Constructing Equality

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Constructing Equality

Postby BadgerJelly on January 2nd, 2017, 3:32 am 

Imagine a society where the poorest get the most and richest get the least.

So the those in dire poverty would live in mansions and have the most. Those who work to make money would live on the streets or in shanty towns.

It seems to me that in this situation there would be more equality. Keep in mind that it doesn't matter how "poor"/"rich" you are there is a set percentage that is allowed to live in wealthy surroundings. I wouls assume many would try not to make "money" in order not to have to live on the streets.

What benefits and problems do you see in this system? How could it be abused? Could it be made to function in less extreme forms?
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Re: Constructing Equality

Postby Forest_Dump on January 2nd, 2017, 8:46 am 

Having woken up early, I thought about this but found it to be an impossible puzzle. To me, I recognize that there are and always will be tasks that need to be done and even more that we believe should be done or that we want done. However, without some way of compensating those who would do these tasks, there would be no one willing to do them. Why would anyone work with sewage, processing and preparing food, ensuring heat and power in adverse weather, etc., do so? There have been many experiments in time with agrarian societies based on religious or political ideologies that have gotten people to do boring, dirty, hard, dangerous, etc., work that some social group deemed "needed" to be done for some greater good but none lasted long because ultimately people must have some kind of compensation for the different amounts and kinds of work they do. (Even a society based on coersive force to make slaves do the unpleasant jobs that no one else was willing to do required compensation for those who would wield the whip as it were.) So, even at the most basic level, there will be those who will receive greater compensation simply because they are more willing to put in more effort to do those unpleasant but necessary jobs. (And I am expediently avoiding the additional implication of differences in ability to perform virtually any task.) As to the specifics of housing in mansions, etc., it is a simple fact that bigger mansions require more material (which requires more labout to procure and process) and labour for construction and maintenance and someone must be willing and able to compensate differently for these greater costs or people will simply choose not to invest their labour and other energies into them.

Bottom line is there will always be differences in wealth based on different levels of compensation for those with greater abilities to contribute/invest and willingness to work. I think what we lack today is an inability to deal with unequal opportunities and an inability to deal with unfair levels of compensation for tasks believed to be necessary.
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Re: Constructing Equality

Postby Scott Mayers on January 2nd, 2017, 11:01 pm 

If the 'poorest' were given the MOST, then HOW would they remain 'poor'? Wouldn't they become 'rich'?
("If I had a Million Dollars")



And if the 'richest' had their wealth taken away from them, shouldn't they be 'poor'?
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Re: Constructing Equality

Postby BadgerJelly on January 2nd, 2017, 11:28 pm 

Scott -

I've no idea how you'd practically balance this out. It is simply a general idea of how to create a more wealth equality. I don't see the benefit of having the rich get richer so was looking for a way to discourage this. For the workaholics they would keep on keeping on. Also I was not really suggesting to literally give all the money to homeless people and make them rich, but to reduce the two extreme ends of the scale.

A weak modern day version would be to make the extremely wealthy pay much, much larger taxes. I cannot fathom the reasoning that says "they earned it". I mean who really needs a personal wealth greater than ... say a million dollars? So I assume these people may like the luxury life style. If they love business for the sake of business then cut out the gluttony of luxury and see if they keep their drive. If not then they will simply go to the bottm of the pile and have less soical input.

Of course it is deeply impractical. More of a thought experiment or an analogy of what taxation is mean to address, but fails to. And I would add that my knowledge of economics is not great so there are many possible flaws with such an oversimplification.
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Re: Constructing Equality

Postby Scott Mayers on January 2nd, 2017, 11:52 pm 

Basic assured minimum income; Fixed MAXIMUM limit that one can earn.

These might be more realistic. There would be great resistance to the second one but the first one is almost universally appealing 'in principle'.

I had many thought experiments that I tried but cannot 'imagine' any playing out ideally. For instance,

Experiment 1: imagine a room that only had three people in it to represent a world. If the outside represented "the environment", imagine further that a person outside represents that environment who can provide those contained in that room in various different ways.

