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Proportionality: The Fairness of Inequality
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wealth actual and ideal, details

There was a time when boys played games of marbles following strict playground rules: contestants had to stand a prescribed distance away from the little pyramid of marbles, and chuck only marbles of the prescribed size. Rules ruled. Piaget was intrigued by the explanations children gave for moral judgements, and the playground is the arena in which the concept of fairness is honed.

Piaget followed a model which is rare nowadays. He observed his own children in great detail as they grew up. His was the least representative sample in the history of psychology. Nonetheless he launched the study of the development of morality, and the conception of fairness.

The majority of experimental studies done in psychological laboratories seem to show that even young children prefer equal shares rather than unequal shares. This would suggest that people have an innate preference for socialism and the re-distribution of wealth.

In fact, this is true only if people are asked to distribute goods between people who are unknown to them, and who have not behaved in any particular way which would make them consider that some were more worthy and deserving than others.

The moment you show that one person has been more helpful than another, or has worked harder than another, then judges believe that, as a matter of fairness, the more energetic and helpful person should get a greater share.

That is fair, after all, because those who were hard-working and helpful have deserved it because of their efforts. So although there are many studies suggesting that people do not like inequality, it turns out that what they most dislike is unfairness.

Once it can be shown that a distribution is fairly based on effort then respondents will tolerate and indeed require that the distribution of wealth is proportionate to effort and not just based on the mere fact of existing. People prefer unequal societies for the reason that they in fact they do not mind inequality if it is based on rewards for effort.

Why people prefer unequal societies. Christina Starmans, Mark Sheskin & Paul Bloom Nature Human Behaviour 1, 0082 (2017)doi:10.1038/s41562-017-0082

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-017-0082

Unusually for a scientific paper, it is a good read. What really matters in these experiments is context, and once context is provided then it is clear that people accept unequal societies so long as they are based on a fair allocation of rewards, proportional to contribution.

The authors say:

There is immense concern about economic inequality, both among the scholarly community and in the general public, and many insist that equality is an important social goal. However, when people are asked about the ideal distribution of wealth in their country, they actually prefer unequal societies. We suggest that these two phenomena can be reconciled by noticing that, despite appearances to the contrary, there is no evidence that people are bothered by economic inequality itself. Rather, they are bothered by something that is often confounded with inequality: economic unfairness. Drawing upon laboratory studies, cross-cultural research, and experiments with babies and young children, we argue that humans naturally favour fair distributions, not equal ones, and that when fairness and equality clash, people prefer fair inequality over unfair equality. Both psychological research and decisions by policymakers would benefit from more clearly distinguishing inequality from unfairness.

The authors review a long series of experiments which seem to show that children prefer absolute equality in the sharing of rewards. Inequality is certainly a focus of political concern. It attracts those who make bold complaints of the form “The top 1% of people own XX% of the wealth” where the implication is that the owned wealth should be 1% but for foul reasons is much higher than that. This statistic contains several errors, and tends to mislead.

http://www.unz.com/jthompson/loathing-wealth

By the way, it amuses me that people who strongly object to a person’s general level of ability being represented “by a single figure” have no qualms about wealth being represented “by a single figure” despite it being based on chattels, residential property (sometimes minus mortgages, sometimes not), stocks and shares, bank accounts, pension rights totals (say, at 20 times annual payments), and other quasi-monetary benefits. Such critics should relax: although wealth estimates have methodological shortcomings, an overall figure gives a reasonable estimate for comparative purposes (as do estimates of general intelligence).

The Gini coefficient (0 is equitable distribution, 100 is outrageous inequity) is well-known, and usually widely quoted without comment, since the manifest goodness of equality is assumed to be agreed by all. Laboratory studies seem to confirm that people have a deep preference for equality.

So, when people are asked to distribute resources among a small number of people in a lab study, they insist on an exactly equal distribution. But when people are asked to distribute resources among a large group of people in the actual world, they reject an equal distribution, and prefer a certain extent of inequality. How can the strong preference for equality found in public policy discussion and laboratory studies coincide with the preference for societal inequality found in political and behavioural economic research?

We argue here that these two sets of findings can be reconciled through a surprising empirical claim: when the data are examined closely, it turns out that there is no evidence that people are actually concerned with economic inequality at all. Rather, they are bothered by something that is often confounded with inequality: economic unfairness.

We suggest that the perception that there is a preference for equality arises through an undue focus on special circumstances, often studied in the laboratory, where inequality and unfairness coincide. In most situations, however, including those involving real-world distributions of wealth, people’s concerns about fairness lead them to favour unequal distributions.

Anyone looking for evidence that people have a natural aversion to inequality will find numerous laboratory studies that seemingly confirm their view. For example, studies have found “a universal desire for more equal pay”, “egalitarian motives in humans”, “egalitarianism in young children”, and that “equality trumps reciprocity”. A Google Scholar search for “inequality aversion” yields over 10,000 papers that bear on this topic.

Furthermore, people appear to view the equal distribution of resources as a moral good; they express anger toward those who benefit from unequal distributions.

wealth actual and ideal, details

Indeed, these data might underestimate people’s preferences for unequal distributions. One follow-up study contrasted Norton and Ariely’s question about the percentage of wealth that should correspond to each quintile of the American population with a question about what the average wealth should be in each quintile. The former question resulted in an ideal ratio of poorest to wealthiest of about 1/4, but for the latter question the ratio jumped to 1/50. When the connection between the two questions was explained to participants, a majority chose the higher inequality ratio as reflecting their actual beliefs for both measures.

At this stage it should be made clear that all the “equality in the lab” researchers have not been telling lies. They are aware that inequality and unfairness are being confounded, but that message has been downplayed in the telling. From a research strategy perspective, I think it shows how a particular approach (strangers in a lab) fails to produce results which map onto real world observations. When participants come together without any back history, the ideal of equality rules. When the fuller context is given a chance to be considered, then subjects in an experiment have no hesitation in rewarding those people who rise early to go to work over those who rise late to do nothing.

Children not only reward those who have done more work, but also those who have been kind and helpful.

It follows, then, that if one believes that (a) people in the real world exhibit variation in effort, ability, moral deservingness, and so on, and (b) a fair system takes these considerations into account, then a preference for fairness will dictate that one should prefer unequal outcomes in actual societies.

One proposal is that fairness intuitions are rooted in adaptations for differentially responding to the prosocial and antisocial actions of others. For cooperation and pro-sociality to evolve, there has to be some solution to the problem of free-riders, cheaters, and bad actors. The usual explanation for this is that we have evolved a propensity to make bad behaviour costly and good behaviour beneficial, through punishment and reward

Our own argument against a focus on inequality is a psychological one. In this paper we have outlined a wealth of empirical evidence suggesting that people don’t care about reducing inequality per se. Rather, people have an aversion toward unfairness, and under certain special circumstances this leads them to reject unequal distributions. In other conditions, including those involving real-world distributions of wealth, it leads them to favour unequal distributions. In the current economic environment in the United States and other wealthy nations, concerns about fairness happen to lead to a preference for reducing the current level of inequality. However, in various other societies across the world and across history (for example, when faced with the communist ideals of the former USSR), concerns about fairness lead to anger about too much equality.

I have quoted from this paper at some length, because it is unusually well-written, clearly describes its techniques and its arguments, follows a logical sequence, and deals with an important topic. My final conclusion is that it leads us to an important general conclusion: the repeated finding of an effect (in this case an apparent preference for equality) should not stop us from digging deeper to check whether the methods are really picking up the causes of decisions, and whether the general effect persists in real-world settings. It turns out that when distributing rewards to unknown people, equal shares is probably a good strategy; but when distributing rewards to people who have shown varying levels of contribution, unequal rewards are often fairer.

Should we have a coefficient to measure to what extent a society provides appropriate rewards for varying levels of social contribution (effort, ability, pro-social acts)? What to call it? The Reward coefficient? Are social mobility measures an acceptable substitute?

Discarding Robespierre, should our chant instead be “Liberty, Proportionality, and Selective Association”? I may need to work on these details a little longer.

 
• Category: Economics, Science • Tags: Inequality, Psychology 
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  1. dearieme says:

    “Liberty, Proportionality, and Selective Association”?

    I’d settle for Liberty, Proportionality, and …..: what?

    I wouldn’t say ‘charity’ because it would be misinterpreted. So would ‘love’. ‘Kindness’?

    How about ‘Amity’?

    P.S. I’m no bible-basher but that book is sound on coveting, inadvisability of.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Trollmonster666
    How about symmetry?
    , @David
    I think Jesus lacked the instinct of moral indignation at free-loaders. That, for example, he couldn't see how impossible it would be to organize labor if everyone got paid the same, no matter how long he worked.

    Lots of times, what Jesus recommends is totally effective but If Christian societies had ever seriously extended the forgive-your-neighbor principle regionally, let alone universally, their guts would be in seven times seventy places.

    The Good Samaritan was maybe the only guy walking down the road that day that didn't actually know the jerk who'd been beaten and robbed, likely by somebody he swindled.

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  2. This would suggest that people have an innate preference for socialism and the re-distribution of wealth.

    You start well, =)

    But not, =(

    Socialism don’t/ never re-distribute[d] ideally the wealth NOR the power-decision, something extremely valuable as wealth in terms of individual well being.

    So, in the next time, try to analyze firstly this differences between what socialistic propaganda tell you and what real socialism, aka, communism really is.

    Less inequal than capitalism*

    Likely in some official socialist countries has been…

    but still very inequal and extremely inequal in other values such free speech and proportional fairness in individual power-decision = government deciding everything about your life without any negotiation or dialogue between interested parts.

    Read More
    • Replies: @pseudonym
    You're confusing socialism with Socialism.

    Two people? Each get 1/2

    Eight people? Each get 1/8

    Read the article again, it has nothing to do with Socialism, and everything to do with socialism.
    , @Joe Wong
    This comment reflects a serious case of redneck capitalist paranoia syndrome.

    We all know USA is a Orwellian oligarchy police state and it is a warmonger and war criminal on the international arena despite it claims itself a democracy, so shall we say democracy does not work because USA’s failure to implement democracy ideally? On the same token, it is moronic to say Socialism does not work because some jackals hijacked Socialism for their own greed just like the ‘god-fearing’ morally defunct evil ‘puritans’ hijacked democracy in the USA to fill their own greed.
    , @John Smith
    I must object.

    Socialism does re-distribute the meager wealth of the working class into the pockets of the non working class and state owned business in exchange for handouts designed to keep you dependent on a system that hates you.
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  3. That is fair, after all, because those who were hard-working and helpful have deserved it because of their efforts.

    Yes, this is the psychology of the masses or of the worker, more hard-WORKing you are, better, but… some people take note that a lot of non-hard worker are significantly more gratified than majority. So this people perceive a big bug in the logic of [capitalistic] meritocracy.

