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  1. #41
    Happy Dancer uumlau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    Why does this make you so angry?
    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    The fact that you can't see why without explanation speaks volumes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    It was a question.
    OK, let's treat it as a question.

    Why does the thought of other people taking your money to spend (or telling you that you should spend your money) on what they see as "good" not offend you?

    Do you assume that their version of "good" is the same as yours? You've already made some fairly declarative statements about the kinds of charity that you think are worthwhile and the kinds the you think are not.

    The anger comes from having others tell you how you should spend (or give away) your own money.

    That's the answer to the anger question.

    There is a deeper issue, though. There is a process by which wealth is created. Those who think in terms of redistribution, in my experience, disbelieve in wealth creation. If you believe that money is zero-sum, if you believe that if there is a lot of money over HERE, but not over THERE, then "HERE" must have "stolen" that money from "THERE". After all, there is only so much "stuff", and the true and noble goal is to make sure that everyone has access to the more or less the same amount of stuff, right? That's only fair! That some people have too much, and others too little, is a priori proof of an overall societal problem, in this view.

    If instead, you believe that wealth is created; that in spite of a finite amount of resources, the arrangement can gradually be optimized to create wealth out of "nothing", then it is obvious why some people are "super rich" and others are not. Those people that are super rich achieved that status by arranging resources in a more optimal matter. The planet earth had more or less the same stuff as it did 10,000 years ago, but until a few years ago, it wasn't possible to arrange any of that stuff into an iPhone. Until half a century or so ago, it wasn't possible to arrange that stuff into spacecraft. Until a century or so ago, it wasn't possible to arrange that stuff into antibiotics. I could go on.

    The process of creating wealth, especially on a large scale, also creates large concentrations of wealth. Everyone benefits from computers and cell phones, therefore the pioneers of these fields accumulated vast amounts of wealth more or less proportionate to those benefits. And those benefits scale upwards very quickly: roughly equal to the square of the number of "nodes" on the networks linking those computers and phones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metcalfe%27s_law).

    Given that geometric scaling, it is easy to conclude that wealth has become too concentrated, that it must be spread around more. But that conclusion neglects why the wealth exists: the mass benefit to society. Individuals don't have the benefit of extra money in their pocket that might be redistributed from such excessive concentrations, but they DO have the benefit of the computers in their lives, of having access to a cell phone. These are things that could not have even been purchased in 1973.

    And we take all of these benefits for granted:


    And here's the kicker: if we got together to redistribute all those concentrations of wealth, we would certainly be able to give people more money in the short term, but we wouldn't really give them more wealth. Instead, we would have destroyed the process of wealth creation.

    Now I'm not asserting that the "super rich" are morally upright, or that they "deserve" what they have. Rather, I am saying it's part of an overall process of wealth creation (and, to be complete, wealth destruction, but that's another topic), and while it's certainly possible redistribute (via taxation) some of it, excessive policies in that vein will severely restrict future wealth creation.
    An argument is two people sharing their ignorance.

    A discussion is two people sharing their understanding, even when they disagree.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    Here's a video clip about the studies I mentioned in my earlier post. It's kind of fascinating and horrifying. It makes me think Jesus really had a point with the eye of a needle thing.
    Not that I dont think this study has its merits, but I'm not convinced it's truly measuring what they think it is. Here is why I think this.

    The people they tested (as presented in this video) weren't members of the wealthy. Bmw's, mercedes and $200k salaries are not the accoutrements of the super rich. They are aspirational items representative of the well to do middle class. Further, the monopoly game was played with members of the student population. Once again not the wealthy set. The researchers have concluded that these peoples behaviour in relation to money is representative of everyone. That may not be the case.

    There is strong evidence that ones behaviour is influenced by the society in which you are a part. What is the middle class a part of? They are part of a world in which money is hard to get, you have to work hard, save hard and the supply of money is definately limited. Against this backdrop, middle class people when given a slight advantage over other middle class people may very well behave less aultruistic towards others. Sure. We are part of a dog eat dog world in which advantages whatever they are must be exploited. But is this really how a truly wealthy person would behave? Those researchers dont know because they didn't include super wealthy people in their studies. And giving a middle class person some arbitrary and imaginary wealth isn't the same as testing someone who has been raised in a completely different social set with completely different values.

    I'll go even further to suggest now that perhaps part of why middle class people behave more altruisitically when they have less money could be in no small measure to the social conditioning known as the puritan work ethic....ie, the harder you work, the less you have the more virtuous you are. Snce that idea has been ingrained into people since feudal times, it would not be surprising to find it still motivating people on an unconscious level in this day and age. Maybe that explains feelins of wellbeing by performing acts of generosity. And whose to say the super wealthy do not regularly perform acts of generosity and xperence feelings of wellbeing too?

