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05-23-2011, 11:41 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
My small issue with the writer is that he suggests life is a race, and due to runners all not starting from the same point, some have unfair advantages. To me it's rather a marathon, still mattering where we start off at, but we ought to learn contentment with where we are in life and make the most of what we are given to us (parable of the talents comes to mind). Comparing ourselves to others breeds discontentment, but this doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for our life goals.
I think the analogy to the race is somewhat appropriate and I think that you too are right to say that it is a marathon where any difference in starting position gives only minimal advantage in the grand scheme of things.

Continuing the race comparison:
"Libertarian model" (which I take exception to the naming convention), timing will be determined by the order you cross the finish line.
"Meritocratic model," timing will be determined by a timing chip that tracks when you crossed the start line and the finish line.
"Egalitarian model," places a huge treadmill right before the finish line which only the last racer can stop to allow everyone to pass the finish line.

If I had to pick which model I would like for my society, I would pick the meritocratic and I think with the US that is more or less the way things are. Everyone gets access to education and at age 18 your slate gets wiped clean and you are able to start making decisions which will effect the rest of your life. This model creates a level playing field for a huge majority of the population and steps are taken to help the disabled and disadvantaged from being trampled.

If you view it from the point of view of the entire world and are a realist about it, the libertarian model prevails. Once you reach a certain level, you are mostly competing against yourself and a relative handful of people worldwide. It might be more apt to compare it to the Olympics where there is a plethora of different events and you are able to win in anyone of them, even if there are a handful of ones which are the most popular.

The problem with the egalitarian model is that it holds high achievers back for the sake of low achievers. Thats not a way to be great and its no fairer to the high achievers than the libertarian model is to the low achievers.

05-23-2011, 11:45 AM   #17
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"Libertarian model" timing will be determined by the order you cross the finish line regardless of where you started or how many people you tripped, tricked or shoved along the way
05-23-2011, 12:35 PM   #18
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Maybe part of the problem is that a lot of people talk 'deserve' *before* we even get to 'Functional system.' *Some* competition is good: *more* competition with higher stakes and more protections for the 'big players' ...*does not make better.*

And that's the *real* problem here: not that Mom and Pop shouldn't be able to or can't make a profit, but that they *can't or don't* cause everything favors those already at the top.


If there's *more* in the system, then that should mean the stakes for 'losing' don't need to be so high: especially when big players can *lose* more than whole *cities* full of regular people take home for *years,* ...and they get bailed out, they never miss a meal... Or a Riviera getaway, for that matter. What they do with the bailout money is spend it on churches and advertising to scapegoat people who never had much chance to begin with.


Then wonder why they aren't 'productive consumers.'


Moralizing is cheap. Not so *effective,* though.

Before we talk 'deserve,' which is certainly a valid topic, who says 'deserve' even solves anything about systems? As much as some take and take and scale the system to do it more, no matter how *bad* the results.... Even claims that others don't *deserve* what they've taken *Simply don't mean that there aren't vastiy-diminishing and totally-unsustainable returns even *for them.* Sooner or later, like fuel to Mars, it costs more to *take* more, and in this case 'defend' it, than it would to live better and share.

The ultra-rich want us to think that starving the poor will 'motivate' them, but this is not a standard they are willing to apply to themselves when they *lose.* Or live up to when asked to share the burdens of what profits them so in the first place.

To an extent, capitalism is fine, but it's essentially a *game.* If that game was football, if you let the 'winners' always make the rules for long enough, (Even claim the best players at will,) ....sooner or later there *is* no game. And the spectators long gone before they know it, too. Righties *fear Communism* but what they'll never admit is that 'Socialism' doesn't get so extremist till things get stacked very badly against 'the masses' indeed. And that's usually through the doings of who. Aristocracy.


Basically, trying to govern a *system* by trying to enforce some sense of personal morality, (usually upon the people *not* in control,) ...while actually rewarding and even *absolving* the cheaters and takers, really means that eventually the 'cheaters' *do* win. And make the system one which *rewards* this as well as rewards projecting the short-sightedness and greed of a few onto those *least in a position to play the game they've made while claiming that same system is of itself some kind of perfect righteousness.*

Capitalism has become its own *cargo cult,* in other words, and like feudalism or empire: pushing the 'blame' on to dispossessed classes and occasionally lynching one of the worst.... Just has a way of exploding, in ways that don't serve anyone.

We need to think in *systems* about *systems,* and if someone rich wants to be truly moral and ethical and even far-sighted in a good way, they shouldn't be 'disavantaged' by everything but a clearer conscience.

