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Re: attacking FSF [Re: Paid trolls

From: Russ Allbery
Subject: Re: attacking FSF [Re: Paid trolls
Date: Wed, 05 May 2004 13:34:21 -0700
User-agent: Gnus/5.1006 (Gnus v5.10.6) XEmacs/21.4 (Security Through Obscurity, linux)

David Kastrup <> writes:

> Now where technology has reached a state that humanity in developed
> countries does not need to work its ass off just for survival, still
> nobody's happy.  The society will at some time have to come to grips
> that at some point a productivity and effectivity increase of several
> hundredfolds can't be compensated by cutting the work time in half and
> suggesting to people that increasing wasteful spending corresponds to an
> increase in life quality.

> It is impressive, however, how long the farce has been able to be
> upheld.  Since it goes along with a wild waste of natural resources and
> poisoning of out environment, it would be nice if somebody were to pull
> the stops, though, at some time.


We're trapped in a cycle where there's all this excess (not needed for a
fairly comfortable standard of living) labor available and our economic
systems are designed to use as much of that labor as possible to basically
generate economic churn.  Some of that churn truly advances the standard
of living, but much of it is an advanced form of running in place, and in
the mean time, the effects of that labor are syphoned off by a wealthy
class who, because of their existing wealth, are in a better position to
make more money they don't actually need.

In the meantime, we can't figure out how to efficiently route excess
economic resources to people who could actually use them.

The depressing part is that I certainly count myself as a member of that
wealthy class with more money than I actually need, but because social
support in the US is so inherently unstable, I feel a strong need to make
sure that I'll be economically secure in the event of a breakdown of
social support structures when it comes time for me to retire.  As a
result, I ineffeciently hoard resources that I could be donating to other
causes in order to make sure that I'll be self-sufficient in the long
term, whereas if we had a reliable and dependable social support structure
that guaranteed everyone basic health care, shelter, and food, I'd feel
much more comfortable donating a significantly higher percentage of my
resources to charities.

The question, though, is how to fix those sorts of problems with the
capitalist economic system without losing the efficiencies it *does* have;
just going over in the opposite direction isn't really an improvement
(although I do think that Canada's approach is a significant improvement
over the United States).

I am firmly convinced, though, that poverty is the single most significant
cause of war, unrest, terrorism, and most of the other problems that
plague international politics right now.  People with a comfortable amount
of resources, real economic power, and access to interesting work,
education, and ways to improve their comfort and the resources of their
family are far more likely to turn their energies towards that than
endless fights over religion, borders, ancient grudges, and racial biases.

Russ Allbery (             <>

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