I guess it's impossible to avoid these discussions. Maybe we should
create everything-politics?

I will reply with my apologies to Craig, with whom I cut-off a
political discussion earlier.

On Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 5:25 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
> On 11/6/2013 12:58 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:
>
>
> There is nothing wrong being rich, unless the money is stolen money, and
> that's the case today.
>
>
> There's nothing morally wrong with being rich, but it creates an ethical
> problem.  Being much wealthier than others bestows a lot of power.

I don't know of a single human society so far where power asymmetries
do not exist. It is perhaps naive to think they can disappear.
Communism was perhaps the most serious effort to crete a society
without power asymmetries, and it did not stand the test of reality.
In fact, horrible atrocities were committed in the pursuit of this
ideal. I don't blame Karl Marx for this, nor do I believe it was what
he had in mind. I admire Karl Marx for rigorously trying to lay down
an economical and social theory. But again, this was tested on a large
scale and not only did it not make the asymmetries go away, it
generated immense amounts of suffering and abject poverty in the
process.

Our current western system is more or less a hybrid of capitalism and
socialism. Again, the power asymmetries are widening, if anything.
There are two paths to power: money and politics. These paths are
interconnected, and modern democracy seems to only create an illusion
of choice. It is better to have some semblance of legitimacy through
popular vote than to have power belong to a family, for example. But
it is also unreasonable to assume that the problem is solved.

So yes, money creates power asymmetries, but this already happens. The
advantage of a radically free society based on mutually agreed
commercial exchanges is that you are constantly voting with your
money. Arguably, in the current system, the asymmetries are only
aggravated by having the government control the supply of money,
because people with political connections -- and these are bought with
money -- can influence this supply and create unnatural leverage for
themselves.

> If there
> is no effective government (like parts of Somalia)

I think the error here is to believe that society is an outcome of the
form of governance and not the other way around. True progress happens
at the cultural level, and then we tend to stabilise on some form of
governance. An example of this is how the institution of republics in
Europe led to fascism. Then Europe grew culturally, and now republics
seem more resilient to fascism, but they did not magically solve the
problem. We had to evolve.

Give Somalia a modern western system of governance and I'm sure things
would collapse pretty quickly. They need to evolve culturally, and
History shows that this cannot be enforced. Conversely, give advanced
societies more freedoms and things would not collapse into chaos (I
believe).

Notice that I don't believe for a moment that there is any fundamental
inferiority in the people of Somalia. I'm talking about the social
context here. They are just a bunch of homo sapiens trapped in a
cultural cul-de-sac. Western interventions in Somalia (payed by
western taxes) are very much to blame too. In a sense, they didn't
have a chance yet.

> then the rich hire a
> personal army to protect their property.

This already happens, except that it's even worse: we pay for the army.

> Where there is government, the
> police protect their property and the rich attempt to control the government
> through propaganda and buying influence.

This is what we have now.

>  So long as the rich are not so
> rich as to live in a different 'world' than the middle class and they are
> relatively diverse this works OK.

Again, this is what we have already, no? I think this puts the focus
on the wrong thing, and I also think that History shows I'm right. A
more realistic set of expectations could be:

- that there is more social mobility, as much as possible based on
merit (because I believe we all gain when somebody gets rich by
providing value);
- that the rich cannot buy the power to write laws to enslave the
middle class and the poor;
- that the middle class and the poor have better and better lives,
unlike what happened in the USSR where most people were equal but very
poor.

> But the system seems to be unstable in
> that the rich can and do use their wealth and power to get more wealth and
> power - and not necessarily productively.

Agreed. This is an argument against regulation. Unless you really
believe that a small set of us can be more honest and altruistic than
all of us combined. I think this is the main mysticism with current
political thought. I am for more democracy, not less. In my view, the
path to more democracy is less government, and more voting with money.

>  So those who inherit wealth tend
> to gain even more wealth.

It seem fundamentally anti-human to expect people to not want their
wealth to benefit their kin. Everyone wants this. It's how we
transformed from amoebas into homo sapiens.

>  Society needs to do something to stabilize the
> system and prevent the increasing concentration of wealth.

We are going through the end of another cycle where this was
attempted. So far, all attempts appear to have done more harm than
good in that respect. What do you suggest we try next?

Telmo.

> Brent
>
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