[FoRK] Chart of the Day...
sdw at lig.net
Thu Jun 10 11:08:45 PDT 2010
On 6/10/10 4:25 AM, Jeff Bone wrote:
> On Jun 10, 2010, at 4:32, Stephen Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
>> For some purposes, we already have that: Sun, nuclear, wind, etc.
>> Boring, next problem. ;-)
> We have limitless nuclear fuel here on earth? The planet and solar
> system willl last forever?
> Think long-term. ;-)
"In the long term, we're all dead." Don't borrow problems you can't
have. For some value of "forever", yes.
>> I disagree. We're already in a post-scarcity world in a lot of ways.
> We are in a post-scarcity world by yesterday's standards. My point is
> that the bar is raised constantly. For example, we now perceive the
> conditions our granparents were born into to be below certain measures
> of poverty.
> Coupled with finite resources, this guarantees that what we think of
> as post-scarcity today will not meet commonplace expectations about
What resources are really finite, given unlimited time and energy? I'm
sure that at some point, space seemed finite in Manhattan. And then
people started building up and down and more compactly. Technically
still finite, but for practical purposes pretty infinite compared to the
grassy meadows that it started out. We're energy limited right now, but
we have a few ideas of how we could change that. Everything else is
just details. With enough time and energy, we can get, make or go
retrieve anything else we need.
> standards of living tomorrow, regardless of any technological
> advances. "Have-not" is relative, and will be with us indefinitely.
> (e.g.: how long before "unlimited" continuous network connectivity,
> unbounded access to life-perpetuating medical care, etc. are
> considered mandatory entitlements for all persons?)
True, people will always create scarcity in their minds. However, it's
pretty clear what a baseline should consist of on the low end and
reasonably clear we should strive for (certain levels of education,
comfort, medical care).
> My point in this is straightforward: focus on equalizing outcomes is a
> losing proposition, and always will be. Any notion of "social justice"
> built on that assumption is pollyanna and flawed.
Who said anything about "equalizing outcomes" or "social justice"?? Not
me. I was suggesting that what might be referred to as a "reasonable
baseline existence" could be optimized significantly. Perhaps a little
social justice-y in the sense of providing a better floor of quality of
life, but definitely not in any hold-back-the-stars sense. More like
providing a baseline that is not all-consuming for anyone so that
everyone has at least some significant bandwidth for self-improvement
and pursuit of something interesting. On the other end of the spectrum,
based on an article I just read (May 13, 2010 Volume LVII, Number 8,
page 46) in "The New York Review of Books" (some issues are blah, some
are amazingly interesting), there are some obviously devastating
problems in third world countries around something as banal as having
bathrooms. As in, over 50% in some areas go to the bathroom outdoors.
And girls and women A) often don't go to school for lack of private
bathrooms or bathrooms at all and B) girls and women often end up with
severe medical issues due to social pressures that dictate when and
where. There's no excuse for that, really anywhere. Where's Gatesian
money on that kind of issue? I'd start a project if I had the
resources. (Oddly enough, I recently invented a bathroom solution for
women runners in races...)
The whole point of the exercise was to think about what it would take to
free up a larger percentage of "income" (i.e., the payback for working
and contributing) from taxation / cost of living. In a strong sense,
what people really care about is their net personal profit: income -
(taxes + basic living expenses). High taxation is OK if living expenses
are proportionally lower. Low taxes are great, unless you have to spend
a fortune to live there. Both high taxation and living expenses are OK
if you have a correspondingly high income (i.e. a good tech worker /
entrepreneur in California, DC, etc.). Areas that are expensive to live
in may also tend to be expensive to provide government services for
(land, rent, and employees cost a lot more). A community that is
designed to be efficient and low cost while high-functioning and
aesthetically pleasing may tend to have low costs for both. Can't get
away from Federal taxes (unless you do all of this on a Reservation!
Hey, that's an idea.), however you can lower the other percentages.
And, note, if you want to pay less taxes, making it possible to live on
a lot less means you can make a lot less and still have a good amount
left over while paying much less in taxes. In that sense, people who
live in expensive areas are being overtaxed in a progressive tax system
for an equivalent "level of living". Assuming that it is just more
expensive with proportionately better salary, often it may be much
better than that.
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