[FoRK] US defence budget will equal ROW combined "within
Stephen D. Williams
sdw at lig.net
Wed May 4 23:11:46 PDT 2005
Interesting point of view Ian. I disagree in a number of ways, as noted
below. I doubt that either of us can prove our differing positions to
Ian Andrew Bell (FoRK) wrote:
> On 4-May-05, at 12:58 PM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
>> The .com boom/bust, with its very beneficial leap forward in
>> technology, awareness, and access and transfer of wealth from
>> moduls/foundations to the meritous-middle class, is a creative
>> destruction model to desire.
> I'm sorry ... I realize I'm questioning our own existence here, but
> what exactly is/was the profound human social benefit of the dot com
> boom/bust? How does eBay really contribute to the furtherance of
> mankind? Are fewer babies dying of malnourishment because I can now
> shop for books and DVDs online? Does ubiquitous broadband really
> further the human endeavour or does the subsidized propagation of
> internet access merely allow countries to compete economically with
> other countries who, well, also subsidize the propagation of internet
This comment and at least one below implies an attitude/viewpoint that
shows an interesting selectiveness on quality of life issues.
The Internet, eBay, Amazon, Google, Wikipedia, and countless other
successful children of the creative destruction of the Dot Com Era,
along with death to outmoded, obsolete business practices have had an
almost incalcuable postive impact on many people's lives. Whether you
measure improvement as entertainment, knowledge, cutting waste, speed up
of progress, avoiding medical ignorance, psychological and social
benefits of finding like-friends, or knowing about what's happening in
other parts of the world, you can hardly argue that the world today is
more or less the same as, say, the 1970's or 1980's. When you throw in
cheap long distance, cell phones, cheap easy travel, etc., life is far
better and more interesting.
If anyone is dying of malnourishment, it isn't because there isn't help
available, it is only because of local "authorities" that are causing
it, either by some direct deprivation or by restricting information to
the world. I would bet that if given completely open access, full legal
latitude, and full Internet access, I could feed or get adopted any
number of marginally healthy children anywhere in the world. I can only
say that because I know the Internet could be leveraged that way by a
Why do you think that Internet access is subsidized? As a general rule,
it is not, nor has it been since UUNet commercialized it. It's a
cooperative capital investment in most parts of the world.
> Given that the majority of those who were left holding worthless
> shares were that selfsame middle class I suspect that any detailed
> analysis of the flow of funds during the era would reveal that the
> opposite was true: the dotcom boom/bust had more to do with a
> transference of wealth from the middle class to the moguls/foundations
> than the inverse, as you've stated. That a few "meritous" Sergeis,
> Yangs and Koogles were beatified by those moguls to serve as beacons
> to the slaving masses is hardly evidence of such wealth transference
> having occurred meaningfully.
Hard to proove this of course, but both the moguls and individuals put a
lot of money in. Most of the money went into to pockets of doers
toiling away or services to support them. Certainly some mogules and a
fair number of individuals made out well, but the boom in technology
workers and capital investment in fiber, equipment, research, education,
computers, software (including open source), etc. has had a huge
> To assume that more technology is a good thing perpetuates a very
> Western-centric view of humanity. The Achuar tribe in Ecuador
True. That doesn't make it wrong. Outside of the inevitable local
minima mistakes, more technology IS good, almost by definition.
Arguing against technology seems to me to be equivalent to saying: "If
you keep making things better in small ways, eventually you're really
going to be screwed." Outside of nuclear holocaust and "quality" and
completely reckless biowarfare, I don't buy it. If this argument is
true, why shouldn't it be true for non-technology, like law, education,
> has lived sustainably and happily in the same area for thousands of
> years and I don't think they have much interest in getting internet
It is quite possible that they were progressing in ways of their own,
but there is a point of view that not only values life in general, but
specifically seeks to further knowledge as a life goal. From that point
of view, when two cultures meet, each should learn about and adopt the
best practices of the other, both being free to decide what is better
and whether to assimilate. What this is hinting at is what should be,
from my point of view, the goal of life: don't waste it. What is
wasting life? For a human, it means making a positive mark,
improvement, or change over just existing. Technology is one type of
knowledge and progress.
