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-   -   What is our obligation to share resources with society? (https://forum.dvdtalk.com/religion-politics-world-events/652100-what-our-obligation-share-resources-society.html)

Mark_vdH 12-31-20 02:05 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by Pharoh (Post 13866039)
To what extent though?

That's a political question and should be answered through democracy. I'm only saying that it is wrong to dismiss it out of hand, as some device to stop any discussion.

But you could for instance argue it from a utilistic standpoint. Society should generate the highest total utility and err (because utility is not quantifiable) on the side of property. Right now, we know that total utility in society would rise when wealth is redistributed somewhat.

See it like this. I have no ill feelings towards Bill Gates. I think he has provided great things and that he is also of good intent, but it basically makes no sense for someone to accumulate so much money. In time, it may even become dangerous for someone to have (today's equivalent of) 100 billion dollars: an individual with a that much resources money could produce a mass destruction device when technology gets better. But even besides that, Bill Gates would still maintain 99% of his utility when he has just 1 billion dollars, while the lives of millions of people could improve significantly with 99 billion dollars.

Again, I don't say this as some sort of socialistic notion. It's (in my view) perfectly in line with the (original) idea and purpose of capitalism. To quote a (or the) 'founding father' of capitalism Adam Smith:


Originally Posted by Adam Smith
Surely no society can be flourishing and happy if most of its members are poor and miserable

It must be the goal of any economic/politcal system to generate the most wealth/utility for the greatest amount of people.

mapasu 12-31-20 02:06 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by Vibiana (Post 13866078)
I agree with you on that. When the taxes I pay are used to help people in need, I'm cool with it. When they're used as another coat of lacquer on our bloated defense inventory, I'm not.

And while I don't necessarily agree that we pay a "shitload" of taxes--we pay far less than people in other countries with a better socialized benefit system--I think the fact that if you have enough money you can find loopholes to avoid paying taxes, thereby shifting the burden onto those of lesser means, is criminal.

I think we pay a lot of taxes, do not forget to include income, federal, state, property, gas, retail, etc.

dork 12-31-20 02:32 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by Mark_vdH (Post 13866088)
See it like this. I have no ill feelings towards Bill Gates. I think he has provided great things and that he is also of good intent, but it basically makes no sense for someone to accumulate so much money. In time, it may even become dangerous for someone to have (today's equivalent of) 100 billion dollars: an individual with a that much resources money could produce a mass destruction device when technology gets better. But even besides that, Bill Gates would still maintain 99% of his utility when he has just 1 billion dollars, while the lives of millions of people could improve significantly with 99 billion dollars.

Gates is a bad example, since he has committed to donating most of his fortune to charity.

Also, the problem with the utilitarian argument is the "society" part of this thread. I can pay a few more thousands in taxes so that, what? Some local playground gets a new see-saw? A new traffic light gets put in? Or I can donate the same amount of money to the Against Malaria Foundation to save a life in sub-Saharan Africa. What's the utilitarian moral argument for the former? (You can't say that if my money is combined with that of millions of others it can go a lot farther than small local improvements -- the same multiplier effect would work for lives saved with a well-chosen foreign donation.)

Kurt D 12-31-20 06:47 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by Pharoh (Post 13865869)
Curious what you mean by this? And I don't mean that in a, "I disagree with you" manner.

As we know it, the modern idea of social welfare began in the 20th century and not the foundations of civilisation. More broadly, the idea goes to 1600(1) England, but utilized far more private and parochial institutions.

Greco-Roman history shows a private approach, generally based on voluntary donations. Yes, there were the Gracchian reforms, but look what happened to them. After the fall of these societies, it was almost solely the responsibility of the Church.

I do not know enough about pre-Greco-Roman societies to adequately discuss. There were certainly elements of social justice in Mesopotamian society, but social welfare, particularly non-religious/private variety?

Curious to learn more.


Going more for the societal baseline aspect; living in close-knit groups, going out hunting mammoths to bring back to the tribe, collective work to survive.