    I'm not saying that wealthy people aren't opportunisitic, reckless and disregarding of authority. But I dont think a study of middle class people, with middle class values is an accurate indicator of how the superwealthy are affected by money. If they performed the same study with only homeless people, for example, would the result be the same or different?

  3. #43
    failed poetry slam career chubber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andante View Post
    In order to influence or control corporations, you must at minimum have a control block of voting shares. Much of Buffet's fortune is tied up in share ownership. If he liquidated all his assets, he could no longer affect corporate direction where the one time injection of the monies into charitable foundations wouldn't do very much in the long term.

    In maintaining control and subsequently donating monies on an annual basis, this is a win/win strategy.
    It's a bit more than that, he offers to become the director and under cuts the salary of what the usual director would earn. The salary is lower than the tax brackets, the company survives and he gives it clear direction.

    He did splash on buying himself a plane though

  4. #44
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhoCares View Post
    The thing is, a lot of people in this thread do not understand why rich people don't do what they would do with the same amount of money. Of course you don't, that is why they have billions and you have what you have. Just because we do not understand something doesn't mean its inherently bad.
    Ftr, most billionaires are billionaires because they inherited their money. It's fairly normal, since it's extremely difficult to accumulate billions over a single lifetime, unless you're lucky to be born in age of very quick wealth creation.
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  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    Ftr, most billionaires are billionaires because they inherited their money. It's fairly normal, since it's extremely difficult to accumulate billions over a single lifetime, unless you're lucky to be born in age of very quick wealth creation.
    And your source for that statistic? We are born in the age of very quick wealth creation. But lets for argument sake say that that is true. Do you really think the auper rich are raising their kids with the same get a job mentality of the middle class? Or do you think they are raising them with the mentality of someone who manages a vast empire of wealth? My money is on the latter. It doesn't matter if they created their own wealth or not, they will be born into and exist in a different world to you and me, their whole orientation towards money will be different by virtue of exposure to the concerns of their immediate family.

  6. #46
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhoCares View Post
    And your source for that statistic?
    None, you're free not to believe me.
    ENTj 7-3-8 sx/sp

  7. #47
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhoCares View Post
    Not that I dont think this study has its merits, but I'm not convinced it's truly measuring what they think it is. Here is why I think this.

    The people they tested (as presented in this video) weren't members of the wealthy. Bmw's, mercedes and $200k salaries are not the accoutrements of the super rich. They are aspirational items representative of the well to do middle class. Further, the monopoly game was played with members of the student population. Once again not the wealthy set. The researchers have concluded that these peoples behaviour in relation to money is representative of everyone. That may not be the case.

    There is strong evidence that ones behaviour is influenced by the society in which you are a part. What is the middle class a part of? They are part of a world in which money is hard to get, you have to work hard, save hard and the supply of money is definately limited. Against this backdrop, middle class people when given a slight advantage over other middle class people may very well behave less aultruistic towards others. Sure. We are part of a dog eat dog world in which advantages whatever they are must be exploited. But is this really how a truly wealthy person would behave? Those researchers dont know because they didn't include super wealthy people in their studies. And giving a middle class person some arbitrary and imaginary wealth isn't the same as testing someone who has been raised in a completely different social set with completely different values.

    I'll go even further to suggest now that perhaps part of why middle class people behave more altruisitically when they have less money could be in no small measure to the social conditioning known as the puritan work ethic....ie, the harder you work, the less you have the more virtuous you are. Snce that idea has been ingrained into people since feudal times, it would not be surprising to find it still motivating people on an unconscious level in this day and age. Maybe that explains feelins of wellbeing by performing acts of generosity. And whose to say the super wealthy do not regularly perform acts of generosity and xperence feelings of wellbeing too?

    I'm not saying that wealthy people aren't opportunisitic, reckless and disregarding of authority. But I dont think a study of middle class people, with middle class values is an accurate indicator of how the superwealthy are affected by money. If they performed the same study with only homeless people, for example, would the result be the same or different?
    Well if you're right that's a relief. I hate to think I'd turn into an asshat in the unlikely event that I became wealthy.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  8. #48
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    OK, let's treat it as a question.

    Why does the thought of other people taking your money to spend (or telling you that you should spend your money) on what they see as "good" not offend you?

    Do you assume that their version of "good" is the same as yours? You've already made some fairly declarative statements about the kinds of charity that you think are worthwhile and the kinds the you think are not.
    I don't want a question in response to a question. But to give this a very quick and simple answer, it is because I'm not offended by the fact that someone might suggest that I do what they consider the right thing. Maybe I will not agree with it, but the suggestion in and of itself is to be expected. But also, I'd rather not leave things to whether or not one agrees, I want an explanation for agreement or disagreement. "I just don't feel that way" is seldom if ever and acceptable answer to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    The anger comes from having others tell you how you should spend (or give away) your own money.

