In response to Vorlath - Steal The Free (2)

In response to Vorlath's response to my response to his post:

"The majority of people on this planet live in poverty."

If you mean people in undeveloped countries, that's their problem. It is not the responsibility of the western states to develop other countries. Many of these countries cannot even be developed because the average IQ in these countries is below 70 (Race Differences in Intelligence, by Richard Lynn). Civilization is a state of mind in the population. This is inachievable by chimps, and likewise it is inachievable by some humans. We are not equally capable.

"Over 12.6% of the US lives in poverty. They make less than 10K/year."

That's faulty statistics.
  • Lots of these people are just people exploiting the system. Developed countries run a system where it costs to be earning money (in a way that can be measured anyway), but it pays to be poor.

    Hence, people pretend poor. I read that the same group of people in the United States whose measured annual income is below $10k per person have an estimated annual expenditure of $20k per person. There must be some significant additional income here they aren't reporting.

  • $10k per year is $833 per month. That's not poor. People get by well on that kind of money. More so if their actual income is more like $20,000 due to moonlighting and other non-officially measured income.
I know various folks who are officially "poor" in my country, too. It makes sense. It's better to be "poor"; you save a lot of taxes.

"47 million have no health care."

That speaks of a broken health care system in the United States. The cost of operations is exorbitant for various reasons, mostly lack of competition and inefficiency. You can generally get the same medical operations conducted with an equivalent amount of skill in India, Thailand or Singapore. And they will welcome you as a medical tourist. People with no health insurance are going to New Delhi to have a $8,000 heart bypass that would have costed $80,000 in the States. See, the markets are taking care of things, as long as politicians don't obstruct it. Politicians are huge friends of inefficiency, that's their major mechanism of drawing funds and staying in power.

"For most people, the legal system is not an option as it's too expensive."

That disabled single mother I mentioned earlier, she sued someone for $10k and bought herself a big screen plasma TV. In a country reknowned for frivolous lawsuits, I'm not sure that there's a problem with the legal system being inaccessible. Too accessible, I reckon, and possibly for the wrong kinds of things.

"Interest is a horrible instution that is on the same level as slavery. It was outlawed in the UK and most of the world for over 1000 years because of its negative effects."

Interest is crucial to the economy. If interest is outlawed, no one will lend you money except out of the goodness of their hearts - and the stupidity of trusting you blindly. Interest makes it possible to lend money to people even if, realistically, not all of them can be expected to return it. Ever heard of microfinance? A crucial problem of people in the developed world is that they cannot get startup capital for their small businesses because they can't earn it and no one will lend it to them because they're too small and risky. Microfinance means having small community banks that will lend small amounts of money to these people, charging a reasonable amount of interest. It helps people start their businesses and improve lives for themselves and others. Without interest this would not be possible.

I'm guessing that, if you seriously consider it, you would probably prefer that these people can get capital in exchange for paying interest, rather than get no capital and stay poor.

"Now we have tons of credit cards and I heard the other day about a report that says that most people in Canada live at 120% of their income because of credit."

That's every individual's choice. I despise living on credit for no reason. So I don't. You can choose that for yourself as well, and so can all these other people. Their self-discipline is their own problem, and it doesn't impact you in any way.

"Insurance is something started by the Mafia."

Insurance is something started way back when at the origins of trade. Arabs had a system of international insurance for their ships a millennium ago. Insurance is crucial to the survival of a business when the risks it faces may exceed its capital. In this case, it makes a huge amount of sense to pool resources of multiple businesses to spread out the risk. It's stupid to buy insurance if the risk is trivial, though. It is pointless to buy insurance on things which, if you lose them, you can buy again before you'll miss them.

"Maybe the money system or the economy worked at one point, but when you have a system that allows people who have tons of money to be able to get even more money just because of that fact, then you have a very real problem."

You don't understand what I wrote above. I'll repeat: "Profit belongs to the person who invested, because obviously the person can organize things well, therefore more power should go to that person to organize larger things still more efficiently. If the person is unable to do that, they lose the money, they lose the power, and all is well."

You don't just automatically get more money if you have money. You get more money if you can turn that money around sensibly. Your average Joe can't do that. Your Warren Buffett can, and that's why Warren Buffett accumulated billions.

Still, what good are these billions to Warren Buffett?

Money is only spent on billionaires to the extent that they use it for themselves. As long as someone uses money for himself, that part of his money is gone. It's moved to some other person to invest. As long as someone turns money around to make more money, he's not spending it. He's improving the economy by turning the money around sensibly.

