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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)

Vibiana 12-30-20 05:14 PM

What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
Yeah, Vibs has been arguing with her anti government brother again. Something he said to me the other day got me wondering what the Otters would say if we got to chewing on the issue of resource sharing.

Basically my brother said that he has no problem with donations to charity but he doesn't think the government should basically force people to share, and that he doesn't care if someone else doesn't want to because he's only responsible for himself.

My position on this is that we're all born naked. And we all die. So if you think you shouldn't have to ever turn a hand for someone else, sooner or later that will come back to bite you in the ass. Maybe it's just all these months of seeing people bitching about freedom and masks and compulsory vaccination and so forth ... yeah, philosophically maybe not caring about anybody but yourself is understandable but it still makes you a dick who should be set adrift on an ice floe and told "best of luck" so the rest of us don't have to run the risk of being harmed by something you did or didn't do.

I know this is very unstructured but I thought it might make an interesting discussion.

Kurt D 12-30-20 05:28 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
It's the foundation of civilization, baby!

Nick Danger 12-30-20 05:36 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
Have you read The Sea Wolf by Jack London? The captain was Homo Superior, a genius of tremendous physical ability. He didn't think that he should help anyone, and he argued the point persuasively. Then when he was blinded by an illness, nobody helped him. He was last seen fending for himself on a tiny Alaskan island.

If your brother is blinded in a car crash, he won't be as pure as the captain. He'll suddenly want government assistance.

Vibiana 12-30-20 06:04 PM

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

Originally Posted by Nick Danger (Post 13865633)
Have you read The Sea Wolf by Jack London? The captain was Homo Superior, a genius of tremendous physical ability. He didn't think that he should help anyone, and he argued the point persuasively. Then when he was blinded by an illness, nobody helped him. He was last seen fending for himself on a tiny Alaskan island.

If your brother is blinded in a car crash, he won't be as pure as the captain. He'll suddenly want government assistance.

He hasn't refused his Social Security. Says he was forced to contribute to it so it's his. When I pointed out that statistically he will probably collect more than he put in, he just harrumphed. :D

EDITED TO ADD that The Sea Wolf is on my Kindle list now, and much obliged. :)

fujishig 12-30-20 06:40 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
Is he refusing his stimulus money?

In general, it seems to me that people who are into "bootstraps" and "what's mine is mine" have generally done decently for themselves and are either ignorant or willfully ignore all the help they got (or the luck they had) and think they achieved everything all on their own, with an equal playing field that they dominated. At least I've never met someone down on their luck who doubled down on something like that.

zyzzle 12-30-20 08:03 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
I've contributed so much -- far more than my share, because I'm single with NO kids, that at this point I'm jaded. I know I'll never get even a small percentage of it back. What bothers me most about having "to share" is that I can't tell the government *how* I want the money that I "share" spent. Other people spend the money, with very, very loose fingers and very, very inefficiently. It isn't "sharing" that bothers me so much as how foolishly the money is spent and how I have basically no control over who spends it, how, and why. This stimulus check is one example. I'm probably getting nothing, even though I've been furloughed from work since 7/1 without pay, penalized because I choose to be single and live in a state with an egregiously high cost of living. I've "given" away far, far more than $600 this year in taxes. So, why can't I feel like it's only fair to be included in the stimulus check payout? Especially since my 2019 income is way above my 2020 income, and the checks are supposedly mailed out based only on 2019 income level.

And, further, I know that if I'm ever down on my luck, I *do* have savings that I've worked very hard over the years to build up by living frugally and not spending my way into debt (which is the "American Way"). And, when we get down to brass tacks, I'm not counting on my government, have no faith in them, and not "expecting" the government to step in when I might need it, because I know it'll be an epic battle, and probably not worth the "effort" to engage their assistance. But, when I'm still working at 80, because NO Social Security money is left by that time, I'll have "shared" tens (hundreds?) of THOUSANDS of dollars to a cause that I myself won't be able to take a part in, as I was born too late. Others gobbled that money, which I contributed, "shared", up. And that'll chap my hide.

Josh-da-man 12-30-20 09:14 PM

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

Originally Posted by Nick Danger (Post 13865633)
Have you read The Sea Wolf by Jack London? The captain was Homo Superior, a genius of tremendous physical ability. He didn't think that he should help anyone, and he argued the point persuasively. Then when he was blinded by an illness, nobody helped him. He was last seen fending for himself on a tiny Alaskan island.

Jack London is like the anti-Ayn Rand. See, also, The Iron Heel.