    That's the answer to the anger question.
    If one really can't help but get angry at being told what to do by others, they must have horribly high blood pressure, because that's most of your life. It's not even like the OP who was being responded to was talking about law or taxes or anything. She was making a personal suggestion which, as I said, I took to be based on a moral and psychological position. So in regards to ceecee's response, it's not even about a potentially threatening thing like legal intervention. It was just a suggestion. I don't take your response to be hers, to be clear, but your response would mean her angry is entirely based on not wanting to be told what to do by others no matter what. If that is the case, I find it immature and uncontentious. Sometimes other people are right, sometimes people need more than you, sometimes there is such a thing as a social obligation. If a person can't handle that, they need to develop some more.

    Now, what I actually wanted to know from ceecee is exactly what I asked, because if her family is facing some of those issues, then there's nothing stranger about her being angry, and if she's facing this issues, I would then investigate why and how someone in a $200k household was facing those problems. It would be something for me to consider.

    "I don't wanna! Leave me alone!" is not something for me to consider.

    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    There is a deeper issue, though. There is a process by which wealth is created. Those who think in terms of redistribution, in my experience, disbelieve in wealth creation. If you believe that money is zero-sum, if you believe that if there is a lot of money over HERE, but not over THERE, then "HERE" must have "stolen" that money from "THERE". After all, there is only so much "stuff", and the true and noble goal is to make sure that everyone has access to the more or less the same amount of stuff, right? That's only fair! That some people have too much, and others too little, is a priori proof of an overall societal problem, in this view.

    If instead, you believe that wealth is created; that in spite of a finite amount of resources, the arrangement can gradually be optimized to create wealth out of "nothing", then it is obvious why some people are "super rich" and others are not. Those people that are super rich achieved that status by arranging resources in a more optimal matter. The planet earth had more or less the same stuff as it did 10,000 years ago, but until a few years ago, it wasn't possible to arrange any of that stuff into an iPhone. Until half a century or so ago, it wasn't possible to arrange that stuff into spacecraft. Until a century or so ago, it wasn't possible to arrange that stuff into antibiotics. I could go on.
    Man. Deja Vu. This really strongly echoes a debate I had before you joined the forum. It was between me and Lateralus. I feel a bit like I'm retracing steps here.

    Some of this is right and some of it is wrong.

    First thing you need to do is distinguish monetary wealth from real wealth, because I think a lot of what is wrong here is based on equivocating the two.
    Because they value of monetary wealth is strictly attributional, it ends up being effectively zero sum in the long term. I cannot make society wealthy by claiming to just produce more money, or more credit, out of thin air. It's a just a place holder for the exchange of other things.

    Those others things are real wealth. Real wealth is the stuff like the actual cell phone, the actual antibiotics. Unless you want to be pedantic about physics, in this area we make something from nothing for all intents and purposes, because we change potential within the earth (and increasing extents in space) into something usable for our purposes. But at this point all transactions of real wealth are pegged to monetary wealth, and there's really no other way to do it in a societies as big and complicated as the ones we have today. So, the production of real wealth is dependent on the distribution of monetary wealth.

    So far is isn't in disagreement with you. The most important thing you said that was right, is that there is an optimal distribution of wealth (and I mean monetary wealth) for producing more real wealth.

    So where you are wrong, is that thinking currently rich people have a lot of money because they produced real wealth optimally, or that the optimal thing to do would be to let the people who already have money get more, or that there is a relationship between inequality and prosperity.

    On the last detail, I have already mentioned that you are wrong. If you actually crunch the numbers, you will find indicators of prosperity to correlate with the gini index, an inequality measure. To be precise, since a lower gini is more equal, there is a negative correlation. GDP PC, for example, correlates with low inequality. So does employment rates. So do social mobility measures (though all of those are a bit sketchy). So do most advancement or quality of life measures such as literacy, life expectancy etc... Just for one of these, you can do the GPD PC thing your self. Go to CIA, or IMF, or WB, and grab the two figures from all countries and throw them into an Excel sheet or something and correlate them. If you don't want to do that, even a cursory glance of the 10 lowest gini countries and the 10 highest gini countries will show you.

    If your hypothesis were correct then this would not be the case. In fact, I recall it was you who once postulated that there would be a negative correlation between employment rates and wealth equality, so I went and did the numbers and found the opposite to be true. That actually set me on the path to look at all the others and find that equality correlated with all of them. So there's kind of an amusing irony there.

    See, even though monetary wealth can allow one to produce real wealth, that neither means they will nor does it mean monetary wealth will go to those most likely to make into real wealth. That disparity is one of the great obstacles for any society to address.

    The optimal distribution of wealth, first of all, will have an approximate floor and ceiling. There is a certain amount of many in one spot that is excessive, ceases to be spent, and as result is just stagnant and wasted. Furthermore, a society of starving, illiterate, homeless people who cannot do jobs or buy products, is not going to accomplish anything.

