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Antrax
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26 Aug 2019, 1:33 am

This is an attempt of mine to clarify the thinking of people who do not share my world view. I'll frequently run into arguments along the lines of "you can only do this if you're wealthy, for the rest of us poor people etc. etc."

Here's the thing, obviously wealth should convey some advantages or otherwise there would be no point in accumulating wealth. Few people truly believe that everyone should have equal outcomes in life.

Also obviously wealth should not be able to buy everything. So the question becomes what should advantages should wealth convey. A few thoughts of mine:

Things wealth should not do:

1) Wealth should not be able to purchase superior outcomes for inferior results. Simply put no bribery. A person who finishes last in a marathon should not be able to buy first place from the organizers.

2) Wealth should not be able to buy a higher standard of legal treatment. I think our society falls well short on this. I don't necessarily have a solution in mind as having all lawyers being employed by the public has its pitfalls as well, but legal outcomes should not depend on the wealth of the parties involved.

Things wealth should do:

1) Wealth should be able to purchase superior preparation to produce superior results. If a person is training for a marathon, and can afford to pay a personal trainer to help them train, top notch equipment etc., they should be able to do so.

2) Wealth should be able to buy a higher standard of living. Wealthy people should get to have better homes, cars, etc.

That's all I have for now. Hoping for some thoughtful discussion and not mudslinging in this thread.


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26 Aug 2019, 4:14 am

I absolutely agree, though I'd like to ad that even people who are not wealthy should have a right to some kind of roof over their heads, even if it's just a shared dorm room. Same with food; no one should be allowed to starve, but the money to actually use restaurant services ought to be earned. Acces to basic health care should also be a given, even if the wealthy people got help faster from private clinics than the none-wealthy would. Though I do also think that this doesn't apply to people who could work and make a living but decide not to.

I mean seriously, who'd bother to study hard for years to get a well paying job if all you'd actually need to do to get the same amount of money was to finish 9th grade?



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26 Aug 2019, 4:18 am

people who believe in the golden rule, that's who.



UnlikelySurface
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02 Sep 2019, 3:49 am

I'm going to reframe this a little bit, but if @Antrax or a moderator thinks this is off-topic, I won't press the point.

Wealth is simply an abundance of resources. Wealth should be able to get you almost anything, including but not limited to:

1) Health services
2) Food
3) Housing
4) Transportation
5) Entertainment
...etc.

And in fact, that seems to match the current state of the world.

I think the better questions should be:

Under what circumstances should someone obtain private wealth? (additions to your personal bank account)
Under what circumstances should wealth be considered a shared resource? (government funds)
Under what circumstances should wealth from one category be transferred to the other? (taxes, or benefits from the government to an individual)
How should the allocation of shared wealth be determined?

I'd answer those questions approximately as follows:

Each individual human should be guaranteed enough wealth to cover survival needs such as health services, housing, food, education, and local transportation. This wealth should be allocated from government funds as needed to supplement whatever wealth the individual otherwise has to give everyone the same baseline. Some of this wealth could be provided directly as services (for example, if you go to the hospital you just get the services you need but don't pay for it out of pocket, the funds go directly from the government to the hospital for simplicity of bookkeeping and to prevent people from accidentally spending their health money on recreation and being unable to pay) while other parts (such as food money) would be better handled with currency as it is done now in most places.

For non-essential spending, I would assign a baseline value that gets rolled into the individual survival needs amount because I consider a certain amount of "spending money" and recreational latitude to be critical to human mental health; this wouldn't be an excessive amount but should be enough to let people purchase the occasional work of art (such as books, movies, video games, etc.), take a brief yearly vacation, or buy more expensive food than is typical, whatever.

For truly frivolous spending, that would be what you use your job wages for. If you don't work, you wouldn't have any, but if you work you would.