Sdallnct 12-31-20 02:54 AM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
I really think this has to do with conservatives being programmed into thinking sharing is socialism.

I remember watching a special on the ACA. They were interviewing people that would be harmed if Trump got rid of the ACA. They felt it better to be harmed then to have “ObamaCare”. I’m sure racism was a factor, but think the bigger issue was it “felt” like communism.


VinVega 12-31-20 06:51 AM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
I think there should be a floor on the poverty level that a society should tolerate. Historically charities have not been enough to raise that floor. People should not be going hungry in America. We have multi-billionaires. People should have a chance at an education so their natural skill can take them as far as they can or want to push it in life. Again, charities historically don't have the resources to impact this area in any meaningful way. I think as a society most people agree with those 2 ideas. I think it was Barney Frank who said, "Government is just the things WE decide to do together." Corruption and mismanagement are crap and need to be fought tooth and nail, but that doesn't mean you should abandon the goals above.

Bandoman 12-31-20 07:59 AM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
People who scream about individual rights but have no concept of individual/social responsibility really bother me. That is all.

Pharoh 12-31-20 08:27 AM

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

Originally Posted by Kurt D (Post 13865626)
It's the foundation of civilization, baby!


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.

JackoOnHisBacko 12-31-20 09:16 AM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
Did he go to public school? Did his kids?
Does he drive on publicly-funded roads, or has he privately funded his own road system that only he gets to use?
Would he call the fire department if his house caught on fire, or does he pay his own private fire-fighting company for protection?

Nick Danger 12-31-20 10:06 AM

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

Originally Posted by JackoOnHisBacko (Post 13865888)
Did he go to public school? Did his kids?
Does he drive on publicly-funded roads, or has he privately funded his own road system that only he gets to use?
Would he call the fire department if his house caught on fire, or does he pay his own private fire-fighting company for protection?

That's different. That's paying taxes into a system that returns benefits to him.

Should he be required to pay taxes that return no tangible benefit to him at all? Medical care for the indigent, food stamps for unwed mothers, and foreign aid to impoverished countries, all help other people at his expense, and he doesn't get anything for it. He worked for what he has. Should that be taken away and be given to someone who has never had a job?

VinVega 12-31-20 10:08 AM

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.

Roman society was hindered by the lack of a middle class. You had the uber wealthy who offered patronage to the poor who were citizens and a vast majority of the population was dirt poor or slaves. Patronage continued under feudalism in a way, but surfs actually had it better than the poor in Roman times. One of the major problems with the Roman economy was the rich avoiding paying taxes. Kind of like today.

Nick Danger 12-31-20 10:09 AM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
I know people who don't have the emotional stability or the physical capability to maintain a job. I'm okay with their being supported by tax dollars.

JackoOnHisBacko 12-31-20 10:29 AM

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

Originally Posted by Nick Danger (Post 13865921)
That's different. That's paying taxes into a system that returns benefits to him.

Should he be required to pay taxes that return no tangible benefit to him at all? Medical care for the indigent, food stamps for unwed mothers, and foreign aid to impoverished countries, all help other people at his expense, and he doesn't get anything for it. He worked for what he has. Should that be taken away and be given to someone who has never had a job?

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.

coli 12-31-20 10:36 AM

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.

Location, Location, Location. You can move to another town that has cheaper Property Taxes. You can move to another state with MUCH cheaper property taxes. I know many of my friends parents (who don't have any kids in the system anymore) stay in that town because it's more affluent and has less crime. They say that is the benefit to paying higher taxes. On the other hand, I know many people who retire and move to states with lower property taxes that cater to retired people. That's why we have 50 states (along with an Electoral College which many people hate), as they are all competing for each person on a better place to live.

Bandoman 12-31-20 11:18 AM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
I don't mind paying taxes for our excellent school system, even though my kids have all graduated, because a better educated population benefits us all. So does a fed and housed population.

Mark_vdH 12-31-20 11:43 AM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
I start by a quote about intellectual property and property:


It has been pretended by some, (and in England especially,) that inventors have a natural and exclusive right to their inventions, and not merely for their own lives, but inheritable to their heirs. But while it is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from nature at all, it would be singular to admit a natural and even an hereditary right to inventors. It is agreed by those who have seriously considered the subject, that no individual has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land, for instance. By an universal law, indeed, whatever, whether fixed or movable, belongs to all men equally and in common, is the property for the moment of him who occupies it; but when he relinquishes the occupation, the property goes with it. Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society. It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property.
If I would say this, I would probably be considerd to be a communist. Property is presently considered to be an universal and absolute right. But the quote is not by Marx or Mao, but by Thomas Jefferson.

