they don't, then the results people enjoy are not proportional to their actions which is virtually the textbook definition of injustice. People working hard and living thriftily should quickly become wealthier than those who spend lots and work rarely. People living pretty ordinary middle-of-the-road lives should all enjoy pretty ordinary middle-of-the-road wealth regardless of how rich their parents were or who got the good or the bad luck otherwise. The fact that this does not (reliably) actually happen in practice is the central failing of so-called "free market" capitalism.

The traditional response to that failure is to make the market even more unfree and use statism to fight capitalism. I think a better long-term solution is to look into why so-called "free" markets do that in the first place, to figure out what is the cause of the disease for which forced wealth redistribution is merely palliative care. I think (and I'm far from alone, though similar thinkers are historically ignored) that the root of that problem is usury, that that is the last vestige of feudalism in this era of supposedly "free" markets, and that it is actually making the market unfree. And by not enforcing the contracts that construct it (just like we don't enforce contracts selling people into slavery, even if they're "freely" entered into) you can solve the problem in a way that increases freedom, instead of solving it with force.

But I mean, if you really want deadly force to be the only option available...
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby bantler » Wed Mar 07, 2018 4:00 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:People behaving similarly should become economically similar over time regardless of their starting economic positions; if they don't, then the results people enjoy are not proportional to their actions which is virtually the textbook definition of injustice. People working hard and living thriftily should quickly become wealthier than those who spend lots and work rarely.


It's difficult to quantify the value of work.
A lifetime spent doing hard physical-labor (mining, logging, dish-washing) is worth less (monetarily) than a lifetime spent in a warm academic-office pontificating injustice.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Thesh » Wed Mar 07, 2018 4:06 pm UTC

How so?
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Yablo » Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:55 pm UTC

bantler wrote:It's difficult to quantify the value of work.
A lifetime spent doing hard physical-labor (mining, logging, dish-washing) is worth less (monetarily) than a lifetime spent in a warm academic-office pontificating injustice.

A good friend of mine is a chemist/engineer for a mining company here in Alaska. He works long, hard hours with eight days on and six days off for a two-week schedule. I'm a governmental accountant for the State of Alaska, and I sit at a desk playing with numbers and spreadsheets most of my 7.5-hour days. I have no doubt whatsoever he works 100 times harder than I do, but I still make a little more.

We both have a similar level of education, just in different directions. I've had my job about two years longer. I don't know if what I do is any more important than what he does, but economics and public vs. private sector seem to treat it that way.
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby bantler » Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:21 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:How so?


Because thoughts and ideas are worth more than sweat and toil.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:23 pm UTC

All of that is beside my point, which is that if you two were doing the same job, and otherwise living the same lifestyle, then over time you should trend toward having the same amount of wealth, but with how things are now, if he was born or otherwise lucked into wealth while you had the misfortune to find yourself in debt, rather than those differences disappearing over time, they would grow, because having wealth gets you more wealth and lacking it costs you more of it.

There's a term in math or physics I'm not quite remembering that describes what I'm talking about, something about 'stability'. What we have now is an 'unstable' system, in that slight perturbations pushing one person one direction and another person the other then grows into a large difference between them, instead of a 'stable' system where the effects of perturbations like that just disappear over time. It's that 'instability' I have a problem with.
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby bantler » Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:28 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:All of that is beside my point, which is that if you two were doing the same job, and otherwise living the same lifestyle, then over time you should trend toward having the same amount of wealth, but with how things are now, if he was born or otherwise lucked into wealth while you had the misfortune to find yourself in debt, rather than those differences disappearing over time, they would grow, because having wealth gets you more wealth and lacking it costs you more of it.


I agree that Getting a Head-Start almost always leads to a win.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Thesh » Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:33 pm UTC

bantler wrote:
Thesh wrote:How so?


Because thoughts and ideas are worth more than sweat and toil.