Job wages should be equalized. I've worked personally as a cashier at a fast food restaurant, a furniture stocker at a wal-mart, an assistant manager at a gas station, a tech support engineer at an internet service provider, a unix systems administrator, a software security professional, and a liaison between marketing people and engineers at a computer hardware company. And from that wide range of jobs I've observed that every human I worked with (along with my own efforts) expended approximately the same amount of effort per hour of work, regardless of what the job was. Some types of work have different character, for example at wal-mart I used my bodily strength to lug boxes of cheap furniture around, while as a software security person I spent most of every day reading source code and finding problems, correcting them, and going to boring meetings. It doesn't matter what job you have, in the end you are trading one resource (hours of your life) for another (money). I don't think there is any good justification to give some people more money than others for the same number of hours worked. But I made $140k USD per year as a software person, and less than $20k USD per year as a fast food employee. I don't think any of the arguments about free markets etc really justify that magnitude of difference.

Shared assets owned by corporations seem like a good way to compartmentalize the complexity of getting things done, so I think keeping the basic structure of all that is fine. With wages equalized, businesses could select how much money to re-invest in operations out of available profits after the wages are handed out, and send the rest to the government. That would be the bulk of where the government funding comes from.

Shared assets owned by the government should be allocated first to supply everyone's survival needs, and then allocated to other areas as needed starting of course with essentials like infrastructure, police, fire protection, etc.


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LoveNotHate
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02 Sep 2019, 8:27 am

UnlikelySurface wrote:
But I made $140k USD per year as a software person, and less than $20k USD per year as a fast food employee. I don't think any of the arguments about free markets etc really justify that magnitude of difference.

Supposedly, manual labor is plentiful, and software people are rarer (so earn more).


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02 Sep 2019, 9:33 am

auntblabby wrote:
people who believe in the golden rule, that's who.


Thank you auntblabby.

lovenothate: If humans are all considered to have equal value, then their hourly wage should be the same.
OR B.F. Skinner in Walden Two proposed a system whereby the value of work was distributed by how many hours you had to work. For example, if I love gardening but hate doing dishes, I could garden for three hours or wash dishes for one for my daily contribution. Please do not anyone dissect the numbers here, I am just picking numbers off the top of my head as examples.

If you give some thought to unlikelysurface's proposal, it makes a lot of sense, though there may be wiggle room when actually planning this out. It has some real possibilities for making the country (or society in general) work for every one. It is a project that is larger than each of us (in the world or in the country) and puts the good of the people in general ahead of any given individual.

In a science fiction book I read a lot time ago, the US had moved to a system similar as above, but there were the rebels who wanted to live the way they wanted to, and some portion of the US was walled off and anyone who wanted to could live in the unregulated land. I suppose that would be a possibility too.

I am distressed to see so many posts that want to limit people's access to what they "deserve." I don't want to pick on anyone and I am not looking back to see who said what but...do you really think that one movie or one book a month is enough to maintain sanity and a reason to live? I have clients who live on that kind of money and it is not enough to make life meaningful for them.

I also work in low income projects and with people in very economically depressed areas. No one who can work doesn't. The legend of the Welfare Queen is way gone for two reasons, 1) it was an outlier and 2) "Welfare" has changed and now gives very little to people.

Nobody willing stays on welfare There is no more getting more money if you keep having children. There is no more money paying people who can work to stay home. Before anyone posts anything more on the topic of how the people who collect government benefits are cheats and liars and are sucking off the government tit, please show me some data.

Because I don't see it IRL.

Most of the people on Medicaid, for example, nation-wide are 1) the elderly in nursing homes, 2) people with disabilities and 3) children whose parents do not make enough money to get over the poverty line. I don't know anyone getting government benefits who do not fit in these categories.



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02 Sep 2019, 10:35 am

BlazingStar is way into her field. She actually works in the “trenches.”



Antrax
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02 Sep 2019, 12:20 pm

@UnlikelySurface, since no one really discussed my original premise I think it's fine to discuss the topics you brought up.

Quote:
And from that wide range of jobs I've observed that every human I worked with (along with my own efforts) expended approximately the same amount of effort per hour of work, regardless of what the job was.


I have no doubt that people working low skill jobs work hard. But effort doesn't determine value. It be nice if it did, but it doesn't. Production determines value.

