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Retention of Wealth

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.14.18

A variation on the immorality of being grotesquely wealthy:

What I am arguing about is not the question of how much people should be given, but the morality of their retaining it after it is given to them.
Many times, defenses of the accumulation of great wealth depend on justifications for the initial acquisition of that wealth...People on the right often defend wealth along these lines. I earned it, therefore it's not unfair for me to have it.

But there is a separate question that this defense ignores: regardless of whether you have earned it, to what degree are you morally permitted to retain it? The question of getting and the question of keeping are distinct.

... If we find it appalling that there are so many rich people in a time of need, we are asked to consider questions of acquisition rather than questions of retention. The retention question, after all, is much harder for a wealthy person to answer. It's one thing to argue that you got rich legitimately. It's another to explain why you feel justified in spending your wealth upon houses and sculptures rather than helping some struggling people pay their rent or paying off a bunch of student loans or saving thousands of people from dying of malaria. There may be nothing unseemly about the process by which a basketball player earns his millions (we can debate this). But there's certainly something unseemly about having those millions.

The essay has some problems (italics in original):


Because every dollar you have is a dollar you're not giving to somebody else, the decision to retain wealth is a decision to deprive others.

I don't think that's exactly how economics works? Someone told me once that economics is a stream, not a pool, and that what you care about is how quickly it churns, not how it's divided up. I don't entirely agree - there are some aspects of a group where it's more like a pool than a stream - but anyway.

The point is whether or not we ought to have a nearly completely confiscatory tax at some fairly grotesque ceiling. (If there were one, I think it'd be reasonable for it to be pegged regionally, so let's not get into discussions of how the 99% in podunk is only the 90% in the Bay Area.)

I'm throwing this up really quickly without proofreading or reviewing the article! Via the other place! Aaaugh here come the kids!



 

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x/0 = 0

Posted by Ben
on 08.13.18

I thought this was a neat little essay about division by zero.



 

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Various Monday

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.13.18

1. The Jade Helm conspiracy sounds like it was a test run by the Russians to see how easily they could gin up hysteria. I'll have you remember that our shit-for-brains-Governor Abbot called the State Guard on the US military in response.

2. I really wish Ted Cruz himself had said this, but it was a spokesperson for his campaign:

"Unlike the spicy ketchup, when Texans unwrap the O'Rourke packaging, they are definitely not going to like what they see underneath. He's like a Triple Meat Whataburger liberal who is out of touch with Texas values."

(Whataburger is sincere high praise in Texas, not an insult like Taco Smell or something.)

3. I've diagnosed myself with Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. Anyone who's been there, words of advice?

4. We've started buying Striped Pangasius fish from the grocery store. It's cheap and really delicious. It's also controversial, I gather, for the usual reasons - how much mercury and toxins are in it? how bad is the farming for the environment? (Potentially very bad.) The main thing it seems to have going for it is that you can eat it without worrying that you're contributing to the collapse of ocean fish populations, because it thrives in farm-raised situations. The other thing it has going for it is that five out of six Geebies think it's really delicious.



 

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Fear of Witches

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.10.18

I 100% buy this argument - There's fear, and then there's fear of witches:

Fear motivates you towards self-preservation.
Fear of witches motivates you towards... anything. Whatever you want to do anyway. Seize land, drive people out, get elected president, set people on fire. Whatever. The woman who called the cops on another woman who was waiting for a rideshare is claiming it's not racism that motivated her, but autism. She has an extreme fearful reaction to strangers outside her house.
If this were fear -- real fear, not witch-fear -- then she would have been relieved when the other woman's ride showed up and she left. But she wasn't. She tried to cajole her into staying to face the cops, telling her it was a crime if she left.
Witch-fear. She did not want to escape a threat, she wanted to inflict consequences on someone.

This part is especially important:

And, I mean, they do make themselves afraid, those who fear witches. But it's motivated reasoning, motivated feeling. They make themselves afraid to justify what they want to do anyway.

She also talks about Darren Wilson's fear of Michael Brown.

The reason fear is so perfectly manipulative is because it shuts down many of the other person's responses. You're forced to either call bullshit or indulge it. Calling bullshit is aggressive and polarizes third parties into sides, and will definitely not change hearts & minds. Indulging the fear implicitly validates the scariness of the scary thing. The actual correct response is what you say to a three year old: "I can see you're having big feelings! But look, it's just a pile of shadowy clothes on a chair," and it sounds condescending, which it kind of is, but fuck them and their fear of non-white people.



 

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