    ”Hard-worker = deserved to earn more”

    but

    A lot of those on the elite are not hard-worker, so…

    And ”hard-workness” is heritable/inheritable too, so something that you born with more facility to engage reduce considerably the idea that people who are not hard-working, depending for what, are just lazy. The own idea of lazyness seems complicated in this case if it is usually based on the idea of ”free will”, if you are lazy it’s because you want to be like that.

    Sloth is lazy**

    Or s/he is just slow**

    Slow and lazy is the same*

    People who work-hard tend to work- fast*

    Read More
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  4. “The Gini coefficient (100 is equitable distribution, 1 is outrageous inequity)”

    “100″ should read “0″, right?

    Read More
    • Replies: @James Thompson
    Yes, my mistake. Have corrected it to 0 for equality, 100 for inequality.
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  5. Today’s wealth inequality is entirely an artifact of the debt bubble and related Great Asset Mania. It will decrease dramatically when the social mood mania sustaining it these last 35 years rolls over.

    I also note that the first thing deleted from any propaganda piece we read in “the news” is context. We can’t have the rubes deciding that it’s okay for the surgeon who saved their mom’s life after her stroke to drive a nicer car and maybe KEEP what he or she made in income last year. (Ramping taxes on the “working wealthy,” i.e., people who have high incomes but are not Gates-Buffet Rich, is Job One for Leftists when they’re not celebrating another white guy suicide.)

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    • Agree: Daniel Chieh
    • Replies: @anon

    Today’s wealth inequality is entirely an artifact of the debt bubble and related Great Asset Mania.
     
    However, the debt bubble is/was the result of the pre-existing power and greed of the financial sector to corrupt the political/media class into rigging the game. That power and greed was restrained until the Soviet Union collapsed.

    It will decrease dramatically when the social mood mania sustaining it these last 35 years rolls over.
     
    It will decrease dramatically when unrestrained usury leads to economic collapse as it always does for a simple arithmetic reason

    million people with $200/week to spend = $200 million demand

    million people with $200/week
    - repaying $150/week on their previous loans
    - leaving $50/week to spend
    = $150 million to the financial sector and $50 million demand

    non-productive usury is parasitic and once unrestrained will always rapidly destroy an economy

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  6. Jason Liu says:

    It’s almost as though egalitarianism is a primal, unthinking position mostly adopted by children who don’t know any better. The simplest and most knee-jerk definition of “fairness”, defined by feeling.

    The moment you step back and examine the world, inequality starts to make more sense.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Joe Wong
    Perhaps inequality is inevitable and way of life, but definitely for the humanity sake we cannot grant it moral legitimacy, inequality is the dark side of humanity, it should always be treated as it is.
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  7. In this paper we have outlined a wealth of empirical evidence suggesting that people don’t care about reducing inequality per se.

    Oh dear. Whatever empirical evidence in this study is suggesting, it’s irrelevant. Because the people being studied have been conditioned, indoctrinated, corrupted by the society they live in. They are completely useless, for the purpose of determining what human beings – in abstract – may or may not care about.

    Why don’t you study people who’d grown up in a hippie commune or in an Amish village, or in an orphanage in a poor country – I knew someone who did, and he, many years later, still had no clear concept of ‘property’. And at that point, when you don’t accept the concept of ‘property’ or ‘wealth’, at that point the whole idea of ‘distribution‘, the whole premise of your musings becomes completely meaningless…

    Read More
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    I disagree.

    Since most people have not grown up in the extreme circumstances of a commune, this still applies to the vast majority of people and the model is useful. However, to entertain your proposition, please tell us more about your friend.

    My understanding of individuals raised from non-property owning societies still have certain notions of want and possession, for example Native Americans did on wives. On top of that, due to the success of property-owning societies, this suggests that capitalism is overall adaptive and advantageous.
    , @Wally
    Michael Chrichton on the not-so-noble savages.

    http://principia-scientific.org/crichton-environmentalism-religion/
    excerpt:


    And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did.

    On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up, to accelerate the process.

    And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly: the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles. The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated, or learned to build their villages high in the cliffs to attain some measure of safety.

    How about the human condition in the rest of the world? The Maori of New Zealand committed massacres regularly. The dyaks of Borneo were headhunters. The Polynesians, living in an environment as close to paradise as one can imagine, fought constantly, and created a society so hideously restrictive that you could lose your life if you stepped in the footprint of a chief. It was the Polynesians who gave us the very concept of taboo, as well as the word itself.

    The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true. That anyone still believes it, 200 years after Rousseau, shows the tenacity of religious myths, their ability to hang on in the face of centuries of factual contradiction.
     

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  8. @LemmusLemmus
    "The Gini coefficient (100 is equitable distribution, 1 is outrageous inequity)"

    "100" should read "0", right?

    Yes, my mistake. Have corrected it to 0 for equality, 100 for inequality.

    Read More
    • Replies: @LemmusLemmus
    Um, usually, 1 is maximum inequality (though Wikipedia says, quite logically, that you can say "100%").
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  9. @Mao Cheng Ji

    In this paper we have outlined a wealth of empirical evidence suggesting that people don’t care about reducing inequality per se.
     
    Oh dear. Whatever empirical evidence in this study is suggesting, it's irrelevant. Because the people being studied have been conditioned, indoctrinated, corrupted by the society they live in. They are completely useless, for the purpose of determining what human beings - in abstract - may or may not care about.

    Why don't you study people who'd grown up in a hippie commune or in an Amish village, or in an orphanage in a poor country - I knew someone who did, and he, many years later, still had no clear concept of 'property'. And at that point, when you don't accept the concept of 'property' or 'wealth', at that point the whole idea of 'distribution', the whole premise of your musings becomes completely meaningless...

    I disagree.

    Since most people have not grown up in the extreme circumstances of a commune, this still applies to the vast majority of people and the model is useful. However, to entertain your proposition, please tell us more about your friend.

    My understanding of individuals raised from non-property owning societies still have certain notions of want and possession, for example Native Americans did on wives. On top of that, due to the success of property-owning societies, this suggests that capitalism is overall adaptive and advantageous.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Santoculto
    Capitalism is a short term/consumerism and parasitic-like socio-economic system. Capitalism is advantageous but it depend for whom. It's not adaptative only for short term.
    , @Mao Cheng Ji

    However, to entertain your proposition, please tell us more about your friend.
     
    He wasn't a friend, just someone I met a few times; friend of a friend. For example: when leaving a party, the guy would just put on a jacket, anyone's jacket. Because a jacket is a jacket, it's a thing that serves the purpose. This sort of thing.

    Native Americans did on wives
     
    So, maybe they had some form of 'ownership' of women, so what. I'm not saying that there can be only two kinds of social organizations, there are many. For us, for our natural habitat, 'ownership', 'wealth', 'property', 'wage', 'debt', 'market', 'deserves' are the most basic concepts that we never question. They are our deepest underlying assumptions, internalized from the most early age. But I don't think they are embedded in human nature.
    , @RobRich
    Native Americans were devout property owners. The myth of native communism has long been debunked.
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  10. The moment you show that one person has been more helpful than another, or has worked harder than another, then judges believe that, as a matter of fairness, the more energetic and helpful person should get a greater share.

    And folks disagree on who that helper might be. Compare people’s reaction to the Koch brothers and to George Soros.

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  11. interesting to call variability “inequality” – especially when evolution depends on variability:)

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  12. OutWest says:

    Perhaps it’s the engineer in me, but I’ve observed that some driving force is necessary to make a process run. Voltage, temperature/pressure difference, or maybe wealth disparity are examples.

    I had the choice of working in a local mill for good wages but a killing environment, or working my way through college with little money. Intermediate term sacrifice paid long tem dividends for me and my kids/grandkids. There’s also a good argument to be made that society is also better served by such self-serving efforts.

    If everyone is truly equal, what is there to drive society?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Joe Wong
    I remember one epsoide in the Star Trek, Jean-Luc Picard explained humanity to an less developed alien that in the 23rd century, human is no longer valued material procession, human being is motived by wanting to excel, to make himself and the human being better. Are you saying we never can get there?
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  13. @Daniel Chieh
    I disagree.

    Since most people have not grown up in the extreme circumstances of a commune, this still applies to the vast majority of people and the model is useful. However, to entertain your proposition, please tell us more about your friend.

    My understanding of individuals raised from non-property owning societies still have certain notions of want and possession, for example Native Americans did on wives. On top of that, due to the success of property-owning societies, this suggests that capitalism is overall adaptive and advantageous.

    Capitalism is a short term/consumerism and parasitic-like socio-economic system. Capitalism is advantageous but it depend for whom. It’s not adaptative only for short term.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    Seems to me that most of human history of every civilization involved property at least since the dawn of agriculture allowed wealth to be stored in the form of grain. Property-less cultures were usually cultures that lacked the ability for an individual to accumulate wealth; however, only in cultures that had property allowed for the rise of more specialized classes of soldiery, tradesmen, and craftsmen.
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  14. Svigor says:

    It’s almost as though egalitarianism is a primal, unthinking position mostly adopted by children who don’t know any better. The simplest and most knee-jerk definition of “fairness”, defined by feeling.

    The moment you step back and examine the world, inequality starts to make more sense.

    More “contextual” or “default” than primal or unthinking. Nobody’s earned a bigger or smaller share, because everyone’s qualification is simply showing up and being included in deliberation over division of spoils.

    the people being studied have been conditioned, indoctrinated, corrupted by the society they live in. They are completely useless, for the purpose of determining what human beings – in abstract – may or may not care about.

    I usually find your posts to be scheisse, but this bit (I snipped out the preamble advisedly) is pretty good, if hyperbolic. Leftist indoctrination and intimidation infect everything, and must be controlled for to get at the truth.

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  15. Svigor says:

    If everyone is truly equal, what is there to drive society?

    Proportional rewards. Decouple rewards from production, that’s what really kills motivation.

    Read More
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  16. @dearieme
    “Liberty, Proportionality, and Selective Association”?

    I'd settle for Liberty, Proportionality, and .....: what?

    I wouldn't say 'charity' because it would be misinterpreted. So would 'love'. 'Kindness'?

    How about 'Amity'?


    P.S. I'm no bible-basher but that book is sound on coveting, inadvisability of.

    How about symmetry?

    Read More
    • Replies: @dearieme
    "How about symmetry?" I think we're looking for a word that contains some of the sentiment of 'fraternity' without the notion, certainly apparent in retrospect, of being compulsory.
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  17. @Santoculto
    Capitalism is a short term/consumerism and parasitic-like socio-economic system. Capitalism is advantageous but it depend for whom. It's not adaptative only for short term.

