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Thread: Affluence

  1. #31
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    One reason some people–and many countries–insist that all persons have an intrinsic and equal worth is that the alternative view opens the door to dehumanization, and, ultimately, to genocide and other atrocities.

    In addition to this, many people recognize that it is not their place to judge the innate worth of another person. It's not their job, nor is it within their capacity, and they are not required in their daily lives to make real world decisions about the innate worth of other people. So they don't entertain the question, because it is an irrelevant question that they can't answer anyway. Some believe only their creator has the necessary authority, knowledge, insight and the power to make other concerns irrelevant.

    This is true of the lives of pretty much all human beings on this planet. Nevertheless, many still take it upon themselves to judge the innate worth of other persons, engaging in such exercises even though there's no need. I presume some get a perverse pleasure out of such dehumanization.
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  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    One reason some people–and many countries–insist that all persons have an intrinsic and equal worth is that the alternative view opens the door to dehumanization, and, ultimately, to genocide and other atrocities.

    In addition to this, many people recognize that it is not their place to judge the innate worth of another person. It's not their job, nor is it within their capacity, and they are not required in their daily lives to make real world decisions about the innate worth of other people. So they don't entertain the question, because it is an irrelevant question that they can't answer anyway. Some believe only their creator has the necessary authority, knowledge, insight and the power to make other concerns irrelevant.

    This is true of the lives of pretty much all human beings on this planet. Nevertheless, many still take it upon themselves to judge the innate worth of other persons, engaging in such exercises even though there's no need. I presume some get a perverse pleasure out of such dehumanization.
    Every nation on the planet places a different value on different people. It is evil when it is based on racial or gender lines. It is appropriate when it is based on actions. A criminal who rapes women is not equal to that of a doctor who saves people. Equal worth regardless of actions is the least just thing I've ever heard of.

  3. #33
    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lewkowski View Post
    Every nation on the planet places a different value on different people. It is evil when it is based on racial or gender lines. It is appropriate when it is based on actions. A criminal who rapes women is not equal to that of a doctor who saves people. Equal worth regardless of actions is the least just thing I've ever heard of.
    So people's value changes as they take action in life, like commit crimes or accumulate skills. Example - teenagers are mostly worthless, criminal or not, their value being entirely encapsulated in potential, which is very difficult to quantify accurately (or separate from life circumstance for that matter). So killing a teenager is not as serious a crime as killing a graduate student in medicine. And killing that student is not as serious a crime as killing a doctor with a 5 year practice, and so on. And killing unskilled laborers, depending on the job market, is only slightly worse than killing a teenager - after all, how much can you value the actions of an adult man that lead him to work retail for a living? Very interesting indeed.
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  4. #34
    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    In addition to this, many people recognize that it is not their place to judge the innate worth of another person. It's not their job, nor is it within their capacity, and they are not required in their daily lives to make real world decisions about the innate worth of other people. So they don't entertain the question, because it is an irrelevant question that they can't answer anyway. Some believe only their creator has the necessary authority, knowledge, insight and the power to make other concerns irrelevant.
    Judge not lest yea be judged. Or, what comes around goes around. Eventually. Those who help build a world that values human life based on fickle criteria risk getting devalued themselves.
    The Rules
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    Gold- treat others how you would like them to treat you (the self regard rule)
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  5. #35
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    What was the part of the Bible where Jesus says to value the rich more than the poor? Was it 2 Corinthians?
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  6. #36
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lewkowski View Post
    Every nation on the planet places a different value on different people. It is evil when it is based on racial or gender lines. It is appropriate when it is based on actions. A criminal who rapes women is not equal to that of a doctor who saves people. Equal worth regardless of actions is the least just thing I've ever heard of.
    I said "innate worth", not simply "value". There is no need to make a determination of a person's innate worth compared to that of another person in order to have a functioning justice system, unless you view dehumanization, torture etc as necessary components of justice, as goals in themselves. Many people do indeed crave this, so you wouldn't exactly be unique in this respect. They get a kick out of thinking about people in dehumanizing terms, just as they do from punishments that others rightly regard as debasing human decency & morality itself.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
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  7. #37
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    Judge not lest yea be judged. Or, what comes around goes around. Eventually. Those who help build a world that values human life based on fickle criteria risk getting devalued themselves.
    Agree in principle with that edict, when it comes to conversations and interactions in my personal life. But, more importantly, I do not believe it is possible for me or any other human to credibly and reliably determine another person's innate worth in a way that wouldn't lead to a truly vile world, were such practices universal or as widespread as they once were. In addition to giving rise to what can best be described as evil, such judgements would inevitably be what can best be described as bullshit. We can all play around with evil bullshit for the sake of discussion, but what's the point?
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
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  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    So people's value changes as they take action in life, like commit crimes or accumulate skills. Example - teenagers are mostly worthless, criminal or not, their value being entirely encapsulated in potential, which is very difficult to quantify accurately (or separate from life circumstance for that matter). So killing a teenager is not as serious a crime as killing a graduate student in medicine. And killing that student is not as serious a crime as killing a doctor with a 5 year practice, and so on. And killing unskilled laborers, depending on the job market, is only slightly worse than killing a teenager - after all, how much can you value the actions of an adult man that lead him to work retail for a living? Very interesting indeed.
    Since I'm on board with death penalty for murderers it seems pretty obvious that the difference in theoretical value of a life won't change the sentence.