JasonF 12-31-20 07:09 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by Pharoh (Post 13865869)
Curious what you mean by this? And I don't mean that in a, "I disagree with you" manner.

As we know it, the modern idea of social welfare began in the 20th century and not the foundations of civilisation. More broadly, the idea goes to 1600(1) England, but utilized far more private and parochial institutions.

Greco-Roman history shows a private approach, generally based on voluntary donations. Yes, there were the Gracchian reforms, but look what happened to them. After the fall of these societies, it was almost solely the responsibility of the Church.

I do not know enough about pre-Greco-Roman societies to adequately discuss. There were certainly elements of social justice in Mesopotamian society, but social welfare, particularly non-religious/private variety?

Curious to learn more.

I think you're conflating government with society. Many things that were previously done by social pressure or religious institutions are today done by secular government precisely because secular government is inclusive of all in a way that comports with our modern definition of what a society is (or should be). If we viewed American society as only consisting of churchgoers (for example), we'd probably be a lot more comfortable leaving many of government's redistributive functions to the church. Quite frankly, I think the definition of who is part of our society implicitly (and, increasingly, explicitly) drives people's opinions on the merit of social welfare programs.

zyzzle 12-31-20 07:38 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by JackoOnHisBacko (Post 13865938)
Most of us work for what we have. Should I, who has no children, be forced to pay school taxes to educate other people's kids? I pay the same amount of school taxes as my neighbors, who may have 3-5 kids in the public school system. I don't get any benefit from that.

Same -- and I'm in the educational field, a kind of public servant who's teaching (albeit at the university level) who's paying high local school taxes to educate others' children, even though I myself teach and have NO children! I support education wholeheatedly, otherwise I wouldn't be in that profession, but why the need to pay thousands in school taxes each year, if I never benefit? So, our hand is being "forced" into the idea the having kids, procreating, is SOLELY beneficial, and not at all detrimental. The local indigents who immigrated illegally, pop out a kid a year, are supported by my tax dollars, and it doesn't seem fair or right. It's been going on for 50+ years, though, and won't stop until Calif. falls into the ocean or becomes an uninhabitable desert wasteland. Why not use some of my tax dollars to PAY teachers more and tell some of those indigents TOUGH luck, you're cut off after 2 kids, period, no more free handouts?

Draven 12-31-20 07:48 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
Because an educated society benefits all people.

The current political environment proves that we need MORE education, not less.

Sdallnct 01-01-21 02:57 AM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by Draven (Post 13866291)
Because an educated society benefits all people.

The current political environment proves that we need MORE education, not less.

This.

Capitalism is excellent. But only a fool would suggest is excellent for all things.

We should all want things that help all. But sadly that is not the case.

Was actually watching a short documentary on when there was a significant amount of free college. It spurred (in part) a very strong middle class.

maxfisher 01-01-21 06:51 AM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
I really wish the ‘why should my taxes pay for kids who aren’t mine’ people could spend a day in a hypothetical future where either 95% of people decided to not have kids or we collectively just kind of stopped giving a shit about education. I don’t think they’d much care for their golden years.

As for Vib’s original post, we’re taught from birth to believe the myth that by making the right choices and working hard, we can achieve almost anything. Or, more accurately, we’re taught that this is as applicable to the individual as it is to humankind collectively. Our society also largely uses financial wealth, or at least the appearance of it, as a/the prime metric for measuring success. Combined, these beliefs result in some rather nonsensical outcomes.

One of the negative results is a widespread belief that the poor generally bear most of the responsibility for their plight. Therefore providing them with shelter, food, medical care or, gasp, some creature comforts is viewed as strictly charitable. That is, they’re not seen to be receiving things that all people are entitled to as members of our society, but rather as being gifted something of which they are undeserving. People like Vib’s brother often support charities to assist the poor, but bristle at the notion of being ‘forced’ to help people who don’t deserve it. They want to view these activities as coming from some exceptional goodness within themselves rather than simple fulfillment of an obligation.