Last edited by Ratmagiclady; 05-23-2011 at 12:58 PM.
05-23-2011, 12:49 PM   #19
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Deserve is a relative, internalized social term.

I know very wealthy people - and have read about others - who are able to admit the essentially random or fortuitous agency of their wealth. Not that there aren't some requisites: hard work in the right things, motivation, being open to opportunity, being open to plentiful communication with others - while these are in good part determined, they are also attributes we commonly think of as learnable behaviors.

But being born at the right time to the right parents and having the right influences and meeting the right people etc? Nah. These are undoubtedly advantages and usually deterministic ones, but these are not UNIQUE in the sense that every minute someone is born at what will turn to be the right time etc. In other words, social advantage is not personal.

Neither is the big Ground Floor Opportunity personal, usually. But once on the Ground Floor, one may make something of the opportunity. I'm not talking about the crony/nepotist thing where something is served on a silver platter - that's just solidifying a position. But to actually move up in economic terms: many of us are presented these opportunities during a life time, and most of us will not take them, for various reasons - and not all the reasons are failing ones!

So, what I'm saying is that there are some personal behaviors that are teachable, but much of this is not so personal.

And behind all that there is the question of what, in the end, is an individual anyway, what is a "self"?

05-23-2011, 02:02 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
Deserve is a relative, internalized social term.
But not always *reckoned* that way. Personally, I started out with some pretty *huge* advantages and even 'natural gifts:' ....Also some pretty *huge* forces trying to break my knees while insisting it was some fault of character that meant if I occasionally couldn't 'walk' so well or was otherwise a little distracted by those constant blows, usually sugared with great expectations as well as great suspicions... (Won't deny being a bit of a freak: from some of my young perspective this seemed to add up to a lot of abuse about: "You're some kind of genius: you should *excel* at doing the wrong thing like we tell you and nothing else! Thus, how we treat you is *your* fault! How can you *possibly* fail to thrive! *kick*" Go figure, right? )


(Part of what the article in question doesn't really address, as though it's 'unfair' if some have natural 'gifts' and others don't, ...but it assumes a priori this is actually an inherent and permanent condition. Some things don't 'smooth out' that way. I like to say that when I was picking incarnations, I went for the Alfa Romeo. The hatchback with the twin turboes. Like many Italian cars, rocked in its time, still looks pretty good, but there aren't many driving around *these* days, and they sure weren't designed to go off road. Really drove great till the suspension went, though. Point there is, no, we *aren't* all the same, but even *that* is temporary, whether someone tries to *make* us all the same or not. *This* is not something which can be controlled, or imposed. Or made 'uniform.' But a *system* can be configured to alllow, if not nurture, those 'gifts' each of us might have to start with. They're *gifts,* not *guilt trips.* And I can assure you there's reasons not everyone's like me, even in things counted cool. I assure you, I can see that much from here. )


QuoteQuote:
I know very wealthy people - and have read about others - who are able to admit the essentially random or fortuitous agency of their wealth. Not that there aren't some requisites: hard work in the right things, motivation, being open to opportunity, being open to plentiful communication with others - while these are in good part determined, they are also attributes we commonly think of as learnable behaviors.
Well, I have known some very wealthy people, too: I'm thinking at the moment of a good man, and maybe even a humble one to a fault. But that can be double-edged, too. 'Tragic fault' I might even venture to say, though I hope he's found happiness since. He surely *did* work, and *did,* I think, feel that becoming rich was kind of undeserved: and there there was perhaps a big *disconnect.* He ran a big company, and seemed a good manager, but if I knew him at all, would *mostly* rather be swinging a hammer himself. Had a lot of wealth, but little comfort of it. I don't think I ever would have *met* the man if he hadn't shared that love of architectural framing.

Suppose another form of 'Big Catholic Guilt,' that, but kind of the point there was no matter how 'hard' he worked, there was *no* linkage between that and his good fortune, and I kind of doubt he ended up a mover and shaker in the financial-legal-political-world, or even ever *spoke up.*


QuoteQuote:
But being born at the right time to the right parents and having the right influences and meeting the right people etc? Nah. These are undoubtedly advantages and usually deterministic ones, but these are not UNIQUE in the sense that every minute someone is born at what will turn to be the right time etc. In other words, social advantage is not personal.