    Furthermore the *legal* idea of all people being equal is very different than the reality that all people are equal. Even if two people have grossly different value and worth I certainly wouldn't want the fucking government to be making that determination.

  9. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Lewkowski View Post
    Why? You feel strongly about this but I don't understand the reasoning behind this. Everyone values people differently. I value my son over a stranger's kid. I value people I know more than people I don't. I value the 'good' people as I define it, more than the 'bad' people. I refuse to believe that you consider all life truly equal, no one does.
    Oh, but I do. I do treat different people differently, mostly because my responsibility towards different people is unequal. I have a greater responsibility to care for and protect my children than I do that of someone else. Ditto for my community, my nation, etc. But just because I have a greater responsibility towards a subset of humanity doesn't mean that anyone has greater or lesser worth.

    I don't see that being the primary purpose of the passage. Nor do I believe the idea that every section of the bible had a message for all people of all eras. All of it is important in understanding the whole but not all of it is applicable to each person's life. That passage could literally be just about the people of Israel during that era.

    Temporal success can certainly be influenced by factors outside of one's control. Getting hit by a bus is a big derail-er to success. Being born cognitively impaired really limits your options. However I do believe that outside of corner cases the effort someone puts in to bettering themselves is typically rewarded. The frugal reap financial stability. The diet conscious live longer. Those that stick by their friends will have life long positive relationships with them. I believe in empowering people is the way to get people to become better. I don't like the idea that people are as good as they will ever be and it is impossible for them to better themselves.
    At the margins, individual efforts do, on the balance, improve one's lot. But a huge proportion of success is determined by factors outside your control, most notably the birth lottery.

    Will probably have to agree to disagree on that but I'm very curious as to how you define justice.
    I believe that charity is righting a wrong - it's wrong that there are people who do not have the means to access food, or shelter, or healthcare, or any number of other things that are critical to human life. Righting this wrong is not a voluntary act of kindness, but a compelled act of justice, a balancing of what is wrong in the world. I don't mean 'compelled' in the sense that someone's forcing you to do it. Rather, we are compelled by our moral conscience. It is our duty as human beings to care for others.