This is something the next generation is going to be forced to deal with in a way that’s been avoided historically. The majority of jobs today are going to go the way of agriculture or manufacturing jobs in the past. And the direction of things isn’t going to automatically create a bunch of new jobs the way those previous seismic shifts did. Capitalism as it currently exists in the US has essentially jumped off a bridge and we’re just waiting to hit the ground.

Vibiana 01-01-21 07:30 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by maxfisher (Post 13866449)
I really wish the ‘why should my taxes pay for kids who aren’t mine’ people could spend a day in a hypothetical future where either 95% of people decided to not have kids or we collectively just kind of stopped giving a shit about education. I don’t think they’d much care for their golden years.

As for Vib’s original post, we’re taught from birth to believe the myth that by making the right choices and working hard, we can achieve almost anything. Or, more accurately, we’re taught that this is as applicable to the individual as it is to humankind collectively. Our society also largely uses financial wealth, or at least the appearance of it, as a/the prime metric for measuring success. Combined, these beliefs result in some rather nonsensical outcomes.

One of the negative results is a widespread belief that the poor generally bear most of the responsibility for their plight. Therefore providing them with shelter, food, medical care or, gasp, some creature comforts is viewed as strictly charitable. That is, they’re not seen to be receiving things that all people are entitled to as members of our society, but rather as being gifted something of which they are undeserving. People like Vib’s brother often support charities to assist the poor, but bristle at the notion of being ‘forced’ to help people who don’t deserve it. They want to view these activities as coming from some exceptional goodness within themselves rather than simple fulfillment of an obligation.

This is something the next generation is going to be forced to deal with in a way that’s been avoided historically. The majority of jobs today are going to go the way of agriculture or manufacturing jobs in the past. And the direction of things isn’t going to automatically create a bunch of new jobs the way those previous seismic shifts did. Capitalism as it currently exists in the US has essentially jumped off a bridge and we’re just waiting to hit the ground.

I really appreciate this post.

story 01-02-21 11:21 AM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
I believe people are fundamentally good at their core. I also believe there are many veils and systems of deceit and corruption in the world that lead to selfishness, greed, and even outright contempt for other people. It is work to pull back those veils and do the right thing. It is work to do it well and consistently. And none of us are perfect. We may get some right some of the time but not always. But we keep trying. It takes real work to get there. The worst thing these veils prevent is sharing.

I once had a midterm paper that was about, essentially, systematic interconnectedness. How that which is bigger than ourselves is connected to and through us and how we connect with one another. I'd written a good paper, used lecture and reading notes, even something from the recommended reading list. I was pretty proud of it. This was one of those classes where you write a midterm based on the first half of the class, get feedback, then write the final by expanding and/or rewriting the midterm based on content from the second half of the class. I figured as long as I kept good notes the final would be a breeze like the midterm was. When I got the paper back, the professor had made lots of positive marks. Underlines, stars, hand-written notes, so I knew I was in good shape. I get to the last page, and the professor has a few hand-written sentences encouraging me in my work and then a signature. Below all of that, though, is one final sentence: "What about sharing?"

I paged through my paper. Not one word about sharing. I open it on my computer and do a search, nothing. Then I search through my class notes and there it is, there it is. I look in my sources, there it is, there it is. I had missed such a crucial piece of the class material and it had zero place in my midterm. I was surprised I didn't address it. Then I reflected. I thought about what do I think about sharing. It occurred to me that in the moment, I'm fairly good at sharing. Systemically, like as part of how I live my everyday life, my outlook and perspective, I could do much better. Thankfully for me, the second half of the class had a lot more material on that, or maybe I noticed it more, but I incorporated sharing in the final paper and when I got it back, the professor noticed my shift and said I nailed it on paper, now go and do likewise.

"What about sharing?" I think about that question every day since that class. Did I share before? Sure. Do I share now and more generously and with more excitement? Yes. Do I still have a long way to go? Absolutely. It's the journey, not the destination, so I keep at it. I have to work to keep it in front of me and I think a lot of people do. I have said here before that I honestly roll my eyes when someone says, "Just be a good person," like it's that simple. It is not. The veils of this world disrupt the "just" part so often we don't even notice it, sometimes (let alone the times we know and ignore it, hoping things will just change). We are fundamentally good. But reminding ourselves of that is an everyday conversation. And carrying out that good is an everyday activity.