That much is very true. I'd day the problem isn't that these things aren't *personal* or *equal,* but in some ways that they're *different* and *temporary,* and this does offend some people's idea of the universe in varying ways: they try to *make* such things 'permanent' and 'monolithically-modelled/justified' when they neither *are* nor *can* be:


And no notion of skewing the 'system' *toward* some monolithic model *or* hierarchy can actually achieve that.



QuoteQuote:
Neither is the big Ground Floor Opportunity personal, usually. But once on the Ground Floor, one may make something of the opportunity.
'Ground Floor opportunities' are usually based more on strong knees, ground into the floor, than they are on being suited for what the corporate types claim you can 'work your way up to.'

They claim that there's a succession of 'boxes' you have to fit into and fit into and fit into, and as the bike courier dropping by the boardroom, I assure you it's the very model of *asinine* that the people who fit in enough of those boxes to be sitting there are often *literally* trying to demand of each other, *Now...* 'Think outside the box.'

Fact is, they'd be delivering their Very Important, Yet Helpless mail if they *could.*





QuoteQuote:
I'm not talking about the crony/nepotist thing where something is served on a silver platter - that's just solidifying a position. But to actually move up in economic terms: many of us are presented these opportunities during a life time, and most of us will not take them, for various reasons - and not all the reasons are failing ones!

Come down to it, what's an 'opportunity' and what's just a 'sale?' I won't say I was ever *that* idealistic about things, when I was supposedly-so-'favored,' but.... From where comes this idea that the things that pay the 'most' are actually the 'most valuable,' anyway?


Why *that* assumption?

'You're smart, you should make a lot of money, for that do *this,* *or else.*'

But the people who *do* that just don't understand what they're doing. As much as they claim 'poverty is an idea which is an 'incentive' to the actual poor,' they don't *understand* any of it. Even what they're doing, themselves. If you listen to *them* they insist that the poorest and most disadvantaged, even against the actually-hostile systems they demand... Are just lacking 'can do.'

But ever tell an oil company making record profits and demanding we do the irresponsible, what they can do without gazillions in subsidies and a little regulation?

All of a sudden, the ultra-rich say *what.*

'Can't do.'


Curious, isn't it?

QuoteQuote:
So, what I'm saying is that there are some personal behaviors that are teachable, but much of this is not so personal.

Indeed.

Maybe the 'personal behaviors' people want us to blame just don't address the *impersonal mechanisms* some defend and impose, even if it makes them miserable.

QuoteQuote:
And behind all that there is the question of what, in the end, is an individual anyway, what is a "self"?
Sometimes you're the bike courier running out of cortisol, totally ragged from a condition that's supposed to be terminal, and pouring perspiration in an elevator while the 'Young Turks' of the financial industry are discussing how they can't comprehend what they're even doing, and seeing you getting paid a buck ten to deliver their Very Important Mailroom stuff across the City Of Boston at no small personal peril, ....and just looking at you enviously somehow and saying, 'You b****, you have it so easy.'



What is 'the self?' I dunno, but maybe she's who stood in that elevator and smirked back.
05-23-2011, 02:14 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote
Come down to it, what's an 'opportunity' and what's just a 'sale?' I won't say I was ever *that* idealistic about things, when I was supposedly-so-'favored,' but.... From where comes this idea that the things that pay the 'most' are actually the 'most valuable,' anyway?
you know I was thinking more of love and such here... love for 'sale' vs 'opportunity' - very much similar to just about any social thing, including money-making or influence peddling or Living Up To Your Promise, innit?

So: where does this take us if we think in terms of Love - finding long term relationship contentment... or serial pump n dump (aka leveraged buy out specialists)... Where does 'deserve' come into play? What's the optimal distribution of Love in a Love Economy?

Should we as a society help integrate those whose damaged living circumstance makes it difficult to form a stable relationship? Or to at least teach what that's about? Who's a Love Freeloader? Who is using up my Love, the Love I've worked so hard to accumulate?

silly aint it
05-23-2011, 02:35 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
you know I was thinking more of love and such here... love for 'sale' vs 'opportunity' - very much similar to just about any social thing, including money-making or influence peddling or Living Up To Your Promise, innit?

So: where does this take us if we think in terms of Love - finding long term relationship contentment... or serial pump n dump (aka leveraged buy out specialists)... Where does 'deserve' come into play? What's the optimal distribution of Love in a Love Economy?

Should we as a society help integrate those whose damaged living circumstance makes it difficult to form a stable relationship? Or to at least teach what that's about? Who's a Love Freeloader? Who is using up my Love, the Love I've worked so hard to accumulate?

silly aint it

Sure is. 'Love' ain't a zero-sum game, never mind something that can be taken or owned. (It's also not an economic system. Nor a political one, for that matter. )


Nor, to be honest, is it a panacea when people are being hurt.
05-24-2011, 02:23 PM   #23
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What do we deserve? [Why?]

