[ExI] Warren Buffett is worried too and thinks Republicans are "asinine"

Omar Rahman rahmans at me.com
Wed Oct 23 11:53:38 UTC 2013

> Date: Tue, 22 Oct 2013 13:30:48 -0600
> From: Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com>
> To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
> Subject: Re: [ExI] Warren Buffett is worried too and thinks
> 	Republicans are	"asinine"
> Message-ID:
> 	<CAPy8RwYDZjv97=ZJMmJj+Zc7oqYWZpSLK6E9SK6nX76arTijgA at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
> On Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 3:18 AM, Omar Rahman <rahmans at me.com> wrote:
>> Kelly and others have tried to disassociate the Tea Party from the
>> commonly expressed views of it's members/leaders. Ok, whatever; whoever
>> believes that won't believe evidence to the contrary.
> I am open to all kinds of evidence. As a devout skeptic and extropian, I
> must be open to changing my mind when the data are convincing. I may seem
> unreasonable when talking to Eugen, but that is just because I find his
> oildrum data tainted and unconvincing.
>> I would like to comment on the whole 'premise' of the T.axed E.nough
>> A.lready P.arty: quite simply we aren't. If we were taxed at a level that
>> would fund our expenditures you would actually see real broad based
>> bi(tri?)partisan support for military entitlements reform. We might even
>> see progress on increasing helpful things like education, food stamps, and
>> the minimum wage.
> This is a difference of opinion. It doesn't make you a bad person. It
> doesn't make me a good person to disagree. I simply believe that large more
> global organizations are less efficient than smaller more local
> organizations. The same people who want to raise the minimum wage are those
> who cry from the mountain tops to buy locally produced produce. Why is
> locally produced lettuce better than locally produced governance?

You are conflating lettuce production and government when all know that the proper analogy from farming to government is pork production. This I will forgive you....once! =D

Personally, about lettuce, I feel that is should be produced efficiently and in a manner that preserves my health. If some sort of lettuce could be produced more cheaply, assuming the same healthiness, even with the transportation costs of bringing it half way around the world I would assume that there is some sort of economic imbalance somewhere. Especially if I'm not living in a waterless desert.  My solution to this would be a global currency issued directly to the citizens on a per capita basis. I think this would go a long way to addressing economic imbalances. 

Local government IS better at local issues. However, my health care needs are determined by the conditions in my body and not my position of a map.

> Isn't a group of local volunteers running a soup kitchen better than a
> distant bureaucracy in Washington DC? I sure think it is.

You only know when you perform a side by side comparison.  The assumption by most 'pro-capitalist', 'anti-big-govenrment' people is that economies of scale work wonderfully for business but when applied to government they go into reverse.

> I put to you list members that: the crazed billionaires backing the
>> Brethren of the Koolaid are in fact far more extropian than us here on this
>> list. Sitting on top of their mountains of money they can see further, just
>> as those who stand on the shoulders of giants can see. They can see the
>> wave robotisation that will drive many jobs out of the hands of humans.
>> They are the primary beneficiaries of this. It isn't an academic discussion
>> for them it's a business plan. Anders and others recently posted
>> information about jobs that will/could be soon computerised or robotised;
>> egotistical crazed billionaire was not on any list that I saw. They are in
>> practical terms (far?) closer to the singularity than us.
> I am having trouble understanding why you would simultaneously want a
> higher minimum wage AND be against jobs that will soon be computerized or
> robotised. Do you not understand that a raise of the minimum wage will
> increase the speed of such automation? It's very simple economics. If it
> costs me less to have a combine harvest my cotten than a bunch of Africans,
> then I'm going with the combine. If you make me pay the Africans $100 a day
> (in 1862 terms) then I'm going to go invent a combine. Fast.

You seem to misunderstand me, if a job can be computerised then let it. The industrial revolution put weavers and knitters out of work, but....my wife is knitting me a scarf. A minimum wage is a very important social safety mechanism that prevents social inequality from growing too wide.

> Elsewhere I've said on his list that corporations and countries are like
>> huge mostly analogy AIs.
> I think I actually agree with that for the most part.
>> A billionaire or dictator  who respectively controls one of these
>> corporations  or countries is the closest facsimile to a post singularity
>> entity that we can see.
> There you go making a point against your previous point again. Please try
> to think consistently. Yes, a corporation is like an AGI, in that it DOES
> NOT reflect the point of any individual. Then you turn it around and say
> that it DOES reflect the point of a megalomaniacal individual. Which way do
> you want it? I don't see how you can have both sides of this view. Try to
> see what I'm saying here.

I'm saying that a billionaire/corporation/country is roughly analogous to an AGI and that it has some distributed capacity and it has a leader. Both at once. The leaders aren't necessarily megalomaniacal. 

