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Author Topic: RE: But don't kid yourself, Atlas. Everyone gives a fuck. - Life and Humanity  (Read 3936 times)
Anonymous
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March 07, 2011, 05:12:20 PM
 #1

I made a new thread because the other one is entirely off-topic.

The default human condition is nothing. Absolute poverty. I see nothing wrong with that. I certainly don't see a problem with the occasional ignorance that is exploited that may deduct from the exploitees upgrade, that we subjectively consider the hospitable standard of living. Honestly, I don't see why anyone gives a fuck.
Actually I think the second law of thermodynamics shows pretty clearly that the default human condition is nonexistence, or death if you prefer.  But since all of us are trying to avoid that by swimming upstream in the entropy flow, maybe defaults don't have anything to do with that.


I am not capable of fully interpreting this. Here's what I have to offer:

We live on a planet that couldn't care less about you, me or what we consider life. We have spawned from nearly nothing and thrived and can thrive by the raw resources we have at hand. In our pure primal forms, we can live off the land without the tools we have gradually formed today. Our species remains nearly unchanged, genetics-wise, over the past 10,000 years. What can survive in its primal form, survives. What can't wasn't really designed to live in the first place. Call me a Darwinist or heartless but I believe what survives is good. What doesn't shouldn't be left on life support to continuously drain from others and eventually lead to a potential extinction of the entire species. This is where I stand. This is what I mean.

The reason I see something wrong with that is that I've seen someone I love die simply because they were born in the wrong place at the wrong time; for lack of something you could afford with your pocket change.  Our experience as the wealthy and secure of the world teaches us to ignore that because the weight of other human beings' suffering, if we actually dared to allow it into our minds, is too much for an unprepared mind to process.  Same underlying psychological issue as survivor's guilt--we wouldn't be able to handle it if we truly had to justify our lives to someone, so we find ways to avoid it (especially if that someone is ourself).

You subjectively believe we should live for the sake of others. This has no objective basis.

Suffering is so broad. You could argue we should live to prevent other human beings from sitting on thumbtacks. In the end, even if we could fully perceive others pain, what does it really mean in the end? Can we really gain control and cure it all? What means will produce the best result? Do you also leave room for your own pleasure and well-being that you wish for others to have?

Honestly, it's all a matter preference. I fail to see any clear axiom that will give us an objective view-point on this situation. Frankly, the only truth is a live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles. The value of this matter and perception is all up to our individual selves. I personally prefer the subjective value of life but with means that preserve individual freewill and pleasure, non-exclusively.

This isn't very straight-forward but meh.
 

But don't kid yourself, Atlas.  Everyone gives a fuck.  Human to human attachment is so deeply wired into our psychology that those who differ even slightly in that regard (say, along the autistic spectrum) are clearly and noticeably different from the neurotypical.  It may be the hip thing in our day and age to pretend that you, or I, or any of us is somehow not human, not having to play by those rules.  To cool for it.  Above it.  But if you look deeper I think you'll find that the only reason it's important to post your not-give-a-fuckness on an internet forum in the first place is because you already do.  Our differentiated experiences as people is definitely a hard thing to understand--I can tell you that as someone who's spent a lot of time trying.  But if you want any kind of real justification you're probably going to have to work on that yourself.  Hit me up if you're curious though--I've had my life dump a fair bit of perspective in my lap from time to time.  There's plenty to go around.

eMansipater
I may be different from the neurotypical. I try to think through my primal emotions and desires as much as possible, so not to be directly driven by them. Frankly, what's "hip" may or not influence me. I believe what I believe. I think what I think usually trying to base it on what's the most rational and objective. I don't define my humanity on levels of above or below it or right in it. Human is just another label. I am only thinking in terms of my own perception and I don't try to label it with such terms. Am I trying to be above them? I frankly just don't care for them.

Also, I may give a fuck about humanity in some ways and not in others. I just don't try to make my happiness directly dependent upon it. If there's any real "purpose", it's for us to be happy.

I look forward to speaking to you in the future. 
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March 07, 2011, 05:26:14 PM
 #2

Without social contact, we probably will die of suicide or something. Keep someone in complete isolation, they'll go insane.

However, that is not to say we should be collective, rather than individualists. Keep in mind that individuals and the dynamics animate groups, not that groups have their own intention, goals, and such.

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March 08, 2011, 03:48:42 AM
 #3

You are the leech.