Ever since I read this excellent article I have been thinking about it
and have taken it seriously. It's such a reasonable Question - what do
we deserve?

I'm very much a generalist so I won't burden you with all kinds of
policy positions, data and other minutiae. I'm no policy wonk.

My best shot:

1. What do we and/or I deserve?

A body of people who care about me and are accountable to me as an
individual

and

A body of people who I care about and accountable to.

2. Why?
Because without the above we will ultimately fail as a species.

In a word - community.

For me this is the final irreducible answer to the question.


Last edited by wildman; 05-24-2011 at 10:51 PM.
05-24-2011, 05:40 PM   #24
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Nice answer wildman - OTOH life is made more interesting when the 'level' of care and accountability naturally will vary between person to person - usually because of self-interest. But the general concept is as per the Golden Rule - do to others as you would want others to do to you (Matthew 7:12).

As we are social beings, it matters how we treat each other, and ultimately community is the bringing together of all our collective efforts for a better life for us all. This is perhaps more egalitarian than meritocratic, but there can be a good marrying of both models in a well-functioning society.

But is this mutual benefit what we deserve, or simply what we are charged with the responsibility (and free will) to do for one another? I've stated previously that I see us deserving nothing. That everything's an inexplicable gift, even life itself. To me we are under grace, being given what we don't deserve - unmerited favour.
05-24-2011, 07:36 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
As we are social beings, it matters how we treat
each other, and ultimately community is the bringing together of all our
collective efforts for a better life for us all.
This is where my definition may not be just feel good stuff but may
have real practical consequences. You said "community is the bringing
together of all our collective efforts for a better life for us all."
This comes very close to how some define government or at least one of
the primary purposes of government - government as the collective will
of the civil community or simply that government is an extension of
community.

This would be, in principal, very hard to swallow for many on the far
right. They see the only legitimate function of government is to
maintain by force only that which enhances private individual interests
and that ultimately there is no such thing as communal interests worth
respecting.

QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
This is perhaps more egalitarian than meritocratic,
but there can be a good marrying of both models in a well-functioning
society.
Yes. I'm very comfortable with the idea that societies are open-ended
and a work in progress. I have no trouble with a certain degree of
ambiguity when it comes to social arrangements. Politically I come from
the shake and bake school. Where you draw the line between eqalitariansim
and merit is up to the society drawing the line and there is no one
right answer.

QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
But is this mutual benefitting what we deserve, or
simply what we are charged with the responsibility (and free will) to do?
I'm not quite sure what you are getting at here. It sounds like it may
be a distinction without a (practical) difference. If "deserve" is a
moral term than what we deserve is simply what our society collectively
agrees we deserve. In other words an implicit or explicit social
contract.

If, on the other hand, you believe that morality is ordained by god
than we are still left with thrashing out, within a more or less secular
context, just what is the will of which god given that most modern societies
have many religious faiths and for many people within these societies none at all.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

Last edited by wildman; 05-24-2011 at 09:44 PM.
05-24-2011, 08:12 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Nice answer wildman - OTOH life is made more interesting when the 'level' of care and accountability naturally will vary between person to person - usually because of self-interest. But the general concept is as per the Golden Rule - do to others as you would want others to do to you (Matthew 7:12).

Honestly, Ash, it's 'interesting' enough without anyone *striving* to make things harder and calling it 'holy.'

QuoteQuote:
As we are social beings, it matters how we treat each other, and ultimately community is the bringing together of all our collective efforts for a better life for us all. This is perhaps more egalitarian than meritocratic, but there can be a good marrying of both models in a well-functioning society.

If we have enough 'Egali,' 'Merit' doesn't necessarily need the 'cratic.'

QuoteQuote:
But is this mutual benefit what we deserve, or simply what we are charged with the responsibility (and free will) to do for one another?
This is a question you don't need if you aren't thinking in deserts.


QuoteQuote:
I've stated previously that I see us deserving nothing. That everything's an inexplicable gift, even life itself. To me we are under grace, being given what we don't deserve - unmerited favour.
I'll obviously disagree: It's wonderful, but that doesn't mean it's as 'inexplicable' or 'undeserved' as some will crack it up to be. If they want to rule by complicating things. And telling people they don't 'deserve' what they claim to give or take as 'mercies' or 'punishments.'

