samantha sjatkins at mac.com
Tue Jun 8 11:31:33 UTC 2010

The Avantguardian wrote:
> ----- Original Message ----
>> From: BillK <pharos at gmail.com>
>> To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
>> Sent: Sat, June 5, 2010 11:30:29 AM
>> Subject: Re: [ExI] Book: THE LIGHTS IN THE TUNNEL
>> 2010/6/5 Samantha wrote:
>> Not possible.  Those programs and the mentality 
>> behind them are destroying
>> the economy that is the real thing that keeps 
>> anarchy, and mass destitute
>> conditions, at bay.   The programs are 
>> parasitical.  They produce nothing
>> but only consume.  When the host, the 
>> economy, dies  they also die.
> To call people on welfare parasites is an unfair characterization. 

To imply I did so is unfair.  I called government and the programs 
themselves parasitical.  They quite obviously are.  They feed on and 
require a relatively healthy economy to survive.   If carried too far 
they kill the economy.  They are doing so today, especially when you 
count unfunded liabilities.  Look up how the federal budget breaks down 
and see for yourself.

> Docile sheep-like consumption is all modern society expects or wants of most individuals whatever the rhetoric might be. 

I don't see what this assumption has to do with whether such programs 
can really help or not.

> Society actively discourages them from producing anything by placing high barriers to entry in most businesses and by promoting economies of scale that individual producers cannot compete against. 

Utter hogwash.  The economy is littered with big companies down that 
were run out of someone's living room not that long ago.  The world is 
changing quickly and existing businesses are often not nimble enough.  
Little guys steal the cheese. 

> Furthermore it is not like welfare money disappears into a black hole because the recipients don't hoard it. They spend it on fast food and cheap manufactured goods putting most if not all of it right back into the economy where it inevitably ends up back on the balance sheets of the rich the next fiscal quarter.
They spend it on low-level consumables in other words.  No new value is 
created for the value consumed.  Economically that is a black hole.  It 
raises the funds of fast food places and cheap goods and some vices but 
not a whole lot else.

>  And if these days a good deal of the money flows to China via Wal-Mart, then it is not entirely the fault of the consumer on the dole. 

It is largely the fault of a system that penalizes production and 
rewards mere accumulation of paper whether any real value is created or not.

>> Not entirely but there are 
>> similarities.  Both over-promised at home and
>> over extended massively 
>> abroad.  Both played financial games to attempt to
>> pretend all is well.  
>> All dying empires do this.
> All empires die but empires can be centuries dying and there are decisions to be made that can either delay or hasten this ones demise.

We don't need to be an empire and it wasn't the original idea.

>  In our favor we are still officially a republic albeit a corrupt one.

Utterly corrupt.  If you look at the situation honestly we might pass 
for a not totally out-of-control fascist state  (largely so-called 
"state capitalism" and out of control government power). 

>  And corruption can be cleaned up at least in the short term until such time as the safeguards put into place are again circumvented.
It can only be cleaned up by wiping most of the current assumptions and 
structure of government.  No stop gap "corruption fixes" will do a darn 
thing except raise a bit of dust.

>  Doomsaying seems to be in fashion these days but if we survived the Great Depression, then we can survive this downturn.

Actually, much that was important did not survive the GD intact.  We 
aren't in as good a shape for weathering such an event as we were 
then.   Not in terms of savings, in terms of self-supporting families 
and farms, in terms of general self-reliance, in terms of respect for 
freedom.   I expect, I am extremely sorry to say, a profound crash in 
this decade.   I will only expect to end up wrong if some very serious 
tech miracle gives us (western civ) a major shot in the arm.   Otherwise 
we are much too over-extended and face too many very serious 
challenges.     Cheap, plentiful, relatively clean energy would be one 
such tech miracle.    MNT or AGI would be others.    Good launch and 
space exploitation tech would work.  But note that all of these except 
possibly energy tech have a longer than decade likely timeline.

>  That is not to say that there are not some really important lessons to be learned. We might not be so fortunate next time around.  

Trouble is, I think you may have some of the wrong "lessons" in mind and 
unfortunately, so do most people.    So when the stress gets much higher 
(which it will) they will  clamor for precisely the most wrong and some 
of the most dangerous things.

- samantha

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