I'm a relatively skinny person with not a lot of upper body strength. Say you gave me a job chopping wood blocks in two. Next to me is an experienced wood chopper (lumberjack?) with bulging muscles and knows how to swing the axe just right. I take 3 swings and 5 minutes to go through a single woodblock. He does 1 swing and 1 minute to go through each wood block but takes a 2 minute rest after every 3 swings.

After an hour we have done the same number of swings, both are drenched in sweat. Both are tired. He has chopped 36 blocks in half, and I have chopped 12. He is 3x as productive as me, despite putting in equal effort. He should get 3x as much payment as me.

Now say I stay in the woodchopping business for 5 years. I get muscular, and I learn how to swing properly. Now I can be as productive as him and get paid the same.


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02 Sep 2019, 12:33 pm

No one dictates to me what I can and cannot do with my wealth. If my donation to the university's fund drive for a new physics building somehow indirectly influences the admissions department to raise the priority of my grandchild's entry into college, then so be it. If the chauffeur driving my Cadillac slips his friend the bouncer a little something for his troubles and my entourage and I get into the club, then so be it.

I worked hard to get to the point where I can enjoy such perquisites, and no one is going to deny me my right to enjoy them.


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02 Sep 2019, 2:46 pm

What advantages should wealth convey?

"Should" is an interesting concept. It implies a deviation from an expected or desired path. It also invites the use of force to achieve conformity. It raises the question of whose expectations and desires.

Wealth is the possession or control of resources that others desire. The practical advantage is that people are willing to do what you want to get some of the resources. The disadvantage is the some might decide they do not want to work and target your removal to gain access to your resources.



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02 Sep 2019, 2:58 pm

My only objections to the "privileges" of wealth is 1) Using said wealth to buy political positions, 2) Obtaining wealth by profiting off misery, sickness, and death, 3) Hording wealth and resources to the point that it makes it nearly impossible for the "little" people to advance in the world or to live a relatively comfortable life with their basic needs met.

Other than that, rock on.


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02 Sep 2019, 4:17 pm

Antrax wrote:
I have no doubt that people working low skill jobs work hard. But effort doesn't determine value. It be nice if it did, but it doesn't. Production determines value.


So you believe value and price are the same. In that case, you agree with Edmund Burke, the progenitor of what we today think of conservatism:



As Innuendo Studios says of that philosophy, "Your labor is only as valuable as the degree to which it satisfies the desires of the moneyed classes."

So if you don't really have any money and people aren't paying you money for something you choose to do, then per your belief, that action has no value and is a waste of time. This I imagine goes for the special interests of lots of people on the autism spectrum.


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Antrax
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02 Sep 2019, 4:46 pm

beneficii wrote:
Antrax wrote:
I have no doubt that people working low skill jobs work hard. But effort doesn't determine value. It be nice if it did, but it doesn't. Production determines value.


So you believe value and price are the same. In that case, you agree with Edmund Burke, the progenitor of what we today think of conservatism:



As Innuendo Studios says of that philosophy, "Your labor is only as valuable as the degree to which it satisfies the desires of the moneyed classes."

So if you don't really have any money and people aren't paying you money for something you choose to do, then per your belief, that action has no value and is a waste of time. This I imagine goes for the special interests of lots of people on the autism spectrum.


There's a distinction here: personal value, and societal value. Price is an indicator of society value as coordinated by the vast economy of the free markets. What is the value of a used car compared to the value of a new tv, compared to the value of a loaf of bread etc. etc. Price tells us what society has deemed the value.

Personal value is how much something is worth to a particular person. In general no one person is going to value everything the same way the rest of society values things.


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UnlikelySurface
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02 Sep 2019, 4:59 pm

Antrax wrote:
I have no doubt that people working low skill jobs work hard. But effort doesn't determine value. It be nice if it did, but it doesn't. Production determines value.


Understood and agreed; with some caveats. The main one being that I'm attempting to divorce "value produced" from "income received", and instead link income with "hours of effort producing value".