>> Of course to them taxation, national governments, and international
>> agreements are usually just impediments to their free action. Even the
>> 'good' egotistical crazed billionaires, think Elon Musk (to be fair Elon
>> doesn't come off as egotistical even when he makes some sweeping statement
>> that some past approach or program is doomed to fail) , have a perspective
>> that might not always line up with the 'little guy'.
> I like Elon's view for transportation in California. It's much better than
> the government's proposal. It's a prime example of why to give money to
> corporations instead of governments.

Elon is the good guy in this example. My claim is that even good guys could do something bad. This hardly seems controversial.

>> But with the juggernaut that is Washington, how else do you slow it down
>> other than throwing bodies under it? This is a serious question. How the
>> hell do we slow it down?
>> I still have this question.
> We are a nation addicted to war and war spending.
> I'll grant that point. I would like to shut down many of our bases around
> the world. I would like to consolidate some of our bases here in the USA.
> Much savings could be achieved in this manner. I do believe that a strong
> national defense is necessary. But I also believe we are spending more on
> defence than is necessary because of political considerations. Why can't
> Germany fund it's own defense? They waste their money on premature solar
> installations while we waste money on their defense. One could say that the
> USA is partially funding Germany's headlong dash into premature alternative
> energy projects.

General agreement.

>> If we can't have a big one we'll take as many little ones as we can get.
>> We'll create never ending wars on concepts; "Drugs', 'Terror', 'Cuteness'
>> (ok I made the last one up....but why not....there is no way we could clean
>> up the internet of cat pictures...let's go for it!) Let's not forget our
>> openly 'covert' wars, wars which suspiciously resemble terrorism if you
>> happen to have family at the wedding/funeral that gets 'bug splatted'.
> I am against the war on drugs. If I were the dictator of America, I would
> immediately make all drugs (including prescription drugs) legal without a
> prescription. I would put in place strong incentives to use such drugs
> responsibly. For example, if someone chooses to drive drunk and they kill
> someone, I believe that should be treated as equivalent to first degree
> homicide. (Let's not argue capital punishment, this thread is broad enough
> already.)
> I am largely against the war on terror. I think we should be able to absorb
> a certain amount of terrorist activity, just as we absorb gang violence
> now. Why focus on it so heavily. It's a little like the government focusing
> disproportionately on AIDS when cancer and heart disease kill more people.

General agreement.

> It is as if the entire government is functioning like a reptile brain,
> responding to one Amygdala hijack after another. We need a more mammalian
> government that balances risks and reactions to risk in a more
> mathematically correct way. Too damn much emotion and fear in it.

About emotion I would say that we need emotional development more than almost anything else. We aren't going to be able to get rid of our emotions and remain anything close to 'sane' or 'human'.

An interesting video about the 'psychopath test': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUsGDVOCLVQ

> I would also oppose a war on Cuteness.


> The only war I am in favor of at the moment is the war against bloated
> government. It's like a large tumor growing in the belly of the world's
> nations. It will eventually kill the hosts.

General agreement that government spending must be periodically cut/adjusted.

Cancer is in a way a good analogy not just because of the 'uncontrolled growth' aspect, but also from the 'treatment aspect'.

Current treatment for cancer is unfortunately very drastic. Generally we cut something off, or we take poison into our systems in hopes that the less fit cancer cells will die. If we have a foot that has cancer we might consider an amputation to prevent the spear. We however can't take that approach with our head or heart. The systemic poisons we take fairly often end up killing the patient.

I would make the analogy that not all spending cuts are equal. Don't cut the 'heart' out of our institutions.

I would also make the point that government itself isn't the 'cancer' it's the patient. There are some who think, as Reagan did, that 'government is the problem'; that is a fundamental disagreement for me.

> If, and I'll admit it's a big IF, you accept the notion that countries are
>> 'mostly analog AIs', how would you rate the US on the 'friendly' scale?
>> Psychotic? Delusional?
> Totally bat shit crazy. Much worse than the TEA party. One can easily make
> the case that the US as a nation has Borderline Personality Disorder,
> Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Paranoid Personality Disorder,
> Antisocial Personality Disorder and many others. Of course, most other
> nations are also bat shit crazy. That's why I want smaller, more localized
> government, because if you can reach your fingers around the neck of the
> crazy ass hole that's making the rules, he's going to make better rules
> (usually).

In a sense I agree with you; we need appropriately scaled institutions to deal with each other.

You think states are better because they are roughly speaking 1/50th the size of the Federal government in the US. Well, that's going towards 2 orders of magnitude better! Problem solved? No, because (I put my Canadian hat on for a second...a toque if you must know.) we evil Canadians are massing  on your northern border in preparation for a permanent spring break. We're going to carve you up state by state in our drive towards Florida as part of our doctrine 'of blatantly obvious need for sunny days destiny'.

Does anyone know of a reference towards a type of bureaucratic structure that incorporates an idea of a series of appropriately scaled institutions for dealing with each other? The obvious example is a military model but I'm thinking of a democratic institution. 