    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    So people's value changes as they take action in life, like commit crimes or accumulate skills. Example - teenagers are mostly worthless, criminal or not, their value being entirely encapsulated in potential, which is very difficult to quantify accurately (or separate from life circumstance for that matter). So killing a teenager is not as serious a crime as killing a graduate student in medicine. And killing that student is not as serious a crime as killing a doctor with a 5 year practice, and so on. And killing unskilled laborers, depending on the job market, is only slightly worse than killing a teenager - after all, how much can you value the actions of an adult man that lead him to work retail for a living? Very interesting indeed.
    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    Judge not lest yea be judged. Or, what comes around goes around. Eventually. Those who help build a world that values human life based on fickle criteria risk getting devalued themselves.
    EK, it's easy to engage this kind of rhetoric with practical arguments - how can we value people accurately? Who are we to judge? Look at what has happened in history when others have gone down this road! Etc. But to do so accepts the basic premise that people can and do differ in intrinsic worth. I think it concedes the argument when in fact I believe that human life has indivisible and innate value that we can't slice and dice based on a given person's path through this world.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  10. #40
    Administrator Dreadnaught's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    A shitty summer job, especially in customer service, thats not intended to be stepping stone in their career. Shit like that will humble kids real quick. Especially if you tie it to car payments/insurance/gas money. Volunteering is good, but you're missing an important aspect of what makes affluence an issue. Seeing how different people from different walks of life treat people they consider lower than themselves in everyday interactions.
    I agree with this the most. Give them a good life, but make it clear what is providing that life and that not everyone has that.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    Oh, but I do. I do treat different people differently, mostly because my responsibility towards different people is unequal. I have a greater responsibility to care for and protect my children than I do that of someone else. Ditto for my community, my nation, etc. But just because I have a greater responsibility towards a subset of humanity doesn't mean that anyone has greater or lesser worth.


    At the margins, individual efforts do, on the balance, improve one's lot. But a huge proportion of success is determined by factors outside your control, most notably the birth lottery.


    I believe that charity is righting a wrong - it's wrong that there are people who do not have the means to access food, or shelter, or healthcare, or any number of other things that are critical to human life. Righting this wrong is not a voluntary act of kindness, but a compelled act of justice, a balancing of what is wrong in the world. I don't mean 'compelled' in the sense that someone's forcing you to do it. Rather, we are compelled by our moral conscience. It is our duty as human beings to care for others.




    EK, it's easy to engage this kind of rhetoric with practical arguments - how can we value people accurately? Who are we to judge? Look at what has happened in history when others have gone down this road! Etc. But to do so accepts the basic premise that people can and do differ in intrinsic worth. I think it concedes the argument when in fact I believe that human life has indivisible and innate value that we can't slice and dice based on a given person's path through this world.
    A different responsibility? That seems a cop out that is absolutely indistinguishable from value or worth. Even absence a responsibility toward others you would still *feel* more if a family member or friend suffered compared to that of a stranger. That implies that person's worth in your life is different. Remove your actions, say you are off at work when something happens. You have no agency but two different people get mugged, you'd instantly feel more regret about the close person being harmed than the far person. This is rational and it makes sense and there is nothing wrong with it.



    Sure, being born in some crappy country like North Korea and there is little that you can do to achieve the life style of even a poor American. I get that. However in your space, in your community, in your city and state individual effort and responsibility matters. One of the most vile and dis-empowering philosophies is the notion that you can't succeed on your own merits. You can't lose weight, you can't get that job, you can't balance a budget because (insert x, y, z, genetics, racism, whatever your reasoning is). If someone believes they can't, than they won't. It is one of the most frustrating parts of liberalism, the notion that people are incapable.

    I'm still not seeing your definition of justice. Something being 'wrong' is still subjective. To use a literary character book Stannis from Game of Thrones is what justice looks like un-tempered by mercy/grace. There is nothing JUST in giving people something they haven't earned. It may be kind, it may be appropriate and it may be loving (or it could be self-serving, acclaim seeking and enabling) but I wouldn't call it justice.

  12. #42
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    I don't think that my children should spend more than half of their waking hours for 40 years just doing something that pays the bills. I want them to use their innate talents, learned skills, and strength of character to make the world a better place. It doesn't need to be paid particularly well - though obviously providing for one's family and being financially responsible is important - but it should be something meaningful. Otherwise, what's the point of the whole thing? They will be given a fantastic starting place - an excellent education, a caring home, relative financial security, etc. - and they shouldn't squander it on something pointless and empty.
    But you don't get to decide what they consider "valuable" or "meaningful" just because you're their parent. That's my point, and why I said be careful what you expect from your kids. If you think finding fulfillment in this world is somehow squandering their borne benefits, if they don't live up to YOUR expectations.....then you may never really know or understand your own children, which would be a real shame.

