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How (un)moral is our economy? (According to Sam I risk losing some readers by this post)
Posted: 25 October 2011 12:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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That it should be based on compassion and equality is evident, but converting this into praxis is not.

>>> I don’t agree.  Why not based on freedom and individual rights?  Why do we have to start with a mystical premise?  Equality is the most overused, meaningless word and that’s where I have a problem with Sam’s essay.  Also, the idea of ‘luck’ and ‘fate.’  This is mystical talk as well (see Richard Dawkin’s MAGIC OF REALITY).

Equality of opportunity or equality of outcome?  One is possible, the other is impossible without the use of coercion or force.  Why is THAT good?  Athiests too often talk just like the religionists and it’s time to question and re-think.

How is an economical system based on free choice and trade without coercion immoral???  Is the natural state immoral?

[ Edited: 25 October 2011 01:32 PM by mormovies]
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Posted: 10 November 2011 09:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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hello,im newbie of this forum.

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Posted: 12 November 2011 08:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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mormovies - 25 October 2011 04:21 PM

That it should be based on compassion and equality is evident, but converting this into praxis is not.

>>> I don’t agree.  Why not based on freedom and individual rights?  Why do we have to start with a mystical premise?  Equality is the most overused, meaningless word and that’s where I have a problem with Sam’s essay.  Also, the idea of ‘luck’ and ‘fate.’  This is mystical talk as well (see Richard Dawkin’s MAGIC OF REALITY).

Equality of opportunity or equality of outcome?  One is possible, the other is impossible without the use of coercion or force.  Why is THAT good?  Athiests too often talk just like the religionists and it’s time to question and re-think.

How is an economical system based on free choice and trade without coercion immoral???  Is the natural state immoral?

I would have to say that “Equality of opportunity” is no less impossible without the use of coercion or force - for whatever reason, many people seem to buy into a sense of entitlement to the opportunities which have granted them the outcomes they enjoy.


My appreciation of reality is such that I believe I could just have well have succumbed to malnutrition or disease in Sub-Saharan Africa shortly after I was born - or raised in an environment that robbed me of opportunity for quality education.


Free choice seems no less a mystical concept than equality or luck - we are inevitably a product of circumstance, and in that lies the seed for appreciation of equality.


Add to that - our current economic system is not one characterized by “free choice and trade without coercion” - our choices as consumers are dictated by producers, and producers can wield considerable influence over how we perceive those choices that are left. As a simple example, consider raw milk.


Consider also that people born into relatively better circumstances are, ‘all other things being equal’, in a much better position to leverage their ‘unfair advantage’ - as a simple example consider Bill and Bob, they are in every which way identical, down to their analysis that company A stands to gain 20% in value shortly. The only difference is that Bill has $1,000 to invest and Bob has $1,000,000. Then consider Ben, who saw the same but doesn’t have anything to invest because his daughter fell sick and he had been unable to amass sufficient savings or adequate insurance.

[ Edited: 13 November 2011 01:36 AM by Rambler]
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Posted: 13 November 2011 09:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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Excellent, well-written point.  The only fault I see is your premise, sort of Marxist,  that there are ‘producers’ and ‘consumers.’  In a free system we would all be both.  A producer is also a consumer and vice versa.  No one person or entity can wield power over the other without the aid of government sanctioned brute force.  If any producer tries to exploit the consumer, the consumer can choose not to trade with him/her and go to a competitor.  Only government’s monopolistic use of force can limit or control competition which it is, in fact, practicing whole heartedly today.  In the natural state are there only lions and tigers surviving?  Have they killed off all other species?  No, not quite.  It’s more complicated than that and most political and economic theories simplify things to the point of fantasy.

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Posted: 13 November 2011 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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The point of departure is ‘our current economic system’ - we don’t have a “free system”.

Let me say that I find “ideal free markets” an attractive model, much as I find things to like in “ideal communism”. The problem with “ideal concepts” is that they are difficult to reason or argue about, as I am sure we can agree - in an ideal world everything would “just work itself out”.


I don’t think this world has ever seen ‘ideal free markets’, just as I don’t think that it has seen ‘ideal communism’, there is something about the human psyche thus far that reacts with “ideal concepts” like an observer on a quantum superposition - collapsing it instantly into a shadow of its full potential.


I would argue that the vast majority of people are not producers in a meaningful sense - at best they constitute exploitable resources processed and refined to varying degrees to serve demand.


Whether by design or accident our current economic system has lead to a population that is increasing driven by insecurity and dependency.  Be it for narrow fields of expertise or training in repetitive tasks that would be near meaningless outside the given work process, our individual specialization has resulted in a situation where most of us feel wholly dependent, not upon ‘each other’ but upon an abstract system which dictates punishment and reward depending on our ability to be useful to it.


I find this particularly worrying in Law Enforcement at the moment - from the videos around on the web it seems clear that there are a number of Police officers who are uncomfortable with whats going on,  the video here serves as an example of just what that is.


Consider the cop with 3 years on the force and 2 kids at home, how easy do you think the decision is to tell his wife that the mortgage that is bigger than the market value of the house can’t get paid? That pretty soon the healthcare that pays for baby Sue’s medication won’t be there? California is nearing 12% unemployment - a growing number of military veterans are competing for the same jobs that an ex-police officer would. Private employment would highly likely be as a commodity item, even if they get another job it would be virtually guaranteed to be in the context of precarious employment - with no or limited medical insurance or other benefits.


There are countless of individual ‘whistleblower’ accounts of the wholly “immoral” practices expected of people in all manner of jobs - from Finance, Journalism, Insurance, Pharmaceutics, Military contractors and well pretty much *all* of it - we can pretend that this just a few bad apples - but I suspect that it is a systemic condition induced by pressures to “perform” and the fear of failure to give the impression that they are.


I don’t see how reducing government’s ability to regulate or investigate “suboptimal” practices could help address that.

[ Edited: 13 November 2011 06:03 PM by Rambler]
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Posted: 26 December 2011 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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The original post is using genetics and environment to argue that people did not really earn what they made and the inequality is therefore morally questionable.

It seems to lead to strange places with consistency. By that logic, can’t we say that the person who rescues a child from a burning car does not deserve any more reward than the brutal slave owner because neither chose their circumstances?

If you really go the hard determinism route and try to apply it to practical experience, then you just get nihilism. Imprisoned rapists would be victims of environment/genetics and nobody should ever be held responsible for anything. Or if they are, the judge can say he or she was determined to deliver a nasty sentence and couldn’t help it.

Inequality does not automatically mean everyone is always worse off in every situation. I would rather like in a world where I make $1,500/month while Bill Gates makes $1,000,000/month than live in a world where me and Bill Gates both make $20/month.

In my ideal utopia, we would all feel equal, great bliss in this universe and suffering would not exist as a thought. But as a religious skeptic, I think that Heaven is a myth and realistic facts prevent me from believing it is possible any time in the near future. Rewards for skilled labor provide incentives for highly-skilled workers to produce. I realize that unintended consequences by people with very good intentions have repeatedly occurred; I will never overlook or ignore that reality when I contemplate political policies.

Words like “unfair” or “injustice” can be misleading. One can call it injustice for Person A to be born smarter than Person B. That does not mean Person A caused it by behaving unjustly or unfairly. I rarely ever see liberal/communist arguments account for the distinction between human-created outcomes and nature-created outcomes when the words “unfair” and “injustice” are used.

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