The only value for a people to stay in the same place, doing the same
thing, without innovation for thousands of years is: a) to survive, b)
to promulgate best practices, and c) provide some benefit to others.
There is a little temporary benefit as a curiosity for c), but when a)
and b) aren't an issue, groups Should adopt technology.
How does your description of a stable, but presumably non-innovative and
non-evolving society of people differ from, say, a group of gorillas?
> access, or in buying and selling securities. Of course, their primary
> interest over the past 30 years has become growing and selling enough
> cocaine to buy weapons to defend themselves from the encroaching oil
> companies and their US-trained government security details. Ironic
> that both the cocaine and the oil end up in the same place though, no?
Those problems are temporary adjustment issues. Their progeny will
eventually get the hang of modern life.
>> We should all hope that the world leaps forward in all of these ways,
>> however messy it is and whatever path it takes.
> When it wipes out societies, cultures, and species; when it consumes
> every available resource as it careens down a blind path to global
> ecophagy; when it actively promotes the deaths of millions of people
> whether they're in New York, Iraq, Panama, or Israel .... I'm
> beginning to think that maybe it's a bit too messy for me.
According to the technology and science of 30, 40, 50, 60, 100, 200
years ago, billions would have starved and died of disease by now
because their is no way we could have fed, managed, or kept healthy the
billions we have now. I fail to see how our advance-when-needed
technology paradigm hasn't been beneficial. Sure, we're kind of sad to
see societies, cultures, and even species go, especially if the
situation seems unfair to us, but really that's the way it has to work
in the end. Our sadness is, at least in some cases, something like
wishing our children could know our grandparents when they were young
The alternative to most of our technology would be worse lives and more
people dead and certainly far more of all of our lives wasted, ignorant,
> And the assumption that such leaping moves us forward is perhaps even
> more problematic. The point is that if your yardstick for "progress"
> says Made In America then every person on the planet must be measured
> on a continuum with the Bush family at one end and a starving
> HIV-infected baby on the other. The point is that the success of the
> Bush family is entirely dependent upon a system which necessitates the
> existence of both groups in increasing numbers, leaving progressively
> fewer of us in the middle.
I talked about the world moving forward, not "Made In America" everywhere.
I went from a fairly low starting point, by US standards, to very
comfortably high standards based on technology, almost completely
self-taught from inexpensive sources starting in a farm/manufacturing
county in Ohio.
With proper motivation and any access to baseline technology, people in
a large majority of the world could do the same.
You can't look at Bush anymore than you can look at Gates to learn
anything about opportunities or effects of technology.
Most of the leap forward of technology, which has continued to bear
fruit, happened during Clinton, not Bush.
>> The main cause of villany is ignorance
> The main cause of villainy is personal greed. Ignorance allows
> villainy to scale. Profound ignorance allows villainy to scale globally.
There is much disagreement over the definition of "greed" and, for some
of those definitions, whether it is bad or not.
I've run accross few people who I thought were "greedy" or otherwise
driven by or practicing "greed".
Certainly, you could choose what I'll call the "thief's gamble" in some
or all of your economic dealings, but in any working economic system,
you'll lose to the system consistently enough to make playing fair the
more attractive option. If you define "greed" as "taking more than you
deserve to the detriment of others and the system", then that is the
"thief's gamble". (I define the "thief's gamble" as: "I'll tend to be
better off if I take more than I'm entitled to since the suckers will
make up the difference.")
I can define away your restatement of my position:
Ian: The main cause of villainy is personal greed ("thief's gamble");
Sdw: The main cause of personal greed is ignorance (by the thief and by
the economic system that doesn't effectively penalize the greedy thief).
Original Sdw: The main cause of villany is ignorance.
> "Economics" is a very good mechanism for the institutionalization and
> export of ignorance.
How does that work exactly? This is not an obviously true statement
from my point of view.
I've only seen economics/commerce teaching myself and others valuable
lessons, which, when factored into a system of behaving, work
consistently well and surprisingly efficiently.
swilliams at hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Per: sdw at lig.net http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 20147-4622 AIM: sdw
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