    What's the point of the whole thing? Having children who are self-sufficient, with a character that means they're reliable, trustworthy, honest, genuine, humble, compassionate and empathetic, even if they're not necessarily changing the world with a high-powered job like you. That should be meaningful enough, but it's a hard thing to learn as a parent.

    I used to feel a disappointment that neither of my sons took the traditional right-out-of-high-school college path. But that says more about how I was raised than the world they were confronting. Now I'm quite proud that they've found their own ways, on their own terms, bucking norms and expectations. There is nothing pointless or empty about that.

  13. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Lewkowski View Post
    A different responsibility? That seems a cop out that is absolutely indistinguishable from value or worth. Even absence a responsibility toward others you would still *feel* more if a family member or friend suffered compared to that of a stranger. That implies that person's worth in your life is different. Remove your actions, say you are off at work when something happens. You have no agency but two different people get mugged, you'd instantly feel more regret about the close person being harmed than the far person. This is rational and it makes sense and there is nothing wrong with it.
    Feeling differently about something doesn't mean that someone's innate value is different; it's just that our personal connection to another person's needs might be greater when compared to someone else. I think there's really no connection between our visceral response to a situation and the innate worth of a person.

    I think that viewing much of life through the lens of responsibility is critical, and far from a cop out. I have a greater responsibility to my children than anyone else does because I'm responsible for bringing them into the world and have been tasked by society with the job of raising them. I similarly have a greater responsibility to my family, my community, and nation than that of others. That doesn't mean I can treat people poorly when I don't have as great of a responsibility towards them, but it certainly means I should make an extra effort to care for the needs of those to whom I have the greatest responsibility.

    Sure, being born in some crappy country like North Korea and there is little that you can do to achieve the life style of even a poor American. I get that. However in your space, in your community, in your city and state individual effort and responsibility matters. One of the most vile and dis-empowering philosophies is the notion that you can't succeed on your own merits. You can't lose weight, you can't get that job, you can't balance a budget because (insert x, y, z, genetics, racism, whatever your reasoning is). If someone believes they can't, than they won't. It is one of the most frustrating parts of liberalism, the notion that people are incapable.
    Actually this is one of the only things in this thread that you've said that I have some sympathy towards. I think it's incredibly easy to infantilize people who are disadvantaged and rob them of agency. That doesn't, however, change the fact that while 10 or 20 or 30 percent of one's path through life is under your control, there's a whole hell of a lot that isn't, from a birth lottery to plain old bad luck. The trick is to realize that while outcomes are not fully under our control, they are partially under our control - working with the hand we've been dealt, it is certainly possible to put the best foot forward. But it's equally important to realize that someone doing everything 'right' from a shitty situation will be far less likely to succeed than someone doing everything right with a big head start.

    I'm still not seeing your definition of justice. Something being 'wrong' is still subjective. To use a literary character book Stannis from Game of Thrones is what justice looks like un-tempered by mercy/grace. There is nothing JUST in giving people something they haven't earned. It may be kind, it may be appropriate and it may be loving (or it could be self-serving, acclaim seeking and enabling) but I wouldn't call it justice.
    There's absolutely justice in helping out those who, through any number of factors, are unable to provide for their basic needs. I believe that because of everyone's innate worth, we are all endowed with dignity and - in a just world - would all have our basic needs met. The world sucks in many ways, however, so it's our responsibility (not our choice) to right that wrong.


    Quote Originally Posted by GGT View Post
    But you don't get to decide what they consider "valuable" or "meaningful" just because you're their parent. That's my point, and why I said be careful what you expect from your kids. If you think finding fulfillment in this world is somehow squandering their borne benefits, if they don't live up to YOUR expectations.....then you may never really know or understand your own children, which would be a real shame.

    What's the point of the whole thing? Having children who are self-sufficient, with a character that means they're reliable, trustworthy, honest, genuine, humble, compassionate and empathetic, even if they're not necessarily changing the world with a high-powered job like you. That should be meaningful enough, but it's a hard thing to learn as a parent.