    Seems to me that most of human history of every civilization involved property at least since the dawn of agriculture allowed wealth to be stored in the form of grain. Property-less cultures were usually cultures that lacked the ability for an individual to accumulate wealth; however, only in cultures that had property allowed for the rise of more specialized classes of soldiery, tradesmen, and craftsmen.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Santoculto
    So you're saying that capitalism and accumulation of wealth is basically the same thing*
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  18. Wally says:

    It’s revealing that those who advocate for ‘equality’ generally have much higher incomes than those they advocate for.

    The Left has slapped together a coalition of Parasites and Perverts and seem to think they can beat the Productive.

    socialism:
    The Purpose of Political Correctness,
    To Hide the Dirty Secrets of Socialism

    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2016/12/thomas-dilorenzo/real-purpose-pc/

    Read More
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  19. Wally says:
    @Mao Cheng Ji

    In this paper we have outlined a wealth of empirical evidence suggesting that people don’t care about reducing inequality per se.
     
    Oh dear. Whatever empirical evidence in this study is suggesting, it's irrelevant. Because the people being studied have been conditioned, indoctrinated, corrupted by the society they live in. They are completely useless, for the purpose of determining what human beings - in abstract - may or may not care about.

    Why don't you study people who'd grown up in a hippie commune or in an Amish village, or in an orphanage in a poor country - I knew someone who did, and he, many years later, still had no clear concept of 'property'. And at that point, when you don't accept the concept of 'property' or 'wealth', at that point the whole idea of 'distribution', the whole premise of your musings becomes completely meaningless...

    Michael Chrichton on the not-so-noble savages.

    http://principia-scientific.org/crichton-environmentalism-religion/

    excerpt:

    And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did.

    On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up, to accelerate the process.

    And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly: the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles. The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated, or learned to build their villages high in the cliffs to attain some measure of safety.

    How about the human condition in the rest of the world? The Maori of New Zealand committed massacres regularly. The dyaks of Borneo were headhunters. The Polynesians, living in an environment as close to paradise as one can imagine, fought constantly, and created a society so hideously restrictive that you could lose your life if you stepped in the footprint of a chief. It was the Polynesians who gave us the very concept of taboo, as well as the word itself.

    The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true. That anyone still believes it, 200 years after Rousseau, shows the tenacity of religious myths, their ability to hang on in the face of centuries of factual contradiction.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji

    Michael Chrichton on the not-so-noble savages.
     
    I don't think I mentioned any 'noble savages'; all I said was that people are conditioned by their social environment. I guess you didn't like the word 'corrupted'? Okay, I take it back, it is, perhaps, unnecessarily judgemental.
    , @Santoculto
    Yes, but it don't legitimate white europeans to act in the same way in ''foreign' lands, ;)

    White colonizers just act in the same way not-so-noble savage ones, ;)

    No superiority there.
    , @Joe Wong
    I am very sceptical about any proof provided by the White to debunk anybody anything, historically the White demonizes or badmouths others with fake news to make themselves superior and righteous. Orientalism and casting South American civilizations as bloodthirsty barbarians are some of the ancient examples, phantom WMD and anti-communism are the recent examples.
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  20. @Daniel Chieh
    I disagree.

    Since most people have not grown up in the extreme circumstances of a commune, this still applies to the vast majority of people and the model is useful. However, to entertain your proposition, please tell us more about your friend.

    My understanding of individuals raised from non-property owning societies still have certain notions of want and possession, for example Native Americans did on wives. On top of that, due to the success of property-owning societies, this suggests that capitalism is overall adaptive and advantageous.

    However, to entertain your proposition, please tell us more about your friend.

    He wasn’t a friend, just someone I met a few times; friend of a friend. For example: when leaving a party, the guy would just put on a jacket, anyone’s jacket. Because a jacket is a jacket, it’s a thing that serves the purpose. This sort of thing.

    Native Americans did on wives

    So, maybe they had some form of ‘ownership’ of women, so what. I’m not saying that there can be only two kinds of social organizations, there are many. For us, for our natural habitat, ‘ownership’, ‘wealth’, ‘property’, ‘wage’, ‘debt’, ‘market’, ‘deserves’ are the most basic concepts that we never question. They are our deepest underlying assumptions, internalized from the most early age. But I don’t think they are embedded in human nature.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    So he could have committed theft, which is all fine and good until he takes your jacket but hasn't brought one of his own. This is, in fact, a common problem with communes: the "free rider" problem. Such individuals in Alberta cause significant social disharmony, for a real world example, and escalate into violence and robbery.

    Ownership of property and labor may be partially a social concept, but it is an useful social technology that promotes development of society. I think contrary to your thoughts, they are often questioned but its essentially one of the most effective methods for living in the modern world.

    I think that you may not considering the effect of technology and social adaptation as part of that technology; as I mentioned elsewhere, hunter-gatherer groups tend not to have a concept of property and wealth, because they can't accumulate it. But once stationary agriculture is common, accumulation of wealth and methods to defend it become common, which means that concepts of property and inequality exist.
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  21. JackOH says:

    Whew! I’d sooner expect to share a bourbon with Sasquatch and Yeti than to sight those surely mythical critters, Equality and Fairness.

    Read More
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  22. @Wally
    Michael Chrichton on the not-so-noble savages.

    http://principia-scientific.org/crichton-environmentalism-religion/
    excerpt:


    And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did.

    On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up, to accelerate the process.

    And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly: the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles. The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated, or learned to build their villages high in the cliffs to attain some measure of safety.

    How about the human condition in the rest of the world? The Maori of New Zealand committed massacres regularly. The dyaks of Borneo were headhunters. The Polynesians, living in an environment as close to paradise as one can imagine, fought constantly, and created a society so hideously restrictive that you could lose your life if you stepped in the footprint of a chief. It was the Polynesians who gave us the very concept of taboo, as well as the word itself.

    The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true. That anyone still believes it, 200 years after Rousseau, shows the tenacity of religious myths, their ability to hang on in the face of centuries of factual contradiction.
     

    Michael Chrichton on the not-so-noble savages.

    I don’t think I mentioned any ‘noble savages’; all I said was that people are conditioned by their social environment. I guess you didn’t like the word ‘corrupted’? Okay, I take it back, it is, perhaps, unnecessarily judgemental.

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  23. @Daniel Chieh
    Seems to me that most of human history of every civilization involved property at least since the dawn of agriculture allowed wealth to be stored in the form of grain. Property-less cultures were usually cultures that lacked the ability for an individual to accumulate wealth; however, only in cultures that had property allowed for the rise of more specialized classes of soldiery, tradesmen, and craftsmen.

    So you’re saying that capitalism and accumulation of wealth is basically the same thing*

    Read More
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  24. @Wally
    Michael Chrichton on the not-so-noble savages.

    http://principia-scientific.org/crichton-environmentalism-religion/
    excerpt:


    And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did.

    On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up, to accelerate the process.

    And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly: the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles. The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated, or learned to build their villages high in the cliffs to attain some measure of safety.

    How about the human condition in the rest of the world? The Maori of New Zealand committed massacres regularly. The dyaks of Borneo were headhunters. The Polynesians, living in an environment as close to paradise as one can imagine, fought constantly, and created a society so hideously restrictive that you could lose your life if you stepped in the footprint of a chief. It was the Polynesians who gave us the very concept of taboo, as well as the word itself.

    The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true. That anyone still believes it, 200 years after Rousseau, shows the tenacity of religious myths, their ability to hang on in the face of centuries of factual contradiction.
     

    Yes, but it don’t legitimate white europeans to act in the same way in ”foreign’ lands, ;)

    White colonizers just act in the same way not-so-noble savage ones, ;)

    No superiority there.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Wally
    According to your Leftist logic, American Indians were xenophobic and are to be condemned for resisting European migrants.
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  25. People prefer unequal societies for the reason that they in fact they do not mind inequality if it is based on rewards for effort.

    People don’t prefer unequal societies, they tend to ”rationalize’ that this is a necessary evil. But i doubt most people prefer unequal/inequal societies…

    Read More
    • Replies: @Wally
    There never has been and never will be 'equal' human societies.
    The ones that tried were dismal failures simply because we are not all equal.
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  26. So, when people are asked to distribute resources among a small number of people in a lab study, they insist on an exactly equal distribution. But when people are asked to distribute resources among a large group of people in the actual world, they reject an equal distribution, and prefer a certain extent of inequality. How can the strong preference for equality found in public policy discussion and laboratory studies coincide with the preference for societal inequality found in political and behavioural economic research?

    Bigger groups, bigger [genetic/instinctive levels of] diversity*

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  27. @Mao Cheng Ji

    However, to entertain your proposition, please tell us more about your friend.
     
    He wasn't a friend, just someone I met a few times; friend of a friend. For example: when leaving a party, the guy would just put on a jacket, anyone's jacket. Because a jacket is a jacket, it's a thing that serves the purpose. This sort of thing.

    Native Americans did on wives
     
    So, maybe they had some form of 'ownership' of women, so what. I'm not saying that there can be only two kinds of social organizations, there are many. For us, for our natural habitat, 'ownership', 'wealth', 'property', 'wage', 'debt', 'market', 'deserves' are the most basic concepts that we never question. They are our deepest underlying assumptions, internalized from the most early age. But I don't think they are embedded in human nature.

    So he could have committed theft, which is all fine and good until he takes your jacket but hasn’t brought one of his own. This is, in fact, a common problem with communes: the “free rider” problem. Such individuals in Alberta cause significant social disharmony, for a real world example, and escalate into violence and robbery.

    Ownership of property and labor may be partially a social concept, but it is an useful social technology that promotes development of society. I think contrary to your thoughts, they are often questioned but its essentially one of the most effective methods for living in the modern world.

    I think that you may not considering the effect of technology and social adaptation as part of that technology; as I mentioned elsewhere, hunter-gatherer groups tend not to have a concept of property and wealth, because they can’t accumulate it. But once stationary agriculture is common, accumulation of wealth and methods to defend it become common, which means that concepts of property and inequality exist.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji

    but it is an useful social technology that promotes development of society
     
    I don't know what 'useful' might mean in this context. Inevitable, that's for sure. Rousseau wrote:

    The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had some one pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: "Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!”
     
    But then he writes:

    But it is quite likely that by then things had already reached the point where they could no longer continue as they were. For this idea of property, depending on many prior ideas which could only have arisen successively, was not formed all at once in the human mind. It was necessary to make great progress, to acquire much industry and enlightenment, and to transmit and augment them from one age to another, before arriving at this final state in the state of nature.
     
    Social evolution...
    , @Perplexed
    In the New York Times Magazine's first "Ethicist" column, Randy Gerber set a problem: You're leaving a restaurant on a rainy day and find that someone took your umbrella from the pail by the door. Is it okay to take someone else's? He said yes (but, if I remember correctly, only one of equal or lesser value to yours; no advice on how to evaluate a pailful of black umbrellas, though; and what if all of them are better than yours? And then, if you refrain from taking a better one, you'll still get wet, which was the justification for taking someone else's in the first place. And if you take a cheaper one, isn't that stealing from the lower classes?).
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  28. dearieme says:
    @Trollmonster666
    How about symmetry?