If the 'environment' (the person who acts as the mediator to give them sustenance) provided them X amount of food per unit time where each person NEEDED 1/3 X, each could be provided for equally if the environment could be able to give to each one.

Experiment 2:
For a more realistic idea, imagine that only ONE of these is in proximity to the 'environment'. This person would then be 'trusted' perhaps to distribute the food. If the quantity of food is always X or greater, this person may play fair and distribute the wealth. But if food < X, not enough could be equally distributed. This is where the problems begin. By 'nature', the one having access to the environment might be considered a kind of 'owner'. But in hard times, if each NEEDs X or will die before the next time unit, what would or should the 'owner' do?

If he gives to the other two but not himself, he dies. Perhaps he is the only one ABLE to be closest to the access point that the environment gives food and everyone may then die. In either scenario types, he'd likely at least opt to keep what food is enough for himself and then pass on the rest to the others to determine who dies (if there is even ANY food).

Experiment 3:

Now image that one person was twice the size of each of the other two such that the big person takes up 1/2 the mass and each of the others has only 1/4 each. Should the food get distributed for each person as though 'equal' by whole?

What if each had the power to move around, if the environmental provider passes food through a window on one side, which would likely tend to have power over the door?

Then think of the above scenario again. But this time, imagine there is only 3/4 of the amount of food needed to supply everyone. The one distributing the food would be empowered to choose. If this is the big guy, he'd take his 1/2 at least before passing on the remaining 1/4 for the other two weaker ones to fight over. The 'equal' distribution by mass seems fair but the bigger one will tend to take more. And in tough times, where only 1/2 or less of X in quantity of food comes in, if the big guy has the control, he'd eat and two people would die. Is this right? Is it wrong?

I think of a lot of this kind of experiments and always find that by keeping these similar to conditions in reality, there is no ideal capacity to please everyone. 'Equality' is hard to define and only power in strength or numbers (extremes) compete in tough times. (like today's world economy having extremes of few rich and many poor.
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Re: Constructing Equality

Postby BadgerJelly on January 3rd, 2017, 1:25 am 

Something that really intrigues me is how we cope with such choices by trying to make them into logical propositions.

It is almost like we actively avoid having to make a personal decision so instead defer to the greater power of an impersonal logical form. A lot of ethics confuses me in this area because to me it seems ethics is trying to overrule its own existence and replace it with cold logic.

Anyway, with many situations like the one you pose the expected actions of the people are often not what really happens. I believe that if there is a chance for everyone to survive then most people will commit to trying to keep everyone alive. At each extreme the odd person will act out of greed as much as thebodd person will be willing to die for the cause.

I really do believe that the shape of society today is due to a misapplication of logic, an overextention and simply disregard for thought and feeling.

In light of this, in regards to equality and wealth, I see the only solution to be capping wages. If companies make too much money then they should simply distribute that excess wealth to its customers as they helped create the wealth of the business.

In todays world there is more an dmore talk about automation too. We used to dream about a world of lesuire for humans who would have robots doing our mundane jobs for us freeing up our time for personal development. Productivity is a very important thing now. What we need is personalisation in every instance of our lives more and more. I think that the "personal" touch will be of greater and greater significance in industrial manufacturing.

When it come sto equality I think we need to start thinking about what piece of technology is likely to be deemed irreplaceabke in the near future. Many people today cannot imagine living without mobule phones or the internet. Many growing up will have no idea of a world abswnt of such cultural activity.

Sorry, rambling now! Haha. Basically trying to address the idea of "equality" as a cultural attitude.
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Re: Constructing Equality

Postby wolfhnd on January 3rd, 2017, 2:25 am 

Why would you want wealth equality?

Nobody wants to see poverty but the absence of poverty is not wealth equality.

If you redistributed wealth evenly what would you be redistributing?

In a modern economy what wealth is becomes a matter of no small complexity. It isn't a bunch of numbers in a bank account and the amount of derivatives already exceed the total wealth in most economies several times over.

The real issue I believe is the imbalance in the power to determine the course of society between the wealthy and the less wealthy. The question then becomes would society be better of if there was wealth equality?