In evolutionary studies there's something called the ESS (evolutionary stable strategy). You make a population with 2 types- cooperate and defect. To co-operate is mutually unbeneficial but good for the group. Defect is opposite.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionarily_stable_strategy

You make a payoff matrix and generate simulations. Generally populations full of defect will die out or swing towards the ESS. Populations full of co-operate are sustainable until invaded by individuals of defect, at which point they swing towards the ESS. The ESS is the stable ratio of cooperate : defect individuals. Nearly always the ESS is majority co-operate and minority defect.

So if you're one person taking advantage of everybody else's co-operate attitude for yourself, then you are the leech. Like a person draining bittorrent downloads. Society is a live support system. Without it you'd be nothing. We've come to rely on it for everything- that's why we're able to do amazing things.

Selection happens at some level on groups. Unhealthy tribes would have gone extinct in the past. Which tribes would be more successful? Those that mutually helped their fellow men during times of hard stress, or those that didn't?

Even early Homo Erectus have been found with fatal injuries that have healed, indicating they were taken care of for a substantial number of years. It's egregious to claim that humans aren't a social species.

But there's no point quoting science anyway. You've chosen your religion of Rand, and nothing I say will make you question your faith.
Anonymous
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March 08, 2011, 03:54:06 AM
 #4

You've chosen your religion of Rand, and nothing I say will make you question your faith.
The funniest thing I've heard all day.

On the contrary, I lost my taste for objectivism when I realized the closed-mindedness it entailed.
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March 08, 2011, 03:58:33 AM
 #5

Btw, what survives isn't necessarilly good, often what survive is simply what isn't bad enough.

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Anonymous
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March 08, 2011, 04:00:41 AM
 #6

The only thing I know is that I don't know anything.

Fuck this thread. It looks like I am going to have to start from scratch all over again, even below nihilism...
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March 08, 2011, 04:13:07 AM
 #7

Ayn Rand had some good ideas, but "Objectivism" wasn't among them. And Atlas Shrugged is best understood as a caricature.

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March 08, 2011, 04:16:34 AM
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All Rand wanted was structure. She just wanted the world to make sense. Despite her flaws, I can't help but feel for her.
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March 08, 2011, 05:48:32 AM
 #9

Ayn Rand had some good ideas, but "Objectivism" wasn't among them. And Atlas Shrugged is best understood as a caricature.

Atlas Shrugged is best understood as a political philosophy disguised as a work of fiction.  All the main characters are representative of different classes of people, which is why they all seem so sterile, so completely vile, or utterly perfect.  Pretty much all of Ayn Rand's work followed this pattern.  It's still a pretty impressive opus, considering English wasn't her first language.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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March 08, 2011, 08:02:56 AM
 #10

Keep in mind it's our "primal form" as you call it that led to all the technology we have today. Also I get the feeling you're thinking of some kind of lone hero, surviving on their own. Maybe that's not what you meant, but if it was, consider how social Homo has always been. Our brains have evolved to effectively read minds, that should tell you something about our "natural" state.

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March 08, 2011, 01:48:28 PM
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Can't there be open minded objectivists? Just because they're right doesn't mean they can't get along with you  Tongue

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March 08, 2011, 01:51:17 PM
 #12

Also I get the feeling you're thinking of some kind of lone hero, surviving on their own.
That never was my direct intention but, frankly, that's how I have always felt, now that I look into it. I don't like people telling me that I need them and that I am obligated to serve them and vice-versa. I like people in the context of sharing ideas and collaboration but not dependency.

Is this irrational? I don't know. Other parties thoughts would be appreciated.
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March 08, 2011, 03:35:08 PM
 #13

Unless you really live by yourself in a desert island or somthing, being independent of other people is more of an illusion, even if the relationship isn't formalized you still need lots of strangers to cooperate with several different unspoken agreements, community norms etc; even living on the island you still need the rest of the world to not use your home for testing nukes, not fuck up the acidity of the sea with excess carbon polution killing the fishes you feed on etc.

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March 08, 2011, 03:51:09 PM
 #14

Unless you really live by yourself in a desert island or somthing, being independent of other people is more of an illusion, even if the relationship isn't formalized you still need lots of strangers to cooperate with several different unspoken agreements, community norms etc; even living on the island you still need the rest of the world to not use your home for testing nukes, not fuck up the acidity of the sea with excess carbon polution killing the fishes you feed on etc.
I can agree with this only in the sense that I believe in property rights and that mutual respect is required for them to be enforced.
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March 08, 2011, 04:42:53 PM
 #15

Hey--cool thread!  I only noticed it just now, and I'd love to chime in.  I already wanted to add more in the other thread, but it was getting really off-topic as it is.  Give me a moment to type up some comments on the points you're making.