    “How about symmetry?” I think we’re looking for a word that contains some of the sentiment of ‘fraternity’ without the notion, certainly apparent in retrospect, of being compulsory.

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  29. @Daniel Chieh
    So he could have committed theft, which is all fine and good until he takes your jacket but hasn't brought one of his own. This is, in fact, a common problem with communes: the "free rider" problem. Such individuals in Alberta cause significant social disharmony, for a real world example, and escalate into violence and robbery.

    Ownership of property and labor may be partially a social concept, but it is an useful social technology that promotes development of society. I think contrary to your thoughts, they are often questioned but its essentially one of the most effective methods for living in the modern world.

    I think that you may not considering the effect of technology and social adaptation as part of that technology; as I mentioned elsewhere, hunter-gatherer groups tend not to have a concept of property and wealth, because they can't accumulate it. But once stationary agriculture is common, accumulation of wealth and methods to defend it become common, which means that concepts of property and inequality exist.

    but it is an useful social technology that promotes development of society

    I don’t know what ‘useful’ might mean in this context. Inevitable, that’s for sure. Rousseau wrote:

    The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had some one pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: “Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!”

    But then he writes:

    But it is quite likely that by then things had already reached the point where they could no longer continue as they were. For this idea of property, depending on many prior ideas which could only have arisen successively, was not formed all at once in the human mind. It was necessary to make great progress, to acquire much industry and enlightenment, and to transmit and augment them from one age to another, before arriving at this final state in the state of nature.

    Social evolution…

    Read More
    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
    Maybe you are oversimplifying tbe position you are arguing against. It is easy when discussing human nature to dismiss the idea that we have genes for respecting or being greedy for property rights but the way to look at it is different.

    Start by considering what is objectively good for enjoyable human society, especially on a small scale, then consider what programming might be conducive to it. Just as it is a priori likely thst there would be some genetic programming to help us not to be fooled by liars the strong and reciprocal feeling for "mine" and "thine" needs programming that prevents taking no thought for the morrow and being fecklessly indifferent to people damaging the tools and other artefacts one has made.

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  30. OutWest says:

    If we were truly equal, none of us could be smarter, more industrious and certainly not more successful than the least of us. The kids seem capable of grasping this fact.

    Maybe unqualified “equal” is the wrong concept as a universal parameter of fair play.

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  31. @James Thompson
    Yes, my mistake. Have corrected it to 0 for equality, 100 for inequality.

    Um, usually, 1 is maximum inequality (though Wikipedia says, quite logically, that you can say “100%”).

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  32. I am British but I work a lot in Russia. I have noticed that the Russians are prepared to put more effort into punishing a wrongdoer, in everyday affairs, than the British, who usually just stop contact. Also, Russians have a much more developed, disproportionate to my view, sense of revenge and will put resources into it.

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  33. If I recall correctly from my reading of Frans DeWaal’s work with chimpanzees at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, two experiments seem relevant here.

    In one, two chimps in adjoining cages were given treats for pressing a button or pulling a lever. One chimp was given a slice of cucumber, the other a grape, which as a sweet is the more desirable of the two rewards. The chimp who was given the cucumber, seeing that his peer was given a better reward for the same endeavor eventually went on strike. This is suggestive of a feeling of unfairness, injustice and resentment.

    In another trial, every time one chimp was rewarded with a treat for pulling the lever his companion–visible to him–was given a electric shock. After a few trials chimp #1 made the connection and–out of sympathy apparently–stopped pulling the lever, forsaking his treat.

    So, DeWaal concludes that “Morality” or in this case a sense of fairness, didn’t begin with an awakened, enlightened consciousness due to any “higher” spirituality. It is part and parcel of and to our nature as primates and builds on fellow-feeling. Hard to argue with this.

    Read More
    • Replies: @utu

    in this case a sense of fairness, didn’t begin with an awakened, enlightened consciousness due to any “higher” spirituality
     
    I think it should be pretty obvious because lack of fairness is just like lack of symmetry in some geometric pattern. It is visible right away. It strikes you but in amoral landscape. It takes much more effort (cognitive, conceptual and linguistic) to justify and eventually internalize the lack of fairness. The default is fairness except for the ones who are not fair because they are morally defective. They are just tone deaf. They do not see the beauty of Kant's categorical imperatives.
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  34. From Wiki

    “In 2011, De Waal and his co-workers were the first to report that chimpanzees given a free choice between helping only themselves or helping themselves plus a partner, prefer the latter. In fact, De Waal does not believe these tendencies to be restricted to humans and apes, but views empathy and sympathy as universal mammalian characteristics, a view that over the past decade has gained support from studies on rodents and other mammals, such as dogs. He and his students have also extensively worked on fairness, leading to a video that went viral on inequity aversion among capuchin monkeys. The most recent work in this area was the first demonstration that given a chance to play the Ultimatum game, chimpanzees respond in the same way as children and human adults by preferring the equitable outcome.”

    Read More
    • Replies: @Wally
    Who decides what is "equitable"?
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  35. utu says:
    @ThreeCranes
    If I recall correctly from my reading of Frans DeWaal's work with chimpanzees at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, two experiments seem relevant here.

    In one, two chimps in adjoining cages were given treats for pressing a button or pulling a lever. One chimp was given a slice of cucumber, the other a grape, which as a sweet is the more desirable of the two rewards. The chimp who was given the cucumber, seeing that his peer was given a better reward for the same endeavor eventually went on strike. This is suggestive of a feeling of unfairness, injustice and resentment.

    In another trial, every time one chimp was rewarded with a treat for pulling the lever his companion--visible to him--was given a electric shock. After a few trials chimp #1 made the connection and--out of sympathy apparently--stopped pulling the lever, forsaking his treat.

    So, DeWaal concludes that "Morality" or in this case a sense of fairness, didn't begin with an awakened, enlightened consciousness due to any "higher" spirituality. It is part and parcel of and to our nature as primates and builds on fellow-feeling. Hard to argue with this.

    in this case a sense of fairness, didn’t begin with an awakened, enlightened consciousness due to any “higher” spirituality

    I think it should be pretty obvious because lack of fairness is just like lack of symmetry in some geometric pattern. It is visible right away. It strikes you but in amoral landscape. It takes much more effort (cognitive, conceptual and linguistic) to justify and eventually internalize the lack of fairness. The default is fairness except for the ones who are not fair because they are morally defective. They are just tone deaf. They do not see the beauty of Kant’s categorical imperatives.

    Read More
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  36. Wally says:
    @Santoculto
    Yes, but it don't legitimate white europeans to act in the same way in ''foreign' lands, ;)

    White colonizers just act in the same way not-so-noble savage ones, ;)

    No superiority there.

    According to your Leftist logic, American Indians were xenophobic and are to be condemned for resisting European migrants.

    Read More
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  37. Wally says:
    @Santoculto

    People prefer unequal societies for the reason that they in fact they do not mind inequality if it is based on rewards for effort.
     
    People don't prefer unequal societies, they tend to ''rationalize' that this is a necessary evil. But i doubt most people prefer unequal/inequal societies...

    There never has been and never will be ‘equal’ human societies.
    The ones that tried were dismal failures simply because we are not all equal.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Santoculto
    Thank you for this clarification, i don't knew.
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  38. Wally says:
    @ThreeCranes
    From Wiki

    "In 2011, De Waal and his co-workers were the first to report that chimpanzees given a free choice between helping only themselves or helping themselves plus a partner, prefer the latter. In fact, De Waal does not believe these tendencies to be restricted to humans and apes, but views empathy and sympathy as universal mammalian characteristics, a view that over the past decade has gained support from studies on rodents and other mammals, such as dogs. He and his students have also extensively worked on fairness, leading to a video that went viral on inequity aversion among capuchin monkeys. The most recent work in this area was the first demonstration that given a chance to play the Ultimatum game, chimpanzees respond in the same way as children and human adults by preferring the equitable outcome."

    Who decides what is “equitable”?

    Read More
    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
    Natural selection, apparently.
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  39. Bolt says:

    Counting accumulations of the measurable as a method of judging fairness or in/equality would seem a materialist trap, very US consumer. I see no mention of Bhutan’s happiness index here.

    Those who decide not to participate in work towards normalized social goals have a role too; they give the overachievers a group to compare themselves with and a consequent boost to their psychic well being. What’s the point of a Lexus if everyone drives them?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Perplexed
    Are smokers included in Bhutan's happiness index? They can get five years in prison for violating the draconian rules. But they're smokers, so nobody cares, right?
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  40. RobRich says: • Website
    @Daniel Chieh
    I disagree.

    Since most people have not grown up in the extreme circumstances of a commune, this still applies to the vast majority of people and the model is useful. However, to entertain your proposition, please tell us more about your friend.

    My understanding of individuals raised from non-property owning societies still have certain notions of want and possession, for example Native Americans did on wives. On top of that, due to the success of property-owning societies, this suggests that capitalism is overall adaptive and advantageous.

    Native Americans were devout property owners. The myth of native communism has long been debunked.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Joe Wong
    I would be very sceptical about any proof provided by the White to debunk anybody anything, historically the Whtie demonizes or badmouths others with fake news to make themselve superior. Orientalism and casting South American civilizations as bloodthirty barbarians are some of the ancient examples, phantom WMD and Maidan Square mob putsch are the recent examples.
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  41. David says:
    @dearieme
    “Liberty, Proportionality, and Selective Association”?

    I'd settle for Liberty, Proportionality, and .....: what?

    I wouldn't say 'charity' because it would be misinterpreted. So would 'love'. 'Kindness'?

    How about 'Amity'?


    P.S. I'm no bible-basher but that book is sound on coveting, inadvisability of.

    I think Jesus lacked the instinct of moral indignation at free-loaders. That, for example, he couldn’t see how impossible it would be to organize labor if everyone got paid the same, no matter how long he worked.

    Lots of times, what Jesus recommends is totally effective but If Christian societies had ever seriously extended the forgive-your-neighbor principle regionally, let alone universally, their guts would be in seven times seventy places.

    The Good Samaritan was maybe the only guy walking down the road that day that didn’t actually know the jerk who’d been beaten and robbed, likely by somebody he swindled.

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  42. @Wally
    Who decides what is "equitable"?

    Natural selection, apparently.

    Read More
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  43. @Wally
    There never has been and never will be 'equal' human societies.
    The ones that tried were dismal failures simply because we are not all equal.

    Thank you for this clarification, i don’t knew.