In an already insane society where consumption has become a end in itself many problems we face could be made worse. It also raises the same problem that democracy faces in so far as if you give a vote to the poor (in this case more dollars to vote with) you are also giving more power to the least educated segment of society. Democracy is not a panacea for the ills of societies and that is why in most liberal democracies the power of the people is balanced by a house of lords and a monarchy in say Britain or by the formulation of a Republican form of government in the U.S.

Is wealth redistribution compatible with moral agency?

People make bad decisions and that is why if you don't go to school and try to learn, or you don't get work experience, if you spend your money on beer and woman (or men) your life outcome is to be poor and any wealth that is redistributed to you will not benefit society. Equality distribution has many of the same qualities as retributive justice and it requires you to look beyond some simple notions about fairness. Without punishment you strip people of their moral agency.
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Re: Constructing Equality

Postby BadgerJelly on January 3rd, 2017, 5:08 am 

Wolf -

I am asking what problems you see with said proposal irrespective of the world as it is today and regardless of implementation.

What would be rebistributed? You tell me?

I only propose the idea of giving less incentive to make money for the sake of making money and more incentive for people to cooperate. Yes, there are glaringly obvious flaws with such an idea. Treat it as a simplistic view before asking questions about what "wealth" is.

The idea is not to create complete equality. My idea was to "punish" those wanting to make money and more money and polarize society.

I am not tryign to set the world right only play with an idea.

I also like the idea of lottery systems to be part of society in respect to "wealth".
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Re: Constructing Equality

Postby Scott Mayers on January 3rd, 2017, 3:03 pm 

BadgerJelly » January 3rd, 2017, 12:25 am wrote:Something that really intrigues me is how we cope with such choices by trying to make them into logical propositions.

It is almost like we actively avoid having to make a personal decision so instead defer to the greater power of an impersonal logical form. A lot of ethics confuses me in this area because to me it seems ethics is trying to overrule its own existence and replace it with cold logic.


I use logic to show THAT there is no 'moral' validity in common with people. If I assume what I think is 'universally moral', I would make the mistake of assuming that what I think is correct of others is correct of what I interpret of my own judgement. But if what I think is 'moral' is equivalent to what is 'universally moral', then each and every person too would have the equal force to argue this. We should all then never BE immoral because we'd all actually agree to THAT code of ethics by default.

So to JUDGE what is or is not 'moral' requires you to step outside of an assumption of morality to look at it without bias. So you require treating things logically unless you are in POWER to impose your idea of what is 'moral' universally by force.

If you insist on investigating it in by defaulting to your idea of morality, you can also attempt to test this out in thought by placing yourself in another person's shoes, default to their own conditions but with your assumption of moral universality, then see if it still leads to success.

The problem with this is if you have a belief in some supernatural belief that some people are 'good' and others are 'evil'. You might interpret even dire circumstances of some individual who IS 'moral' according to this universal but interpret any resulting reality imposed upon them still "JUSTIFIED" because you interpret that supernatural force to be able to 'repair' injustices in some other world beyond life. But this defeats even questioning what is or is not 'moral' because you'd interpret this as a command from nature beyond what we can affect regardless.

The only sincere way to do this is to place yourself in the same consequential conditions of others to prove that you are not being hypocritical to the inevitability that those 'moral' people who still receive 'bad results' are justified to sacrifice their present comfort in the belief you hold about some Supernatural reality to be willing to rectify their misfortune in some afterlife.

My point is that this one kind of example of a belief in some universal morality is equally justified WITHOUT a LOGICAL JUSTIFICATION. So if we assume some non-logical position to start from, which person's idea of 'universal morality' is actually true? The only thing we'd have to qualify this is by brute force unless we already ALL agree to the same exact set of morals.

Therefore, we NEED to use a logical approach that begins by assuming NO MORAL preference as an input assumption to try to determine IF there is some 'universal' concept of morality that is even possible. As such, I still cannot find one by using the kinds of imaginary experiments like the ones I gave examples to. If there WAS such a logical argument that can be found, this would provide the justification needed to prove (or disprove) any universal agreement to what some universal moral concept is true by all. Logic is the only tool we can use to measure this.
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