What about sharing? We are fully obligated. How we perceive and treat the most vulnerable says everything about us. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. ...Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me. Matthew 25:31-46 is critical, to me, to pierce the veil and live into our goodness.

VinVega 01-02-21 11:44 AM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
Great post story. Thanks for sharing. We always have to check ourselves to see if we are holding to the ideals we talk about. Self awareness and self assessment are difficult skills to master.

fujishig 01-02-21 01:09 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by maxfisher (Post 13866449)
I really wish the ‘why should my taxes pay for kids who aren’t mine’ people could spend a day in a hypothetical future where either 95% of people decided to not have kids or we collectively just kind of stopped giving a shit about education. I don’t think they’d much care for their golden years.

As for Vib’s original post, we’re taught from birth to believe the myth that by making the right choices and working hard, we can achieve almost anything. Or, more accurately, we’re taught that this is as applicable to the individual as it is to humankind collectively. Our society also largely uses financial wealth, or at least the appearance of it, as a/the prime metric for measuring success. Combined, these beliefs result in some rather nonsensical outcomes.

One of the negative results is a widespread belief that the poor generally bear most of the responsibility for their plight. Therefore providing them with shelter, food, medical care or, gasp, some creature comforts is viewed as strictly charitable. That is, they’re not seen to be receiving things that all people are entitled to as members of our society, but rather as being gifted something of which they are undeserving. People like Vib’s brother often support charities to assist the poor, but bristle at the notion of being ‘forced’ to help people who don’t deserve it. They want to view these activities as coming from some exceptional goodness within themselves rather than simple fulfillment of an obligation.

This is something the next generation is going to be forced to deal with in a way that’s been avoided historically. The majority of jobs today are going to go the way of agriculture or manufacturing jobs in the past. And the direction of things isn’t going to automatically create a bunch of new jobs the way those previous seismic shifts did. Capitalism as it currently exists in the US has essentially jumped off a bridge and we’re just waiting to hit the ground.

We simultaneously bristle at unions who protect jobs that should not be protected and get mad at corporations for cutting jobs when they are able to. We either force companies to keep outdated jobs or we realize that there eventually just isn't going to be enough work to sustain a living wage at the cost we are willing to pay for, which means at least contemplating some kind of "hand out."

Again, most of us who don't think enough about sharing are ignorant of how much has been shared with us. I don't know everyone's life story here, but I really doubt anyone here really pulled themselves up from poverty by their own bootstraps all by themselves. Yet it is easy to look down on others and assume that laziness, greed, whatever is what held them back and that they are getting what they deserve. The instant you're born, you had some advantages... for most of us just the fact that we were born in a 1st world country was gigantic. Whether you believe in the divine or not, there's no way someone can claim that they "earned" that, or their decent health, their lack of deformity, whatever. The more humble we are about how we got there, the less we consider it something we earned all by ourselves, the more willing, I think, we are to share with those around us.

Now how far does that go? That's the question. We have railed against socialism so long in this country that it will always be a no-no, I think. Even a hint of it is enough to turn elections.

Mark_vdH 01-02-21 03:52 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by dork (Post 13866107)
Gates is a bad example, since he has committed to donating most of his fortune to charity.

That actually makes it a great example instead of just a good one.

The implicit assertion that I get from your statement is that it is somehow equivalent for society to tax a person a t=0, and for a person to pledge to donate something at a later date. If that is what you assert, you could not be further from the truth.

On the contrary, if a person basically states that he will not use most of his funds for his/her own well being, it's a sign you should have taxed this person more during the accumulation of his wealth.