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  44. Agent76 says:

    January 20, 2017 Rothschild Family Wealth is Five Times that of World’s Top 8 Billionaires Combined

    A recent report by Oxfam International highlights the dramatic rise in income equality by noting that the combined wealth of the world’s top 8 individual billionaires is more than the lower half of the world’s population, some 3.6 billion people. The intention of the report was to bring awareness to the unfairness and injustice inherent in our global economic system.

    http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/01/20/rothschild-family-wealth-five-times-worlds-top-8-billionaires-combined/

    May 21, 2013 Why the whole banking system is a scam – Godfrey Bloom MEP

    • European Parliament, Strasbourg, 21 May 2013

    • Speaker: Godfrey Bloom MEP, UKIP (Yorkshire & Lincolnshire)

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  45. anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Can’t say that I disagree with the researchers conclusions in principle. But when it comes to the subject of fairness vs. equality in economic issues problems arise. It seems reasonable that a janitor who works ten hours (including two hours overtime) should receive more compensation than a janitor who works eight hours (or less). Similarly, a chemist who works longer hours than another chemist should receive more compensation. But…and here’s the rub…should the rate of compensation to a janitor be the same as that of a chemist and vice versa? I think not, and the reason is obvious.

    True economic equality in theory can only exist if everyone were paid the same amount regardless of occupation (thus a janitor would make the same amount as a chemist). This would entail not so much an economic revolution as a psychological revolution—a prospect that, to put it mildly, is not very likely–except possibly in the collective minds of the Sanderistas.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    The most psychologically difficult part of the modern economy is "why should someone be able to make more money by having money" through interest-bearing systems. While its very logical from a capitalistic perspective, its definitely the part which I think our instincts find least understandable.

    The rich history against usury throughout history, including in the East, are a good example that many people found the notion difficult to accept especially when it seemed like it accumulated wealth in a class without connection to historical notions of land, protection, fealty, etc.
    , @Mao Cheng Ji

    True economic equality in theory can only exist if everyone were paid the same amount regardless of occupation
     
    No, true economic equality can only exist when no one is paid anything at all. Everything is freely shared, like, say, books in the library, or food between family members, or the well in the village center. Simple as that.
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  46. hyperbola says:

    Generation of “responses” is promulgated by keeping the level of discussion very simple minded and generic: equality vs reward-for-effort. Major considerations are (deliberately?) ignored with such a formulation.

    Equality is easy to calculate and apply. Reward-for-effort is not and is easily subject to “corruption” (over-reward due to power-control that can include abuse of those “under-rewarded”). Anyone who advocates “reward-for-effort” therefore needs to START by proposing a system that guarantees that this does not degenerate into corruption.

    Has anyone ever been successful in establishing a social system in which “reward-for-effort” did NOT degenerate into corruption? Perhaps as long ago as Plato usable systems were proposed (maximum allowed difference between poor/rich = 4), but these have never been implemented because of the tendency to corruption inherent in “reward-for-effort”?

    Certainly we have plenty of evidence that present practice of “reward-for-effort” is highly corrupted.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    No model will perfectly match reality. Equality actually isn't easy to calculate due to the free rider problem, which isn't just something to handwave away - it is one of the most common ways for communes and the like to die.

    Beyond that, traditional systems which reflected labor and risk taking resonated pretty well with people - the notion of someone working harder in the fields was easy to justify, as was the occupation of the soldier or even the brigand.

    This isn't as much the case these days when so much of wealth is tied up by the financial sector of essentially, what was traditionally considered as usury. But the fundamental truth that inequality-based systems do tend to outcompete equality-based systems.

    Corruption, incidentally, is a cost on a system and drags it down. So in a way, its self-healing, as a system that's too corrupt will become incapable of outcompeting a less corrupt and more efficient system.
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  47. @hyperbola
    Generation of "responses" is promulgated by keeping the level of discussion very simple minded and generic: equality vs reward-for-effort. Major considerations are (deliberately?) ignored with such a formulation.

    Equality is easy to calculate and apply. Reward-for-effort is not and is easily subject to "corruption" (over-reward due to power-control that can include abuse of those "under-rewarded"). Anyone who advocates "reward-for-effort" therefore needs to START by proposing a system that guarantees that this does not degenerate into corruption.

    Has anyone ever been successful in establishing a social system in which "reward-for-effort" did NOT degenerate into corruption? Perhaps as long ago as Plato usable systems were proposed (maximum allowed difference between poor/rich = 4), but these have never been implemented because of the tendency to corruption inherent in "reward-for-effort"?

    Certainly we have plenty of evidence that present practice of "reward-for-effort" is highly corrupted.

    No model will perfectly match reality. Equality actually isn’t easy to calculate due to the free rider problem, which isn’t just something to handwave away – it is one of the most common ways for communes and the like to die.

    Beyond that, traditional systems which reflected labor and risk taking resonated pretty well with people – the notion of someone working harder in the fields was easy to justify, as was the occupation of the soldier or even the brigand.

    This isn’t as much the case these days when so much of wealth is tied up by the financial sector of essentially, what was traditionally considered as usury. But the fundamental truth that inequality-based systems do tend to outcompete equality-based systems.

    Corruption, incidentally, is a cost on a system and drags it down. So in a way, its self-healing, as a system that’s too corrupt will become incapable of outcompeting a less corrupt and more efficient system.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Zzz

    too corrupt will become incapable of outcompeting a less corrupt and more efficient system.
     
    What if everything is one same global system? It competing with what then?
    , @hyperbola
    Already Adam Smith warned us that the system sold to us as "competitive capitalism" has nothing to do with reality. We have been suffering from "corrupt mercantilism" since at least then. It is no accident that our war for independence was fought against the jewish power family monopolies of the "city of london" and their corrupt (government "licensed") East India Co.
    Exactly how do you imagine your"competitive" system is going to get started (sometime) and then be maintained?
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  48. @anonymous
    Can't say that I disagree with the researchers conclusions in principle. But when it comes to the subject of fairness vs. equality in economic issues problems arise. It seems reasonable that a janitor who works ten hours (including two hours overtime) should receive more compensation than a janitor who works eight hours (or less). Similarly, a chemist who works longer hours than another chemist should receive more compensation. But...and here's the rub...should the rate of compensation to a janitor be the same as that of a chemist and vice versa? I think not, and the reason is obvious.

    True economic equality in theory can only exist if everyone were paid the same amount regardless of occupation (thus a janitor would make the same amount as a chemist). This would entail not so much an economic revolution as a psychological revolution---a prospect that, to put it mildly, is not very likely--except possibly in the collective minds of the Sanderistas.

    The most psychologically difficult part of the modern economy is “why should someone be able to make more money by having money” through interest-bearing systems. While its very logical from a capitalistic perspective, its definitely the part which I think our instincts find least understandable.

    The rich history against usury throughout history, including in the East, are a good example that many people found the notion difficult to accept especially when it seemed like it accumulated wealth in a class without connection to historical notions of land, protection, fealty, etc.

    Read More
    • Replies: @dearieme
    “why should someone be able to make more money by having money” through interest-bearing systems

    That's been put a stop to by zero and negative interest rates. For a few years at least.
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  49. pseudonym says:
    @Santoculto

    This would suggest that people have an innate preference for socialism and the re-distribution of wealth.
     
    You start well, =)

    But not, =(

    Socialism don't/ never re-distribute[d] ideally the wealth NOR the power-decision, something extremely valuable as wealth in terms of individual well being.

    So, in the next time, try to analyze firstly this differences between what socialistic propaganda tell you and what real socialism, aka, communism really is.

    Less inequal than capitalism*

    Likely in some official socialist countries has been...

    but still very inequal and extremely inequal in other values such free speech and proportional fairness in individual power-decision = government deciding everything about your life without any negotiation or dialogue between interested parts.

    You’re confusing socialism with Socialism.

    Two people? Each get 1/2

    Eight people? Each get 1/8

    Read the article again, it has nothing to do with Socialism, and everything to do with socialism.

    Read More
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  50. anon says: • Disclaimer
    @dc.sunsets
    Today's wealth inequality is entirely an artifact of the debt bubble and related Great Asset Mania. It will decrease dramatically when the social mood mania sustaining it these last 35 years rolls over.

    I also note that the first thing deleted from any propaganda piece we read in "the news" is context. We can't have the rubes deciding that it's okay for the surgeon who saved their mom's life after her stroke to drive a nicer car and maybe KEEP what he or she made in income last year. (Ramping taxes on the "working wealthy," i.e., people who have high incomes but are not Gates-Buffet Rich, is Job One for Leftists when they're not celebrating another white guy suicide.)

    Today’s wealth inequality is entirely an artifact of the debt bubble and related Great Asset Mania.

    However, the debt bubble is/was the result of the pre-existing power and greed of the financial sector to corrupt the political/media class into rigging the game. That power and greed was restrained until the Soviet Union collapsed.

    It will decrease dramatically when the social mood mania sustaining it these last 35 years rolls over.

    It will decrease dramatically when unrestrained usury leads to economic collapse as it always does for a simple arithmetic reason

    million people with $200/week to spend = $200 million demand

    million people with $200/week
    - repaying $150/week on their previous loans
    - leaving $50/week to spend
    = $150 million to the financial sector and $50 million demand

    non-productive usury is parasitic and once unrestrained will always rapidly destroy an economy

    Read More
    • Agree: anarchyst
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  51. Perplexed says:
    @Daniel Chieh
    So he could have committed theft, which is all fine and good until he takes your jacket but hasn't brought one of his own. This is, in fact, a common problem with communes: the "free rider" problem. Such individuals in Alberta cause significant social disharmony, for a real world example, and escalate into violence and robbery.

    Ownership of property and labor may be partially a social concept, but it is an useful social technology that promotes development of society. I think contrary to your thoughts, they are often questioned but its essentially one of the most effective methods for living in the modern world.

    I think that you may not considering the effect of technology and social adaptation as part of that technology; as I mentioned elsewhere, hunter-gatherer groups tend not to have a concept of property and wealth, because they can't accumulate it. But once stationary agriculture is common, accumulation of wealth and methods to defend it become common, which means that concepts of property and inequality exist.

    In the New York Times Magazine’s first “Ethicist” column, Randy Gerber set a problem: You’re leaving a restaurant on a rainy day and find that someone took your umbrella from the pail by the door. Is it okay to take someone else’s? He said yes (but, if I remember correctly, only one of equal or lesser value to yours; no advice on how to evaluate a pailful of black umbrellas, though; and what if all of them are better than yours? And then, if you refrain from taking a better one, you’ll still get wet, which was the justification for taking someone else’s in the first place. And if you take a cheaper one, isn’t that stealing from the lower classes?).

    Read More
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  52. Perplexed says:
    @Bolt
    Counting accumulations of the measurable as a method of judging fairness or in/equality would seem a materialist trap, very US consumer. I see no mention of Bhutan's happiness index here.

    Those who decide not to participate in work towards normalized social goals have a role too; they give the overachievers a group to compare themselves with and a consequent boost to their psychic well being. What's the point of a Lexus if everyone drives them?

