[FoRK] The bee sting theory of poverty

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Tue Jun 29 04:59:17 PDT 2010

On Jun 29, 2010, at 1:09, "Stephen D. Williams" <sdw at lig.net> wrote:

>> Trust me, though.  His argument is simple, elegant, beautifully  
>> stated, and utterly devastating to the Golden Calf of progressives,  
>> diminishing marginal utility.
> Haven't read the book yet.


> That article did *not* say anything that was "utterly devastating"  
> to the concept of diminishing marginal utility.

Read the article again. But actually I was referring to the book,  
perhaps you should read that before proceeding further?

>  Perhaps it was devastating to someone who thought that marginal  
> utility was all that mattered in the psyche of people in the  
> neighborhood of poor.  If so, that is a very weak point.

Stop shadow boxing.  Read the book.  Karelis' whole point is  
intellectual honesty.  He realizes that traditional progressive  
thought rests on a dishonest and fallacious concept, and that this  
obscures the very efforts to address poverty effectively.  He proceeds  
to demolish the false edifice of DMU in order to build a more  
realistic foundation for progressivity re poverty.  He succeeds in the  
former but IMHO fails at the latter.

Which you might realize if you read the book.

> What exactly is your point about diminishing marginal utility?

That it is (a) the bedrock of most progressive arguments /  
rationalizations for coercive redistribution, and (b) easily  
demonstrated to be UTTER BS --- by a very *progressive* thinker.

One that is refreshingly intellectually honest.  Unlike most Utopians.

You cannot sensibly construct a general utilitarian argument for  
coercive redistribution to address poverty.  Absent DMU or some so-far  
missing mechanism, if you wish to do so and you are intellectually  
honest, you will inevitably find yourself back in the swamp of moral  
philosophy rather than economics.

> ...the article, I don't think you understood them properly...
> Perhaps the book makes the arguments better.

I don't think you've read the fucking book that the fucking article  
was about, so why don't you stop trying divine the author's intent  
through some fucking process of osmosis and do THAT before  
embarrassing yourself further with this fucktardly droning, puporting  
to tell us what's what about something you haven't even done your  
homework on?

For fucks sake, it's a tiny book.  Wouild probably take less time for  
you to read than it took for you to emit this blizzard of bullshit  
you're snowing us with.

> You never proved or even justified why it is nonsense.

Repeatedly, ad nauseam.  Sorry it's not making it through that bias  
shield.  A large percentage of the posts of all sorts of various  
flavors for the last several years have been attempts to make various  
related points.  No need to repeat in context; clearly if you don't  
"get it" by now, I don't have the tools to help you further.

> You created a straw man (that I was stating a definitive, for-all- 
> time baseline set) and then knocked it down.

No, it doesn't matter whether it's static or not.  The argument still  
applies:  you cannot define some baseline of poverty that will be  
generally acceptable at any given point in time and construct a  
general non-coercive method for insuring that all people remain above  
it.  It's an absurd claim;  at the very least an extraordinary one,  
and one you have failed to demonstrate any solution to, though given  
its extraordinary nature that burden rests on you.

Call this the "no Utopias" rule.

Re not free: then who pays?  How do you insure Pareto optimality?  You  
cannot. This social "baseline" must be funded somehow.  You can't  
justify extracting the costs via DMU, since that does not exist.  
(q.e.d., read the goddamn book.) So whatever means you concoct must be  
otherwise motivated / rationalized.

No intellectually honest argument you come up for doing so with will  
not be utilitarian in nature.

The bottom line is this: people have abilities to cope with their  
environment, whatever it might be at some time, that are distributed  
along a power law. Given finite resources and absent a coercive method  
for avoiding it, and absent some equalizing advance, resources will  
end up distributed along a power law as well.  This will inevitably  
result in some large number of folks below any "poverty line" that  
anyone can define at a point in time.

The usual arguments for coercive redistribution universally rely on  
the notion of diminishing marginal utility. DMU is easily demonstrated  
to be a fallacy.

By the book.  Buy the book.  Then actually read it. Then we can  
discuss what you think of it, or not.


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