Also, the problem with the utilitarian argument is the "society" part of this thread. I can pay a few more thousands in taxes so that, what? Some local playground gets a new see-saw? A new traffic light gets put in? Or I can donate the same amount of money to the Against Malaria Foundation to save a life in sub-Saharan Africa. What's the utilitarian moral argument for the former? (You can't say that if my money is combined with that of millions of others it can go a lot farther than small local improvements -- the same multiplier effect would work for lives saved with a well-chosen foreign donation.)
It's not about your money. It's about how much society "needs" to function as a liberal, democratic society where all persons are created equal and have equal opportunities.

If we would agree that access (whether it's free or through some other way) to education and/or health care is part of that society, we will need a way to fund it. The strongest shoulders carry the heaviest burden. That's all there is to it. No need to trivialize it to funding "see-saws" or the "Against Malaria Foundation". A truly free society has an economic price, and someone has to pay for it. I'm glad to pay my share, especially as the capitalistic system is at its core just a device within society to attain certain goals.

maxfisher 01-02-21 08:57 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
I appreciate story’s post, but believe the basic premise is flawed and incomplete. People are basically good to those with whom they identify. We tend to default to indifference or hostility to those who we view as ‘other’. I think that’s an unfortunate remnant of our evolution. Note that I’m not saying it’s an excuse to behave poorly toward others, but merely an acknowledgement that it generally requires a conscious and thoughtful choice, as opposed to something that just springs from us naturally at birth.

The fact that we’re wired this way goes a long way in explaining a whole host of societal problems, from persistent racism to apathy towards the impoverished or homeless to hyper partisanship and so on. It’s something that can be hijacked by those like our outgoing embarrassment of a president, who essentially excels at nothing except mainlining bile into the lizard brains of many Americans.

It’s one of the uglier truths of human nature, though obviously it varies from individual to individual, just like all aspects of our nature/personalities/identities. I think it’s important to recognize it if we want to collectively overcome it, or at least minimize or eliminate the harm that it causes. I’d venture most people can easily think of examples of it in action, via people they know who treat their friends and family with incredible love and selflessness, but hold abhorrent views about some other group, whether based on race, ethnicity, religion, economic standing, political views, etc.

Nick Danger 01-03-21 09:02 AM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
I don't think that people necessarily treat those who look like them any better. Else, why would we need police and prisons? A lot of crime is against neighbors.

Story seems to be arguing that people are created good, but there is a malign external influence that causes problems. Is that correct? I disagree with that, too.

I think that, just as some people are smarter than others, some people are nicer than others. Some people are generous. Other people are takers. Takers will take advantage of generous people and they will take advantage of society's benefits. Society needs to protect itself from their depredations.

To return to the topic, takers will use the services of roads, schools, police, and firefighters without paying a cent for them. So taxes need to be enforced to insure that they pay their share.

JasonF 01-03-21 12:45 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by Nick Danger (Post 13867181)
To return to the topic, takers will use the services of roads, schools, police, and firefighters without paying a cent for them. So taxes need to be enforced to insure that they pay their share.

I think most people agree that they should pay for the services they use. The question is, do we want to allow those who are poor to use the roads, schools, police, and firefighters, and -- even more so -- do we want to allow those who are poor to have a roof over their head and food in their bellies even if they can't afford those things on their own?

dork 01-03-21 06:22 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by Mark_vdH (Post 13867012)
The implicit assertion that I get from your statement is that it is somehow equivalent for society to tax a person a t=0, and for a person to pledge to donate something at a later date. If that is what you assert, you could not be further from the truth.

No, that's not something I believe. On the other hand, raising taxes to extract an equivalent amount from Gates (and presumably, everyone else in the same income bracket) would have many knock-on effects that need to be factored in. We're seeing a small example of that now with tech firms moving to Texas from Silicon Valley, citing taxes as one of the main reasons. If we increase federal tax rates, will some of them move overseas instead? Some surely will; how many would make the trade-off acceptable is, I think, a difficult question. (I also think the "Roll back the top marginal tax rate to 1950s/60s/70s levels" argument is a tough sell for reasons of human psychology.)