    Are smokers included in Bhutan’s happiness index? They can get five years in prison for violating the draconian rules. But they’re smokers, so nobody cares, right?

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  53. David says:

    A comment about good science and good writing. Darwin wasn’t a bad scientist or writer. Same for Faraday and Feynman. E. O. Wilson comes to mine. And Mr James Thompson is pretty good, too.

    Read More
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  54. @anonymous
    Can't say that I disagree with the researchers conclusions in principle. But when it comes to the subject of fairness vs. equality in economic issues problems arise. It seems reasonable that a janitor who works ten hours (including two hours overtime) should receive more compensation than a janitor who works eight hours (or less). Similarly, a chemist who works longer hours than another chemist should receive more compensation. But...and here's the rub...should the rate of compensation to a janitor be the same as that of a chemist and vice versa? I think not, and the reason is obvious.

    True economic equality in theory can only exist if everyone were paid the same amount regardless of occupation (thus a janitor would make the same amount as a chemist). This would entail not so much an economic revolution as a psychological revolution---a prospect that, to put it mildly, is not very likely--except possibly in the collective minds of the Sanderistas.

    True economic equality in theory can only exist if everyone were paid the same amount regardless of occupation

    No, true economic equality can only exist when no one is paid anything at all. Everything is freely shared, like, say, books in the library, or food between family members, or the well in the village center. Simple as that.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    So who gets the last slice of pizza?

    Even in familial systems, equality didn't exist; it just has less hostile negotiation. And under stress, Bushmen practiced both infanticide as well as abandoning the old.

    You don't need currency to have an adequate stand-in for exchange of power and value.
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  55. Thompson sure sounds scientific, until he denigrates the scientific process. “The lab isn’t like the real world.” Readers should give up right there, because refuting gibberish takes time and a little thought.

    But the main argument (or apology) from writers like Thompson (or Thomas Friedman) is that those that are more equal than you stoically pulled themselves up harder by their own shoes than you did. Your complaints give you away.

    The appeal to these folksy simple beliefs is enourmous but many of the wealthy will maintain that they’ve been granted wealth because of God’s will, or tithing to their church.

    So fans of the meritocratic fraud will work harder. (Working dumber doesn’t mean anything to them.) Just think, one day, if you’re nice enough, your large corporation can break the law with impunity, you can write a a piece of software for the FIRE sector, start your own web blog on politics that datamines (for free) the thoughts, snark and feelings of the proles, and when you are CEO you’ll tell the world you damn well earned all of it. Why wouldn’t you?

    Read More
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  56. dearieme says:
    @Daniel Chieh
    The most psychologically difficult part of the modern economy is "why should someone be able to make more money by having money" through interest-bearing systems. While its very logical from a capitalistic perspective, its definitely the part which I think our instincts find least understandable.

    The rich history against usury throughout history, including in the East, are a good example that many people found the notion difficult to accept especially when it seemed like it accumulated wealth in a class without connection to historical notions of land, protection, fealty, etc.

    “why should someone be able to make more money by having money” through interest-bearing systems

    That’s been put a stop to by zero and negative interest rates. For a few years at least.

    Read More
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  57. Zzz says:
    @Daniel Chieh
    No model will perfectly match reality. Equality actually isn't easy to calculate due to the free rider problem, which isn't just something to handwave away - it is one of the most common ways for communes and the like to die.

    Beyond that, traditional systems which reflected labor and risk taking resonated pretty well with people - the notion of someone working harder in the fields was easy to justify, as was the occupation of the soldier or even the brigand.

    This isn't as much the case these days when so much of wealth is tied up by the financial sector of essentially, what was traditionally considered as usury. But the fundamental truth that inequality-based systems do tend to outcompete equality-based systems.

    Corruption, incidentally, is a cost on a system and drags it down. So in a way, its self-healing, as a system that's too corrupt will become incapable of outcompeting a less corrupt and more efficient system.

    too corrupt will become incapable of outcompeting a less corrupt and more efficient system.

    What if everything is one same global system? It competing with what then?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    Ah, yes, one world government. The solution to all ills, how silly of me not to think of it. In all realism, the only way such a system will rise to dominance is through outcompeting all other memes. It hasn't, so there's no egg for this chicken to rise about.

    When attempted, as in socialistic governments, it gets corrupted because basically, human nature. Its only been shown to work in monestaries where living standard is intentionally low, and in a limited extent where wealth is impossible to accumulate. I'll revisit the vitality of it after Giant Meteor visits us, but I suspect the land-acquiring raiders will still come out ahead.

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  58. @Zzz

    too corrupt will become incapable of outcompeting a less corrupt and more efficient system.
     
    What if everything is one same global system? It competing with what then?

    Ah, yes, one world government. The solution to all ills, how silly of me not to think of it. In all realism, the only way such a system will rise to dominance is through outcompeting all other memes. It hasn’t, so there’s no egg for this chicken to rise about.

    When attempted, as in socialistic governments, it gets corrupted because basically, human nature. Its only been shown to work in monestaries where living standard is intentionally low, and in a limited extent where wealth is impossible to accumulate. I’ll revisit the vitality of it after Giant Meteor visits us, but I suspect the land-acquiring raiders will still come out ahead.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Bolt

    ..where living standard is intentionally low, and in a limited extent where wealth is impossible to accumulate..
     
    This ignores the cultural conditioning accepted by the group, both the monk's and the west's.
    Human nature is a social construct - you can't argue on the one hand that we're are above animals because "self awareness", but on the other hand human nature/law of the jungle/social Darwinism determines our interactions.
    The point is, the monks are trained in self awareness and act as a guide to accessing our better natures - fair and equitable distribution should be a hallmark of our humanity not an exception.
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  59. @Mao Cheng Ji

    True economic equality in theory can only exist if everyone were paid the same amount regardless of occupation
     
    No, true economic equality can only exist when no one is paid anything at all. Everything is freely shared, like, say, books in the library, or food between family members, or the well in the village center. Simple as that.

    So who gets the last slice of pizza?

    Even in familial systems, equality didn’t exist; it just has less hostile negotiation. And under stress, Bushmen practiced both infanticide as well as abandoning the old.

    You don’t need currency to have an adequate stand-in for exchange of power and value.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Astuteobservor II
    what he meant is that it wouldn't matter, because there will be more pizza. so why would anyone care about the last slice? of "a" pizza.
    , @Mao Cheng Ji

    So who gets the last slice of pizza?
     
    Okay, let's see. Where I'm from, the social norm was that no one takes the last piece of bread. What you do, you break it, and take half. Then the next person can take half of that, and so on, until it turns into a crumb.

    In other places I've been, the norm was: you point to the last slice and ask: 'anyone want this?' Everyone would say 'no', and then you can take it.

    But in general, the typical anarchist approach is this: those who are perceived as consistently greedy (or otherwise 'anti-social') first get punished by ostracism, from the mildest form to severe (refusal to communicate with the offender). And then, if their behavior doesn't change, they get expelled from the commune.


    As for

    Bushmen practiced both infanticide as well as abandoning the old.
     
    ...what of it? Social norms ('morality') are not absolute, they are dictated by the environment. Where the alternative to infanticide and abandoning the old is extinction, they become social norms.
    , @dearieme
    "So who gets the last slice of pizza?"


    You spin a penny.
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  60. It’s an interesting chart. Being involved with consumer bankruptcy work, I regularly meet and talk to many people who fit right into the lower end of the chart. My anecdotal opinion is that I find charts like the this one be inaccurate and skewed representations of the underlying condition of the people involved.

    To begin, the chart does not associate dollar figures the various percentages of wealth. I haven’t made a career of researching these facts, but I’ve seen the figure around that the lowest 20% of the population has a negative net worth. This means that if I could talk the lowest 20% of the people referenced in the chart into coming into my office and filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, a legal action the majority of them would surely qualify for, and if, after the bankruptcy, I gave them $10 they would, all of a sudden, be thrown up into the the next highest most wealthy group of Americans. I”ve no time for researching it today, but I suspect it wouldn’t take much more to push the forth lowest group into the lower end of the middle.

    Another one of my other problems with these charts is they frequently exclude items most of us consider to be forms of wealth, in their determination of how much wealth people actually have. Pensions, including vested pensions, are frequently excluded. The rights to receive social security and other benefit programs is almost always excluded (maybe they are telling us something). This, of course greatly amplifies the sense that their are a lot of terribly destitute people around. Without seeing the dollar numbers or the components of the wealth included and excluded, these types of charts lend themselves to distortions.

    To accumulate wealth at any level you have to have an interest in accumulating wealth. Accumulating wealth is a lot different than being showered with it. Everyone wants to win the lotto. Far fewer will save $100. Not with the competition from vacations and automobiles and electronic entertainment. It’s not just hippies or tribesmen with no concept of competition who will not accumulate. I recommend that anyone who believes there is not a large percentage of the population that has absolutely no interest in taking any action designed toward accumulating wealth, who actively use it with not intention of replacing it, get out a bit more, meet new people just to know them. You don’t have to invite them to your home.

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  61. Joe Wong says:
    @Santoculto

    This would suggest that people have an innate preference for socialism and the re-distribution of wealth.
     
    You start well, =)

    But not, =(

    Socialism don't/ never re-distribute[d] ideally the wealth NOR the power-decision, something extremely valuable as wealth in terms of individual well being.

    So, in the next time, try to analyze firstly this differences between what socialistic propaganda tell you and what real socialism, aka, communism really is.

    Less inequal than capitalism*

    Likely in some official socialist countries has been...

    but still very inequal and extremely inequal in other values such free speech and proportional fairness in individual power-decision = government deciding everything about your life without any negotiation or dialogue between interested parts.

    This comment reflects a serious case of redneck capitalist paranoia syndrome.

    We all know USA is a Orwellian oligarchy police state and it is a warmonger and war criminal on the international arena despite it claims itself a democracy, so shall we say democracy does not work because USA’s failure to implement democracy ideally? On the same token, it is moronic to say Socialism does not work because some jackals hijacked Socialism for their own greed just like the ‘god-fearing’ morally defunct evil ‘puritans’ hijacked democracy in the USA to fill their own greed.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Santoculto
    Your opinion...

    but the truth...

    ''Socialism'' is even worse than capitalism, this is its monumental sin.

    Be worse than a tra$h called capitalism.
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  62. Joe Wong says:
    @Jason Liu
    It's almost as though egalitarianism is a primal, unthinking position mostly adopted by children who don't know any better. The simplest and most knee-jerk definition of "fairness", defined by feeling.

    The moment you step back and examine the world, inequality starts to make more sense.

    Perhaps inequality is inevitable and way of life, but definitely for the humanity sake we cannot grant it moral legitimacy, inequality is the dark side of humanity, it should always be treated as it is.

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  63. Joe Wong says:
    @RobRich
    Native Americans were devout property owners. The myth of native communism has long been debunked.

