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

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Wed Feb 13 22:53:57 UTC 2008

On Feb 13, 2008 3:20 PM, Damien Sullivan <phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu> wrote:
> On Tue, Feb 12, 2008 at 08:17:38PM -0500, Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:
> > I would be genuinely baffled by anybody who would refuse his e^D
> > dollars only so that Mr Gates doesn't get e^(D+10e10) dollars. This
> > would be painfully stupid, not to mention criminally destructive.
> Actually it could be quite rational, from two entirely different
> directions.
> 1) As evolved beings, the ultimate purpose our emotions are designed to
> serve is reproductive success.  Status, whether social or relative
> wealth, easily translates to relative reproductive success.  Feelings of
> envy and fairness are rooted in our genes not wanting to go extinct.

### The only kind of human for whom this could be rational (in the
textbook sense of leading to achievement of goals) is a fanatically
status-obsessed, envious person who measures success strictly in
dollars, and cares exclusively about the integral of wealth among his
betters (derives negative utility from his inferiority) while
disregarding the integral of wealth of his inferiors (fails to realize
utility from his superiority). I would be quite baffled if I were to
see such strange creature in real life.Otherwise, however you slice,
you are worse off with that much less money. If you want reproductive
success, with e^100,000 dollars, inflation-adjusted, you can buy
yourself enough nannies and wombs to have a trillion children on the
interest, every day. Feelings of envy don't scale with money - most
people are more pissed off with their richer neighbor than with Mr
> 2) Even for non-reproducing immortals, such a wealth disparity could be
> disturbing, unless one assumes that it will never be abused for purposes
> of power.  If everyone is a perfectly moral libertarian, well, fine!
> But if not, more money can mean more bribes to politicians, more hired
> soldiers, more hunter-killer robots built.  If I have 10 dollars and you
> have 20, it's not that easy for you to shove me around.  If I have (2^D)
> 1000 dollars and you have a million, you can blot me out.  Of course,
> you might have less incentive to, since I have only 1/1000 of what you,
> but if I've got something else you want, like a house with a nice view,
> or any other limited resource which didn't enjoy an exponential increase
> in availability, I'd have reason to be worried.  Especially if part of
> the reason you have 20 dollars is that you're a bit more ruthless than
> everyone else.
### Now, here you do have a point. If money here translated
monotonously into inflation-adjusted resources, the richest person
could buy enough weaponry and mercenaries to annihilate everything
around him, even if the second-richest was only 100 dollars poorer
than him before the enrichment took place. This would be a good reason
to ask the money-giving genie to disallow any involuntary transfers of
property, before letting him out of the bottle.

Yes, only good, property-respecting libertarians can be trusted with a
lot of money....


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