That's not inherently true. The reason we value educated people more is because of a lack of opportunity for so many to get an education (i.e. lower supply). If everyone has equal opportunity, then pay between different fields should come down to only the desirability and the effort involved. The problem is that the people who run the businesses have created an environment where most positions don't provide the worker with an opportunity to make full use of their ability (mostly because a business that requires less employee training and experience can grow faster and fire easier), and that there is a huge disparity in education (largely because if you are in an area with minimal opportunity, there is little economic benefit to getting an education, and less money to pay for it).

Here's an exercise: Graph total jobs vs market wage for janitors and doctors - for any level of pay, which job employs more people? I'll save you the trouble: it's janitors. That is, we value janitors more than doctors, but if everyone had the ability to do whatever they wanted, there would be a lot more people seeking to be doctors (and probably more in general), and a lot fewer willing to be janitors, and there's a good possibility that because of this janitors would be paid more than doctors (as being a doctor is inherently more rewarding and more respected).
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby bantler » Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:53 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
bantler wrote:
Thesh wrote:How so?


Because thoughts and ideas are worth more than sweat and toil.


That's not inherently true. The reason we value educated people more is because of a lack of opportunity for so many to get an education (i.e. lower supply). If everyone has equal opportunity, then pay between different fields should come down to only the desirability and the effort involved. The problem is that the people who run the businesses have created an environment where most positions don't provide the worker with an opportunity to make full use of their ability (mostly because a business that requires less employee training and experience can grow faster and fire easier), and that there is a huge disparity in education (largely because if you are in an area with minimal opportunity, there is little economic benefit to getting an education, and less money to pay for it).

Here's an exercise: Graph total jobs vs market wage for janitors and doctors - for any level of pay, which job employs more people? I'll save you the trouble: it's janitors. That is, we value janitors more than doctors, but if everyone had the ability to do whatever they wanted, there would be a lot more people seeking to be doctors (and probably more in general), and a lot fewer willing to be janitors, and there's a good possibility that because of this janitors would be paid more than doctors (as being a doctor is inherently more rewarding and more respected).


Of course it's true. Manual and menial labor are by their very definition unskilled. If you've met enough people you know not all of them are capable/willing to take advantage of opportunities. They are destined for warm-body show-up occupations.

If janitors and doctors made identical wages more people would prefer to be janitors. Money IS reward and respect.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Yablo » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:39 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:All of that is beside my point, which is that if you two were doing the same job, and otherwise living the same lifestyle, then over time you should trend toward having the same amount of wealth, but with how things are now, if he was born or otherwise lucked into wealth while you had the misfortune to find yourself in debt, rather than those differences disappearing over time, they would grow, because having wealth gets you more wealth and lacking it costs you more of it.

This get's into "Where is it written that life is fair" territory though. I agree two people doing the same job for the same amount of time with the same lifestyle should tend to be in the same financial position, but some people are lucky, and some take better care of their financial future. If we have the same job at the same company, and we've been there the same amount of time, then yes, we should be paid the same amount unless one of us has proven to merit a raise at some point when the other hasn't.

If my otherwise-duplicate counterpart was born to a wealthy family and received a huge inheritance while I was born into poverty and inherited only debt, I blame circumstance and use it as motivation. I'm not saying people in need don't deserve assistance, but it's not fair to resent someone for their fortune compared to your misfortune.
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:44 pm UTC

I don’t resent anyone for their fortune, I resent the institutions by which that fortune is multiplied at the expense of others. It seems like you all don’t understand that it is a man-made institutional problem I am concerned with, not the existence of luck. Or more likely, you want to deny that it is a problem or that it is man made, because then you might have to do (or stop doing) something to fix it.

Sound like climate change now that I think about it.
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby bantler » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:50 pm UTC

I resent those born into misfortune. They had the impetus and drive to strive and thrive and succeed to overcome circumstances.
It's nearly impossible for comfortable middle-class gents like myself to catch a break.


