Re: META: Memes and War [was: Tomorrow is a new day]

From: David Clark (
Date: Sat Nov 13 2004 - 18:33:40 MST

- Original Message -----

From: "Thomas Buckner"

Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2004 3:56 PM

Subject: Re: META: Memes and War [was: Tomorrow is a new day]

> Having said that, I regard extreme inequality and
> the fear of scarcity as a destabilizing force,
> and a great current threat. While my attitudes
> are generally libertarian, I find the
> Libertarian/Ayn Rand attitude toward economics to
> be rather sociopathic. Nobody has a 'right' to be
> a billionaire, since they do not work a thousand
> times harder than anyone else, nor are they a
> thousand times smarter. Intellectual capital
> always builds on the efforts of others who went
> before, thus taking something from the
> 'intellectual commons.'

Why is *hard work* the criteria for making money? If I move heavy rocks
from one side of my yard to the other and then back again (continuously), I
definitely have worked hard, but did I produce anything of value for myself
or anyone else? Value produced is what matters, not effort. Being smart
without turning that into value in the eyes of others is also moot. If
someone is capable of being productive and decides not to be, my sympathy
ends at making sure they have food to eat, a dry bed to sleep in, and second
hand clothes to wear. Agreed that someone faced with the end of their
existence is *very* dangerous indeed. People should have the *right* to be
a billionaire, if they can make such an amount within the law. Business
efficiencies and tools *can* magnify a person's productivity by a thousand
times or more! Not all rich people are thieves and cheats!

> However, I will simply point out that Sweden has
> a higher average life expectancy than the United
> States. Economic inequality is bad for the health
> (if you're on the bottom).

Being poor has always been bad for your health, now and throughout history,
but staying healthy is costly and therefore should be a reward for those who
choose to be productive, not a right. (I am not against some free health
care!) Sweden is much more ethnically homogeneous than the USA and direct
economic comparisons are misleading.

> Furthermore, stratified countries seem to spend a
> lot of money putting guards between the haves and
> the have-nots (and much of the guards' salaries
> are paid by the have-nots!) When the government
> is busy guarding ill-got gains, it gets very
> nosey toward social reformers and malcontents.
> The military writer James Dunnigan (whose books I
> highly recomment) considers high levels of
> banditry to be a form of low-level warfare, a
> surprising but (to me) convincing notion.

The above points are well made, however, I think they apply to "ill-got
gains" and don't necessarily apply to all countries that have large
differences in income. (eg Canada, USA etc)

> Scarcity and inequality, in other words, lead to
> warfare, but not the (rare) flashy
> tanks-at-the-border kind of war so much as the
> (very common) simmering insurgency and the
> syndicalist's bomb.

I have grown up all my life with aboriginals in Canada. They definitely
live a much lower standard of living (their choice) than most Canadians,
however, 90% plus of the violence they commit is done to each other, not
against better off Canadians. Black Americans in the ghetto's LA or New
York seem to commit more violence against their own than on the wealthy. Is
this statement not correct?

> Anyone who dismisses my comments as the addled
> ravings of a granola-headed egalitarian naif
> should at least consider that a laissez-faire
> Libertarian AI might feel no responsibility to
> feed *you*. The social contract exists for a
> reason.

I wouldn't lower myself to calling you any of those names.

-- David Clark

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