[ExI] Yet another health care debate.

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Fri Sep 26 08:46:33 UTC 2008

On Sep 24, 2008, at 7:17 AM, Damien Sullivan wrote:

> On Tue, Sep 23, 2008 at 08:20:20PM -0700, sjatkins wrote:
>> realistically we are not now at this moment in a position to take  
>> care
>> of even the most basic of needs of every person on the planet.
> Sure we are.  We already grow enough food to feed everyone; estimated
> costs of clean water supplies for everyone aren't that high --  
> WaterAid
> says $10 billion a year to halve the number of people without access  
> to
> clean water
> http://www.wateraid.org/usa/what_we_do/statistics/default.asp .
> There's your most basic needs right there.

There is technically enough food for everyone today or there was the  
last time I researched it.  I am less sure after the energy price  
spike and the asinine conversion of so much corn to feeble quantities  
of ethanol at great expense.  The total cost to feed, clothe, house  
everyone includes many material, energy and distribution costs that I  
don't think you can believably say we have covered yet.  It will take  
some effort to properly quantify what that would take and what level  
of material and other kinds of well-being is the target.

>> Realistically in this comparative world of actual scarcity there  
>> must be
>> some concentrations of what from some perspectives may seem unfair
>> quantities of wealth for much progress at all to occur.   Note also  
>> that
> "some concentration" is rather vague, even if true.

There must be enough concentration to free up sufficient resources to  
research, develop, manufacture and distribute with greater efficiency  
at least.    This includes concentrations of capital but is not  
limited to it.   If there can be enough for that sort of activity  
everywhere in the world that would be a great dream come true.

>> my idealistic perspective above in no way requires that wealth be  
>> more
>> evenly distributed.
> Hard to be a germinating godseed when you can't afford food and water.

It is not required that everyone have the same amount for at least  
some of the godseeds to germinate.  If these are sufficiently  
compassionate they will act for the uplifting of all the rest who are  

>> wealth of all us.   In practice there are many points of diminishing
>> returns and the need to chose where the ROI is highest in the face of
>> less than adequate time and resources.   We can all work diligently
>> within our relative god-realm to get to a place of such abundance  
>> that
>> much more than what we have is available to all.
> Highest marginal return is probably with those who have the least.

That is not clear.  Starting from scratch with no infrastructure  
material or cultural can be a pretty daunting and costly proposition.   
I would not expect to see much return beyond improving conditions for  
nearly a generation in many places where people have the least.   But  
that is an aside.

> Think: only 1/6 of the world is "First World".  The research  
> population
> could be at least 6x bigger than it is.  6x faster progress in science
> and technology, toward that Singularity you want.

It could be but likely will not be very quickly.  Even in the  
relatively developed world where much of the cultural and physical  
infrastructure is in place training people to be full fledged  
researchers takes a fair amount of time.  Do you think you can take  
those who are barely subsisting, who may have been malnourished at  
critical developmental stages to boot, whose culture is far removed  
from any sort of scientific or secular worldview and quickly transform  
them into researchers?    But I take your point.   It is central to my  
own growing ethics that the maximal real wealth we can enjoy requires  
maximization of the positive potential of everyone.   The next  
Einstein may be in a cardboard hovel dying of poor nutrition and  
unsanitary conditions.   Or she may be doing endless code maintenance  
in the cube down the hall.  :-)

- samantha

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