[ExI] Meme change not person death/was Re: Friedman and negative income tax

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Thu May 7 13:50:22 UTC 2009

--- On Wed, 5/6/09, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
> > On Tue, May 5, 2009 at 9:23 PM, Stathis Papaioannou
> <stathisp at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>>> 2009/5/6 Dan <dan_ust at yahoo.com>:
>>>> For almost all of my childhood, I lived in
>>>> poor neighborhoods around the US.  And by poor,
>>>> I mean many
>>>> if not most people were on some form of public assistance.
>>> And it would have been better if they had been
>>> allowed to starve,
>>> denied education and health care etc.?
>> ### Yes. They would be a lesson to others. Work hard,
>> don't do drugs,
>> keep your nose clean, and you'll make it. Screw up,
>> over and over and
>> over again, and, well, screw you.
> Well, here we reach an impasse.

Let's put this in the fashionable meme-speak of some in this audience.  :)  I actually think no or very few people would really die.  (It should be pointed out that the current system -- paying some able-bodied NON-retired people to NOT work -- does not result in zero deaths.  So the choice is not between a welfare state world where everyone lives forever and gets a good education, decent medical care, but a few anal libertarians are unhappy and a libertarian world where hordes of people live in the worst poverty and the few happy rich people only have to worry about tripping over the corpes of the downtrodden.*)  Rather, the lazy meme would start to die out.  (I doubt it'd go extinct.)  Individuals themselves would learn -- er, lose that meme.  The fact that any cost is experienced -- cost in terms of the agent NOT in terms of money** -- will give an incentive to change the behavior and perhaps even the thought patterns.

Again, too, I'd like to point out that the choice for people in the poor neighborhoods I lived in was NOT between being on the dole or dying, but between being on the dole or working.  Many of them chose the former -- not because they believed, it seems to me, that had they all found jobs they would start to die out.



*  I think some of the rhetoric used to critique the libertarian view here have the Nirvana fallacy meme:


In political economy, this fallacy usually rears its ugly head when court intellectuals -- er, mainstream economists fault people acting in relatively free markets for not meeting some standard of economic efficiency, at which point, the court intellectuals -- er, mainstream economists recommend regulations to take care of the problem.  (Note my rhetoric here: people acting in relatively free markets.  Markets, as such, exist when people freely interact.  They are not entities in their own right.  Likewise, the alternative to free interaction interaction is forced interaction: where someone forced people to interact or not interact (think of prohibitions) in ways they would not otherwise do.  Government or the state is merely one species of forced interaction, but it's one of the most important species of such because it has a big footprint and many supporters -- whereas non-government force interactions tend to have a small footprint (the mugger only
 robs a few people at most) and tend to have few supporters (muggers do not have legions of court intellectuals ready to justify mugging to the general public).)

**  All costs are, in the end, psychic -- not meaning paranormal, but meaning that the agent experiencing a cost experiences as either a potential or actual worsening of her or his condition.  (This doesn't mean people actually think explicitly about costs this way.  Instead, someone might think, "If I do that, I might end up regreting it" or "I did that yesterday and today I wish I hadn't done that."  This also works with looking at others: people often generalize back to themselves.  For instance, I might, if I'm keen, observe that most people sitting at a roulette wheel are losing money and generalize back to me persuading myself to NOT sit at the roulette wheel.  And people can be mistaken -- and experts can be too and often are with spectacular results mistaken.  E.g., I might only look at the winners at the roulette wheel and mistakenly generalize that I can win.)


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