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March 08, 2011, 05:03:01 PM
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Call me a Darwinist or heartless but I believe what survives is good. What doesn't shouldn't be left on life support to continuously drain from others and eventually lead to a potential extinction of the entire species.

+ respect.

I don't like people telling me that I need them and that I am obligated to serve them and vice-versa. I like people in the context of sharing ideas and collaboration but not dependency.

Of course you are not obligated to anyone other than yourself. You don't need "people", you only the things that they are able to give you, like goods, services, sex, affection, etc. If someone is useless and can't produce anything of value to you or anyone, then helping that person survive just because it is a person is an utter waste of energy and a detriment to civilization.
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March 08, 2011, 07:44:12 PM
 #17

I made a new thread because the other one is entirely off-topic.
The default human condition is nothing. Absolute poverty. I see nothing wrong with that. I certainly don't see a problem with the occasional ignorance that is exploited that may deduct from the exploitees upgrade, that we subjectively consider the hospitable standard of living. Honestly, I don't see why anyone gives a fuck.
Actually I think the second law of thermodynamics shows pretty clearly that the default human condition is nonexistence, or death if you prefer.  But since all of us are trying to avoid that by swimming upstream in the entropy flow, maybe defaults don't have anything to do with that.

I am not capable of fully interpreting this. Here's what I have to offer:

We live on a planet that couldn't care less about you, me or what we consider life. We have spawned from nearly nothing and thrived and can thrive by the raw resources we have at hand. In our pure primal forms, we can live off the land without the tools we have gradually formed today. Our species remains nearly unchanged, genetics-wise, over the past 10,000 years. What can survive in its primal form, survives. What can't wasn't really designed to live in the first place. Call me a Darwinist or heartless but I believe what survives is good. What doesn't shouldn't be left on life support to continuously drain from others and eventually lead to a potential extinction of the entire species. This is where I stand. This is what I mean.
It seems to me that there's a couple of things going on here philosophically, and I'd like to comment on them individually.  First there is an implied significance of our material circumstances.  What I mean is that phrases like "a planet that couldn't care less about" suggest something more than just the scientific fact that we don't normally think of a planet as a conscious being capable of the mental act "caring".  They suggest a tone of what our material circumstances actually mean, in a broader sense.  Similarly, you seem to be implying that the situation humans would find themselves in without intervening circumstances (my best shot at clarifying what you mean by "the default human condition" but feel free to correct me) is also meaningful in this sense--that it should matter to us, and be relevant to how we view the world.

By my comments on the second law of thermodynamics, I was inviting a broader perspective on the situation humans would really be in without intervening circumstances, and what a more objective assessment of our material circumstances might conclude.  With a nod to Carl Sagan, consider this:  we are born, we live, and then we die.  And we are so fortunate to have the chance to die.  Most people will never have the opportunity to die, because they have never had the opportunity to live.  Out of all the possible human beings, all the possible conscious organisms, only a few precious souls have ever, to our knowledge, evolved in the universe.  As highly ordered beings, we "buck the average" of the entropic progression and can only occur in the rarest of circumstances.  Yet this has happened--the information patterns of our being have evolved in direct opposition to the heat death that is the ultimate goal of all energy.  As the sun's fusion power gradually dissipates and dies in the molecular motion of myriad rocks in space, we steal a piece off it and from this energy derive life that defies defaults.  To our knowledge, this is the only place in the universe that this has occurred.  Just think about it--our very existence means we have already hit the jackpot!  This is not some dull, uncaring, material scenario.  It is materially the most fortunate in the universe, and we are quite literally living it up.  This is really where we start--blessed with the richness of order inherent in our being alive.  From there we can worry about the job of keeping that gift:  one we never 'earned' or 'deserved'.


The second point you seem to be making here is to advance a "survival of the fittest" motto, and to suggest that people in poverty are a drain on the more "upgraded", fit human beings.  I have ample comment for this, but I'd like you to confirm and clarify this before I proceed.
The reason I see something wrong with that is that I've seen someone I love die simply because they were born in the wrong place at the wrong time; for lack of something you could afford with your pocket change.  Our experience as the wealthy and secure of the world teaches us to ignore that because the weight of other human beings' suffering, if we actually dared to allow it into our minds, is too much for an unprepared mind to process.  Same underlying psychological issue as survivor's guilt--we wouldn't be able to handle it if we truly had to justify our lives to someone, so we find ways to avoid it (especially if that someone is ourself).
You subjectively believe we should live for the sake of others. This has no objective basis.
On the contrary, I am asserting that there exist objective reasons why we should concern ourselves with the suffering and circumstance of other people, and I am well-prepared to defend that point of view.
Suffering is so broad. You could argue we should live to prevent other human beings from sitting on thumbtacks. In the end, even if we could fully perceive others pain, what does it really mean in the end? Can we really gain control and cure it all? What means will produce the best result? Do you also leave room for your own pleasure and well-being that you wish for others to have?