>> About debt Kelly, the graph you presented shows pretty clearly that in
>> recent times Reagan and Bush the 2nd are right at the elbows where the debt
>> to gdp ratio turned for the worse.
> True, and I condemn them for it. I'm not a Republican because of it.
>> Almost every president has raised spending in dollar amounts, but when you
>> couple that with tax cuts you get exactly the debt explosion that you would
>> expect rather than the 'golden shower' of the trickle down economics we
>> were promised.
> I feel the golden shower running down my back everytime Washington pisses
> on me.

So it's not just me then? I mean being the unfortunate pissee not the pisser....

>> Why? The billionaires are buying more industrial plant and marching
>> forward to the singularity alone.
> I don't know.
>> Here's a graph for you:
>> http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/canada-deficit/
>> Guess what, in Canada the fiscally conservative 'Conservatives'...aren't.
>> The Liberals, at least since Chr?tien, are. The final irony is that the
>> Conservatives have outlined in their platform a legislative goal to have a
>> 'balanced budget amendment', something they haven't been able to do after
>> squandering the surplus handed to them by their Liberal predecessors.
>> Reminiscent of the Clinton to Bush transition, yes?
> Don't know enough Canadian politics to comment, though I know enough to
> know that they use Conservative and Liberal differently than they are
> defined in the USA. Very confusing that.

Well, roughly speaking Conservatives = Republicans and Liberals = Democrats. The whole thing makes more sense from the perspective of Hawks and Doves. The Hawks want oversized militaries and are prone to the use of force and political violence to get this. The Doves want a whole laundry list of things and need to cut spending in 'defence' to get them.
>> The Military-Industrial complex wants more wars and money, and the banking
>> system wants a perpetually indebted client. They want a 'functional
>> alcoholic', someone who can keep paying the bills but is completely
>> incapable of 'getting off the bottle'. Guess what they've got?
> I agree. The military-industrial complex is another large dysfunctional
> organization. The banking system is yet another. The Bank of American Fork
> is one of the best run banks in the nation. Why? Probably because they are
> not large.

We agree that the system as a whole is dysfunctional. However, the military-undustrial complex and the banking system aren't dysfunctional they are functioning EXACTLY as the generals, military suppliers, and the bankers want.

>> The Tea Party is clearly not opposed to the Military-Industrial complex,
>> it's priority lately has and continues to be to oppose a health care system
>> that, while it is flawed, is a step in the right direction towards reducing
>> the costs of health care to people and to the economy.
> I disagree with you slightly here. When Obama put forth his idea of the
> sequester, he thought the Republicans would fold before taking money away
> from defense. Guess what? It backfired on him because the Tea Party thought
> it more important to reduce spending than fund defense. I would say that is
> evidence against your proposition.

There was a moment in one of the most recent Republican Presidential primary debates where they were asked if they would accept even a 10:1 ratio of cuts to tax increases. They all signified that they would not. This sort of inflexibility, largely due to Grover Norquist's pledge (which is somehow help more solemn than their pledge to serve the American people), is not conducive to shared bi-partisan governance.

>> Just try to get the Tea Party to stand up and propose cuts just to the
>> defence department and the spies. The American public in a vast majority
>> would approve of that. Instead of going after that mountain of pork-barrel
>> spending they go after the handful of beans that is 'Obamacare'.
> Handful of beans? Health Care represents 18% of the US economy. How is that
> a handful of beans? I am convinced that the long term plan is for Obamacare
> to morph into a single payer system. Doing what they are doing now (so
> badly) is the way forward to a single payer system. If we get there, Zeus
> protect us!

Health care is some large, you say 18%, part of the economy. The funding for Obamacare is what is being discussed. That funding pales to insignificance when compared to Military and Spy funding.

> Conclusion: either the Tea Party isn't sincere about wanting to reduce
>> spending or they are motivated by idealogical concerns more strongly than
>> fiscal concerns.
> I simply disagree as a grass roots member of the Tea Party. I certainly
> don't think that way. I'm betting Spike (him being the most like me in
> political thought) doesn't either.
> -Kelly

Then perhaps they are bad at math? Bad to the point where they don't know which number is larger than another?

You said:

> We need a more mammalian
> government that balances risks and reactions to risk in a more
> mathematically correct way.

Well, Defence is larger than Obamacare.

Interestingly Medicare and Medicaid are BIGGER than Defence and the opportunity to reform those seems to be gone. A good article about the comparisons between Obamacare and the Canadian system is: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/obamacare-vs-canada-five-key-differences/article14657740/

In a lot of ways I think the answer was for the US to emulate the Canadian system more rather than less. The cost side of the equation has been left firmly in the grip of the Hospital corporations, Insurance industry, and medical guilds.


Omar Rahman
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