Now look at the money that Bill Gates has earned. He's the richest person on the planet, and yet he can afford to spend only a few billion per year lest he depletes it. Now look at George W.acko Bush and his pals congressmen and senators up there. They get to spend $2,500 billion every year without having to actually earn any cent of it. They just take it out of everyone's collective pockets.

What, then, is the bigger problem here?

All the good and bad intentions of businessmen are dwarfed by the power, stupidity, corruption and cluelessness in Congress.

That's why I think that representative democracy is the problem. The money system works just fine as it is.

Comments

boris kolar said…
Although I agree with many things you said and most things I think you *meant* to say, there are some statements of yours that I find disturbing.

"It is not the responsibility of the western states to develop other countries."
While "responsibility" can be understood in many contexts (legal, moral, economical, security/stability related), I won't argue with that statement. But my understanding is that it certainly *is* responsibility of all states to ensure human rights globally. Many problems of poverty (and I'm talking about real poverty, not earning less than 10K/year kind of "poverty") can be eliminated by reducing corruption, ensuring basic human rights, improving educational and market system,... Doing so also makes perfect business sense, because optimal utilization of world resources (and "retarded", but honest and hard-working African man certainly qualifies as a valuable resource).

"Many of these countries cannot even be developed because the average IQ in these countries is below 70 (Race Differences in Intelligence, by Richard Lynn)."
Let me tell you something about US "intelligence". According to this article, 39% of Americans rejects Darwinian evolution, 40% accept it, and the rest are "not sure". Also, "nearly two-thirds don't agree that more than half of human genes are common to chimpanzees". According to my standards, at least half Americans are retarded. And for what I know, the author of that racist study may be one of them. It's well known, that many things effect IQ development, especially in early childhood: exposure to large quantity of intellectually stimulating information, proper nutrition, even exposure to culture (most notably music, especially learning to play an instrument). So developing this country would also improve their IQ levels. One should also note, that IQ is an oversimplified measure of intelligence and is often used in a destructive way. For example, Adolf Hitler, George W. Bush, Yasser Arafat, Osama bin Laden, were both intelligent, great organizers, wealthy, and most of them would easily qualify for high IQ societies, like Mensa. Also, some extremely intelligent people, like Boris Sidis (father of William Sidis) and Marilyn vos Savant did not recognize IQ tests as objective measure of intelligence. Such reseach can be misused for "scientific rasism" and unjust discrimination based on narrow-minded and oversimplified attempts to measure intelligence with a one dimensional quantity.

[Legal system] "Too accessible, I reckon, and possibly for the wrong kinds of things."
Too accessible? No (rights, such as legal protection, must be unconditionally accessible. the alternative is vigilantism). For the wrong kind of things? Definitely yes.

"If the person is unable to do that, they lose the money, they lose the power, and all is well."
One can obtain large quantities of money in various vays: through inheritance, terrorism, politics, luck. Indeed, many people we consider terrorists and oppressive dictators (Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Tito, Hitler and other nazis) were among the wealthiest people on earth. And you have to be dumb as a stone to loose, say, a billion euros of inherited money.

"The money system works just fine as it is."
It's getting better, but it doesn't work quite well yet. In my opinion, gaining/loosing wealth should be a *much* more dynamic process. The main problem I see is, that one has to "play the economy game" to be successful. The most successuf people are always businessmen, not necessarily most creative people. From business perspective, a new Harry Potter novel is worth more than Theory of Relativity and according to market demand, the Bible may well be finest creation of mankind ever. Absurd, isn't it? It's also worth observing, that the best creations of mankind have rarely been motivated by money.
denis bider said…
"But my understanding is that it certainly *is* responsibility of all states to ensure human rights globally."

The thought sounds good. However, it is inherently flawed because it relies on there being a clear definition of 'human' that we can all use for the purpose of identifying with each other. But there is, in fact, no such useful definition.

The distinction between human and animal that is embedded in most people's minds exists for religiously dogmatic reasons. I see no such distinction. Some humans are closer to chimpanzees in how they think, in how they feel, in how they react, than they are to me. I find that I am also sometimes not very far from a chimpanzee.

The distinction between human and animal seems arbitrary. If, then, a group of chimpanzees go out to kill another group of chimpanzees, do we retaliate? Of course we don't. We do not meddle with their business. It is the course of nature.

If, likewise, a group of humans less developed than ourselves choose to make their own lives miserable through repeated stupid actions, what do we do? Meddling with their ways of life would have the same effect as our meddling with chimpanzees. Yes, we could prevent them from killing each other, if we invest enough manpower and time. It would cost us a whole lot of resources we could use differently. It would deprive them for an experience of learning about consequences of their actions and learning about self-control. And when we leave, they will pick up their old habits almost immediately.