    I would be very sceptical about any proof provided by the White to debunk anybody anything, historically the Whtie demonizes or badmouths others with fake news to make themselve superior. Orientalism and casting South American civilizations as bloodthirty barbarians are some of the ancient examples, phantom WMD and Maidan Square mob putsch are the recent examples.

    Read More
    • Troll: Daniel Chieh
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    Yes, because whites are apparently a monolithic bloc dedicated to the suppression of everyone else, especially Sweden these days. Please.

    良药苦口. China needed the lesson we received. Never forget the price of weakness. That doesn't mean we should denigrate the achivements of anyone else.
    , @Anon
    Two wongs don't make a white
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  64. Joe Wong says:
    @OutWest
    Perhaps it’s the engineer in me, but I’ve observed that some driving force is necessary to make a process run. Voltage, temperature/pressure difference, or maybe wealth disparity are examples.

    I had the choice of working in a local mill for good wages but a killing environment, or working my way through college with little money. Intermediate term sacrifice paid long tem dividends for me and my kids/grandkids. There’s also a good argument to be made that society is also better served by such self-serving efforts.

    If everyone is truly equal, what is there to drive society?

    I remember one epsoide in the Star Trek, Jean-Luc Picard explained humanity to an less developed alien that in the 23rd century, human is no longer valued material procession, human being is motived by wanting to excel, to make himself and the human being better. Are you saying we never can get there?

    Read More
    • Replies: @OutWest
    I'll need to know how we measure excellence before I commit. A pat on the head while someone else makes off with my excellent work product won't cut it.
    , @OutWest
    Checked with Sulu; He says Picard has a permanently numbed brain from witting in the big chair too long.
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  65. Joe Wong says:
    @Wally
    Michael Chrichton on the not-so-noble savages.

    http://principia-scientific.org/crichton-environmentalism-religion/
    excerpt:


    And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did.

    On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up, to accelerate the process.

    And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly: the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles. The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated, or learned to build their villages high in the cliffs to attain some measure of safety.

    How about the human condition in the rest of the world? The Maori of New Zealand committed massacres regularly. The dyaks of Borneo were headhunters. The Polynesians, living in an environment as close to paradise as one can imagine, fought constantly, and created a society so hideously restrictive that you could lose your life if you stepped in the footprint of a chief. It was the Polynesians who gave us the very concept of taboo, as well as the word itself.

    The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true. That anyone still believes it, 200 years after Rousseau, shows the tenacity of religious myths, their ability to hang on in the face of centuries of factual contradiction.
     

    I am very sceptical about any proof provided by the White to debunk anybody anything, historically the White demonizes or badmouths others with fake news to make themselves superior and righteous. Orientalism and casting South American civilizations as bloodthirsty barbarians are some of the ancient examples, phantom WMD and anti-communism are the recent examples.

    Read More
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  66. @Daniel Chieh
    So who gets the last slice of pizza?

    Even in familial systems, equality didn't exist; it just has less hostile negotiation. And under stress, Bushmen practiced both infanticide as well as abandoning the old.

    You don't need currency to have an adequate stand-in for exchange of power and value.

    what he meant is that it wouldn’t matter, because there will be more pizza. so why would anyone care about the last slice? of “a” pizza.

    Read More
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  67. Bolt says:
    @Daniel Chieh
    Ah, yes, one world government. The solution to all ills, how silly of me not to think of it. In all realism, the only way such a system will rise to dominance is through outcompeting all other memes. It hasn't, so there's no egg for this chicken to rise about.

    When attempted, as in socialistic governments, it gets corrupted because basically, human nature. Its only been shown to work in monestaries where living standard is intentionally low, and in a limited extent where wealth is impossible to accumulate. I'll revisit the vitality of it after Giant Meteor visits us, but I suspect the land-acquiring raiders will still come out ahead.

    ..where living standard is intentionally low, and in a limited extent where wealth is impossible to accumulate..

    This ignores the cultural conditioning accepted by the group, both the monk’s and the west’s.
    Human nature is a social construct – you can’t argue on the one hand that we’re are above animals because “self awareness”, but on the other hand human nature/law of the jungle/social Darwinism determines our interactions.
    The point is, the monks are trained in self awareness and act as a guide to accessing our better natures – fair and equitable distribution should be a hallmark of our humanity not an exception.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    We aren't really all that self-aware. Even the existence of free will may be in doubt.

    More importantly, as stated before, it doesn't work to outcompete other models. The monks might indeed have a successful vow of poverty, but then people who don't have a vow of poverty but with bigger axes come and take everything they have.

    The way I read your sentence is to advocate self-destruction, essentially, as a hallmark of human nature. I don't agree.
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  68. @Daniel Chieh
    So who gets the last slice of pizza?

    Even in familial systems, equality didn't exist; it just has less hostile negotiation. And under stress, Bushmen practiced both infanticide as well as abandoning the old.

    You don't need currency to have an adequate stand-in for exchange of power and value.

    So who gets the last slice of pizza?

    Okay, let’s see. Where I’m from, the social norm was that no one takes the last piece of bread. What you do, you break it, and take half. Then the next person can take half of that, and so on, until it turns into a crumb.

    In other places I’ve been, the norm was: you point to the last slice and ask: ‘anyone want this?’ Everyone would say ‘no’, and then you can take it.

    But in general, the typical anarchist approach is this: those who are perceived as consistently greedy (or otherwise ‘anti-social’) first get punished by ostracism, from the mildest form to severe (refusal to communicate with the offender). And then, if their behavior doesn’t change, they get expelled from the commune.

    As for

    Bushmen practiced both infanticide as well as abandoning the old.

    …what of it? Social norms (‘morality’) are not absolute, they are dictated by the environment. Where the alternative to infanticide and abandoning the old is extinction, they become social norms.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh

    But in general, the typical anarchist approach is this: those who are perceived as consistently greedy (or otherwise ‘anti-social’) first get punished by ostracism, from the mildest form to severe (refusal to communicate with the offender). And then, if their behavior doesn’t change, they get expelled from the commune.


     

    Yup. And yet you seem knowledgeable enough not to need me to tell you the obvious results of it because it happened historically and in reality - punishment systems resulted in people minimizing effort. Even in North Korea, for example, the government found that by even slightly increasing liberalization of farms and allowing some percentage of crops to be sold for individual possession increased productivity by double-digit amounts.

    People work harder when they feel like they will own the results. Negative consequences can only motivate insofar as punishment motivated slaves - they will do the minimal effort. Indeed, outperforming others can get you shamed because of that very mental aspect of proportionality.

    Lack of property ownership just doesn't work, not with our brains the way it is.

    This doesn't even go into aspects of the economy that are nonfungible, cannot be increased and inherently limiting, such as high productivity land, something which humanity once had to highly focus on. Now, Rousseau perhaps understood this, and deplored it - but it doesn't change the fact that was the most efficient way to develop for humanity.

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  69. EH says:

    Additional monetary wealth is valued in relation to existing wealth, so that a 1% increase has the same perceived utility whether one has $1M or $1000. This implies a logarithmic utility function for monetary wealth, an idea which is accepted in economics since it is equivalent to setting an investment goal of maximizing percentage returns, but the inescapable mathematical implication of logarithmic utility of wealth is unpopular among economists. If we assume that people have roughly equal capacity for enjoyment, then the aggregate utility of wealth for a society is maximized by its members having roughly equal wealth. For instance, a person with $100 gets a utility of log(100) = 2 from that, and someone with $1B gets a utility of log(10^9) = 9. If the billionaire’s wealth is distributed so that 10M people each have $100, then the aggregate utility of that $1B rises from 9 to 20M, or over two million times as much utility.

    Since wealth is valued logarithmically the effectiveness of rewards falls off exponentially, which means either that it doesn’t make sense to give large rewards to individuals (assuming a goal of maximizing aggregate utility), or that rewards should be exponentially larger to maintain their effectiveness (assuming a goal of making rewards effective in individual cases). The latter way of thinking by people pursuing rewards for themselves is why wealth inequality is so great. At each step of the way, people aim to get that next few percent increase in their wealth, which becomes larger and larger in absolute terms. It’s perfectly rational from the view of each individual, but it results in nearly all monetary rewards going to the people who get the least marginal utility from that money.

    Those who contribute to society need to be rewarded to encourage more such contributions, but money quickly becomes an uneconomical way of rewarding people once they have more than enough for their needs — other rewards such as status become more effective and affordable for society.

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  70. @Santoculto

    This would suggest that people have an innate preference for socialism and the re-distribution of wealth.
     
    You start well, =)

    But not, =(

    Socialism don't/ never re-distribute[d] ideally the wealth NOR the power-decision, something extremely valuable as wealth in terms of individual well being.

    So, in the next time, try to analyze firstly this differences between what socialistic propaganda tell you and what real socialism, aka, communism really is.

    Less inequal than capitalism*

    Likely in some official socialist countries has been...

    but still very inequal and extremely inequal in other values such free speech and proportional fairness in individual power-decision = government deciding everything about your life without any negotiation or dialogue between interested parts.

    I must object.

    Socialism does re-distribute the meager wealth of the working class into the pockets of the non working class and state owned business in exchange for handouts designed to keep you dependent on a system that hates you.

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    • Replies: @Santoculto
    Socialism or communism pretend to be democracy OR they are in the end, the consumation of democratic path, the ''people'' governing itself.

    The ''people''.
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  71. dearieme says:
    @Daniel Chieh
    So who gets the last slice of pizza?

    Even in familial systems, equality didn't exist; it just has less hostile negotiation. And under stress, Bushmen practiced both infanticide as well as abandoning the old.

    You don't need currency to have an adequate stand-in for exchange of power and value.

    “So who gets the last slice of pizza?”

    You spin a penny.

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  72. @Bolt

    ..where living standard is intentionally low, and in a limited extent where wealth is impossible to accumulate..
     
    This ignores the cultural conditioning accepted by the group, both the monk's and the west's.
    Human nature is a social construct - you can't argue on the one hand that we're are above animals because "self awareness", but on the other hand human nature/law of the jungle/social Darwinism determines our interactions.
    The point is, the monks are trained in self awareness and act as a guide to accessing our better natures - fair and equitable distribution should be a hallmark of our humanity not an exception.

    We aren’t really all that self-aware. Even the existence of free will may be in doubt.

    More importantly, as stated before, it doesn’t work to outcompete other models. The monks might indeed have a successful vow of poverty, but then people who don’t have a vow of poverty but with bigger axes come and take everything they have.

    The way I read your sentence is to advocate self-destruction, essentially, as a hallmark of human nature. I don’t agree.

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  73. @Mao Cheng Ji

    So who gets the last slice of pizza?
     
    Okay, let's see. Where I'm from, the social norm was that no one takes the last piece of bread. What you do, you break it, and take half. Then the next person can take half of that, and so on, until it turns into a crumb.