Originally Posted by Mark_vdH (Post 13867012)
If we would agree that access (whether it's free or through some other way) to education and/or health care is part of that society, we will need a way to fund it. The strongest shoulders carry the heaviest burden. That's all there is to it. No need to trivialize it to funding "see-saws" or the "Against Malaria Foundation". A truly free society has an economic price, and someone has to pay for it. I'm glad to pay my share, especially as the capitalistic system is at its core just a device within society to attain certain goals.

That's all well and good, but I thought you were arguing from utilitarianism. In which case, it's perfectly relevant to point out that differences in marginal utility could lead one to fund societies other than one's own.

Also, everyone should donate to the Against Malaria Foundation.

Mark_vdH 01-03-21 06:41 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by dork (Post 13867496)
No, that's not something I believe. On the other hand, raising taxes to extract an equivalent amount from Gates (and presumably, everyone else in the same income bracket) would have many knock-on effects that need to be factored in. We're seeing a small example of that now with tech firms moving to Texas from Silicon Valley, citing taxes as one of the main reasons. If we increase federal tax rates, will some of them move overseas instead? Some surely will; how many would make the trade-off acceptable is, I think, a difficult question. (I also think the "Roll back the top marginal tax rate to 1950s/60s/70s levels" argument is a tough sell for reasons of human psychology.)

That is (of course) a good practical point, but it doesn't address the (more or less) philosophical question at hand. For instance, if reasonable people would agree on the principle, countries and states could have treaties, having some sort of bandwith to work with.

Your practical argument boils down to a rat race to the bottom. States and countries would need to have lower taxes than their neighbours constantly. It's of course true to a certain extent: there cannot be too much difference in taxes between to 'competing' states or countries. But that does not mean that someone cannot accept the moral obligation as true, in order to more universally strive for a more balanced distribution of resources.


That's all well and good, but I thought you were arguing from utilitarianism. In which case, it's perfectly relevant to point out that differences in marginal utility could lead one to fund societies other than one's own.

Also, everyone should donate to the Against Malaria Foundation.
I am indeed arguing it from societal utilitarianism. What dollar can be taken away at the least damage done to the whole of society, and what can be done with that dollar to generate the maximum amount of additional utility to the whole of society?

Free markets are pretty awesome at attaining (Pareto) efficiency, but free market theory does not argue against redistributing some of that result after the (efficient) outcome.

rw2516 01-04-21 06:36 AM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
Can it be argued that the wealthier you are, the more you benefit from taxes, so should pay more. Do roads paid with tax dollars enhance the life of a person who can afford to drive a Porshe or Mercedes on them, opposed to person who drives a beat up Volkswagon. In other words, many of the things that tax dollars pay for make being wealthy more enjoyable, and the wealthy don't have the ability to do these things themselves, they need the government to do them because of the scale involved. The government spends money on clean air. Everybody gets to enjoy the clean air. Does the person enjoying clean air from the balcony of their Malibu beach house get greater benefit than person who can only afford studio apartment. If they are getting greater benefit should they pay more.

Sacrifice. A wealthy person pays $1M in taxes. A lower income person pays $500. The person paying the $500 needs the money more than the weathy person needs the $1M. The lower income person is making a greater sacrifice for the good of society. When poor people donate to charity is it a greater good than rich people donating to charity? The old proverb, or whatever, "He only gave a dollar but it was everything he had."

fujishig 01-04-21 09:38 AM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by rw2516 (Post 13867733)
Can it be argued that the wealthier you are, the more you benefit from taxes, so should pay more. Do roads paid with tax dollars enhance the life of a person who can afford to drive a Porshe or Mercedes on them, opposed to person who drives a beat up Volkswagon. In other words, many of the things that tax dollars pay for make being wealthy more enjoyable, and the wealthy don't have the ability to do these things themselves, they need the government to do them because of the scale involved. The government spends money on clean air. Everybody gets to enjoy the clean air. Does the person enjoying clean air from the balcony of their Malibu beach house get greater benefit than person who can only afford studio apartment. If they are getting greater benefit should they pay more.