Capitalism and private property are great because they cause the greatest value for society. However, when you really think about it, it is almost crazy to think that you, by natural right. really own an acre of land. We have invented this system (i.a.) because with property, people can add value to the property by building something on the land, making it worthwile to protect the land.

However, it is not absolute. If I can save a life by destroying a window or by tresspassing on some piece of land, I am perfectly entitled to do so. When we as society determine that land could be important for society, we can expropriate the land.

The idea that the result of a capitalist society is some sort of "just" result that should never be questioned, is in my opinion laughable. I believe in the idea that society, as such, is being upheld by a social contract. Seen from afar, the idea of individual property (especially of a piece of the earth) really is nonsense, but as long as the results are acceptable and just for the whole of society, we are able to uphold and (rightfully) enforce the capitalist system.

Because of the above, the government is not stealing from you when they are taxing you. Resources should be shared to a certain extent.

Sdallnct 12-31-20 11:57 AM

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

Originally Posted by Bandoman (Post 13865988)
I don't mind paying taxes for our excellent school system, even though my kids have all graduated, because a better educated population benefits us all. So does a fed and housed population.

Ahh...you have hit on another thing I’ve noticed about “some” conservatives. As mentioned, many think any help to others is a step towards socialism. I’ve also noticed a lack of interest of truly moving the country forward.

Ive had arguments about sending people to the moon or switching to EV’s. These things are obviously done to improve society, but that some (conservatives) don’t agree with.

You would think everyone would be for single payer or some sort of Universal health care. This would make society healthier, and cost less. But some one want people to be better that can afford it.

Pharoh 12-31-20 12:34 PM

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

Originally Posted by Mark_vdH (Post 13866004)
I start by a quote about intellectual property and property:



If I would say this, I would probably be considerd to be a communist. Property is presently considered to be an universal and absolute right. But the quote is not by Marx or Mao, but by Thomas Jefferson.

Capitalism and private property are great because they cause the greatest value for society. However, when you really think about it, it is almost crazy to think that you, by natural right. really own an acre of land. We have invented this system (i.a.) because with property, people can add value to the property by building something on the land, making it worthwile to protect the land.

However, it is not absolute. If I can save a life by destroying a window or by tresspassing on some piece of land, I am perfectly entitled to do so. When we as society determine that land could be important for society, we can expropriate the land.

The idea that the result of a capitalist society is some sort of "just" result that should never be questioned, is in my opinion laughable. I believe in the idea that society, as such, is being upheld by a social contract. Seen from afar, the idea of individual property (especially of a piece of the earth) really is nonsense, but as long as the results are acceptable and just for the whole of society, we are able to uphold and (rightfully) enforce the capitalist system.

Because of the above, the government is not stealing from you when they are taxing you. Resources should be shared to a certain extent.


To what extent though?

Nick Danger 12-31-20 12:56 PM

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

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

That's the rub, isn't it?
Should the government nationalize important industries for the benefit of the country? Aramco seems to be doing well for Saudi Arabians.
Do squatters have the right to move into unoccupied buildings and use them as they wish? It's at least winked at in a lot of countries.
Should all roads and bridges be private and charge tolls paid to the property owner? That's how railroads work in the US.

maxfisher 12-31-20 01:20 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.

Viewed strictly in economic terms, the people with 3-5 kids are investing far more than you in the continued health and growth of society, yet you will reap as much benefit from the next generation as they do. But typically, when people make the type of argument you’re making, it’s not about the economics of it.

mapasu 12-31-20 01:34 PM

Re: What is our obligation to share resources with society?
 
Scarcity of resources and theoretically limitless wants, the ever wondering question of balance. The problem I see is when the government incorporates limitless wants to their policy, we all get screwed to meet this demand. Why, because the government does not generate wealth, they spend it. We pay a shitload of taxes already and if the government is not using such funds to support social welfare, where is the money going and why are we still being asked to be good samaritans? Like I've heard in this forum, skip a couple of bombers and help the poor for a change.

Vibiana 12-31-20 01:48 PM

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

Originally Posted by mapasu (Post 13866068)
Scarcity of resources and theoretically limitless wants, the ever wondering question of balance. The problem I see is when the government incorporates limitless wants to their policy, we all get screwed to meet this demand. Why, because the government does not generate wealth, they spend it. We pay a shitload of taxes already and if the government is not using such funds to support social welfare, where is the money going and why are we still being asked to be good samaritans? Like I've heard in this forum, skip a couple of bombers and help the poor for a change.

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.

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.


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