    In other places I've been, the norm was: you point to the last slice and ask: 'anyone want this?' Everyone would say 'no', and then you can take it.

    But in general, the typical anarchist approach is this: those who are perceived as consistently greedy (or otherwise 'anti-social') first get punished by ostracism, from the mildest form to severe (refusal to communicate with the offender). And then, if their behavior doesn't change, they get expelled from the commune.


    As for

    Bushmen practiced both infanticide as well as abandoning the old.
     
    ...what of it? Social norms ('morality') are not absolute, they are dictated by the environment. Where the alternative to infanticide and abandoning the old is extinction, they become social norms.

    But in general, the typical anarchist approach is this: those who are perceived as consistently greedy (or otherwise ‘anti-social’) first get punished by ostracism, from the mildest form to severe (refusal to communicate with the offender). And then, if their behavior doesn’t change, they get expelled from the commune.

    Yup. And yet you seem knowledgeable enough not to need me to tell you the obvious results of it because it happened historically and in reality – punishment systems resulted in people minimizing effort. Even in North Korea, for example, the government found that by even slightly increasing liberalization of farms and allowing some percentage of crops to be sold for individual possession increased productivity by double-digit amounts.

    People work harder when they feel like they will own the results. Negative consequences can only motivate insofar as punishment motivated slaves – they will do the minimal effort. Indeed, outperforming others can get you shamed because of that very mental aspect of proportionality.

    Lack of property ownership just doesn’t work, not with our brains the way it is.

    This doesn’t even go into aspects of the economy that are nonfungible, cannot be increased and inherently limiting, such as high productivity land, something which humanity once had to highly focus on. Now, Rousseau perhaps understood this, and deplored it – but it doesn’t change the fact that was the most efficient way to develop for humanity.

    Read More
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  74. @Mao Cheng Ji

    but it is an useful social technology that promotes development of society
     
    I don't know what 'useful' might mean in this context. Inevitable, that's for sure. Rousseau wrote:

    The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had some one pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: "Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!”
     
    But then he writes:

    But it is quite likely that by then things had already reached the point where they could no longer continue as they were. For this idea of property, depending on many prior ideas which could only have arisen successively, was not formed all at once in the human mind. It was necessary to make great progress, to acquire much industry and enlightenment, and to transmit and augment them from one age to another, before arriving at this final state in the state of nature.
     
    Social evolution...

    Maybe you are oversimplifying tbe position you are arguing against. It is easy when discussing human nature to dismiss the idea that we have genes for respecting or being greedy for property rights but the way to look at it is different.

    Start by considering what is objectively good for enjoyable human society, especially on a small scale, then consider what programming might be conducive to it. Just as it is a priori likely thst there would be some genetic programming to help us not to be fooled by liars the strong and reciprocal feeling for “mine” and “thine” needs programming that prevents taking no thought for the morrow and being fecklessly indifferent to people damaging the tools and other artefacts one has made.

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    • Agree: Daniel Chieh
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji

    punishment systems resulted in people minimizing effort
     
    I don't quite understand your point here. So, you're against punishment? Or, more specifically, against punishing greed? So then, can I come over, take 'your' stuff, and walk away? I don't think so.

    Okay, I guess what you're saying is that socioeconomic models utilizing, in some reasonable, orderly way, the concept of ownership lead to higher productivity, technological progress, and all that. Well, sure, empirically this has been the story so far. What's not clear to me is:
    1. that productivity and technological progress are all that good and desirable. The Amish don't use electricity and they seem happy. And
    2. that this is the universal rule for all times. Suppose a few decades from now all the reasonable necessities are produced by unmanned machines, in abundant quantities. I don't know, 3-D printers, or something. Do you still need to own stuff? When is enough enough?

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  75. @Joe Wong
    This comment reflects a serious case of redneck capitalist paranoia syndrome.

    We all know USA is a Orwellian oligarchy police state and it is a warmonger and war criminal on the international arena despite it claims itself a democracy, so shall we say democracy does not work because USA’s failure to implement democracy ideally? On the same token, it is moronic to say Socialism does not work because some jackals hijacked Socialism for their own greed just like the ‘god-fearing’ morally defunct evil ‘puritans’ hijacked democracy in the USA to fill their own greed.

    Your opinion…

    but the truth…

    ”Socialism” is even worse than capitalism, this is its monumental sin.

    Be worse than a tra$h called capitalism.

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  76. @John Smith
    I must object.

    Socialism does re-distribute the meager wealth of the working class into the pockets of the non working class and state owned business in exchange for handouts designed to keep you dependent on a system that hates you.

    Socialism or communism pretend to be democracy OR they are in the end, the consumation of democratic path, the ”people” governing itself.

    The ”people”.

    Read More
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  77. @Wizard of Oz
    Maybe you are oversimplifying tbe position you are arguing against. It is easy when discussing human nature to dismiss the idea that we have genes for respecting or being greedy for property rights but the way to look at it is different.

    Start by considering what is objectively good for enjoyable human society, especially on a small scale, then consider what programming might be conducive to it. Just as it is a priori likely thst there would be some genetic programming to help us not to be fooled by liars the strong and reciprocal feeling for "mine" and "thine" needs programming that prevents taking no thought for the morrow and being fecklessly indifferent to people damaging the tools and other artefacts one has made.

    punishment systems resulted in people minimizing effort

    I don’t quite understand your point here. So, you’re against punishment? Or, more specifically, against punishing greed? So then, can I come over, take ‘your’ stuff, and walk away? I don’t think so.

    Okay, I guess what you’re saying is that socioeconomic models utilizing, in some reasonable, orderly way, the concept of ownership lead to higher productivity, technological progress, and all that. Well, sure, empirically this has been the story so far. What’s not clear to me is:
    1. that productivity and technological progress are all that good and desirable. The Amish don’t use electricity and they seem happy. And
    2. that this is the universal rule for all times. Suppose a few decades from now all the reasonable necessities are produced by unmanned machines, in abundant quantities. I don’t know, 3-D printers, or something. Do you still need to own stuff? When is enough enough?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
    You confused me a bit because the opening quote was not mine but Daniel Chieh's. Had I time I would gladly follow you and J.M Keynes in dreaming intelligently of the prospects for our grandchildren. Keynes in 1930 seemed to imagine a world in which everyone could share his refined tastes. Now we would with at least equal realism consider making available genetic engineering on a large scale....
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  78. @Joe Wong
    I would be very sceptical about any proof provided by the White to debunk anybody anything, historically the Whtie demonizes or badmouths others with fake news to make themselve superior. Orientalism and casting South American civilizations as bloodthirty barbarians are some of the ancient examples, phantom WMD and Maidan Square mob putsch are the recent examples.

    Yes, because whites are apparently a monolithic bloc dedicated to the suppression of everyone else, especially Sweden these days. Please.

    良药苦口. China needed the lesson we received. Never forget the price of weakness. That doesn’t mean we should denigrate the achivements of anyone else.

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  79. hyperbola says:
    @Daniel Chieh
    No model will perfectly match reality. Equality actually isn't easy to calculate due to the free rider problem, which isn't just something to handwave away - it is one of the most common ways for communes and the like to die.

    Beyond that, traditional systems which reflected labor and risk taking resonated pretty well with people - the notion of someone working harder in the fields was easy to justify, as was the occupation of the soldier or even the brigand.

    This isn't as much the case these days when so much of wealth is tied up by the financial sector of essentially, what was traditionally considered as usury. But the fundamental truth that inequality-based systems do tend to outcompete equality-based systems.

    Corruption, incidentally, is a cost on a system and drags it down. So in a way, its self-healing, as a system that's too corrupt will become incapable of outcompeting a less corrupt and more efficient system.

    Already Adam Smith warned us that the system sold to us as “competitive capitalism” has nothing to do with reality. We have been suffering from “corrupt mercantilism” since at least then. It is no accident that our war for independence was fought against the jewish power family monopolies of the “city of london” and their corrupt (government “licensed”) East India Co.
    Exactly how do you imagine your”competitive” system is going to get started (sometime) and then be maintained?

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  80. @Mao Cheng Ji

    punishment systems resulted in people minimizing effort
     
    I don't quite understand your point here. So, you're against punishment? Or, more specifically, against punishing greed? So then, can I come over, take 'your' stuff, and walk away? I don't think so.

    Okay, I guess what you're saying is that socioeconomic models utilizing, in some reasonable, orderly way, the concept of ownership lead to higher productivity, technological progress, and all that. Well, sure, empirically this has been the story so far. What's not clear to me is:
    1. that productivity and technological progress are all that good and desirable. The Amish don't use electricity and they seem happy. And
    2. that this is the universal rule for all times. Suppose a few decades from now all the reasonable necessities are produced by unmanned machines, in abundant quantities. I don't know, 3-D printers, or something. Do you still need to own stuff? When is enough enough?

    You confused me a bit because the opening quote was not mine but Daniel Chieh’s. Had I time I would gladly follow you and J.M Keynes in dreaming intelligently of the prospects for our grandchildren. Keynes in 1930 seemed to imagine a world in which everyone could share his refined tastes. Now we would with at least equal realism consider making available genetic engineering on a large scale….

    Read More
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  81. OutWest says:
    @Joe Wong
    I remember one epsoide in the Star Trek, Jean-Luc Picard explained humanity to an less developed alien that in the 23rd century, human is no longer valued material procession, human being is motived by wanting to excel, to make himself and the human being better. Are you saying we never can get there?

    I’ll need to know how we measure excellence before I commit. A pat on the head while someone else makes off with my excellent work product won’t cut it.

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  82. OutWest says:
    @Joe Wong
    I remember one epsoide in the Star Trek, Jean-Luc Picard explained humanity to an less developed alien that in the 23rd century, human is no longer valued material procession, human being is motived by wanting to excel, to make himself and the human being better. Are you saying we never can get there?

    Checked with Sulu; He says Picard has a permanently numbed brain from witting in the big chair too long.

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  83. Anon says: • Disclaimer
    @Joe Wong
    I would be very sceptical about any proof provided by the White to debunk anybody anything, historically the Whtie demonizes or badmouths others with fake news to make themselve superior. Orientalism and casting South American civilizations as bloodthirty barbarians are some of the ancient examples, phantom WMD and Maidan Square mob putsch are the recent examples.

    Two wongs don’t make a white

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  84. David says:

    Aristotle said something very similar to the thesis of this article: “what is equal appears just, and is so; but not to all; only among those who are equals: and what is unequal appears just, and is so; but not to all, only amongst those who are unequals…”

    You know what’s unjust? At this moment, your article, Mr Thompson, appears on Unz.com after a shockingly stupid article on the actual race of the Greeks and Romans, published Oct 1 2010, and now a permanent feature of Unz.com. Yup, when you are dead and buried, the Ancient Greeks and Romans will still be Irish, according to Unz.

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