That's what will happen if we take responsibility for enforcing "human rights" regardless of the people or the location. You feel free to go ahead and try to fix them, but for me, I don't want any part of that.

People hardly ever really do need help. They usually already have the power to make things better for themselves, they just won't use it. You can try to force them and educate them, but it's like trying to teach a pig to sing, like trying to create a "better man" for communism.


"Let me tell you something about US 'intelligence'. According to this article, 39% of Americans rejects Darwinian evolution, 40% accept it, and the rest are 'not sure'."

I am aware of this statistic.

I do not claim that the United States have reached a pinnacle of human development. :)

It would be pretty sad if they did...


It's well known, that many things effect IQ development, especially in early childhood: exposure to large quantity of intellectually stimulating information, proper nutrition, even exposure to culture (most notably music, especially learning to play an instrument). So developing this country would also improve their IQ levels.

That's a pipe dream.

A study showed that schooling helped improve the average IQ of studied African children by 5 points - to 65 for children after 4 years of primary school, compared to 60 for their unschooled peers.

In South Africa, the average black university student's IQ is 80, while the average white university student's IQ is 100.


One should also note, that IQ is an oversimplified measure of intelligence and is often used in a destructive way.

IQ and EQ are not the same thing, and EQ is at least as important. However, people with higher IQs tend to have higher EQs as well. It is not legitimate to use IQ as a basis for discrimination against individuals, but the effects accumulate when considering societies. If a society has an average IQ of 70, it makes a difference because there's a strong effect in aggregation.

A person with an IQ of 70 can still do well in a society that consists primarily of smarter people. But woe to the society where IQ 70 is average. It's going to be led by people whose IQ is 100, and what is an IQ of 100? Not much for state leadership.


For example, Adolf Hitler, George W. Bush, Yasser Arafat, Osama bin Laden, were both intelligent, great organizers, wealthy, and most of them would easily qualify for high IQ societies, like Mensa.

I was under the impression that George W. Bush's IQ was about 90, compared to Clinton's about 180. I cannot substantiate this, but if it's true, the difference is apparent.


Such reseach can be misused for "scientific rasism" and unjust discrimination based on narrow-minded and oversimplified attempts to measure intelligence with a one dimensional quantity.

Again, I believe individuals should not be discriminated against solely on the basis of IQ, because you're totally correct that there are other factors that count at least as much or more.

However, for societies, their average IQ is an indicator just like GDP is, and it does tell you something about where a certain society is headed. In the case of IQ, you can't fix that unless by increasing the average IQ in the country, which is currently impossible, and when it does become possible e.g. through medical intervention, it will be unfeasibly expensive.

Therefore such societies are doomed to a continuation of their current state, or marginal improvement, unless we want to go there and impose order from above - which is unsustainable.


And you have to be dumb as a stone to loose, say, a billion euros of inherited money.

Still, people manage.


The most successuf people are always businessmen, not necessarily most creative people.

I would say the most successful people are those who are the most creative in business. People who are just creative, but not in business, are not rewarded economically because that isn't what they seek.

Business and economy means doing the stuff that needs to be done. It is the modern equivalent of working on the fields a millennium ago. It needed to be done. Money goes to people who make sure that things are done that need to be done. The markets determine what things need to be done. That's how it works, and we're the better off for it as compared to some person imposing his own will on what needs to be done on everybody else. (Well - politicians do that.)

In other words, "playing the economy game" is what feeds people and satisfies their needs. Not playing the economy game means not caring about feeding people and satisfying their needs. Which is fine, and you can do that, but then you grow your own food and take care of your own needs by yourself.


From business perspective, a new Harry Potter novel is worth more than Theory of Relativity

A Harry Potter book has immediate economic value, whereas the theory of relativity has very long-term economic value exceeding the lifetime of its originator. This is the case with all basic science.

This is why I believe a successful community should fund basic science much better than it is funded now. (Some paltry $30 billion out of a $2,500 billion US budget.) And of course it should also be spent wisely, which is a bigger problem.


It's also worth observing, that the best creations of mankind have rarely been motivated by money.

And who exactly is the authority that determines what the best creations are?

Some people care a lot about Manolo Blahnik shoes. I could care less about them. I care a lot about science fiction movies. Many people couldn't care less.

We differ. The markets determine what the immediate values of things are. And if you have patience, you will see how the long-term value of today's non-marketable ideas will appreciate as those ideas result in marketable products in the future.

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