[ExI] The Great Gatsby Curve

spike at rainier66.com spike at rainier66.com
Sat Mar 2 16:13:18 UTC 2019



From: extropy-chat <extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org> On Behalf Of John Clark
Subject: Re: [ExI] The Great Gatsby Curve


On Fri, Mar 1, 2019 at 7:49 PM <spike at rainier66.com <mailto:spike at rainier66.com> > wrote:


>>>…As far as everyone except for the super ultra crazy rich is concerned all that effort in constructing that idiotic boat went to exactly the same place that a 4.5 billion dollar project to build pyramids would go… John K Clark


>> So all those people who built the boat received part of the 4.5 billion and those who supplied the gold and silver received part of the 4.5 billion, the government received part of the 4.5 billion.  Where did it go after they spent it?  The people who received that 4.5 billion wouldn’t care if it was a boat builder or a home builder who bought their stuff, just so long as someone bought it.  So they get a piece of that 4.5 billion as well.


>…Spike, is it your position that any large scale project is equally wise? Does it matter if millions of people are building hospitals or pyramids for dead trillionaires of a size that would put anything in Egypt to shame? Will both projects contribute equally to advance social peace and happiness?... John K Clark




Not at all John.  Some large scale projects are better than others.  The boat is better for promoting social wellbeing.


Consider the example you gave, the 4.5 billion dollar boat.  It really isn’t that.  It is really a 100 million dollar boat with 4.4 billion dollars worth of gold and silver aboard.  It isn’t all that different from if you got an ugly old 10 million dollar cargo ship and loaded 4.49 billion dollars worth of clunky old gold bricks aboard, as far as net worth, but… the 100 million dollar boat with the gold and silver shaped into decorative luxury items (for now) is a far more worthy large scale project, because it employs more people and inspires people to do great things like this boat.


The 4.5 billion dollar boat is cool.  It brings together a community of boat builders, high-end craftsmen, your designers and artists and such, these guys all come together, there is synergy as they all live in a thriving community, their kids go to school together and learn from each other, and all is well.  The money goes back into circulation, one way or the other.  Most of it went to people mining gold and silver, but the boat building community got their cut, the government got their cut, all is well.


Weapon systems: eh, the synergy isn’t so great.  It’s why I never worked on weapons.  I always avoided those projects at every opportunity.  I did some cool anti-weapon weapons, which are cool in their way.  In weapons work, when the project finishes, there isn’t a huge party where your handiwork slips into the sea with a wildly cheering mob (oh what a feeling that is.)


In general, the big rich-guy projects are the gift that keeps on giving.  Consider this guy Hearst.  Made his fortune writing fake news.  Built a castle down on the California coast, filled it with every kind of luxury item you can think of, collected art from all over the world, antiquities, did this and that.  Big waste, ja?  No, not at all.  That castle is still there, still being meticulously maintained.  It is a major tourist attraction today.  That castle probably cost fifty million in today’s dollars but generates that much every year in the tourist dollars it brings.  It employs a bunch of people, the maintenance, the tour guides, the yakkity yak and bla bla.  It inspires people to do fun interesting things with their money.


Weapons, eh, not so much.


So, to answer your question are all biggie projects equally worthy?  No.  Boats are better.


After that owner perishes, the cost of maintenance alone on that boat is beyond what his heirs can afford, so that boat becomes a floating tourist attraction, a museum, generating millions a year from people who like to gawk at stuff like this.


The person you want to talk to is our own Anders Sandberg.  He is involved in an organization called Effective Altruism.  They deal with crazy rich people, because after a certain point, more money just doesn’t really change a person’s life.  You can have a 4.5 billion dollar boat, but really only one of them.  You can’t sail on two at the same time.  So… 


So, ultra-rich people spend their time giving away their money.  But think about it: what if you have a Gatesian fortune to give away?  How do you do it?  We know of really expensive charity efforts which not only failed, but caused a lot of harm.  You mighta heard of the Gates Foundation and the Gaza greenhouses.  So, like any big project, you hire engineers, and take an engineering approach to charity.  Get a super-smart engineering team with guys like Anders, they figure out the best way to do the most good for the most people with your money.


When you rack and stack it that way, hire an engineering-minded team to make engineering-minded analyses, you find out that big luxury projects like building luxury boats make a lotta sense.





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