[ExI] The INCREDIBLE acceleration of the wealth gap

spike spike66 at att.net
Tue Jan 17 03:38:35 UTC 2017



From: extropy-chat [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of John Clark
Sent: Monday, January 16, 2017 7:06 PM
To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Subject: Re: [ExI] The INCREDIBLE acceleration of the wealth gap


On Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 6:05 PM, spike <spike66 at att.net <mailto:spike66 at att.net> > wrote:


>>…​ How do we know it [the wealth gap] ​is true? 


>…Induction, the same reason I believe the stuff I read in Science or Nature is probably true. If a news source has told the truth in the past it is probably doing so now…


Ja, but that isn’t really what I was getting at.  I am not suggesting they are lying, rather that it isn’t at all clear how to define how much wealth a person owns.  


For instance, at one time the current president-presumed-elect was the poorest person in history.  If we take assets minus debts, his went more negative than anyone ever.  But he still controlled one hell of a lot of wealth when he was the poorest person in human history.  That’s the nature of real-estate development: it is risky stuff.


The USA is nearly 20 trillion dollars in debt, and that’s just the Federal government, so divide that by about 330 million people and I get every man, woman and child who is a US citizen is in debt an average of about 60 thousand bucks.  But the average American has much less net worth than that, so average Americans have a negative worth, and so are poorer than the starving masses of Mumbai, who have nothing of value but have no debt either.  But Americans have great potential, even the poor ones.  So how do you count that?


The current president un-elect claimed to be dead broke 16 years ago, but I question that notion.  It depends on how you count it.  She had plenty of sellable assets, and I am not even counting the artifacts plundered from the White House.


Consider this guy George Soros, plenty of money, ja?  But…the guy is 86 yrs old.  How long can he have?  10 years if he is lucky?  Compare him to a really smart but broke 20 yr old with a bright future.  It isn’t clear to me there is a single most logical way to count wealth.


Back to considering those starving poor countries: they do have plenty of people and plenty of them are young.  So they have enormous potential, if they can work out that whole ignorance problem.  My notion is that they can.  More free educational material is becoming available every day.


So if we count assets as knowledge, it is now not clear that 8 people have more wealth than 3.5 billion people.  I don’t believe it, depending on how you count it.



>…​That's ​what worries me, ​the mob won't find the scoundrel but they will find me, and if his neck isn't available they'll just have to make do with mine, and so my head and shoulders will part company…John K Clark


John you scare me, my brother.  Methinks you need to pack up and move to a safer neighborhood.  I don’t see anything around me ever that causes me to think society is anywhere near violent uprising, proletariat revolt or any of that.  The scenario you offered is almost self-contradictory: the proletariat voted for Trump?  So… the resentful masses are… with the government?  Doesn’t that seem backwards?  The loyal masses rise up against… help me here.  I don’t see what you are worrying about and why.


I will tell you what I am worrying about and why.  I have been on ExI for over 20 yrs and the topic has always been around: technology really does destroy some jobs.  We know it does, and we like to think it creates other jobs, for we know it does that too.  But we are coming up on a really big revolution, the replacement of human drivers.  That has so long served as the bottom rung of the economic ladder (it’s lower in a lot of ways than low-end restaurant work.)  But both of those lower rungs are threatened in the near term.


We hear of proposed solutions, such as guaranteed minimum income, and that could help, but it isn’t a solution in itself.  People need work rather than just a handout.  After all this time, it still isn’t clear to me what the lower end of humanity will do with themselves once we create something like K2 (oh man is that guy cool or what?)  K2 is coming: all the technology we need to build something like that exists.  We are now with robotics where the automotive industry and the aircraft industry was in about 1900: plenty of people can see potential up the kazoo and know it is about to happen.  But this time, we won’t really employ all that many people.





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