    Furthermore, the optimal distribution of wealth likely has more to do with organizations than people. There is probably no one person who is useful Bill Gate;s money. Individuals aren't that productive. Organizations are.

    A CEO and an investor are the two people these days who get super wealthy. Does their contribution to production of real wealth match their share of monetary wealth? Not even close by any stretch of the imagination. The investor only provides some money which will do nothing on its own, and the CEO allegedly but often doesn't manage a company to be more effectual. There appears to be little relationship between the success rate of business and the size of a CEO's income. What they do is meaningless without the hordes of laborers, researchers, developers, marketers, etc... who will get paid no where close to as much.

    I want to optimize the distribution of wealth for producing the most real wealth, and that's precisely why it can't stay the way it is.




    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    The process of creating wealth, especially on a large scale, also creates large concentrations of wealth. Everyone benefits from computers and cell phones, therefore the pioneers of these fields accumulated vast amounts of wealth more or less proportionate to those benefits. And those benefits scale upwards very quickly: roughly equal to the square of the number of "nodes" on the networks linking those computers and phones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metcalfe%27s_law).
    Do you really think the people who got all the money out of these inventions were the ones really responsible for them?

    As a total aside, I'm glad you showed me Metcalfe's law. I've never seen it. But I did independently invent when I was 19, including the formula n(n - 1)/2 except that I used G for group instead of n (I also drew diagrams like that). I was doing it for sociological purposes. But I said to myself that there was no way I was the first person to come up with it, so I always wondered when I'd find its current application. So thank you for showing me at last.

    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post

    Given that geometric scaling, it is easy to conclude that wealth has become too concentrated, that it must be spread around more. But that conclusion neglects why the wealth exists: the mass benefit to society. Individuals don't have the benefit of extra money in their pocket that might be redistributed from such excessive concentrations, but they DO have the benefit of the computers in their lives, of having access to a cell phone. These are things that could not have even been purchased in 1973.
    I don;t think putting a ton of money in some guy's hands are the reason were have cell phones. Not even close. Actually distributing wealth, particularly in the form of investing it in endeavors like eduction and R&D and building infrastructure and things like that give us these technologies.

    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    And we take all of these benefits for granted:


    And here's the kicker: if we got together to redistribute all those concentrations of wealth, we would certainly be able to give people more money in the short term, but we wouldn't really give them more wealth. Instead, we would have destroyed the process of wealth creation.
    If we just gave a bunch of stipends to people, that would be stupid. If we invest it in public utilities, we'd create vastly more wealth than leaving it in the hands of the super rich.

    Quote Originally Posted by uumlau View Post
    Now I'm not asserting that the "super rich" are morally upright, or that they "deserve" what they have. Rather, I am saying it's part of an overall process of wealth creation (and, to be complete, wealth destruction, but that's another topic), and while it's certainly possible redistribute (via taxation) some of it, excessive policies in that vein will severely restrict future wealth creation.
    Some and excessive are vague. As far as I'm concerned we are no where close to redistributing enough for the purposes of real wealth production.
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  9. #49
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giggly View Post
    Just give it away..... without making the recipients jump through hoops or "prove" themselves.
    It seems like the thread is becoming highly polarized along political lines.

    Just to add my thoughts...

    1) They do give money away. A lot. They aren't going to become poor however, by choice. Why would they? Take Gates or Buffet - they gave away the majority of their money. Others spend it on all sorts of pet projects that aren't meant to return their money to them. Additionally, anyone who gives away money is no longer rich; therefore the only ones you are talking about are the ones that do. You would be completely unaware of rich people who gave away their money (although that's pretty rare).

    2) Despite your belief that you would, its very unlikely that you would. All Americans are rich, yet they don't give money to the poor (in a meaningful way). This is true for all rich vs poor countries, but not 1st vs 3rd world. There is a fundamental perspective shift that triggers as we gain power and resources. Its the same dynamic everyone "sells out" when they gain power.

    3) There is an awareness circle. Imagine that right now there is someone starving in Africa, or in China. Why don't you feed them? "Jump through hoops" is part of that awareness issue.

  10. #50
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    It seems like the thread is becoming highly polarized along political lines.

    Just to add my thoughts...

    1) They do give money away. A lot. They aren't going to become poor however, by choice. Why would they? Take Gates or Buffet - they gave away the majority of their money. Others spend it on all sorts of pet projects that aren't meant to return their money to them. Additionally, anyone who gives away money is no longer rich; therefore the only ones you are talking about are the ones that do. You would be completely unaware of rich people who gave away their money (although that's pretty rare).
    But in fairness I'm pretty sure Bill Gates could give away 95% of his wealth and not be poor or even middle class.
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