Honestly, it's all a matter preference. I fail to see any clear axiom that will give us an objective view-point on this situation. Frankly, the only truth is a live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles. The value of this matter and perception is all up to our individual selves. I personally prefer the subjective value of life but with means that preserve individual freewill and pleasure, non-exclusively.

This isn't very straight-forward but meh.
It's easy for suffering to feel very abstract when you are removed from the circumstances that most humans find themselves in (a pervasive peculiarity of developed world living these days I'm afraid), but for the vast majority of people suffering is very concrete and simple--suffering occurs when something you care about is threatened, damaged, or destroyed.  This is also the reason that suffering doesn't feel very poignant to someone who has become uncaring:  they do not have a ready example of losing something they care about to visualise.  It's true that suffering is experienced subjectively because each person has different things that they care about.  However, if we consider that some things people care about may be objectively meaningful then their subjective suffering in those regards is also objectively real.  This is in fact my assertion.

As an aside to your last paragraph, humans are information beings--the number of particles in a body is irrelevant to our existence as long as there are enough of them.  Rather, it is the configuration of those particles, the relationships between them, that represents a person.  This is a fairly trivial to measure, objective, scientific fact.  Your claim, however, that the meaning of this fact is subjective, is itself a claim to objective reality.  You cannot avoid doing this because the words with which you claim it have a particular meaning to you, which constitutes an implicit objectivity within which the words should be understood.  You could, of course, claim that there is no particular reason to believe one person's attempted objectivity over another's, and this is a claim which I will attack more directly by aiming to demonstrate that you should, in fact, believe the claims I am advancing are objectively true.
But don't kid yourself, Atlas.  Everyone gives a fuck.  Human to human attachment is so deeply wired into our psychology that those who differ even slightly in that regard (say, along the autistic spectrum) are clearly and noticeably different from the neurotypical.  It may be the hip thing in our day and age to pretend that you, or I, or any of us is somehow not human, not having to play by those rules.  To cool for it.  Above it.  But if you look deeper I think you'll find that the only reason it's important to post your not-give-a-fuckness on an internet forum in the first place is because you already do.  Our differentiated experiences as people is definitely a hard thing to understand--I can tell you that as someone who's spent a lot of time trying.  But if you want any kind of real justification you're probably going to have to work on that yourself.  Hit me up if you're curious though--I've had my life dump a fair bit of perspective in my lap from time to time.  There's plenty to go around.

eMansipater
I may be different from the neurotypical. I try to think through my primal emotions and desires as much as possible, so not to be directly driven by them. Frankly, what's "hip" may or not influence me. I believe what I believe. I think what I think usually trying to base it on what's the most rational and objective. I don't define my humanity on levels of above or below it or right in it. Human is just another label. I am only thinking in terms of my own perception and I don't try to label it with such terms. Am I trying to be above them? I frankly just don't care for them.

Also, I may give a fuck about humanity in some ways and not in others. I just don't try to make my happiness directly dependent upon it. If there's any real "purpose", it's for us to be happy.

I look forward to speaking to you in the future. 
I do always try and allow for the presence of non-neurotypicality.  Human nature is a trend with outliers, rather than a particular absolute.  I am, however, content for the moment to suggest that the perspective you advance above is something important to you, something that you care about.  And I find it implicit in your desire to engage this conversation that the perspectives and thoughts of other human beings are at least potentially relevant to your life.  So I shall aim to show that on the basis of that perspective there is a reason to care about other people in general, their life experiences, and the impact that you yourself have on them.  This perspective of yours is very similar to the basis for my own life philosophy, so I feel confident that my conclusions should transfer.  And, quite beautifully if I do say so myself, on the basis of these conclusions your life experience matters to me.  So if I can help you to experience your life more fully, then that will be very meaningful both to me and objectively.

I mentioned above that suffering is the threat, damage, or destruction of something you care about.  It's worth noting that a person who feels very uncaring is herself suffering, albeit the most silent of all sufferings.  Because when caring itself is threatened, damaged, or destroyed, a person does not experience a sharp pain of loss; they are instead losing their ability to feel that pain.  This qualifies as suffering too, because we care about caring and we are unable not to.  So even when we come to the (mistaken) conclusion that life doesn't mean anything, this conclusion itself still seems to mean something.  Caring is fundamentally something good.  Although it opens us up to the potential of pain, it also opens us up to the potential of joy.  It does involve risk.  But that risk itself is what gives meaning to the joy.  And for these reasons, caring objectively matters.  So someone who is uncaring is truly suffering.