    I used to feel a disappointment that neither of my sons took the traditional right-out-of-high-school college path. But that says more about how I was raised than the world they were confronting. Now I'm quite proud that they've found their own ways, on their own terms, bucking norms and expectations. There is nothing pointless or empty about that.
    They don't need a 'high powered job'. They don't need to be paid particularly well. What I want them to do, however, is work in a job that makes the world better. There are a whole lot of jobs that don't do that unless you make very broad arguments about nth order effects (e.g. marketing X useless widget gives people jobs and increases economic output and spurs further investment...). There are a whole lot of jobs that are absolutely critical to making the world better, and many of them aren't particularly prestigious or well-paid. But I'd far prefer my kids felt they were doing something meaningful with their lives rather than just marking time.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  14. #44
    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    EK, it's easy to engage this kind of rhetoric with practical arguments - how can we value people accurately? Who are we to judge? Look at what has happened in history when others have gone down this road! Etc. But to do so accepts the basic premise that people can and do differ in intrinsic worth. I think it concedes the argument when in fact I believe that human life has indivisible and innate value that we can't slice and dice based on a given person's path through this world.
    My post was supposed to be sarcastic. I think it's the worst idea in the world for government to try and assign some kind of practical value to people based on whatever criteria and then act on that value for any reason. Whether true or not, the law has to be applied as if all people have the same intrinsic value, are "created equal", to have any hope of actual justice.
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  15. #45
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    Hope is the denial of reality

  16. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    Isn't this obvious? I mean, seriously, who doesn't make their kid do chores? My daughter already 'helps' with laundry, cleanup, and cooking (though I'll admit her help is of limited utility). This is like parenting 101.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  17. #47
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    They don't need a 'high powered job'. They don't need to be paid particularly well. What I want them to do, however, is work in a job that makes the world better. There are a whole lot of jobs that don't do that unless you make very broad arguments about nth order effects (e.g. marketing X useless widget gives people jobs and increases economic output and spurs further investment...). There are a whole lot of jobs that are absolutely critical to making the world better, and many of them aren't particularly prestigious or well-paid. But I'd far prefer my kids felt they were doing something meaningful with their lives rather than just marking time.
    OK, you said to Lewk that responsibility matters most....but then you say "making the world better" is the real goal? Like I said earlier, be careful what you expect from your kids. And be aware that you might be sending them mixed messages, as you've done here, that could undermine your good parental intentions. One of the worst things a child can feel, and internalize, is being a disappointment to their parents.

    What you deem a "meaningful life" is contextual and time-sensitive. Everyone in the world is "just marking time", at any given point, so don't put too much emphasis on the time element. That's harder than it sounds, since our culture is all about delineating increments of time, whether it's for education or work, and judging success that way. Perhaps it's the psychology of comparison that you're struggling with as a parent, in a time when things change so rapidly, it's hard to know how to raise kids who have all the best already?

    (btw, you'd be surprised at the number of privileged children who don't have any chores at home. They end up in college not knowing how to boil an egg.)

  18. #48
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Addendum: I'm just drunk enough to share a perspective that could be seen as advice, with a warning. My family has some "important" people dating back to the 1800's, including a circuit judge, philanthropies and orphanages, even a family-named street and park in Chicago. I grew up admiring all that, but thankfully never felt I had to live up to the expectation that I would do better than that. My grandmother was one of the first women to graduate from Cornell...so it's pretty hard to play the expectations game that way.

    Unfortunately, my family also has a bad record in the relationship department. Not just divorces but "estranged" relationships that pitted brothers against one another, because of disputes over "family" money and estate distribution. Even my mother's side of the family faced the same thing with a second marriage dispute. I have a distinct childhood memory that all these family expectations were really just about the relationship to money (go to college, get a good job, make good money, do better than anyone before you, and yeah, make sure you save the world while you're at it!)....and not at all about the relationships to people (find love, work hard to make it work, all the days of your life).

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