[p2p-research] [tt] The rich...no longer getting richer?

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Aug 22 22:19:08 CEST 2009

Randall wrote:
>> From: "Paul D. Fernhout" <pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com>
>> Date: Fri, 21 Aug 2009 20:57:02 -0400
>> To: Peer-To-Peer Research List <p2presearch at listcultures.org>
>> Subject: Re: [p2p-research] The rich...no longer getting richer?
>> User-Agent: Thunderbird (Macintosh/20090812)
>>   "[p2p-research] Basic income from a millionaire's perspective?"
>> http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-August/003949.html 
>> """
>> The fact is, the basic income is already about what most millionaires 
>> might
>> be earning off their investments after inflation (assuming they have
>> anything left after the recent market crash). So, in a way, this proposal
>> makes everyone in the USA into effective millionaires (or close to 
>> it). So,
>> that means that millionaires have a lot more potential friends in the 
>> local
>> neighborhood with a millionaire-level of spare time to do fun things with
>> during the day. So, being a millionaire will be a much less lonely 
>> thing in
>> our society. And should a millionaire have children, the millionaire 
>> knows,
>> no matter how irresponsible with money their kid might be, that child 
>> will
>> always be a millionaire, in terms of a basic income.
> Greed is a disease.   There exists among us a certain personality type 
> whose sole desire is the accumulation of assets, for whom there is no 
> greater good than amassing more wealth.  Recall the line in _Citizen 
> Kane_ to the effect that "It's not hard to make a lot of money, if ALL 
> YOU WANT is to make a lot of money" (emphasis added).
> To a person who already is a billionaire - of what use is another 
> million dollars?  And yet the type person who becomes wealthy will move 
> mountains in order to increase his wealth.  George Soros was a 
> billionaire many times over already, and yet he purposely destroyed the 
> economy of Thailand, causing incalculable suffering to millions of 
> people he'd never met, in order to make more millions to toss on the pile.
> And then he gave the money away, to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
> Go figure.
> -- 
> "You got ninety percent of the American public
> out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the
> rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper
> clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there
> wondering how the hell we did it. Now you're not naive enough to think 
> we're
> living in a democracy, are you buddy? It's the free market." - Gordon Gekko

I know. That's one reason why I am not financially obese. :-)

It's hard enough to just scrape by without hurting others.

Consider Jains, who may wear masks to avoid accidentally inhaling even an 
"Jainism ... is an ancient dharmic religion from India that prescribes a 
path of non-violence for all forms of living beings in this world."

How do they survive? Some became bankers, probably indirectly contributing 
to the suffering of millions and the destruction of entire biospheres.

It's hard to sort these things out.

Especially with a steady drumbeat of "greed is good" and "the unfettered 
free market solves all problems".

But, even without that, things are hard:
... I agree with the sentiment of the Einstein quote [That we should 
approach the universe with compassion], but that sentiment itself is only 
part of a larger difficult-to-easily-resolve situation. It become more the 
Yin/Yang or Meshwork/Hierarchy situation I see when I look out my home 
office window into a forest. On the surface it is a lovely scene of trees as 
part of a forest. Still, I try to see *both* the peaceful majesty of the 
trees and how these large trees are brutally shading out of existence 
saplings which are would-be competitors (even shading out their own 
children). Yet, even as big trees shade out some of their own children, they 
also put massive resources into creating a next generation, one of which 
will indeed likely someday replace them when they fall. I try to remember 
there is both an unseen silent chemical war going on out there where plants 
produce defense compounds they secrete in the soil to inhibit the growth of 
other plant species (or insects or fungi) as a vile act of territoriality 
and often expansionism, and yet also the result is a good spacing of biomass 
to near optimally convert sunlight to living matter and resist and recover 
from wind and ice damage. I try to recall that there is the most brutal of 
competition between species of plants and animals and fungi and so on over 
water, nutrients (including from eating other creatures), sunlight, and 
space, while at the same time each bacterial colony or multicellular 
organism (like a large Pine tree) is a marvel of cooperation towards some 
implicitly shared purpose. I see the awesome result of both simplicity and 
complexity in the organizational structure of all these organisms and their 
DNA, RNA, and so on, adapted so well in most cases to the current state of 
such a complex web of being. Yet I can only guess the tiniest fraction of 
what suffering that selective shaping through variation and selection must 
have entailed for untold numbers of creatures over billions of years. To be 
truthful, I can actually *really* see none of that right now as it is dark 
outside this early near Winter Solstice time (and an icy rain is falling) 
beyond perhaps a silhouette outline, so I must remember and imagine it, 
perhaps as Einstein suggests as an "optical delusion of [my] consciousness". 

--Paul Fernhout

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