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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby ucim » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:14 pm UTC

bantler wrote:I resent those born into misfortune. They had the impetus and drive to strive and thrive and succeed to overcome circumstances.
It's nearly impossible for comfortable middle-class gents like myself to catch a break.
No it's not. Give all your money away (say, to a university to do science), and boom - you'll be penniless. Now, go ahead and try to overcome this.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby speising » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:20 pm UTC

i question the premise that inherited fortune shoudn't give you advantages. what's the use of money if it doesn't help make your life better?
one person is born healthy, another one with all kinds of health problems.
one is beautiful, another ugly.
how could the fortunate ones *not* benefit from their advantages? of course they do, and the georgeous model will get a million dollar contract while the ugly one will,have to work at a diner for pennies. tough luck, but anything else would be unfair, too.
there's a sf story about a maximally egalitarian society where the ballerina has to wear heavy weights and the genius has to hear distracting noise all the time.
it's considered a dystopia.

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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Zohar » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:31 pm UTC

The problem is being born wealthy provides you a disproportionate advantage - a wealthy person is (statistically) likely to be healthier, better-educated, better-looking, have more social connections to get a better job... The extent of this is ridiculous. To take your examples - a wealthy gorgeous model will do better than a poor gorgeous model. A wealthy genius will do better than a poor genius. And the wealth keeps attracting more wealth and preventing other people from having it.

If you take a hypothetical pair of twins that start of with the same brain power, looks, and innate abilities, and you separate them - one goes to a 1% family looking to adopt and the other goes to a poor family, the wealthier twin will, in 99% of cases, fare much much better. And of course in the real world this doesn't happen, and you have no way of knowing how many talented people are left behind just because they don't have the right background.
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Thesh » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:31 pm UTC

There's a difference between advantages and being able to never work a day in your life while earning 10x median wage off of savings alone, while others work their entire life to never earn median wage and are unable to even save enough for retirement without government assistance. That's not "just life", that's injustice and I'd say a complete failure of our economic system that comes at the cost of productivity itself.
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Re: sick realization: you have negative dollars

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:48 pm UTC

What Thesh said, and also, all of those other advantages that wealth buys you, while real things, are still somewhat beside my main point, though they can be rolled into it by the poor buying those advantages anyway with interest-bearing loans, which turns those issues into the issue I'm on about.

Take identical twin babies adopted to two basically identical nothing-special families, both of which put everything they can into a trust fund for their adopted kid but "everything they can" is pretty much nothing, except that both are stupid enough to play the lottery, and only one of them is lucky enough to win it, putting the mega millions into their adopted kid's trust fund, while the other kid has only moths in his fund.

Upon reaching adulthood and getting access to their respective funds, kid A buys himself a house in cash to live in and a second identical house to rent out for profit, and buys himself a nice degree in cash. Kid B borrows money to get that same degree, while renting the house kid A is renting out. They both graduate with the same grades and with their identical credentials and abilities get the same job that pays the same. Their careers likewise follow the same trajectory, and they both live the same lifestyle with the same expenses (say both of them are humble people who live quite modestly).

Fast forward 50 years later. Kid A is still richer than kid B, but not just by the amount he started out with in his trust fund. Kid A is fantastically richer than kid B. Why? Because kid B had to borrow housing from kid A and pay kid A for the privilege of borrowing that housing, and even though now 50 years later kid B has paid way more than kid A ever paid to buy the house, he still doesn't have a house to his name. Also kid B has been paying not only the principle on his educational loans (which is the same money kid A paid in cash for his education), but also interest on it the whole time. Kid A bought his car in cash while kid B got it on an interest-bearing loan. Kid A paid for his medical expenses out of his HSA (so in cash) while kid B in his old age sank into medical debt so that he could stay as healthy as kid A and keep doing the same job for the same money. Meanwhile, while kid B was paying all of that interest, kid A was loaning out the rent money he got from kid B at interest, and so making even more on top of that.

A literally luck of the lottery in two otherwise identical lives, not diluted by time, but multiplied by it. That's the problem.
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