2020-04-16 | Subject | All Equal
Why do we never specifically talk about the cost from a resource perspective of humans being alive? Why is it always abstracted? We'll get down to insurance and healthcare costs in the abstract, but we never make it specific. I have been struggling with this particular idea for years.
First off, of course, the specific is difficult. We love our family, and will do anything to help. So, we can't consider, say, the cost of hospitalizing everybody over 60 who gets sick without including our own family. Individually, then, this makes sense. I feel I have an obligation to help my family to the extent they need and want. I get a get-out-of-jail-free card for my own proven record in this area.
But this isn't enough to explain this in the broader way. What I mean by this, is, why don't we, as a people on this limited planet, directly address the problem of the cost of too many humans staying alive for as long as possible? The specific example (above), while it makes sense as a partial explanation, doesn't fit with the urgent needs of the broader socio-political-economic-environmental system we are part of.
Why is this such a conflict? First off, our leaders are not idiots (for the most part). And, by leaders, I just mean those that are running things. It might be a think tank at RAND. It might be French military intelligence. It might be one or more CEOs. It might be the Dalai Lama. We don't have a problem with asking people to sacrifice in times of war, so why is it that our leaders don't address this and coax us into focusing on the broader system? I don't believe that the answer is simply that people aren't willing to sacrifice. Individual people are pretty stout at the core, I think, and wartime mobilization efforts and volunteerism/sacrifice during, say, WWII, demonstrate this. People often sacrifice for the broader good.
The usual answer to this would be that it is not politically expedient; however, that doesn't really work with me to explain it. I suspect that what actually happens is that it is like a game where real leaders all know there isn't enough, so it is a juggling act of politics and feel-good "taking steps". I've seen the taking steps approach endlessly in my field, where too few people with too little skill run too many systems that are too complicated. Frankly, the current solution of agile and containerization is more of an abstraction that hides the core issues, and serves more as reinforcement of my criticism than a solution. (Anybody in IT, bring it. I'd love to argue this one. I recently dug into containerization, and it truly was as bad as I suspected. And, no, Kubernetes doesn't directly address it, unless you want to assume large global overlords that regiment staff with tiny tasks.) And in IT, like the overall messy world, management knows that full solutions are untenable. We are left with taking steps.
We also have the problem example of the Iron Man saviors. Why does Bill Gates, likely a very smart man, pour so much time and money into saving humans, when he must know there is a population problem? This is the go-to dance move by philanthropists these days, save humans, when it is an undisputed fact that death is as natural as birth. Death frees up a world for birth. The whole deal with flattening the curve is to insure we can spend as much money as possible (by attempting to free up beds for future waves), along with a vague hope of a vaccine before the next wave (or an Ebola-type control, which we know by the guessed r factor is not rational).
The easy, immediate conclusion, is one of raw power and paranoia. That is, the leaders are evil from the start. If they aren't evil then they aren't leaders, or, at least, they are overwhelmed by evil. But I don't think that is what we are at our core, individually. In other words, the conflict is just a form of power struggle between the haves and have-nots. But that never really satisfied me. I think the Iron Man types truly feel they are helping, or, at least, they are doing the only thing that they think will help.
I was thinking about the scenario in the Bigsite production of PKD's The Man in the High Castle. One of the plot lines is that the commander's kid gets sick, and the commander struggles to reconcile his party's stance of how to deal with those who they deem don't pull their weight in society. It is all fine if it is somebody else's kid, but not if it is your own kid. I think about this often, because it is the instant response to this kind of conversation. These ideas sound like the Third Reich, and in the PKD story, it is exactly that.
As this was all running through my head, along with the reminder that Bigsite produced The Man in the High Castle, I saw a news blurb about a Web 2.0 billionaire and his universal basic income push. The theory was that automation will displace jobs, so humans needed to still live via UBI (all absurd from the above perspective, but a useful bullet point). As I was reading about this, I thought, well, if the billionaire was fine with UBI, I'm fine with it.