Sacrifice. A wealthy person pays $1M in taxes. A lower income person pays $500. The person paying the $500 needs the money more than the weathy person needs the $1M. The lower income person is making a greater sacrifice for the good of society. When poor people donate to charity is it a greater good than rich people donating to charity? The old proverb, or whatever, "He only gave a dollar but it was everything he had."

Roads? Why am I paying for roads when I have a private helicopter to take me around? Or public schools when my kid go only to the best private schools? Or food stamps when I buy my own food?

story 01-04-21 12:24 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by maxfisher (Post 13867102)
I appreciate story’s post, but believe the basic premise is flawed and incomplete. People are basically good to those with whom they identify. We tend to default to indifference or hostility to those who we view as ‘other’. I think that’s an unfortunate remnant of our evolution. Note that I’m not saying it’s an excuse to behave poorly toward others, but merely an acknowledgement that it generally requires a conscious and thoughtful choice, as opposed to something that just springs from us naturally at birth.

The fact that we’re wired this way goes a long way in explaining a whole host of societal problems, from persistent racism to apathy towards the impoverished or homeless to hyper partisanship and so on. It’s something that can be hijacked by those like our outgoing embarrassment of a president, who essentially excels at nothing except mainlining bile into the lizard brains of many Americans.

It’s one of the uglier truths of human nature, though obviously it varies from individual to individual, just like all aspects of our nature/personalities/identities. I think it’s important to recognize it if we want to collectively overcome it, or at least minimize or eliminate the harm that it causes. I’d venture most people can easily think of examples of it in action, via people they know who treat their friends and family with incredible love and selflessness, but hold abhorrent views about some other group, whether based on race, ethnicity, religion, economic standing, political views, etc.

I'm maxfisher, but I 100% disagree. Your take is really Hobbesian and that's just not where I'm at on any of this. We are not hardwired to be indifferent or hostile and we definitely didn't evolve that way. When we were nomadic we were peaceful, egalitarian, and in solidarity. When we began to settle and build "civilization," we started on war, etc. Our beautiful truth of human nature is we are good. There are many things that pull us away from good, so we have to make the effort to live into the good we are made to be.


Originally Posted by Nick Danger (Post 13867181)
Story seems to be arguing that people are created good, but there is a malign external influence that causes problems. Is that correct? I disagree with that, too.

I don't see a "malign external influence," like the devil or anything like that. I think we stumble into the trappings of evil but we are good people in the first place. Much of evil is disguised as good, hence my argument there are veils that prevent us from perceiving good correctly all the time. If we just say evil is human nature, that's a simplistic way of not having to deal with evil and why carry out resistance in the first place?

We are made good and can do evil but choose to live into our identity as good. This is the key to interconnected humanity. We are not made evil and can do good. What a backward philosophy on humanity that leads nowhere but down.

Draven 01-04-21 12:37 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
I think "good" and "evil" are too nebulous and biblical. I think people are inherently selfish - not to be "evil", but for survival. You have to learn to share your toys, you have to learn to not take things from other people.

Those who don't learn those lessons well, or learn that they have something like physical or mental attributes that make it easy for them to dominate other people tend to do so. And as we've found out during the pandemic, it's only the thin veneer of society that covers a lot of that up. I have seen people who I would have described as "good" in 2019 do incredible selfish, potentially dangerous and hurtful things during this trying time.

dork 01-04-21 02:47 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by story (Post 13867910)
When we were nomadic we were peaceful, egalitarian, and in solidarity.

I think there's a heap of evidence now that Rousseau was wrong. Victims of violence have been found in both individual and mass graves. Cave paintings show tribal skirmishes. Chimpanzees go to war against each other....

Bandoman 01-04-21 03:03 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 

Originally Posted by dork (Post 13867991)
I think there's a heap of evidence now that Rousseau was wrong. Victims of violence have been found in both individual and mass graves. Cave paintings show tribal skirmishes. Chimpanzees go to war against each other....

I'll think you'll find the advent of war was shortly after the invention of the tuna club sandwich. Just sayin'.


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