I feel *quite* favored in some ways, friend Christian, and singled out for a world of uncalled-for grief and harsh *sierra* as well, but if that's through any merit of *mine,* I still bloody well need all the 'merit' I can muster.

I'd say, actually, some people wrap their universe around some notion of 'Deserve/blame' 'Not-deserve/grace' or various combinations of such, when Graces aren't so much even *about* that.

There's really no such thing as 'deserved or undeserved 'grace,' Never mind cause to spin that back into some kind of 'Who deserves what.'

It's not a kind of thing you deserve or not-deserve. 'It's' just not that kind of *thing* in that concept. Not a commodity, not 'deserved' or bought or sold, or as some claim 'un-deserved.' I'd say such is 'non-deservable.' maybe being two-legs, we often mix that up with faith, frith, and troth, most especially when trying to claim it 'proves' something else.

I don't think I've got the 'whole story' on that, actually, but I do think I know it's *just not about 'deserve.'* Never mind some notion of 'being unworthy.' Never mind some *secondhand* 'unworthy.' As I often say, 'Cooler than that.'

One thing about 'Grace' is, 'Shame' does not help one *make good on it.* Never mind force anyone else to.

All this is alive, Ash, and more connected than most seem to want to cope with. Couldn't tell you if anyone asked for it or deserved it, but I will tell you this: We got it. so maybe it's more a question what we *do* with this state of affairs than *any* freaking notion of 'who deserves what as interpreted by whom.'


Maybe 'Grace' isn't an 'undeserved,' (and maybe it's not some 'separate thing beamed into a 'fallen' world,' .... *maybe,* it's as much a *part* of this place as hurt, laughter, and *hope.* ....Maybe it ain't so special, but maybe *everything's* special, too.... so maybe what some count 'Grace,' ...maybe it's part of the fabric of 'Can.' It's a pretty good Can if you can open it. (Which is not about force or shame or control or 'deserving.' ) 'And that's good enough for me.'

Work to do, y'know.

Last edited by Ratmagiclady; 05-24-2011 at 08:19 PM.
05-24-2011, 10:05 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
I'm not quite sure what you are getting at here. It sounds like it may
be a distinction without a (practical) difference. If "deserve" is a
moral term than what we deserve is simply what our society collectively
agrees we deserve. In other words an implicit or explicit social
contract.

If, on the other hand, you believe that morality is ordained by god
than we are still left with thrashing out, within a more or less secular
context, just what is the will of which god given that most modern societies
have many religious faiths and for many people within these societies none at all.
Good points. It's difficult to not incorporate personal opinion (as in my own) as there will be a myriad of such positions of where morality is defined and how it is determined. Society will never totally agree with who may deserve what, and a general consensus may be hard to find on that. This discussion could involve the 'right and wrong' debate, but I think it's more about the absolutes of morality (of which we all have our own beliefs about), and which I also appreciate that some do not accept they even exist. So it's a difficult one.
05-26-2011, 08:08 AM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Good points. It's difficult to not incorporate personal opinion (as in my own) as there will be a myriad of such positions of where morality is defined and how it is determined. Society will never totally agree with who may deserve what, and a general consensus may be hard to find on that. This discussion could involve the 'right and wrong' debate, but I think it's more about the absolutes of morality (of which we all have our own beliefs about), and which I also appreciate that some do not accept they even exist. So it's a difficult one.
I'll certainly question the 'morality' of stacking *systems* against people and offering only 'absolutes' about 'This is what you deserve,' to justify them.

I'll question the 'morality' of placing the *burdens* of such an absolutist system on those least able to have a say, or to bear it when it that system fails. 'Deserve' can be a funny concept. People who screw things up and hurt thousands or millions and lose billions live better (And seem to get endless credit, of one sort or another) than they people they claim 'don't deserve' food stamps or a decent place to live or a living wage, or perhaps even a say in matters of their own hearts and souls.

I question the 'morality' of claiming some 'greater absolutes' when some of those very claims to absolutes create systems where it's manifestly obvious that a lot of people don't 'get what they deserve' or 'deserve what they get.' (Personally, I chalk a lot of ways this has happened to *my* life up to something of a lesson in our interdependence. This doesn't mean that people citing 'absolutes' haven't managed to deprive a lot of people they don't consider 'favored' of the life's work of our own hands.... for otherwise unaccountable reasons. )

If you *do* want someone to accept your 'absolutes,' they ought to at least *work,* and as something more than a way to displace blame for and consequence of *systems* onto those treated worst by them.
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