It's probably useful for me to offer an overall summation of this post, so that you can quote just this section directly, and refer to the others as necessary rather than creating an even more imposing text wall. So,

tl;dr:
I understand you to believe, at present, that our material circumstances are relatively devoid of meaning, that both suffering and meaning are subjective, and that people in poverty/suffering are a drain on those who are not.  This last point (and any others) I would like you to confirm and clarify before I give it a detailed response.

I assert, by contrast, that the subjective experience of suffering can objectively matter.  This happens when people care about things of genuine importance, and those things are threatened, damaged, or destroyed.  My position is that that there exist objective reasons why we should concern ourselves with the suffering and circumstance of other people, including that I should concern myself with yours.  I believe these facts derive themselves directly from our material circumstances, which do in fact impart meaning to our lives albeit cleverly and unexpectedly.  And my position is that all these conclusions ought to follow from the life philosophy that you advance at the end of your post.


I am also looking forward to seeing this conversation progress.  Please bear with me in patience as I can only write in between the other myriad tasks of my day so there will inevitably be hiatuses.  Oh, for an infinite well of free time!



p.s.
I don't like people telling me that I need them and that I am obligated to serve them and vice-versa. I like people in the context of sharing ideas and collaboration but not dependency.

Of course you are not obligated to anyone other than yourself. You don't need "people", you only the things that they are able to give you, like goods, services, sex, affection, etc. If someone is useless and can't produce anything of value to you or anyone, then helping that person survive just because it is a person is an utter waste of energy and a detriment to civilization.
It would be nice if I could draw others in on this topic as well since I intend to spend quite a bit of time on this, so I'll insert a comment to you here too, JohnDoe.  Your paragraph here may be true in form, but in practice irrelevant.  What if no one is truly useless?

Also it should be obvious from my tone, but I aim only to advance rational obligation through my arguments.  No one is, of course, obligated to be rational.  Except possibly by their own conscience, in matters of consequence.

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March 08, 2011, 08:18:04 PM
 #18

I don't like people telling me that I need them and that I am obligated to serve them and vice-versa. I like people in the context of sharing ideas and collaboration but not dependency.

Is this irrational? I don't know. Other parties thoughts would be appreciated.

Rationality only applies when you already have a goal in mind. One's deepest goals are not usually (I'm tempted to say ever) formed by a rational process. I wouldn't worry about it too much, although it's good to look at why you're doing things from time to time.

Without digging for quotes from this thread, I seem to detect a theme of "we don't matter in the big scheme". My way of dealing with that is a question: If I don't matter in the big scheme of things, why should the big scheme matter to me?

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March 09, 2011, 02:29:47 AM
 #19

It would be nice if I could draw others in on this topic as well since I intend to spend quite a bit of time on this, so I'll insert a comment to you here too, JohnDoe.  Your paragraph here may be true in form, but in practice irrelevant.  What if no one is truly useless?

Sure, now that I think about it, it may be possible to extract usefulness from anyone. But the problem persists because many are unwilling to give me something of value in exchange for the thing I'm giving to them, effectively choosing to be useless, or worse, parasites.

When I give a beggar some money there is a net loss to civilization because I'm encouraging the beggar to keep on begging. He has no incentive to work hard and produce something of value because he now knows that he can just sit down and get free money. The problem intensifies when I'm required by law to give more money to the beggar so he can have good health care and education, as now both of us are discouraged from producing anything. Why would I work hard if what I earn is going to be taken from me to distribute to others? Taking this to the extreme, where everyone is obligated to help others, would ultimately destroy civilization, as producing value is punished and freeloading is rewarded. The solution, then, is to not help that beggar. If nobody helps him then he is forced to produce something of value, or else he faces death. Whatever his fate (getting off his ass and producing or dying and not being able to leech anymore), it will be a net gain for civilization.

TLDR: If you sacrifice yourself to help others you are insane and hate life. In fact, you may be a cultist of the Church of Maximum Entropy and are trying to ensure that the heat death of the universe happens.
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March 09, 2011, 03:08:48 AM
 #20

I know, it's bullshit, right? In today's world where economy is a zero sum game, we need to edge out our competitors. Crush all other countries. Jealously guard our innovations to maximise profit. Close the sourcecode. We need a strong eugenics program to allow the weak to die off (all scientists are super healthy after all). Anybody that can't afford healthcare- tough luck! Since most of you are poor, the majority of you will be in bad health and unable to work- hah!

Dinosaur from the 40s.
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