BAM! This is it. The only way that this works with any kind of ethics is if everybody plays by the same rules. The billionaire certainly doesn't feel he lives on UBI. I doubt he is willing to live without modern healthcare. It really is a game of leaders just taking steps, yet understanding the real situation. There is no dilemma there/here, then. The catch is that unless everybody in the world agrees to the same basic human rights (or UBI), evil will leak in. So, we continue to push for the right directions, but in a limited way that we know won't help and will likely just aggravate things. There are a couple of real questions here. The first is, can humans exist together in a world where all is equal and we plan our impact specifically? This looks something like a UBI of, say $1,000/mo. for everybody in the world, and no hospitals, cars, etc. (is my guess). All use public transport, and we deal as a people with 4C rise in temperature over the next 100 years.
Of course, the previous paragraph is Pollyanna. It won't happen. Pragmatically, then, we revert to libertarian to avoid evil. But, there is a core piece there that is my entire insight around this. It is impossible to come up with a broad solution outside of "all equal". All other things turn to evil (or libertarian). We can mobilize, sacrifice, but in areas of death, it has to be equal, or it is evil (do I need to explain?). We have to put in structures of, say, composting, but as soon as society fragments into "some more equal than others", the entire structure falls apart. This means that the only rational way forward is to push on stuff that appears good. Make vaccines, save lives now, think short-term. Make sense? Did I close that loop for ya?
I want to make something very clear. My purpose and point was just that this resolves several issues I have with any of the explanations, at least for me, for why we move forward as we do. Primarily this is an understanding of as-is. The only way I can see out of this without evil is equality, regardless of left or right. One would be the UBI route. We figure what resources we have, what we need to do it, and all ships rise and fall. The other "equal" route is more difficult. Perhaps it is anarchist in nature. Perhaps it is libertarian. These are similar, really. It is easy to just say everybody gets X. Once humans get all scrappy in a libertarian or anarchist scenario, while it might not have the same pitfalls of evil philosophically, it can degrade. And, really, either extreme is not something I can imagine happening. So, we are left with taking steps, even though it doesn't really solve the larger problems. This is not my expertise. I'm not a poli-sci major or anything, just a geek working on modeling systems that facilitate answers to questions about systems. Again, my point was I had an aha moment about why, something that explains the insanity. Hybrid enforcement, layers of government, or 1 percent benefactors of the 99 seem quite problematic for me (tend to evil).
"All Equal" requires a hefty amount of Big Evil to make happen. And it still wouldn't happen, but the Big Evil would definitely persist. "Some animals are more equal that others," is where any "All Equal" plans always end up.
We are saying the same thing, at a certain point. First off, this is not, as I clarified, a plan. It is an explanation of as-is. I acknowledge your caution, above, and admit that this is a huge problem. I can imagine some ways to make this equal if everybody plays by the same rules. This would mean we figure out what we need to subsist in a way that is sustainable over time and we all agree that is what we use. That probably means beans and rice and operating composters, but it could be done with 100 percent agreement without it being evil. The question of whether it will happen or not is a different question. It likely can't happen without it becoming evil (A web 2.0 billionaire overseeing the composter operations from his helicopter, for instance). I don't really want to tackle evil. Again, I'm just a systems analyst geek. Now, if I had to start over again, if I wanted to understand evil better, and form an opinion as my work rather than armchair fb posts, I would have started here.
^ that reference is a true-life branch in my own path of life. A professor named Baryl Crowe at TESC tried to get me to take his class, Society and Modern Evil, based, significantly, on works by Hannah Arendt. That is not what I chose to do.
Facebook isn't for this... ;-)
"facebook isn't for this".... well, it is not for any kind of expectations of working out the controversial issues. Mostly it serves as a form of confirmation bias on issues. What I'm raising, since it isn't really a plan, and isn't really an argument with anybody in particular, is simply a personal understanding that has been bothering me for quite some time that I thought might be interesting. True, expressing it in this way is kind of like the cat. I think this has a slightly different flavor and intent than, say, for instance, expecting to change people's opinions about gun rights (just as an arbitrary example, there, Sigg. ;-) )
Although! One time one of your posts did change my mind about some gun legislation. I'm not that hard a sell on libertarian ideas, though.
I've already written and then deleted one post related to current events this morning.... Never mind, he says... lol ... it's sunny outside. Time to go do some firewood and garden work and repair the flat tire on the tractor... ;-)
As long as you stay away from Kelso, Sigg, you're golden.
hahahaaa... gotta go to Kelso tomorrow, actually. Making a hyper-organized errand run... Kelso is included...