[ExI] the formerly rich and their larvae...

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 13 02:20:26 UTC 2008

--- Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> Er, one of the points of this list and the SL4 one is that even
> stranger
> things than the following are conceivable!

> No.  I mean *real* wealth.  And it's not impossible. To
> conceive of such vast disparities, one could begin as
> follows. Let person X (say, living in the year 1650)
> compare his wealth with Y who lives in -1650 (B.C.,
> that is). It could easily happen than person X could
> forfeit 10% of his wealth in an even exchange for all
> of person Y's wealth.  In other words, much of what
> person X has to offer in the 17th century is very
> impressive to person Y back in the 17th century B.C.

Ok. So you are saying that if Newton went back in time, he could sell
his pocket watch, his slide rule, and his horse and buggy to Amenhotep
for all of Egypt? I just don't see that happening. Instead I see Newton
being enslaved and forced to build pyramids, while Amenhotep admires
his new aquisitions.
> So it is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility
> on *this* list to suppose that this sequence could
> continue into the indefinite future.

Of course it could but that does not mean it should.
> NATURALLY we cannot imagine how the richest person
> at one point in time who has $10^42 could possible see
> anyone as being 10000 times better off than he, but the
> relative power scale I described above does explain it.
> (Incidentally, in chess there is a ranking scale that
> calibrates one person rated 300 points higher than another
> winning 7/8 games of their games, and it geometrically
> works so that if you are 600 higher than someone,
> then you should win 63/64th's of the games, and so on...)

Would this still be a fair scoring system if children inherited their
parents chess rankings? 

> > It doesn't quite work that way. Wealth creates wealth.
> > Money is just a medium of exchange for said wealth.
> Well, I'd put it this way:  wealth creation up till now comes
> from (1) increased trade (sadly limited by the limited extent
> of the Earth which we are now encountering for the first time)
> (2) technological advances, and (3) specialization (division
> of labor). But soon there will be (4) if we're not already
> there: algorithmic advance.

You forgot about compound interest, which essentially trumps 1-4 above.
> > That is what inflation is all about and why governments
> > can't just pay their bills by printing money without
> > screwing up the economy.
> That's for sure.  We need higher interest rates instead of
> our government and society---who have been on what
> amounts to a "drinking" binge---giving themselves more
> "stimulant" to fight the "hangover".

At least we agree on something. It's like the administration is
*trying* to make the dollar worthless.

> > there are roughly 10^40 dollars in this proposed
> > economy and only 6*10^27 grams of matter
> > comprising the entire planet earth including
> > the bodies those poor! Therefore at a mere
> > 1.6*10^18 dollars per gram, should it be a
> > sellers market on atoms of matter...
> Yes.  What is the number of possible algorithms
> in an N-state machine? One gets a small idea from
> "The Busy Beaver" problem, as you probably
> know. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busy_beaver

I don't see how this relevant to the discussion. Software is a
commodity that ought to be as fungible as water and any scarcity is
artificially induced by "extortion networks" as per Rafal. Unless you
are suggesting that a capitalist economy is actually an algorithm
subject to the "Turing Undecidibility and the Halting Problem". 

> > Of course some of the more ecentric proles in Lee
> > world may instead elect to forego their bodies
> > completely...
> Yeah, your logic probably does force me into 
> uploading scenarios.

Well that was my point. The condensation of wealth if allowed to
continue unchecked may lead to the forced uploading of the poor via the
"economic singularity" which is equivalent to genocide since the poor
will no longer be in the gene pool.

> Well, come now.  The whole point of laying out
> an extreme scenario is to make the argument clear.
> So what if Bill Gates owns 1% of American wealth
> (or something like that, Rockefeller had even more
> at one point)?  I couldn't care less, provided that
> I myself (and others) are themselves all on 
> exponentially increasing paths of wealth garnering.

I am just saying that it clarifies my argument as much as yours. I
happen to like Bill Gates especially since he became more
philanthropic. He actually earned his fortune through cleverness
instead of murder or the inheritance of blood money. My indictment is
against the rules of the game and not against those who are winning the
game by those rules, i.e. "the rich".

> There do seem to be two points of view here.
> One is that relative differences are way less
> important than absolute levels, and the other
> is that they actually *more* important than
> absolute levels.

The absolute levels are not increasing as fast they could be *because*
of the relative differences. The rich act as analogously to routers in
Rafal's "network model" of the economy. The rich thereby act as "choke
points" in the economic network and because of their scarcity. Just as
having too few routers in a computer network can impede bandwidth, so
too can having too few rich people impede the generation of absolute
wealth by an economy.

Think about all the Thomas Edisons that languish in poverty all over
the world because they lack funding for R&D for their inventions. All
the new businesses and new industries that cannot be built because
young entrepeneurs lack the seed capital for their ideas. Think about
all the people willing to put everything they own into their wacky
invention but don't have enough to even get started because the handful
of rich are too risk averse to fund them even if they happened to have
any kind of social access to the rich. 

Do you realize how many times Henry Ford was turned down by venture
capitalists before he finally got the green light for his "wacky idea"?
What if he had been half as stubborn and twice as creative? The
opportunity cost to society due to inequity are enourmous.  

> (I doubt if *anyone* here supposes that it's
> a zero-sum game, although, unconsiously....? ?

Monkey status *is* a zero-sum game. Human society and economics need
not be. We have the capacity to be better than the monkeys therefore we
should choose to be.

Stuart LaForge
alt email: stuart"AT"ucla.edu

"Life is the sum of all your choices."  
Albert Camus

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