Antrax wrote:
I'm a relatively skinny person with not a lot of upper body strength. Say you gave me a job chopping wood blocks in two. Next to me is an experienced wood chopper (lumberjack?) with bulging muscles and knows how to swing the axe just right. I take 3 swings and 5 minutes to go through a single woodblock. He does 1 swing and 1 minute to go through each wood block but takes a 2 minute rest after every 3 swings.

After an hour we have done the same number of swings, both are drenched in sweat. Both are tired. He has chopped 36 blocks in half, and I have chopped 12. He is 3x as productive as me, despite putting in equal effort. He should get 3x as much payment as me.

Now say I stay in the woodchopping business for 5 years. I get muscular, and I learn how to swing properly. Now I can be as productive as him and get paid the same.


In your lumberjack example, there are a few factors at work. Firstly, the experienced lumberjack is better educated, trained, and practiced with the job. The inexperienced one is not. But there's no way to produce the experienced lumberjack aside from taking an inexperienced person and providing them with training. Just consider the hypothetical equal wages to be a form of paid training with the goal of producing a highly productive and skilled experienced lumberjack in the future. I think making investments in training and educating people is worthwhile. I don't see the rationale of penalizing people for being inexperienced. And if we frame it instead as "rewarding the experienced people", I don't think that's a bad idea in principle but the way things currently work in my experience is that it really ends up rewarding "good fortune". I came from a not-quite-wealthy family (I would I guess call them upper middle class) where I had the benefit of educated parents, early experience with computer equipment at a time when it was not affordable for most people, etc. The various advantages or privileges I enjoyed were not my doing. They were matters of circumstance. Taking people who were just lucky and further rewarding them at the expense of people who were not so lucky doesn't seem right to me.

Now, if wages were equalized across the board on an hourly basis, not only could the inexperienced lumberjack afford to practice if that is their desired trade, they would also be able to switch to a different field without penalty if they found they weren't suited to lumberjacking, likewise giving opportunities to people who have become unable to work in a previous field through injury, age, or other factors.


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02 Sep 2019, 5:09 pm

XFilesGeek wrote:
My only objections to the "privileges" of wealth is 1) Using said wealth to buy political positions, 2) Obtaining wealth by profiting off misery, sickness, and death, 3) Hording wealth and resources to the point that it makes it nearly impossible for the "little" people to advance in the world or to live a relatively comfortable life with their basic needs met.

Other than that, rock on.


1) At least in the united states where I live, the vast majority of political positions are essentially bought with wealth.
2) Capitalism is EXACTLY profiting off misery, sickness, and death. It's wage slavery. This point needs more support which I'll go into below.
3) Most of the hoarding of wealth issues could be resolved by a 100% tax on assets for deceased individuals. I would want some way to ensure that it's not forbidden to pass down personal possessions and mementos, but raw wealth bestowed upon you because your parents happened to be wealthy is undeserved and is the usual source of those absurdly rich billionaires.

So, on point 2 I want to point out that unequal pay is usually justified by the argument that the people at the top are thought to "own" the company, while the people at the bottom are not. But the value produced by the company wouldn't be produced if not for the efforts of everyone involved. And when the income derived from that value is unevenly distributed, the people at the top get better outcomes than the people at the bottom, who are subject to misery, sickness, and death as a direct result of poverty.


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Antrax
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02 Sep 2019, 5:34 pm

UnlikelySurface wrote:
Antrax wrote:
I have no doubt that people working low skill jobs work hard. But effort doesn't determine value. It be nice if it did, but it doesn't. Production determines value.


Understood and agreed; with some caveats. The main one being that I'm attempting to divorce "value produced" from "income received", and instead link income with "hours of effort producing value".


If you divorce "income received" from "value produced" you remove the incentive to produce value. When I was in high school I did well across the board. My favorite classes were actually history classes. I never considered being a history major in college, because I didn't feel like I could do anything with a history degree. Instead I went into engineering. I considered doing a minor in history, but the requirements were 4-5 additional classes that I just didn't have the time in my course schedule without taking an additional year.

Is the world better off with me trying to solve science and engineering problems rather than me trying to determined what happened 1000 years ago? Most of society thinks so, and have priced the value of that labor respectively.


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